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Is the Koran reliable?



Muslims believe in the reliability of the Koran, but there have been several versions of the Koran, a few passages have changed, and it contradicts the Bible



Many Muslims do not consider the reliability and accuracy of Koran (Qur’an) text. They do not think deeply about the origin of the Koran, but they may be sincere in their belief that Muhammad, the most important prophet of Islam, received it directly from Gabriel, the angel of God. They may also think that the original version of the Koran is stored in Heaven and that the current Arabian language version is only an accurate copy of this heavenly model. The next passage from the Koran evidently refers to this:


We have revealed the Koran in the Arabic tongue that you may understand its meaning. It is a transcript of the eternal book in Our keeping, sublime, and full of wisdom. (43:2-4)


In the following section, we intend to study whether the origin and content of the Qur’an (Koran) as received by Muhammad is clear, accurate and reliable. If we study the Koran we see that it is mostly founded upon the authority and revelations of Muhammad. Many questions and concerns arise, all of which are worthy of consideration. These include, at least, the following:


Was Muhammad illiterate? One of the reasons for the prestige of the Koran has been considered to be that Muhammad was illiterate. It has been said, "how else could he have produced such a miraculous text if God had not given it to him?" His illiteracy is seen as proof that the Koran must be a revelation sent by God.

    The following study by a person living in an Islamic extremism points in a different direction. He found that there were grounds for believing that Muhammad could read and write:


I wanted to focus on investigating whether Muhammad was a prophet or not. I found out two different reasons that Muhammad was a prophet: he was illiterate but received the Koran. Second, he was sinless and did not commit a single sin before becoming a prophet.

   I began to look for evidence of Muhammad’s illiteracy. I think it was a molten impossibility to find evidence that Muhammad could have read and written. I read the biographies of Muhammad once again. Now, to my surprise, I found many things I hadn’t noticed before. I read in the books that Muhammad visited the same place as EI-Nadr Ibn EI-Hareth, Waraka Ibn Nofal and the famous priest Ibn Sa’eda. I also read that Muhammad handled the affairs and large fortunes of the rich Khadidja widow, and he entered into several agreements and deeds with merchants from Yemen and Syria.

   … I also found information in the biographies that after the peace treaty with the locality of Al-Hudaibija, Muhammad wrote the treaty book with his own hands. Muhammad and his cousin Ali were under the patronage of his uncle Abu Taleb, and Muhammad was older than Ali. Ali is known to be able to read and write, and I found it impossible that Muhammad had not been taught at least the basics of literacy.

   As my search for information progressed, I learned that Muhammad had a habit of sitting with the Christian Yassar Al-Nusran and hearing the texts of the Bible from him and also reading the Bible himself. I realized that when the angel Gabriel came to Muhammad and told him to read, it would have made no sense if Gabriel had told an illiterate man to read! These findings and my previous findings about the authenticity of Muhammad’s call to prophet forced me to conclude that Muhammad could not be a prophet or even a pious man. (For all this I have written in more detail in my book Muhammad in the Bible) (1)


Koran background. Muslims think that the Koran is a book that came entirely from God, the content of which Muhammad had no influence on. He, as a messenger only, conveyed what had been conveyed to him.

   However, it has been observed that the Koran is influenced by other sources. It has been stated, for example, that a story how a female camel becomes a prophet and how seven men and their animals slept in a cave for 309 years are Arab legends. The speaking of Jesus in the cradle and the resurrection of clay birds come from the forged Gnostic gospels, not the Bible. Similarly, it has been stated that in Koran there are same accounts as in the Talmud and the ancient religion of Persia.

