From the Archive
Please Say: (My Brethren/Brother in Humanity) and Never Say: (My Brethren/Brother in God)!
Is It Possible to Reform the KSA?
"…And do not hold on to ties with fanatic unbelieving women…" (Quran 60:10)
Muslims and Islamophobia
Symposium on Religion & Democracy
Separating Spouses- A Detailed Answer
Harmful Mosques, Again
Fatwas Part Fifty-Five Issued by: Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour, translated by: Ahmed Fathy
Fatwas: Part Thirty-Three
This sacred hatred of the West, Why?
Statement from the International Quranic Center:
Refuting the View of Dr. Farooq Al-Baz Regarding Tiran and ýSanafir Is
The Most Recent 'Achievements' of Salafist Sunnite Fiqh: Marriage of Female Children, Copulating with Corpses of Wives, and Rules Concerning Farting!
Missed Opportunity: The Politics of Police Reform in Egypt and Tunisia
Defending the Prophet Mohammed against offenders
The Philosophy of Submission
Moses' Pharaoh Monopolized Might and the Claim of Possessing the Truth
Prophet Muhammad Was Literate and he Wrote the Quran himself with his Own Hands


Prophet Muhammad Was Literate and he Wrote the Quran himself with his Own Hands

Published in August 6, 2006

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy



  The French orientalist Jacques Berque (1910-1995) was known for his being a friend to sheikhs and clergymen of Al-Azhar, and he translated the Quran into French (Le Coran : essai de traduction) and authored a book titled "Rereading the Quran" (Relire le Coran). In this book, he suggests that the Quranic verses should be reordered as per the supposed chronological order of their revelation (maintained by Al-Azhar), instead of keeping the current order of verses and chapters. Furthermore, he repeats in his book the same nonsense of ancient Sunnite books that the so-called companions wrote Quranic verses in scattered parchments within the supervision and presence of Muhammad, who is assumed by Sunnites to have been an illiterate person! No Azharite friends of Berque refuted his views about rearranging Quranic verses. When the Egyptian translator Dr. Wael Ghaly Choukry translated into Arabic "Rereading the Quran" (Relire le Coran), the publishers asked our person to write an introduction to analyze and refute views of Berque, and we did so voluntarily while asking for no remuneration at all in our defense of the Quran/Islam. Within our introduction, we have proven that Muhammad was a literate person and he wrote the Quran in that order himself, within divine guidance, and never an illiterate man as Sunnite scholars assume in their books to justify the assumed importance to the so-called 'companions' who are Sunnite deities now. Such Sunnite falsehoods are the bases of the views of Berque and of all views of haters of the Quran who desire to undermine and cast doubt on it. Such undermining began by Sunnite scholars of the Middle-Ages (e.g., Al-Baqlany and Al-Siyouti) who established the so-called Quranic branches of sciences that twist and distort meanings of Quranic verses. Such Sunnite books are filled with myths that lead readers to doubt the Quran. All these myths are based on the one big lie of assuming that Muhammad was illiterate and his 'companions' wrote down the Quranic verses. Thus, Berque assumes in his book that the Quranic verses are written in a random order and they should be rearranged thematically or as per the chronological order of revelation. Our introduction that precedes the translation of the book was published by the Cairo-based Dar Al-Nadeem Publishers in the mid-1990s. Within the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Al-Misaa'e newspaper, the journalist and writer Hussein Jubayl praised our views in that introduction and our proofs that Muhammad was a literate man who wrote the Quran himself in that order. Yet, no one else commented on that issue for a while, until the Cairo-based leftist magazine Rose Al-Youssef re-published the story regarding that issue along with our views and introduction. Debates and hot arguments ensued, and the intellectual battle grew bigger in Rose Al-Youssef and within other right-wing, conservative newspapers (mostly owned by the terrorist MB and other Wahabi extremists). The Azharite head of Al-Azhar Observer or Academy of Research, the extremist sheikh Sayed Askar Ameen, wrote an article criticizing our person, decaling us as an apostate and an infidel! Other Azharite clergymen did the same; we disregarded them until people at Rose Al-Youssef requested that we reply and refute their views and accusations. This magazine at the time was a pioneer in freedom of speech as it was led by the free writers and thinkers of the leftist wing like Adel Hammouda and Ibrahim Eissa, and its editor-in-chef Muhammad Al-Tohamy. We began to write occasionally in Rose Al-Youssef, bearing in mind that this liberal magazine aimed at the time at enlightenment and would not accept to publish some of our 'radical' views of religious reform. We did not want to cause any sort of embarrassment of people writing in that great magazine. At the time, this magazines was respected and so popular in Cairo and all issues it raised influenced the public opinion for a long time. By the end of 1990s, Rose Al-Youssef received fatal blows to make it a 'domesticated' outlet that would only praise the Mubarak regime; its leftist great writers were fired and the magazine was no longer filled with freedom fighters, and its new editor-in-chief was a man loyal to the Mubarak regime at the time, and the distribution of the magazine went down. When we were contacted by the magazine to deliver a summary of our introduction of the translated book of Berque, it was published in issue No. 3567, on 21st of October, 1996, within three pages: 74, and 75, and 76.

