The advertised story behind the writing of the Qur’an is as follows. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was born in 570AD in Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, of the tribe Quraysh. He began having visions at the age of 40. According to Islamic tradition, the angel Gabriel appeared to him on Mt. Hira, near Mecca, and had him memorize the contents of a scroll. This scroll contained the beginning of Sura 96 of the Qur’an (Koran), entitled “Clots of Blood” because man is supposedly created from this substance. Gabriel ordered Mohammed to “Recite!” The Qur’an refers to the 114 revelations, each containing one “sura” or chapter (Schoeps, Hans Joachim, The Relligions of Mankind, Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc.. 1968, pp. 242-45).
N.J. Dawood, whose translation of the Qur’an was published as a Penguin Classic in 1956, explains the development of this “revealed book”: The Quranic revelations followed each other at brief intervals and were at first committed to memory by professional remembrancers. During Mohammed’s lifetime verses were written on palm-leaves, stones, and any other material that came to hand. Their collection was completed during the caliphate of Umar. the second Caliph, and an authorized version was established during the caliphate of Uthman, his successor. To this day this version is regarded by believers as the authentic word of God (Dawood,, N.J., The Koran (New York: Penguin Books, 1596), p.3. All references to the Koran are from this version).
According to Sura II, vs.98, “Gabriel has revealed the Qur’an as a guide confirming previous scriptures [the Old and New Testaments of the Bible].” Even more: “God has now revealed the best of scriptures, a Book... free from any flaw” (Sura XXXIX. vs.23). God tells Mohammed: “Nothing is said to you that has not been said to other apostles before you” (Sura XLI, vs.42. The apostles themselves admit that they brought a more enlightened faith—and so it is with Mohammed, the greatest of all apostles (Sura XLI, vs.20).
We accept the following challenge in the Qur’an: “Will they not ponder on the Qur’an? If it had not come from God, they could have surely found in it many contradictions.” (Sura IV, vs.82).
We have read the Qur’an, and we have found many teachings that contradict the doctrines of the Catholic Church, the only organization on earth that has the God-given mandate to teach (Mt. 28:19), govern (Mt. 18:18), and sanctify (Lk. 22:19) mankind. The whole body of revealed truth, that is, whatsoever Christ has taught (Mt. 28:19-20), has been committed to Her for the enlightenment of nations. It is Her duty, then, to preserve, interpret, and proclaim these truths of revelation. No other organization or person has been so commissioned.
The first contradiction concerns creation. Holy Scripture asserts, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” (Gen. 1:1). That is to say, in the beginning of time, when only God existed. “Create” means to bring forth from nothing (no-thing): ex nihilo. In other words, only God creates. Only He can bridge the infinite distance or gulf between being and non-being. In contrast, man makes things out of pre-existing materials. He cannot create. He is a creature; that which is made out of nothing, or anything that exists outside of God. But the Qur’an states that God created man from pre-existing matter: Men, if you doubt the Resurrection remember that we first created you from dust, then from a living germ, then from a clot of blood, then from a half-formed lump of flesh....(Sura XXII, vs.5).
As we pointed out above, Sura XCVI, vs.1 asserts: “Recite in the name of your Lord who created—created man from clots of blood.” Here is a somewhat different account: “I am creating man from dry clay, from black moulded loam (Sura XV, vs.19).
Before God created man, He created “Satan from smokeless fire” Sura XV, vs.19) and this Satan boasts: “I am nobler than he. You created me from fire, but him from clay” ‘Sura XXXVIII, vs.76).
We believe that Satan sinned through pride. He desired to be like God, and refused to submit to His will, and therefore he was cast down into Hell forever. The Qur’an maintains that Satan was thrown out of Heaven because he refused to worship man.When I have fashioned him [man] and breathed of My spirit into him, kneel down and prostrate yourselves before him. The angels, one and all, prostrated themselves, except Satan. He refused to prostrate himself with the others...
“Begone,” said God. “you are accursed. My curse shall be with you till Judgment day” (Sura XV, vss.1932).
The Qur’an denies another fundamental truth of Catholicism: the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Psalmist depicts the Messiah saving: "The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee” (Ps. 2:7). Moreover, the Messiah shares the throne of Yahweh: “The Lord Yahweh, said to my Lord Jesus Christ): Sit thou at my right hand” (Ps. 109:1) He is Emmanuel, God-with-us (Is. 7:14), and is called El Gibbor (Mighty God), a title Christ the Messiah shares with Yahweh (Is. 9:6; l0:20ff.).
At least five times in the Synoptics Jesus explicitly declares Himself to be the Son of God (Mt. 11:25-27; 16:16-17; Mk.12:1-9; 13:32; 14:61-62), and implicitly much more often. TheJews understood fully our Lord’s divine claims, and they murdered Him for it:
“He made himself to be the Son of God” (Jn. 19:7). Similarly, after Christ affirmed His divinity—”I and the Father are one” (Jn. 10:30)—the Jews desired to stone Him “...for blasphemy; and because that thou [Our Lord being a man, makest thyself God” (Jn. 10:33).
