Examples Of Misinterpretation Of The Qur'an
Wine-drinking in Heaven
One of the topics unwise people portray as a contradiction is how wine is served in Heaven when it is forbidden in this world. The verse that they use to make their claim reads:
An image of the Garden which is promised to those who have fear for God: in it there are rivers of water which will never spoil and rivers of milk whose taste will never change and rivers of wine, delightful to all who drink it, and rivers of honey of undiluted purity; in it they will have fruit of every kind and forgiveness from their Lord. Is that like those who will be in the Fire timelessly, for ever, with boiling water to drink which lacerates their bowels? (Surah Muhammad: 15)
As previously explained, this type of error of perception occurs when one is prejudiced, deliberately perverse, unable to reason, and has not grasped the Qur'an as a whole. Now, let us examine why such a thoughtless claim is illogical and baseless from several angles:
First of all, we are able to see that there is a difference between the drink served in Heaven and the one of this world from the following verse:
With goblets, (shining) beakers, and cups (filled) out of clear-flowing fountains: No after-ache will they receive therefrom, nor will they suffer intoxication. (Surat al-Waqi'ah: 18-19)
As can be seen, the drinks served in Heaven do not have any of the negative effects and attributes that alcoholic drinks in this world do. As mentioned in the verse, they do not cause headaches or confuse the mind. This means that even though they give pleasure, they do not in any way cause drunkenness or illness. So there is not the least inconsistency in such a drink being offered in Heaven.
Alcoholic drinks in this world, on the other hand, have always been portrayed in the Qur'an together with their many damaging and harmful attributes. Some of the verses that describe the destructive and negative nature of alcoholic drinks in this world are:
You who have faith! Wine and gambling, stone altars and divining arrows are filth from the handiwork of Satan. Avoid them completely so that hopefully you will be successful. Satan wants to stir up enmity and hatred between you by means of wine and gambling, and to debar you from remembrance of God and from prayer. Will you not then give them up? (Surat al-Ma'idah: 90-91)
They will ask you about wine and gambling. Say, 'There is great sin in both of them and also certain benefits for mankind. But the sin in them is greater than the benefit.' (Surat al-Baqarah: 219)
Obviously, it cannot be expected that characteristics of drinks that are forbidden in this world could exist in Heavenly ones. As God describes the Heavenly drinks, He emphasizes once more that they do not contain the harmful attributes of those in this world:
... a cup from a flowing spring passing round among them, as white as driven snow, delicious to those who drink, which has no headache in it and does not leave them stupefied. (Surat as-Saffat: 45-47)
The logic of anyone who sees this topic as a contradiction when God has made it all so clear must be seriously doubted. It is one of the Qur'an's miracles that when a person approaches it with ignorance and ulterior motives, he will be incapable of understanding even the most obvious of topics. God describes the case of such a person in one of His verses:
No self can have faith except with God's permission. He places a blight on those who do not use their intellect. (Surah Yunus: 100)
Secondly, in the Arabic text of the Qur'an the word "hamr", which stands for the word wine and all alcoholic drinks as we know them, is only mentioned in the above verse number 15 from Surah Muhammad as a drink served in Heaven. In all the other verses of the Qur'an the word "sharab" is used for heavenly drinks, and means any type of drink in Arabic. In some English translations, the word sharab is translated as wine, whereas in Arabic it originates from the word "sherebe" and can be used to mean any non-alcoholic drink as well. One of the Qur'anic verses in which this word is mentioned where it means any drink is:
Where they will recline, calling for plentiful fruit and drink (sharab) ... (Surah Sad: 51)They will wear green garments of fine silk and rich brocade. They will be adorned with silver bracelets. And their Lord will give them to drink of a pure draught (sharab) to drink.
(Surat al-Insan: 21)
Another Incorrect Interpretation on the Subject of Wine
It is stated in verse 67 of Surat an-Nahl "And from the fruit of the date-palm and the grape-vine you derive both intoxicants and wholesome provision."