Here is the brief note of Rose Al-Youssef that precedes our article there:

 (...In 1971, Al-Hilal magazine published a study by Dr. Ahmed Hussein Al-Sawy about changing the Arabic writing style of the Quran as per modern spelling of Arabic of the 20th century, and our editors in Rose Al-Youssef requested from the Azharite scholar, Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour, who was a professor at Al-Azhar University in the 1980s, to give us his views on that topic, but he delivered a bombshell that shook our deep-rooted notions: Prophet Muhammad was a literate man who wrote the Quran himself in that order and in that spelling, within divine guidance, and he says he has proofs of these views. We publish his views here to open the issue for debate...).

  We re-publish our article here followed by what occurred after it was published.

 (Title: Was Prophet Muhammad literate? By Dr. A. S. Mansour.

 If anyone seeks to undermine and cast doubt on the Quran, he/she will find an ample source to serve this purpose in all books of heritage of the ancient scholars of the Middle-Ages, especially the books of the so-called Quranic branches of sciences. Such writings cast doubt on the order of Quranic verses and chapters and the style of their writing. This drove orientalists to support their accusations leveled at the Quran by quoting these books, and this applies to Jacques Berque in his book titled "Rereading the Quran".  We are to understand the Quranic Truth ONLY from the Quran itself; to be able to do so, let us read critically the following: Sunnite Middle-Ages books assert that Muhammad was an illiterate man who employed the help of others to write the down the Quranic verses he recited and that even one of those scribes rejected Islam eventually, while Othman the caliph (whose reign was that of trouble and political unrest) compiled all verses and chapters in one book later on and the vizier/governor Hajaj Ibn Youssef changed the spelling of the Quranic words. Such myths have but one aim: to undermine and cast doubt on the authenticity of the Quranic text. Where is the truth in such narratives regarding the writing of the Quran?! The stance of Azharite sheikhs and imams is strange as they defend such myths and such traditional books regarding the Quran, though they undermine Islam, the Quran, and Muhammad. The Azharite sheikhs never dare to question such books or to show their negative influence on one's faith. When a Muslim thinker like us refutes such man-made books, narratives, and notions using the Quranic verses, they accuse him of being an apostate/infidel and a denier of Sunna. Even when some thinkers quote such narratives in their books and researches, Azharite clergymen accuse them of attempting to undermine the Quran, though they quote from Middle-Ages books made 'holy' and 'infallible' by them. It is a foolish, unbelievable thing to assume that Muhammad was an illiterate man who let his contemporaries write the Quranic verses on parchments, tablets, and rocks to be compiled later on within one book by caliphs Abou Bakr and Othman! It is impossible to assume that Muhammad, whose only miracle granted by God is a Book, was an illiterate man; the Quran is a miracle for minds of people in all eras and locations; Muhammad could never have died without compiling all it verses in a certain order. Muhammad was a literate man who was a merchant who cared for the trade of his rich wife, Khadija, in the Levant, dealing with Levantine cunning, wily merchants. Thus, it is never reasonable to assume Muhammad was an illiterate man. After the reasoning mind that asserts that Muhammad could read and write, we use the Quranic verses that makes us infer that Muhammad was a literate man. Firstly, the very first Quranic command in the very first Quranic Chapter 96 revealed to Muhammad is "Read..." (96:1). And this implies that God has addressed this order to a literate person; it is silly to assume that this Quranic command has been addressed to an illiterate man who would refuse to read as he could not, as per Sunnite narratives. Thus, it is silly to suppose that there were eye-witnesses who saw Muhammad talking to Gabriel as he saw him for the first time; this narrative, then, is false. Besides, the Quran asserts that Muhammad was a literate man who read the Quran from scrolls or scripts: "A messenger from God reciting purified scripts." (98:2). This means that Muhammad read the written verses to people around him, not from parchments, rocks, tablets, etc. Again, the Quran asserts that before his prophethood, Muhammad did not recite or write celestial books, but he became literate as he read and wrote the Quran when he became a prophet: "You did not read any scripture before this, nor did you write it down with your right hand; otherwise the falsifiers would have doubted." (29:48). Again, this Quranic verse about accusations leveled by Mecca polytheists against Muhammad implies that he knew how to read and write by dictation: "And they say, "Tales of the ancients; he wrote them down; they are dictated to him morning and evening."" (25:5). This means they knew that Muhammad wrote the Quran himself, not by his so-called companions. We can guess here that some of his contemporaries made him dictate verses to them so that they write them and read them; we do not believe in the Sunnite myth that some of the so-called companions had the mission