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Answers
To Attacks Against Islam
:

Grammar


 

 
 

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Page last updated:
06/29/11

 

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Bismillaah al Rahmaan Al Raheem

When "attacks" against Islam are examined rationally,
it comes out ON EACH ISSUE
that Islam should be the accusing party indeed,
not the other way around.

"Of all the world's great men, none has been so much maligned* as Muhammad."
W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina,  Oxford University Press, 1956.
* ma-lign: v.t. to speak harmful untruths about... (R. H. Webster's).

Introduction | The Answers (Summary)

 

Please also visit the following sites for more Answers:

Islamic Awareness

 

For Comments or questions, click here 

False-Prophet? | Atonement | Grammatical-Mistakes | Polygamy | Early Marriage | Inconsistency | Theological-Errors | Woman's-Status | Islam and "Terrorism" | Jesus-&-Muhammad-PBUT

Claiming "grammatical mistakes" in the Quran:
Such an attack is a losing attack by its very nature, according to any person with minimal knowledge of the Arabic language and its history.

  • Foreword:  
    If a person writes an article claiming that a concrete beam has been designed wrong, we expect him to be qualified in the field he is discussing, and that he passes its most basic tests. If then we find in his article obvious and repetitious errors in addition and multiplication, we conclude that he does not have the minimal qualifications to discuss the subject.
    We are not claiming expertise in the Arabic language, nor are we requiring it for unrelated subjects, such as history or mathematics. We are requiring that a critic in any subject must pass its preliminary tests, otherwise his discussions would not deserve any consideration.
    Our point is this: When reading through sources that attack Islam on the issue of grammar, we were surprised to find elementary errors in the Arabic language that prove beyond the least doubt, that the person/s writing them would not pass elementary school.
    To mention one "eliminating" factor: The recurring interchange of the Arabic letters "zain" and "zhaal" in the very pages where the Quran is criticized. We have saved the original sources, and if we get the time, we will attempt to highlight such errors in red and offer them through links inshaa'a llaah.
    Enemies of Islam well versed in the Arabic language have just avoided the topic of Arabic language. They know better. The attacks that occurred are proven to originate from people not even qualified to discuss it (as mentioned above, and as will be shown below).
    Yet we have decided to discuss the issue anyway, for the benefit of the curious reader.
  • Historical review:
    Because of the singular feature of "juzoor" and "tasreef" of the Arabic language, the early Arabs used to derive the words and compose sentences according to rules that they knew first-hand: Mentally, and not in written treaties. They would judge a person's literary abilities by his manipulation of the language and how well he used its features to construct words and sentences.
    The people witnessed to be the most proficient in Arabic were the Arab Bedouins.  The prophet salla llaahu `alaihi wasallam was raised away from the city in the "baadiyah", as was the norm then: to acquire the better rules of the language.
    The Prophet's literary style was witnessed by his contemporaries and by later analysts to be the most eloquent among Arabs, yet it was still "human".
    But when the Quran was revealed, its literary style was recognized by many to be beyond the powers of man. Several Arabs and especially "Bedouins", accepted Islam only upon hearing the Quran. This is history, annotated and related with an authenticity far superior to the Bible and the New Testament (and we challenge comparison on any level, provided it is rational).
    • Surah Al Kawthar was written on a wall (the smallest Surah of the Quran!). Upon reading it, a "Bedouin Arab" wrote next to it: Maa haazha biqawlil bashar (this is not human speech).
      This is a qualified testimony, not that of persons who cannot even differentiate between "zain" and "zhaal".
    • Another "Bedouin Arab" accepted Islam upon hearing the aayah: "...fasda` bimaa tu'mar" ("... obey what your are commanded with"). He was asked for the reason and he answered that there was no word in the whole Arabic language stronger to use in that specific instance than "fasda`" (the literal meaning of "fasda`" is "crack down", which implies total submission far beyond normal obedience).
    • Enemies of Muhammad PBUH attempted to seize any opportunity to attack his "credibility", this is a well known fact of history. If they spotted the least flaw in any grammatical construct of the Quran, they would have jumped on the occasion. The Companions themselves would have deserted Islam in masses: Arabic language and poetry were the foremost and dearest facets of their culture: Whether pondering alone, happy or sad, rejoicing or complaining, remembering a loved one, proposing for marriage or even asking for divorce, addressing a group of people, praising somebody, addressing an opposite army before battle, criticizing an enemy, undergoing mortal torture (!), moaning at their death beds: The Arabs' expression was through poetry (unlike any other culture). First and foremost, any text pretending to be revealed from Allaah needed to pass their uncompromising scrutiny.
      The opposite was the case as witnessed to by history: Even those who refused Islam, implicitly accepted the "supernatural" literary nature of the Quran and that it was beyond the powers of man. How then, did they explain it to themselves and maintain their rejection? Simply by saying that it was witchcraft, and that they were bewitched by it (thus implicitly accepting its unparalleled superiority). Although as invalid, this is by far a more educated attempt (concerning grammar and literature). According to these experts in the language, any attack against the Quran on that basis would have ridiculed them to the utmost. The issue was the opposite for such experts: They tried to explain AWAY why it was superior.
  • Sources of the rules of Arabic Grammar:
    The known rules of Arabic grammar were deducted from studying the spoken Arabic language, its poetry, and most of all: the Quran.
    The first treatise on Arabic grammar ever, was written down by ibn Ajroom during the khalifate of imaam Ali ibn abi Taalib (radiallaahu `anhu), thus after the Quran's revelation.

