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Midrash in the Qur'an

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Denis Giron

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Jun 11, 2002, 4:44:24 PM6/11/02
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A while back I awoke the old debate on the issue of Midrash in the
Qur'an when I plugged the following article on my site:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/borrow.html

The bulk of the discussion took place between Dr. Saifullah and Jameel
(MyTajMahal). The main issue was Dr. Saifullah's demanding that we
prove the particular story in B'reshit Rabbah was written before the
Qur'an, which was indeed in question since the work as a whole was
still undergoing redactions long after the advent of Islam. The
complete thread can be seen here:

http://groups.google.com/groups?threadm=a3e95o%24p6n%241%40samba.rahul.net

The FTMecca now has a follow-up article that comments on Dr.
Saifullaah's argument over all:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/sayfallaah.html

In many ways, my approach in the article above bares many similarities
to Jameel's method. First Dr. Saifullaah's quoting of Paret, Stillman,
Freedman & Simon is brought into question, and it is argued that the
complete picture was not properly conveyed in the doctor's citations.
>From there the article attempts to demonstrate that the tale of
Abraham and the idols (a Midrashic build on Genesis 11:28) is
pre-Islamic. Versions from both Christian and Jewish literature is
cited.

In the end, I believe the article successfully demonstrates that the
story predates the Qur'an. The article also makes note of the fact
that the tale, prior to the advent of Islam, could be found in Hebrew,
Aramaic, Greek, Latin and Ethiopoic (Amharic?). The story was found in
Syria, Ethiopia, Babylon (Iraq) and Palestine. In the end, this seems
reasonable enough to believe it was a source for the Qur'anic version
found in Soorat al-Anbiya. Of course, this is not a proof beyond all
doubt that this was the source of the Qur'anic version, but it is the
best adduction in light of the evidence.

Thoughts?

-Denis Giron


M.S.M. Saifullah

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Jun 13, 2002, 1:46:52 PM6/13/02
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On 11 Jun 2002, Denis Giron wrote:

> The FTMecca now has a follow-up article that comments on Dr.
> Saifullaah's argument over all:
>
> http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/sayfallaah.html

Well, the original claim was that Genesis Rabbah was the source of the
Qur'anic story of Abraham and idols. Now what we simply want you to show
is the textual stability of Genesis Rabbah as a book. We are least
concerned about Parsha Vayechi or Vayyishlach or Vayyigash etc. This
was just to show that the text is unstable in character in parts and
the question now arises what about the rest of the text? That
is really not the subject of discussion in your discussion. This is
rather strange for those who have claimed the book of Genesis Rabbah to
the source of the Qur'anic story but do not even bother to check the
textual stability of the source. It is indeed a nice and convenient
evasion. The point now is whether the story of Abraham and idols as
present in the book Genesis Rabbah was also before the advent of Islam in
the book? Or later? Please bring us the evidence.

As for Geiger, he did not show the textual stability of the text of
Genesis Rabbah. Even if you or Rudi Paret wants to use him, you might as
well get the fundamentals right and show it to us what we are asking you
to show.

Finally, here comes Dajjal's masterpiece concerning the evidence that
this story existed in Makkah. He says "This is a laughable request in
that it tries to get us to accept the tendentious extracanonical
traditions of Islam - why should we assume this was a story revealed in
Makkah?" If he does not want to accept the Islamic traditions, why not use
non-Muslim traditions to show it? Is it that difficult? Oh! How do we know
that the non-Muslim traditions are telling the truth? Give it a try Mr.
Dajjal; at least we will then know how good are you with your
"revisionist" scholars now that you have poisioned the well by call the
scholars who do not agree with you as "liberal" scholars. Let us start the
discussion and yes, one point at a time please.

Wassalam
Saifullah

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/


Denis Giron

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Jul 9, 2002, 1:52:46 AM7/9/02
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"M.S.M. Saifullah" <ms...@eng.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<aealqc$1k7$1...@samba.rahul.net>...
> ...

Sorry for the late response... This is with regard to:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/sayfallaah.html

Dr. Saifullah wrote:
> Well, the original claim was that Genesis Rabbah was the source of the
> Qur'anic story of Abraham and idols.

No it wasn't. The original claim was that the story in the Qur'an
originated with a Midrashic legend from the Jewish traditions.
Consider the following from my original article:

[---- Begin Quote ----]

[I]t is not required that the authors of the Qur'an got their material
directly from the text that holds the story. Even Tisdall, who made
idiotic assumptions about Muhammad's relation to the text, presents a
clear argument that sums up the issue of differences:

Comparing, now, this Jewish story with what we saw of it
in the Koran, little difference will be found and what
there is no doubt arose from Muhammad hearing of it by the
ear from the Jews.
[St. Clair-Tisdall, "The Sources of Islam," in Warraq (ed.)
Origins of the Koran, (Prometheus, 1998) p. 242]

If we can ignore, for a second, Tisdall's unfounded assumptions about
Muhammad and the Jews (which is an assumption derived from a liberal
reading of the traditional material that allegedly records Muhammad's
life), we can catch his point. A theory of religious borrowing does
not depend on a verbatim retelling of the story by the later source.

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/borrow.html#diff

[---- End Quote ----]

The issue is the Jewish Midrashic story, not a particular compilation
that holds it.

> Now what we simply want you to show is the textual stability of Genesis
> Rabbah as a book. We are least concerned about Parsha Vayechi or
> Vayyishlach or Vayyigash etc. This was just to show that the text is
> unstable in character in parts and the question now arises what about
> the rest of the text?

Well, you already quoted quite extensively from Hans-Jurgen Becker's
article "Texts and History: The Dynamic Relationship Between Talmud
Yerushalmi and Genesis Rabbah." Becker's article is, in my opinion,
one of the finest examples of revisionist approaches to the Midrash
and Talmud (as many may already know, I lean towards such
"revisionist" approaches to religious literature), and it shows quite
clearly that the text of B'reshit Rabbah was fluid right up until the
sixteenth century! For those who are interested, Dr. Saifullah gave us
many relevant quotes from Becker here:

http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=a55ha5%24g4%241%40samba.rahul.net

But, while I agree with Becker, and have been seduced by his
brilliance, scholarship and methodology, how is it relevant? Well, if
the text was still being edited after the advent of Islam, I would
have to prove that the particular part of the text did not undergo
such editing. I think my article showed quite clearly that the story
in question did exist long before the advent of Islam.

> The point now is whether the story of Abraham and idols as
> present in the book Genesis Rabbah was also before the advent
> of Islam in the book? Or later? Please bring us the evidence.

The story existed before the advent of Islam. The story is in B'reshit
Rabbah. All scholars agree that B'reshit Rabbah predates Islam (though
they also agree it underwent post-Islam editing). It seems reasonable
that the pre-Islamic version of B'reshit Rabbah contained the legends
that were infact pre-Islamic, such as the tale of Abraham and the
idols. If this is not good enough for Dr. Saifullaah, that is fine, I
can understand why. Nonetheless, the Midrash tale about Abraham and
his father's idols is certainly pre-Islamic.

> As for Geiger, he did not show the textual stability of the text of
> Genesis Rabbah.

Agreed. He presupposed the relevant story (if not the entire text) was
pre-Islamic, and my article proved the story was indeed pre-Islamic.

> Finally, here comes Dajjal's masterpiece concerning the evidence that
> this story existed in Makkah. He says "This is a laughable request in
> that it tries to get us to accept the tendentious extracanonical
> traditions of Islam - why should we assume this was a story revealed in
> Makkah?"

Is that all that I wrote? Let us bring in the proper context:

[---- Begin Quote ----]

All that is left is a minor objection from Dr. Saifullaah. He claims
that for this theory of borrowing to work, we must prove that the
story existed in Makkah (Mecca) at the time Muhammad was there, as the
story appears in a Makkan Soorah. This is a laughable request in that


it tries to get us to accept the tendentious extracanonical traditions
of Islam - why should we assume this was a story revealed in Makkah?

Because history as the Muslims tell it claims such? Our multiple hands
theory made note of the fact that even seeing Muhammad as a player in
the revealing of the Qur'an is questionable. If we doubt Muhammad
revealed the Qur'an, then surely by extension we doubt that he
revealed verses in Makkah and Madina!

While we see no real reason to accept this premise, we can still play
this game. Let us suppose the story was first revealed in Makkah by
Muhammad. The story existed in Greek, Syriac, Hebrew, Latin and
Ethiopic. It was present North of Arabia (in Syria, Palestine and
Iraq), and somewhat South of Arabia (in Ethiopia). There were many
Jews and Christians in Arabia. Are we to believe that the story never
made its way to Makkah, a city where, according to the tendentious
Ahaadeeth, pictures of Abraham and Jesus were hanging in the Kaaba?
There was no Judeo-Christian influence in this city?

We do not wish to play the games liberal scholars wish to engage in
when discussing the Qur'an. Let us get one thing straight: whether the
verse was revealed in Makkah or Tokyo, it simply does not matter. If
the story is making mention of Abraham, it is for an audience that is
already familiar with the Judeo-Christian folklore! Furthermore, if
we're going to talk about chapters revealed in Makkah, let us look at
Soorat ash-Shu'araa 26:197 (also allegedly revealed in Makkah), which
makes mention of the ulama of the Bani Isra'eel. This proves that
whomever was revealing these "Makkan surahs" (assuming it was just one
person) was already familiar with the learned men among the Jews.

[---- End Quote ----]

The point is that the request is ridiculous. It is like Orthodox Jews
asking Source Critics of the Bible to prove that a Hebrew translation
of the Epics of Gilgamesh existed at Sinai. Is this the only way
information is transmitted? Certainly not!

We should take into account the ahaadeeth that have Abu Huraira saying
"The people of the Scripture (Jews) used to recite the Torah in Hebrew
and they used to explain it in Arabic to the Muslims." [Saheeh
Bukhaaree V. 6, Bk 60, No. 12; V. 9, Bk 92 No 460 & Bk 93, No. 632].
Before Dr. Saifullah accuses me of setting a double standard, where I
accept a hadeeth if it suits my purpose, let me now say that I am
*NOT* calling these traditions as witness.

I do not claim that this hadeeth records what actually happened. What
I am doing here, however, is showing how Dr. Saifullah's argument is
designed to make us accept a scenario that does not have to be the
only possible one. Could the information have traveled without an
Arabic translation of B'reshit Rabbah in seventh century Makkah?
Certainly! All that is needed are people who are familiar with the
tale, and that would include both Jews and Christians!

Oh, on a mildly related note, more evidence for possible borrowing
theories regarding the Qur'an can be found here:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/chartumim.html#borrow

-Denis Giron


M.S.M. Saifullah

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Jul 9, 2002, 12:30:19 PM7/9/02
to
On 9 Jul 2002, Denis Giron wrote:

> > Well, the original claim was that Genesis Rabbah was the source of the
> > Qur'anic story of Abraham and idols.
>
> No it wasn't. The original claim was that the story in the Qur'an
> originated with a Midrashic legend from the Jewish traditions.
> Consider the following from my original article:

Well, your article does not constitute the "original" claim. The person
who first claimed that the Qur'anic story of Abraham and idols originated
from Genesis Rabbah was Geiger and it was repeated by Tisdall with
reservations about the "borrowing". Subsequent authors parroted Geiger and
Tisdall faithfully or otherwise.

> If we can ignore, for a second, Tisdall's unfounded assumptions about
> Muhammad and the Jews (which is an assumption derived from a liberal
> reading of the traditional material that allegedly records Muhammad's
> life), we can catch his point. A theory of religious borrowing does
> not depend on a verbatim retelling of the story by the later source.

What exactly does it depend upon then? Your ramblings do not have
methodology and proof dangling to it.

> The issue is the Jewish Midrashic story, not a particular compilation
> that holds it.

So, what is this suppose to prove? The Jewish Midrashic story existed
during the time of Prophet, SAW, in both Makkah and Madinah? Or among the
pagan Arabs? Ot that it never underwent redactions?

> Well, you already quoted quite extensively from Hans-Jurgen Becker's
> article "Texts and History: The Dynamic Relationship Between Talmud
> Yerushalmi and Genesis Rabbah." Becker's article is, in my opinion,
> one of the finest examples of revisionist approaches to the Midrash
> and Talmud (as many may already know, I lean towards such
> "revisionist" approaches to religious literature), and it shows quite
> clearly that the text of B'reshit Rabbah was fluid right up until the
> sixteenth century! For those who are interested, Dr. Saifullah gave us
> many relevant quotes from Becker here:
>
> http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=a55ha5%24g4%241%40samba.rahul.net

Dajjal claims that Becker's article is one of the "finest examples of
revisionist approaches to the Midrash and Talmud". The question to ask is
what exactly has Becker revised? The dates of Midrash Genesis Rabbah? The
text? The history of the transmission of the text?

The textual instability of Genesis Rabbah was pointed out long time ago as
early as 1905 in The Jewish Encyclopaedia ["Bereshit Rabbah", The Jewish
Encyclopaedia, 1905, Volume III, Funk & Wagnalls Company, p. 64.]. The
important thing which Becker pointed out was the textual instability of
Genesis Rabbah as seen in the manuscripts and compares it with Jerusalem
Talmud. Becker did not reject the textual and historical value of Genesis
Rabbah as opposed to the "revisionist approaches" to Islam where the
entire early Islamic history is rejected and in one stroke divested
themselves with all the historical responsibility and then come and inform
rest of all world "we do not know and can probably never know what really
happened; all we can know is what later people believed happened..".
Sounds familiar Mr. Dajjal?

Further, if we were to use the methodology adopted by Dajjal, the
scholars who said that the Jewish literary material such as Pirke Rabbi
Eliezer, Midrash Tanhuma, Targum Sheni, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan etc. as
late compilation, far away from the people who supposed to have compiled
them are all "revisionist". This itself is hilarious for anybody who has
read basics of textual criticism.

The book in question is called "The Synoptic Problem In Rabbanic
Literature", a title which fits the nature of transmission of Jewish
religious texts.

> But, while I agree with Becker, and have been seduced by his
> brilliance, scholarship and methodology, how is it relevant? Well, if
> the text was still being edited after the advent of Islam, I would
> have to prove that the particular part of the text did not undergo
> such editing. I think my article showed quite clearly that the story
> in question did exist long before the advent of Islam.

But in what form? It does not "show" that, does it? Does your "article"
show that the story existed during the advent of Islam in Arabia and in
particular Makkah?

> > The point now is whether the story of Abraham and idols as
> > present in the book Genesis Rabbah was also before the advent
> > of Islam in the book? Or later? Please bring us the evidence.
>
> The story existed before the advent of Islam. The story is in B'reshit
> Rabbah. All scholars agree that B'reshit Rabbah predates Islam (though
> they also agree it underwent post-Islam editing). It seems reasonable
> that the pre-Islamic version of B'reshit Rabbah contained the legends
> that were infact pre-Islamic, such as the tale of Abraham and the
> idols. If this is not good enough for Dr. Saifullaah, that is fine, I
> can understand why. Nonetheless, the Midrash tale about Abraham and
> his father's idols is certainly pre-Islamic.

We asked Dajjal to provide the evidence that the story of Abraham and
idols as mentioned in Genesis Rabbah that we see today also existed in the
same form during the advent of Islam. But what we see instead of evidence
is a speculation. A speculation that it seems "reasonable" that the
pre-Islamic version of Genesis Rabbah contained story of Abraham and
idols as it is present in the Qur'an. If it is "reasonable" to
believe it why not show a reasonable evidence to back it up, say, in the
form of manuscripts, for example. To be honest, there is not a shred
of evidence available to Dajjal's to prove his argument. The manuscripts
of Genesis Rabbah are late, some four hundred years after the advent of
Islam. There are only a few of them. If Genesis Rabbah was such a popular
and well-known book why so few manuscripts and that too so late?

Sure, a speculation is not enough for me and it is not enough for anybody
and even those who believes in revisionism. We can very well understand
why Dajjal is getting so desparate. Let us inform him more about how hard
it is to construct the "original text" of Genesis Rabbah.

"The task of reconstructing "a text as close as possible" to be the
original Bereshit Rabba, however, is exceedingly difficult. We do not have
basic information about the origin of the document. Who produced it? Was
it a man or a group of men? Was this man (or men) a creative author or a
mere mechanical compiler, or was he a combination of both? Without such
information, statements concerning the intention of the author-compiler or
the purpose of the document must remain speculative... The second
difficulty in establishing the "original" stems from the flexibility of
scribes in copying the text of Bereshit Rabba. In contrast to the rigidly
prescribed rules for copying the Bible, no standards existed for copying
rabbanic documents. Scribes changed or added to the text almost at will.
In addition, the scribes of some manuscripts other than Vat. 30 alternated
from one exemplar to another while copying (contamination). Contamination
of the textual tradition makes it nearly impossible to construct a
reliable pedigree for the manuscripts of Bereshit Rabba."