to write the Quranic revelation. There are several verses that assert that Muhammad was a teacher to his contemporaries among the believers as his disciples taught Quranic wisdom by him; see 2:129, 2:151, 3:77, and 62:2. Secondly, the Quranic term (Ummi) that describes Muhammad does NOT mean an illiterate person: this is the modern Arabic sense of the term derived from the meaning deciphered by Sunnite scholars in the Middle-Ages eras. The Quranic term (Ummi) (which is derived from the term Umma: a nation, a group, or a multitude) simply means that Muhammad was the prophet of gentiles, not only of Jews or People of the Book, but of all nations in all eras till the end of days. By gentiles we means peoples and nations who did not receive a celestial book before the Quran (i.e., gentiles are people outside the circle of "the People of the Book", in its turn a Quranic term indicating both Jews and Christians). Hence most Arabian people at the 7th century A.D. were gentiles, to differentiate them apart from Arab Jews and Christians in Arabia. The Quran makes us infer this meaning and this differentiation: "...And say to those who were given the Scripture and to the gentiles,..." (3:20); "Among the People of the Book is he, who, if you entrust him...That is because they say, "We are under no obligation towards the gentiles."..." (3:75). Thus, gentiles here refer to non-Jewish and non-Christian Arabs in Arabia. Besides, some Jewish Arabs were described in the Quran as "gentiles", and this might indicate they did not descend from the Israelite tribes, but this certainly indicates the fact that they invented and made up verses and ascribed them as part of scriptures of God, and this means that "gentiles" (or in the Quranic term: Ummiyoon) here means that they ignore the celestial book, and NOT illiteracy at all: "And among them are gentiles (Ummiyoon) who know the Scripture only through hearsay, and they only speculate." (2:78) Hence, it is of vital importance to understand the Quran in its own terminology, not as per sets of terminology made up by Middle-Ages authors. Thus, Muhammad as the prophet of the gentiles means he (and Arabs in Arabia) never received any celestial book before the Quran. We maintain that Muhammad was the first writer of the entirety of the Quran entrusted to him to convey and preach. A query is posed: why is that? Because the Quran is written in a special manner that differs from ordinary Arabic spelling, past and present, and it is silly to ascribe such spelling to caliph Othman. We maintain that Muhammad wrote down the entirety of the Quran himself in the current order as per God's command, within one original copy he left before he died. God says in the Quran about the Quran itself: "Upon Us is its collection and its recitation." (75:17). We assert that this original copy was left as a reference at one of his wives' chamber (maybe that of Hafsa, his wife, as per historical narratives), and caliphs Abou Bakr an Othman made copies to everyone and every city from that original copy. Each of these copies has been referred to using the term (Mus-haf), a word never mentioned in the Quranic text, and it denotes literally a copy. People wrongly assume that Othman the caliph was the first one to compile Quranic verses in one volume, and this lie is derived from the story that his caliph burned many copies that contained errors in the writing style of the Quran in the copies spread after Arab conquests, and this caliph made it obligatory that all scribes must copy from the original copy that contain the unique Quranic style of writing. Thirdly, a query is raised: why did Muhammad write himself the Quran, and he was its only writer of its entirety during his lifetime, in that style that differed from Arabic writing in the 7th century A.D. and modern spelling of today? We quote again the verse we have quoted above and the following one after it here: " And they say, "Tales of the ancients; he wrote them down; they are dictated to him morning and evening." Say, "It was revealed by He who knows the Secret in the heavens and the earth. He is always Forgiving and Merciful."" (25:5-6). This means that God asserts that this unique and miraculous Quranic style of writing is ordained by Him: it is a miracle that will show itself in later eras; some words are written in different spelling with letters added or omitted, and there are certain pattern in this and some researchers in the future might discover the secret behind that unique style, and this secret is linked to the numerical miracles of the letters and words of the Quranic text. In our digital modern era, some researchers are working on the relation between letters of Quranic words and numbers; the language of numbers are universal and respected in the West, where people believe only in material sciences. The numerical miracles will show to all humanity that the Quran is never authored by any mortal(s); it is God's Word. Fourthly, we take pride in the fact that Egyptian scientists have been the first ones to link numerical phenomena to the unique Quranic style of writing:

1- Dr. Abdel-Razak Nofal has begun tackle to tackle this new field of study in his book titled "Numerical Miracles in the Quran", and his book revolves around the repetition pattern of some Quranic terms and words; e.g., the terms (worldly life) and its opposite (the Hereafter) are each mentioned 115 times exactly.

