By Mumin Salih
When the Early Arabs had the choice, they hated the Quran, so did many of the famous writers and poets who had the courage to show it
Why are you a Muslim?
Muslims in general love to hear the above question because it has a simple and ready-made answer in their minds besides it gives them the opportunity to propagate their religion and talk proudly about Islam.
A typical Muslim’s answer would be like this: ‘because Islam is the right religion and the only one that is accepted by Allah’. Having made such a confident start, Muslims wait impatiently to hear the next question which they predict and to which they also have a readymade answer:what is the evidence?
‘The evidence is in the Quran, which is a living language miracle’, would be a typical Muslim’s answer. That is the moment Muslims usually wait for; to highlight the ‘fact’ that Islam is the only religion that has a living miracle. However, the joy comes to an end once you ask for the evidence that the Quran is a language miracle, because no Muslim can provide satisfactory evidence.
Only a few Muslim Arabs would take the risk and try to answer that last question; the others would rather refer you to the ‘experts’ on the grounds that such issues about the Quran should be discussed only by to the experts. Still they would insist that the logical conclusion must be that the Quran is a miracle because:
1. The early Arabs were stunned when they heard the Quran. ( A big lie)
2. The Quran is praised by top Arab writers and poets, past and present. ( A Big lie)
3. Allah challenged the Arabs to produce a sura like it but they all failed.( A big lie)
1. The first big lie: The early Arabs were stunned by the Quran
I refuted the first big lie in my previous article ‘when the Arab intellectuals debated Mohammed’, which provided indisputable proof from the Islamic history and the Quran that the Meccan Arabs believed the Quran was erroneous and full with old myths. They even believed that Mohammed was mad for producing such a flawed work.
2. The second big lie: The Quran is praised by top Arab writers and poets, past and present
Let us see what did the top Arab writers and poets think of the Quran.
freedom of expression in Pre Islamic Arabia
The linguistic talent was the main cultural expression in pre Islamic Arabia and reached its peak just before the rise of Islam. Indeed, the Arabs’ passion to poetry never waned throughout history, and even today, their craze to this art has no equal. The immediate influence of Islam on Arabic poetry, in other words on the Arab’s main cultural expression, was dramatic- Islam killed the Arabs passion for poetry. It took over a century to revive the art of Arabic poetry to recover from the devastating blow of Islam.
Mohammed hated the poets because they attracted the Arabs’ attention and distracted them from listening to his Quran. In addition, some poets produced works, called hijaa, which ridiculed Mohammed.
In pre Islamic Arabia, poetry had a status in the society similar to today’s free press; the poets were the writers, journalists and chroniclers. Their poems were the testimonies of their fine culture, traditions and ethos. As far as my knowledge in history goes, that was the only time when the Arabs really enjoyed the real freedom of expression. It is ironic that Muslims refer to that era as the era of ignorance or ‘jahylyia’! In such a climate of free expression, it was acceptable for poets to discuss the society’s current affairs and express their free opinions. Poets frequently composed poetry to praise (called madeeh) or condemn (called hija) public personalities. It was traditional for those people who were the subjects of critical poetry (hija) to respond in kind by composing equally powerful poetry. The rich and famous used to employ professional bards to do it for them; otherwise they had to concede defeat.
When Mohammed was the subject of ‘hija’ he responded by composing some Quranic verses (Q.26:224) that denounce poetry in general. This was a feeble response that reflected weakness of Mohammed’s intellectual capability. With anger, Mohammed introduced to Arabia, and through his followers to the whole world, the policy of assassinations to silence his current critics and intimidate any potential ones. Mohammed brutally murdered Asmaa Bint Marwan, a female poet, as she was nursing her baby at night. His response to Um Quirfa’s poem was even more brutal; he ordered her to be tied to two camels and split her apart. Mohammed also brutally murdered Ibn Afak and Ibn AlAshraf and many others.