[L. M. Barth, An Analysis Of Vatican 30, 1973, Monographs of the Hebrew
Union College No. 1, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute Of Religion,
pp. 81-82.]

> Agreed. He presupposed the relevant story (if not the entire text) was
> pre-Islamic, and my article proved the story was indeed pre-Islamic.

Repetition is not going to do you any good Mr. Dajjal. Shall we say
proof by repetition? What we have asked you to show is the form of the
story which existed (if it ever existed!) during the advent of Islam in
Arabia and in particular Makkah? Your article does not prove anything that
is pertinent to our discussion.

> While we see no real reason to accept this premise, we can still play
> this game. Let us suppose the story was first revealed in Makkah by
> Muhammad. The story existed in Greek, Syriac, Hebrew, Latin and
> Ethiopic. It was present North of Arabia (in Syria, Palestine and
> Iraq), and somewhat South of Arabia (in Ethiopia). There were many
> Jews and Christians in Arabia. Are we to believe that the story never
> made its way to Makkah, a city where, according to the tendentious
> Ahaadeeth, pictures of Abraham and Jesus were hanging in the Kaaba?
> There was no Judeo-Christian influence in this city?

So attack now is the best form of defense. It does not matter to Dajjal
that Jewish sources can be tendentious too. But for him Islamic sources
are "tendentious" and hence they can't be trusted. If they can't be
trusted then why use them as an evidence to show that the pictures of
"Abraham and Jesus were hanging in the Kaaba"? This is nothing but abusing
the source material.

And here comes his another argument that the story was available in
Hebrew, Latin, Greek etc. Again we ask him in what form? Did they exist in
Arabia during the advent of Islam?

> I do not claim that this hadeeth records what actually happened. What
> I am doing here, however, is showing how Dr. Saifullah's argument is
> designed to make us accept a scenario that does not have to be the
> only possible one. Could the information have traveled without an
> Arabic translation of B'reshit Rabbah in seventh century Makkah?
> Certainly! All that is needed are people who are familiar with the
> tale, and that would include both Jews and Christians!

The hadith talks about the Bible not Genesis Rabbah. Let us get this
right. Nobody even knows the actual form of Genesis Rabbah during the
advent of Islam leave alone if that book ever existed as early as that
time. It is only speculated on the basis of internal evidence that it
could have originated in 6th century. So, a speculation can't be taken to
prove something leave alone ariving at "certainity". Why not give another
try next time if you are that desparate to "prove" your case.

Wassalam
Saifullah

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/

M.S.M. Saifullah

unread,
Jul 9, 2002, 5:32:16 PM7/9/02
to
On 9 Jul 2002, M.S.M. Saifullah wrote:

> Sure, a speculation is not enough for me and it is not enough for anybody
> and even those who believes in revisionism. We can very well understand
> why Dajjal is getting so desparate. Let us inform him more about how hard
> it is to construct the "original text" of Genesis Rabbah.

I have to briefly comment upon what I had written concerning revisionists
and evidence. There are two kinds of revisionists. The first ones are
those who reject the Islamic literary sources because they are
"tendentious" but they have no problems in accepting non-Islamic sources
to re-construct early Islam. For these group of people the non-Islamic
sources are implicitly considered "authentic" and are not biased (strictly
no evidence is entertained here!). This school belongs to Crone and Cook.
Crone, as far as I know has rejected her own conclusions on this issue.

The second group are those who reject completely every bit of Islamic
literary sources because they are "tendentious". This group also rejects
the non-Islamic sources because they can be biased too. But the final
outcome of this group is that "we do not know and can probably never know


what really happened; all we can know is what later people believed

happened..". This is the Wansbrough school. The situation for Wansbrough
school is so bad that he had little hope of finding anything concrete. Of
course, they like to speculate. According to Koren and Nevo Muslims did
not conquer Syria nor did they conquer Palestine etc. they did not defeat
the Romans. It was a peaceful transfer of control from Byzantine to the
Arabs. We as "liberal scholars" (in the words of Mr. Dajjal) should
conclude that it was given to the Arabs on a silver plate.

Dajjal's position is in accordance with the Crone and Cook school. He has
no problems in dismissing the Islamic literary sources as "tendentious"
but as far as the non-Islamic sources are concerned they can't be
tendentious. Nor is the textual stability or the lack of it is to be
discussed. Signs of the true "revisionist" indeed! Of course, Dajjal has
to abuse the sources before he can come up with anything. It is more true
when we are discussing the issue of Abraham and idols and the alleged
source Genesis Rabbah. For him it is "reasonable" to assume that the story
of Abraham and idols in Genesis Rabbah is pre-Islamic but he does not find
it reasonable to first establish the textual stability of the Genesis
Rabbah itself. Why is that so? Because it is "reasonable" to assume that
Genesis Rabbah was textual stable and it could not have been
"tendentious". There is more to it but we will save it for later,
insha'allah.

Wassalam
Saifullah

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/


Denis Giron

unread,
Jul 9, 2002, 9:19:43 PM7/9/02
to
"M.S.M. Saifullah" <ms...@eng.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<agf32r$rj3$1...@samba.rahul.net>...

>
> Well, your article does not constitute the "original" claim. The person
> who first claimed that the Qur'anic story of Abraham and idols originated
> from Genesis Rabbah was Geiger

This is wholly irrelevant. As was clear from my original article, I
take my own approach. It is interesting that Dr. Saifullah wants
everyone who leans towards a borrowing theory to take the exact same
party line as Geiger. To remind Dr. Saifullah, these recent threads
started after I posted a link to my article. Indeed, Geiger was
probably the first to say that the Qur'anic story was borrowed from
B'reshit Rabbah, and he was certainly the first to say such in print
(as far as I know). Who cares? I think we're able to move away from
this fact, and take a line of thought that may actually differ from
those of Geiger, Tisdall, or whomever...

> > If we can ignore, for a second, Tisdall's unfounded assumptions about
> > Muhammad and the Jews (which is an assumption derived from a liberal
> > reading of the traditional material that allegedly records Muhammad's
> > life), we can catch his point. A theory of religious borrowing does
> > not depend on a verbatim retelling of the story by the later source.
>
> What exactly does it depend upon then? Your ramblings do not have
> methodology and proof dangling to it.

Amazing! Maybe Dr. Saifullah should reread the following:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/borrow.html#diff

How do we know that "West Side Story," "China Girl," and "A Bronx
Tale" all stem back to "Romeo and Juliette"? As a matter of fact, the
movie "Romeo and Juliette" starring Dicaprio from a few years back
differed quite a bit from the original play, yet still, somehow, we
know that this movie was based on that play. The story of the flood in
Genesis differs quite a bit from that which is found in the Epics of
Gilgamesh.

Religious borrowing takes into account the parallels, the time frames,
the rough locations, and then we move towards the most likely
scenario.

> > The issue is the Jewish Midrashic story, not a particular compilation
> > that holds it.
>
> So, what is this suppose to prove? The Jewish Midrashic story existed
> during the time of Prophet, SAW, in both Makkah and Madinah? Or among the
> pagan Arabs? Ot that it never underwent redactions?

What? No, what this proves is that the Midrashic approach to that
particular verse in Genesis, where a vague verse about Ur of Chaldees
is the anchor of a long tale about Abraham and his father's idols,
existed for centuries before the advent of Islam. You wanted to know
if the story was pre-Islamic. Jameel told you it was in Jubilees, and
you denied it. My article demonstrated that it was indeed pre-Islamic.
Jerome knew about it, it was in Jubilees, and many other places as
well...

> > But, while I agree with Becker, and have been seduced by his
> > brilliance, scholarship and methodology, how is it relevant? Well, if
> > the text was still being edited after the advent of Islam, I would
> > have to prove that the particular part of the text did not undergo
> > such editing. I think my article showed quite clearly that the story
> > in question did exist long before the advent of Islam.
>
> But in what form? It does not "show" that, does it? Does your "article"
> show that the story existed during the advent of Islam in Arabia and in
> particular Makkah?

With regards to what form the story had prior to the advent of Islam,
yes my article does show that. Jerome's version is quoted, as is the
version in Jubilees.

Now, let's get to the other questions.... did it exist during the
advent of Islam? Well, it existed prior, and exists today, so yeah, it
did. Did it exist in Arabia? It was north of Arabia and South of
Arabia. Maybe all those Jews and Christians stayed silent when they
were in that part in the middle (Arabia), but it seems more likely
that it did in fact exist in Arabia. As for Makkah, why Makkah?
Because that story was allegedly revealed in Makkah? Well, we know
that whoever revealed these "Makkan Sooras" was already familiar with
the learned men of the Jews... And, as has already been stated, these
verses pressupose that the audience (wheteher it was in Makkah or
Tokyo) was already familiar with the Judeo-Christian heroes, Abraham,
Moses, et cetera...

> We asked Dajjal to provide the evidence that the story of Abraham and
> idols as mentioned in Genesis Rabbah that we see today also existed in the
> same form during the advent of Islam.

The version in B'reshit Rabbah is not much different from the numerous
other versions. The version in B'reshit Rabbah is certainly closer to
the version in Jerome or Jubilees than it is the Qur'an! Yes, there
are some minor differences, but the stories are all essentially the
same. Would Dr. Saifullah prefer that we eliminate B'reshit Rabbah as
a source? I'm all for that, as it clutters the argument. The issue
here is that the Qur'an contains a story that is STRIKINGLY similar to
the way many Christians and Jews interpreted their Bible (a story of
Abraham and his father's idols, the pagan's fire, et cetera). Did one
tale borrow from the other, or does the Qur'an somehow confirm
B'reshit Rabbah and Jubilees? Which should we lean towards, and why?
Or maybe there are other options? I'm open to suggestions...

> But what we see instead of evidence is a speculation.

You are almost correct... what you see from me is a particular
interpretation of the evidence, and indeed some speculation is
involved. I would think that a man with such credentials as Dr.
Saifullaah would already know that speculation is involved whenever we
try and figure out what happened in the past.

I have an idea... why don't you lay down your reason for the
parallels, and I'll lay down my reasons for the parallels, and then
you can gives us a methodology for determining which is the more
likely scenario. If you want to say my logic is flawed, deductively
invalid, or whatever, I'll agree with you. But, since you're so
critical, why don't you provide us a method for determining what
"really" happened. I was trying to figure out what the most likely
scenario was, and Dr. Saifullah thinks my methodology was flawed and
my conclusion false. Fine, I would like to provide us a method for
determining is the most probable situation. Surely both our arguments
will have deductively invalid aspects, but there should be a method
for determining which is more likely, agreed?

> A speculation that it seems "reasonable" that the
> pre-Islamic version of Genesis Rabbah contained story of Abraham and
> idols as it is present in the Qur'an.

What? No, no, no... I would assume that B'reshit Rabbah's pre-Islamic
version of the story was quite similar to B'reshit Rabbah's
post-Islamic version of the story. What we know from the scholarship
is that there were editions and additions to B'reshit Rabbah after the
advent of Islam, so many of the stories may have been added (and Dr.
Saifullaah wanted us to accept the possibility that B'reshit Rabbah
was influenced by the Qur'an via his selective quoting of Paret,
Stiller and others). What we now know is that the story existed among
the Jews for centuries, and even existed amongst the Christians, and
it did not change that much; the general theme is there.

> The manuscripts of Genesis Rabbah are late, some four hundred years
> after the advent of Islam.

Yes, yes, this is true, but so what? Dr. Saifullaah is strill trying
to handcuff everyone to B'reshit Rabbah, when in fact we have long
transcended all that. We were talking about the story in B'reshit
Rabbah, not the compilation itself. I doubt if even Geiger believed
the author(s) of the Qur'an read a copy of B'reshit Rabbah. We are
talking about the story, the story that is pre-Islamic, the story that
existed among people in Africa, Europe and West Asia.

> If Genesis Rabbah was such a popular
> and well-known book why so few manuscripts and that too so late?

Who cares about B'reshit Rabbah? I doubt there was a single gentile
who owned a copy of B'reshit Rabbah (in whatever form) at the time of
Islam. I doubt that Jerome ever consulted it (in fact, I believe he
predates it). I doubt even Rashi consulted B'reshit Rabbah, even
though his version of the Midrashic account of Abraham and the idols
is EXACTLY the same.

We're talking about a specific story that happened to have been
compiled into B'reshit Rabbah, not B'reshit Rabbah itself. Even the
"missionaries" that Dr. Saifullaah hates so much have alluded to this
point:

Comparing, now, this Jewish story with what we saw
of it in the Koran, little difference will be found
and what there is no doubt arose from Muhammad
hearing of it by the ear from the Jews.
[St. Clair-Tisdall, "The Sources of Islam," in Warraq
(ed.) Origins of the Koran, (Prometheus, 1998) p. 242]

So, am I quoting this to say "Tisdall says Muhammad got it from the
Jews, thus Muhammad got it from the Jews"? No, certainly not. All I am
doing here is showing how the "missionaries" saw it. They did not
think that Muhammad read B'reshit Rabbah, rather their borrowing
theories had the story being transmitted orally rather than by text.
This is straight from one of Geiger's "parrots."

> Let us inform him more about how hard
> it is to construct the "original text" of Genesis Rabbah.

[L. M. Barth passage snipped]

Yes, thank you... even with out that, it was already clear that Becker
demolished any notions of B'reshit Rabbah being a solid text prior to
reaching a printed edition... Again, if Dr. Saifullah wants to throw
away B'reshit Rabbah as a source, fine. That was never the issue.

> What we have asked you to show is the form of the
> story which existed (if it ever existed!) during the advent of Islam in
> Arabia and in particular Makkah? Your article does not prove anything that
> is pertinent to our discussion.

The story of Abraham and the idols dates to before the common era, and
by the time Islam arrived, the story was known to Jews and Christians
on three different continents. With this before us, we have two
possibilities:

(A) The story was known in Arabia.
(B) The story was not known in Arabia.

It would seem to me that that (A) is more likely than (B), especially
in light of the *HUGE* Judeo-Christian influence in Arabia. Dr.
Saifullah seems to think (B) is more likely than (A), though I wonder
how we would reach such a conclusion, especially since the story
appeared in a book written in Arabia, titled "al-Qur'aan". Ah, but I
guess I will be accused of using circular logic... sigh...

> So attack now is the best form of defense. It does not matter to Dajjal
> that Jewish sources can be tendentious too.

When did I ever dispute the tendentious nature of Jewish sources?

> But for him Islamic sources are "tendentious" and hence they can't be
> trusted.

Huh? We're talking about religious sources here... do you want me to
call some Jewish sources tendentious? Fine. It is a fact that the
Bible, the two Talmuds, and all of Midrash Rabbah are almost entirely
fictional in my opinion. I may be wrong, but I certainly consider all
these Jewish writings (which is a massive corpus) to be tendentious.

> If they can't be trusted then why use them as an evidence to show
> that the pictures of "Abraham and Jesus were hanging in the Kaaba"?

As it says in the article, "[w]hile we see no real reason to accept
this premise, we can still play this game." In other words, I'm not
calling the ahaadeeth as evidence. The point was that you tried to
force us to accept the Islamic version of Islamic history. If you're
going to force us to do this, we can at least point out that the
pictures of Abraham and Jesus in the Kabbah is a clear cut sign of a
strong Judeo-Christian influence in Makkah. Do I accept the ahaadeeth?
No. I'm just showing how your attempt to make us believe that there
was no Judeo-Christian influence can still fail even if we accept your
version of history.

> And here comes his another argument that the story was available in
> Hebrew, Latin, Greek etc. Again we ask him in what form?

Maybe you should reread my article, as there are quite a few passages
cited:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/sayfallaah.html

You'll see some of the Greek forms, the Latin forms, the Hebrew forms.

> Did they exist in Arabia during the advent of Islam?

Most likely, yes.

I can already predict Dr. Saifullaah's response: "Most likely? Is this
all Dajjal as got?" Before Dr. Saifullaah wastes his time typing that,
remember that all the way back in January, I wrote the following:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/borrow.html#logic

My borrowing theory has not been proven beyond all shadows of doubt.
However, I present the evidence, I interpret the evidence, and I put
forth what I think is the most likely cause of this effect. This is
simple abduction... it has flaws, but this is how we reach the most
likely scenario. Should we consider Dr. Saifullah's version and ponder
which is more likely?

