Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz: The Quran and the Unlettered Prophet:
Jesus or Muhammad?
The article by Shamoun and Katz can be found here:
Let us first establish the fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was unlettered:
[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.
Thou couldst not recite before this any book, nor write it with thy hand, for in that case those who deem it vain would have doubted.
We now agree that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had never recited any book and had never read any book, as he was not able to, i.e. he was unlettered.
The duo of Shamoun and Katz, after quoting some verses conclude, “It is obvious from this that these people were unlettered in the sense of not having known or received inspired Scriptures.”
It is agreed! The people have also been referred to with the word “Ummi” and it is not debated as to what it means. Although the duo have concluded that it has only one meaning whereas each word in Arabic has several meanings, however, this is not debated at all. It is agreed for the sake of argument that the “Ummi” refers to what they say. However, the Prophet was unlettered and this fact is not dependant upon the verses they have provided, nor on the meaning of the word “Ummi”. The Prophet being unlettered has been explained in the start of the article by another verse. The duo of Shamoun and Katz had quoted this verse but had concluded that it refers to not reading a religious book whereas my emphasis and other translations have proven that their conclusion is incorrect.
Below is posted their choice of translation which also proves that their conclusion is incorrect:
Not before this didst thou recite any Book, or inscribe it with thy right hand, for then those who follow falsehood would have doubted. S. 29:48 Arberry (emphasis mine)
Basically, this refutes the entire article by Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz, however, we will proceed anyway.
In the second part of the article, the writers have attempted to prove that the unlettered Prophet was Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). However, their ignorance shows in such a claim. They have used the meaning of “Ummi” from the Quran and applied it to the “unlettered” in their Bible. The Bible, however, is clear that the unlettered Prophet cannot read nor write as the verse from the Quran above agrees.
“And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which [men] deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, [I pray thee]: and he saith, I cannot; for it [is] sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, [I pray thee]: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, [even] a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? [Is] it not yet a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.”
1) The Prophet being spoken of is unlettered (he cannot read, nor write)
2) The Prophet being spoken of has received a book direct from God unlike the Biblical claim about Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) who did not receive any book from the heavens; allegedly, the disciples wrote them after his departure from earth
“Read(Iqraa): In the name of your Lord who created, Created man from a clot. Read(Iqraa): And your Lord is the Most Bounteous, Who teaches by the pen, Teaches man that which he knew not.”
(The noble Qur’an, Al-Alak(96):1-5)
The complete story is narrated by Aisha (peace be upon her) in Sahih Al-Bukhari:
“The commencement of the Divine Inspiration of Allah’s Apostle was in the form of good dreams which came true like bright daylight, and then the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him. He used to go in seclusion in the cave of Hira where he used to worship (Allah alone) continually for many days before wishing to see his family. He used to take with him provisions for the stay and then come back to (his wife) Khadeejah to eat his food again as before.
One day suddenly the Truth descended upon him while he was in the cave of Hira. The angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, “I do not know how to read.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) added, “The angel caught me (forcefully) and pressed me so hard that I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read and I replied, “I do not know how to read.” Thereupon he caught me again and pressed me a second time until I could not bear it any more. He then released me and again asked me to read but again I replied, “I do not know how to read (or what shall I read)?” Thereupon he caught me for the third time and pressed me, and then released me and said, “Read in the name of your Lord, who has created (all that exists), created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.'”(96):1-3.
Then Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) returned with the Inspiration and with his heart trembling. He went to Khadeejah the daughter of Khuwaylid (his wife) and said, “Cover me!” She covered him until his fear subsided. After that he told her everything that had happened and said, “I fear that something may happen to me.” Khadeejah replied, “Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and assist the deserving people afflicted with calamities.”
Khadeejah then accompanied him to her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn AbdulUzza, who, during the pre-Islamic period became a Christian and used to write in the Hebrew alphabet. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write. He was an old man and had lost his eyesight.
Khadeejah said to Waraqah, “Listen to the story of your nephew, O my cousin!” Waraqah asked, “O my nephew! What have you seen?” Allah’s Apostle described that which he had seen. Waraqah said, “This is the one who keeps the secrets (angel Gabriel) whom Allah had sent to Moses. I wish I were young and could live until the time when your people will turn you out.” Allah’s Apostle asked, “Will they drive me out?” Waraqah replied in the affirmative and said, “Anyone (man) who came with something similar to that which you have brought was greeted with hostility; and if I remain alive until the day when you will be turned out then I should support you strongly.”
But after a few days Waraqah died.
Clearly, the Prophet who could neither read nor write was not Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and was none other than Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Sam Shamoun and Jochen Katz quote many verses from the Bible but not once have they touched the fact the Jesus (peace be upon him) was not an illiterate. They change the topic altogether!
Before concluding, it would be mentioned that the illiterate Prophet was not prophesied by Prophet Moses (peace be upon him):
[007:155] Musa selected seventy men for an appointment with Us. There, a violent earthquake seized them. He prayed, “Oh my Lord, had You so willed You could have destroyed them _ and me _ earlier. Would You destroy us because of the actions of a few foolish ones amongst us. This was only a trial from You. By that, You lead astray whom You want, and You guide whom You want. You (alone) are our patron! Forgive us, and have mercy on us. You are the very Best of all those who forgive.”
[007:156] “And ordain for us whatever is good in the life of this world, as well as the life-to-come. We have really turned to You in repentance.” (Allah) said, “I strike down with My punishment anyone I will. But My mercy extends over all things. I will ordain My mercy for those who are pious and pay their ‘zakat’, and those who believe in Our (revelations and) signs!”
Note: The prayer of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) ended on verse 156. After this verse, God is speaking to the people.
[007:157] (My mercy is for) those who follow the messenger, the prophet who can neither read nor write. They will find him mentioned in their scriptures, the Torah and the gospels. He orders them to do the right thing, and to avoid the wrong. He makes the pure and the wholesome lawful for them, and he forbids them the foul and the filthy. He relieves them of the burdens and the shackles with which they were bogged down. Successful indeed, are those who believe in him, honor and help him, and follow the light (the Qur’an) that was revealed to him.
[007:158] (Oh Muhammad, SAW), say, “Oh mankind! I am certainly the messenger of Allah towards you all _ (the entire world). To Him belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god but He. It is He Who gives life. And He gives death! So believe in Allah and His messenger, the prophet who can neither read nor write, and who believes in Allah and His words (the commandments). Follow him, so that you may receive guidance.”
The article by Shamoun and Katz assumes that it was Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) who had prophesied of the unlettered Prophet whereas in the Quran, God Almighty is prophesizing Himself.
This incorrect assumption and the omission of the illiterate Prophet and how it is Jesus (peace be upon him) makes the entire theory of the duo useless. They just wasted their time writing nonsense.