2- Within using the computer, the late Egyptian-American Dr. Rashad Khalifa (murdered inside his mosque in Arizona, in 1990) has discovered the miraculous pattern of the number 19 in the letters and words of the Quranic text, within intricate and complex relations between numbers and letters. Sadly, his amazing discoveries influenced his mental state and he declared himself as a prophet, and he was murdered by extremists. We have personally met him for some time as we traveled to the USA several times, and we have witnessed partially his lifetime story. 

3- The Egyptian-Canadian Mr. Muhammad Mustapha Sadek has continued studies of the numerical miracles of the Quran revolving around the number (seven), and he has reached wonderful conclusions within the relation between numbers and letters of the Quranic words.  

4- The Egyptian-Canadian Mr. Morad Al-Khouly has made wondrous discoveries in the numerical miracles of the Quranic text using another methodology that ascribes a certain numerical value to each letter in the Quranic text, and he ascertained certain miraculous features regarding the numbers 7, 14, and 19 in the Quranic text. Of course, these researches of these men are just first step in that new field of study that will gain momentum in the 21st century. May God guide all of us.)

   Our article ends here, but it caused hot debates within Wahabi extremists' magazines and newspapers in Cairo, whether party-owned or State-owned ones. Even in mosques, everybody seemed so keen on declaring our person as an infidel/apostate and attacking us as part of a 'western' conspiracy to undermine the Quran! such accusations were leveled against us by such crazy people; in fact, when both fanaticism and extremism control one's mind, this mind does NOT work properly at all. No one of our attackers asked himself or thought for a minute about who the one really defending the Quran: ourselves with our above article, or those ignoramuses with their demagogy, screaming, ignorance, and bovine stupidity derived from the local influence of traditional books. As typical of us at the time, we did not care to refute any of the accusations and attacks; even in cases when we had written an article in our defense, no one dared to publish it within any newspaper. Strangely, Al-Wafd newspaper (with its editor-in-chief at the time Gamal Badawi) has published at the time a refutation in response of our unpublished article sent by us to defend our stance! Within another instance, our friend, the leftist writer Mr. Adel Hammouda, phoned us one night to tell us about an article attacking and 'refuting' us by a dean of an Azharite faculty outside Cairo. Mr. Hammouda told us to read this article before it gets published so that we would write a response that should be published on the same page next day. Indeed, we sent our eldest son hurriedly to get us a copy of the article of the dean (from Mr. Hammouda in Rose Al-Youssef) so that we would read it first, and we spent the rest of the night to write a response that was ready before Mr. Hammouda in the early morning. Indeed, Mr. Hammouda had published the article of the dean and our article in response to him within five pages. Within the opposite page, there was another article attacking us with verbal abuse and slander that we ignored and decided not to respond to it as the best choice to punish its unknown author who was a nobody that needed to be taught a lesson by being ignored by us; this is our way to penalize such nobodies: we ignore them totally. We note here that Mr. Hammouda has given us the whole article of the dean, whose name was Dr. M. Gabal, but we noticed that they have omitted some lines of it when it got published, for lack of space. But our article was published in its entirety, which included refutation of some of the dean's views omitted from his published article. This was in the issue of Rose Al-Youssef Magazine no. 3571, on 18th of November, 1996, within pages 54, 55, 56, 57, and 58.


  The introductory paragraph by Rose Al-Youssef: (Azharite debates concerning controversial issue of fiqh: was Prophet Muhammad literate or literate?! We have published before an article by Dr. A. S. Mansour that refutes the alleged illiteracy of Muhammad, while proving that he was alliterate man, as the Quranic term "Ummi" does not mean illiterate person, but means the prophet of the gentiles. We have received an article by Dr. M. Gabal, a dean of an Azharite faculty, to refute the article of Dr. Mansour, who in his turn has sent us a response to the article by Dr. Gabal.)