> > I do not claim that this hadeeth records what actually happened. What
> > I am doing here, however, is showing how Dr. Saifullah's argument is
> > designed to make us accept a scenario that does not have to be the
> > only possible one. Could the information have traveled without an
> > Arabic translation of B'reshit Rabbah in seventh century Makkah?
> > Certainly! All that is needed are people who are familiar with the
> > tale, and that would include both Jews and Christians!
>
> The hadith talks about the Bible not Genesis Rabbah.

How is this relevant? Do you even read the things I type? The hadeeth
also says that Muhammad told the believers to not listen to what they
say. This is all irrelevant. The point is that I cited this because it
shows how a story doesn't have to travel by text. You want me to prove
that an Arabic translation of B'reshit Rabbah existed in Makkah in the
seventh century. I will come out now, and say that all evidence points
*AGAINST* the existence of an Arabic translation of B'reshit Rabbah in
that time.

The point, however, is that there are other ways for stories to
travel. Has Dr. Saifullaah ever discussed the Bible with an Orthodox
Jew? They have a tendency to mention things that aren't in the Bible.
When they discuss the Bible, they explain the Bible in light of their
understanding. They don't tell you what it actually says, rather they
tell you what they think it says. To get back to Abu Hurair, the
hadeeth quoted says they would *EXPLAIN* the verses from the Torah...
explain them in light of what?

> Nobody even knows the actual form of Genesis Rabbah during the
> advent of Islam leave alone if that book ever existed as early as that
> time. It is only speculated on the basis of internal evidence that it
> could have originated in 6th century.

I agree 100%. But the story about Abraham and the idols, which is
found in B'reshit Rabbah, existed since before the common era. Even if
B'reshit Rabbah was written five minutes ago, the story of Abraham in
the idols still existed in three continents before the advent of
Islam.

-Denis Giron

Denis Giron

unread,
Jul 11, 2002, 3:52:19 PM7/11/02
to
"M.S.M. Saifullah" <ms...@eng.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<agfkp0$323$1...@samba.rahul.net>...

>
> Dajjal's position is in accordance with the Crone and Cook school. He has
> no problems in dismissing the Islamic literary sources as "tendentious"
> but as far as the non-Islamic sources are concerned they can't be
> tendentious.

What?!? When did I ever say that? When have I ever claimed that the
non-Muslim sources can't be tendentious? It seems Dr. Saifullaah has
an image of me in his head that is not square with how I really am.
The non-Muslim sources can be, and often are, quite tendentious,
especially the ones quoted by Cook and Crone in "Hagarism." I've said
this before.... sheesh!

> For him it is "reasonable" to assume that the story
> of Abraham and idols in Genesis Rabbah is pre-Islamic but he does not find
> it reasonable to first establish the textual stability of the Genesis
> Rabbah itself.

The issue is not B'reshit Rabbah, but rather a story that is found in
B'reshit Rabbah. How many times do you have to be told this? It
doesn't matter if we're talking about B'reshit Rabbah, Saint Jerome's
"Quaestiones," the book of Jubilees, or whatever... the point is that
the story about Abraham and the idols is a Midrashic build, one that
dates all the way back to before the common era, and is thus
pre-Islamic.

Why Dr. Saifullaah feels the need to handcuff everyone to B'reshit
Rabbah and his interpretation of what Geiger was saying is beyond me.
>From my understanding, even the "missionaries" who "parroted" Geiger
stated that this had to be an oral transmission. They never made any
claims about Arabic translations of B'reshit Rabbah being in the hands
of proto-Muslims or the author(s) of the Qur'an.

M.S.M. Saifullah

unread,
Jul 12, 2002, 2:05:49 PM7/12/02
to
On 10 Jul 2002, Denis Giron wrote:

> > What exactly does it depend upon then? Your ramblings do not have
> > methodology and proof dangling to it.
>
> Amazing! Maybe Dr. Saifullah should reread the following:
>
> http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/borrow.html#diff
>
> How do we know that "West Side Story," "China Girl," and "A Bronx
> Tale" all stem back to "Romeo and Juliette"? As a matter of fact, the
> movie "Romeo and Juliette" starring Dicaprio from a few years back
> differed quite a bit from the original play, yet still, somehow, we
> know that this movie was based on that play. The story of the flood in
> Genesis differs quite a bit from that which is found in the Epics of
> Gilgamesh.

So, what exactly is your point? Similarity means borrowing everytime?

Further, our discussion is connected to the issue of alleged borrowing of
the story of Abraham and idols from the Jewish source called Genesis
Rabbah. This source has an unstable textual character even in Middle Ages.
As for the issue of "Romeo and Juliet" this play has been already
crystallised in its final form and after this we have the movies "West
Side Story," "China Girl," etc. We are dealing with two different cases of
the "sources", one which has an unstable textual character and one which
has already reached its final redaction, if I am permitted to call it that
way.

In other words, since the final redaction of "Romeo and Juliet" already
had happened before the making of the above mentioned movies, we are on a
safer grounds to draw the conclusions such as the borrowing of the former
into the latter, at least certain elements of it, if it can shown
conclusively. As for the book like Genesis Rabbah which was still
undergoing redaction even in the Middle Ages and that nothing is known
about the history of the book (such as who wrote and where and what were
its contents), there is nothing that can be said about the contents of
this book being borrowed into another such as the Qur'an. This is further
aggravated by the fact that we just do not have early manuscripts of this
book to compare if the story of Abraham and idols as mentioned in Genesis
Rabbah is indeed pre-Islamic.

Comparing two different issues is Dajjal's "methodlogy" that leads to a
so-called "evidence". It is interesting to say the least. As one can
clearly see Dajjal does not even know the fundamentals of redaction
criticism and how it is used to arrive at conclusions related to the
borrowing. Of course, we can only expect such absurdities coming out of
the writings of a confirm believer in "revisionism" where marriage of
convenience is more likely the case than dealing with the issue with
proper intellectual integrity coupled with calling those who do not agree
with them as "liberal scholars".

> > > The issue is the Jewish Midrashic story, not a particular compilation
> > > that holds it.
> >
> > So, what is this suppose to prove? The Jewish Midrashic story existed
> > during the time of Prophet, SAW, in both Makkah and Madinah? Or among the
> > pagan Arabs? Ot that it never underwent redactions?
>
> What? No, what this proves is that the Midrashic approach to that
> particular verse in Genesis, where a vague verse about Ur of Chaldees
> is the anchor of a long tale about Abraham and his father's idols,
> existed for centuries before the advent of Islam. You wanted to know
> if the story was pre-Islamic. Jameel told you it was in Jubilees, and
> you denied it. My article demonstrated that it was indeed pre-Islamic.
> Jerome knew about it, it was in Jubilees, and many other places as
> well...

As far as Jameel is concerned, his argument is already thrown out of the
window. The best he could muster is to show that the tale of Abraham and
idols existed in the Book of Jubilees. But the tale in Jubilees is
different from what is mentioned in the Qur'an. We have already mentioned
that this book constitutes the "inspired" scripture of Ethiopic
Christians. Further this book is also found in the Qumran caves that has
lead to the belief among the scholars that among Jewish community this
book had enjoyed a great status.

Jameel's argument actually started off by saying that it was Genesis
Rabbah that was the source of Qur'anic story. When he was asked to show
the textual stability of the book in question, he failed miserably. He
then went on to discuss Talmud where there is a passing mentioned of
Abraham and idols which constitutes less than couple of lines. It was
pointed to him that the Qur'anic story is rather detailed. So, he went
over to Jubilees. And we know the history.

> > But in what form? It does not "show" that, does it? Does your "article"
> > show that the story existed during the advent of Islam in Arabia and in
> > particular Makkah?
>
> With regards to what form the story had prior to the advent of Islam,
> yes my article does show that. Jerome's version is quoted, as is the
> version in Jubilees.

As for the form, Jerome's version does not mention worshipping of idols;
rather he mentions worshipping of fire and how Abraham refused to do it.
He was put in the fire because he did not worship the fire. So, there you
go. And as I had expected, you had your excuses at hand such as Jerome
getting the story "mixed-up" (as if Jerome's appeared in a dream to Dajjal
and said that he mixed up the stories!). And you thought we were so
gullible to lap up whatever you say.

> Now, let's get to the other questions.... did it exist during the
> advent of Islam? Well, it existed prior, and exists today, so yeah, it
> did. Did it exist in Arabia? It was north of Arabia and South of
> Arabia. Maybe all those Jews and Christians stayed silent when they
> were in that part in the middle (Arabia), but it seems more likely
> that it did in fact exist in Arabia. As for Makkah, why Makkah?
> Because that story was allegedly revealed in Makkah? Well, we know
> that whoever revealed these "Makkan Sooras" was already familiar with
> the learned men of the Jews... And, as has already been stated, these
> verses pressupose that the audience (wheteher it was in Makkah or
> Tokyo) was already familiar with the Judeo-Christian heroes, Abraham,
> Moses, et cetera...

May be? Have you got anything for certain to show to everybody apart from
your usual conjectures. Have you got any concrete evidence?

And how do we know that "whoever revealed these "Makkan Sooras" was
already familiar with the learned men of the Jews"? What is the evidence
for this? The "tendentious" hadith does not say it neither does the
contemporary non-Islamic sources. Oh! I forgot you are a believer in
revisionism and can "reconstruct" any historical event from the past with
no literary evidence.

As for the late sources we have the "Ten Wise Jews" whose wisdom still
can't be fathomed. For your perusal, we present you the link to go through
and make yourself a little wiser.

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BBwise.html

As for whoever revealed the verses, He has already said many time in the
Qur'an that the revelation was not known to the one upon him it was
revealed. Why not read the Qur'an a little bit more carefully?

> > We asked Dajjal to provide the evidence that the story of Abraham and
> > idols as mentioned in Genesis Rabbah that we see today also existed in the
> > same form during the advent of Islam.
>
> The version in B'reshit Rabbah is not much different from the numerous
> other versions. The version in B'reshit Rabbah is certainly closer to
> the version in Jerome or Jubilees than it is the Qur'an! Yes, there
> are some minor differences, but the stories are all essentially the
> same. Would Dr. Saifullah prefer that we eliminate B'reshit Rabbah as
> a source? I'm all for that, as it clutters the argument. The issue
> here is that the Qur'an contains a story that is STRIKINGLY similar to
> the way many Christians and Jews interpreted their Bible (a story of
> Abraham and his father's idols, the pagan's fire, et cetera). Did one
> tale borrow from the other, or does the Qur'an somehow confirm
> B'reshit Rabbah and Jubilees? Which should we lean towards, and why?
> Or maybe there are other options? I'm open to suggestions...

I do not "prefer" to eliminate anything not even Genesis Rabbah as the
"source". But as we can see it is your inability to discuss the textual
instability before drawing any conclusions. But let us leave Genesis
Rabbah for a while and discuss some of the other related issues such as
the Jewish and Christian "interpretation" of the Bible. Among those that
will be discussed are Jerome's "Hebrew Questions On Genesis", "Catena
Severi", Jacob of Edessa's writings, Babylonian Talmud and the Book of
Jubilees. The claims of Mr. Dajjal is that these sources have "minor"
differences but the stories are all "essentially the same".

Let is first start off with the Qur'an mentioning major themes as the
story develops and then compare it with other alleged "sources".

Qur'an 21:51-70

-------

1. Abraham asks his father and his people why do you cling to these
images.

2. They replied because our forefathers worshipped them and Abraham said
that you and your forefathers were in clear error.

3. His people asked Abraham if he had brought them the truth or he is just
mocking them. Abraham says that he has a plan for their idols after they
go away.

4. Abraham broke the idols to pieces except the biggest of them. When his
people saw the idols broken they suspected Abraham's involvement and
Abraham was brought before them to testify.

5. Abraham said that it was the work of the biggest idol. His people were
confounded with shame and said that the idols do not speak. Abraham
replies by saying that they have no sense of what they worship.

6. The people got angry and they wanted to burn Abraham.

7. God commands the fire to cool and protect Abraham. Thus God delivered
Abraham.

-----------

Let us now start to compare the Qur'anic story with the Jewish and
Christian interpretation of the Bible which Dajjal claimed as "STRIKINGLY
similar". We begin with Jerome's "Hebrew Questions On Genesis." The text
says:

"In place of what we read as in the territory of the Chaldeans, in the
Hebrew it has ur Chesdim, that is 'in the fire of the Chaldeans'. Moreover
the Hebrews, taking the opportunity afforded by this verse, hand on a
story of this sort to the effect that Abraham was put into the fire
because he refused to worship fire, which the Chaldeans honour; and that
he escaped through God's help, and fled from the fire of idolatry. What is
written [in the Septuagint] in the following verses, that Thara with his
offspring 'went out from the territory of the Chaldeans' stands in place
of what is contained in the Hebrew, from the fire of the Chaldeans. And
they maintain that this refers to what is said in this verse: Aran died
before the face of Thara his father in the land of his birth in the fire
of the Chaldeans; that is, because he refused to worship fire, he was
consumed by fire."

C. T. R. Hayward, "Saint Jerome's Hebrew Questions On Genesis", 1995,
Clarendon Press: Oxford, p. 43.

According to Jerome, Hebrews say that Abraham was put in the fire because
he refused to worship the fire and that the Chaldeans honoured the fire.
Harran died because he refused to worship the fire. The theme here can be
written something like this:

-----

1. Jerome's sources say that according to Hebrews, Abraham was put in the
fire because he refused to worship the fire.

2. The Chaldeans honoured the fire.

3. God saved him from the clutches of "fire of idolatory".

----------

If one compares the Qur'anic story and Jerome's "Hebrew Questions on
Genesis" the difference is vast. The Qur'anic story says that Abraham was
put in the fire because he destroyed the idols. Jerome's sources say that
the Chaldeans put Abraham in the fire because he refused to worship the
fire and that the Chaldeans honoured the fire (in the Qur'an it is
idols that these people worshipped earnestly!). And to this Dajjal claimed
that they are "STRIKINGLY similar" to the Qur'anic narrative. We
are awe-struck! Jerome's narrative does not even touch upon the
conversation between Abraham and his father and his people. Neither does
it mention Abraham smashing the idols leaving the largest one intact so as
to show the futility of idol worship nor does Jerome's narrative mention
the reason given in the Qur'an of why Abraham was put into the fire.

To brush the major differences aside Dajjal had a cheap excuse ready that
the difference could be because Jerome got the story a little bit "mixed
up". To his embarrassment, Hayward, the author of the book on Jerome's
writing, says that:

"For the most part, however, Jerome does not refer to his Christian and
Jewish sources for QHG either directly to indirectly he is silent about
some of his possible sources for this work, the question must be asked
whether the material for which he claims Jewish origin might not derive
from writers like Origen and Eusebius of Emesa? It has long been known
that Jerome sometimes claimed to have derived the material direct from
Hebrew masters, when in fact he had probably, received it from the hands
of other Christian writers." [C. T. R. Hayward, "Saint Jerome's Hebrew
Questions On Genesis", p. 16]

In other words, instead of blaming Jerome, as Dajjal as done it, it could
very well be that his Christian or Jewish informers related to him the
story the way he had quoted.

Let us now move over to "Catena Severi". A brief discussion of Abraham and
idols in "Catena Severi" is given by S. P. Brock in "Abraham and the
Ravens: A Syriac Counterpart to Jubilees 11-12 and its implications",
Journal For The Study Of Judaism In The Persian, Hellenistic And Roman
Period, 1978, Volume IX, No. 2, pp. 137-139. We will only mention the
theme of the story here. Interested people should refer to the above
mentioned article.

-------

1. Abraham meets his father Terah after God heard his prayer to drive the
ravens off the field. Abraham related the story of God hearing his prayers
to Terah.

2. Abraham counselled his father to reject the diety Qainan, the diety of
vanity of the Chaldeans and instead ask him to worship the God of Heaven
and the earth.

3. Seeing that Terah did not heed to his advice, Abraham took the fire and
burnt the famous temple of Qainan, the graven image of Chaldeans. Harran
died while trying to put off the fire.

4. When the Chaldeans realized what Abraham had done, they asked Terah to
hand over his son to them to death. Instead Terah took his family and fled
from Ur (of the Chaldeans).

