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Monday, June 23, 2008

 
Blogging the Qur'an: Sura 30, "The Byzantines," And Sura 31, "Luqman"

Robert Spencer has the installment here.

In Sura 30, Mohammed delivers an apparent prophecy - that the "Romans" (meaning Byzantines) would overcome a defeat within a few years of that defeat. AnsweringIslam.net claims that the prophecy did not come true:

The Romans were, in fact, defeated in 610 AD in the battles of Antioch and Aleppo.

...

The question is : how do we define "a small number of years"? The traditions, as well as Muslim commentators, tell us that Abu-Bakr made a bet with Ubai-ibn- Khalaf that this prediction would be fulfilled within three years. Muhammad, who rarely had an unspoken thought, told them that the "small number" is between three and nine years (Source: al-Baizawi).

The Romans (Byzantines) defeated the Persians 12 years later in 628 AD at the battle of Ctesiphon - so Muhammad's prophecy was wrong. Muslims have worked very hard to side-step this issue. In fact, Pickthall translates Sura 30:4 as "Within ten years", whereas Ali and Shakir correctly translate it as "Within a few years". In either case, Muhammad was wrong.

Wikipedia documents the heated debate over the prophecy. As I see it, the big problem with discerning whether it came true or not is this: Mohammed does not state which specific event marked the defeat mentioned in verses 2-3. The conquest of Antioch and Aleppo? The 615 conquest of Jerusalem? If we don't know which defeat Mohammed referred to, we can't determine whether the prophecy came true.

Sura 31 is named for a sage whose warnings against evil constitute much of the text. One particular sin he admonishes is "polytheism" - which, according to Islam, includes Trinitarianism.

Click the "Koran" label to see all my posts on this series.

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