The Truth About Islam: Part 4
© 02.28.2016 By D. Eric Williams
Charges of plagiarism and fabrication were leveled at Mohammed from the very beginning of his career as the prophet of Allah. Mohammed's opponents claimed his fresh revelations where nothing but myths of the ancients (Koran, sura 6.25, 8.31, 23.83, 25.5) and that he recited a jumble of dreams and that he made it up (21.5). It is interesting to note that there was not a "canonical" form of the Koran until well after the death of Allah's prophet. Even the most devout Muslim usually admits that if any original ever existed, it was lost and the text available today is based on the recollections of Mohammed's earliest followers.
If you have an acquaintance with Christian and Jewish Scripture, you will find some things seem familiar as you read the Koran. No, it won't be teachings about the universal brotherhood of man or a command to love your enemies and do good to those who hate you. Instead you encounter stories lifted from orthodox and heterodox Christian writings or Jewish literature supplied with a Muslim twist. As one Muslim writer said, all the moral precepts of the Koran are self-evident and generally acknowledged. The stories in it are taken in identical or slightly modified form from the lore of the Jews and Christians, whose rabbis and monks Mohamed had met and consulted on his journeys to Syria, and from the memoirs conserved by descendants of the peoples of Ad and Thamud.1
You'll have to pay close attention however. The familiar stories of Jewish Scripture - Adam and Eve, Cain and Able, Noah and his ark, Joseph in Egypt and so on, seem to miss the point somehow. For instance, the story of Cain and Able as it appears in the Koran draws upon the Jewish rabbinic tradition saying Cain's murder of his brother was like the murder of an entire race. In Jewish tradition, this is so because God's word to Cain references Able's "bloods" as in, "your brother's bloods cry out to Me (God) from the ground." "Bloods" is understood to mean Abel's potential descendants. The Koran doesn't quite get it. In Mohammed's retelling, the claim is made that killing Abel was like killing an entire race - with no reference to "bloods" or any other explanation as to why the death of one man represented the death of a multitude. Hence, the Koran's account reads like a retelling of the story by a man who has listened to it attentively, but has nonetheless left out one salient detail.2
One interesting detail is that the reference to "bloods" is not actually found in the Hebrew scripture. It is only found in the oral tradition of the Jewish Rabbis (later written down in the Talmud). Mohammed's clumsy piracy is what one would expect of someone unable to read or write and yet familiar with the oral teaching of seventh century mainstream Jewish doctrine. Clearly Mohammed had heard the then current teaching of the Jewish rabbis and incorporated it into his own holy book. The same is true in the retelling of the orthodox and heterodox Christian stories.
In the second century non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, there is a story of the boy Jesus fashioning sparrows out of clay and then, with a clap of his hands, bringing them to life so they fly away. The Koran draws from this myth but fumbles in the reckoning. In the revelations of Mohammed, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that one day her son Jesus will chastise those who reject Islam by saying, I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I make for you out of clay the figure of a bird, then I breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God's leave. And I heal the blind and the leprous, and I revive the dead, by God's leave. And I inform you concerning what you eat, and what you store in your homes. In that is a sign for you, if you are believers (3.49 see also 5.110). Indeed, in this passage alone, Mohammed draws from the heterodox Gospel of Thomas, along with the canonical texts of Matthew Mark, Luke and John. Clearly he had heard these things from the Christian teachers he rubbed shoulders with while living in Mecca.
Even more strange is the common Islamic claim that Alexander the Great was a proto-Islamist.3 According to Islamic teaching, Alexander was Muslim before Muslim was cool.
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