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Are there Contradictions in the Qur'ān?

The Qur'ānic text is remarkably consistent in its thought and presentation.  In the preface of “The Koran Interpreted (an orientalist translation of the Qur'ān), the translator Arthur John Arberry writes: "There is a repertory of familiar themes running through the whole Koran; each Sura [chapter] elaborates or adumbrates[1] one or more -often many - of these.  Using the language of music, each Sura is a rhapsody composed of whole or fragmentary leitmotivs[2]; the analogy is reinforced by the subtly varied rhythmical flow of the discourse.


Scientific references in the Qur'ānic text have proven to be consistently and inexplicably accurate.  In a lecture given at the French Academy of Medicine in 1976, entitled "Physiological and Embryological Data in the Qur'an", Dr. Maurice Bucaille said, "There is no human work in existence that contains statements as far beyond the level of knowledge of its time as the Qur'an.  Scientific opinions comparable to those in the Qur'an are the result of modern knowledge.” (The Qur'ān and Modern Science, p. 6)


Speaking about the authority of the Qur'ān, Professor Reynold A. Nicholson said, "We have (in the Koran) materials of unique and incontestable authority for tracing the origin and early development of Islam, such materials as do not exist in the case of Buddhism or Christianity or any other ancient religion.” (Literary History of the Arabs, p. 143)


The Qur'ān challenges its readers to find any errors in it, if they do not believe it is really from God[3]:


"Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’ān?  If it had been from any other than Allāh, they would have found within it much contradiction."  (Qur'ān, 4:82)


The few "apparent contradictions" commonly mentioned by critics can easily be easily explained.  For example, the "first believer" in the following two verses:


"Say (0 Muhammad): 'Shall I take as my lord someone other than Allāh, Creator of the heavens and earth, though it is He who feeds but is not fed’.  Say: 'Indeed I am commanded to be the first of those who submit themselves to Allāh, and not to be among the idolators’."  (Qur'ān, 6:14)


"...But when his Lord appeared to the mountain, it crumbled to dust, and Moses fell down unconscious.  When he

regained consciousness, he said, 'Glory be to You, I turn to you in repentance and I am the first of the believers'."  (Qur'ān, 7:143)


The earlier verse refers to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who was told to inform the pagans of his time that he could never accept their idolatry and would be the first of those in his time to submit to God.  In the second verse, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) declares himself among the first in his time to submit to God upon realising that it was impossible to see God.  Each prophet was the first in his own era to submit to God.


Similarly, the "day with God" mentioned in the following two verses:


"He arranges (every) affair from the heavens to the earth, then it goes up to Him, equivalent to a thousand years

according to your reckoning."  (Qur'ān, 32:5)


"The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day equivalent to fifty thousand years."  (Qur'ān, 70:4)


The two verses refer to two completely different events.  The first refers to the destiny that is sent down and reported back in a day governing a thousand years of human life.  The second refers to the ascent of the angels from the world to the highest of the heavens, which for them takes a day equivalent to 50,000 human years.  God is not governed by time.  He created time and made it relative to the creatures it governs.  Consequently, according to the calculation of modem scientists, one year on Mars is equivalent to 687 earth days, while one year on Uranus is equal to 84 earth years (The New Encyclopaedia Britannica. vol. 27, pp. 551 & 571).


In the Qur'ān, God commands the believers to accept, as a part of their faith, the divine word revealed to Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), known as the Torah; to Prophet David (peace be upon him) in the original Psalms; and to Jesus (peace be upon him) in the original Gospel.  All Muslims are obliged to believe in all of the revealed scriptures.  However, as stated in the Qur'ān, all scriptures revealed before the Qur'ān have not remained as they were revealed.  This is also a fact now accepted by the scholars of these scriptures.


"Woe to those who write the scripture with their own hands and then say: 'This is from Allāh', to purchase

with it worldly gain at a cheap price.  Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earned by doing it."  (Qur'ān, 2:79)


Furthermore, in the Old Testament, God is quoted in Jeremiah 8:8 as saying, "How can you say, 'We are wise, and

the law is with us '? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.”  (Revised Standard Version)
(Source: The True Message of Jesus Christ - peace be upon him)

[1] Indicate faintly or in outline.

[2] Recurring features.

[2] See article: "What is the name of God?".