Was Muhammad Illiterate?


Thanks to Smple Trth for collecting and sharing this article in QRAC

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The verse 7:157 states that Muhammad was a gentile:

“So you shall believe in God and His messenger, the gentile (ummy) prophet.”

The Arabic word “ummy” describes people who are not Jewish or Christian. The meaning of this word, which occurs six times in the Quran, has been changed to ” one who can neither read nor write”. This deliberate manipulation by Muslim scholars has become widely accepted as the true meaning of the word. For example Yusuf Ali, in his translation, follows this pattern: “… So believe in God and His Apostle, the unlettered Prophet,…”. Marmaduke Pickthall’s translation also reflects the same manipulation: “… So believe in Allah and His messenger, the prophet who can neither read nor write,..”.

The Quran explains the true meaning of “ummy”

Let’s examine the true meaning of “ummy” in the Quran. Anyone can easily understand that “ummy” does not mean an illiterate person by reflecting on the verse 3:20 below:

“And say to those who received the scripture, as well as those who did not receive any scripture (ummyyeen)…”

In this verse the word “ummy” describes Meccan idol worshipers. It is obvious that “ummy” does not mean illiterate because it has been used as the antonym of the people of the scripture. If the verse was ” … And say to those literate and illiterate”, then their above translation of “ummy” would be correct. According to the verse 3:20 the people of Arab peninsula were two main groups:

1. The people of the scripture, i.e., Jews and Christians.

2. Gentiles, who were neither Jewish nor Christian.

If the people who were neither Jews nor Christians were called “ummyyeen” (3:20; 3:75), then the meaning of “ummy” is very clear. As a matter of fact, the verse 3:75 clearly explains its meaning as gentile.

Mecca was the cultural center of the Arabs in the 7th century. Poetry competitions were being held there. It is a historical fact that Meccans were not familiar with the Bible, thus they were gentiles. So the verse 62:2 describes Meccan people by the word “ummyyeen”:

“He is the One who sent to the gentiles (ummyyeen) a messenger from among them, to recite to them His revelations, purify them, and teach them the scripture and wisdom. Before this, they had gone far astray.” (62:2)

The Quran does not classify the people of Arab peninsula as the literate and the illiterate, as Muslim scholars claim. The Quran classifies the people as people of the book (Jews & Christians) and gentiles. The second classification is the correct one, and the Quran supports it.

The disbelievers claimed that Muhammad was quoting verses from the Old and New Testaments (25:5; 68:15). The verse below refutes their accusation and gives the answer:

“You did not read any previous scriptures, nor did you write them with your hand. In that case, the objectors would have had reason to harbor doubts.” (29:48)

This verse tells us that Muhammad did not read nor write previous scriptures. The word “min qablihi = previous” proves that Muhammad read and wrote the final scripture.

Muhammad was a literate gentile (ummy)

After this examination on the true meaning of the word “ummy”, here are the reasons and proofs for the fact that Muhammad was a literate gentile:

ˆ To magnify the miraculous aspect of the Quran, religious people thought that the story of illiteracy would be alluring.

ˆ The producer of the illiteracy story found it easy to change the meaning of “ummy”, which in the entire Quran, consistently means “gentile” (2:78; 3:20; 3:75; 62:2).

ˆ The Arabs of the 7th century were using letters as numbers. This alphabetical numbering system is called “Abjed”. The merchants of those days had to know the letters of the alphabet to record their account. If Muhammad was a successful international merchant, then he most probably knew this numbering system. The Arabs stopped using the “Abjed” system in the 9th century when they took “Arabic numbers” from India.

ˆ The Quran’s spelling is unique. The mathematical miracle of the Quran, which proves that Quran is the word of God, confirms the unique spelling of the Quranic words. The different spellings of some words are not the personal preference of the scribes. For example, the words “salat”, “zakat”, “hayat” are written with “waw” instead of “alif”. In verse 3:96 the name of Mecca is spelled as “Bacca”. The word “bastatan” is written with “seen” throughout the Quran, except in 7:69 where it is written with “saad”.

ˆ If you write the first verse of the first revelation with Basmalah, you will conclude that Muhammad was literate. We know that Basmalah has 19 letters, the first revelation i.e., 96:1-5 consists of 76 (19×4) letters, this first chronological chapter consists of 19 verses and is placed first of the last 19 chapters and has 285 (19×15) letters. (The code 19 will be mentioned in the next questions). This information explains the different spelling of the word “bism” in the beginning of the Basmalah and in the first verse of chapter 96. You decide; is it reasonable for an illiterate to dictate two different spellings of the same word which is pronounced the same?

