What does “yawm” (يوم) mean in the Qur’an?

Does yawm(plural ayyam)refer only to a 24-hour period due to the rotation of the earth?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons.)

One would often hear criticism levelled against the Qur’an by the “scientific” skeptical community alongside Christians working together as detractors of Islam that the Qur’an is unscientific in its description of the creation of the universe. The Dawkins wannabe would say, “The Qur’an like the Bible says that the heavens and the earth were created in six days! Isn’t that laughable as we know today that it took billions of years for our universe to form?” Is that a valid understanding of what the Qur’an says? Many critics will insist that the word used in the relevant verses is ayyam which stems from the singular yaum referring to a 24-hour period that includes sunrise and sunset. Is that a correct representation of the Arabic language? Unfortunately for the detractors it is a complete and total misrepresentation of Arabic and ultimately the Qur’an as we shall prove in this article.

One of the standard lexicons of the Arabic language is Lane’s Lexicon which was put together by Edward William Lane. The following is the entry on yawm in Lane’s Lexicon [1]:

يوم  A time, whether night or day; (Msb;) time absolutely, whether night or not, little or not: this is the proper signification; (Kull, p. 390: ) and day, meaning the period from the rising of the sun to its setting; (Lth, TA;) the time when the sun is above the earth: this is the common conventional acceptation: (Kull, ubi supra: ) and the period from the second [or true] dawn to sunset: (Msb, Kull: ) this is the legal acceptation: (Kull: )and a civil day: the period of the revolution of the greatest firmament. (Kull.) – Also, An accident, or even, syn. كون and كائنة. “

From the above we see that the primary definition is not the one suggested by the detractors. Rather, as Lane writes its proper signification is “time absolutely” and this time may be long or short, that is, in Lane’s wording “little or not”. We also learn that the word may refer to a period or an event. Thus if it is in the plural ayyam it could mean periods or events.

New Testament Anachronism

The anachronistic tale of Mark 2:26

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

   In previous articles we have exposed and refuted fallacious charges of anachronism laid against the Qur’an by its detractors. The uninitiated missionary does not realise that the claim of anachronism is easily levelled against his Bible in a much more forceful manner. In this article we will look at one particular example out of numerous others of a clear anachronistic datum provided in the New Testament which is attributed to Jesus Christ. In the example in question we see Jesus anachronistically teach that David and his men ate the show bread which was reserved for the priests in the temple when they were hungry during the tenure of Abiathar as high priest. Any reader who is familiar with the story which is recapitulated (inaccurately) from the Old Testament knows that it was not Abiathar who was the high priest at that time but rather his father Ahimelech. The following are the relevant passages which you may read and compare for yourself:

Mark 2:26  1 Samuel 21:1-6
“how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” David went to Nob, to Ahimelek the priest. Ahimelek trembled when he met him, and asked, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?”David answered Ahimelek the priest, “The king sent me on a mission and said to me, ‘No one is to know anything about the mission I am sending you on.’ As for my men, I have told them to meet me at a certain place. Now then, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you can find.” But the priest answered David, “I don’t have any ordinary bread on hand; however, there is some consecrated bread here—provided the men have kept themselves from women.” David replied, “Indeed women have been kept from us, as usual wheneverI set out. The men’s bodies are holy even on missions that are not holy. How much more so today!” So the priest gave him the consecrated bread, since there was no bread there except the bread of the Presence that had been removed from before the Lord and replaced by hot bread on the day it was taken away.

Commenting on the problem Eminent New Testament textual critic Prof. Bart Ehrman writes in his popular book ‘Misquoting Jesus’:

“…in Mark 2, where Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees because his disciples had been walking through a grain field, eating the grain on the Sabbath. Jesus wants to show the Pharisees that “Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath” and so reminds them of what the great King David had done when he and his men were hungyr, how they went into the Temple “when Abiathar was the high priest” and ate the show bread, which was only for the priests to eat. One of the well-known problems of the passage is that when one looks at the Old Testament passage Jesus is citing (1 Sam. 21:1-6), it turns out that David did this not when Abiathar was high priest, but, in fact, when Abiathar’s father Ahimelech was. In other words, this is one of those passages that have been pointed to in order to show that the Bible is not inerrant at all but contains mistakes.” [1]

Did the Egyptians use crucifixion?