   However, the most important source is the Bible. It is estimated that 2/3 of the content of the Koran is of biblical origin. However, these are not direct quotations, but episodes of people and events familiar from the Bible:


Sometimes I wonder how much of the Koran would remain if all the Bible narratives and references to the Bible were removed from it. Jews and Christians find very much in the Koran that is familiar to them through their own tradition. How should this be approached? (2)


When people heard Muhammad speak, they said the same. They said Muhammad told ancient stories. They had heard or read about them before:


The unbelievers say: ‘This is but a forgery of his own invention, in which others have helped him.’ Unjust is what they say and false. And they say: ‘Fables of the ancients he has written: they are dictated to him morning and evening,’ (25:4,5)


Whenever Our revelations are recited to them, they say: ‘We have heard them. If we wished, we could say the like. They are but fables of the ancients.‘ (8:31)


This we have been promised before, we and our forefathers. It is but a fable of the ancients.‘ (23:83)




It is said that Muhammad received the Koran directly from Heaven, from the angel Gabriel. This is why the so-called night of power (of creation) (lailat al qadr) is celebrated during the Muslims’ holy month, Ramada, when God dropped the Koran down from Heaven. On that night, Muslims all around the world repeat passages of the Koran, or listen to its reading on the television or radio, for instance.

   But was the Koran really received in one complete piece from Heaven? We will consider this question in the light of the next information:


Revelations were received during a period longer than 20 years.  First of all, it is good to note that when Muhammad received his revelations, with which the Koran is composed, he received them over a period of approximately twenty years ending with his death (from 610 to 632 A.D.). He did not receive it all in one moment. The Koran is only a collection of separate revelations that the prophet then verbally passed on to people in different situations – it is the sum of these revelations. It is wrong to think that it was received in complete form from Heaven during one moment. Twenty years is not the same as one night.

Revelations of Muhammad were usually related to certain situations that occurred in the lives of Muhammad and others. He received e.g. a statement that he is permitted to marry the wife of his adopted son (33: 37-38) or to have more wives than other men (other Muslim men are allowed to have up to four wives, but Muhammad was allowed more wives “before other believers” 33:50). Likewise, he received other revelations in disputes with Meccans, Jews, Christians, or other groups. He did not receive them all at once but as events became topical in his life.

    The following passages from the Koran point in the same direction. They show that if the Koran is from heaven, why did Muhammad not receive it at once but gradually:


The unbelievers ask, ‘Why was the Koran not revealed to him entire in a single revelation?’ We have revealed it thus that We may strengthen your faith. We have imparted it to you by gradual revelation. (25:32)


We have revealed the Koran with the Truth, and with the Truth it has come down. We have sent you forth only to proclaim good news and to give warning. We have divided the Koran into sections that you may recite it to the people with deliberation. We have imparted it by gradual revelation. Say, ‘It is for you to believe in it or to deny it… (17:105-107)


Compiled after death from several versions. Also, the fact that the revelations were compiled into one book, the Koran only about 20 years after the death of the Prophet, even from several different versions, shows that it was not a single volume sent from heaven, but gradually received revelations. The book Islam by Fadhlalla Haeri says that there were at least seven different versions created in the most important tribal or regional dialects. From among these, the third caliph Uthman chose one to be the official version and ordered the others to be burned. However, some of these different versions were preserved and serve as evidence of the original creative environment and circumstances.

The following quote points to problems in compiling the Koran. The Koran by no means came as a single volume from heaven, but was compiled from individual verses from palm leaves and pieces of leather. Different versions and readings of the Koran caused controversy among Muslims, and Muhammad himself did not seem to be very precise about the correct way of pronouncing the verses:


… The compilation of the Koran was quickened by the death of many Muslim warriors - they remembered the verses - in the wars of religion waged against the apostate tribes in 632-634, when Muhammad was already dead. Accompanied by the dead, valuable information went to the grave. While still some of the verses written on the palm leaves fell into the mouths of the camels, it was feared that the material gathered from the revelations of Muhammad would disappear.

   … Divergent versions of the Koran were in memory and written by several people. Tradition shows that people remembered things differently and argued with each other.

… Muhammad does not seem to have been very precise about the wording of the Koran. The tradition of Islam tells the following case: “Omar ibn al-Khattab heard Hisham ibn Hakim recite the verses of the Koran differently than he had learned. However, Hisham said he heard them from Muhammad. When the men went to ask the Prophet, he replied, ‘The Koran was revealed in seven dialects. Let each one read in his own way. ”” (Sahih Muslim 2: 390: 1787.)

