The ‘First Muslim’ – A VERY Crowded Field

Would the ‘first Muslim’ please raise his hand?

The Qur’an famously claims that its truth can be verified by the fact that it contains no contradictions (Qur’an 4:82). This is, of course, patently absurd and one way we can prove this is by looking at the question of who the first Muslim was.

It seems that Allah was as liberal with the designation of ‘first Muslim’ as someone throwing candy from a parade float. A multitude of people are assured that they are, in fact, the first Muslims!

Each of these instances obviously contradicts the rest. QED as far as proving contradictions in the Qur’an is concerned.

Here are some of the candidates in a very crowded field:

Muhammad:And I am commanded to be the first of those who bow to Allah in Islam.” (Qur’an 39:12)

Moses:Glory be to Thee! To Thee I turn in repentance, and I am the first to believe.” (Qur’an 7:143)

Abraham:And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob; “Oh my sons! Allah hath chosen the Faith for you; then die not except in the Faith of Islam.” (Qur’an 2:132)

Adam:Allah did choose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of ‘Imran above all people” (Qur’an 3:33)

Some Egyptian Magicians:Lo! We ardently hope that our Lord will forgive us our sins because we are the first of the believers.” (Qur’an 26:51)

Jesus and his Disciples: “When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: “Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?” Said the disciples: “We are Allah’s helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslim.” (Qur’an 3:52)

Muslim apologists try to resolve this rather embarrassing tangle by claiming that each of these people was the ‘first Muslim’ among a specific group. In other words ‘the first Jewish Muslim’ (!) for example. This idea is obviously not present in the text, and the only reason that one will make such a claim would be in an attempt to get rid of a contradiction.

So this attempt to resolve the contradiction also cannot withstand even a moment of critical questioning.

Qur’an 3:6767 states that Abraham was not a Jew or a Christian but a Muslim. Yet, when Moses is discussed in Qur’an 7:14368, he declares that he is the ‘first to believe’. Are they from different people? No they are not. They stand in the same historical tradition. Moses comes into the frame after the descendants of Abraham ran into trouble in Egypt. As a matter of fact, Moses is portrayed as fulfilling the promises that Allah made through Abraham. It would, in this context, be exceedingly strange and awkward if he identified himself as the first believer, especially in an already believing community with a clear memory of Abraham as the ‘father of the faithful’.

There is, furthermore, evidence from the Qur’an that Allah revealed himself to Aaron (the brother of Moses) at the same time (Qur’an 7:143) and also an indication that there was at least one Egyptian believer around during Moses’ time (40:28-35, 38:46). So we have Moses, Aaron, the people of Israel, and at least one Egyptian in Egypt who were believers in Allah. Yet, when the Egyptian magicians accepted the path of Allah, they declare, “We are the first to believe.” (Qur’an 26:5169) The Qur’an is a mass of contradictions on this subject, something that cannot be untangled by the ‘among their own people’ response.

So who was the ‘first Muslim’? I do don’t know. And neither it seems, does the Qur’an.

For much more about some of the glaring contradictions in the Qur’an, please see my book Questioning Islam – Tough Questions and Honest Answers About the Muslim Religion

Happy New Year!

Allow me this opportunity to wish you all a blessed and fulfilled 2021. In spite of everything going on in the world there is still truth, goodness and love. Let us keep fighting for these values while living them out in our personal spheres. We may feel powerless to impact things at a global level but and for most of us this probably true. Perhaps this is not our calling, however. By seeking to work for the best wherever we are we may be making an incalculable positive impact.

As George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans) reminded us: ”The growing good of the world is mainly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not as ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and now rest in unvisited graves.

Maybe not the cheeriest thought with which to begin a new year but nevertheless profoundly true, especially as we seek to bring order to a world threatening to tear itself apart!

My book ‘The House Built on Sand’ is currently available for only $3,99 on Kindle. Get your copy here.

A Different Kind of ‘New Normal’?

I get it. I understand that there is much going on around the globe at the moment. Yet, I cannot help but feel that we’ve reached a very dangerous point in the history of the world’s interaction with the Muslim religion. A point where instances of violence inspired by the teachings of Islam are simply regarded as ‘the way things are’.

Admittedly the killing of French teacher Samuel Paty (16 October), after he showed cartoons of Muhammad in his classroom, made headlines around the world. Yet, the reality is that this outrage was not some kind of outlier. It was merely the visible tip of a very large iceberg.

In the time since Paty’s death (to cite but a few examples) the following happened:
Throughout October – Afghanistan: Attacks perpetrated by the ‘Islamic State’ in Afghanistan’s Khorasan province leads to the death of 243 people and 339 injuries.
30 October – Nice, France: Churchgoers in Nice was attacked by a knife-wielding Tunisian ‘refugee’, with three people killed. One was ‘virtually beheaded’ according to reports.
2 November – Vienna, Austria: A Muslim gunman opened fire near Vienna’s main synagogue, killing three people and wounding twenty three.
10 November – Cabo Delgado, Mozambique: Muslim raiders, linked to ISIS, killed 50 villagers in Mutaide, Mozambique as part of their ongoing efforts to turn the Cabo Delgado province into an Islamist stronghold. In actions strongly reminiscent of those of the Taliban, and surely designed to sow maximum terror, they used the town’s football pitch as an execution ground.
11 November – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Several people are injured during an attack on foreigners marking Remembrance Day.

The sad reality is that a similar list can be drawn up for just about any two week period that you might care to pick. Yet, who notices anymore? The fact is that we seemed to have slipped into a kind of ‘new normal’ where unceasing violence inspired by the Qur’an and hadiths are just part of the background noise.

We cannot simply make our peace with this. Yes, there are many other fish to fry but the reality is that we either ignore what is going on (and place an intolerable burden on upcoming generations) or we take serious steps to understand what is behind all the violence and do our best to deal with it by challenging Islam in the battle of ideas.

Ps. For much more about the links between Islamic teaching and violence, please see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot’

Saudi Press: We Need to Change the Qur’an

An Early Qur’anic Manuscript

We need to change the Qur’an! Not quite the kind of headline that you would expect in the Saudi press, but this was exactly the message of two recent articles that appeared in the Kingdom.

The first was published by journalist Ahmed Hashem in ‘Saudi Opinions’ on the 10th of January. Hashem states that there have been huge numbers of copyist errors since the text of the Qur’an was supposedly fixed for all time under Caliph Uthman Bin Affan (ruled 644-656). Hashem lists as many as 2,500 errors that occur in the Qur’an that Muslims read today, citing many concrete examples. He, therefore, urges the Saudi authorities to take action in order to: “…make the text more readable for present day Muslims and more linguistically correct.

This rather startling admission that there are fundamental issues with the reliability of the Qur’anic text was followed by an article published on 20 July 2020 on the Saudi website Elaph, written by Iraqi Kurdish researcher Jarji Gulizada. In it he echoes Hashem’s call that fundamental changes should be made to the Qur’anic text because in its present form: “…it is not suitable for the Islamic nation in the modern world, and especially for non-Arab Muslims.

The articles caused a major furor across the Arab world, particularly because they threw a searchlight on an issue that is rarely addressed in the Muslim world: Namely that serious questions can be asked about the process through which the Qur’an was written down, preserved and transmitted.

At the very least it should tell us that the cozy certainties that the Qur’an has ‘never been changed, never been altered’ (words used in an ad on the London Underground recently) are very far of the mark.

I look at this issue in depth in my book ‘The Mecca Mystery – Probing the Black Hole at the Heart of Muslim History’, along with many other questions about the early history of Islam.