Chapter 3
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Click here to purchase a printed copy of this bookChapter 3: Basic Islamic Fallacies and Inconsistencies

by Gleason Archer

I

n view of the growing numbers of immigrants coming to America from Islamic lands, earnestly desirous of propagating their faith here in the United States, establishing their own centers of worship in many of our major cities, and hoping to make a valuable contribution to our body politic, and eager to make converts from Christianity to Islam, it is very urgent for us to take stock of their religious beliefs and their political aspirations in the light of our Christian traditions and political convictions.

On the positive side, it should be noted that our Muslim newcomers bring with them a sincere respect for revealed Scripture which serves a welcome and needed challenge to those elements of our population who have settled for a liberal interpretation of biblical authority and a benign neglect of the guidelines for morally responsible living which are presented in Holy Scripture. We need to encourage the non-practicing elements of our Christian citizenry to give as careful attention to the Bible as our Muslim friends give to the Qur’an. Their disciplined practice of Qur’anic recitation and stated times of prayer throughout the day should serve to spur us on to approach the responsibilities and activities of our daily life as a people answerable to the God of the Bible for godly standards of life, and a sense of commitment far surpassing that of the Islamic community who, after all, have no savior to look to, no gracious gift of redemption to respond to with the offering of a dedicated life.

On the positive side also, their Qur’an honors and adores one God, creator of heaven and earth. They glorify Allah as the absolute sovereign over the entire created universe. And they regard Allah as the legislator and enforcer of the moral law—a law not subject to amendment or alteration by popular opinion or by human tribunals who assume the right (as our American courts sometimes do) of abolishing or ignoring the Ten Commandments, which are honored by Islam in the same way that the Ten Commandments are honored by Bible-believing Christians.

Moreover, it is true that much of the content of Holy Scripture is referred to or cited in the Qur’an. Jesus Himself is greatly honored by the Muslim believers, even though His divinity is emphatically denied. They believe he was miraculously conceived and born of the Virgin Mary, even though He never died on the cross nor rose bodily from the tomb. The Qur’an teaches much about Adam, Abraham, Moses, some of the kings (such as David and Solomon) and the Old Testament prophets. It likewise refers to the Injil or Gospel as authoritative Scripture from the New Testament.

On the question of burning moral issues affecting our society today, Muslims will stand right with us in firm opposition to abortion, to the neglect of capital punishment, to tolerance of extra-marital sexual activity whether among children or adults, and to homosexuality, which is utterly abhorred. Muslims stand committed to good discipline within the home and with respect to the authority of parents.

The Basic Fallacies of Islamic Theology

It goes without saying that every Muslim is supposed to be committed to the inerrancy of the Qur’an and therefore subject to its authority. It is therefore a strange inconsistency for Islamic propagandists to disregard so completely the Qur’anic teaching concerning the authoritative status of the Holy Bible.

Hostile and Derisive Criticism of the Bible Itself

In Sura 5:47-50, both the Pentateuch and the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Injil of the New Testament contain both guidance (hudan) and light and confirmation, guidance and admonition (ma’izatan) to those who fear God.

Let the People of the Gospel judge by what God hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge (by the light of) what God hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.[1]

In other words, Jesus confirmed the authority of the Old Testament as the valid and binding word of God.

In Sura 4:136 we are told:

O you who believe, believe in God and His apostle, and the Book which He sent down aforetime…

Sura 5:48 declares:

To thee (Mohammed) we sent the Scripture (al’kitab) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and guarding it in safety…

 “His apostle” is, of course, Mohammed and the “Book which He sent down aforetime” is the Old Testament and the New Testament Gospel. Plainly the Hebrew-Christian Bible is appealed to in an effort to confirm that the Qur’an contains the true word of God. Hence it follows that all present-day Muslim propagandists who try to discredit the teachings of the Bible are guilty of contradicting the authority of the Qur’an itself—the very Qur’an which they profess to uphold!

In answer to their counterclaim that the text of the Bible must have been altered by Jews and Christians since Mohammed’s time, for only thus could the teaching of our present-day Bible be so out of line with the doctrine of Unitarianism and salvation by good works be accounted for, it only needs to be pointed out that the present-day text of the Hebrew Bible is attested by copies going back to 150 BC, and of the New Testament going back to the second century AD. That being the case, it is logically inescapable that the text of the Bible was the same at the time the Qur’an was revealed to Mohammed as the text of our scholarly editions of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures today, for the identical wording has been preserved in copies going back to at least eight centuries before Mohammed was born.

A Fatally Contradictory Portrait of God

The Qur’an honors God as perfectly just and righteous, yet represents God as granting forgiveness of sin without requiring any meaningful atonement.