   For the second time, a Muslim told Muhammad that ibn Mas’ud and Ubayy ibn Ka’b pronounced the Koran differently. Which one was right? Muslim scholar ibn al-Jawzi has recorded in his book Funan al-Afna Muhammad’s response: “Let everyone speak as he has been taught. All habits are good and beautiful. ”

… When the various reading methods aroused widespread controversy, the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan (644-656), decided to draw up his own, the only acceptable and final version in 647-652. He was disturbed by the fact that due to different versions of the Koran, the Muslim community was in danger of disintegrating into disputes.

… Uthman's text has raised questions about the celestial origin of the Koran:


• If the Koran is of celestial origin and was given to Muhammad directly from heaven, why were there several versions of it, which Uthman burned and left only his own?


• According to tradition, why did Uthman threaten the death of anyone who would not accept his text?


• From what did Uthman know that there were errors in other versions of the Koran and that only he had knowledge of the heavenly Koran?


• Why did the Shiite Muslims consider Uthman to have omitted from the Koran parts that they said were related to Ali’s leadership? Western Islamic scholars have also stated that from the text of Uthman have indeed been omitted passages that are in other versions. (3)


Changes in the Koran. Most Muslims do not accept the idea that the Koran has undergone changes. When they think that the Koran is a perfect copy of the pattern in heaven and sent directly to Muhammad, the occurrence of change is considered an impossible idea.

    However, a few passages from the Koran refer to the change in this book. They show that changes were later made to the text received by Muhammad. He originally received the text in a different form from what it was later:


If We abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten, We will replace it by a better one or one similar. Did you not know that God has power over all things. (2:106)


God abrogates and confirms what He pleases. His is the Decree Eternal. (13:39)


When We change one verse for another (God knows best what He reveals), they say: ‘You are an impostor.’ Most of them have no knowledge. (16:101)


Islamic tradition refers to changes in the Koran. Here is one example:


Although Islamic apologists generally proudly claim that the text of the Koran has never been amended or corrected, and there are no alternative texts, even in the Islamic tradition there are signs that this is not really the case. An early Muslim, Anas bin Malik, recounts in a context following a battle in which many Muslims died that the Koran originally contained a message from killed Muslims to their surviving believers: “Then we read a long verse in the Koran that was later deleted or forgotten. (It was): convey the message to our people that we met our Lord, who was pleased with us, and we met Him. ” (4)


Perhaps the most famous passage in the Koran that is believed to have undergone a change is 53: 19,20,which is called "the Satanic Verse.". According to tradition, these verses, which describe three goddesses worshipped by the Arabs (Allat, al-Uzza, and Manat), originally included a reference describing these goddesses as some kind of mediators. In other words, these verses that Muhammad received encouraged people to turn to heathen gods.  Because of these verses, the residents of Mecca were ready to confess that Muhammad was the Prophet. They are believed to have been in the following form. The deleted passage has been marked in bold:


Have you thought on Allat and al-Uzza and on Manat, the third other? "These are high beings and their intercession can be hoped."


This is described also in the next quote, which refers to a commentary by an Imam. It shows how this passage in the Koran was changed because Muhammad soon received a new revelation to the contrary. It also shows the fact of how the Koran is totally based on the revelations and words of Muhammad. It’s interesting to note that his disciples could not accept this first revelation of Muhammad and began to reject him.


Imam El-Syouty explains the Sura 17:74 of the Koran in his commentary as follows: "According to Muhammad, the Son of Kaab, the kinsman of Karz, the prophet Muhammad read Sura 53 until he came to the passage, which said, 'Have you seen Allat and Al-Uzza (heathen gods)... ' In this passage, the devil himself made Muhammad say that the Muslims can worship these heathen gods and ask them for intercession. And so from the words of Muhammad, a verse was added to the Koran.

   The Prophet Muhammad was very sad because of his words, until God encouraged him with a new one, "Also as always before, when we have sent messenger or prophet, has Satan put his own wishes along them, but God wipes away it, what Satan has got mixed for them, and then he confirms his own mark. God is knowing, wise.” (Sura 22:52.)

   Because of this Sura 17:73-74 says: "And surely they had purposed to turn you away from that which We have revealed to you, that you should forge against Us other than that, and then they would certainly have taken you for a friend. And had it not been that We had already established you, you would certainly have been near to incline to them a little;" (5)


Why, then, is it that Satan, not Allah, spoke through the mouth of Muhammad? What made Muhammad give the false revelation?

