By Bob Pulliam
In combating the errors of Islam one needs ammunition. A great source of power against this rapidly growing religion is the truth behind its origins. For this reason, we offer a brief look at the founder of Islam and the god of Islam. In the next two issues of Guardian of Truth we will consider the sacred writings of Islam, and forgiveness.
The origins of Islam is a study that the ordinary Muslim will not make. To search out the origins of his religion is taboo, and I believe the material in this study will reveal why such is true. Information on this subject abounds, as well as opinions on certain aspects. There is no way to completely examine these matters here; but many books have been written to help confront this rapidly growing religion. Your local library will probably have a few of these.
Muhammad’s Humble Beginnings
The founder of the Islamic religion was Muhammad. Muhammad was born to an impoverished family in about 570 A.D. Although his family was poor, the tribe of which he was a member (Quraysh) controlled the city of Mecca and the temple there, which was called the “Kabah.” His mother was prone to visits from genies and spirits, claiming also to have visions. Although she died when Muhammad was very young, her dabbling in the occult arts cannot be ignored when considering the course of her son (McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981], 6:406). Much of the religion of pre-Islamic life is found in the Islamic faith. What the Muslim claims to have been original with Muhammad (because Allah was revealing such to him), was actually in existence before Muhammad. was born. Robert Morey points out:
As Muhammad grew up near the Kabah, the 360 idols, and the sacred magical black stone which was considered the “good luck charm” for the Quraysh tribe, he witnessed pilgrims coming to the Mecca every year. He watched them worship at the Kabah by running around it seven times, kissing the black stone, and then running down to a nearby Wadi to throw stones at the devil (Robert Morey, The Islamic Invasion [Harvest House Publishers, 1992], 74).
These elements are retained in modem Islamic pilgrimages today.
Muhammad grew up in a culture rich in legends, and filled with the stories of travelers from other countries. There was no limit to the possibilities proposed by such an opportunity. These people were very much like those described in Acts 17:21. There was always a story being told, and Muhammad’s revelations from Allah would be natural give and take with a people who believed in genies, the evil eye, and flying carpets. Several factors have been suggested for the success of Muhammad’s new religion. We will not second guess what we already know as a fact: It caught on.
We know from Muslim records that Muhammad would fall down and have seizures when his visions were received (many believe he suffered from epilepsy). His body would jerk; his eyes would roll back; and he would perspire. Most people in Muhammad’s day believed that such seizures were the work of evil spirits. At first, Muhammad naturally felt that he was being visited by evil spirits. Later, he became convinced (by others) that these were divine visions from Allah.
The Origin of “Allah”
The creed of Islam is, “There is no God but Allah; Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Muslims are convinced that Muhammad revealed Allah to his countrymen, and they therefore had no previous knowledge of him. But long before Muhammad came along, Mecca was an important place of worship for Arabs. Then, as now, there was the temple (mosque) called the “Kabah.” But at that time it was dedicated to 360 pagan gods. Mecca was on a very important trade route that brought travelers from all over the region. The more gods they retained in the Arab pantheon, the more revenues deposited in the city coffers (Frederick M. Denny, Islam [Harper & Row, 1987], 19, 20, 27). Although some dispute this motivation, it is clear that many times “money talks” louder than most prophets. It is no wonder that the people of Mecca did not jump to receive the teachings of Muhammad. They not only had a religion into which their lives were deeply rooted; but it also sustained their great city with the constant flow of pilgrims to the Kabah.
One of the 360 gods at the Kabah was named “Allah.” Allah was the moon god, and was well known in the religion of the Arabs before Muhammad came along (Encyclopedia of Islam 1:406).
In Arabian religion, Allah was married to the sun goddess. The result of their union was three daughters (considered to be goddesses) named Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat. The Arabian tribe into which Muhammad was born was especially devoted to Allah and his three daughters. This can clearly be seen by the names of some of Muhammad’s relatives. Muhammad’s father was named Abd-Allah. Obied-Allah was the name of his uncle.
Although the Muslims pray toward Mecca every day, such did not originate with them. Mecca was a focus of such activity long before Muhammad came along. Many different nations in the Middle East worshipped Allah and his daughters, and prayed toward Mecca. Such can easily be seen as a major reason why Islam became popular so quickly in the Middle East.
