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Accusations Without Basis

Sayyid Qutb

Arab News, 5/8/04

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent< p align=left>

The unbelievers say: ‘This (Qur’an) is nothing but a lie which he has devised with the help of other people. In truth, it is they who have perpetrated an inequity and a falsehood.

And they say: “Fables of ancient times which he has caused to be written down, so that they might be read out to him morning and evening.”

Say: “This (Qur’an) is bestowed from on high by Him who knows the secrets of the heavens and the earth. He is indeed Much-Forgiving, Merciful.”

They also say: “What sort of messenger is this, who eats food and goes about in the market places? Why has not an angel been sent down to him to give warning alongside him?” (The Standard, Al-Furqan: 25: 4-7)

The first verse in the present passage refers to one of the accusations the unbelievers in Makkah used to make against the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Qur’an he recited. Confounded by the remarkable nature of the Qur’an and stubbornly refusing to acknowledge its divine source, those unbelievers insisted that it was invented by Muhammad (peace be upon him), and that he was helped in producing it by some other people. But they knew, deep at heart, that such assertions they were keen to repeat were false. Hence, they were always shifting their grounds and making new accusations. The Qur’an gives us examples of these.

“And they say: Fables of ancient times which he has caused to be written down, so that they might be read out to him morning and evening.” The Qur’an gives accounts of the history of past communities so that they serve as a lesson and admonition for people, and to provide guidance for them. The unbelievers, however, label such true accounts of history as “fables of ancient times”, alleging that the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought such fables to be written down so that they could be read out to him, because he was unlettered, unable to read. When they are read to him every morning and evening, he would be able to recite them to people claiming that they were revealed to him by God. This is a mere development of their unfounded allegations that cannot stand to any examination. We need only to look at the logical sequence of the historical accounts given in the Qur’an, the relevance of each story to the context in which it is placed, and the perfect balance and harmony between the objectives of each story and the surah in which it occurs. All this confirm the deliberate choice and meticulous presentation of the Qur’anic historical accounts. Nothing of this is found in legends and fables that are related for entertainment. They hardly ever serve a basic theme or support a particular idea.

Their allegation that these accounts were fables of ancient communities indicates that they speak of ancient times. This means that Muhammad (peace be upon him) could not have known them without being taught by some of those who circulate such fables, generation after generation. Hence, the surah replies that the One who reveals them to Muhammad is the One whose knowledge is absolute. It is He who knows all secrets everywhere in the universe. Indeed, no situation, past present or future, is unknown to Him: “Say: This (Qur’an) is bestowed from on high by Him who knows the secrets of the heavens and the earth.” How could the knowledge of legend reciters be compared with God’s perfect knowledge? How could legends and fables be compared to the secrets of the heavens and the earth, which are perfectly known to God? This is no more than comparing a mere drop of water to an endless ocean.

When they make such an absurd allegation against the Prophet they commit a gross error, which is added to their persistent attitude of associating partners with God, their Creator. Nevertheless, the door of repentance remains open, if they wish to desist from their sinful ways. God, who is fully aware of their fabrications and all their schemes, will extend mercy and forgiveness to them: “He is indeed Much-Forgiving, Merciful.”

The surah then examines their false accusations against the Prophet, their absurd objections to his being human, and their unreasonable suggestions about his message: “They also say: ‘What sort of messenger is this, who eats food and goes about in the market-places? Why has not an angel been sent down to him to give warning alongside him? Or why has not a treasure been granted to him? Or he should have a garden to provide his sustenance.’

The wrongdoers say: ‘The man you follow is certainly bewitched.’ See to what they liken you. They have certainly gone astray and are unable to find a way back. Blessed is He who, if it be His will, shall give you better things than these; gardens through which running waters flow, and shall give you palaces too.”

The first point they make concerns Muhammad’s status: They wonder why he eats food and goes about in the streets and market places. Why is he an ordinary human being, doing what humans do? This is an objection all communities made against every messenger God chose to send them. How could such a person, raised by such a family, living with them and behaving like them in all respects, be a messenger from God, receiving revelations from on high? How could he have contacts with another world, receiving knowledge that is unavailable to them when he is just one of them, while they receive no such revelations and know nothing about this other world?

From this angle, the whole idea seems unlikely. However, taken from another angle, it seems perfectly natural. God has breathed of His own spirit in man, and with this breath man has become distinguished among all God’s creation, and placed in charge of the earth. Yet human knowledge, experience, and abilities remain limited and inadequate. God would not leave him without support and guidance to show him the way to fulfill his trust. Hence, He has given him the potential to be in contact with Him through the breath of the divine spirit that distinguishes him. It is no wonder that God should choose a human being who has the spiritual potential to receive His message and impart to him what guides him and his fellow humans along the right way whenever they are lost, giving them the support they need.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.