Is it true that Muhammad (SA) wrote the Qur’an or copied from the Bible?

In addressing this misconception, it is interesting to note that no other religious scripture claims to be totally the direct word of Allah as clearly and as often as the Qur’an. Allah says:

(Do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? Had it been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.) [4:82]

At the time the Qur’an was revealed, the Arabs recognized that the language of the Qur’an was unique and distinctly different from the language spoken by Prophet Muhammad (SA) and his people. This, in spite of the fact that the Arabs of that time were known for their skill in poetry and mastery of the Arabic language. Moreover, Muhammad (SA) was known to be an unlettered man. The Qur’an mentions that Muhammad (SA) did not read and write, so if this was false, certainly his contemporaries would have protested and exposed him. However, there are no reports of this. Without doubt there were people who rejected Muhammad’s message, just like the message of other prophets were rejected, but none denied it for this reason.

It is also interesting to note that even though the Qur’an is not poetry, the Arabs were much less inclined to poetry after it was revealed. It can be said that the Qur’an is the piece of Arabic literature par excellence – and Muhammad’s enemies, realized that as much as they tried, they could not outdo or even equal it.

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It is not difficult to prove that Muhammad (SA) did not possess the knowledge that is expounded and detailed in the Qur’an, such as the accurate knowledge of historical events, previous prophets and natural phenomena. The Qur’an mentions in several places that Muhammad (SA) and his people did not know these things. Allah says:

(This is of the news of the Unseen which We reveal unto you; neither you nor your people knew it before this. So be patient. Surely, the (good) end is for the pious.) [11:49]

Suffice it to say that not only is the Qur’an the most memorized and well-preserved scripture on earth, it is also unequaled in its eloquence, spiritual impact, clarity of message and purity of its truth.

Furthermore, the Qur’an recounts several instances where Prophet Muhammad (SA) was criticized and corrected by Allah for his unintentional human errors. Had he been the author of the Qur’an he would not have included these rebukes in the Qur’an. For example, the Prophet (SA) was once deeply and earnestly engaged in attempting to invite one of the pagan leaders to Islam when he was interrupted by a blind man who had come to him for information and to learn the Qur’an. The Prophet (SA) naturally disliked the interruption because he was hopeful of affecting the influential leader’s heart toward Islam. He frowned and turned away, a gesture that went unnoticed by the blind man. No sooner had the Prophet (SA) finished talking to the leader than he received the following revelation which he conveyed to his people without the least bit of hesitation:

(He [i.e. the Prophet] frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man. But what would make you perceive [O Muhammad] that perhaps he might be purified or be reminded, and the reminder would benefit him?) [80:1-4]

This incident reflects the highest degree of sincerity on the part of the Prophet (SA) regarding the revelation that was revealed to him. These verses provide substantial proof that the Prophet (SA) was not the author of the Qur’an, nor was he the founder of Islam.

Some Christian critics often claim that Muhammad (SA) was not himself the author of the Qur’an but that he learned, copied or adapted it from Jewish and Christian scriptures. In reality, however, Prophet Muhammad’s contacts with the Jewish and Christian scholars were extremely limited. Historical records available show that he made only three trips outside Makkah before his prophethood: At the age of nine he accompanied his mother to Madinah. Before the age of twelve, he accompanied his uncle on a business trip to Syria. And before his marriage, at the age of 25, he led Khadijah’s caravan to Syria. The most prominent Christian known to him was an old blind man named Waraqah bin Nawfal, who was a relative of his wife Khadijah. He was a convert to Christianity and well-versed in the Gospels. The Prophet (SA) only met him twice; the first time was briefly before his prophetic mission and the second occasion was when the Prophet (SA) went to meet Waraqah after receiving the first revelation from Allah. Waraqah died three years later. The revelation of the Qur’an, however, continued for 23 years.

