The following is a response to Dr. Stephen M Kirby’s criticism of Dr. Fred Donner’s book, Muhammad and the Believers at the Origins of Islam.
Indeed, Dr. Fred Donner’s book, Muhammad and the Believers at the Origins of Islam, is original in its research and certainly based on the Quran.
Stephen M Kirby’s criticism of Donner’s book can be summarized by the following unsavory facts.
- Traditional Muslims Sources are not reliable. This is Donner’s truthful assertion.
- Reliance on the Quran.
- ‘O you who believe’ in the Quran is directed to anyone who believes in God.
- The Quran makes a distinction between Christians who follow the Gospel and those who follow the Nicene Creed.
- The Quran makes distinction between Jews who follow the Torah and those who follow the Talmud.
As we point out in our review of Robert Spencer’s book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran:
- The Koran is the only source of law or the only criterion per 6:114
- The Koran is a fully detailed scripture per 6:114, 10:37
- The words of God in the Koran are complete per 6:115
- No words can abrogate God’s words in the Koran per 6:115 and 10:37
- Koran is Hadith per 7:185, 12:111, 39:23, 45:6, 52:34, 68:44, 77:50
- The Koran is the only acceptable Hadith per 77:50, 45:6, 7:185
- The Arabic word sunnah (system) refers only to God’s sunnah and never as the Prophet’s sunnah per 17:77, 33:62, 48:23
- That God is the Teacher of the Koran per 55:2
The Quran reminds us of the first commandment throughout the Quran.
[3:18] GOD bears witness that there is no god except He, and so do the angels and those who possess knowledge. Truthfully and equitably, He is the absolute god; there is no god but He, the Almighty, Most Wise.
Numerous verses in the Quran remind us to worship God alone such as 2:112, 3:150, 4:36, 4:146, 7:70, 10:104, 12:39, 22:31, 39:3, 39:17, 39:45, 40:12, 60:4. This is within the confines of the first commandment and a message preached by all previous messengers including Jesus and Moses.
[ Mark 10:17-18] As he was setting out on a journey a man came running up, knelt down before him and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.’‘
[ Matthew 7:21] “None of those who call me `Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”
“…Go to my brothers and tell them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” [ John 20:17]
Idolatry – An unforgivable sin in the Quran
The Quran condemns idolatry which, if maintained until death, is an unforgivable sin.
[4:48] GOD does not forgive idolatry, but He forgives lesser offenses for whomever He wills. Anyone who sets up idols beside GOD, has forged a horrendous offense.
[4:116] GOD does not forgive idol worship (if maintained until death), and He forgives lesser offenses for whomever He wills. Anyone who idolizes any idol beside GOD has strayed far astray.
Thus, any Christian who follows the creed of Trinity created centuries after Jesus’s death in Nicene, commits idolatry.
Any Muslim, who upholds Hadith other than the Quran commits idolatry.
Any Jew who upholds the Talmud instead of the Torah is committing idolatry.
[34:53] They have rejected it in the past; they have decided instead to uphold conjecture and guesswork.*
*34:53 People of all religions tend to forsake the word of God and uphold the words of men. The Jews and the Muslims uphold the Mishnah (Hadith) and Gemarrah (Sunna), while the Christians uphold a trinity invented by the Nicene Conference, 325 years after Jesus.
The following examines Dr. Stephen M Kirby’s charge that “Donner had based his book on his unique, personal version of Fantasy Islam.”
“Donner’s ambivalence about the “traditional” sources”
From a historian’s perspective, documentary evidence from that period is exceedingly limited. From the Quranic perspective, we cannot draw any religious conclusions except from the Quran itself (see above).
“This is an eye-opening claim because according to Islamic Doctrine it is blasphemy for a Muslim to lie about Muhammad.”
The various sects in Islam exist not because of disagreements about the Quran but disagreements about Hadith (stories) of Muhammad or lying about Muhammad. Obviously, all the sects are not right about Muhammad in their respective Hadith and thus they differ.
“.. many other authoritative Muslim sources ..”
By authoritative Muslim sources, Stephen M Kirby, means Hadith and Sunnah written centuries after the death of the Prophet and the revelation of the Quran. Each sect has their own authentic Hadith or “… authoritative Muslim sources …” There is a trove of treasure for Western writers like Robert Spencer as well as Eastern writers, in books of Hadith written 200+ years after the revelation of the Koran. These books are fiction and contain all kinds of nonsense which are utilized by Stephen Kirby.
Christians and Jews in general could be “Believers”?