--------------

If we compare the Qur'anic narrative with the above mentioned
narrative, it is clear that there are vast differences again. Abraham in
"Catena Severi" asks his father to reject Qainan, the diety of Chaldeans
unlike in the Qur'an where Abraham asks his father as well as his people
to reject all forms of idol worship. Secondly, according to "Catena
Severi" Abraham burnt the diety-in-chief called Qainan. In the Qur'anic
narrative Abraham smashes all the idols except the big one. When his
people were told by Abraham that the large diety was responsible for
smashing the smaller ones, they were confounded with shame. There is no
mention of this event in "Catena Severi". Thirdly, in "Catena Severi"
Terah flees with his family (including Abraham) from Ur of Chaldees
whereas in the Qur'anic narrative he is put in the fire and saved by God.
And according to Mr. Dajjal "Catena Severi" is "STRIKINGLY similar" to the
Qur'anic narrative. How interesting!

Let us now move over to Jacob of Edessa's writings. His writing is also
mentioned in Brock's article in Journal For The Study Of Judaism as
mentioned above. By and large Jacob of Edessa's narrative is similar in
theme to that of "Catena Severi" but it is more elaborate in detail. So,
the claim that this narrative is "STRIKINGLY similar" to the Qur'anic
narrative is as good as refuted.

The next on the list is Babylonian Talmud.

"When the wicked Nimrod cast our father Abraham into the fiery furnace,
Gabriel said to the Holy One, blessed be He: "Sovereign of the Universe!
Let me go down, cool it, and the deliver that righteous man from the fiery
furnace.'" [Pesachim 118a]

""Let Nimrod come and testify that Abraham did not (consent to) worship
idols;" [Avaodah Zarah 3a]

This is all that one sees in Babylonian Talmud. The only similarity that
one can see is that Abraham was saved from the fire. But there is no
mention of the events leading to putting Abraham in the fire. What is
interesting is that there is no agreement between these "STRIKINGLY
similar" sources concerning whether Abraham fled or was he put in the
fire. Both "Catena Severi" and Jacob of Edessa's writings say that Terah
and his family fled from Ur of Chaldees. On the other hand Babylonian
Talmud, Jerome's writing say that Abraham was saved from fire. Further,
what did Abraham refuse to worship, was it the fire (Jerome's version) or
was it the idols ("Catena Severi", Jacob of Edessa's writings, Babylonian
Talmud etc.)?

Let us now discuss the Book of Jubilees. See Chapter 12 for the themes at:

http://www.bible2000.org/lostbooks/jubilees.htm

----

1. Abraham advising his father concerning the futility of idol worship and
asks him to worship the God of heaven and earth.

2. His father Terah says that he worships idols because of the fear of
being getting killed by his people. Terah also advised his son Abraham to
keep quiet to avoid getting killed.

3. Abraham rises on one particular night and burns the idols and nobody
had the knowledge of who did the job. Harran dies while saving the idols.

4. Terah and his sons leave Ur of Chaldees.

-----------

This narrative which Dajjal claimed to be "STRIKINGLY similar" to that of
the Qur'anic one is clearly false. The only similarity that one finds
here is Abraham advising his father about the futility of idol worship
but his father in fact agrees with Abraham unlike the Qur'anic version.
Abraham burns the idols unlike smashing them and leaving the big one
alone as mentioned in the Qur'an. Abraham is not put in the fire but
instead leaves Ur of Chaldees because nobody knew who did the burning of
idols.

Jubilees' narrative is "STRIKINGLY similar" to that of "Catena Severi" and
Jacob of Edessa's writings. Brock is of the opinion that these stories
derive from a source which Jubilees also derived from (See Brock's
"Abraham and the Ravens: A Syriac Counterpart to Jubilees 11-12 and its
implications", Journal For The Study Of Judaism, p. 151).

Now it is good time to summarize the results of the study by considering
the major themes:

-----

1. Abraham advice to his father about idol worship: Jerome's work and
Babylonian Talmud are silent. "Catena Severi" and Jacob of Edessa's
writings say that Abraham counselled his father to despise Qainan, the
diety of vanity of Chaldeans and instead should worship the God of Heaven
and earth. The Book of Jubilees say that when Abraham advised Terah
against the idol worship, his father agrees to it. But the reason
which his father gave was that he worships idols because of the fear of
being getting killed by his people. In the Qur'an, Abraham tells his
father and his people about why they are so much devoted to the idols.
They replied that it is due to the fact that their forefathers did the
same thing. Abraham then says that they are in clear error to which the
people replied mockingly.

2. How were the idols dealt with by Abraham?: Jerome's work and Babylonian
Talmud are silent. "Catena Severi" and Jacob of Edessa's writings say that
Abraham destroyed the temple of Qainan, the idol of Chaldeans, secretly in
one night. In the Book of Jubilees, Abraham rises on one particular night
and burns the idols and nobody knew who did it! In the Qur'anic narrative
Abraham smashes all the idols except the big one. When his people were
told by Abraham that the large diety was responsible for smashing the
smaller ones, they were confounded with shame but get angry when Abraham
argues with them.

3. Why was Abraham punished?: According to Jerome's work, it was because
Abraham did not worship the fire of Chaldeans. According to the Babylonian
Talmud, it was because he did not worship idols. According to "Catena
Severi" and Jacob of Edessa's writings, it was because he destroyed the
temple of idol-in-chief of Chaldeans, the Qainan. According to
the Book of Jubilees since nobody knew who started the fire, hence
there was no finger-pointing at Abraham. According to the Qur'anic
narrative his people got angry because he destroyed their idols
and could not win the argument against him.

4. Was Abraham punished or did he flee?: Jerome's work says that he was
put in the fire. Babylonian Talmud says that same thing. According to
"Catena Severi" and Jacob of Edessa's writings Terah, Abraham and his
family fled. According to the Book of Jubilees, Terah and sons (including
Abraham) left Ur of Chaldees.

---------------

What is clear from the above summary is that the Judeo-Christian sources
themselves do not agree on the details of the story leave alone the story
itself. The stories have different forms and Dajjal called these stories
"STRIKINGLY similar" to that of the Qur'anic narrative.

> > But what we see instead of evidence is a speculation.
>
> You are almost correct... what you see from me is a particular
> interpretation of the evidence, and indeed some speculation is
> involved. I would think that a man with such credentials as Dr.
> Saifullaah would already know that speculation is involved whenever we
> try and figure out what happened in the past.

As far as your credentials as a confirmed "revisionist" is concerned, you
can have nothing but speculation. The past is tendentious whether it
involves Islam, Judaism or Christianity. What else have you got left to
deal with when the whole history is thrown overboard? Well, more
speculation!

> I have an idea... why don't you lay down your reason for the
> parallels, and I'll lay down my reasons for the parallels, and then
> you can gives us a methodology for determining which is the more
> likely scenario. If you want to say my logic is flawed, deductively
> invalid, or whatever, I'll agree with you. But, since you're so
> critical, why don't you provide us a method for determining what
> "really" happened. I was trying to figure out what the most likely
> scenario was, and Dr. Saifullah thinks my methodology was flawed and
> my conclusion false. Fine, I would like to provide us a method for
> determining is the most probable situation. Surely both our arguments
> will have deductively invalid aspects, but there should be a method
> for determining which is more likely, agreed?

By now you have been through our discussion above and you will find
enough information about our methodology which involves redaction as well
as form criticism.

> What? No, no, no... I would assume that B'reshit Rabbah's pre-Islamic
> version of the story was quite similar to B'reshit Rabbah's
> post-Islamic version of the story. What we know from the scholarship
> is that there were editions and additions to B'reshit Rabbah after the
> advent of Islam, so many of the stories may have been added (and Dr.
> Saifullaah wanted us to accept the possibility that B'reshit Rabbah
> was influenced by the Qur'an via his selective quoting of Paret,
> Stiller and others). What we now know is that the story existed among
> the Jews for centuries, and even existed amongst the Christians, and
> it did not change that much; the general theme is there.

What we know is that the Judeo-Christian traditions never agreed on one
particular story. Neither do they contain the details that are mentioned
in the Qur'an and vice versa. We have already seen enough of it above.

Now as far as whether Genesis Rabbah is to be considered as been
influenced by the Qur'an, I would say that there is not enough data to
draw the firm conclusions. What we can say for sure is the text had an
unstable character even in the Middle Ages. So, to prove that Genesis
Rabbah indeed had been influenced by Islam sources would require a
pre-Islamic manuscript evidence. This we do not have. As far as Stillman
and Paret are concerned, they are not being "selective" quoted. Stillman's
work is on Cain and Abel and Pirke Rabbi Eliezer. Paret commented on the
nature of transmission of Jewish texts and the Islamic sources and
latter's influence on the former. As far as Paret calling in for the
services of Geiger, we already know that it is rather worthless in the
light of the evidence of textual instability of Genesis Rabbah.


> > The manuscripts of Genesis Rabbah are late, some four hundred years
> > after the advent of Islam.
>
> Yes, yes, this is true, but so what? Dr. Saifullaah is strill trying
> to handcuff everyone to B'reshit Rabbah, when in fact we have long
> transcended all that. We were talking about the story in B'reshit
> Rabbah, not the compilation itself. I doubt if even Geiger believed
> the author(s) of the Qur'an read a copy of B'reshit Rabbah. We are
> talking about the story, the story that is pre-Islamic, the story that
> existed among people in Africa, Europe and West Asia.

As you have experienced here that our treatment had been with the gloves
off. As you have said, let us not get bogged down into the issue of
Genesis Rabbah. So, we have heeded your kind advice.

As far as the story of Abraham and idols being pre-Islamic, we have
already shown that the pre-Islamic sources do not even agree on the
details of the story, leave alone the story itself. Next time please do
not repeat your big nonsense of how the stories were existing among the


people in Africa, Europe and West Asia.

> It would seem to me that that (A) is more likely than (B), especially


> in light of the *HUGE* Judeo-Christian influence in Arabia. Dr.
> Saifullah seems to think (B) is more likely than (A), though I wonder
> how we would reach such a conclusion, especially since the story
> appeared in a book written in Arabia, titled "al-Qur'aan". Ah, but I
> guess I will be accused of using circular logic... sigh...

So, you got it right! Apart from the circular logic, we also have the
issue of abuse of sources. How do you know there was a "*HUGE*
Judeo-Christian influence in Arabia" since all the religious literature
that you have claimed to be tendentious anyway? How do you place the book
called "al-Qur'an" in the history? What evidence have you got to show?

> My borrowing theory has not been proven beyond all shadows of doubt.
> However, I present the evidence, I interpret the evidence, and I put
> forth what I think is the most likely cause of this effect. This is
> simple abduction... it has flaws, but this is how we reach the most
> likely scenario. Should we consider Dr. Saifullah's version and ponder
> which is more likely?

Well, there is enough to ponder now. I have been a little bit tied up to
take a discussion on a massive scale. But the information would trickle in
slowly, insha'allah.

Wassalam
Saifullah

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/

Denis Giron

unread,
Jul 18, 2002, 11:46:51 AM7/18/02
to
"M.S.M. Saifullah" <ms...@eng.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<agn5pt$8ce$1...@samba.rahul.net>...

>
> So, what exactly is your point? Similarity means borrowing everytime?

No, surely not every time... but similarities are too good to be true.
For example, Greeks believed in a Supreme Deity, king of the Gods, and
this deity had children. The Christians believe in a single supreme
deity, who has a child (a son to be specific). I think these
similarities could easily be coincidental (or any sense of "borrowing"
would be extremely strained as the traditions are so far removed from
one another).

However, in other senses the similarities are quite blatant. It is
wholly unsurprising that every text that was ever written was very
much a product of its time. If you want to discuss the Qur'an, we can.
>From a purely literary standpoint we can tell that the author of the
Qur'an was aware of the existence of Jews and Christians, and wholly
unsurprisingly, the stories in the Qur'an resemble the stories of the
Jews and Christians. Moses, Abraham, Adam, Satan, Jesus, David,
Solomon, Jonah... all of them characters from the Judeo-Christian
folklore, and all of them also mentioned in the Qur'an. Many of the
stories parallel the Judeo-Christian stories. The Qur'anic Moses
battled with Pharaoh's Magicians in a test of miracles. The Qur'anic
Abraham preached to his father about the worthlessness of idolatry
before destroying his family's idols. The Qur'anic Jesus was born of a
virgin. The Qur'anic Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, et cetera, et
cetera...

These are some blatant parallels, and yes they do point to some sort
of borrowing.

> As for the issue of "Romeo and Juliet" this play has been already
> crystallised in its final form and after this we have the movies "West
> Side Story," "China Girl," etc.

A version of "Romeo and Juliet" was "crystallised in its final form"
centuries ago. But "China Girl" and "A Bronx Tale" differ greatly from
that version, thus using Dr. Saifullaah we must reject that version as
any sort of source. Did the "crystallised" version ever mention
chinese people, residents of New York's China Town, a shooting at
Little Italy's "San Genaro" Feast, links between the New York Mafia
and Chinese Gangsters? It did not, thus "China Girl" has nothing to do
with "Romeo and Juliet," and I can use the same argumentation for
"West Side Story" or "A Bronx Tale." Please feel free to compare "The
Green Mile" to the story of Jesus as found in the Synoptic Gospels.
The differences means there is no relation, right?

There is more difference between "China Girl" and "Romeo and Juliet"
than there is between the Qur'anic version of Abraham and the idols
and the book of Jubilees. The Qur'anic version of Jesus at times is
closer to the Gospel account than the "Green Mile" is... just thought
I'd point that out. :)

> the final redaction of "Romeo and Juliet" already
> had happened before the making of the above mentioned movies,

*A* final redaction of "Romeo and Juliet" was done long before the
creation of "A Bronx Tale," but there were still numerous versions in
between (like "West Side Story").

> As far as Jameel is concerned, his argument is already thrown out of the
> window. The best he could muster is to show that the tale of Abraham and
> idols existed in the Book of Jubilees. But the tale in Jubilees is
> different from what is mentioned in the Qur'an.

The tale is certainly different. The tale in our present edition of
B'reshit Rabbah is also quite different in many respects from the
version in the Qur'an. I never hid the differences. In fact, I put the
texts up on my site for all who were interested to see.

> We have already mentioned that this book constitutes the "inspired"
> scripture of Ethiopic Christians.

How is this relevant? What could this possibly have to do with the
discussion? Are you going to perhaps argue that Jubilees is divine? I
see no relevance to the way certain Ethiopian Christians treat the
book of Jubilees. If it is divine, and the Qur'an is divine, then the
issue of differences suddenly becomes an issue. Ah, but you would
never argue that it is divine... so what's the point?

> Further this book is also found in the Qumran caves that has
> lead to the belief among the scholars that among Jewish community this
> book had enjoyed a great status.

That is correct sir! It also means that the midrashic story about
Abraham criticizing his father's idolatry and smashing his family's
idols predates the Qur'an by at least six to seven centuries. As we
see with Jerome, and B'reshit Rabbah, and Synchellus, the story
evolved somewhat over the centuries, and that explains the differences
between all these works. However, if you want proof that the midrashic
story about Abraham criticizing his father's idolatry and smashing his
family's idols predates the Qur'an, there you have it.

Now, how did this story end up in the Qur'an? Do I think the authors
of the qur'an had Jubilees in front of them? Certainly not! I don't
even think Syncellus, Jerome or Jacob of Edessa had it in front of
them! However, the story did wind up in all these works (with admitted
differences). How did that happen? Are some or all of these texts
divine? Why would we ever assume such? What, may I ask, is the proper
methodology for determining the most likely scenario?

> As for the form, Jerome's version does not mention worshipping of idols;

It doesn't? Oh... my mistake. I did notice however that you had access
to Brock's article from JSJ. Maybe you missed the following quote:

"Jerome states that the Hebrew tradition about Abraham and Terah
leaving the 'fire' of the Chaldeans is the true one, and that /ex illo
tempore (= Abraham) dies vitae et tempus reputetur aetatis, ex quo
confessus est Dominum, *SPERNENS IDOLA CHALDAEORUM*/."
[S.P. Brock, "Abraham and the Ravens: A Syriac Counterpart to Jubliees
11-12 and its Implications," Journal for the Study of Judaism, Vol.
IX, pp. 143-144 (emphasis mine)]

I wouldn't expect you to trust me if I translated the Latin myself.
So, while you quoted from the 43rd page of Hayward's work, so too you
should check the next page, which translates the above (from his
commentary on Genesis 12:4), stating that Abraham "despised the idols
of the Chaldeans." Yes, Jerome had Abraham worshipping fire, but the
idol issue (and the rescue from the fire by God's help) is also there.
Let me quote what Jerome wrote as part of his commentary on Gen 12:4:

"Abram, when surrounded by the Babylonian fire because he refused to
worship it, was set free by God's help; and from that time onwards the
days of his life and the measure of his age are reckoned for him,
namely from that time when he acknowledged the Lord and despised the
idols of the Chaldeans."
[C. T. R. Hayward, "Saint Jerome's Hebrew Questions On Genesis",
(Oxford, 1995) p. 43.]