   The article by Dr. Gabal: (Titles: The Prophet Muhammad Did Not write the Quran: The Meaning of the Term "Ummi" in Interpretation Books is (illiterate): When Muhammad Said to Gabriel he Could Not Read, he Did Not Reject God's Command: This Is a Hypothesis that Aims to Delude People and to Betray Heritage and Knowledge

   Within the issue of Rose Al-Youssef magazine on 21st of October, 1996, an article was published authored by Dr. A. S. Mansour, asserting that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be with Him) was a literate man and that the Quranic term "Ummi" means the prophet of gentiles, not a descendant of (or sent exclusively for) the Jews or Christians. Dr. Mansour has provided intellectual views and Quranic verses as proofs of his theory and he has expressed a negative view of heritage traditional books. In our article here, we provide a scientific discussion of this article of Dr. Mansour. Firstly, Prophet Muhammad is described as the Ummi prophet twice in 7:157-158, and the term in all Arabic dictionaries and lexicons means an illiterate person; why is Dr. Mansour ignoring all these references of the Arabic language?! The same meaning is repeated in all books of interpretations of the Quranic verses; why does Dr. Mansour insist on ignoring these books?! Why does he overlook the linguistic side and the historical side of the heritage, traditional books?! We refer here to well-known lexicons like Lisaan Al-Arab, Taj Al-Aroos, Al-Misbah, etc. as well as interpretation, hadiths, and history books of Al-Tabari, Ibn Atiya, Al-Qurtubi, Al-Zamakhshary, Ibn Katheer, Al-Halaby, Al-Razi, Al-Bokhary, and Abou Hayyan. All such authors assert that the Quranic term (Ummi) means an illiterate person; those who never delve deep in studies of linguistics should never argue against this unanimity within ancient authors! Secondly, it is the illusion of Dr. Mansour to assume that some other Quranic verses contradict the illiteracy of Prophet Muhammad, as Dr. Mansour assumes that the Ummi Prophet means the prophet of gentiles; let us tackle and refutes the wrong points proposed by Dr. Mansour: (1) Dr. Mansour assumes that in 96:1, God has commanded Prophet Muhammad to read and this entails he was a literate person; this is utterly wrong for the following reasons: (A) In classical Arabic, (to read) means to learn by heart, or to memorize by rote learning, as per lexicons we refer to above. Besides, books of interpretation by the holy, venerable ancient imams assert that this means that God caused the mind of Muhammad to miraculously memorize the Quran and he could not possibly forgot it or recite it wrongly: this is God's protection of the Quranic text. The other meaning of (to read) is to recite from one's mind or heart, not to read from written material, as per Al-Qurtubi, Ibn Atiya, and Abou Al-Saud; this meaning can be inferred from these verses: "Then, when We have recited it, follow its recitation." (75:18); "We will make you read, so do not forget." (87:6); "...Whoever is hostile to Gabriel - it is he who revealed it to your heart by God's leave..." (2:97); "The Honest Spirit came down with it. Upon your heart, that you may be one of the warners." (26:193-194). Thus, this does not mean to read from a written material or parchment at all, as Muhammad was  to read/recite the Quranic verses from his heart/memory, as per many well-known hadiths and narratives in the biographies of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. (B) As for the Prophet Muhammad's answering Gabriel, when he saw the Spirit for the first time, that he could not read, as per narratives known to us from the biographies of the Prophet Muhammad, this was not a rejection of God's command as Dr. Mansour claims in his article; rather, the Prophet Muhammad thus declared his being illiterate; so that the Quran was revealed to his heart to recite it and no one would accuse him of authoring it.   (C) As for the argument of Dr. Mansour that it was illogical that a narrator would witness the first encounter between arch-angel Gabriel and the Prophet Muhammad, this is nonsensical; this story is narrated by Prophet Muhammad himself and his wife Aisha in many books of his hadiths and it is verified and authenticated in the book of Al-Bokhary, Part One, by many scholars of fiqh and hadiths in the Middle-Ages. (2) The Quranic term (reciting) in the verses: "A messenger from God reciting purified scripts. In them are valuable writings." (98:2-3), refers to reciting the Quran from the Holy Prophet's heart; and we infer that the Prophet Muhammad never read or wrote anything as per this verse: "You did not read any scripture before this, nor did you write it down with your right hand; otherwise the falsifiers would have doubted." (29:48). Let us refute the wrong points made by Dr. Mansour in this respect:  (A) In classical Arabic, as per the lexicon Lisaan Al-Arab, (to recite) means to utter/narrate something aloud, NOT necessary from a paper or a parchment, as the case in these verses: "And they followed what the devils recited during the reign of Solomon..." (2:102); "We recite to you from the history of Moses and Pharaoh..." (28:3); "These are God's verses, which We recite to you in Truth..." (2:252); one can hardly imagine that God would recite from a paper, right?! Thus, as for 98:2-3, they do not imply that the Prophet Muhammad actually read from papers, but that the Quran is written later on by others and that it is written by the hands of God in the metaphysical realm before it descended down on Earth, as per interpretations of Ibn Atiya and Al-Qurtubi. Yet, the meaning of written parchment is used with the Torah in this verse: "..."Bring the Torah, and read it, if you are truthful."" (3:93), as it is written down in copies after the death of Moses. It is wrong that Dr. Mansour would assume that the Prophet may have used to be an illiterate person and became literate suddenly and miraculously once he saw Gabriel, as 29:48 implies that illiteracy of Prophet Muhammad remained till his death so that no one would cast doubt on the eloquence of the Quran by saying that Prophet Muhammad was its author, as per views adopted by many ancient imams. (B) Dr. Mansour was wrong again to assume that the following verse implies the literacy of Muhammad: "And they say, "Tales of the ancients; he wrote them down; they are dictated to him morning and evening."" (25:5). The reason: this wrong assumption is refuted by the historical fact that it was rare among Arabs in the 7th century Arabia to be literate; literate people were few well-known people and the Prophet Muhammad was not one of them; thus,, we assert that 25:5 refers to the accusations leveled by disbelievers that the Prophet Muhammad might have copies Quranic verses and notions from some clergymen of the People of the Book in Arabia, by making them recite or write to him stories of ancient prophets to be added to the Quran! This accusation indicates that the Prophet Muhammad was an illiterate person. (C) All hadiths in Al-Bokhary and other narratives in the biographies of the Prophet Muhammad show that he had never written any Quranic verses and that his companions, at least 15 men, did that, as per authoritative books. All great leaders were (and are) employing trusted followers; the Prophet Muhammad, who employed writers/scribes to write down the Quranic, verses was no exception to this rule; he dictated to them from his heart/memory (for 23 years) the verses preserved and protected from distortions by God Himself. Shortly before the Prophet's death, Gabriel instructed him to order the writing of the entire Quran in a certain order that we see today, as per authoritative books. Thirdly, views of Dr. Mansour are mere surmise and conjectures that are groundless and wholly without foundations: (1) Honest researchers must not reject all narratives altogether; rather, they are to study all of them to provide summary of them to modern readers, not to cast doubts on them all without scrutiny or previous study. (2) We reject views of Dr. Mansour about alleged numerical miracles in the Quran in relation to letters and words, as these are mere gibberish and nonsensical surmises based on the views of the infidel Rashad Khalifa and other deluded persons. Signature: Dr. Muhammad Gabal, Professor of Arabic linguistics and former dean of Al-Azhar Branch of the Faculty of Arabic Language, in Mansoura, Egypt.)  