The answer is yes from the Quran:
[2:62, 5:69] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
The Jews, the Christians and those who received the Quran are free to follow their own scripture (Torah, Gospel or the Quran) and make judgements based on their scripture.
[5:44] We have sent down the Torah, containing guidance and light. Ruling in accordance with it were the Jewish prophets, as well as the rabbis and the priests, as dictated to them in GOD’s scripture, and as witnessed by them. Therefore, do not reverence human beings; you shall reverence Me instead. And do not trade away My revelations for a cheap price. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD’s revelations are the disbelievers.
[5:46-47] Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous.
The people of the Gospel shall rule in accordance with GOD’s revelations therein. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD’s revelations are the wicked.
[5:48] Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with GOD’s revelations, and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you. For each of you, we have decreed laws and different rites. Had GOD willed, He could have made you one congregation. But He thus puts you to the test through the revelations He has given each of you. You shall compete in righteousness. To GOD is your final destiny – all of you – then He will inform you of everything you had disputed.
“Here are ten Koran verses that specifically stated that Jews and Christians (People of the Book/Scripture) were not “believers” (I have not included the entire verse but have just noted the differentiations being made)”
Here are the complete verses together with verses prior or after for context.
[74:31] We appointed angels to be guardians of Hell, and we assigned their number (19) (1) to disturb the disbelievers, (2) to convince the Christians and Jews (that this is a divine scripture), (3) to strengthen the faith of the faithful, (4) to remove all traces of doubt from the hearts of Christians, Jews, as well as the believers, and (5) to expose those who harbor doubt in their hearts, and the disbelievers; they will say, “What did GOD mean by this allegory?” GOD thus sends astray whomever He wills, and guides whomever He wills. None knows the soldiers of your Lord except He. This is a reminder for the people.
[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
[2:117-121] The Initiator of the heavens and the earth: to have anything done, He simply says to it, “Be,” and it is.
Those who possess no knowledge say, “If only GOD could speak to us, or some miracle could come to us!” Others before them have uttered similar utterances; their minds are similar. We do manifest the miracles for those who have attained certainty.
We have sent you with the truth as a bearer of good news, as well as a warner. You are not answerable for those who incur Hell.
Neither the Jews, nor the Christians, will accept you, unless you follow their religion. Say, “GOD’s guidance is the true guidance.” If you acquiesce to their wishes, despite the knowledge you have received, you will find no ally or supporter to help you against GOD.
Those who received the scripture, and know it as it should be known, will believe in this. As for those who disbelieve, they are the losers.
[3:98-102] Say, “O followers of the scripture, why do you reject these revelations of GOD, when GOD is witnessing everything you do?”
Say, “O followers of the scripture, why do you repel from the path of GOD those who wish to believe, and seek to distort it, even though you are witnesses?” GOD is never unaware of anything you do. O you who believe, if you obey some of those who received the scripture, they will revert you, after having believed, into disbelievers. How can you disbelieve, when these revelations of GOD have been recited to you, and His messenger has come to you? Whoever holds fast to GOD will be guided in the right path. O you who believe, you shall observe GOD as He should be observed, and do not die except as Submitters.
[3:110] You are the best community ever raised among the people: you advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and you believe in GOD. If the followers of the scripture believed, it would be better for them. Some of them do believe, but the majority of them are wicked.
[5:44-46] We have sent down the Torah, containing guidance and light. Ruling in accordance with it were the Jewish prophets, as well as the rabbis and the priests, as dictated to them in GOD’s scripture, and as witnessed by them. Therefore, do not reverence human beings; you shall reverence Me instead. And do not trade away My revelations for a cheap price. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD’s revelations are the disbelievers.
And we decreed for them in it that: the life for the life, the eye for the eye, the nose for the nose, the ear for the ear, the tooth for the tooth, and an equivalent injury for any injury. If one forfeits what is due to him as a charity, it will atone for his sins. Those who do not rule in accordance with GOD’s revelations are the unjust.
Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous.
[5:51] O you who believe, do not take certain Jews and Christians as allies; these are allies of one another. Those among you who ally themselves with these belong with them. GOD does not guide the transgressors.
[60:8-9] GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable.
GOD enjoins you only from befriending those who fight you because of religion, evict you from your homes, and band together with others to banish you. You shall not befriend them. Those who befriend them are the transgressors.
[5:64-66] The Jews even said, “GOD’s hand is tied down!” It is their hands that are tied down. They are condemned for uttering such a blasphemy. Instead, His hands are wide open, spending as He wills. For certain, your Lord’s revelations to you will cause many of them to plunge deeper into transgression and disbelief. Consequently, we have committed them to animosity and hatred among themselves until the Day of Resurrection. Whenever they ignite the flames of war, GOD puts them out. They roam the earth wickedly, and GOD dislikes the evildoers.