ˆ Traditional history books accept that Muhammad dictated the Quran and controlled its recording. Even if we accept that Muhammad did not know how to read or write before revelation of the Quran, we can not claim that he preserved his illiteracy during 23 years while he was dictating the Quran.

ˆ The first revelation was “Read,” and the first five verses of that revelation encourage reading and writing (96:1-5). The second revelation was “The pen and writing” (68:1).

Now, let’s ask our questions:

a) As you can see in verse 3:20 and 3:75, the Quran uses the word “ummy” as the antonym of the “ehlil kitab = people of the book”. Do you believe that Quran classifies people as literate and illiterate?

b) The Quran describes Meccan people with the word “ummyyeen = gentiles” (62:2). According to your claim, all Meccan people must have been illiterate. According to your holy books, who was writing poems in Mecca? Who was reading the poems hanging on the walls of the Kaba?

c) Which numbering system were the Arabs using in the 7th century? Did those who were making calculations with those numbers know how to read and write?

d) Is the unique spelling in the Quran the result of errors and personal opinions? How do you explain the different spelling of “bism” of the Basmalah and the first verse of chapter 96?

e) Does God command an illiterate man to “read”? Could Muhammad read after Gabriel’s instruction ? Does this story not contradict your claim that Muhammad died an illiterate?

f) Let us accept that Muhammad was illiterate before the revelation of the Quran. Why did he insist on staying illiterate for 23 years after the first revelation: “Read !”? Did he not obey his Lord’s command? Did he receive another command forbidding him from reading and writing?

g) Was it so difficult for Muhammad to learn to read and write? If a person still does not learn to read and write after 23 years of careful dictation of a book, what do you think about such a person? Is he stupid or a liar?

h) Was Muhammad encouraging his followers to read and write? If so, why did he exclude himself? How do you explain this strange attitude and verse 2:44?

i) How can an illiterate man insure the accuracy of a scribe?

j) You are trying to imitate Muhammad from his eating to his attire, from his beard to his toothbrush; why do you not imitate his illiteracy? Why do you not follow his sunnah?

k) You are the people who disagree on almost every subject; but you agree on the story of the illiteracy of Muhammad. How could you manage this agreement?

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More on rajim — banished from heaven or pelted with stones?


On the topic of the Qurʾānic word rajim used to describe Satan…An Ethiopic form of rajim (regemt) is used in the Ethiopic Bible (i.e. the Bible written in the ancient language of Ethiopia) for the cursing of the serpent in Genesis 3.14, and for the casting of the condemned into the fire with the devil in Matthew 25.41.  In other Ethiopic texts an adjectival form of this term is commonly used together with the word “Satan” in the phrase saytan ragum (compare the Quranic Arabic al-shaytan al-rajim).

The question regarding this term that has interested me is its relationship to the Arabic verb rajama, which comes from the same root but means “to stone” (used both for the stoning of people and for the stoning of pillars in the hajj).  Now elsewhere (Q 67.5) the Qurʾān describes the masabih (literally “lamps” but here it seems to be a reference to the stars) of heaven as rujum (a word from the same root as rajim and rajama).  Traditional Muslim scholars explain this verse with the tradition that God throws stars at demons, or “stones” with the stars (hence the idea that shooting stars occur when God – or an angel — is throwing a star at a demon).

However, the Qurʾān never actually has God doing such a thing – it mentions only that when demons or jinn try to listen into God’s conversations in heaven they are “pursued” by a shihab, a word which seems to mean something like a “fiery flash” (see Q 15.18; 37.10; 67.7; 72.9).

In order to explain the two different uses of the root r.j.m.  in the Qurʾān a scholar from the early 19th century, named van Vloten, argued that in the days of the Prophet Arabs used to throw stones (rajama) at snakes.  For this reason they began to call the devil “rajim” (he assumes that they connected the devil with snakes even though the Qurʾān does not have a snake in the Garden with Adam).  That is, they thought of the devil as a snake and liked to throw stones at snakes and so called him “the stoned one.”  I like van Vloten’s creativity…but perhaps he was too creative.

It seems that when the Qurʾān names Satan al-rajim it means simply to describe him as the one sent out or banished from heaven.  The Qurʾān means that Satan is an outcast from heaven.  It does not mean (imho!) that he is “stoned” or “pelted with stones.”

Ok — that’s it for my first modest post.  Happy to be here! Gabriel

Why roots are super-awesome


This is a rant. This post is angry. If you’re a happy unicorn folk, go away. Shoo!

Why are roots of the Arabic/Quranic language so super-awesome? Simply because they are the foundation of that language we’re supposed to know about in order to understand the Quran. I’m not saying you need to know Arabic to read Quran, but I’m saying you need the REAL Arabic to read Quran, whether you can actually read/speak Classical Arabic language or not.

