My revert story is a long process of investigation that leads me to believe that the Qur’an is, infact, is of divine origin. First of all it was two things for me:
- Reading the Qur’an
- Reading the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (s).
After these two, I realized that this man was not a liar nor was he deluded. A man with zero love for the world battles it against all odds- for what? Just to spread Islam; ie. to believe in one God, to be kind to people, etc? To his dying days he lived a life of great poverty- and would ask nothing in return. Also, the Qur’an, to me, really, really strikes at the heart of man and his attitudes- to me, it is actually believable that God would author a book like this if I were to entertain the notion. These are all indications to me- but I cannot give you solid dot points; rather, it is best if one investigates and reaches a conclusion.
That wasn’t enough though. I then had to ask myself – how do I even know the accounts of the Prophet to be true? How can I trust them? Surely it may be that his followers after him invented and attached teachings to him after his death, right? This is one of my main problems with the gospel- no sources, no corroboration of sources.
So I dived into the study of hadith criticism. It is quite a genius system, and it taught me as to why we can trust primary Islamic sources. I also came to understand why we cannot trust the bible– which is important to me, because a lot of Christians and Jews claim that their book is authoritative because it is authentic and hence the Qur’an cannot be true because it claims things that contradict the bible.
Just very briefly. Unlike any other religions, Islamic scholars had a proper methodology in place to filter out what their founder said and did to what he did not say and did not do. If you believe that the founder’s words are important, you should cross out all major world religions except Islam, and cross out smaller religions created before the printing press etc. I would think that if we didn’t really know what Jesus said or did, then Christianity cannot be true. Why? Because why would God send down a religion to not have its practises and beliefs properly preserved?
Here’s how Muslims were able to filter out authentic hadith from the sea of fabrication: The criterion of multiple attestation. This is actually a new historical critical method used today in biblical studies, but Islamic scholars had used it in the first few centuries of Islam- the crucial period in which it was actually possible to recover historical information on the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).
So how exactly did it work?
Basically, any report being transmitted about the Prophet had to be accompanied by an “isnad”, or a chain of narration. For example, if I were to record the deeds of the Prophet with three people in the Isnad, it would go like this: “I record from Muslim ibn Muslim who heard from Shuayb al Hanafi who heard from Broseph stalin that the prophet Muhammad said that… [insert report here]”. Of course, anyone can invent such a chain of narration. Scholars did two things that made this impossible:
- Find out whether the people in the isnad actually existed, and were reliable transmitters, through independent sources (ie. sources that say the people existed OTHER THAN the person who narrates the Hadith, in other words, if Muslim ibn Muslim tells me that Broseph stalin exists and met the Prophet, I’m not going to trust him, he might be making it up).
- Now find other independent reports reporting the same thing with different (and sound) isnads. As soon as we can found one, we can say that the report is (in modern terms) “corroborated”. It means that it is very likely to not have been fabricated. Essentially its very powerful eyewitness testimony. Something Christianity lacks, something Judaism definitely lacks, etc etc.
So, I started to have a good basis for my beliefs at this point. Please note that I have always believed in God (though sometimes doubted) and I have no problem believing that God would send someone down to His creation. This is affirmed to me when I read the Qur’an, it uses logic (and pro rhetoric…) to convince me.
And then I studied some of the historical events in the claims of the Qur’an.
If the Qur’an is false, then it must be true that it is simply copying stories from the bible, right? Well, I looked into it. Let’s take a look at Surah Yusuf. It’s the story of Prophet Joseph. Very similar to the bible, actually. One would think that the Prophet just took an old testament, had it translated (or just someone narrated it to him, though there is no proof of this) and copied it. Right? Well, I don’t think this is sustainable because:
- The Qur’anic story deletes anachronisms in the text. For example, in the bible, the word “pharoah” is used for the king in this story, but the title did not exist until much after Joseph was around. In the Qur’an, the word is (accurately) used as “malik” or “king”. This is not something anyone in the 7th century could think of. This is anachronistic because the bible dates Yusuf (a.s.) at around 16-20th century BC (I forgot exactly which), but the time of the pharaohs only started after the 14th century BC (iirc). How could the Prophet know? It’s not even a blind translation of “pharaoh” into “king”- it is clear that this is on purpose because the word pharaoh is (correctly) used in Moses’s story in the Qur’an.
- The Qur’an also deletes other errors in the text; like Joseph’s prophetic dream- he dreams the son and the moon are bowing to him (supposed to be a vision of the future where his mom and dad bow to him when he is king) but it is never fulfilled in the bible because his mum dies. In the Qur’an, both parents are shown to be bowing to him and his mum is still alive. There are kinda subtle things that you don’t pick up on unless you read the story very carefully. Sure you could say the Prophet is studied- however, we are talking about a man who is born in the very middle of pagan Arabia, the concept of Jewish scripture is so alien to them that they find it crazy that God would send a Prophet to them. Where would he even find someone who will teach him? Secondly, early Muslim scholars had a very hard time getting their hands on a copy of the old testament- simply because it wasn’t well circulated in Arabic.
- The Qur’an gives a very good spiritual vision to the story. Compare the two accounts.
- What’s even more amazing is that how the bible says that 600,000 Israelite men (excluding their women and children- that means over 1.5 million people in total!!!) left Egypt all at once. This is simply historically absurd. The Qur’an- well, it just quotes the pharaoh describing them as a “small group of trouble makers” [Source] (http://quran.com/26/54)
It’s things like these. Back in the 7th century- in a place like Arabia- it was totally believable that 1.5million people would simply leave Egypt just like that because nobody knew any better. There was no scientific or historical method. But, the Qur’an amends these errors, or rather, tells it like it is rather than copying the corrupted scriptures before it.
Furthermore the subtlety in language of the Qur’an is also pretty awesome;
I could go on and on… but I don’t have time! Islam is just so perfect.
Share your comments, I would love to read them.