So, according to Jerome, Abraham *SPERNENS IDOLA CHALDAEORUM*, i.e. he
spurned, despised, scorned the idols of the Chaldeans. So yes, Jerome
does mention the idols. But what if he didin't? The point is that he
too records the Jewish Midrashic approach to Genesis 11:28, and yes
there are differences, but we still see that the story existed, and
evolved.

> May be? Have you got anything for certain to show to everybody apart from
> your usual conjectures. Have you got any concrete evidence?

Define "evidence". Six months ago I admitted that these borrowing
theories can be seen as being deductively invalid. I am indeed
employing a great amount of speculation. I'm not giving absolute proof
(I never claimed to be). All I am doing is trying to find the most
likely cause. Maybe you have a better solution?

> And how do we know that "whoever revealed these "Makkan Sooras" was
> already familiar with the learned men of the Jews"?

The "learned men of the Children of Israel" are mentioned in another
"Makkan Soora". This is touched on in the article. This is a minor
point. It means simply that these "Makkan Sooras" did not appear in an
environment totally free of Judeo-christian influence as you seem to
want us to believe.

> As for whoever revealed the verses, He has already said many time in the
> Qur'an that the revelation was not known to the one upon him it was
> revealed.

I don't see the point here. The point is that from a purely literary
standpoint, the "Makkan Sooras" contradict your insinuation that there
was no Judeo-Christian influence in the time and place which they were
written.

> I do not "prefer" to eliminate anything not even Genesis Rabbah as the
> "source". But as we can see it is your inability to discuss the textual
> instability before drawing any conclusions.

Textual instability of Genesis Rabbah? I can discuss it... but what I
have to say is basically a result of me nodding vigorously while
reading Becker's scholarship, i.e. I agree with basically everything
Becker said. So what is there for us to discuss? I would imagine our
views on the textual stability of B'reshit Rabbah in the seventh
century and after are quite similar.

> To brush the major differences aside Dajjal had a cheap excuse ready that
> the difference could be because Jerome got the story a little bit "mixed
> up".

I said it is possible that he got the story mixed up, because versions
of the Midrashic legend that come before and after Jerome both have an
idol or idols, while Jerome has fire.

> To his embarrassment, Hayward, the author of the book on Jerome's
> writing, says that:
>
> "For the most part, however, Jerome does not refer to his Christian and
> Jewish sources for QHG either directly to indirectly he is silent about
> some of his possible sources for this work, the question must be asked
> whether the material for which he claims Jewish origin might not derive
> from writers like Origen and Eusebius of Emesa? It has long been known
> that Jerome sometimes claimed to have derived the material direct from
> Hebrew masters, when in fact he had probably, received it from the hands
> of other Christian writers." [C. T. R. Hayward, "Saint Jerome's Hebrew
> Questions On Genesis", p. 16]

This is not to my embarrassment in the least. It actually is in favor
of my stance. The story Jerome gives obviously differs from other
versions of the Midrashic approach to Gen 11:28. This has to do with
the evolution of the story as it passes from one person to another.
Hayward disputes the possibility that it was from Origen, but what if
it was from Eusebius and not any "Jewish Masters"? It makes no
difference to me. The point was that some semblance of the Midrashic
approach to Genesis 11:28 existed in the fourth century. If you'd
like, we can throw out Jerome, and just cite Jubilees as proof that
the Midrashic legend is pre-Islamic. Then, to explain differences, we
bring back Jerome, Syncellus, Jacob of Edessa, B'reshit Rabbah, and
even the post-Islamic commentaries of Rashi to show how the Midrashic
approach (and the story of Abraham's rejection of his father's
idolatry and the encounter with fire) evolved over the centuries. This
evolution will explain the differences.

> What we know is that the Judeo-Christian traditions never agreed on one
> particular story. Neither do they contain the details that are mentioned
> in the Qur'an and vice versa.

I never claimed other wise. How is this relevant? The issue of
differences was

We have already seen enough of it above. The issue and acknowledgement
of differences was already discussed by me in January, and I have said
more above... Again, for the Dr.'s reading pleasure:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/borrow.html#diff



> Now as far as whether Genesis Rabbah is to be considered as been
> influenced by the Qur'an, I would say that there is not enough data to
> draw the firm conclusions.

With regard to the specific text called "B'reshit Rabbah," I would
agree. I would actually say that it is absurd to think the Qur'anic
version was copied from B'reshit Rabbah. I would say the same about
the story being copied out of Jubilees, or Jerome. But surely the
story can travel without the texts, and this mode of travel would
explain the differences.

I have more to say, but I'll close here as I want to wait and see
what's next (particularly now that Imran Aijaz has offered some very
valuable advice, and may offer more).

-Denis


M.S.M. Saifullah

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 11:34:31 AM7/19/02
to
On 18 Jul 2002, Denis Giron wrote:

> No, surely not every time... but similarities are too good to be true.
> For example, Greeks believed in a Supreme Deity, king of the Gods, and
> this deity had children. The Christians believe in a single supreme
> deity, who has a child (a son to be specific). I think these
> similarities could easily be coincidental (or any sense of "borrowing"
> would be extremely strained as the traditions are so far removed from
> one another).

There are many religions in the world that believe that God had kids.
They were separated from each other by large distances. It does not mean
that they borrowed from each other the concept. They did not live in a
"wired" world to access the information.

> However, in other senses the similarities are quite blatant. It is
> wholly unsurprising that every text that was ever written was very
> much a product of its time. If you want to discuss the Qur'an, we can.

What have we bee discussing so far then? Bose-Einstein Condensation?

> >From a purely literary standpoint we can tell that the author of the
> Qur'an was aware of the existence of Jews and Christians, and wholly
> unsurprisingly, the stories in the Qur'an resemble the stories of the
> Jews and Christians. Moses, Abraham, Adam, Satan, Jesus, David,
> Solomon, Jonah... all of them characters from the Judeo-Christian
> folklore, and all of them also mentioned in the Qur'an. Many of the
> stories parallel the Judeo-Christian stories. The Qur'anic Moses
> battled with Pharaoh's Magicians in a test of miracles. The Qur'anic
> Abraham preached to his father about the worthlessness of idolatry
> before destroying his family's idols. The Qur'anic Jesus was born of a
> virgin. The Qur'anic Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, et cetera, et
> cetera...

Before you get into your literary "standpoint", we should know where
exactly do you place the Qur'an and other Judeo-Christian literary sources
in history. You have rejected the Jewish, Christian and Islamic writings
as "tendentious". Obviously, if you can't establish certain facts by
stepping out of the "tendentious" literature, you can't even claim whether
the "author" (who was it according to your "standpoint"?) of the Qur'an
"knew" the Biblical stories. In other words, you first come up with the
non-tendentious sources to lay the groundwork that would anchor individual
religious sources in some point in history and after that you can talk
about "resemblance".

Further, the issue of Abraham and idols in the Qur'anic and
Judeo-Christian literature has been watered down to "resemble". One
wonders what had happened to the "STRIKING" similarities which Dajjal had
claimed in his earlier post.

> These are some blatant parallels, and yes they do point to some sort
> of borrowing.

Yes, yes, yes, we have heard all these nice little stories about "blatant
parallels" and "STRIKING" similarities from you. But on examination they
fall apart.

> > As for the issue of "Romeo and Juliet" this play has been already
> > crystallised in its final form and after this we have the movies "West
> > Side Story," "China Girl," etc.
>
> A version of "Romeo and Juliet" was "crystallised in its final form"
> centuries ago. But "China Girl" and "A Bronx Tale" differ greatly from
> that version, thus using Dr. Saifullaah we must reject that version as
> any sort of source. Did the "crystallised" version ever mention
> chinese people, residents of New York's China Town, a shooting at
> Little Italy's "San Genaro" Feast, links between the New York Mafia
> and Chinese Gangsters? It did not, thus "China Girl" has nothing to do
> with "Romeo and Juliet," and I can use the same argumentation for
> "West Side Story" or "A Bronx Tale." Please feel free to compare "The
> Green Mile" to the story of Jesus as found in the Synoptic Gospels.
> The differences means there is no relation, right?

So, again attack comes as a best form of defence. We never claimed
anything concerning borrowing of "Romeo and Juliet" into various movies at
the first place. What has been argued is that "Romeo and Juliet" had come
into its final form much earlier than the movies which are allegedly based
on it. So, if we see any similarity between the movies and "Romeo and
Juliet" we can draw some firm conclusions as to whether it was borrowed or
not and if borrowed what were the themes. If not borrowed then was that
the idea of the script writer.

> There is more difference between "China Girl" and "Romeo and Juliet"
> than there is between the Qur'anic version of Abraham and the idols
> and the book of Jubilees. The Qur'anic version of Jesus at times is
> closer to the Gospel account than the "Green Mile" is... just thought
> I'd point that out. :)

We have already seen how "STRIKINGLY" similar are the story of Abraham and
idols in the Qur'an and in the Book of Jubilees. Let us recapitulate once
again for everybody's benefit.

-----

1. Abraham advice to his father about idol worship: In the Qur'an, Abraham


tells his father and his people about why they are so much devoted to the
idols. They replied that it is due to the fact that their forefathers did
the same thing. Abraham then says that they are in clear error to which

the people replied mockingly. The Book of Jubilees say that when Abraham


advised Terah against the idol worship, his father agrees to it. But the
reason which his father gave was that he worships idols because of the
fear of being getting killed by his people.

2. How were the idols dealt with by Abraham?: In the Qur'anic narrative


Abraham smashes all the idols except the big one. When his people were
told by Abraham that the large diety was responsible for smashing the
smaller ones, they were confounded with shame but get angry when Abraham

argues with them. In the Book of Jubilees, Abraham rises on one particular


night and burns the idols and nobody knew who did it!

3. Why was Abraham punished?: According to the Qur'anic narrative his


people got angry because he destroyed their idols and could not win the

argument against him. According to the Book of Jubilees since nobody knew


who started the fire, hence there was no finger-pointing at Abraham.

4. Was Abraham punished or did he flee?: According to the Qur'an, Abraham
was put in the fire and was saved. According to the Book of Jubilees,


Terah and sons (including Abraham) left Ur of Chaldees.

------------

The only similarity that we find in the two narratives are the characters
Abraham, idols and father. The stories surrounding each character are
different. And Dajjal comes and claims that there is not much of a
difference between them. How clever!

> > As far as Jameel is concerned, his argument is already thrown out of the
> > window. The best he could muster is to show that the tale of Abraham and
> > idols existed in the Book of Jubilees. But the tale in Jubilees is
> > different from what is mentioned in the Qur'an.
>
> The tale is certainly different. The tale in our present edition of
> B'reshit Rabbah is also quite different in many respects from the
> version in the Qur'an. I never hid the differences. In fact, I put the
> texts up on my site for all who were interested to see.

Earlier it was "STRIKINGLY" similar and now it is "certainly different".
An interesting dramatic U turn! And by now Dajjal has pretty much realized
that we do not take information from his website.

> > We have already mentioned that this book constitutes the "inspired"
> > scripture of Ethiopic Christians.
>
> How is this relevant? What could this possibly have to do with the
> discussion? Are you going to perhaps argue that Jubilees is divine? I
> see no relevance to the way certain Ethiopian Christians treat the
> book of Jubilees. If it is divine, and the Qur'an is divine, then the
> issue of differences suddenly becomes an issue. Ah, but you would
> never argue that it is divine... so what's the point?

Who is saying that it is relevent to you? We were discussing the issues
surrounding Jameel's argument and hence everything was dealt with
according to his view-point. The Christians themselves do not agree on
their set of "inspired" scriptures and we have no interest in solving
their centuries old insoluble problem. So, do not expect us to
endorse the Book of Jubilees as an "inspired" book. Further, we have
already discussed how dissimilar is the narrative of Abraham and idols in
the Book of Jubilees when compared with the Qur'anic one.

> > Further this book is also found in the Qumran caves that has
> > lead to the belief among the scholars that among Jewish community this
> > book had enjoyed a great status.
>
> That is correct sir! It also means that the midrashic story about
> Abraham criticizing his father's idolatry and smashing his family's
> idols predates the Qur'an by at least six to seven centuries. As we
> see with Jerome, and B'reshit Rabbah, and Synchellus, the story
> evolved somewhat over the centuries, and that explains the differences
> between all these works. However, if you want proof that the midrashic
> story about Abraham criticizing his father's idolatry and smashing his
> family's idols predates the Qur'an, there you have it.

With utmost respect Sir, the midrashic story about Abraham criticizing his
father's idolatory and smashing his family's idols do not agree with each
other in Judeo-Christian literature. And Sir, you do not seem to get it.
If the story had evolved over centuries then please enlighten us about
>from what story did it actually evolve?

And I certainly do not need the "proof" of the earlier stories where
Abraham criticizes his father's idolatory and smashing the family idols.
As for Abraham criticising his father for idol-worshipping, did his father
agree to what Abraham said or did he not? According to Jubilees, Terah
agreed with Abraham concerning the futility of idol-worship but he still
worshipped because he feared his people. Jerome's work and Babylonian
Talmud are silent. Obviously, we can't argue from silence. "Catena Severi"


and Jacob of Edessa's writings say that Abraham counselled his father to
despise Qainan, the diety of vanity of Chaldeans and instead should

worship the God of Heaven and earth. As for Abraham smashing the "family's
idols", did he do it or did he not? In the Book of Jubilees, Abraham rises
on one particular night and burns (not smash!) the idols and nobody knew
who did it! Catena Severi" and Jacob of Edessa's writings say that


Abraham destroyed the temple of Qainan, the idol of Chaldeans, secretly in

one night. Jerome's work and Babylonian Talmud are silent. So, we do not
have "smashing" of idols here; rather they are burnt. The proof is in the
pudding. If you can reconcile these stories and the details in the stories
and then come back to us we will have something to discuss. But the
problem is you do not want to even discuss some of the fundamental issues
but jump the gun by saying that there is not much of a difference. Well,
we ask you to prove your claim!

> Now, how did this story end up in the Qur'an? Do I think the authors
> of the qur'an had Jubilees in front of them? Certainly not! I don't
> even think Syncellus, Jerome or Jacob of Edessa had it in front of
> them! However, the story did wind up in all these works (with admitted
> differences). How did that happen? Are some or all of these texts
> divine? Why would we ever assume such? What, may I ask, is the proper
> methodology for determining the most likely scenario?

Why are you asking us for possible scenarios? I thought you had a
methodlogy with which you could arrive at reasonable conclusions. So,
use to methodlogy and show us why should we believe what you believe.

> "Abram, when surrounded by the Babylonian fire because he refused to
> worship it, was set free by God's help; and from that time onwards the
> days of his life and the measure of his age are reckoned for him,
> namely from that time when he acknowledged the Lord and despised the
> idols of the Chaldeans."
> [C. T. R. Hayward, "Saint Jerome's Hebrew Questions On Genesis",
> (Oxford, 1995) p. 43.]
>
> So, according to Jerome, Abraham *SPERNENS IDOLA CHALDAEORUM*, i.e. he
> spurned, despised, scorned the idols of the Chaldeans. So yes, Jerome
> does mention the idols. But what if he didin't? The point is that he
> too records the Jewish Midrashic approach to Genesis 11:28, and yes
> there are differences, but we still see that the story existed, and
> evolved.

Evolved from which story? As for the Jerome's version, there are two
issues. According to the sources of Jerome, Abraham was put in the fire
because he did not worship the fire. It is reiterated again later on p. 43


"Abram, when surrounded by the Babylonian fire because he refused to

worship it, was set free by God's help". The issue of idols is not even
related to the story of why Abraham was put in the fire at the first
place. Further, according to some sources, Abraham escaped the punishment
by fleeing with his family. Some other sources say that he was put in the
fire because he did not worship idols. Still other sources say that he was
put in the fire because he destroyed the temple of Qainan, the
deity-in-chief of Chaldeans. If the sources can agree on something then we
have a case. But the sources themselves have vast degree of differences
that to make a claim of borrowing would require oneself to loose some part
of his sanity.