If only the people of the scripture believe and lead a righteous life, we will then remit their sins, and admit them into gardens of bliss.
If only they would uphold the Torah and the Gospel, and what is sent down to them herein from their Lord, they would be showered with blessings from above them and from beneath their feet. Some of them are righteous, but many of them are evildoers.
[5:69] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, and the Christians; any of them who (1) believe in GOD and (2) believe in the Last Day, and (3) lead a righteous life, have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
[5:82-84] You will find that the worst enemies of the believers are the Jews and the idol worshipers. And you will find that the closest people in friendship to the believers are those who say, “We are Christian.” This is because they have priests and monks among them, and they are not arrogant.
When they hear what was revealed to the messenger, you see their eyes flooding with tears as they recognize the truth therein, and they say, “Our Lord, we have believed, so count us among the witnesses.
Why should we not believe in GOD, and in the truth that has come to us, and hope that our Lord may admit us with the righteous people?”
[22:17] Those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, the Christians, the Zoroastrians, and the idol worshipers, GOD is the One who will judge among them on the Day of Resurrection. GOD witnesses all things.
“Donner said that the Koran was the best source of information about the early Believers’ movement; with these ten verses we can see that a distinction had been made between the People of the Scripture and the “believers” since the early days of Islam.”
The People of the Scripture in the Quran also includes those who received the Quran. The People of the Scripture include Muslims, Christians and the Jews.
[98:1] Those who disbelieved among the people of the scripture, as well as the idol worshipers, insist on their ways, despite the proof given to them.
[5:19] O people of the scripture, our messenger has come to you, to explain things to you, after a period of time without messengers, lest you say, “We did not receive any preacher or warner.” A preacher and warner has now come to you. GOD is Omnipotent.
[29:46] Do not argue with the people of the scripture (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) except in the nicest possible manner – unless they transgress – and say, “We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you, and our god and your god is one and the same; to Him we are submitters.”
“We can see then that the Koran’s rejection of the divinity of Christ began in the very early days of the Believers’ movement, so it is difficult to see how Donner could claim that any Christians maintaining a belief in Christ’s divinity could have actually been a part of that movement.”
There are Christians today who not believe in the divinity of Christ just like Christians at the time of Muhammad. There are Christians today who reject the creation of Trinity by men 300+ years after the death of Jesus in the Nicene Creed.
The verses which Stephen Kirby refers to are reproduced below and they are a warning to those who uphold man-made divinity for Jesus. As pointed out above the Quran is equally strong on idolatry of anyone including Muhammad, Jesus, the saints, or scholars.
[5:72-75] Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah himself said, “O Children of Israel, you shall worship GOD; my Lord and your Lord.” Anyone who sets up any idol beside GOD, GOD has forbidden Paradise for him, and his destiny is Hell. The wicked have no helpers.
Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is a third of a trinity. There is no god except the one god. Unless they refrain from saying this, those who disbelieve among them will incur a painful retribution.
Would they not repent to GOD, and ask His forgiveness? GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
The Messiah, son of Mary, is no more than a messenger like the messengers before him, and his mother was a saint. Both of them used to eat the food. Note how we explain the revelations for them, and note how they still deviate!
[9:30] The Jews said, “Ezra is the son of GOD,” while the Christians said, “Jesus is the son of GOD!” These are blasphemies uttered by their mouths. They thus match the blasphemies of those who have disbelieved in the past. GOD condemns them. They have surely deviated.
[9:31] They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords, instead of GOD. Others deified the Messiah, son of Mary. They were all commanded to worship only one god. There is no god except He. Be He glorified, high above having any partners.
[4:48] GOD does not forgive idolatry, but He forgives lesser offenses for whomever He wills. Anyone who sets up idols beside GOD, has forged a horrendous offense.
[4:157-158] And for claiming that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of GOD. In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him – they were made to think that they did. All factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him.
Instead, GOD raised him to Him; GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.
[3:49-51] As a messenger to the Children of Israel: “I come to you with a sign from your Lord – I create for you from clay the shape of a bird, then I blow into it, and it becomes a live bird by GOD’s leave. I restore vision to the blind, heal the leprous, and I revive the dead by GOD’s leave. I can tell you what you eat, and what you store in your homes. This should be a proof for you, if you are believers.
