Could Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) Have Read Bible And Copied??
Qur’an and the Hadith state that Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was Ummi. Qur’an 7:158 states:
[007:158] Say (O Muhammad): O mankind! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah to you all – (the messenger of) Him unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. There is no God save Him. He quickeneth and He giveth death. So believe in Allah and His messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, who believeth in Allah and in His Words, and follow him that happily ye may be led aright. (Pickthall Translation, Quran 7:158)
Pickthall translated the word Ummi as “who can neither read nor write”.
According to Ectaco English-Arabic Online Dictionary (http://www-old.ectaco.com), arabic word Ummi (أمي) means:
And according to Ectaco English-Arabic Online Dictionary ( http://www-old.ectaco.com), arabic words for illiterate are:
أمي ِ يقرأ وِ يكتب, جاهل,
Qur’an also states that Prophet Muhammed (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was illiterate. Qur’an 29:048 says:
[029:048] And thou wast not (able) to recite a Book before this (Book came), nor art thou (able) to transcribe it with thy right hand: In that case, indeed, would the talkers of vanities have doubted. (Yusuf Ali Translation, Qur’an 29:48)
So until that point we can be sure that Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) could not read nor write. Naturally, if prophet could read or write then Non-Muslims would have claimed prophet Muhammed as a liar. They would have seen Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) writing or reading and used that as an evidence that he lied in Qur’an 29:48. Their reaction and refusal to use 29:48 as a proof to demonstrate that prophet Muhammad was a liar is a solid proof that Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayho wasallam) could really not read nor write and nor could he consquently have read Bible personally.
Allegation that Waraqa Ibn Nawfal taught Prophet Muhammed
Waraqa was a cousin of Khatija (radhiyallahu anha), first wife of Prophet Muhammed (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). He was a learned man and was well versed in New Testament. Some morons assert that Waraqa could have been teaching prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). There are several historical and logical flaws in that assertion.
Sahih bukhari Volume 1, Book 1, Number 3 states:
“…Waraqa replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone (man) who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should remain alive till the day when you will be turned out then I would support you strongly.” But after a few days Waraqa died…” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 1, Number 3)
Firstly, Waraqa died few days later after Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) recieved the first revelation of the Qur’an. Since Waraqa died after few days later then he cannot have been the source of Qur’an, since the Qur’an continued to be revealed continuously upto 23 years after his death. Naturally, since he was dead he could not have been teaching Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) or been the source of Qur’an!
Secondly, Waraqa was a pious and a wise man, who dedicated much of his life in the search of God. However, he stated in Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 605:
“Narrated ‘Aisha(radhiyallahu anha):
The Prophet returned to Khadija (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) while his heart was beating rapidly. She took him to Waraqa bin Naufal who was a Christian convert and used to read the Gospels in Arabic Waraqa asked (the Prophet), “What do you see?” When he told him, Waraqa said, “That is the same angel whom Allah sent to the Prophet) Moses. Should I live till you receive the Divine Message, I will support you strongly.” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 605)
Thus he was intending to support Prophet Muhammed (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) and accepted his prophethood. If he (Waraqa) had been the source of Qur’an then he would have exposed prophet Muhammed and refused to follow him! It must be remembered that Waraqa was a god-fearing and a noble person.
When was Bible translated into Arabic according to historian?
According to all scholarly sources Bible was not translated into Arabic during Prophet’s time. The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics admits this:
there is no evidence of any parts of the Bible having been translated into arabic before Islam. (Hastings, James. The Encyclopedia of Rleigion and Ethics. Vol. X, p. 540)
Hastings Dictionary of the Bible attributes the first arabic translation of the Bible to the tenth century (Source: Hastings, James. Dictionary of the Bible. p. 105). However, Encyclopedia Judaica attributes the first arabic translation of the Old Testament either to Hunayn Ibn Ishaq (800-873CE) or to Saadiah bin Joseph Gaon (882-942CE) (Source: Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 4, p. 863)
Paul Wegner explains that the Christian and Jewish traditions that were circulating in Arabia were oral traditions. But the Christian and Jewish groups in Arabia were not orthodox at all, and there were numerous heretical groups:
The Scriptures do not seem to have been extant in an Arabic version before the time of Muhammad (570-632), who knew the Gospel story only in oral form, and mainly from Syriac sources. These Syriac sources were marked by Docetism (believed that Jesus had only a divine nature and only appeared to be incarnate – they thought the material world and thus one’s body was inherently evil)… (Wegner, Paul D. The Journey from Texts to Translations. 1999. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. p. 250)
According to New Catholic Encyclopedia:
Neither Arabian Jews nor Arabian Christians, unfortunately, were to be classed among the better representatives of their faiths at the time. The former had lived in comparative isolation possibly since the middle of the 1st millenium B.C., although they had been mildly successful in proselytism and the latter were mainly heretical Monophysites, remote in every sense from the centers of Christian learning. (New Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol 9, p.1001)
There are hadiths stating Waraqah Ibn Nawful translated and read New Testament in Arabic. Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 478 states:
“…Waraqa had been converted to Christianity in the Pre-lslamic Period and used to write Arabic and write of the Gospel in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight. …” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 478)
There is no hadith stating that Waraqah Ibn Nawfal translated the whole bible into Arabic, including Old Testament and New Testament, which was official and available to public. As the hadith states Waraqah translated the Gospel as much as Allah willed him to write. He also became blind, which naturally would have prevented him from translating further. Furthermore, history dictates that his translation was for personal usage and not an official translation of the Bible accessible to the Public, therefore Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) getting a copy of his translation and reading it is very unlikely. He only translated fragments of the Bible, which was for his personal study. Therefore, the hadiths and history do not contradict on this issue.