> > May be? Have you got anything for certain to show to everybody apart from
> > your usual conjectures. Have you got any concrete evidence?
>
> Define "evidence". Six months ago I admitted that these borrowing
> theories can be seen as being deductively invalid. I am indeed
> employing a great amount of speculation. I'm not giving absolute proof
> (I never claimed to be). All I am doing is trying to find the most
> likely cause. Maybe you have a better solution?

If you ask for my solution, I have already provided it with reasonable
degree of certainity without over-stepping the evidence. It was you who
came up with the stories of Abraham and idols in the Qur'an and the
Judeo-Christian sources as being "STRIKINGLY" similar and then made a
dramatic U turn.

> > And how do we know that "whoever revealed these "Makkan Sooras" was
> > already familiar with the learned men of the Jews"?
>
> The "learned men of the Children of Israel" are mentioned in another
> "Makkan Soora". This is touched on in the article. This is a minor
> point. It means simply that these "Makkan Sooras" did not appear in an
> environment totally free of Judeo-christian influence as you seem to
> want us to believe.

Sure, the Makkan Suras also mention the magicians of the Pharaoh. What are
we to make of that? The Pharaoh and the magicians existed at the time of
revelation of the Qur'an. Apart from that you have already declared the
Islamic sources to be tendentious. Why is that you want to now jump into
the bandwagon of "tendentious" sources to prove a non-existent point?

> > As for whoever revealed the verses, He has already said many time in the
> > Qur'an that the revelation was not known to the one upon him it was
> > revealed.
>
> I don't see the point here. The point is that from a purely literary
> standpoint, the "Makkan Sooras" contradict your insinuation that there
> was no Judeo-Christian influence in the time and place which they were
> written.

But you have declared that the Islamic literary sources are tendentious.
Why use them? If you still want to use them (by contradicting your early
position), then they do not say what you want to say.

> > To brush the major differences aside Dajjal had a cheap excuse ready that
> > the difference could be because Jerome got the story a little bit "mixed
> > up".
>
> I said it is possible that he got the story mixed up, because versions
> of the Midrashic legend that come before and after Jerome both have an
> idol or idols, while Jerome has fire.

Fire, idols, idol, Qainan? What did Abraham refused to worship? Why is
that the earlier sources than Jerome did not get their stories mixed up?
Why only Jerome? Dajjal's argument is notthing but a matter of
convenience.

> > What we know is that the Judeo-Christian traditions never agreed on one
> > particular story. Neither do they contain the details that are mentioned
> > in the Qur'an and vice versa.
>
> I never claimed other wise. How is this relevant? The issue of
> differences was

But you said that they are "STRIKINGLY" similar? Changed your tune
already?

Wassalam
Saifullah

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/


Altway

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 11:34:25 AM7/19/02
to
"Denis Giron" <kaa...@godisdead.com> wrote in message
news:ah6ntb$igu$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> > So, what exactly is your point? Similarity means borrowing everytime?

> No, surely not every time... but similarities are too good to be true.
For example, Greeks believed in a Supreme Deity, king of the Gods, and
this deity had children.

Comment:-
If someone in China says that 2+3=5
And the same is said in India, Europe and America
is it because they have copied each other or is it because they understand
it?

Are the text books on Physics throughout the world copies of an original
because
they contain the same ideas?

All English books contain the same words and phrases.
Are they copies of an original or are the words used to convey ideas rather
than the words?

If a teaching story is repeated in an altered form, is it a copy or an
inovation?
Or is it because it is a corrupted copy?
Or is it because it is conveying a different message?

Away with superficial thinking!
--
Hamid S. Aziz
Understanding Islam
www.altway.freeuk.com


.


gksh...@ucdavis.edu

unread,
Jul 20, 2002, 11:21:47 PM7/20/02
to
Altway <alt...@freeuk.com> wrote (19 Jul 2002 15:34:25 GMT):
> "Denis Giron" <kaa...@godisdead.com> wrote in message
> news:ah6ntb$igu$1...@samba.rahul.net...

>> > So, what exactly is your point? Similarity means borrowing everytime?

>> No, surely not every time... but similarities are too good to be true.
>> For example, Greeks believed in a Supreme Deity, king of the Gods, and
>> this deity had children.

> Comment:-
> If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
> Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
> because they understand it?

I think that the history of mathematical concepts such as specific
algorithms, decimal numbers, the concepts of zero and of the decimal
point, and even of such esoterica as base 60 numbers, invented in
ancient Babylon and still used today for minutes and seconds and
a handful of other things, may be an excellent analogy for the
spread of religious concepts such as monotheism or reincarnation.

Yes, it is indeed possible that some concepts can be invented
independently, but what is fascinating about the history of religion
as well as the history of mathematics is that this seems to be
relatively unusual. The norm seems to be that such abstract ideas
spread from culture to culture, possibly with local modifications,
and always with borrowing from the local set of ideas.

So, the analogy of the spread of base 60 numbers with the spread
of the concept of monotheism is a fairly good one, I think. They
both are illustrative of how the ability of humans to share and
store information has been so essential to the development of our
current knowledge and culture, yes, and of our religious faiths.

Greg Shenaut


Altway

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 7:38:33 AM7/21/02
to
<gksh...@ucdavis.edu> wrote in message
news:ahd9cb$da0$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> > If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
> > Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
because they understand it?

> I think that the history of mathematical concepts such as specific
> algorithms, decimal numbers, the concepts of zero and of the decimal
point, and even of such esoterica as base 60 numbers, invented in
ancient Babylon and still used today for minutes and seconds and
a handful of other things, may be an excellent analogy for the
spread of religious concepts such as monotheism or reincarnation.

> Yes, it is indeed possible that some concepts can be invented
> independently, but what is fascinating about the history of religion
as well as the history of mathematics is that this seems to be
relatively unusual. The norm seems to be that such abstract ideas
spread from culture to culture, possibly with local modifications,
and always with borrowing from the local set of ideas.

> So, the analogy of the spread of base 60 numbers with the spread
> of the concept of monotheism is a fairly good one, I think. They
both are illustrative of how the ability of humans to share and
store information has been so essential to the development of our
current knowledge and culture, yes, and of our religious faiths.

Comment:-
This is amazing!

Let me ask again:-


If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
because they understand it?

The question is:- Is it always transmitted owing to immitation?
Or is it sometimes repeated because of insight, understanding and
application to a
specific problem.

Or let me ask another question:-
If there are a million ideas, and if just 10 of these are selected for
a particular purpose to which they are adapted,
how and why did the selection and adaptation take place?

Would you say immitation has occurred?
And if someone said: yes, it is immitation,
would you think it was an intelligent assessment?

gksh...@ucdavis.edu

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 10:56:55 AM7/22/02
to
Altway <alt...@freeuk.com> wrote (21 Jul 2002 11:38:33 GMT):
>> So, the analogy of the spread of base 60 numbers with the spread
>> of the concept of monotheism is a fairly good one, I think. They
> both are illustrative of how the ability of humans to share and
> store information has been so essential to the development of our
> current knowledge and culture, yes, and of our religious faiths.

> Comment:-
> This is amazing!

> Let me ask again:-
> If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
> Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
> because they understand it?

> The question is:- Is it always transmitted owing to immitation?
> Or is it sometimes repeated because of insight, understanding and
> application to a specific problem.

I may not be understanding what you are saying. I *thought* you
were saying that concepts such "2+3=5" are universal because they
were discovered independently rather than having been spread via
human communication or "imitation". However, 2+3=5 is a trivial
concept--it can be demonstrated that even animals can perform
"mathematics" at such a level. What I was trying to argue was that
*nontrivial* mathematical concepts such as the ancient base 60
arithmetic developed by the ancient Babylonians are very rarely
discovered independently, instead, they spread via imitation.

To me, this makes a very clear parallel to the spread of nontrivial
religious concepts such as monotheism, reincarnation, resurrection,
and so on. While it is always possible that such concepts can be
developed independently, in fact it has happened thay they generally
spread via imitation.

However, it occurs to me that you are saying something slightly
different from what I understood: perhaps you are making a distinction
between a sort of blind, parrot-like imitation and a thoughtful
imitation based on understanding.

Well, there are well-known cases of what might be called "parrot-like"
imitation--for example, the famous Iberian Spanish lisp in words
like "raza" and "cena" is said to have developed by imitation of
a speech defect of the King of Spain--this is nothing that the
most retarded parrot couldn't do perfectly well.

There are, I am sure, plenty of examples of this simple-minded kind
of imitation that one could point to in both mathematics and
religion: why do Americans say "one billion" for the quantity
known as "one thousand million" or "one milliard" elsewhere in the
world? For that matter, why do most children take on the faith of
their parents?

However, I am sure that there was nothing "parrot-like" in the
spread of such concepts as base 60 numbers and monotheism--rather,
it was based primarily on an understanding of the concepts and on
their usefulness to the groups that imitated them.

That said, their spread is still due primarily to imitation of
some kind, albeit thoughtful and rational.

Greg Shenaut


Denis Giron

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 11:08:27 AM7/22/02
to
"M.S.M. Saifullah" <ms...@eng.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<ah9bi7$a9n$1...@samba.rahul.net>...

> There are many religions in the world that believe that God had kids.
> They were separated from each other by large distances. It does not mean
> that they borrowed from each other the concept.

Agreed! That was the point of my analogy! Not all similarities point
to borrowing, but some are too good to be true. To set an analogy with
God having kids, consider the following hypothetical scenarios:

Religion X: The great God Mythopan has six daughters, all made of ice.

Religion Y: The Supreme Deity Saberdania has two sons, one night and
the other day.

I would see no borrowing here. But what about here:

Religion X: The great God Tsarumon has a son with eleven toes made of
gold, and his name is Goldy Tsarumonides.

Religion Y: The great God Tsaruman has a son whose eleven toes turned
to gold on his third birthday, which gave him the name Goldy
Tsarumonides.

A little bit too close to be true to think that people just thought
this up independently, complete with similar names and biographies.

> Obviously, if you can't establish certain facts by
> stepping out of the "tendentious" literature, you can't even claim whether
> the "author" (who was it according to your "standpoint"?) of the Qur'an
> "knew" the Biblical stories.

Whomever the author of the Qur'an was, he was very much in an
environment saturated with Judeo-Christian influence. This can be seen
regardless of whether the text is tendentious or not.

To draw an analogy, suppose I write a book and say that Angelina Jolie
is my wife. We were married after she finished shooting on "Girl
Interrupted." Despite the fact that it is a lie, we can at least
determine that whomever wrote this lie about Denis Giron being married
to Jolie, they lived in an environment where there was some
familiarity with Jolie and what movies she had been in.

So too with the Qur'an, a written work that mentions Jews and
Christians constantly as if they were alive in living around the time
the book was written. A book that records many stories about
Judeo-Christian heros, with strikingly similar biographies, right on
down to virgin births and sticks turning into snakes. Clearly whomever
wrote this work (whether it was one person or fifty) had some access
to some form of Judeo-Christian legends. To say otherwise is to make
an unecessary appeal to bias and personal dogma.

> Further, the issue of Abraham and idols in the Qur'anic and
> Judeo-Christian literature has been watered down to "resemble".

I never claimed they were verbatim retellings. In fact, way back in
January I wrote quite a bit about differences. Whats more, not only
does the Qur'an differ from the Judeo-Christian accounts, but the
Judeo-Christian accounts differ from one another. This is no secret,
nor does it hurt any borrowing theory. If you disagree, explain why.

> Yes, yes, yes, we have heard all these nice little stories about "blatant
> parallels" and "STRIKING" similarities from you. But on examination they
> fall apart.

Jubliees: Legendary hero of Judeo-Christian folklore, Abraham,
preaches to his father the worthlessness of idolatry, and then resorts
to violent vandalism in the name of iconoclasm.

Qur'an: Legendary hero of Abraham preaches to his father the
worthlessness of idolatry, and then resorts to violent vandalism in
the name of iconoclasm.

Seems like a similarity that is a bit too close to just be come upon
independently. If you want to say the later story fell from the
heavens, you'd have to tells us why we should accept that premise.
That you already accept that premise a priori is no secret. That we
both have biases is no secret. However, which is the more likely
scenario?

> With utmost respect Sir, the midrashic story about Abraham criticizing his
> father's idolatory and smashing his family's idols do not agree with each
> other in Judeo-Christian literature.

That is absolutely correct. There were numerous versions, a few of
which that were pre-Islamic. There was certainly some evolution to the
story inbetween the version found in Jubilees and the version that
appeared in Rashi, for example. The Qur'an fits rather nicely in the
time frame between Jubilees and Rashi, and I don't see why we can't
see it as just one of many works that recorded a version of this
Jewish legend. That seems to be the most reasonable conclusion.

> If the story had evolved over centuries then please enlighten us about
> from what story did it actually evolve?

The oldest existing version is in Jubilees. Maybe Jubilees came from
an older source. I have no answer as to the original source. All we
know is that by the time the Qur'an was written, the story existed in
many versions.

> Why are you asking us for possible scenarios? I thought you had a
> methodlogy with which you could arrive at reasonable conclusions.

In many posts I've given you what I think is the most likely scenario:
The story in the Qur'an was not revealed by a divine source, rather it
is just one of many versions that floated around at the time.

> If you ask for my solution, I have already provided it with reasonable
> degree of certainity without over-stepping the evidence.

Amazing... I must have missed it. Can you please refresh my memory.
Being covered from the truth causes me to miss certain things. :)

> But you have declared that the Islamic literary sources are tendentious.
> Why use them? If you still want to use them (by contradicting your early
> position), then they do not say what you want to say.

This has already been answered. A book can be 99% lies, and we can
still discern a great deal about the environment from which it came
out of. Consider my hypothetical book on my marriage to Angelina
Jolie... towards the end it relates how I left her to marry a star
>from a TV show on MTV...

I have more to say, but that is all for now


Denis Giron

unread,
Jul 23, 2002, 4:01:24 AM7/23/02
to
"M.S.M. Saifullah" <ms...@eng.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<ah9bi7$a9n$1...@samba.rahul.net>...
> ...

I wrote a response to this post by Dr. Saifullaah yesterday, and I am
not sure it got through (my email was bouncing incoming mail, so I
would not know if a rejection or acceptance letter came from the
moderators). Regardless, that response was a short one, and this one
will take a different approach.

> Before you get into your literary "standpoint", we should know where
> exactly do you place the Qur'an and other Judeo-Christian literary sources
> in history. You have rejected the Jewish, Christian and Islamic writings
> as "tendentious". Obviously, if you can't establish certain facts by
> stepping out of the "tendentious" literature, you can't even claim whether
> the "author" (who was it according to your "standpoint"?) of the Qur'an
> "knew" the Biblical stories.

To say that certain texts are "tendentious" is not to say that we
cannot learn something from how they were written, or what the
environment they were borne in was like. Let me give you an example: I
think the gospel attributed to Matthew is wholly tendentious. In the
first chapter, it states that an angel came to Joseph in a dream, said
a number of things about his wife, and then said "and she shall bring
forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his
people from their sins."

Suppose that the book of Matthew is 100% lies. Suppose no angel ever
visited Joseph, nor did he, his wife, or his son ever exist. We can
still learn something about the text despite its tendentious nature.
For example, we can learn that the quote I cited above (Mt 1:21) was
probably originally written in Hebrew, since it only seems to make
sense when rendered into Hebrew. So, the point here is that we can
figure something out about a tendentious text.

With regards to the Qur'an, we can still figure things out about it.
It seems pretty clear that this book was written within an environment
saturated with the Judeo-Christian traditions in light of how many of
these traditions found their way into the text (stories about Moses,
Jesus, Abraham, et cetera). If you want me to focus on this whole
"Makkan Soorat" bit, we could focus on Soorat al-Anbiyaa specifically.
As is already known, and was recently pointed out by Mahmud TaHa in
another thread, Soorat al-Anbiyaa 21:105 seems to clearly be quoting
the Psalms. We know that elsewhere in the Qur'an (Soorat an-Nisa
4:163; Soorat al-Israa' 17:55) this "Zaboor" is seen as a text given
to David. The Psalms are allegedly from David, and the quote from the
Zabur in the cited verse is pretty close to the verse in the Psalms.
That seems to be clear proof right there that this "Makkan Soora" was
revealed in an environment where the Judeo-Christian traditions had
already taken root.

> We have already seen how "STRIKINGLY" similar are the story of Abraham and
> idols in the Qur'an and in the Book of Jubilees. Let us recapitulate once
> again for everybody's benefit.

