Is it true that Muhammad wrote the Quran?
In addressing this misconception, it is interesting to note that no other religious scripture claims to be totally the direct word of God as clearly and as often as the Quran:
Then do they not reflect upon the Quran? if it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction. (Quran 4:82)
At the time the Quran was revealed, the Arabs recognized that the language of the Quran was unique and distinctly different from the language spoken by Prophet Muhammad and his people. This, in spite of the fact that the Arabs of that time were known for their skill in poetry and mastery of the Arabic language. Moreover, Muhammad was known to be an unlettered man. The Quran mentions that Muhammad did not read and write, so if this was false, certainly his contemporaries would have protested and exposed him. However, there are no reports of this. Without doubt there were people who rejected Muhammad’s message, just like the message of other prophets were rejected, but none denied it for this reason.
It is also interesting to note that even though the Quran is not poetry, the Arabs were much less inclined to poetry after it was revealed. It can be said that the Quran is the piece of Arabic literature par excellence – and Muhammad’s enemies, realized that as much as they tried, they could not outdo or even equal it.
It is not difficult to prove that Muhammad did not possess the knowledge that is expounded and detailed in the Quran, such as the accurate knowledge of historical events, previous prophets and natural phenomena. The Quran mentions in several places that Muhammad and his people did not know these things:
That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. You knew it not, neither you nor your people, before this. So be patient; indeed, the [best] outcome is for the righteous. (Quran 11:49)
Suffice it to say that not only is the Quran the most memorized and well preserved scripture on earth, it is also unequaled in its eloquence, spiritual impact, clarity of message and purity of its truth.
Furthermore, the Quran recounts several instances where Prophet Muhammad was criticized and corrected by Allah for his unintentional human errors. Had he been the author of the Quran he would not have included these rebukes in the Quran. For example, the Prophet was once deeply and earnestly engaged in attempting to invite one of the pagan leaders to Islam when he was interrupted by a blind man who had come to him for information and to learn the Quran. The Prophet naturally disliked the interruption because he was hopeful of affecting the influential leader’s heart toward Islam. He frowned and turned away, a gesture that went unnoticed by the blind man. No sooner had the Prophet finished talking to the leader than he received the following revelation which he conveyed to his people without the least bit of hesitation:
He [i.e. the Prophet] frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man. But what would make you perceive [O Muhammad] that perhaps he might be purified or be reminded, and the reminder would benefit him? (Quran 80:1-4)
This incident reflects the highest degree of sincerity on the part of the Prophet regarding the revelation that was revealed to him. These verses provide substantial proof that the Prophet was not the author of the Quran, nor was he the founder of Islam.
Some Christian critics often claim that Muhammad was not himself the author of the Quran but that he learned, copied or adapted it from Jewish and Christian scriptures. In reality, however, Prophet Muhammad’s contacts with the Jewish and Christian scholars were extremely limited. Historical records available show that he made only three trips outside Mecca before his prophethood: At the age of nine he accompanied his mother to Madinah. Before the age of twelve, he accompanied his uncle on a business trip to Syria. And before his marriage, at the age of 25, he led Khadijah’s caravan to Syria. The most prominent Christian known to him was an old blind man named Waraqah bin Nawfal, who was a relative of his wife Khadijah. He was a convert to Christianity and well-versed in the Gospels. The Prophet only met him twice; the first time was briefly before his prophetic mission and the second occasion was when the Prophet went to meet Waraqah after receiving the first revelation from God. Waraqah died three years later. The revelation of the Quran, however, continued for 23 years.
Some of Muhammad’s pagan opponents accused him of learning the Quran from a Roman blacksmith, a Christian who was staying on the outskirts of Mecca. A revelation of the Quran was sufficient to refute this charge:
And We surely know that they say, ‘It is only a man that teaches him.’ The tongue of the one they refer to is foreign, while this [Qur’an] is in a clear Arabic language.(Quran 16:103)
Muhammad’s enemies kept a close watch on him, with the hope of uncovering a shred of evidence to support their claim that he was a liar. But they could not point to a single instance when the Prophet might have had secret meetings with any particular Jews or Christians.
It is true that the Prophet did have religious discussions with Jews and Christians, but they took place openly in Madinah, and the revelation of the Qur’an had been going on for more than 13 years before that. The allegation that these Jews and Christians were its source is groundless, especially since the role of Prophet Muhammad was merely that of a teacher; he openly invited them to embrace Islam, pointing out how they had deviated from God’s true teaching of monotheism. Numerous Jews and Christians embraced Islam themselves upon hearing Muhammad’s message.
In addition, it was known that Muhammad was unlettered. In His divine wisdom, Allah chose His final Messenger to be an unlettered man so no one would have the slightest justification to doubt him or accuse him of writing or copying the Qur’an. Moreover, there was no Arabic version of the Bible in existence at the time of Prophet Muhammad . The earliest Arabic version of the Old Testament is that of R. Saadias Gaon of 900 C.E. – more than 250 years after the death of Muhammad.
We have mentioned that the Qur’an contains scientific miracles, and we presented a few facts stated within the book to evidence that it could not possibly have been known at that time by Muhammad or by any other person for that matter. More and more recent scientific discoveries are being found to coincide with what is stated in the Qur’an, and this is irrefutable evidence that its source was none but the all-knowing God – Allah, the Almighty.
It is true that there are some similarities between the Qur’an and the Bible, but this is not sufficient grounds to accuse Muhammad () of compiling or copying from the Bible. The similarities between the two do not indicate that later prophets plagiarized from previous ones, but merely point to a common source, who is the one true God, and to the continuation of the basic message of monotheism.