Allegation that Qur’an was taught to Prophet Muhammad by a Roman Blacksmith
Some pagans accused Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) of learning the Qur’an from the Roman blacksmith, who lived in the outskirts of Makkah and was a Christian. Prophet used to go and watch him do his work often. However, Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala Himself refuted this claim by the use of logic:
[016:103] We know indeed that they say, “It is a man that teaches him.” The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear. (Yusuf Ali Translation, Qur’an 16:103)
That would be like stating that a Chinese immigrant, who didn’t know English well, authored Shakespere’s work; which is obviously illogical. In a same manner how could a blacksmith who didn’t know arabic well have authored Qur’an, linguistics of which exceed excellence?? Indeed, he would not have managed to even convey and explain his basic believes to the Prophet!
Accusation that ‘Hanif’ taught Prophet Muhammad the Qur’an
Hanif were the group of people at Makkah who tried to follow religion of Abraham (Qur’anic Ibraheem alayhissalaam), and therefore believed in monotheism. Before the revelation of the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) himself was a Hanif.
However, the Hanifs were not learned about Christianity and Judaism. Indeed as it is demonstrated from Sahih Hadith Volume 5, Book 58, Number 169, many of the Hanif knew no background knowledge of Judaism and Christianity, and their religion seems contradicting to Hanifs beliefs. Therefore, even the Hanifs were not aware of Judeo-Christian beliefs, so there is no possibilty or proof of them teaching Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) about Judeo-Christian beliefs.
Allegation that Priest and Rabbi taught Prophet Muhammad the Qur’an
The discussions between priest and Rabbi and Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) took place in Madinah, however much of the Qur’an, especially the stories of Prophets Such as Jesus (Surah Maryam), Joseph (Surah 12) and others were revealed in Makkah. That theory would only be worth considering if the stories of Prophet and other bible-related stories were ONLY revealed in Madinah. But the bible-related stories were revealed in Makkah, where Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) did not participate in debates with priests and rabbi.
Were the occasional trips to Syria source of Prophet’s knowledge?
There are 2 recorded travel of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaalahu alayhi wasallam) to Syria. One when he was 12 years old and second when he was around the age of 25.
On his journey to Syria when he was 12, he met a monk by the name of Bahira. An immediate question arises, how can a child of 12 learn the theology of different religions in such detail at a brief visit, whilst constanly accompanied by his Uncle and other traders and yet manages to remember all this information until the age of 40?? This is a logical fallacy! Naturally a child at such an age cannot have enough intelligence to comprehend complex theology (in detail), and yet remember for more than 28 years.
Furthermore, Seerah (Biography of Prophet Muhammad) tells us that Prophet Muhammad was accompanied by his Uncle and many other traders, naturally they would not forsake a child in a totally different country; they would accompany him to every possible corner! This would minimize the time he has for learning complex theology.
Bahira himself believed in prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Indeed, the invitation to entertainment itself was in honour of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). His belief in prophethood of Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam is described in many seerah texts, this visit is recorded as follows:
Bahira said that he had seen the stones and the trees prostrating to Muhammad as Muhammad had been walking by. They only do this for a prophet of Allah. He looked at the Muhammad’s back and noticed the seal of the prophet, which was an oval shape protruding just below Muhammad’s shoulder blades. He said that this was one of the signs of a great prophet to come that was taught to them in their books.