Does the Qur’an commit an anachronism when it says there was ‘crucifixion’ in the Egyptian civilisation?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc. (Hons.), MCollT

Today I had a dialogue with a Christian that goes by the name ‘kevangreen’ on Paltalk who was recycling a common objection raised against the Qur’an by Christian missionaries namely that it says that the ancient Egyptians practised crucifixion. The relevant verses are as follows:

Said [Pharaoh]: “Have you come to believe in him ere I have given you permission? Verily, he must be your master who has taught you magic! But in time you shall come to know [my revenge]: most certainly shall I cut off your hands and your feet in great numbers, because of [your] perverseness, and shall most certainly crucify you in great numbers, all together!” (26:49)

Said [Pharaoh]: “Have you come to believe in him ere I have given you permission? Verily, he must be your master who has taught you magic! But I shall most certainly cut off your hands and feet in great numbers, because of [your] perverseness, and I shall most certainly crucify you in great numbers on trunks of palm-trees: and [I shall do this] so that you might come to know for certain as to which of us [two] can inflict a more severe chastisement, and [which] is the more abiding!” (20:71)

The Christian missionary posits the claim that the Egyptians did not have crucifixion as a method of punishment or execution. Thus their contention is that the Qur’an is grossly misrepresenting history. Did the Egyptians practice crucifixion or do we see here an example of an anachronistic information in the Qur’an?

Steve Bates writes:

“In other nations of the ancient world crucifixion was the main form of execution, and thousands of criminals were crucified. Criminals were crucified in Egypt, and Alexander the Great, after a seven month siege to conquer Tyre, ordered two thousand Tyrians to be crucified as punishment for their resistance.” [1] (bold and underline emphasis added)

Watt, Bell and Hewer on the preservation of the Qur’an

Is the Qur’an that we have today the Qur’an that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

William Montgommery Watt was a historian and Emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at Edinburgh University. Considered one of the most influential Western thinkers on Islam by non-Muslims and Muslims alike he was indeed a revered personality in the field of Islamic studies.

Richard Bell was a scholar of the Arabic language at Edinburgh University who was and remain as an important source of reference for those interested in the field of Qur’anic studies especially those who are in the business of critiquing the Qur’an.

Chris T. Hewer is grounded in Christian theology, Islamic studies and education. He is the St. Ethelburga Fellow in Christian-Muslim Relations in London.

The following are excerpts of views on the Qur’an by the above mentioned non-Muslim scholars two of whom(Watt & Bell) are very critical commentators on the Qur’an who do not shy from making critical remarks about it. None of them ever believed in the tenets of Islam. One can easily conclude that they had no hidden motives to promote Islam.

Is the Qur’an that we have today the same as the Qur’an in the time of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.?

Watt & Bell:  “The very fact that varying and even contradictory deliverances have been preserved is strong proof that, with perhaps minor exceptions, we have the whole of what was revealed to Muhammad [1] (emphasis added)

“On general grounds then, it may be concluded that the ‘Uthmanic revision was honestly carried out, and reproduced, as closely as was possible to the men in charge of it, what Muhammad had delivered.” [2]

How can Allah have a son without a consort?

What does it mean when the Qur’an says “how can Allah have a son without a consort”

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

The verse in question reads as follows:

بَدِيعُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلأَرْضِ أَنَّىٰ يَكُونُ لَهُ وَلَدٌ وَلَمْ تَكُنْ لَّهُ صَٰحِبَةٌ وَخَلَقَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ وهُوَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

“the Originator of the heavens and the earth! How could it be that He should have a child without there ever having been a mate for Him – since it is He who has created everything, and He alone knows everything?” (6:101)

Many detractors of Islam including Christian missionaries will usually claim that the above contradicts the story of Mary’s virginal conception whereby she conceives and gives birth to a son without a consort. If it is possible for Mary to have a son without a consort why would it not be so for Allah? The question might seem rather difficult for the uninitiated at first sight but upon further analysis the smokescreen disappears. Mary can have a son without a husband because Allah is the one who granted her that privilege and she was able to carry Jesus in her womb for nine months and thereafter gave birth to him which was a process that legitimately made him her son. How would Allah go through such a process when He has no partner to go through what Mary did and neither does He have the anatomical makeup which Mary as a human being did to have an actual ‘son’. Glory be to Allah and high above is He from such similitude. The Qur’an makes it perfectly clear that “there is nothing like unto Him”(al-Shura, chp. 40, verse 11). Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani in his commentary on the Qur’an writes:

“It is strange that the people devise sons for God without a consort. Even the Christians cannot dare say that Mary is the wife of God, though they believe that Jesus is the son of God.  When this is not the case then how that child, who is born of Mary’s body, became the son of God? Other children of the world are also created by God from the bodies of their mothers and those children are not called the progeny of God. The difference between methods of creation – that Jesus was created only by the breath of Gabraeel without the habitual means and other children come into this world under natural laws does not involve the problem of fatherhood or sonship. Whether causes and effects or miracles – all are creted by God, and He knows best how and when and where a certain thing should be created.” [1]

Does the Qur’an misrepresent the Trinity?