    The main reason is certainly Muhammad’s humanity and bending under pressure. Frustrated by trying to get the Meccans to convert to Islam, he bowed and issued a revelation recommending respect for these three Arab goddesses and recourse to their intercession. It gave birth to the satanic verses.

    The tradition also states that after Muhammad had uttered that passage, the Meccans bowed to the ground when they heard this. Instead, some of Muhammad’s disciples began to avoid him.

    This compromise made it possible for Muslims who had gone to Ethiopia to return to Mecca. However, the angel Gabriel later announced that those verses were from Satan. They were repealed. In particular, the following passages from the Koran are believed to describe the fall of Muhammad and how he was mistaken:


And surely they had purposed to turn you away from that which We have revealed to you, that you should forge against Us other than that, and then they would certainly have taken you for a friend. And had it not been that We had already established you, you would certainly have been near to incline to them a little. (17:73,74)


Also as always before, when we have sent messenger or prophet, has Satan put his own wishes along them, but God wipes away it, what Satan has got mixed for them, and then he confirms his own mark. God is knowing, wise. (22:52)


The following quote speaks of the same subject, satanic verses. It shows that this matter is not an invention of outsiders, but has been referred to by Islam’s own early sources. The authors did not deny the value of Muhammad as a prophet:


The case of the Satanic Verses has naturally been a strong cause for embarrassment for muslims throughout centuries. Indeed, it shadows Muhammad’s whole claim of him being a prophet. If Satan was once able to put words in Muhammad’s mouth and made him think they were messages from Allah, then who is to say that Satan did not use Muhammad as his spokesman during other times as well?

… It is difficult to understand, how and why such a story would have been fabricated, and also how and why such devoted muslims like Ibn Ishag, Ibn Sa’d and Tabari, as well as the later writer of the annotation of the Koran, Zamakhsari (1047-1143) – from whom it is relly difficult to believe that he would have said so if he didn’t trust the sources – thought that it was genuine. Here, as well as in other areas, the evidence of the early Islamic sources are indisputably strong. Athough the events can be explained in another light, those, who wish they could make the instance of the Satanic Verses go away, cannot deny the fact that these elements of Muhammed’s life are not inventions of his enemies, but the information about them came from people, who really believed Muhammed to be a prophet of Allah. (6)


The speech of Muhammad or Allah? As stated, Muslims believe the Koran came directly from heaven from God. They believe that the whole Koran is the speech of Allah. However, if we look more closely at the Koran, there are passages in it that cannot be the speech of Allah but man’s own statements. Immediately in the first Sura you will find one such example.


Praise be to God, Lord of the Universe, The Merciful, the Compassionate, Sovereign of the Day of Judgement. You alone we worship, and to You alone we turn for help. Guide us to the straight path. The path of those whom You have favoured, Not of those who have incurred Your ire, Nor of those who have lost their way (1:2-7)


I am commanded to serve the Lord of this City, which He has made sacred. All things are His. And I am commanded to be a Muslim, and to proclaim the Koran (27:91)


Whatever the subject of your disputes, the final word belongs to God. Such is God, my Lord: in Him I have put my trust, and to Him I turn in penitence (42:10)


Serve none but God. I am sent to you from Him to warn you and to give good tidings (11:2)


Historical substance


If we read the Koran, we can make some interesting observations: It mentions the same people as the Bible. Noah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Job, Saul, David, Solomon, Jesus, Mary, and others are mentioned. These people appear in the Koran and even give speeches. Actually, Muhammad was blamed for presenting ancient stories as revelations that he had received from God:


The unbelievers say: ‘This is but a forgery of his own invention, in which others have helped him.’ Unjust is what they say and false. And they say: ‘Fables of the ancients he has written: they are dictated to him morning and evening,’ (25:4,5)


Inclusion of this kind of historical material is another of the Koran's biggest problems. How could Muhammad, who lived in the 600s, have known what people who lived centuries earlier had said and done? How could anyone who lived much later have created reliable information about people who lived much earlier than him? The Koran mentions about fifteen people who existed historically:  Noah (11:25-49), Abraham (2:124-133), Joseph (Sura 12), Saul (2:249), Lot (7:80,81), Aaron (7:150), Moses (18:60-77), Solomon (27:17-28), Job (38:41), David (38:24), Jesus (19:30-34), Mary (19:18-20), and others. 