Second journey was for trade, the story is narrated here:
Khadija soon sent word to Muhammad asking him if he would take a trade caravan to Syria. She would pay him a high fee, which was double that of which she had paid any other person. She also gave Muhammad the services of a young lad by the name of Maysarah who would look after him on the journey. When Muhammad reached Basra, he was shading under a tree when a Monk saw him by the name of Nestor. Nestor asked Maysarah about the person sitting under the tree; Maysarah replied that it was Muhammad. Nestor said, that person is no other than a messenger of Allah. Maysarah soon realised that he was in the company of a very special person. He said that he noticed that the heat was extreme when he saw a clear vision of two angels shading Muhammad from the heat of the day.
Main point to notice is that Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) was again followed closely by Maysarah, therefore he would have realised if Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) had been learning about Bible. And once again the monk Nestor believed in the prophethood of Prophet Muhammed (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam). Muhammad Mohar Ali writes in his book on this topic:
Had Muhammad contacted during his trade journeys to Syria any Christian monk or layman for obtaining information or even for casual discussion, the Quraysh opponents, many of whom had accompanied him to Syria, would not have failed to make the most of it in their attack against him. That no such allegation was made by them is a decisive proof that he had not sought information about Christianity or Judaism from anyone in the course of his journey to Syria. (Sirat Al-Nabi And the Orientalists Vol. I A by Muhammed Mohar Ali, Page 266)
Did Prophet Muhammad heard Quss preach Christianity at the Ukaz fair??
In his book Sirat Al-Nabi And the Orientalists Vol. I A, Muhammad Mohar Ali writes regarding this:
It is stated that the Prophet heard Quss preach at the Ukaz fair. This tradition is unanimously classified as spurious and is rejected as such. Specially, one of its narrators, Muhammed ibn al-hallaj al-Lakhmi, is condemned as a confirmed liar (kadhdhab). And even according to this spurious report, the Prophet was only one of the audience and did not make any enquiries as such with the speaker. The orientalists’s use of this report without any indication of its weakness and untrustworthiness is indicative of how such materials are uncritically accepted and cited to support a particular assumption. (Sirat Al-Nabi And the Orientalists Vol. I A by Muhammed Mohar Ali, page 266-267)
Did Prophet Muhammad Author Qur’an for Worldly Gains?
It is very evident from Seerah (biography of Prophet’s life) that Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) could not have authored Qur’an for worldly gains.
After unsuccessful attempts of Quraysh (tribe of Makkah) they could do little to prevent islam from spreading. Therefore they tried to bribe Prophet Muhammad into leaving islam. Utbah Ibn Rabiah was sent for this task. This story is narrated in a Seerah called “Muhammed The Last Prophet”, by Sayyed Abdul hasan ‘Ali Nadwi (rahimahullah), page 43:
‘Nephew,’ he [Utbah] said, ‘you know your standing among us, but you have brought a matter of grave concern to your people. You have divided their community, made fun of their customs, criticised their gods and their religion and declared some of their ancestors to be unbelievers. Now, listen to me. I will make some proposals for you to examine and perhaps you will accept some of them.’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Speak, Abul-Walid. I am listening.’ ‘Nephew, ‘Utbah continued, ‘if you want money by this business, we will collect some of our property and make you the wealthiest among us. If you want honour, we will make you our chief so that every decision is yours. If you want a kingdom, we will make you our king. If you are possessed by a ghost of a jinn that you cannot drive away from yourself, we will find skilful doctors to help you. We will spend our wealth on it till you are cured.’When Utbah had finished, the Messenger of Allah asked, ‘Have you finished, Abul-Walid?’
‘Then listen to me.’‘I will,’ said Utbah. Then the Messenger of Allah recited some verses from Surah Fussilat. Utbah listened intently, putting his hands behind his back and leaning on them. When the Messenger of Allah reached the place mentioning prostration, he prostrated and then said, ‘You have heard what you have heard, Abul-Walid. It is now up to you.’ (“Muhammed The Last Prophet”, by Sayyed Abdul hasan ‘Ali Nadwi, page 43)
If Prophet Muhammed had been after money, women, kingdom or any other worldly desire then now would have been a perfect chance! But Prophet Muhammed chose Islam above all.
Furthermore, history dictates that Prophet’s financial status worsened after the Prophethood mission. “Muhammed The Last Prophet”, by Sayyed Abdul hasan ‘Ali Nadwi, page 185 narrates:
‘A’ishah has related, ‘When the Messenger of Allah left this world, there was nothing in the house that a creature could eat except a little barley on a shelf. (“Muhammed The Last Prophet”, by Sayyed Abdul hasan ‘Ali Nadwi, page 185)
Even a person considered poor by today’s standards would have had more luxuries than that. If Prophet’s intentions were to gain wealth then surely he would have had large amount of wealth and luxuries by the time of his death.