Islamic records make references to many Jews and Christians living in Arabia during Muhammad’s time. He obviously heard some Bible stories from them and even appealed to their Scriptures for legitimacy. But whilst the Quran claims to be a confirmation of the Bible and a fuller explanation of it, many of its teachings and stories directly contradict it.
Pharaoh and Moses
The Quranic account of Moses is laden with several historical, chronological and Biblical errors that no rational person should have any qualms dismissing it as a poorly crafted redaction. For example:
“So the magicians were thrown down to prostration; they said, ‘We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses. (Pharaoh) said: Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees; so shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment” (Q 20:70-71).
This is a hogwash. Muhammad shamelessly abjures millennia of Jewish and Egyptian history by presenting Moses, Aaron and the magicians as Muslims. Furthermore, crucifixion as a means of execution was unknown in Egypt during this time of history, so that statement alluded to Pharaoh is an impossible one. Interestingly, maiming and crucifixion were also prescribed by Allah/Muhammad for anyone who insults Islam (Sura 5:33). It seems the cruel spirit that inhabited the Quranic Pharaoh also inspired Muhammad.
The Quran’s author wasn’t sure whether the ancient Egyptians were polytheists or monotheists.
Sura 7:127 “The chiefs of Firaun’s (Pharaoh) people said ‘will you leave Musa (Moses) and his people to spread mischief in the land and to abandon you and your gods. He said we will kill their sons…”
Sura 28:38 “And Pharaoh said ‘Council I know not that you have any god but me. Kindle me Haman, a fire upon the clay, and make me a tower, that I may mount up to Moses’ god for I think that he is one of the liars.”
Moses and the Israelites
The episode of the children of Israel’s worship of a golden calf in the Quran is plagued with several problems. Sura 7:149 says that the children of Israel “repented, and saw that they had erred” and begged the Lord for forgiveness before Moses’ return but Sura 20:91 says the opposite: “They had said, We will not abandon this cult, but we will devote ourselves to it until Moses returns to us.”
In the real Bible account, the Israelites didn’t repent of their idolatry before Moses’ return (Ex. 32:18-26). Adding to this conundrum, the Quran is not sure whom to blame for this apostasy. In Sura 20:85, Allah says “Verily, we have tried thy people, since thou didst leave them. The Samaritan has misled them into error.”
Allah tried them by leading them into idolatry or he used a Samaritan to pull it off. This is even an anachronism. Samaria was not existing at the time Moses was leading the children of Israel. It was a city built about 7 centuries later, so there couldn’t have been “a Samaritan” (or a Samari) with them. Where did he even come from? Did he descend from heaven or ascend from below?
When Moses returned and chastised the people for their apostasy, they told him “we were loaded with fardels, even the ornaments of the people [of Egypt] and we cast them, as the Samaritan also threw them, into the fire” (20:87). They were blaming God for blessing them with too much gold! A forger hath done this. In the Bible, only the women and very young male children had jewelry on them (Ex. 32:2). Once again, the “Samaritan myth” is exposed for what it is.
In the Quran, after the calf was made by the ‘Samaritan’, it “had a mooing sound, so they said: This is your god, and the god of Musa” (20:88). Such Arabian night tales are not in the Bible. In vs 92-94, Moses blamed Aaron for the apostasy and even plucked out his beard. But wasn’t it Allah/Samari that did the job? Verse 97 quotes Moses saying “Verily we will burn it [the idol] and will scatter its dust over the sea.” Which sea? They were in a wilderness! Allah didn’t know this.
David and Saul
“And (further) their Prophet said to them: ‘A sign of his authority is that there shall come to you the Ark of the covenant, with (and assurance) therein of security from your Lord, and the relics left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron, carried by angels. In this symbol for you if ye indeed have faith” (2:248).
The name of this prophet is not given in the Quran, but from the Bible, we know he is Samuel. The Israelites were fed up with the corrupt judges and so asked him to appoint them a king like other nations (1 Sam. 8:1-5). The Ark had been returned to Israel decades before Saul became king, so it couldn’t have been “the sign of his authority” (1 Sam. 10).
The Hebrew word “sakinat” used there for the Ark is one of the many non-Arabic words smuggled into the Quran. The Ark contained the stone tablets of the 10 commandments (Ex. 25:16), the golden pot of manna (Ex. 16:32-34) and Aaron’s budding rod (Num. 17:1-11). They weren’t relics from Moses and Aaron’s family. When the Temple was dedicated, only the stone tablets remained (1 Kgs. 8:9).
Muhammad probably heard from the Jews about cherubims on the Ark’s cover but didn’t understand that they were statues, not literal angels. The Ark was carried by the Levites (Dt. 31:9). Apparently, Muhammad thought the Ark was in heaven, so he too claimed that his own “scriptures” were also preserved on a tablet in heaven (Q 85:22).