Eventually, Mohammed met a little known poet, called Hassan Ibn Thabit, who was willing to compose poetry in support of Mohammed. Hassan was not recognized as a credible poet among the Arabs, even with Mohammed’s endorsement. Needless to say, all poetry that did not honour Mohammed disappeared completely from the annals of Arabian poetry.
The Abbasids’ era (750-1258 AD)
It may come as s surprise to the reader, and certainly was a surprise to me, to learn that religious fervour as we know it today was far less prominent in the Islamic societies of the past. Islam’s role was mainly highlighted and utilised during conflicts. Pure and true Islam, as it is applied today by the the Wahhabis and Talibans, was seldom put to full practice after the death of Mohammed and his companions. Although the Islamic dynasties were generally oppressive, but there have been periods of relative secularism especially during the Abbasids’ rule. These periods were windows of opportunities that allowed writers, poets and scientists, from all ethnic backgrounds, to excel. We also should keep in mind that some poets and writers were considered like valuable assets to their societies and people were happy to turn a blind eye towards some of their excesses.
During the Abbasid’s rule many great writers and poets started to appear in Syria and Iraq. I am only going to briefly mention some of the best known names to see what they thought of the Quran.
Abu Nawas (750-810) was close to the famous Caliph Harun Alrashid, and is well known by his poetry that celebrated wine and male homosexuality. Obviously the Quran didn’t mean much to this great poet.
Al Mutanabbi (915-965) is largely considered to be the most famous Arab poet of all time. How are we supposed to believe that this man had admired the Quran, especially that we know he authored his own Quran and claimed to be a prophet (hence his name). Almutanabbi apologized later to save his life. As would be expected, none of his ‘Quran’ reached us.
Abu Al Alaa Al Maarri (973-1057) was a blind Syrian philosopher and poet who is considered by many as the best Arabs poet. Abu Al Alaa was even more outspoken in his criticism to Islam and the Quran, his writings leave no doubt that he was too intelligent to subscribe to an ideology like Islam. Consider. He also authored some verses similar to the Quran to a group of Arabs. When one of the men commented that the verses didn’t have that familiar resonance of the Quran’ Abu Al Alaa responded: “when you read it days and nights for years, it will” .
Ibn Rushd (1126-1198) philosopher and writer.
Ibn Al Rawandi (An Author and outspoken critic of Islam, rejected Mohammed’s claims of being a prophet)
Ibn Al Mukafaa ( writer and translator, murdered by the Islamists in 755 AD).
Al Razi (865-925 Physician and writer)
All the above great writers, philosophers and scientists were accused of apostasy by the Islamists of their time. They are the ones meant by Jim Knight, the British minister, who said recently: ‘teach children what the Muslims did for us’. The British minister was both idiot and ignorant to understand that those great men did what they did in spite of Islam and not because of it.
The Twentieth Century
(Note: by the turn of the twentieth century, the Arabs already had enough of the backward rule of the Ottomans and started to move slowly towards secularism. This was alarming to the Islamists who formed their Muslim brotherhood movement in 1928 in Egypt to stop the rising secular trend in that country. However, apostasy has always been a serious offence in the Middle Eastern societies and Arab in general avoided to be labelled as apostates. Such secular Arabs worked and published their works under the disguise of reformers. Most of the published works that criticised Islam were later banned. Because of politeness and security nearly all the Christian Arab writers avoided to write anything that may appear to be critical to the Quran)
Al Zahawi (1863-1936) and Al Rasafi (1875-1945) were the two most famous poets in Iraq and both were accused of apostasy. AlRasafi is well known to the Arabs by his poetry, but he also authored a book called ‘Mohammed’s personality’, in which he presents a very good and objective analysis of Mohammed. I personally never saw the book in the bookshops and didn’t even know about it until I read it on the internet.