One of the most striking proofs of our Lord’s pre existence as the divine Son of God is found in the prologue of St. John’s Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was made nothing that has been made (Jn. 1:1-3).
Despite all the evidence in the Old and New Testaments that Jesus Christ is “the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages; God of God, Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made,... (Nicene Creed), the Qur’an insists that our Lord is simply a creature: “Jesus is like Adam in the sight of God. He created him of dust and then said to him: ‘Be,’ and he was” (Sura III, vss.5159).
“God forbid,” exclaims the Qur’an, “that He Himself (God) should beget a son” (Sura XIX, vs.29). Those who believe that God has begotten a Son, “preach a monstrous falsehood” (Sura XIX, vs.88). for “God is One..., he begot none” (Sura CXII, vs.1). The Qur’an concludes: “So believe in God and His apostles and do not say: ‘Three”’ (Sura IV, vs.174).
It follows that Mary is not the Mother of God:
“The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle and His word which He cast to Mary: a spirit from Him” (Sura XL, vs.171). “Unbelievers are those who say: ‘God is the Messiah, the son of Mary”’ (Sura V. vs.70).
That the Blessed Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God was defined by the Council of Ephesus in 431. This does not mean that Mary, who was herself a creature of God, in any way produced or pre-existed the Divinity. By her complete acceptance of God’s plans for her at the Annunciation, Mary became mother in time of the God who existed before time was. Christ took His human body, His human nature, from His mother Mary; He was truly the “son of Mary” (Mk. 6:3). Muslims, following the Qur’an, reject this article of faith because they are convinced that it entails Mary producing the divine nature of Jesus.
The divine maternity is the root of all of Mary’s privileges. One is the Immaculate Conception: the unique privilege by which she, in view of the future merits of her divine Son, was conceived free from original sin in the womb of her mother, St. Anne (defined as an article of faith on Dec. 8,1854, by Pope Pius IX, in the Bull Ineffabilis).
Another privilege of Mary is her perpetual virginity: she remained a virgin throughout her life— before, during, and after the birth of Christ. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is yet another privilege: at the end of her earthly life she was assumed into Heaven, glorified in both body and soul. This doctrine was solemnly defined by Pope Pius XII on Nov. 1, 1950 (Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus).
Because the Qur’an lambastes belief in Mary’s divine motherhood, it ipso facto disbelieves in all her privileges which stem from it, including the fact that she did not undergo the pains of childbirth. If Mary is free from the stain of original sin, and if the pains of childbirth are due to original sin, then the Blessed Virgin conceived Our Lord without experiencing the sorrows associated with bringing forth children (cf. Gen. 3:16).
The following description in the Qur'an of the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus is obviously at odds with Scripture and the official teaching of the Catholic Church: Thereupon she conceived him, and retired to a far-off place. And when she felt the throes of childbirth she lay down by the trunk of a palm tree, crying: “Oh, would that I had died and passed into oblivion.”
But a voice from below cried out to her: Do not despair. Your Lord has provided a brook that runs at your feet, and if you shake the trunk of this palm tree it will drop fresh ripe dates in your lap. Therefore eat and drink and rejoice; and should you meet any mortal say to him: “I have vowed a fast to the Merciful and will not speak with any man today” (Sura XIX. vs.22).
Where is the angel Gabriel. who saluted Mary: “Hail, thou who art full of grace?” No mention of St. Joseph—neither here nor in the rest of the book—but a whole sura of nine pages is devoted to Joseph, son of Jacob. The miraculous nature of Mary’s conception is rejected: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee and therefore the Holy one to be born shall be called the Son of God.” Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, proclaims that Mary is the mother of God: “And how have I deserved that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Moreover, the Blessed Virgin conceived our Lord in a manger, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes. She was not under a palm tree. Imagine the absurdity of Our Lady being in so much pain that she would rather “pass into oblivion.” Yet the Qur’an asserts: “Such was Jesus, the son of Mary. That is the whole truth, which they still doubt” (Sura XIX, vs.29) (cf Lk., chapters 1;2).
The Blessed Virgin Mary, furthermore, seems to be confused with Miriam, the daughter of Jachabed and sister of Moses and Aaron: "Carrying the child, she came to her people. who said to her: ‘Mary, this is indeed a strange thing! Sister of Aaron...”’ (Sura XIX, vs.28). In a footnote, Dawood essays to protect the integrity of the text: Muslim commentators deny the charge that there is confusion here between Miriam, Aaron’s sister, and Maryam (Mary), mother of Jesus. “Sister of Aaron,” they argue, simply means ‘virtuous woman” in this context.