The Qur’an glorifies God as merciful and compassionate at the beginning of every one of the 114 suras, and yet never explains what lengths God went to in order to redeem fallen mankind—that is, the vicarious, substitutionary atonement presented by God in His Son as he died for us on the cross.

In the Qur’an, God’s compassion is limited to revealing the legalistic, salvation-by-works code that may possibly, but not necessarily, enable a believer to escape hell—if his good deeds are found to outweigh his bad deeds. No realistic understanding can be found in the Qur’an of the basic lostness and irremediable depravity of man. It assumes that man does God a favor and somehow earns merit when he obeys the laws of God by doing good works.

The Qur’an completely ignores the fact that:

…the mind that is set on the corrupt nature is hostile toward God. It refuses to submit to the authority of God’s Law because it is powerless to do so. Those who are under the control of the corrupt nature can’t please God.[2]

Further, the Qur’an denies the condemnation of those who do not “believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s unique Son.[3]

The Qur’an fails to consider the one and only solution to the problem of how God can remain just and yet justify the ungodly (Romans 3:26). Only because of Him who offered Himself as our sin-bearer was it possible for all our iniquities to be paid for by the shed blood of the God-Man, a sacrifice of infinite value. Because of this substitutionary atonement was it possible for John 3:16 to be reconciled with God’s righteousness and truth. For if God were to allow sinners to escape eternal death on any other basis, He would be no more righteous than some human judge in a criminal trial who would let off murderers, rapists, and robbers to escape without any fine or punishment simply because they professed repentance. Such a judge would be the most valuable friend and protector of wickedness and crime that could possibly be imagined. It is very strange that the Muslim fails to see that for God to forgive sin without retribution or atonement would be to place Him squarely on the side of Satan in making it safe to sin!

In complete contrast to the Qur’an, the Bible bases man’s salvation upon the perfect work of God, not upon the sin-tainted good works of man himself. The Christian believer is assured of forgiveness and entrance into heaven precisely because all the conditions for entrance have been met by God Himself in the sinless life and atoning death of His dear Son on Calvary. As the prophet Isaiah tells us seven centuries before the transaction took place on Calvary:

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.[4]

The picture from the Old Testament, which the Qur’an endorses, says that God would lay the penalty for the sins of mankind on His Messiah.

Misinterpretation of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity is considered to be a form of tritheism, that is, the Father is a separate and different person from the Son, and the Holy Spirit. While it is true that our theological terminology uses the term “person” in distinguishing one member from another, this does not essentially differ from the trichotomy of man as consisting of bodily nature, soul and spirit, created in the image of God, the Triune God. Christian doctrine never teaches tritheism, but proclaims from the beginning of Genesis to the last chapter of the Apocalypse that there is only One true and living God. The Son is said to be eternally begotten of the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally emanates from the Father and the Son. But since there never was a time in all eternity when one member of the Godhead existed before the other, it follows that the term “begotten” is meant only figuratively, not literally, as if God had to resort to biological practice in order to produce a son. This points therefore to a co-existent relationship, just like an electric battery, in which there can be no positive pole unless there is also a negative pole. From this standpoint we would have to agree with the implication of Sura 112:1-4:

Say: He is God, one Allah. He did not beget, nor was He begotten, And there is none like unto Him.[5]

Since the Muslim implies by this a preexistence of the Father before the Son, we would have to say that in this sense the so-called Unitarian concept of the son of God is incorrect, since it implies a physical, literal act of procreation, rather than an eternal relationship, according to which the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same in substance and equal in power and glory. All of this leads up to the affirmation that Christians are fully as monotheistic as the Muslim and the Jew, even though we are not Unitarian—even as the Bible is not Unitarian.

7th Century Perspective of the “Eternal” Qur’an

It is safe to say that nowhere does the text of the Qur’an expressly affirm that it is a document co-eternal with God Himself, but the Muslim religious establishment has always understood it as such, insisting that all of the historical references to later events subsequent to New Testament times were simply a product of Allah’s unlimited foreknowledge. But if the credibility of this document as the true word of God must first be established before going ahead on that assumption, the internal evidence of the text should be subjected to objective scrutiny. Otherwise we are left with a fideistic position which lacks qualification as a matter of apologetics.

Whereas the Hebrew Bible covers the history of Israel from the time of Adam, Noah and Abraham for a period of thousands of years, and then from the Patriarchs to the ministry of Malachi around 430 BC, addressing contemporary issues and challenges for each important stage in holy history, generation after generation, the Qur’an covers briefly a few episodes in the lives of the Patriarchs and the age of Moses, who is honored as the recipient of God’s law. The high points of Zecharias, Mary, and Jesus are touched upon in the New Testament period. But not until the generation of Mohammed himself is there any impression of personal involvement on the part of God in the affairs of men, and especially those pertaining to Mohammed in his relationship to others.