Actually, the “Qurano-Arabic” language is dead easy and 100% consistent. We just don’t see it that way because it hasn’t been fully documented although many scholars and researchers wrote so much about the Quranic language. Now, now, don’t turn your back! If you want to read the Quran, you’ll need logic, a clean heart, and yes, you will need to know what words mean.

You want to trust the words in translations? Well, these words were transformed into other meanings thanks to HADITH, your biggest enemy yet again. (Wow, it keeps striking back like in a Comic! Darn!)

No, you don’t need to take Arabic lessons. I know so many who study the Quran without being able to speak Arabic, but rather to speak “Quran-ic”, this is because Arabic itself does not even fit in the Quran.

So before you mock our need to re-evaluate the “Qurano-Arabic” language, please go get a life and then maybe re-consider your decision. We’re not trying to ruin the Quran, we’re trying to reestablish a sane method of reading it. Now, is that so bad?

You can go whore for your translators all you want. It will never be REAL Arabic, just fake, hadith-based sad and pathetic Arabic.

Again, we, oh so humbly, apologize for trying to understand the Quran in an alternative way. Oh, so sorry! But we’re not going to stop, so get over it and buy a puppy or something.

An Interesting View on Maryam


Marisa produced some tafseer magic a few days ago when she said: Perhaps “ibn” doesn’t mean “son”.      Maybe she was wondering how she could have a protege, since no person had “touched/influenced” her.

This is exactly how im feeling about the story of maryam and isa. I do take it on a literal dimension (it’s difficult not to, if I’m honest) but the lessons I extract from this is one of spiritual revolution leading to transformation of self and society. Marisa’s comment probably helped bring that view one step closer. Thanks Mar!

Meaning vs Metaphor


As Quranists, many of us were often accused of taking the Quran to an excessive, over-metaphorical level. You would think this accusation came from anti-Quranic (and NOT Sunni, Shitte of other) parties, yet instead it came from fellow Quranists who first refused the name at the time Farouk was launching the website and forum (www.quranists.net)!

I can hardly say I’m religious in the terms of organized religion. My belief in God is still natural rather than based on a sacred text, which is safe for now. I figured that before reading the Quran again, I had to establish a mechanism, a way, a more appropriate language than the currently dealt-with Arabic, and a new (yes! brand new) mentality… and probably more age since I doubt my brain is developed enough for all this.

Many things in organized religion never appealed to me. The constant call for rituals that I did not understand (although I don’t deny the beauty of rituals), the unnecessary-seeming Quranic details (for example, why it was so important to say that Abraham offered his Angelic guests roasted beef, or why Moses was traveling with a Whale, he lost for some reason etc), and the constant call for fundamentalism – all these seemed of no value whatsoever.

So, many Quranists began to question these details. They were NOT questioning Allah SWT, and NOT questioning the validity of the Quran, but they were questioning the Quranist-Traditional (which Farouk might like to call QFists) understanding of Quranic verse.

Based on many Quranists challenging the current “silly” (oh, yes it is silly!) understanding of many well-known Quranic verses, other fellow Quranists accused them of exaggerating in extracting a metaphorical, symbolic, “wider” meaning, and by that “drifting away” from God, trying to “make our life easier by eliminating rituals”.

What is worse that all this is that these Quranists deny the title and study approach “Quranist”, prefer to be called on Muslims AND call any those who have tried to think harder, dig deeper and find another way “Quranists”, and by that refusing us, dividing the ummah on a mini-scale on the internet. I have absolutely no issue with people calling themselves “Muslims”. That is simply beautiful and up to them, but to entirely separate themselves from those who seek a wider Quranic meaning (which doesn’t include all Quranists) in the name of God? Why, any 17-year-old can spot the intolerance there!

In response, many Quranists stood up to say, “Yes, we do take the Quran metaphorically and we believe many verses were meant to be understood metaphorically!”

Here is where I highly disagree. There is no “metaphorical” meaning, but the words are deeper and have more angles than we assume. We’re not trying to find a metaphorical meaning in the Quran, but we’re trying to find the actual meaning!

Once you reach the point of realizing Salaat cannot be a ritual, you start wondering what ablution is for. Then you follow a trace, and you discover that “ablution” has much greater angles. Later on, you discover that the “whale/hoot” means something “unstable” and that this instability would visit The People of the Sabbath on the Day of “Sabbath” – the Day of “Rest” when they are under-equipped and unprepared for trouble.

I doubt the Quran is a life schedule, but it’s a grand philosophy by which Allah teaches those who seek guidance the means to patience, balance, “prayer” and life.