What is so important about Allah’s original identity as the moon god if Muslims do not worship him as such today? First and foremost is the claim that knowledge of Allah originated with Muhammad. Most Muslims know nothing of his identity as the moon god. Secondly, many of the worship elements at the Kabah today are the same as those used in pagan worship before Muhammad’s time. Truly, Allah’s identity as the pagan moon god gives us a clear picture of Muhammad’s Allah, and the truth about alleged revelations to him. You might also note very closely the flags on mosques, and the flags of a few Islamic nations (e.g. Turkey, Maldives, Pakistan, Malaysia, Algeria, Tunisia). Consider the significance of the crescent moon you will see; and don’t fall for the line that we are all worshipping the same deity under different names!
The Satanic Verses
That the Arabians were familiar with Allah and his three daughters before Muhammad came can be seen by the infamous Satanic Verses. The writing of these came after some of the people of Mecca laid siege to the area of the city where Muhammad lived. The people were fed up with Muhammad’s revelations, and, undoubtedly, with the concept of one God to the exclusion of any others. In desperation, Muhammad received a revelation from God acknowledging that it was alright to pray to the three daughters of Allah (Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, Manat). Such appeased the people, and let him off the hook (in a way). This is what is famously known as The Satanic Verses. There is no doubt that Muhammad wrote them. Although it is claimed that such was the result of Satan’s power at a time of weakness in Muhammad; at the very least it admits to the Arabian knowledge of Allah and his daughters long before Muhammad’s revelations began.
Muhammad and the Supernatural
After Muhammad had changed his revelation to include the daughters of Allah in worship, the people of Mecca began to severely mock and persecute Muhammad and his followers. They became so hostile that he had to flee to Medina. Later, he returned to Mecca, and on his way is said by the Quran (Sura 46:29 – 35) to have converted the genies. After reaching Mecca, Muhammad had to flee again. He went to Medina where he found success with his religion.
Muhammad never claimed to work a single miracle (other than the revelation of the Quran). Many places in the Quran give us a picture of Muhammad without miracles (e.g. Sura 17:91 – 95). The miracles that have been attributed to Muhammad have all been conceived after his death. It seems clear that confrontations with Christians necessitated adequate stories to bolster the picture of Muhammad as compared to Jesus. This would explain why several of Muhammad’s alleged miracles resemble the miracles of Jesus.
This was clearly the great downfall of Muhammad in the beginning. If he had been able to work miracles, the Meccans would have flocked around him! They asked him on more than one occasion for signs, but he told them that he was only a messenger. Sura 13:8 was clearly a message from Allah regarding this. In this passage, Allah told Muhammad, “The unbelievers say, ‘Why has a sign not been sent down upon him from his Lord?’ Thou art only a warner, and a guide to every people.” The Hadith attributes miracles to Muhammad, but the Quran gives clear indication that he was not working any miracles! Such is a very stark contrast with the ministry of Jesus who called upon his miracles as signs that the Father had sent him (John 5:36).
A Closer Look at Allah
Several of the supposed revelations of Allah through Muhammad are very interesting. These give us a little clearer picture of who Allah really was. Here we will note only a few.
On the occasion of Muhammad coveting his son’s wife, he received a revelation from Allah that his daughter-in-law was to be given to him, and not withheld (Sura 33:36-38).
Allah is a god who professes the existence of genies (you know, like Aladdin and his lamp). Muhammad preached to and converted genies in Sura 46:29-35 and 72:1-28.
Allah demands a pilgrimage of all Muslims to Mecca at least once during their lifetime (no matter what the sacrifice to accomplish such). Compare this to Jesus’ teaching in John 4:21-24.
Allah commands a violence in his followers which results in `execution, crucifixion or the cutting off of hands and feet’ for those who are infidels (i.e. not Muslims, Sura 5:33 and 9:5 & 29).
Concerning women, Allah says: “Men are the managers of the affairs of women. . . . Those you fear may be rebelliousadmonish; banish them to their couches and beat them” (Sura 4:34).
Although the name of Muhammad has survived many years; it has not been for any better reason than that seen for the survival of the name Krishna, or Joseph Smith. Men can accomplish extraordinary tasks, even with error. If success is an indication of truth, look at the many conflicting tales that must be reconciled in the world of religion.