   There are also speeches in the Koran that were not included in the Holy Bible. It is rather remarkable that a person who lived 600 to 3,000 years after the Biblical events could have accurately reported their words and events in their lives, even though he had never seen them or heard them speak. We can only guess where Muhammad might have received this information, and how reliable it is. Generally, Muslims do not trouble their heads about these kinds of things; but it is good to at least question how reliable this kind of historical information is, since it cannot be based on eyewitness reports or accounts.


How DOES THE Koran and Muslim tradition differ from THE Bible?


Above, we wrote about how the message of the Koran arises mainly from the revelations of Muhammad, and that the Koran also refers to many people and events mentioned in the Bible centuries ago.

   There are other differences between these two books. These differences can be seen in historical references and doctrine. Let us look at examples of both:


- The Koran mentions that one of Noah's sons drowned in the Flood (11:42,43). The Bible says that all the sons of Noah were with him in the Ark and were saved. (Gen 6:10 and 10:1: And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth..... Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and to them were sons born after the flood.)


- The Koran says that Noah's Ark landed on a mountain called Dzudi (11:44). The Bible says that the Ark landed on the mountains called Ararat (Gen 8:4: And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat.).


- The contemporaries of Noah spoke in the Koran 71:21-23 about their gods (...And they say: By no means leave your gods, nor leave Wadd, nor Suwa; nor Yaghus, and Yauq and Nasr.. ), which in fact were Arabian gods during the times of Muhammad.


- Bricks rained on Sodom according to the Koran (15:74) and not brimstone and fire (Gen 19:24: Then the LORD rained on Sodom and on Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven).


- The Koran states that Abraham lived in Mecca (22:26). The Bible does not.


- Muslims commonly believe that Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Ishmael, even though the Bible says that the son was called Isaac (Gen 22 and Hebrews 11:17- 19: By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall your seed be called:  Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from where also he received him in a figure.) and even though also the Koran refers to Isaac (see 11:69-74 and 37:100-113).


- The Koran states that a servant of a Pharaoh was crucified (12:41) and not hanged on a tree (Gen 40:18-22: And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up your head from off you, and shall hang you on a tree; and the birds shall eat your flesh from off you. And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast to all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.  And he restored the chief butler to his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand: But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.). This custom, crucifixion, only came about centuries later with the Romans.


- The Koran states that the spouse of a Pharaoh took care of Moses (28:8,9). The Bible describes the daughter of a Pharaoh (Exo 2:5-10: ... And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.).


- The Koran calls Haman a courtier of the Pharaoh (28:6,38 and 40:36), even though he was a Persian courtier in the service of King Ahasuerus and did not live until in the 5th century (Esther 3:1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that were with him.).


- According to the Koran, the golden calf was made by a Samaritan (20:87,88). According to the Bible, it was made by Aaron (Gen 32). It is also known that the Samaritans did not come to the Holy Land until centuries later because of the forced migration from Babylonia.


- The Koran mentions that Mary was the sister of Aaron (19:27-28) and the daughter of Amram (3:35, 36 and 66:12), so actually she must have lived centuries earlier and been Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses.


- If we think about events in Mary's childhood (3:33-37) or Jesus talking in the cradle (3:46 and 19:29, 30) and that Jesus made birds out of clay (5:110), the Bible does not mention any of these. Instead, we can find these same things in Apocryphal literature (the Childhood Gospel of Thomas and Arabian Childhood Gospel), which were created much later.


- The Muslims do not generally believe in the death of Jesus on the cross. For example, it is believed that the Koran 4:156-158 refers to this.


Adoption. According to the teachings of the Koran, God does not adopt children (5:18 and 19:88-92) and this is deemed impossible.

   But if we look at the Bible, several passages speak about the adoption that each of us can receive if we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and get the Spirit of God into our hearts. This can be compared to an adoption, in which God makes us His children. In the same way, we can also in prayer speak to God like to an earthly father and simply tell Him our worries.