Traditional Islam created a whole new language called “al-mustalahat ash-sharia”, where (ironically) every Arabic word connected or found in the Quran has a “sharia” meaning and an “actual” meaning. For example, “safira” is a word Islamists use to describe an “exposed” hijabless woman, but they don’t tell you how it’s from the same root as the word “safar” which is found in the Quran,  roughly translated as “traveling”. Now, everything has a twisted sharia meaning to fit into a religion that aims to drown you in sunnah details of eating with your right hand and entering the bathroom with your left foot.

I highly disrespect those who say Quranists joggle with root words (as if it’s a sin to brush up on our Arabic!). They would tell me the Quran is easy to understand which to them means that words have a limited range of meanings as long as the majority of translators agree to deliver to us, (good enough for any mediocre thinking style), EVEN if these words were based on hadith, historical sources and other things they themselves consider to be “dogmas”. Due to this faulty understanding of the Quran, they themselves end up relying on outside sources to complete their religion, such as using a calendar to know when Ramadaan is, although we made that calendar with our own hands.

God’s word is clear. Sure, but do your eyes know clarity? Are you not looking through the eyes of traditional, intolerant, “ban-thinking” people?
– Take the word “nisa'” for example, which, root-wise, has nothing to do with women! Can you find anyone who ever translated “nisa'” as anything beside “women”?

– Take the word “rajeem” (a word used in the Quran to describe the Devil) that everyone flipped from “the oft-banishing” to “the banished one”.

– Take how “fatayat” and “banat” are both translated as “daughters”, or how both “zawj” and “imra’a” are both translated as “wife”.

– Take how Satan is The Devil although the two concepts are different and featured separately in the story of Adam.

– Take how “jald” could mean many other things beside flogging and whipping.

– Take how Sujjud (prostrating) does not fit as “physical prostration” in many verses and means “submission” at the same time. Do you see how many people are afraid to give up the meaning stuck in their head (that sujjud is about kneeling and lowering your forehead to the ground) although it doesn’t always fit?

Understanding God’s word cannot and will not happen overnight. It’s a life-long journey of giving and taking.

More on rajim — “outcast” or “pelted with stones”?


On the topic of the Qurʾānic word rajim used to describe Satan…An Ethiopic form of rajim (regemt) is used in the Ethiopic Bible (i.e. the Bible written in the ancient language of Ethiopia) for the cursing of the serpent in Genesis 3.14, and for the casting of the condemned into the fire with the devil in Matthew 25.41. In other Ethiopic texts an adjectival form of this term is commonly used together with the word “Satan” in the phrase saytan ragum (compare the Quranic Arabic al-shaytan al-rajim). The question regarding this term that has interested me is its relationship to the Arabic verb rajama, which comes from the same root but means “to stone” (used both for the stoning of people and for the stoning of pillars in the hajj). Now elsewhere (Q 67.5) the Qurʾān describes the masabih (literally “lamps” but here it seems to be a reference to the stars) of heaven as rujum (a word from the same root as rajim and rajama). Traditional Muslim scholars explain this verse with the tradition that God throws stars at demons, or “stones” with the stars (hence the idea that shooting stars occur when God – or an angel — is throwing a star at a demon). However, the Qurʾān never actually has God doing such a thing – it mentions only that when demons or jinn try to listen into God’s conversations in heaven they are “pursued” by a shihab, a word which seems to mean something like a “fiery flash” (see Q 15.18; 37.10; 67.7; 72.9). In order to explain the two different uses of the root r.j.m. in the Qurʾān a scholar from the early 19th century, named van Vloten, argued that in the days of the Prophet Arabs used to throw stones (rajama) at snakes. For this reason they began to call the devil “rajim” (he assumes that they connected the devil with snakes even though the Qurʾān does not have a snake in the Garden with Adam). That is, they thought of the devil as a snake and liked to throw stones at snakes and so called him “the stoned one.” I like van Vloten’s creativity…but perhaps he was too creative. It seems that when the Qurʾān names Satan al-rajim it means simply to describe him as the one sent out or banished from heaven. The Qurʾān means that Satan is an outcast from heaven. It does not mean (imho!) that he is “stoned” or “pelted with stones.” Ok — that’s it for my first modest post. Happy to be here! Gabriel

Rajeem & Kareem


The other day during a conversation with Farouk, I mentioned how “rajeem” is exactly in the same format as “raheem”, “kareem”, “saqeem”, “samee'” and many other words. The traditional understanding roughly translates or presents the word rajeem as to mean “the accursed, the banished” which would mean that kareem must be “the one we are compassionate with” and samee’ would be “the one heard” which is utter blasphemy.

In conclusion, rajeem must be “the one who banishes” instead of being the object.

A detailed description coming up, i’A. 🙂