 After this article, Rose Al-Youssef magazine has published our response as follows:

 (Titles: The Response of Dr. Ahmed Subhy Mansour: Ancient Interpretations Have Nothing to Do with the Quran: The Quran Is above all such Books: The Prophet was a Literate Man and he Wrote down the Quran: All Books of Heritage and Traditions Are Filled with Discrepancies and Those Who Quote them Contradict Themselves: Did Muhammad Say that he Left to us Only One Book of Guidance?

  In fact, reactions to our article about the literacy of Muhammad (and the fact that we infer from the Quran that he himself wrote down the Quranic text in that order shortly before he died) reminded us compellingly with the hot debate that occurred in Andalusia when the fiqh scholar Abou Al-Waleed Al-Bajy (403 – 474 A.H.) wrote that Muhammad was a literate man, and the extremist fiqh scholar Abou Bakr Ibn Al-Saa'egh declared him an infidel and an apostate who insulted the Prophet! All imams of mosques of Andalusia began to declared Al-Bajy as a cursed heretic, and some poets at the time ridiculed and mocked him in lines of poetry. It seems that history repeats itself; a former dean is leveling accusations against us as though we were an ignoramus who never read or studies all Arab history books and linguistic studies. Nothing could be further from the truth; this writer is alluding to us as if we were fabricating stories of our own imagination and that we were betraying readers who know nothing about branches of 'knowledge' taught at Al-Azhar University. This writer is accusing us of fabricating tales to deceive readers! We rarely reply and respond to our denigrators and detractors, but this is a chance to show that our views are ours and they are based on our methodology of understanding the Quran, which differs from Sunnite extremists' methods and ways of depending on ancient, obsolete books of imams who died centuries ago. Our research methodology in tacking the Quran is to read it directly using its own terming without prior notions or prejudices. Of course, we have studied most – if not all – heritage and traditional books and we are fully aware of their little benefits and their countless faults, discrepancies, and contradictions. Indeed, the methods/ways of Azharite scholars in tackling the Quran are faulty as they depend SOLELY on such books even if they contain notions that contradict the Quranic verses, logic, and common sense. If they would like to be fair, they must acknowledge the fact that the Only Book without faults or contradictions is the Quran: God's Word: "...A Book whose Verses were perfected, then elaborated, from One who is Wise and Informed." (11:1); "Falsehood cannot approach it, from before it or behind it. It is a revelation from One Wise and Praiseworthy." (42:41). Any books authored by men/women must contain a measure of error inevitably; yet, Azharite Sunnites assume that ancient imams are infallible in all their views! Their views insult the Quran and accuse it of being lacking or convoluted. Thus, we cannot use man-made books to understand the Quran; rather, we must analyze its terminology and use our mind to understand and ponder it. All heritage and tradition books are bottomless and shoreless ocean of discrepancies and contradictions; most Azharite students have read ad infinitum ad nauseam in Azharite books the phrase: (scholars held different views of that topic...). This means that nothing is ever resolved on by ancient Sunnite imams made holy now by some people! This former dean has mentioned in his article that we must rely on lexicons and Arabic dictionaries to understand the Quran; this is wrong because how come that compilations of Arabic terms in lexicons authored during the Abbasid Era be tools to judge the Quran revealed more than 250 years ago before such lexicons were authored and complied?! The former dean is an expert in linguistics and he knows quite well that languages change with the passage of time phonetically and on both the syntactic (i.e., grammar) and the semantic (i.e., meaning) levels. Thus, we do not need dictionaries to understand the Quran, nor the silly nonsense on books of interpretations filled with whims of Middle-Ages authors. God asserts in the Quran that it contains Clear Verses that elaborate one another: "Whatever argument they come to you with, We provide you with the Truth, and a better exposition." (25:33); "...A Light from God has come to you, and a Clear Book. " (5:15). Even Ibn Katheer mentions in his writings that the best 'interpretations' are those depending on Quranic verses shedding light on one another. The terms (explanation) or (interpretation) are insulting the Quran (and consequently its Author: God) as if it were vague or convoluted, or even filled with logarithms and hard ideas; this contradicts the repeated idea in the Quranic Chapter 54 that the Quran is made easy to understand. Is it logical that a concise, clear book like the Quran would need countless 1000+ page books to 'explain' and 'interpret' it?! Let us asset the following remarks.                                 

1- A researcher must define and locate repeated sets of Quranic terminology, as is the case when tackling any other book within any research; the Quran contains no referrals to outside sources that might help to understand it; thus, we are to define its terms using ONLY Quranic verses as we study the one containing the same term and its derivatives.  

2- Lexicons and dictionaries of Arabic are authored/complied centuries after the Quranic revelation; they cannot be used to understand the Arabic style of the Quran that emerged in the 7th century A.D. as the Arabic tongue changes within all levels, as is the case in all living tongues. For instance, the Arabic term (Ameed) in lexicons written during the Abbasid Era means (infatuated or sick with love), while in the 20th century modern Arabic, the same term means the dean of any faculty. The dean who attacked our views cannot deny this linguistic fact, we presume!

3- Hence, Quranic terminology differs a great deal from Arabic terms after and before the 7th century during Muhammad's lifetime. We cannot use outside sources to understand Quranic terms, then. for instance, the term Sunna in the Quran means God's method, sharia, or way, whereas Sunnites use the same term to denote their hadiths in which we disbelieve and they ascribe this term falsely to Muhammad. The Quranic term (Ummi) means (of [or related to] the Gentiles) and in the Abbasid-era Arabic and today's Arabic, the word (Ummi) means illiterate. The Quranic term (Haad) means God's law or right, whereas Sunnites made the term to mean penalty. Hence, lexicons and dictionaries of Arabic cannot be depended upon as sources to understand Quranic terms.    