In any case, there is no such reference in Scripture concerning Our Lady, although in the New Testament, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist and therefore Mary’s cousin, “was of the daughters of Aaron” (Lk. 1:5). The word is often used in its literal sense (Mt. 9:18; Mk. 5:35), but it was also used frequently for a woman of a certain race or religion as a daughter of the Hebrews (Jud. 10:12), or as a term of familiar endearment (Mt. 9:22). The prophets for example often speak of Jerusalem as the “daughter of Sion” (Is. 37:22; Jer. 4:31; Mich. 4:10). But again, “Mary” and “daughter of Sion” are never found together in the Scriptures.
The Qur’an charges that Catholics worship Mary as a god (Sura V, vs.114), which is patently false. No person or thing should take the place of God, or be honored in a manner due to God alone, for this is idolatry, which God forbade. All worship not directed to God Himself must be subordinate to Him (Ex. 20:3-5; Duet. 5:9;Jn. 4:22).
Hyperdulia is the special honor or veneration paid to the Blessed Virgin because of the supreme dignity as the Mother of God and her consequent unique holiness: “full of grace.” It is quite different from the adoration due to God alone (latria), for it recognizes that Mary is a creature. Since she is a holier and nobler creature than all the angels and saints, the honor that she deserves is greater than that paid to them (dulia). Hyperdulia implies the loving reverence of a child for God’s mother and ours, and confidence in her intercessory power with her divine Son (Jn 2:5).
Similarly, the Qur’an insists that Catholics deify the saints (Sura XVII, vs.52). Veneration of the saints, however, is indirectly worship of God, who made and sanctified them and whose friends they are. Their holiness, their triumph, and glory are but a reflection of those of Christ, their Mediator and Model. A classic response to the charge that Catholics deify the saints is given in the Martyrdom of Polycarp. When the Jews pleaded with the magistrate not to give up St. Polycarp’s body to the Catholics “else they will abandon the crucified One and begin worshipping this one,” Marcion replied:
This was done at the instigation and insistence of the Jews, who also watched when we were going to take him from the fire, being ignorant that we can never forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of the whole world of those who are saved, the faultless for the sinners, nor can we ever worship any other. For we love the martyrs as disciples and imitators of the Lord, deservedly so, because of their unsurpassable devotion to their sworn King and Teacher. May it be also our lot to be their companions and fellow disciples! (17:1-3).
Divorce is yet another subject on which the Qur’an overturns the teaching of the Catholic Church. Our Lord restored to marriage its primitive dignity by insisting upon the indissolubility of the marriage bond, promulgated by the Triune God in the beginnings of human history: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder”(Mt. 9:4-8).
Compare our Lord’s statement with those found in the Qur’an: And when Zayd [so-called adopted son of Mohammed] divorced his wife, We gave her to you [Muhammad] in marriage, so that it should become legitimate for true believers to wed the wives of their adopted sons if they divorced them (Sura XXXIII, vs.37).
“It shall be no offense for you to divorce your wives before the marriage is consummated or the dowry settled” (Sura II, vs.236). A clear case of polygamy is asserted in Sura IV, vs. 126: “Try as you may, you cannot treat all your wives impartially.”
Again: Lawful to you [Mohammed] are the believing women and the freewomen from among those who were given the Book before you, provided that you give them their dowries and live in honor with them, neither committing fornication nor taking them as mistresses (Sura V. vs.5).
Believers, do not approach your prayers when you are drunk, but wait till you can grasp the meaning of your words; nor when you are polluted: if you have relieved yourselves or had intercourse with women whilst travelling and can find no water, take some clean sand and rub your faces and your hands with it (Sura IV, vs.43).
The adulterer may marry only an adulteress or an idolatress; and the adulteress may marry only an adulterer or an idolater. True believers are forbidden such marriages (Sura XXIV, vs. 1). Believers, if you marry believing women and divorce them before the marriage is consummated, you are not required to observe a waiting period (Sura XXXIII, vs.43).
According to the Qur’an, these orgies continue in Heaven where concupiscence knows no bounds:
“They [true believers] will sit with bashful, dark-eyed virgins, as chaste as the sheltered eggs of ostriches” (Sura XXXVII, vs.48).
Reclining there upon soft couches, they shall feel neither the scorching heat nor the biting cold. Trees will spread their shade around them, and fruits will hang in clusters over them.
They shall be served with silver dishes, and beakers as large as goblets. ...They shall be attended by boys graced with eternal youth, who to the beholder’s eyes will seem like sprinkled pearls. When you gaze upon that scene, you will behold a kingdom blissful and glorious (Sura LXXVI, vss. 13-20).
In conclusion we agree with the Qur’an: “Who is more wicked than the man who invents a falsehood about God or denies His revelations” (Sura VI, vs.21)? And we concur with the judgment: “He [Mohammed?] has invented it [the Qur’an] himself” (Sura XLVI, vs.7).Let us pray for the conversion of the Muslims in the words of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Pope Pius XI): Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them all into the light and kingdom of God. Turn Thine eyes of mercy toward the children of that race once Thy chosen people. Of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may It now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.
By Catholic European scholar, who wishes to remain anonymous for personal reasons.
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