It is very clear that Allah is not the God of the Bible. Allah’s origin was the pagan Arabian who worshipped the moon. Muhammad came along and elevated Allah above all of the other gods in the Arabian pantheon. Islam is a religion of pagan origins with a god as pagan as ivlolech, Baal or the Asherah. With this information it becomes obvious that we do not worship the same God. Jehovah is the only true and living God. He is the great I A.M who alone deserves the allegiance and service of man.
Truth is a powerful force; but we must never underestimate the power of error and human weakness. When Jesus and the New Testament is compared with the above material, a bright light shining in the darkness is clearly seen. The success of Islam is extraordinary; but no more than any system that deceives and deprives of truth, physically killing and coercing those who dissent.
The Sacred Writings of Islam
In the Quran and Hadith we find the sacred writings of Islam. The Quran is the highest, and Hadith is second only to the Quran (obviously leaving the Bible far behind). And it is these writings that prove to be the weakest link in Islam's claims of divine origin. If the Quran is from a divine source, we can expect it to be free from the errors seen in the works of men. Lofty claims are made regarding these to vindicate the religion of Allah. But alas, to claim success and prove such are two very different matters.
When the Bible is put to the test, it passes with flying colors (when examined objectively). One of the greatest tributes to the Bible is the amount of time spent by humanistic critics attacking it. They consume very little time attacking the Quran, Hadith, Book of Mormon, Watchtower publications, Christian Science writings, etc. The power of "Bible followers" is not the only reason for this. The critic attacks that which he sees as threateningly believable. It can truly be said that the truth of the Bible scares critics to their typewriters.
The Muslim will acknowledge the Bible to be an inspired writing. Truly, a good bit of the Bible is in the Quran. But which is to be accepted above the other? Many never think about it, but the Bible is actually supposed to be the basis for believing the Quran. After all, how do Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus become known as historical characters to be accepted and believed? The Bible is the source for such faith. Since the Bible is a basis for believing the Quran; the Bible should be preferred and accepted above the Quran. The Quran itself calls upon the reader to inquire of the "people of the Book" (Bible), to determine whether its contents are accurate (e.g. Sura 10:90-96, for "the Book" see Sura 5:70). Let's examine the Quran and see how it compares with the Bible.
Conflicts with the Bible
The Bible clearly tells us that God took six days for creating the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:3.; Exod. 20:11). Such is confirmed by Jesus in Luke 13:14 when he pointed out that there were six days to work (leaving one for the Sabbath); and we clearly acknowledge such by the number of days in the week on our calendars. The Quran tells us that the world was created in eight days (Sura 41:9- 12). Now you can believe Moses, Jesus, and the calendar; or you can believe the Quran.
The Bible tells us that Noah and his three sons were saved in the ark; and that it came to rest on Mt. Ararat. The Quran tells us that one of Noah's sons was lost in the flood (taking refuge in a mountain), and that the ark came to rest on EI-Judi (Sura 11:32 – 48).
The Quran conflicts with the Bible on several points concerning Abraham. The Bible cites Abraham's father as Terah, but the Quran names Azar. The Bible tells us that Abraham settled in Canaan (Hebron), whereas the Quran would have us believe that he traveled as far as Mecca, over 700 miles southeast of Hebron! The Quran has Abraham sacrificing Ishmael rather than Isaac (which makes no sense inasmuch as Ishmael was the son of the handmaid). Muhammad only recalls the existence of two sons, whereas the Bible clearly tells us that Abraham had a grand total of eight sons. Several other discrepancies exist, but these suffice to show the Quran's blatant inaccuracy regarding one of the best known figures of the Bible.
Nimrod is said to have thrown Abraham into a fire (Sura 21:680. Abraham was not yet born when Nimrod walked the earth (Gen. 5 & 11). Muhammad had the common seventh century Arabian trouble of keeping people in chronological order, and separated by the proper restraints of time (and the fire here is probably from Daniel 3:19-30, which occurred over fifteen hundred years after Abraham). Along this line, the Quran commonly has people, who lived thousands of years apart, interacting as if they lived together. A divinely inspired work should not be this difficult to swallow.