  This is one of many Muslim's problem when they pray. They do not know God as their father, and that is why they try to approach Him from behind a great gap that prevents them from praying trustfully. There is often unnecessary repetition in their prayer, about which Jesus warned us. They may say Arabic sentences according to a specific formula, even though they may not even understand this language:


- (John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:


- (Gal 3:26) For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.


- (1 John 3:1) Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.


- (Matt 6:5-9) And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.

6 But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.

7 But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not you therefore like to them: for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask him.

9 After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.


- (Matt 7:11) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?


- (Rom 8:15) For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.


Polygamy. Polygamy is something in which the teachings of the New Testament differ from the teachings Muhammad received (Muhammad probably had at least twelve wives and also a few concubines). Even though some people had several wives during the Old Covenant, polygamy is not the original will of God but His will is for a man to have only one spouse - just like Adam and Eve. Jesus and the Apostles also confirmed this:


- (Matt 19:4-6) And he answered and said to them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?

6 Why they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.


- (1 Cor 7:1-3) Now concerning the things whereof you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

3 Let the husband render to the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife to the husband.


- (1 Tim 3:1-4) This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.

2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

4 One that rules well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity


Attitude towards enemies. As we study the life of Muhammad and the foundation of his power, an essential part of it was the use of the sword and killing his opponents. We can see from historical sources that he took part in about 27 raids, sent off 38 smaller raids, and also killed several people who mocked him (the biography of prophet Muhammad / Ibn Hisham, p. 452, 390 and 416, in Finnish). Also the Koran that Muhammad mediated to people includes several passages that advise people to fight against their opponents. In Arabic, several such verses speak of killing. Islamic scholar Moorthy Muthuswamyn has stated: “More than sixty per cent of the content of the Koran speaks evil of those who are not Muslims and calls for a violent struggle against them. At most, less than three percent of the verses in the Koran speak in good faith about humanity. Three-quarters of Muhammad's biography [of Sirat] tells of the battles against non-Muslims.” (7)


A sacred month for a sacred month: sacred things too are subject to retaliation. If anyone attacks you, attack him as he attacked you… (2:194)


Muster against them all the men and cavalry at your command that you may strike terror into the enemy of God and your enemy, and others besides them… (8:60)


Make war on them: God will chastise them at your hands and humble them. He will grant you victory over them and heal the spirit of the faithful. (9:14)


Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given as believe neither in God nor the Last Day… (9:29)


Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate. (9:73).


Remember when God revealed His will to the angels: ‘I am with you; so give courage to the believers. I shall cast terror into the hearts of the infidels. Strike off their heads, strike off the very tips of their fingers!‘ (8:12)


When you meet the unbelievers strike off their heads and, when you have wrecked widespread slaughter among them, bind your captives firmly... (47:4)


What about the peaceful verses of the Koran? Some Muslims may use verses that speak of amicable behavior toward non-Muslims. Such are e.g. the following passages from the Koran:


There shall be no compulsion in religion. True guidance is now distinct from error..(2:256)


And be courteous when you argue with the People of the Book, except with those among them who do wrong. Say: ‘We believe in that which has been revealed to us and was revealed to you. Our God and your God is one. To Him we submit as Muslims.‘ (29:46)


However, most scholars of Islam agree that the later passages in the Koran — the revelations after the move to Medina — replace the earlier revelations, that is, those received in Mecca. One notable point in particular is the Sura 9: 5, the so-called sword verse, which replaces the peaceful verses towards non-Muslims:


When the sacred months¹ are over kill the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and compassionate (9:5)


But if we look at Jesus' and His first follower's teachings, we can see that they were based on the opposing attitude and that Jesus Himself gave His life for us (Matt 20:28: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.). The next verses that include the own words of Jesus and also the writings of Paul, Peter, and John, describe this. They tell us that the teachings of Jesus were completely opposite from the teachings of Muhammad:


Jesus: (Matt 5:43-48) You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.

44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.


- (Matt 26:52) Then said Jesus to him, Put up again your sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.


Apostle Paul: (Rom 12:14,17-21) Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place to wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord.

20 Therefore if your enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.


Apostle Peter: (1 Peter 3:9,17) Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing.

17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that you suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.


Apostle John: (1 John 4:18-21) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love him, because he first loved us.