Some people of limited understanding assume that this verse praises wine and say that it is contradictory for a forbidden drink to be praised. First of all, if you take a good look, you can see that there is no such praise in the verse. The praise is rather of "the fruit of the date-palm and the grape-vine" which provide people with wholesome nourishment. The intoxicants mentioned in the first part of the verse are what people distill from these components and cause drunkenness, which have already been mentioned in many parts of the Qur'an as harmful and wrong. If anyone manages to reach the conclusion that this verse is praising or encouraging drunkenness, then either that person has an ulterior motive or else he is simply displaying an immense error in understanding and opinion.
This verse draws attention to one very significant fact; any food given as sustenance by God, can, if so desired, be used in a positive and beneficial way or can be abused to serve harmful ends. In the same way, depending on the intent, a given blessing can be used for good or ill, and can be used for lawful (halal) or unlawful (haram) ends. Here, this basic fact of this world, which is a testing ground, is made clear in the controversy over grapes and wine. The grape, a sustenance filled with healthy, nurturing and delicious qualities can be distilled into a truly harmful substance with permanent and negative effects. The same principle is true of other offerings from God such as property, money, beauty, intelligence, office, position, power and dominion. It is possible to use these in a manner that will please God or for harmful and destructive purposes to displease Him.
As seen, God can transform any offering, for various reasons, into different creations. He can make this clear in a single verse with the same superior Wisdom. Those who are able to reason will see the logic in God's verses and understand them. Moreover, the continuation of the verse "There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reason." (Surat an-Nahl: 67) sheds further light on this subject.
In short, when the verse is read with consciousness and attention, it can be seen that it is not contradictory at all. The deniers' attempt to find contradiction in such obvious subjects clearly shows their desperate situation in the face of the Qur'an.
The Claim that "Pork Produced Under the Strict Hygienic Surroundings of Today May Be Consumed"
Pork had many harmful qualities if consumed during the time of the Qur'an, and indeed still does. First of all the pig, no matter how hygienic the surroundings where it is raised, is still an animal that consumes its own excrement. The metabolism of the pig produces many antibodies in comparison to other animals, both because it feeds on its own excrement and because of its biological make-up. Moreover, its metabolism produces large amounts of growth hormones compared to those of other animals and human beings. Naturally, these antibodies and growth hormones make their way to the pig's muscles during circulation and accumulate there. In addition, pork contains large amounts of cholesterol and lipids. As a result, it has been scientifically proven that all these excessive antibodies, hormones, cholesterol and lipids present in pork pose a threat to human health.
Today in countries such as the U.S.A. and Germany, where pork is popular, obesity has become a widespread problem. Anyone whose diet includes pork will be exposed to large amounts of growth hormone, and as a result he will initially put on excess weight and then his body will continue to become deformed and disfigured.
Another harmful subject pork often contains is the trichina, a small parasitic worm. This particular parasite affects the heart muscles when it enters the body and represents a fatal risk. Even though it may be possible, with today's technology, to diagnose those pigs infected with this parasite, that was not the case until recently. In the past, therefore, people always faced the danger of such a fatal infection.
As can be seen, the wisdom behind the prohibition of pork in Islam is apparent. In Islam, a definite and deep-rooted measure has been taken against the consumption of pork, which, under all conditions, remains a health-risk and becomes fatal unless produced under supervision.
However, there is an important point to remember. It is not essential for something to be unhealthy or harmful to human beings in order for it to be prohibited. This is a subject that escapes many people and is often used by those with ulterior motives to take advantage of people's lack of knowledge and confuse them. That is to say, the ignorant claims they make along the lines of "Now why is this or that prohibited in the Qur'an? There is nothing wrong with it!" are a result of not thinking or realizing the wisdom and aim of the Qur'anic commandments. Unwise people often perceive notions through an incredibly narrow and limited lens; consequently, they never see the causes and the logic behind them within the bigger picture.
God can prohibit anything, for many different reasons. He can also prohibit something not harmful in order to test those who truly fear Him, love and obey Him as well as to expose the pretenders. Moreover, something can be prohibited for purposes of punishment or warning, or simply for the remembrance of blessings and as a means for people to show their gratitude.