4- Likewise, heritage and traditions books (our specialty as a historian) cannot be used to understand the Quran. The reason: such books are filled with discrepancies and contradictions regarding all topics related to religion and history. For instance, regarding the topic of the literacy of Muhammad, the story of the first encounter of Gabriel with Muhammad as per history of Al-Tabari indicates that Gabriel gave Muhammad a parchment to read from it the Quranic verses (see History of Al-Tabari 2/300-301), and this story, if true, indicates that Muhammad knew how to read and to write. Even in the book of Al-Bokhary (part 3, page 91), we find a narrative about the dying Muhammad writing his will and testimony and he wrote the Quran in that order we see now. This means that Muhammad was a literate man. Other stories by other male authors show that Muhammad was an illiterate person! The biographer Ibn Hisham narrates about Muhammad two contradictory stories about a peace treaty: at one narrative, he mentioned that Muhammad wrote the treaty himself, and at another, he writes that Muhammad commanded Ali Ibn Abou Talib to write it! Such contradictions make us discard all heritage and traditional books as they are unreliable; we rely only on the Quran regarding all topics within Islam; God says in the Quran: "...And who speaks more truly than God?" (4:87).       

 Naturally, in such cases of endless contradictions and discrepancies, we are to rely SOLELY on the Quran as the Only One source of Islam and its history. This is our methodology and we hope to die and meet God as adopters of this methodology. As for the method of this former dean in his article, he quotes lexicons and heritage/traditions books as if they were infallible! In fact, he makes such books authored by men as controlling the Quranic terms, as if God did not provide verses that explain one another as per 3:7. Thus, when a traditional notion/definition contradicts a Quranic verse, Sunnites like this former dean supports the meaning found in traditional books and he would readily reject the Quranic meaning! Shame on him! Why this former dean is rejecting innovative, unprecedented ideas?! Why does he stick to ancient books as if they were divine or holy?! How dare he mentions that ancient scholars unanimously agree on the myth that Muhammad was an illiterate person?! Unanimity among Sunnite authors is a myth; they never mentioned in their books any agreed-on notions at all regarding any topics! This is why the article of this former dean contain contradictory ideas and he dares to quote the Quranic verses we have quoted earlier to prove the literacy of Muhammad; he deliberately uses books of Middle-Ages authors to add opposing meanings to partially quoted Quranic verses that have totally different literal meanings. The verse 25:5 shows for sure that the disbelievers accused Muhammad of being dictated the Quranic verses by other mortals; this implies that they knew he could read and write. Yet, the former dean uses this verse to add his own meaning from books and lexicons of other authors, who disregarded this clear verse that indicates the literacy of Muhammad. The former dean insists that the verses we have quoted indicate recitation from his memory or his heart, not from written papers or parchments. As for the verse 29:48, it refers to the fact that Muhammad never wrote or read any divine revelation of former scriptures of the People of the Book before the Quran, and NOT that he never wrote or read anything because of his assumed illiteracy. Lastly, we have proven beyond doubt (using Quranic verses) that Muhammad was a literate person and that the Quranic term (Ummi Prophet) means the prophet of gentiles, as Muhammad was sent to all humankind in all eras not just to People of the Book (Jews + Christians). Thus, the term Quranic (Ummi) cannot denote illiteracy at all. Thus, Muhammad wrote the Quran in that order we see now before his death, within instructions of God conveyed by arch-angel Gabriel, NOT within random order by caliphs Abou Bakr or Othman and unknown scribes who allegedly wrote the Quranic verses within several parchments, as per Sunnite myths. Of course, God undertakes the mission of preserving the Quranic text till the end of days for all humanity in all eras. We cast no doubts at all on the unique style of writing of the Quran. This former dean has chosen to cast doubt on the Quran like orientalists who undermine it; he and ourselves have chosen certain opposite ways. We remind him of God's verses here addressed to Muhammad regarding the Quran: "Do not wag your tongue with it, to hurry on with it. Upon Us is its collection and its recitation. Then, when We have recited it, follow its recitation. Then upon Us is its explanation." (75:16-19).).

 Our article of response ends here, and we remind readers of it after about 10 years from its first appearance in 1996 to assert two undeniable facts: (A) religious thought of Sunnite extremists is confined to ancient Middle-Ages imams with mummified notions and views without any new ideas at all or any innovative, creative thinking, and this leads them to adopt views of these 'infallible' deities who undermine the Quran with their heretic views insulting to God and to Muhammad, and (B) sadly, some copies of the Quran in cyberspace are written in a different style and modern spelling; this is a grave error as it makes numerical miracles of letters of Quranic words lost; we must preserve the unique style of writing of the Quranic text as it contains secrets unknown yet by all people. to change its spelling to modern Arabic one is a crime by haters of the Quran, who imitate its Middle-Ages haters among Sunnite imams. May God guide all of us to His Path.



Dr. A. S. Mansour   

The views and opinions of authors whose articles and comments are posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of IQC.