20 If a man say, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loves God love his brother also.


Zealous for God, but not according to knowledge. When we are looking for differences between the teachings of the Koran and the New Testament, one of the biggest differences is how they relate to the status of Jesus and what He has done for us. The fundamental idea of the New Testament is that our sins have been reconciled by Jesus Christ. This, and the divinity of Jesus, are foolishness to the Muslims, and they normally strongly resist the idea and do not believe in it.

   However, the Muslims' resistance to Jesus and the Gospel about Him is just like that of the religious people during the times of Jesus and Paul. They too were zealous for God but their zeal was not based on knowledge. They also thought that their actions were from God, even though they resisted His will and salvation. We can honestly say that these next verses from the Bible have often been repeated throughout the history, also as comes to many Muslims.


- (Rom 10:1-4) Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.


- (Matt 23:13) But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for you neither go in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering to go in.


- (Phil 3:18-19) (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)


- (John 16:1-4) These things have I spoken to you, that you should not be offended.

2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yes, the time comes, that whoever kills you will think that he does God service.

3 And these things will they do to you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.

4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not to you at the beginning, because I was with you.


Did the original events really take place in Mecca? The traditional knowledge of the Muslims and the Koran differ in many areas from the Bible. This also goes to the places where the Muslims do their pilgrimage. Many Muslims sincerely believe that the holy places of Mecca are closely connected with the lives of Abraham, Ishmael, and Hagar but it is difficult to find evidence supporting this from the Bible. Let's look at this in the light of some examples:


Mecca and the temple of Caba. Many sincere Muslims have the understanding that Abraham built the temple of Caba in Mecca together with his son Ishmael.

   However, if we look at the Bible, we cannot find any support for this. Even though Genesis, for example, mentions several places where Abraham lived: - Ur in Chaldea in former Mesopotamian and current Iraq, and from where Abraham started his journey (Gen 11:31), Charran (Gen 12:4), Egypt (Gen 12:14), Bethel (Gen 13:3), Hebron (Gen 13:18), Gerar (Gen 20:1), Beersheba (Gen 22:19) - there is not even the smallest indication of Mecca. Not even though we could assume this if Abraham really established the temple of Caba and if it was the initial centre of the current Islamic worship. Why is not this or Abraham's annual pilgrimages to this town, which was over 1000 km from the places where Abraham lived, mentioned at all? Is it because these things never even took place?

   On the other hand, it is good for us to note that as comes to Ishmael's (the son of Abraham) home, the Bible says that Ishmael lived in the wilderness of Paran that is a part of the current Peninsula of Sinai (see old maps) and is almost a thousand kilometers from Mecca. For example, the next verses refer to how Ishmael lived in the wilderness and also to how he got a wife from Egypt that was close by:


- (Gen 21:17-21) And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, What ails you, Hagar? fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.

18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in your hand; for I will make him a great nation.

19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.

20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelled in the wilderness, and became an archer.

21 And he dwelled in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.


- (Numb 10:12) And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.


Arafat. According to Islamic belief, Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael (we already noted that the Bible says he was actually Isaac) on Mt. Arafat, which is about 11 kilometers from Mecca. However, according to Genesis, these events took place in the Holy Land, in Moriah, which was a three days' journey from Abraham's home, and which was obviously the same mountain in Jerusalem where Jesus gave His life, and onto which Solomon built a temple. It is certainly the most probable location for the events:


- (Gen 22:1-4) And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

2 And he said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.

3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.


- (2 Cron 3:1) Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared to David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.


The hills of Safa and Marwa and the fountain of Zamzam are also holy places in Mecca and places where people come to on their pilgrimage. Their history is connected to Hagar and Ishmael getting water from there after they left Abraham.

   If we look at Genesis, these events also take place in the Holy Land, in the wilderness of Beersheba which was close to the Dead Sea. Therefore, the Bible is not consistent with the Muslim's belief we mentioned earlier:


- (Gen 21:14,19) And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.


Paradise and Heaven. When we look at the teaching of the New Testament about Paradise, it says that it is a place where earthly things are forgotten. There will be no more illness, hunger, suffering, sin, and no marital dealings, as Jesus said. All of our current imperfections and pains will disappear:


- (Matt 22:29-30) Jesus answered and said to them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.