Dr. Taha Hussain (1889-1973) was the most famous Arab writer in the twentieth century and is considered as the father of Arabic literature. Hussain wrote a book that casts some doubts about the honesty of the early Muslims and accused them of manipulating history and poetry to their advantage. The book caused a stormy response by the Islamists and was banned; Hussain was accused of apostasy and was forced to repent. Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) was the only Noble prize winner in Arabic literature. At the age of eighty, he survived an assassination attempt by the Islamists who accused him of apostasy. The Arab writers are generally aware of the consequences of openly criticising Islam so they do not do it, but judging from their works, none of them seems to be stunned by the Quran. More recently, the Arabs lost one of their best known poets, Mohamoud Darwish (1941-2008) , who was an Israeli Palestinian atheist.
The above is only a sample of Arab writers and poets whose knowledge of the Arabic Language and literature is recognized by all. It is ironic that unlike the Muslims from countries like India, Indonesia or Pakistan these great writers didn’t like the language of the Quran. We mustn’t forget that millions of the Arabs are Christians. Some of the good writers and poets in the Arab world are Christians who obviously are not that impressed by the Quran. It is striking that the Arab Christians, who speak Arabic as a first language, and have been in contact with Islam for centuries, do not convert to Islam, which is in sharp contrast to the European Christians.
Once I read in a Saudi Islamic website a list of the contemporary Arab writers who are accused of apostasy. I was shocked at the length of the list; it certainly included all the ones I know and many more. It seems that the only Arab writers who are stunned by the Quran are the Muslim scholars. Even that may be an exaggeration because rumours once circulated that Al Akkad (1889-1964) and Al Hakim (1898-1987), both famous writers who wrote Islamically acceptable books about Mohammed, were in fact atheists. Although this may be just a rumour but we know that both men were not practicing Muslims anyway, even in public!
3. The third big lie: The Quranic Challenge
The Quran contains an open challenge (Q.17: 88) from Allah to mankind and to those invisible Islamic creatures called jinn, to produce a work similar to the Quran. Muslims believe that it is a miracle that no humans have been able to take the challenge. This claim is just another big Islamic lie.
The pre Islamic literature
There is some very bad news for Muslims because the Quran lost its challenge even before Mohammed started his ‘revelations’. Many of the Quranic verses were virtual copies from works already published by others, like Umaya Ibn Alsalt, Zaid Ibn Nowayfil and Imru Al Qays and others. The chances are that an Arab never heard about such literature before, which doesn’t surprise me; I only knew about it when I started to get used to the internet a few years ago. That was unfortunate because, had I knew about it earlier, it could have speed up my departure from Islam.
There is a striking similarity between that pre Islamic poetry and some of the verses of the Quran. Muslim scholars deny that the literature was pre Islamic and claim it was composed after Islam and attributed to those jahylia (pre Islamic) poets.
The Muslim scholars’ obsession is to deny that the Quran had mimicked others’ works, mean while they forget that the literature was similar to the Quran no matter when it was said.
When I first read about that hidden jahilyia poetry I felt there is a very dirty conspiracy from the Muslim scholars, who mask any anything that could invoke suspicion about the Quran. There is no explanation why such literature doesn’t come for of open discussions.
The Satanic Verses
But there is some more bad news for the Muslims: the Quran documents that it lost the challenge even before the revelations were completed! The winners this time were the Muslims’ main rivals, the Jinn!
The Jinn’s chief, Iblees, played a practical joke with Mohammed and inserted some of his verses in sura Al najm (Q.53) then he injected that sura in Mohammed’s heart ( which is the Islamic brain, according to the Quran) Those verses were so original that Mohammed recited them during his prayers without noticing the difference! It was Allah who spotted those satanic verses and removed them from the Quran.
The Islamic history describes other Qurans
It is impossible for any anti Islamic material to survive the strict Islamic censorship. However, careful reading of the Islamic history indicates that many other Qurans were already written before our existing Quran was compiled by Caliph Uthman. According to the Islamic history, Caliph Uthman ordered all other copies of the Quran, which were kept by notable Muslims like Ibn Masoud, to be burnt. Those copies were different from Uthman’s Quran, for example surat Al Ahzab was more than double its existing size in other copies. Muslims believe that Allah guided Uthman and his aides to abandon those verses because they were not parts of the Quran. This story indicates that the early Arabs authored some chapters that were indistinguishable from the Quran. In other words the Arabs won the challenge.