God has also prohibited, in the Qur'an, the consumption of any animal that has been consecrated to something other than God.
He has only forbidden you carrion, blood and pork and what has been consecrated to other than God. But anyone who is forced to eat it – without desiring it or going to excess in it – commits no crime. God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Baqarah: 173)
It is obvious that eating the meat of an animal that has not been consecrated to God does not threaten our health. However, if one of two oxen grazing in the same field has been consecrated to God its consumption would be "lawful" (halal), conversely, if the other one is consecrated to something other than God then its consumption would be "unlawful" (haram). One of the reasons for this commandment is to provide a means of testing people.
For instance, the prohibition imposed on the Jews in the past "not to work on the Sabbath" (Saturday) was meant to test them, and this is stated in the Qur'an:
Ask them about the town which was by the sea when they broke the Sabbath – when their fish came to them near the surface on their Sabbath day but did not come on the days which were not their Sabbath. In this way We put them to the test because they were deviators. (Surat al-A'raf: 163)
This prohibition about working on Saturdays that was imposed on the Jews in the past was not asked of Muslims. This shows that the ban was not imposed because of any social threat or because the fish which swarmed towards the city that day were in any way hazardous, but was simply to put the Jews to the test. Additionally, the same verse states that they disobeyed the ban and so failed the test. This prohibition served to exhibit the weaknesses in that nation's faith and fear of God.
A similar prohibition stated in the Qur'an carries a similar purpose and is a means of assessment of true believers:
You who have faith! God will test you with game animals which come within the reach of your hands and spears, so that God will know those who fear Him in the Unseen. Anyone who oversteps the limits after this will have a painful punishment. You who have faith! Do not kill game while you are forbidden (this while on Pilgrimage). If one of you kills any deliberately, the reprisal for it is a livestock animal equivalent to what he killed, as judged by two just men among you, a sacrifice to reach the Ka'ba, or expiation by feeding the poor, or fasting commensurate with that, so that he may taste the evil consequences of what he did. God has pardoned all that took place in the past; but if anyone does it again God will take revenge on him. God is Almighty, Exactor of Revenge. Anything you catch in the sea is lawful for you, and all food from it, for your enjoyment and that of travellers, but land game is forbidden you while you are under taboo (in Pilgrimage). Heed God, Him to whom you will be gathered." (Surat al-Ma'idah: 94-96)
The purpose of this ban has been clearly stated in the verse "... so that God will know those who fear Him in the Unseen." The ease with which the hands and spear reach their target is part of the test.
Another purpose behind this testing of nations is to punish them when they display misbehavior or perversity and to remind them to repent and go back to the right path. Some of the bans placed on the Jews in the past are examples of this:
We made unlawful for the Jews every animal with an undivided hoof, and in respect of cattle and sheep, We made their fat unlawful for them, except what is attached to their backs or guts or mixed up with bone. That is how We repaid them for their insolence. And We certainly speak the truth. (Surat al-An'am: 146)
We can conclude that there is deep wisdom in the prohibition of the things that God has declared to be unlawful. If we were to limit this reason to something being harmful or unhealthy it would be due to the lack of proper knowledge and comprehension of the Qur'an.
There is also more than one cause for the ban on pork. There is no doubt that pork has always been hazardous to human health until the present day. That definite measures against the risk in question, discovered by medical equipment and biological tests in our day, were taken in the Qur'an 1,400 years ago, a time when people were entirely uninformed about concepts such as microbes, bacteria, trichina, hormones or antibodies, is one of the miracles of this Divine Book. It is known today that, even after all the inspections and precautions taken during the production of pork, it still is physically unfit for human consumption, and is a type of meat that creates health hazards in human beings. Nonetheless, the production of pork is cost-effective and this is one of the reasons why it is so popular worldwide. This tempting factor, we may notice, somewhat resembles the flow of the fish during the Sabbath of the Jews. When there are so many edible and delicious sources of meat such as lambs, sheep, chickens, cows, countless varieties of birds, animals of prey and many more, to covet pork meat when it is forbidden by God would be considered a purposeful act.