- (Rev 21:3-8) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.  And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely.

7 He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.


However, if we look at the revelation Muhammad received about Heaven, it is completely different from the above-mentioned description. According to Muhammad, Heaven is a place where things that are forbidden on Earth become allowed, mainly meaning women and wine (these are probably things that many suicide bombers believe to experience after death, even though the last verse of the above-mentioned Bible passages, for example, indicated that murderers will not inherit the kingdom of God - they must go to Hell.). There people will also have spouses just like on Earth and they will be lying on their couches, dressed in rich silks and fine brocade:


As for the righteous, they shall be lodged in peace together amidst gardens and fountains, arrayed in rich silks and fine brocade. Yes, and We shall wed them to dark-eyed houris (44:51-54)


They shall recline on couches lined with thick brocade… Therein are bashful virgins whom neither man nor jinnee will have touched before… Virgins as fair as corals and rubies. (55:54-58)


On that day the heirs of Paradise will be busy with their joys. Together with their spouses, they shall recline in shady groves upon soft couches. They shall have fruits therein, and all that they desire. (36:55-57)


They shall recline on couches ranged in rows. To dark-eyed houris We shall wed them. (52:20)


As for the righteous, they shall surely triumph. Theirs shall be gardens and vineyards, and high-bosomed maidens for companions: a truly overflowing cup. (78:31-34)


The righteous will surely dwell in bliss. Reclining upon soft couches they will gaze around them: and in their faces you shall mark the glow of joy. They shall be given a pure wine to drink, securely sealed, whose very dregs are musk (for this let all men emulously strive). (83:22-26)


A few other sources refer to Muhammad's conception of paradise. According to Muhammad, paradise is a place saturated with sexuality. This is completely at odds with the words of Jesus, because Jesus said: “You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matt 22:29,30):


Ali narrated that the Apostle of Allah said: “In Paradise there is a market where neither buying nor selling is done, but there are men and women. When a man wants someone beautiful, he is allowed to have sex with him. “Tirmizi confirmed this. (Al Hadis, Book 4, Chapter 42, No. 36.)


Abu Sayeed narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, "Every man has two wives in paradise, and each wife has on seventy veils through which one can see the core of his legs." This was confirmed by Tirmizi. (Al Hadis, Book 4, Chapter 42, No. 23, 652.)


Anas said the Prophet said, "In Paradise, men will be given such and such power for sexual intercourse." When asked if we would be capable of such, he replied that he would be given the powers of a hundred men. Tirmidhi said this. (Mishkat al-Masabih Part 3, page 1200.)





1. Ismaelin lapset (The Children of Ishmael), p. 92,93

2. J. Slomp: “The Qura’n for Christians and other Beginners”, Trouw, 18/11, 1986

3. Martti Ahvenainen: Islam Raamatun valossa, p. 87-90

4. Ibn Sa’d Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, vol. II,64.

5. Ismaelin lapset, p. 14

6. Robert Spencer: Totuus Muhammadista (The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion) p. 92,93

7. Martti Ahvenainen: Islam Raamatun valossa, p. 374


More on this topic

From what source were the revelations Muhammad received? Were they from God or not? Why can’t the fruit of Muhammad’s life be considered good?


Read how there are numerous remnants of pre-Islamic idolatry in the modern Islam. Most of them are connected with the pilgrimage to Mecca


Jesus Christ in the Koran and Islam. The high position and deity of Jesus is revealed in numerous passages in the Koran

Muslims’ objections to the Christian faith, such as the reliability of the Bible, the deity of Jesus, and the death of the cross. Why are Muslims wrong?





























Jesus is the way, the truth and the life





Grap to eternal life!


More on this topic

From what source were the revelations Muhammad received? Were they from God or not? Why can’t the fruit of Muhammad’s life be considered good?


Read how there are numerous remnants of pre-Islamic idolatry in the modern Islam. Most of them are connected with the pilgrimage to Mecca


Jesus Christ in the Koran and Islam. The high position and deity of Jesus is revealed in numerous passages in the Koran

Muslims’ objections to the Christian faith, such as the reliability of the Bible, the deity of Jesus, and the death of the cross. Why are Muslims wrong?