Names are commonly incorrect in the Quran. John the baptist is called Yahya. Saul is called Talut, and Goliath is called Jalut. The best reason given would seem to be the memory of the one writing the Quran: Muhammad. He obviously had many stories and legends mixed together in his mind. He could not read, so even if he had the reference material, he could not research such matters. Many Jewish and gnostic legends had reached Arabia by the time of Muhammad. It is interesting to note that some of Muhammad's misconceptions can be traced to these extra-biblical sources, and help us to understand why the Quran contains some of its errors.
Three Truly Great Errors
There are three errors that should especially be pointed out to the Muslim. The first concerns Moses, Haman and the tower of Babel. Did Haman live in Egypt building the tower of Babel for Pharaoh? This is what the Quran would have us believe (Sura 27:4ff; 28:38; 29:39; 40:23-37). Actually Haman served King Ahasuerus in Persia (Esther 3); and the tower of Babel was two thousand years earlier in Babylon (Gen. 11).
A Mistake In Bible and Secular History
The second error is the use of the term Samaritan in Sura 20:87 & 95. This reference says that the golden calf was built at the suggestion of a Samaritan. This would have been hard to accomplish, since the Samaritans did not exist until after the captivity had commenced, hundreds of years after the incident of the golden calf. At the time the calf was constructed, the Israelites had not even possessed the land out of which they would be taken captive! (Exod. 32)
The third error has Alexander the Great living to a ripe old age (Sura 18:89-98). Secular history is very clear and trustworthy on the youthful demise of Alexander (see Encyclopedia Britannica 15:479 . . . see also The Concise Dictionary of Islam 229).
An Argument that Backfires
The Quran condemns Christians and Jews alike as not being of God (Sura 30:30 – 32 and 42:130. On what basis? Because they were divided from each other, and could not agree. Since they were "at war" with one another, neither could be of God.
Consider for a moment the number of sects into which Islam has been divided. I do not have a total count, but here are a few who have graced the pages of history:
Sects of Islam
(which gave rise to Nusayris, Yezidis and Druses)
(which gave rise to Nizaris and Musta'lis)
(which are not in any way accepted by Arab Muslims)
The pot loves to call the kettle "black," and here is an excellent case. The truth is, mankind will never unite under truth, or any other banner, because mankind has other selfish interests at heart.
The Wives of Muhammad
The Quran allows a man to have no more than four wives. Yet it is very clear that Muhammad had 22 wives. This would clearly make Muhammad a sinner. But not just any sinner. He was "a spokesman" for Allah while he was practicing his sin! Some would deny that Muhammad ever sinned, but the Quran clearly indicates such. Muhammad was told to repent of his sin in Sura 40:55. Sura 48:lf speaks of Muhammad's sins, past and future!
It is not necessary that a prophet never have sinned. But that a prophet would receive divine messages for others while he himself is involved in open, reprehensible sin is absurd.
A Terrible Confession
Also considered inspired is the Hadith. The Hadith gives much information about the Quran. It tells us that the Quran was written on odds and ends of materials (Vol. 6, # 509), and gathered into book form by Caliph Uthman (all after Muhammad died). When Uthman had completed his version, he destroyed all of the Qurans (he could find and possess) that were in conflict with his version (Vol. 6, #510). One historian writes of Uthman, "His major achievement was the commissioning of a group of experts to collect all the known copies and variants of the Quran and establish a standard text …" (Frederick M. Denny, Islam, 33).
Think of the field-day the Bible critic would have if the Bible said such about itself! Religious scholars have spent hundreds of years comparing the thousands of ancient manuscripts of the Bible. There has been no need of paper shredders, or incinerators, for conflicting versions.
Very serious problems in the Quran must be reconciled before one could even begin to believe it possible that divine revelation had produced such a work. I do not find it incredible that so many millions of people believe and follow the sacred writings of Islam. If I did, I would have to find it incredible that so many people profess a belief in the Bible; but clearly violate its pure, concise pattern.
Islam is not difficult to "see-through," and it is possible to convert a Muslim. To do so, we must arm ourselves as we do against other systems of error with which we are more familiar: Learn their weaknesses, and be relentless with the truth.