Some of Muhammad’s (SA) pagan opponents accused him of learning the Qur’an from a Roman blacksmith, a Christian who was staying on the outskirts of Makkah. A revelation of the Qur’an was sufficient to refute this charge. Allah said:

(And We surely know that they say, ‘It is only a man that teaches him.’ The tongue of the one they refer to is foreign, while this [Qur’an] is in a clear Arabic language.) [16:103]

Muhammad’s enemies kept a close watch on him, with the hope of uncovering a shred of evidence to support their claim that he was a liar. But they could not point to a single instance when the Prophet (SA) might have had secret meetings with any particular Jews or Christians.

It is true that the Prophet (SA) did have religious discussions with Jews and Christians, but they took place openly in Madinah, and the revelation of the Qur’an had been going on for more than 13 years before that. The allegation that these Jews and Christians were its source is groundless, especially since the role of Prophet Muhammad (SA) was merely that of a teacher; he openly invited them to embrace Islam, pointing out how they had deviated from Allah’s true teaching of monotheism. Numerous Jews and Christians embraced Islam themselves upon hearing Muhammad’s (SA) message.

In addition, it was known that Muhammad was unlettered. In His divine wisdom, Allah chose His final Messenger to be an unlettered man so no one would have the slightest justification to doubt him or accuse him of writing or copying the Qur’an.[1]  Moreover, there was no Arabic version of the Bible in existence at the time of Prophet Muhammad (SA). The earliest Arabic version of the Old Testament is that of R. Saadias Gaon of 900 C.E. – more than 250 years after the death of Muhammad (SA).

We have mentioned that the Qur’an contains scientific miracles, and we presented a few facts stated within the book to evidence that it could not possibly have been known at that time by Muhammad or by any other person for that matter. More and more recent scientific discoveries are being found to coincide with what is stated in the Qur’an, and this is irrefutable evidence that its source was none but the all-knowing Allah – Allah, the Almighty.

It is true that there are some similarities between the Qur’an and the Bible, but this is not sufficient grounds to accuse Muhammad (SA) of compiling or copying from the Bible. The similarities between the two do not indicate that later prophets plagiarized from previous ones, but merely point to a common source, who is the one true Allah, and to the continuation of the basic message of monotheism.

How does the Qur’an differ from other scriptures?

It is an article of faith for every Muslim to believe in all the prophets and messengers of Allah and all unadulterated revelations of Allah. Some of these scriptures are still extant today but not in their pristine form as a result of human alteration. The Qur’an is the only divine scripture which has stood the test of time because Allah has taken upon Himself the responsibility of preserving it. He says:

(Indeed, it is We who have sent down the Reminder [i.e. the Qur’an], and indeed, We will be its guardian.) [15:9]

Other revealed scriptures before the advent of Prophet Muhammad (SA), such as the Old Testament and the Gospel, were recorded long after the demise of the prophets to whom they had been revealed. In contrast, the entire Qur’an was written down in its complete form during the lifetime of Muhammad (SA) on pieces of palm bark, leather parchment and bone, and arranged in the order designated by the Prophet (SA). In addition, tens of thousands of the Prophet’s companions committed it to memory as it was being revealed. The Qur’an is still memorized and read in its original Arabic text, and it continues to be taught and learned by millions of people the world over. In fact, with every succeeding generation of Muslims, the number of those who commit the whole Qur’an to memory has incredibly increased. There is no other book, religious or otherwise, which has been given this unparalleled care in recorded history.

The Qur’an presents all the prophets of Allah as belonging to one single brotherhood; all had a similar prophetic mission and conveyed the same basic message, namely, the invitation to the worship of Allah alone. The source of their message was one: Allah, or Almighty Allah. Even if the other Scriptures agree with the Qur’an in the fundamental aspects of the religion, they address a specific people. Due to this, its rulings and regulations are particular to them. It is attributed to Jesus (AS) in the Bible that he himself said:

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house (children) of Israel.” [Matthew 15:24]

On the other hand, the Qur’an was revealed to humanity at large and not to any specific nation. Allah says:

(And We have not sent you [O Muhammad (SA)] except to all of mankind, as a giver of glad tidings and a Warner, but most people know not.) [34:28]

[1] The coming of the unlettered Prophet (SA) was prophesized in the Bible: “And the book is delivered to him that is not learned.” [Isaiah 29:12]

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