Since the Qur'an is valid until the Day of Judgment, any form of pork consumption, other than the extraordinary situations stated in the Qur'an, is forbidden until then. If after a hundred years pork is completely treated of any health hazards, to avoid consuming it would still be a form of worship for true believers. Then, the question of whether to eat it or not will again be a trial for those mindless objectors.
Seeing the Anecdotes in the Qur'an as Fables
One important element in the Qur'anic style is that it explains various subjects through examples or comparisons. These are often from the lives of previous prophets/messengers or events that occurred before the Qur'an's revelation. Therefore, these types of Qur'anic anecdotes display many warnings, examples, signs and messages to people.
The Qur'an conveys the ignorant words of those who are unable to realize this holy wisdom:
When Our Signs are recited to them, they say, 'We have already heard all this. If we wanted, we could say the same thing. This is nothing but the myths of previous peoples.' (Surat al-Anfal: 31)When they are asked, 'What has your Lord sent down?' they say, 'Myths and legends of previous peoples.' (Surat an-Nahl: 24)
The unwise regard these anecdotes as myths and legends, even though they contain considerable enlightening information and examples for true believers. God explains every possible event and the laws of all times by giving examples or illustrations from the lives of past prophets and nations.
Obviously, to provide historical information is not the only aim of these Qur'anic anecdotes or examples. They contain numerous holy aims too. We can list a few of them thus:
Evidently, those who lack the intelligence and the sense to perceive such things will assume the Qur'an to be a storybook and will not see the hidden wisdom in the Qur'anic anecdotes. The state of these judgmental and insensible people who are deaf to any explanation or advice, is mentioned in a Qur'anic verse:
Some of them listen to you but We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. Though they see every Sign, they still have no faith, so that when they come to you, disputing with you, those who are disbelievers say, 'This is nothing but the myths of previous peoples!' (Surat al-An'am: 25)
People like that do not pose any threat to Islam or the Qur'an with their actions. No matter how much they try to cause harm to the Qur'an and to turn or hold others back from their religion, they do no more than damage themselves without even realizing it. This fact is stated in the continuation of the previous verse:
They keep others from it and avoid it themselves. They are only destroying themselves but they are not aware of it... (Surat al-An'am: 26)
When they finally do realize the errors of their ways it is of no use, as they are too late and there is no way to repair the damage:
If only you could see when they are standing before the Fire and saying, 'Oh! If only we could be sent back again, we would not deny the Signs of our Lord and we would be among the believers'!. (Surat al-An'am: 27)
The Assumption That the Qur'an is a Copy or Imitation of Other Holy Books
The Qur'an is the only divine book that God has sent to all of mankind as a warning as well as guidance, and is valid until the Day of Judgment. Mankind has altered the other holy books that were sent before the Qur'an. However, God has protected the Qur'an. This fact is mentioned in verse 9 of Surat al-Hijr "It is We Who have sent down the Reminder and We Who will preserve it.."
Another of the unsound claims widely spread by the unwise is that the Prophet Muhammad was inspired by the Bible (the Torah and the Gospel) and afterwards wrote the Qur'an. At the root of this totally imaginary and baseless claim lie some similarities that exist between the Qur'an and the Bible.