Does the Qur’an reject the Trinity?

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons), MCollT

One of the common objections levelled against the Qur’an is that it misrepresents the doctrine of the Trinity, hence facilitating the way for the Christian polemic that the Qur’an in no way admonishes Christians for their Trinitarian doctrine. There are three verses that are often cited from the Qur’an to support this objection:

“O people of the Book, be not excessive in your Faith, and do not say about Allah anything but the truth. The MasīH ‘Īsā, the son of Maryam, is only a Messenger of Allah, and His Word that He had delivered to Maryam, and a spirit from Him. So, believe in Allah and His Messengers. Do not say “Three”. Stop it. That is good for you. Allah is the only One God. He is far too pure to have a son. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. And Allah is enough to trust in.” (4:171)

“Surely, disbelievers are those who say, “Allah is the third of the three” while there is no god but One God. If they do not desist from what they say, a painful punishment shall certainly befall such disbelievers.” (5:73)

“And when Allah said, “O ‘Īsā, son of Maryam, did you say to the people: ‘Take me and my mother as gods beside Allah?” He said, “Pure are You, it does not behoove me to say what is not right for me. Had I said it, You would have known it. You know what is in my heart, and I do not know what is in Your’s. You alone have full knowledge of all that is unseen.” (5:116)

We will go through the verses one by one and prove that the Qur’an neither misrepresents nor silently concurs with the Trinity as some Christian detractors frequently claim. We will prove that the Qur’an clearly and explicitly denounces the Trinity in whatever form that it may appear.

“And when Allah said, “O ‘Īsā, son of Maryam, did you say to the people: ‘Take me and my mother as gods beside Allah?” He said, “Pure are You, it does not behoove me to say what is not right for me. Had I said it, You would have known it. You know what is in my heart, and I do not know what is in Your’s. You alone have full knowledge of all that is unseen.” (5:116)

The claim that is made regarding the above verse is that it specifically rejects a kind of Trinity consisting of Jesus, Mary and Allah which is certainly not the Trinity of mainstream Christianity. This claim however is without much substance as the verse does not say that this is any form of a Trinity belonging to any particular sect of Christianity. Secondly, even if one were to agree for the sake of argument that the above verse is indeed referring to a form of Trinity consisting of Jesus, Mary and Allah(that is God) then we will point out that there were such groups that existed which believed in such a doctrine. We will go further into this later in the article. The current verse is essentially denying that neither Jesus nor Mary are divine in any way. Dr. Louay Fatoohi writes:

Aaron sacrificed to Satan?

The sacrifice made to Satan by Aaron as “divinely” ordained

by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)

Would Christians be surprised to learn that the Bible depicts Aaron as being commanded by God to give something valuable to Satan? In fact, in this article I will contend that there is enough to show that it was not merely the giving of something, but it was actually a kind of sacrificial rite that was offered. Yes, there is a sacrificial rite unto Satan according to the Bible. This sacrificial rite is connected to the process of atonement of sins as we shall see.

“And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Azazel.” (Leviticus 16:8)

The context of the above as anyone who is familiar with the book should know is the method of atoning for sins whereby two goats are chosen as a sin offering. One might wonder, “Where does it mention Satan?” Well, the verse itself does not specifically mention the word Satan, but another word or rather name is used to represent the devil or Satan which is Azazel. We will provide more details on this in due course. A fundamentalist Christian at this point would immediately scramble and put together an argument in his head which goes along the the following lines, “The two goats are meant for different things. They should not be conflated into one as if they were intertwined and thereafter provide a basis for the suggestion that Satan is involved in the work of atonement. The goat sent to Azazel is not the offering. The offering was made only to the Lord”  Such musings need not be dissected in order to be refuted. One need only cite verse five from the same context which says, “And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.” This verse shows that both goats are meant as ‘offerings’. The verse also shows that one must not be given in the absent of another, hence Barnes’ Notes of the Bible states that “the two goats formed a single sin-offering.”