·        Sura 111 contains a curse upon one of the prophet’s uncles who disbelieved in Mohammed’s divine call.

·        Sura 105 contains words of encouragement to the Arab defenders of Mecca against an invading force from Abyssinia.

·        Sura 33 refers to battle strategy commended for the defenders of Yathrib (Medina) against invaders from Mecca. It also contains a reference to his secretary, Zaid (Mohammed wanted to add Zaid’s divorced wife to his own harem). It also includes an admonition to Mohammed’s followers not to enter his home uninvited, lest they disturb him at mealtimes.

All of these features (and several more could be added, if space permitted) convey the very strong impression that these oracles were produced to fit the problems which Mohammed had to face in his own life’s career.

It should also be observed that there are several changes of mind and even reversals in divine instructions which appear in the Qur’an. These strongly suggest that changing events prompted a change of attitude on the part of the prophet himself, rather than an unfolding of the eternal purpose of a divine sovereign God who foreknew all these vicissitudes from before the beginning of time. Highly significant is Sura 2:106:

Whatever verses We cancel or cause thee to forget, We bring in a better one or one like it. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?

This hardly sounds like an omnipotent deity who foreknows all things in advance of their occurrence, for such an all-knowing God would never have to change his mind or abrogate any previous revelations which had truly come from him.

Preservation of the Text of the Qur’an

We close with an important observation about the preservation of the text of the Qur’an itself. From Arab historians we learn that the text was largely memorized by the prophet’s followers, and found no comprehensive written form until Abu Bakr ordered Zaid ibn Thabit to copy down all the material available of the various suras, from “palm leaves and stones and from the breasts of those who had learned them by heart.” This occurred in 636, after Mohammed had died. The second caliph after Mohammed hid fresh copies made from the original compilation (which one of the prophet’s widows, Hafsah, had kept for several years). Uthman’s approved text was then sent out to all the important centers of the Muslim Empire, with stern instructions to destroy all copies of the Qur’an they then had in their possession The reason for this was that there were so many discordant variations in some of the suras, and sharp disagreements even among the Wafizun, who had memorized all of the Qur’an by heart, that schisms might easily arise between those who cherished different readings from the others.[6] What added to the problem of textual understanding was that the Cuphic alphabet in which Arabic was then written lacked the diacritical marks so necessary to distinguish between consonants which are otherwise shaped exactly alike. For example, back in those days a single vertical “jot” might stand for a b or a t or a th or even a y. Even if the true consonant might be deduced from content, there still was no certainty as to which measure the verbs belonged to, depending upon the doubling of a consonant in pronunciation, or as to voice, for often the passive or the active form of the verb would use the same consonants but be distinguished by the vowel points. Hence the transmission of Mohammed’s original utterances in writing presents far more serious problems than are found with the Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible, which are attested by thousands of copies before 700 AD.

The Monopolistic Tyranny of the Islamic State

A final objection to the legitimacy of Islam is found in its refusal to allow any fair hearing of the case for any other religion besides its own. For any Muslim to change his religion is considered a capital offense. In several of the modern Islamic countries, such as Malaysia, the law requires that any person of another faith who ventures to speak to any Muslim about the claims of any other religion is to be thrown into prison for a minimum of three years, being subjected to a fine of $3,000, and to be publicly flogged with scourges once a year for three years.

If Islam contains the truth of God, why must it be assumed that it cannot stand up against the claims of any other religion? And so far as Americans are concerned, is this the basis upon which our country was founded, that we should no longer be allowed to choose our own religion? These tyrannical regulations surpass the worst excesses of the Spanish Inquisition or the penalties in force against the Puritans in England before the time of Oliver Cromwell.

Is America to be no longer the home of the free, but a domain of tyranny and terror for any citizen who dares to think any thoughts not dictated by his government? Let all of our countrymen who are being invited to consider Islam understand very clearly the ultimate goal of the Islamic state, lest they forfeit those democratic ideals for which our forefathers laid down their lives prior to the close of the Revolutionary War.


[1]Sura 5:47.

[2]Romans 8:7-8 (ISV).

[3]John 3:18 (ISV).

[4]Isaiah 53:6 (The New International Version, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984).

[5]Sura 112:1-4.

[6]Qustalani even relates that after Hafsah’s death Mirwan, governor of Medina, tore up her manuscript of the Qur’an with his own hands. It is fair to infer from this that Mirwan believed her text to be dangerously deviant or defective.


Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Appendix

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