“I confirm previous scripture – the Torah – and I revoke certain prohibitions imposed upon you. I come to you with sufficient proof from your Lord. Therefore, you shall observe GOD, and obey me.
“GOD is my Lord and your Lord; you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path.”
[4:171-172] O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, “Trinity.” You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master. The Messiah would never disdain from being a servant of GOD, nor would the closest angels. Those who disdain from worshiping Him, and are too arrogant to submit, He will summon them all before Him.
[19:29-36] She pointed to him. They said, “How can we talk with an infant in the crib?” (The infant spoke and) said, “I am a servant of GOD. He has given me the scripture, and has appointed me a prophet. “He made me blessed wherever I go, and enjoined me to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and the obligatory charity (Zakat) for as long as I live. “I am to honor my mother; He did not make me a disobedient rebel. And peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I get resurrected.”
That was Jesus, the son of Mary, and this is the truth of this matter, about which they continue to doubt. It does not befit GOD that He begets a son, be He glorified. To have anything done, He simply says to it, “Be,” and it is. He also proclaimed, “GOD is my Lord and your Lord; you shall worship Him alone. This is the right path.”
[43:57-59] When the son of Mary was cited as an example, your people disregarded it.
They said, “Is it better to worship our gods, or to worship him?” They said this only to argue with you. Indeed, they are people who have joined the opposition.
He was no more than a servant whom we blessed, and we sent him as an example for the Children of Israel.
[61:6] Recall that Jesus, son of Mary, said, “O Children of Israel, I am GOD’s messenger to you, confirming the Torah and bringing good news of a messenger to come after me whose name will be even more praised (Ahmad).” Then, when he showed them the clear proofs, they said, “This is profound magic.”
“What about the Jews? Let’s start off with the first chapter of the Koran, Al-Fatihah. This chapter was revealed in Mecca and was among the first chapters of the Koran to be revealed.”
In his desperation, Stephen Kirby turns completely to fiction. He does refer to some Quran verses reproduced below but relies on “authoritative Muslim scholars.” He has no basis from the Quran. No comment is needed on his “authoritative sources” written centuries after the revelation of the Quran.
[1:1] In the name of GOD, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
[1:2] Praise be to GOD, Lord of the universe.
[1:3] Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
[1:4] Master of the Day of Judgment.
[1:5] You alone we worship; You alone we ask for help.
[1:6] Guide us in the right path;
[1:7] the path of those whom You blessed; not of those who have deserved wrath, nor of the strayers.
[2:61] Recall that you said, “O Moses, we can no longer tolerate one kind of food. Call upon your Lord to produce for us such earthly crops as beans, cucumbers, garlic, lentils, and onions.” He said, “Do you wish to substitute that which is inferior for that which is good? Go down to Egypt, where you can find what you asked for.” They have incurred condemnation, humiliation, and disgrace, and brought upon themselves wrath from GOD. This is because they rejected GOD’s revelations, and killed the prophets unjustly. This is because they disobeyed and transgressed.
[3:110-113] You are the best community ever raised among the people: you advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and you believe in GOD. If the followers of the scripture believed, it would be better for them. Some of them do believe, but the majority of them are wicked.
They can never harm you, beyond insulting you. If they fight you, they will turn around and flee. They can never win.
They shall be humiliated whenever you encounter them, unless they uphold GOD’s covenant, as well as their peace covenants with you. They have incurred wrath from GOD, and, consequently, they are committed to disgrace. This is because they rejected GOD’s revelations, and killed the prophets unjustly. This is because they disobeyed and transgressed.
They are not all the same; among the followers of the scripture, there are those who are righteous. They recite GOD’s revelations through the night, and they fall prostrate.
[60:13] O you who believe, do not befriend people with whom GOD is angry, and who are hopelessly stuck in disbelief; they are just as hopeless as the disbelievers who are already in the graves.
[2:109] Many followers of the scripture would rather see you revert to disbelief, now that you have believed. This is due to jealousy on their part, after the truth has become evident to them. You shall pardon them, and leave them alone, until GOD issues His judgment. GOD is Omnipotent.
[3:71] O followers of the scripture, why do you confound the truth with falsehood, and conceal the truth, knowingly?
[3:98-100] Say, “O followers of the scripture, why do you reject these revelations of GOD, when GOD is witnessing everything you do?”
Say, “O followers of the scripture, why do you repel from the path of GOD those who wish to believe, and seek to distort it, even though you are witnesses?” GOD is never unaware of anything you do.
O you who believe, if you obey some of those who received the scripture, they will revert you, after having believed, into disbelievers.