It is quite natural for such similarities to exist because, ultimately (if we were to remove the altered parts of the Torah and the Gospel) they all contain the words of God and their message is one and the same. The main subjects, such as the presence of God, His oneness, His attributes, belief in the Hereafter, the characteristics of believers, hypocrites and those who deny Him, the lives of previous nations, guidance, prohibitions, and moral values, are universal facts and will stay unaltered throughout time. Consequently, it is no surprise that these topics mentioned in the previous holy books are similar and parallel to those in the Qur'an. Actually, there is no claim in the Qur'an that Islam is a very distinct religion. The similarities are stated in the Qur'anic verses as well:
It (The Qur'an) is certainly in the scriptures of the previous peoples. Is it not indeed a Sign for them that the scholars of the tribe of Israel have knowledge of it? (Surat ash-Shu'ara : 196-197)
What is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to God. We have instructed those given the Book before you and you yourselves, to have fear of God. (Surat an-Nisa': 131)
What's more, it is stated in the Qur'an that it confirms the original, unaltered Torah and the Gospel:
And We have sent down the Book to you (O Muhammad) with truth, confirming and conserving the previous Books. So judge between them by what God has sent down and do not follow their whims and desires deviating from the Truth that has come to you. We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you… (Surat al-Ma'idah: 48)
The quality of confirming its predecessors is not unique to the Qur'an, but has been given to all the divine books. The Gospel that was sent to the Prophet Jesus confirmed its predecessor the Torah that was revealed to the Prophet Moses. This reality is stated in the Qur'an:
And We sent Jesus son of Maryam following in their footsteps, confirming the Torah that came before him. We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, confirming the Torah that came before it, and as guidance and admonition for those who do their duty. (Surat al-Ma'idah: 46)
This is a law of God and of course applies to the Qur'an as well. Some of the subjects in common with the other divine books have been mentioned in the Qur'an. The beginning of Hajj (Pilgrimage) with the Prophet Abraham in verses 26 and 27 of Surat al-Hajj, the existence of obligatory daily prayers and giving alms before the time of our Prophet in verses 72 and 73 of Surat al-Anbiya', and the good behavior asked of all the messengers in verse 51 of Surat al-Mu'minun all reflect these common points.
"And We located the position of the House for Abraham: 'Do not associate anything with Me and purify My House for those who circle it, and those who stand and bow and prostrate. Announce the Pilgrimage to mankind. They will come to you on foot and on every sort of lean animal, coming by every distant road."(Surat al-Hajj: 26-27)
And in addition to that We gave him Isaac and Jacob and made both of them true believers. We made them leaders, guiding by Our command, and revealed to them how to do good actions and establish prayer and pay alms, and they worshipped Us. (Surat al-Anbiya': 72-73)
Messengers, eat of the good things and act rightly. I most certainly know what you do." (Surat al-Mu'minun: 51)
We may conclude that there are similar beliefs between the Qur'an and the other divine books, and that this is not only natural but logical. Therefore, the presence of these similarities does not in any way show that our Prophet wrote the Qur'an. In fact, quite the opposite; it further emphasizes the truth that the books of all Divine religions come from one source, God. This is a reality stated by the Qur'an and confirmed by reason as well as logic.
God has revealed in His verses that the Qur'an is the book of truth sent by Him and the condition of those who do not believe in this truth.
And this Qur'an is not such as could ever be invented in despite of God; but it is a confirmation of that which was before it and an exposition of that which is decreed for mankind - This Qur'an could never have been devised by any besides God. Rather it is confirmation of what came before it and an elucidation of the Book which contains no doubt from the Lord of all the worlds. Do they say, 'He has invented it'? Say: 'Then produce a chapter like it and call on anyone you can besides God if you are telling the truth.' No, the fact is that they have denied something which their knowledge does not embrace and the meaning of which has not yet reached them. In the same way those before them also denied the truth. See the final fate of the wrongdoers! (Surah Yunus: 37-39)
Moreover, there is another dimension to this subject. The Prophet Muhammad was not someone who collected information and researched either the Torah or the Gospel in his lifetime. The Prophet's fellow tribesmen closely witnessed the fact that he never actually read, wrote, worked on or researched any of these books. No one ever had any doubt concerning this point. Furthermore, this characteristic of the Prophet that was so well known by the disbelievers was used in the Qur'an as evidence against them:
You never recited any Book before it nor did you write one down with your right hand. If you had, the purveyors of falsehood would have voiced their doubts… (Surat al-'Ankabut: 48)
The term "Ummi", which refers to a person who has no knowledge of the previous divine books and is not a member of these religions, is used in the Qur'an for the Prophet Muhammad to emphasize his attribute. The verse is:
Those who follow the Messenger, the Ummi, whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel...." (Surat al-A'raf: 157)
The context in which the term "Ummi" is used to refer to those who are not Christians or Jews can be seen in the verse:
If they argue with you, say, 'I have submitted myself completely to God, and so have all who follow me.' Say to those given the Book and those who have no Book (the Ummi), 'Have you become Muslim?' If they become Muslim, they have been guided. If they turn away, you are only responsible for transmission. God sees His servants.