Right, and here you give us the differences. I think the striking
differences would lead us to believe that the version in the Qur'an
was not taken directly from Jubilees, rather there was some sort of
evolution. Indeed we know there was an evolution, because the version
in Jubilees differs from the versions in Jerome, Syncellus, Jacob of
Edessa, et cetera. So the fact that there are differences should be no
problem. The fact that the story evolved has also been proven, thus
that explains your differences.

But let me set an analogy. Suppose I claim that I am receiving a
revelation from God. You get the text, and at one point the text (that
I claim is my revelation from God) states the following:

"Have you heard the story of Moses? Behold, he was also known as
Moshe, Moosa, Valkilmer and Benkingsley. He was a prophet of God, and
the prince of Egypt. When Moses went before Pharaoh he put forth his
staff and it became a snake. Pharaoh's magicians tried to duplicate
the miracle via trickery."

Unfortunately, I die after revealing this alleged word of God, thus
you cannot interview me directly (nor can you be entertained by future
SRI posts!). All you have is my claim that it is from God. Let us
examine the text above.

I claim that Moses was also known as Moshe, Moosa, Valkilmer and
Benkingsley. That alone should be a clue that whomever wrote it was
living in an environment that had access to (1) the Jewish name for
Moses, (2) the Islamic name for Moses, (3) the movie "Prince of Egypt"
(where Val Kilmer did the voice of Moses), and even (4) the made for
TV (by TBS?) movie on the life of Moses that had Ben Kingsley play the
Biblical hero. Then again, maybe this was a revelation from God.

Which source did I borrow my information from? Did I borrow it from
the Qur'an? Surely not, as the Qur'an never says that his name was
Moshe, Valkilmer or Benkingsley, nor does it ever declare him a
"prince of Egypt". Did I take my story from the Bible? Surely not, as
the Bible says Aaron, not Moses, put forth the staff. It can't be the
two movies, as neither of them refer to Moses as "Moosa". Nope, no
borrowing here.

Borrowing does not have to be from a single source, and evolution of a
story can be affected by numerous sources. So, maybe I only heard it
>from one source (assuming this isn't actually from God), but that
source was influenced by the Qur'an, a couple of movies and other
things. What we do know is the following:

(A) Before I wrote the above there already existed a work (the Qur'an)
that asks a question very similar to the one I ask.

(B) Before I wrote the above there was a cartoon called "Prince of
Egypt" where Val Kilmer did the voice of Moses.

Can Dr. Saifullaah prove that I, a poor kid from Manhattan's Lower
East Side, ever saw the movie "Prince of Egypt?" Does he have to? This
should be kept in mind as this thread evolves.

Let us now, consider your notes on differences:

> 1. Abraham advice to his father about idol worship: In the Qur'an, Abraham
> tells his father and his people about why they are so much devoted to the
> idols. They replied that it is due to the fact that their forefathers did
> the same thing. Abraham then says that they are in clear error to which
> the people replied mockingly. The Book of Jubilees say that when Abraham
> advised Terah against the idol worship, his father agrees to it. But the
> reason which his father gave was that he worships idols because of the
> fear of being getting killed by his people.

This is all true. These differences are there. Does this negate the
possibility of borrowing in any sense? Surely it does not. For
example, let us see what my book (that I claim was revealed to me by
God) says about Abraham (by the way, this is the same book that had
the passage about Moses AKA Moshe/Moosa/Valkilmer cited above):

"Remember when Abraham confronted his father Athara in the temple of
Baal, and said 'O father, do not worship these idols.' His father said
'fine, I will worship the idols at the temple across the street
instead.' When the two of them walked across the street they were not
aware that the temple was on fire. When they went inside, behold, they
were trapped, but God made the fire cool and saved Abraham."

So, for Dr. Saifullaah, the fact that there are differences proves
that this story could not have been influenced by the Qur'an, Bible,
book of Jubilees, Midrash Rabbah, or any other text, right? The fact
that there are differences means the story was created by me
independently, right? Of course not. The differences are part of the
evolution process.

> 4. Was Abraham punished or did he flee?: According to the Qur'an, Abraham
> was put in the fire and was saved. According to the Book of Jubilees,
> Terah and sons (including Abraham) left Ur of Chaldees.

Ahhh, but according to Talmud Bavli, Abraham was put in the fire, and
was saved by God. So, just as my story about Moses was predated by the
Qur'an and the movie "Prince of Egypt," so too, the Qur'anic version
was predated by Jubilees and Talmud Bavli. Do Jubilees and Talmud
Bavli agree on all acounts? Certainly not.

Here it gets really good...

Dr. Saifullah wrote:

> > > We have already mentioned that this book constitutes the "inspired"
> > > scripture of Ethiopic Christians.

I responded:

> > How is this relevant? What could this possibly have to do with the
> > discussion? Are you going to perhaps argue that Jubilees is divine? I
> > see no relevance to the way certain Ethiopian Christians treat the
> > book of Jubilees. If it is divine, and the Qur'an is divine, then the
> > issue of differences suddenly becomes an issue. Ah, but you would
> > never argue that it is divine... so what's the point?

And his answer was as follows:

> Who is saying that it is relevent to you? We were discussing the issues
> surrounding Jameel's argument and hence everything was dealt with
> according to his view-point. The Christians themselves do not agree on
> their set of "inspired" scriptures and we have no interest in solving
> their centuries old insoluble problem. So, do not expect us to
> endorse the Book of Jubilees as an "inspired" book.

The relevance with regard to me should be somewhat important in light
of the fact that when you wrote the above, you were responding to a
post written by me, which is why I asked how it was relevant. The fact
that the Christians do not agree about what is "inspired" does not
explain why you felt it was necessary to remind me that some
Christians think Jubilees is "inspired." I did not ask you to endorse
the book of Jubilees as "inspired," in fact I even said quite clearly
that "never argue that it is divine." You are the one that felt it was
relevant to mention this, and I wondered why. Don't bring Jameel in
this, as in this instance you were responding to me, so there is no
reason to try and handcuff me to Jameel's arguments.

> With utmost respect Sir, the midrashic story about Abraham criticizing his
> father's idolatory and smashing his family's idols do not agree with each
> other in Judeo-Christian literature.

This is, as we all know, an obvious fact. Anyone who visited my site
would see the differences. Despite these differences, it is still
acknowledged that these are different versions of the same story.
Remove the Qur'an from the equation, and let us consider the bulk of
pre-Islamic and post-Islamic Judeo-Christian traditions revolving
around the Midrashic build on Genesis 11:28. We have Jubilees, Jerome,
Syncellus, Jacob of Edessa, Catena Severi, B'reshit Rabbah, Rashi, and
a bunch of loose references in Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi,
Levitus Rabbah, Targum Neophyti, et cetera. You could probably write
dozens of pages on the differences, but nonetheless, it is agreed that
these are versions of generally the same story. For example, in
Brock's article, which you cited in a previous post, he cites a number
of the sources just mentioned, and treats them all as the same story,
despite the differences. We know they are the same story because of
the striking similarities. The differences are due to the evolution of
the tale. Certainly some of the differences are original, while others
are due to changes while the sources were affected by one another.
Now, we can reinsert the Qur'an somewhere in the middle of all these
stories, and it gives us yet another version of the story about
Abraham the idol wrecker. It is smack in the middle of this global
evolution of the numerous variants of the story.

> If the story had evolved over centuries then please enlighten us about
> from what story did it actually evolve?

How could I answer this question? The oldest existing version seems to
be the one in Jubilees, though the tale may even predate Jubilees! So,
maybe we could say it originated with Jubilees, or originated with the
sources that Jubilees drew on. What's the difference? What we know is
that this legend existed all over the place in pre-Islamic times, and
all over the place in post-Islamic times, and it existed in seventh
century Arabia, as it appeared in the Qur'an.

So what we get from all this is that the Qur'anic version is a version
that is firmly within a great evolution of this tale, as it branched
out into numerous versions. Apparently this story was all over the
world both before and after the writing of Islam. The Qur'an, written
in an environment saturated with Judeo-Christian tradition, records
just one more version of this story.

-Denis Giron

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/home.htm


Altway

unread,
Jul 23, 2002, 9:37:43 PM7/23/02
to
<gksh...@ucdavis.edu> wrote in message
news:ahh6fn$hif$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> > Let me ask again:-
> > If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
because they understand it?

> > The question is:- Is it always transmitted owing to immitation?
Or is it sometimes repeated because of insight, understanding and
application to a specific problem.

> I may not be understanding what you are saying. I *thought* you
> were saying that concepts such "2+3=5" are universal because they
> were discovered independently rather than having been spread via
> human communication or "imitation".

Comment:-
Correct.
You ought to follow the thread before making irrelevant comments.
The thread was about the whether the Quran was a revelation or merely
copying.

There was a "wise" Dr. who posted here in the past about the same subject
who suggested that "If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck then it is
a duck."
The answer was "By gum, it turned out that there was a difference between a
living duck
and a plastic one with a chip."
Another commentator said "The Quran does not have anything to do with
ducks?"

Will we have another thread about this?

Denis Giron

unread,
Jul 24, 2002, 2:28:23 AM7/24/02
to
gksh...@ucdavis.edu wrote in message news:<ahh6fn$hif$1...@samba.rahul.net>...
> ...

It seem that Altway and Mr. Shenaut are misunderstanding each other.
Let us note exactly what Altway is saying:

> > If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
> > Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
> > because they understand it?

As I understand it, Altway's analogy does not have to be taking place
at the dawn of mathematical understanding; rather it could be taking
place right now. So, if Mr. Shenaut is in California right now
teaching 2+3 to a child, and I am in New York right now teaching 2+3
to a child, did we copy it from one another? Certainly not, and this
is Altway's point I believe... similarities do not always point to
borrowing.

> To me, this makes a very clear parallel to the spread of nontrivial
> religious concepts such as monotheism, reincarnation, resurrection,
> and so on. While it is always possible that such concepts can be
> developed independently, in fact it has happened thay they generally
> spread via imitation.

Well, this is where Mr. Shenaut's comments are extremely valuable. He
has introduced the notion of (or at least insinuated the existence of)
a line of demarcation between trivial [religious] concepts and
nontrivial religious concepts. My only question would be, how do we
determine which concepts are trivial and which are nontrivial? I think
Altway's analogy ignored this dichotomy, and offered a trivial
mathematical concept.

To help the analogy stick better, consider these two different
scenarios...

*SCENARIO #1*
ALTWAY: "2+3=5"
DENIS: "2+3=5"

*SCENARIO #2*
ALTWAY: "Mr. Shenaut owns a read t-shirt that says '2+3=5' on the
front."
DENIS: "Mr. Shenaut bought a red shirt that says '2+3=5' on it."

In the first scenario, we could have reached the conclusion
independently. But with the second scenario, suppose neither of us
ever met Mr. Shenaut. It would seem that we are drawing either on one
another, or a common source, or our sources draw on a common source,
or so on...

This is why I am not convinced by Altway's attempt at raising a
counterexample to by borrowing theory. The Qur'an did not just say
that there is one God, and the Judeo-Christian folklore said the same.
Rather, the Judeo-Christian folklore has this one God playing a major
role in the life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and causing miracles like
virgin births and sticks turning into snakes. The Qur'an offers
biographies of the same heros with many striking parallels. There are
too many parallels for the author(s) of the Qur'an to have just come
up with them independently.

So, to answer the question from Altway's analogy, "is it because they
have copied each other or is it because they understand it?" I would
wonder what there is to understand? Can a person some how reach a
mathematical or scientific understanding and then realize that Moses
did turn a stick into a snake, or Jesus was born of a virgin?


M.S.M. Saifullah

unread,
Jul 25, 2002, 4:22:37 AM7/25/02
to
On 23 Jul 2002, Denis Giron wrote:

> moderators). Regardless, that response was a short one, and this one
> will take a different approach.

Mr. Dajjal, have you got one good approach to deal with the issues at
hand? Or you want to jump from one approach to another, many times
contradicting the earlier one?

> With regards to the Qur'an, we can still figure things out about it.
> It seems pretty clear that this book was written within an environment
> saturated with the Judeo-Christian traditions in light of how many of
> these traditions found their way into the text (stories about Moses,
> Jesus, Abraham, et cetera). If you want me to focus on this whole
> "Makkan Soorat" bit, we could focus on Soorat al-Anbiyaa specifically.
> As is already known, and was recently pointed out by Mahmud TaHa in
> another thread, Soorat al-Anbiyaa 21:105 seems to clearly be quoting
> the Psalms. We know that elsewhere in the Qur'an (Soorat an-Nisa
> 4:163; Soorat al-Israa' 17:55) this "Zaboor" is seen as a text given
> to David. The Psalms are allegedly from David, and the quote from the
> Zabur in the cited verse is pretty close to the verse in the Psalms.
> That seems to be clear proof right there that this "Makkan Soora" was
> revealed in an environment where the Judeo-Christian traditions had
> already taken root.

This approach is radically different from what Dajjal had been touting.
His earlier approach was to reject the Jewish, Christian and Islamic
histories altogether because they, according to him, are tendentious and
hence can't be trusted. The present approach is based on using a literary
text's internal evidence to show the state of history. According to
Dajjal's methodology, since the Qur'an mentions Zabur given to David, AS,
and a verse cited is allegedly close to Psalms, therefore, it is a "clear
proof" that this surah was revealed in an environment where the
Judeo-Christian traditions were already present. Dajjal rejected his
earlier inclinations to revisionism and now touting for historical
criticism. This thread appears to have ran into some dramatic U-turns.

Apart from no "clear proof" being cited, using Dajjal's methodology, one
can say that Surah Yusuf was not known the contemporaries of Muhammad and
Muhammad, SAW, himself because it says that "We narrate to you the best of
narratives, by Our revealing to you this Quran, though before this you
were certainly one of those who did not know" [12:3]. Further, towards the
end we see "Such is one of the stories of what happened unseen, which We
reveal by inspiration unto thee; nor wast thou (present) with them then
when they concerted their plans together in the process of weaving their
plots" [12:102]. Concerning the story of Noah it is said in the Qur'an
"Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto
thee: before this, neither thou nor thy people knew them. So persevere
patiently: for the End is for those who are righteous" [11:49]. Using
Dajjal's methodology we are now concluding that these Makkan Surahs were
not revealed in a Judeo-Christian environment. In other words, Dajjal's
methodology is based on a marriage of convenience. It involves picking and
choosing for the sake of making a non-existent argument.

> Right, and here you give us the differences. I think the striking
> differences would lead us to believe that the version in the Qur'an
> was not taken directly from Jubilees, rather there was some sort of
> evolution. Indeed we know there was an evolution, because the version
> in Jubilees differs from the versions in Jerome, Syncellus, Jacob of
> Edessa, et cetera. So the fact that there are differences should be no
> problem. The fact that the story evolved has also been proven, thus
> that explains your differences.

The story has been "proven" to have "evolved", thus said Dajjal. But the
obvious question is ask is what was the "original" story from which others
evolved?

<big snip>

> This is all true. These differences are there. Does this negate the
> possibility of borrowing in any sense? Surely it does not. For

If it "surely" does not negate the possiblity of borrowing then you should
"surely" be able to prove your case with evidence. But the problem is that
you do not have a methodology to bank on. It is all about shifting and
adjusting and making U-turns all the time. What happened to your much
touted methodology on this newgroup concerning the borrowing theory? Ran
out of steam? Gasping for breathe?

> So, for Dr. Saifullaah, the fact that there are differences proves
> that this story could not have been influenced by the Qur'an, Bible,
> book of Jubilees, Midrash Rabbah, or any other text, right? The fact
> that there are differences means the story was created by me
> independently, right? Of course not. The differences are part of the
> evolution process.

Unless of course, you can prove the "evolution process". Why can't a story
be independent? The usual answer from Dajjal would be that since God
does not exist and hence everything has to be borrowed or evolved. So,
there exist a fundamental dichotomy here which would lead us to the
conclusion that it is better to disagree than to argue.

<big snip of red herrings>

Wassalam
Saifullah

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/


gksh...@ucdavis.edu

unread,
Jul 25, 2002, 4:22:36 AM7/25/02
to
Altway <alt...@freeuk.com> wrote (24 Jul 2002 01:37:43 GMT):
> <gksh...@ucdavis.edu> wrote in message
> news:ahh6fn$hif$1...@samba.rahul.net...
>> > Let me ask again:-
>> > If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
> Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
> because they understand it?