    Ali once heard his daughter commit a grammatical error, upon which he ordered Ibn Ajroom to write down the rules of the Arabic language. Imaam `Ali himself "coined" the word "nahoo" (with "h" like in Al Rahmaan) which means grammar: He explained to Ibn Ajroom how a couple of rules could be stated, and told him to follow that example: unhu `alaa haazal nahoo. Ibn Ajroom deducted the rules of grammar from his knowledge of the spoken language, poetry and above all, the Quran. What he wrote was the first collection of the rules of Arabic grammar, and became known as "Al Ajroomiyyah", and the science was termed 'ilm al Nahoo.
    (This information can be found in the introduction of most versions of "Al Ajroomiyyah", available from specialized bookstores.)

    Before Ibn Ajroom, there were simply no written rules for the Arabic Grammar.
    In the centuries after him, other linguists and scholars also analyzed the Arabic language and elaborated further on its rules, all deduced from previous literature, poetry and the Quran.

  • An example "attack":
    One such attack objects against the Quran for using the word "asbaatan"  in the masculine, instead of using the feminine gender.
    For any person with simple Arabic knowledge, the following is clear:
    • Being able to use masculine words to describe feminine objects is an elementary fact of the Arabic language but it does not seem to be known by people attempting the grammatical attack against Islam.
    • This is precisely the beauty of the Arabic language: It is a sign of better Arabic style when used appropriately.
    • Example: We say that a woman is haa-id (in her monthly period) instead of haa-idah, and a woman is `aroos (bride) instead of `aroosah (haa-id and `aroos are the masculine forms, and haa-idah and `aroosah are the feminine).
    • In these specific examples of "haa-id" and "`aroos", and concerning the word "asbaatan", insisting on using the feminine forms is simply poor and clumsy usage of the Arabic language...
  • Other grammatical "objections":
    This was a typical example about claims on the subject of grammar.
    Since the same treatment would apply to all other (grammatical) claims, we will satisfy ourselves with that one detailed example, otherwise we will have to write a long manual, explaining how the rules of grammar apply to each grammatical form in the Quran that may be above somebody's grammatical level of knowledge.
    But to summarize other attacks (on the subject of grammar) we note a mixture of ignorance and fallacy (no abrasiveness intended: this is just a factual statement).
    To maintain "truthfulness" (amaanatul naql) we point out that some of those who ventured to attack the Quran on the subject of grammar get jubilant when they "select" a comment where someone else wrongly seems to perceive a grammatical irregularity in the Quran. Hence, they present these erroneous opinions as the final and only comment on the subject, and conveniently suppress the more qualified comments of linguists who explain those very instances, and who even bring forth examples from Arabic poetry, written according to the same Quranic constructs.
    Such comments and quotes by linguists are in the sources mentioned by the "attackers", but they failed the minimal academic honesty to mention them. "Asbaatan", which was discussed in the example above, is precisely such an instance, where the writers suppress the obvious explanations of scholars and the examples they provided.

    Thus we distinguished three categories of errors:
    • Missing the goal of the attack: The writers forget (conveniently) that they are attacking the notion of the supernatural nature of the Quran, and their approach amounts to changing the goal of the proclaimed attack: The existence of occasional wrong grammatical opinions among Arabs just indicates errors in humans, not in the Quran: Not all humans are supposed to know all verses of the Arabs: it is absurd to require it.
      If I study an English article, and say that such a construct is incorrect, but you quote a similar construct from a well know English writer, it means I am wrong, and you are right, and the article under discussion is correct.
    • Suppressing evidence: To add insult to the injury, the writers suppress the detailed explanations and quotations of linguists as detailed above.
    • Quoting biased opinions, hiding their biased nature: The writers mentioned Al Zamakhshari's opinions, "hiding" that, as a mu`tazili, his opinions are often formulated intentionally in opposition to that of the Sunnah and Jamaa`ah (whom we represent). Because of this intentional bias, his opinions are only accepted if they conform to those of Muslim scholars and other Arab linguists: On such issues, the latter are the reference authority, not him.

    Not surprisingly, this non-academic concealment recurs in most attacks on other subjects. If such writers were Muslims, they would have been termed "dishonest" (contradicting amaanatul naql), but we will not hold them to the high standards of our scholars, we will suffice with the most apologetic description: Non-academic.

  • Conclusion:
    • Linguistic experts have used the Quran to formulate the rules of the Arabic language, not vice versa, and attacking the Quran as committing grammatical mistakes amounts to putting the carriage before the horse.
    • Those choosing to attack the Quran on the issue of grammar, are only proclaiming their ignorance to the whole world, as if proud of inventing the square wheel.
      For us it seems more like a Chinese high school kid attacking Shakespeare of on the subject of English Literature.

Top | Introduction | The Answers (Summary)
False-Prophet? | Atonement | Grammatical-Mistakes | Polygamy | Early Marriage | Inconsistency | Theological-Errors | Woman's-Status | Islam and "Terrorism" | Jesus-&-Muhammad-PBUT


     

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