(Surat Al 'Imran: 20)
As we can deduce from this verse, the term "Ummi" is used to refer to people other than those who have been sent books. So it becomes clear that the term is not used in the Qur'an with its classical form to imply the "illiterate".
Incompatibilities and Differences
We have so far explained the logic behind the similarities that exist between the Qur'an and the other altered books. However, when a person pays enough attention he will realize that there are many more incompatibilities and differences between them. In addition to the existing resemblances, the Qur'an's dissimilarity with the altered portions of the other divine books and how it corrects these changes is evidence that it is, word for word, a Holy Book.
Since the previous divine books have gone through extensive man-made changes and have lost much of their original divine message, they contain conflicting references and logic, and are at times the direct opposite of what is contained in the Qur'an. There are also many variations in their anecdotes compared to Qur'anic ones.
These books have been changed in content and logic as well as style and composition; hence they have been turned into mystical religious history texts rather than divine books. For instance, the first book of the Torah, Genesis, tells the story of Children of Israel from the beginning of creation until the death of the Prophet Joseph. This style of historic expression is dominant in all the other books of the Torah as well.
In the same way, the initial parts of the four official Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) contain the life of the Prophet Jesus as their main topic. The main subject of all of these four Gospels is his life, words and actions.
In contrast, the Qur'an is very different in style. There is an open invitation to religion right from the start with Surat al-Fatihah. Overall, the main subject in the Qur'an is declaring God to be free of imperfection and ordering believers to avoid idolatry in order to surrender themselves only to God.
Today, in the altered version of the Torah, many imperfections and human attributes have been ascribed to God (God is surely beyond these). For example, the anecdote of the Prophet Noah contains a great deal of far-fetched nonsense about God's attributes. Human qualities such as feeling tired or regretful, serenity, and many more it is not appropriate to mention here have been ascribed to God. Again, the Torah has greatly slandered God when it describes Him as a human-like entity that walks, fights, and feels anger. (God is surely beyond that)
This is the reason why there are clear warnings in the Qur'an against such slanders and lies by the Jews. One such accusation is that God (who is surely beyond that) is parsimonious.
The Jews say, 'God's hand is chained.' Their hands are chained and they are cursed for what they say! No! Both His hands are open wide and He gives however He wills. (Surat al-Ma'idah: 64)
On the whole, the Qur'an differs again from the Torah since it does not just talk about a single nation but of all civilizations, their rise and fall, as well as holding those whom it has been revealed to responsible for following its verses. These qualities make it unique and universal. Since the other books have been changed by people throughout history and have lost their originality, they no longer possess these qualities. Some of the basic principles of Christianity that are mentioned in the Bible, which is claimed to be a source of the Qur'an have been openly rejected by the Qur'an. The most important one is that which assumes Prophet Jesus to be the son of God. This belief has been appraised in the Qur'an as a lie against God.
They say, 'The All-Merciful has a son.' They have devised a monstrous thing. The heavens are all but rent apart and the earth split open and the mountains brought crashing down, at their ascription of a son to the All-Merciful! It is not fitting for the All-Merciful to have a son. There is no one in the heavens and earth who will not come to the All-Merciful as a slave… (Surah Maryam: 88-93)
Another such claim the Qur'an entirely opposes is the crucifixion of the Prophet Jesus by the Jews. In the Qur'an, it is stated that the Jews did not kill Jesus, but that is how it was made to look, and it is added that God raised him up to Himself.
In conclusion, if we make a general comparison we will see that the important truth the Qur'an guides human beings toward is the Oneness of God, that there is no other deity but He and His purity from any defects or negative attributes. These important facts are repeated in each Qur'anic anecdote, information and verse. In the same manner, each Qur'anic anecdote carries guidance, warning and information.
All of these prove that the Qur'an is a divine revelation.