The ‘modern Qurans’
Many Muslims believe that writing anything similar to the Quran is a crime punishable by death, so it is logical not to expect any sane person to attempt it. Needless to say that any such work would never be published or preserved. However, since the introduction of the Internet, there is no shortage of people who post new verses from their Qurans on daily basis. Most of those imitations look very similar to the original; some even contain errors to make them indistinguishable from the real one!
For the Arabic readers, I compiled the following similarities between pre Islamic poetry and the Quran. History and some tafseer books refer to this poetry as does this Islamic site
أمية بن أبي الصلت الشاعر :
لك الحمد والنعماء والملك ربنا * ولا شيء أعلى منك جدا وأمجدا.
وَأَنَّهُ تَعَالَى جَدُّ رَبِّنَا مَا اتَّخَذَ صَاحِبَةً وَلا وَلَدًا
عليه حجاب النور والنور حوله وانهـار نور فوقـه تتوقــد
فلا بصر يسمــو إليه بطرفه ودون حجاب النور خلق مؤيد
لاَّ تُدْرِكُهُ الأَبْصَارُ وَهُوَ يُدْرِكُ الأَبْصَارَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ
دحاها فلما رآها استوت على الماء أرسى عليها الجبالا
زيد بن عمرو:
وأسلمت وجهي لمن أسلمت له الأرض تحمل صخرا ثقالا
دحاها فلما استوت شدها بأيد وأرسى عليها الجبالا
أَخْرَجَ مِنْهَا مَاءهَا وَمَرْعَاهَا 31 وَالْجِبَالَ أَرْسَاهَا
وَأَلْقَى فِي الأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَأَنْهَارًا وَسُبُلاً لَّعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ
زيد بن عمرو بن نفيل يسخر من فرعون:
وقولا له : أأنت سويت هذه * بلا وتد حتى اطمأنت كما هيا
وقولا له : أأنت رفعت هذه * بلا عمد أرفقْ إذا بك بانيا
أَلَمْ نَجْعَلِ الأرْضَ مِهَادًا 6 وَالْجِبَالَ أَوْتَادًا
خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا وَأَلْقَى فِي الأرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَن تَمِيدَ بِكُمْ وَبَثَّ فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء فَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ زَوْجٍ كَرِيمٍ
علقمة بن قرط:
حتى إذا الصبح لها تنفسا وأنجاب عنها ليلها وعسعسا
وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا عَسْعَسَ وَالصُّبْحِ إِذَا تَنَفَّسَ
· أمية بن الصلت:
ولا سليمان إذ تجري الرياح به * والجن والإنس فيما بينها مرد
أين الملوك التي كانت لعزتها * من كل أوب إليها وافد يفد
حوض هنالك مورود بلا كذب * لا بد من ورده يوماً كما وردوا
وَلِسُلَيْمَانَ الرِّيحَ عَاصِفَةً تَجْرِي بِأَمْرِهِ إِلَى الأَرْضِ الَّتِي بَارَكْنَا فِيهَا وَكُنَّا بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَالِمِينَ
أمية بن الصلت:
مليك على عرش السماء مهيمن * لعزته تعنوا الوجوه وتسجد
وعنت الوجوه للحي القيوم ”
رؤبة بن العجاج:
ومسهم ما مس أصحاب الفيل ترميهم حجارة من سجيل
ولعبت طير بهم أبابيل فصيروا مثل كعصف مأكول
وأرسل عليهم طيراً أبابيل. ترميهم بحجارة من سجيل
أمية بن الصلت:
أم من تلظى عليه واقدة النار * محيط بهم سرادقها
إنا اعتدنا للظالمين ناراً أحاط بهم سرادقها
أم اسكن الجنـة التي وعد**** الأبرار مصفوفة نمارقهـا
” أكواب موضوعة. ونمارق مصفوفة ”
The following are some of the many Suras posted on the Internet by Arabs.