>> > The question is:- Is it always transmitted owing to immitation?
> Or is it sometimes repeated because of insight, understanding and
> application to a specific problem.

>> I may not be understanding what you are saying. I *thought* you
>> were saying that concepts such "2+3=5" are universal because they
>> were discovered independently rather than having been spread via
>> human communication or "imitation".

> Comment:-
> Correct.
> You ought to follow the thread before making irrelevant comments.
> The thread was about the whether the Quran was a revelation or merely
> copying.

I know what the thread is about, and I am reading it with interest
because I want to learn more about the various kinds of logic and
evidence that can be brought to bear on the various positions that
one might hold with respect to it. Unfortunately, I am not
knowledgeable enough about the texts in question to contribute to
the discussion at the most fundamental level.

However, I can recognize an infelicitous analogy when I see it,
and your analogy of the universality of a generic mathematical fact
such as "2+3=5", to the fact that several different texts contain
what is recognizably the same specific account is not convincing.
To me, a better mathematical analogy would be that of a specific
mathematical concept such as the Babylonian base 60 system.

You are correct that discovering ancient or modern mathematical
treatises which contain "2+3=5" does not suggest imitation. However,
I maintain that discovering texts of different origin that share
the use of a base 60 system, while not *proof* of imitation, strongly
suggests it. To me it is the latter kind of analogy that should be
applied to the Quran/Midrash issue, not the former.

It is probably worth mentioning that argument by analogy always
has the limitation that it will only convince those who accept the
germaneness of the analogies used.

Greg Shenaut


Altway

unread,
Jul 26, 2002, 4:08:42 AM7/26/02
to
"Denis Giron" <kaa...@godisdead.com> wrote in message
news:ahlhe7$pab$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> It seem that Altway and Mr. Shenaut are misunderstanding each other.
Let us note exactly what Altway is saying:

> > > If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
because they understand it?

> As I understand it, Altway's analogy does not have to be taking place
> at the dawn of mathematical understanding; rather it could be taking
place right now. So, if Mr. Shenaut is in California right now
teaching 2+3 to a child, and I am in New York right now teaching 2+3
to a child, did we copy it from one another? Certainly not, and this
is Altway's point I believe... similarities do not always point to
borrowing.

Comment:-
Correct

> Well, this is where Mr. Shenaut's comments are extremely valuable. He
> has introduced the notion of (or at least insinuated the existence of)
a line of demarcation between trivial [religious] concepts and
nontrivial religious concepts. My only question would be, how do we
determine which concepts are trivial and which are nontrivial? I think
Altway's analogy ignored this dichotomy, and offered a trivial
mathematical concept.

Comment:-
You have misunderstood.
I was giving an example and I gave several other examples
hoping that the reader will not trivialise by become literal again.
I also posted a story illustrating the misunderstanding.

> This is why I am not convinced by Altway's attempt at raising a
> counterexample to by borrowing theory. The Qur'an did not just say
> that there is one God, and the Judeo-Christian folklore said the same.
> Rather, the Judeo-Christian folklore has this one God playing a major
> role in the life of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and causing miracles like
> virgin births and sticks turning into snakes. The Qur'an offers
> biographies of the same heros with many striking parallels. There are
> too many parallels for the author(s) of the Qur'an to have just come
> up with them independently.

Comment:-
I borrowed no theory.
You remain off the point.
The Quran states that it is a confirmation of past scriptures.
The point at issue is not that the Quran contains the same ideas as
those contained in past scriptures
but whether it is a copy or revelation.

The question is why out of millions of ideas in inumerable books
were a certain set selected and adapted and for what purpose.
The stories as told in the Quran are not exact copies of the stories in
the Bible, as those are not exact copies of even more ancient stories.
They are teaching stories which convey a message for a particular purpose.

I have, for instance, pointed out the different messages contained in the
three version
of the encounter between Pharoah and Moses as found in the Quran.
Pharaoh represents the Ego in man and Moses represents the Spirit of God in
man.
The reader is supposed to understand and apply these stories to himself in
order
to develop some self-awareness.
It is based on insight in order to give insight.

Your theory about copies is utterly irrelevant from the religious point of
view.

But if this cannot or will not be understood because the reader has certain
mental obstructions, resulting from certain prejudices, desires or
intentions,
then discussion is futile.

Altway

unread,
Jul 26, 2002, 4:08:46 AM7/26/02
to
<gksh...@ucdavis.edu> wrote in message
news:ahocgc$k3b$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> You are correct that discovering ancient or modern mathematical
treatises which contain "2+3=5" does not suggest imitation. However,
I maintain that discovering texts of different origin that share
the use of a base 60 system, while not *proof* of imitation, strongly
suggests it. To me it is the latter kind of analogy that should be
applied to the Quran/Midrash issue, not the former.

Comment:-
Yes, I thought the thread would turn into one about "ducks"!!!
(Sigh)

I was not discussing mathematics, repeat, NOT mathematics.
I was merely giving several examples,
only one of which was about mathematics.

Let me give you an example of the difference:-
An orange is roughly spherical, the moon is roughly spherical,
an apple is roughly spherical, a foot ball is roughly spherical.
When I speak about spheres I am not speaking about
oranges, apples, the moon or footballs.

This is a newsgroup about the religion of Islam. Not about Mathematics.
Did you not notice?

I have no wish to pursue this Mathematical subject here.
Farewell.

Denis Giron

unread,
Jul 26, 2002, 10:57:16 AM7/26/02
to
"M.S.M. Saifullah" <ms...@eng.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message news:<ahocgd$k3d$1...@samba.rahul.net>...

> Mr. Dajjal, have you got one good approach to deal with the issues at
> hand? Or you want to jump from one approach to another, many times
> contradicting the earlier one?

Oh, you know me... I'll just throw a dozen lines in the water and see
if I get a bite. I'll just keep swinging in the dark until I hit
something. :)

All kidding aside, the difference in approach I took was with regard
to explaining my position. While obviously you see things differently,
I would state that my approach hasn't changed that much at all.

> This approach is radically different from what Dajjal had been touting.
> His earlier approach was to reject the Jewish, Christian and Islamic
> histories altogether because they, according to him, are tendentious and
> hence can't be trusted.

Wait a minute. I still reject the tendentious literature of the
Jewish, Christian and Islamic communties. The issue here is that we
can still draw something out of a text even if it is a pack of lies.
This is not a new position; rather this is a position I've held for
quite some time. For example, I already gave my analogy via the gospel
of Matthew. That is a position I have held since August of last year:

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/eesho.html#mati

> The present approach is based on using a literary
> text's internal evidence to show the state of history.

That has *ALWAYS* been the approach, or to be more specific, that has
been my apporach to the Qur'an since I first wrote my "multiple hands"
theory a couple years back. The method is to reject the traditional
history as tendentious, and see what the text itself points to. So no,
this is not a new approach.

> According to
> Dajjal's methodology, since the Qur'an mentions Zabur given to David, AS,
> and a verse cited is allegedly close to Psalms, therefore, it is a "clear
> proof" that this surah was revealed in an environment where the
> Judeo-Christian traditions were already present.

Yes, that is correct. The verse is quite close to the verse in the
Psalms. The question would have to be, "how did this verse get in the
text?" If you want to introduce fantastic premises to support your
answer, I would wonder why you would do such, and on what grounds.
Again, while we both have our own bias, I think the "objective" reader
(whatever that is) would lean towards the text of the Qur'an being
revealed in an environment saturated with Judeo-Christian traditions.

> Apart from no "clear proof" being cited,

Uhhh, it doesn't get much clearer than that. For example, you cited
Brock's article. Why did Brock, despite all the differences, think
those Syriac chronicles were recording stories from Jubilees? Ponder
that, and then explain how this verse from the Psalms got into the
Qur'an.

> using Dajjal's methodology, one
> can say that Surah Yusuf was not known the contemporaries of Muhammad and
> Muhammad, SAW, himself because it says that "We narrate to you the best of
> narratives, by Our revealing to you this Quran, though before this you
> were certainly one of those who did not know" [12:3].

This is indeed a very poor argument, a straw man in fact, as it misses
what I said before. It is not the claims of the text; rather it is how
the text is, what it records. So, let me give you another analogy.
Suppose my autobiography hits stands, and on page 15 it says the
following:

"Dr. Muhammad Saifullaah and I are good friends. We go to cricket
games together and often discuss cricket vs baseball over many cups of
tea. One such discussion was quite heated when he refused to recognize
that baseball is the superior sport while we were waiting on line for
tickets to 'Austin Powers'. While we will never agree on which sport
is the more exciting, we at least agree that MTV plays the best music
videos."

Okay... lies, all lies, right? Now, we don't determine that you and I
are friends because the book says so, but we can determine that the
author (whether it was me or not) lived in an environment which gave
him familiarity with Western pop culture (baseball, "Austin Powers,"
MTV, et cetera). Do you understand the difference?

With the Qur'an (like many religious texts) it makes a number of
claims. I'm not going by those claims, rather I'm going by the
evidence that the text itself offers. So, the fact that the text seems
to be quoting Psalms tells us that the author of that "Makkan Soora"
was familiar with the Psalms (or a portion of that Judeo-Christian
text) in some form or another.

> The story has been "proven" to have "evolved", thus said Dajjal. But the
> obvious question is ask is what was the "original" story from which others
> evolved?

Why is this even relevant? As I have already told you, I can't tell
you what the original (i.e. pre-Jubilees) version was like, and I
doubt any scholar can. What we do know, however, is that from the time
of Jubilees onwards there was indeed quite an evolution taking place.
Now, maybe these other versions did not evolve directly out of
Jubilees, but rather a common root from which Jubilees also sprang.
Regardless, we still have a few pre-Islamic versions of this story.
The story of Abraham trying to convince his father of the vanity of
idolatry and then destroying his family's idols is midrashic build on
Genesis 11:28 that predates both the Qur'an and B'reshit Rabbah by
several centuries.

> Unless of course, you can prove the "evolution process".

The evolution process is right there before your eyes. Before the
common era the Jews had a special way of interpreting Genesis 11:28.
This was the Midrashic method, where that vague verse was anchored to
an elaborate story about Abraham and his intolerance towards the
religious practices of his family, which ultimately leads him to
resort to iconoclastic vandalism after his missionary attempts fail.
This Midrashic legend, more than a thousand years later appears in
Rashi. In between Rashi and Jubilees we have B'reshit Rabbah, Jerrome,
Syncellus, Jacob of Edessa and others that record this same tale, with
the already-mentioned differences. There's your evolution process.

> Why can't a story be independent?

Syncellus, Soorat al-Anbiya, Jubilees, Rashi, and B'reshit Rabbah are
all independent of one another? They just thought this up on their own
with these amazing parallels? Sure, that is possible, but *HIGHLY*
improbable. This is why the "borrowing" is the most likely scenario.

> The usual answer from Dajjal would be that since God
> does not exist and hence everything has to be borrowed or evolved.

I never proved that "God does not exist," thus I do not try to rest
any argument on that premise. The issue here is which scenario is more
likely. If you're going to say that one or some of these texts were
revealed by God, you better have a good reason for introducing such a
premise. As it stands now, we have perfectly good explanations for how
the texts ended up the way they are via natural methods. We do not
need to introduce unproven premises of such a fantastic nature.

-Denis Giron

http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/home.htm


Altway

unread,
Jul 26, 2002, 10:21:27 PM7/26/02
to
Amendment.

"Denis Giron" <kaa...@godisdead.com> wrote in message
news:ahlhe7$pab$1...@samba.rahul.net...

> It seem that Altway and Mr. Shenaut are misunderstanding each other.
> Let us note exactly what Altway is saying:
>
> > If someone in China says that 2+3=5 And the same is said in India,
Europe and America is it because they have copied each other or is it
because they understand it?
>
> As I understand it, Altway's analogy does not have to be taking place
> at the dawn of mathematical understanding; rather it could be taking
place right now. So, if Mr. Shenaut is in California right now
teaching 2+3 to a child, and I am in New York right now teaching 2+3
to a child, did we copy it from one another? Certainly not, and this
is Altway's point I believe... similarities do not always point to
borrowing.

Comment:-
(I have to amend my previous comment because I had falsely assumed
that Denis Giron had understood.)

No you have also misunderstood.
What I am saying is
Are these people stupid and copying what the person in China said.
Or is it that they have understood through intelligence and insight that
2+3 equals 5.

If you are in New York teaching a child that 2+3 is 5 is it because
the man in China said so.
Or can you point to 2 apples and 3 oranges and reach the conclusion that
there these total 5 objects.

Strange I put these questions to a ten year old and he was perfectly able
to understand what I was saying.

M.S.M. Saifullah

unread,
Jul 27, 2002, 12:25:39 PM7/27/02
to
On 26 Jul 2002, Denis Giron wrote:

> Oh, you know me... I'll just throw a dozen lines in the water and see
> if I get a bite. I'll just keep swinging in the dark until I hit
> something. :)
>
> All kidding aside, the difference in approach I took was with regard
> to explaining my position. While obviously you see things differently,
> I would state that my approach hasn't changed that much at all.

Apart from your kidding aside, there is no reason to believe that your
fundamental approach of making U-turns has changed very much. "STRIKINGLY"
similar gets metamorphosed into strikingly different. Revisionism has
given way to inclinations of historical criticism. I personally think that
the thread is finished and there is not much for us to discuss as long as
there are U turns lurking around.

> Wait a minute. I still reject the tendentious literature of the
> Jewish, Christian and Islamic communties. The issue here is that we
> can still draw something out of a text even if it is a pack of lies.

It is a pack of lies and you know it and what conclusion can you safely
draw from the text? Well, it is a pack of lies. It is not going to tell
you about history and neither it is going to tell you about the veracity
of the statements made in it. So, in other words, you can back to square
one. A tendentious literature is no good when drawing firm conclusions. It
is like a Dajjal telling us "What I am saying it truth". Do we believe him
or do we not? Ever heard of Liar's Paradox?

> This is not a new position; rather this is a position I've held for
> quite some time. For example, I already gave my analogy via the gospel
> of Matthew. That is a position I have held since August of last year:

Sure, we know that you have held this position for a long time. The clue
to justify the position is to take everybody out of this Liar's Paradox.

> > The present approach is based on using a literary
> > text's internal evidence to show the state of history.
>
> That has *ALWAYS* been the approach, or to be more specific, that has
> been my apporach to the Qur'an since I first wrote my "multiple hands"
> theory a couple years back. The method is to reject the traditional
> history as tendentious, and see what the text itself points to. So no,
> this is not a new approach.

Let me make it little bit simpler for you. How do you know that a
tendentious text is telling you the truth?

> Again, while we both have our own bias, I think the "objective" reader
> (whatever that is) would lean towards the text of the Qur'an being
> revealed in an environment saturated with Judeo-Christian traditions.

An objective reader would provide an objective proof to reach the
conclusion that the Qur'an was revealed in the an "environment saturated
with Judeo-Christian traditions". But where is the proof now that the
Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts have been demoted to a status of being
tendentious. Afterall all these texts might be telling the lies!

> Uhhh, it doesn't get much clearer than that. For example, you cited
> Brock's article. Why did Brock, despite all the differences, think
> those Syriac chronicles were recording stories from Jubilees? Ponder
> that, and then explain how this verse from the Psalms got into the
> Qur'an.

Let us get couple of things clear. Firstly, Brock is not going out of the
realm of historical criticism by rejecting the sources which he is using.
He uses the sources and draws conclusions which he thinks suits the
historical evidence before him. Secondly, where did you get that Brock
thinks that the Syriac chronicles were recording stories from Jubilees?
Brock, contrary to your claim, says in his conclusions:

"The Syriac account cannot possibly be derived from Jubilees, but must
come from a source that Jubilees itself drew upon..." [S. P. Brock,
"Abraham and the Ravens: A Syriac Counterpart to Jubilees 11-12 and Its


implications", Journal For The Study Of Judaism In The Persian,

Hellenistic And Roman Period, 1978, Volume IX, No. 2, p. 151]

So, Dajjal, whose time is it to ponder? Just get ready to make a U turn
once again.

> This is indeed a very poor argument, a straw man in fact, as it misses
> what I said before. It is not the claims of the text; rather it is how
> the text is, what it records. So, let me give you another analogy.

Well, if the text is indeed tendentious how can you differentiate between
what is the claim of the text and how the text is recorded before you
start to give your fantastic analogies? Get into the basic issues first
before you even think about showing us the rosy picture.

<big snip of irrelevent argumentation>

<