I asked a friend of mine why the Quran is worth believing and why he feels its true. Here is a discussion back and forth between my friend and myself as to why he believes, and why I no longer do so.
To me the Quranic text in its beauty, eloquence, decisiveness is a text that presents itself as God’s speech.
Actually, I would disagree, the Quran has parts which are disturbing. Like allowing a man to beat his wife. And some of the text even in Arabic is akward and strange. There’s some excellent examples in this video. Hassan (who still believes in God) said it much better than me here:
Then he said:
It even reprimands Muhammad (saws) at times. If Muhammad (saws) wrote that would he be reprimanding himself?
To which I said:
Well.. It actually strengthens his position to have God reprimand him at times. It’s like when you are selling a car, if you mention a few bad things as well, that gains trust of the buyer.
The Quranic text is also very consistent in its message of one God and none other. This unity of God, to me, is consistent with what logic tells me that there can only be one Creator who must be perfect. And that perfection entails absolute justice in making Himself known as a mercy to creation.
I dont see how the character Allah as described in the Quran is perfect. He seems to be lacking in many ways, for example wanting to burn and torture people in hell forever simply for disbelieving in him. That does not seem very godlike. If I was a loving father, and my son told me that he doesn’t owe me anything and I never did anything good for him, despite me loving him my entire life, I would never roast him in an oven over and over again. This is petty, cruel, selfish,.. All sorts of bad words can be used to describe such an individual. Not at all godlike or perfect
And then he said:
Secondly, I’ve put my trust in Prophet Muhammad (saws) as my messenger. He was known as as-Sadiq al-Ameen in his society. Even his enemies admired him for his trustworthiness. Would this man make this whole thing up? A man who did not even write? Nothing in history indicates this.
Actually, he was known to be trustworthy in certain ways yes, but that trust does not extend towards someone claiming that God spoke to them. I think this is perfectly reasonable. I might trust you as a business partner but if you told me God commanded me to obey you, I would be quite skeptical without strong evidence. He had numerous benefits he received from becoming God’s messenger including respect, money, and his pick of women. I wrote about this here: Muhammad so i wont repeat myself.
His next point was:
Thirdly, the Arabs were an eloquent people who excelled in poetry, Arabic language and oratory skills. And even they got blown away by the Quran. If this was all just cooked up, they would have seen through all that.
Not true again. It was only through a long and violent struggle that they believed him, and the eloquence and beauty of the Quran is dubious. After Muhammad died there was no clear leader specified and there was again a big battle where anyone that didnt pray or pay zakat would be fought against. Hassan Radwan says it much better than me here:
Next he said:
Fourthly, is the historical integrity of the Quran. The Quran is a mutawaatir transmission from the Prophet (saws). Mutawaatir means that there are enough chains of oral transmission through several lines of memorizers that it would be impossible for all of them to collude on a lie. Even the oldest written manuscript is from Uthman’s period which even pre-dates the oldest manuscript of the Old Testament. In other words, you may think Muhammad (saws) was a liar, but the current Quranic text can authentically be traced back to him. What other religious text can claim this? If God really sent down revelation and promised to preserve it, then the Quran is evidence of that promise.
It is amazing in one sense, but then again when you are able to convince people of divine rewards, anything can be done. Here is my response to this point.. Quran is a miracle because of memorization?
Also, according to Sahih Bukhari and other sources, there are parts of the Quran that have been lost and abrogated. Strange, for a divine book to be cancelling and editing verses? Abrogations in the Quran
As well, was it really unchanged?
Lastly he said:
Fifthly, is the Quran’s style, use of eloquence (balaghah), language, rhythm, etc. Throughout the ages, this was proof to scholars that this text is not of human origin.
Again, this doesn’t prove any divine origin. If that was the case Shakespeare would be a prophet. His works have been admired throughout the ages too. See the above video about criticisms about the text itself being so eloquent, beautiful, etc. There are many criticisms of the Quran as well being a literary masterpiece. Check out this post on the linguistic miracle of the Quran.
How about the stories in the Quran?
The stories and concepts in Islam have been shown to be stolen from other unreliable sources.
- Jesus speaking as a baby came from the apocryphal text of the Syriac Infancy Gospel (Wikipedia – Syriac Infancy Gospel).
- The story of Abraham and the Idols, Cain and Abel and others from the Jewish Talmud (Answering Islam – Jewish Influences in the Quran)
- The clay birds story – again from an apocryphal text, most likely Gospel of Thomas (Parallelism: Jesus Christ and Clay Birds)
- The story of Abraham being thrown in the fire is based on a a of “Ur” (Answering Islam).
- Gog From Magog (mentioned in Ezekiel) became “Gog And Magog” (Wikipedia – Gog&Magog)
- The story of DhulQarnain came from the Syriac Alexander Romance (Dhul Qarnayn in the Quran)
- The bridge over hell stolen from Zoroastrianism (Wikipedia – Chinvat Bridge)
- The ancient religion of Sabians (which is extinct now) seems to have prayed 5x a day and also said “La Ilaha Illallah” (Islam – A religious mashup)
- Many of the hajj rituals such as “tawaf”, “saee”, and the actual kaabah itself which is a pagan house of idolatry, the story of the elephants, and more all come from ancient bedouin paganism.
- On a bigger level – the stories in the Bible such as the Exodus have no historical basis. Moses probably never existed. (Youtube – Myth of the Israeli Lawgiver)
- The story of Jesus makes no sense in Islam. Infact Jesus seems to be copied directly into Islam to give Muhammad more credence. One example of the false stories is Jesus having a virgin birth is something that did not exist in the earliest sources of the Bible, it came about later in Matthew and Luke and is now in Islam. (Jesus in Islam)
You see, if this is the only reasons you have to believe in Islam, it all falls down like a stack of cards once you really look at it closely.