Verse 249 reads: “And when Saul went forth with the hosts he said, ‘God will try you with a river; whosoever drinks of it is not of me, and whoso tastes it flot, he is of me, saving him who scoops up with his hand.’ But they drank of it, except a few of them; and when he crossed it, and those who disbelieved with him, they said, ‘We have no power today against Goliath and his hosts…’
This is a confusion of Gideon’s story with that of Saul. In the Bible, Gideon led Israel against the Midianites and his army was tested at the stream (Judges 7). Whereas Saul’s battle was against the Ammorites about 110 years after Gideon’s time (1 Sam. 11-12). Saul’s battle was not even against Goliath, because by then, he had been rejected by God. The Quran mixes up details of separate stories at different times and weaves them into one.
The Quran’s account of Solomon reads like a badly scripted Arabian legend that would have been so laughable if it wasn’t so false.
“And there were gathered together unto Solomon his armies of the jinn and humankind, and of the birds, and they were set in battle order. Till they reached the Valley of the Ants, an ant exclaimed: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Solomon and his armies crush you, unperceiving” (27:17-18).
This story not only lacks an eye witness account but one must ask why Muhammad – “the seal of the prophet” – didn’t marshall such a wonderful army of aves, spirits and men. This is a fairy tale for children. Ants do not talk, are unable to recognize humans or avoid being crushed. How did Solomon retain his sanity if he heard the voices of all the insects around him chattering day and night? Was that wisdom or lunacy?
Between vs 22-28, Solomon carries on a long conversation with a Hoopoe bird whom he sent to the Queen of Sheba. The bird tells Solomon “I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah, and Satan maketh their works fairseeing unto them and debarreth them from the way (of Truth)…” (v 24). There you have it: a Muslim bird with a fully developed human brain!
Sura 34:14 says: “Then, when We decreed (Solomon’s) death nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff; so when he fell down, the jinns saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tamed in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task).”
How did this work out? Solomon stood there for months (or years), waiting for a little worm to finish him up till he fell apart. How did a little worm eat away his staff? In Sura 72, jinns (demons) told Muhammad about Allah, heaven and the earth, but here they were deceived by Allah to keep working for Solomon not knowing he had died. This book is an insult to human intelligence.
An entire sura is named after Mary the mother of Jesus, but what the Quran says are mainly blunders. Sura 3:35 says of Mary’s mother. “(Remember) when the wife of Imran said, My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering)…”
This is an error. Mary’s mother couldn’t have been the wife of Amran (or Imran) who was Moses’ father! “The name of Amran’s wife was Jocebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt, and to Amran she bore Aaron, and Moses and their sister Miriam” (Num. 26:59). Ibn Kathir gave Mary’s mother’s name as Anna but this suggests that Muhammad confused the story of Hanna in the OT with that of prophetess Anna in the Temple at the time of Jesus. Whereas they lived over 1,000 years apart.
In Q 3:36-37, we are told that Zechariah was Mary’s guardian in the Temple and whenever he “went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food.” When asked she said “It is from Allah.” This is a fabricated story (apparently, Muhammad weaved in Elijah’s story of miraculous food supply). Mary and Zacharias didn’t live in the same town, so he couldn’t have been her guardian (Lk. 1:26). Also, if Zacharias was a prophet of Allah, he certainly would have known where Maryam’s food was coming from. Sura 19:27, however, gives a nuanced version of this story:
“[Allah says to Mary:] So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficient (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.”
Allah asks Mary to lie to people that she was fasting when she was actually feasting! Quite telling. There’s also a discrepancy in the number of angels that visited Mary:
“And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure … (And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath given thee glad tidings of a word from him, whose name is the Messiah…” (3:42, 45)
“…Then we sent our angel to her and he appeared to her in the form of a well proportioned man… The angel said, ‘I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may give thee glad tidings of a righteous son” (19:17-19).
After Maryam gave birth to baby Jesus in a secluded place, she returned to her people who exclaimed: “O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing. O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man or was thy mother a harlot” (19:27-28).
This statement is an unfortunate anachronism. Mary couldn’t have been Aaron’s sister since they didn’t live in the same century. Muhammad confused Miriam the sister of Aaron with Maryam the mother of Jesus (the name is the same in Arabic) not realizing they were different women who lived 1,500 years apart. By claiming Mary was a daughter of Imran and a sister of Aaron, he was implying that Moses was Jesus’ cousin! This historical compression exposes the Quran as a binded book of lies.
If this book can be so flat-out wrong about Bible characters, then its claims about Jesus cannot be reliable either. This is why Muslim leaders try to scare their followers away from reading the Bible by themselves. But a truth-seeking Muslim must decide to reject lies and cleave to truth. The Bible is the truth.