Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Debunking the Quran

 

The Quran Says:

7:137: “And We made a people, considered weak (and of no account), inheritors of lands in both East and West, - lands whereon We sent down our blessings. The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy, and We leveled to the ground the great Works and fine Buildings which Pharaoh and his people erected (with such pride).”

7:138: “We took the Children of Israel (with safety) across the sea. They came upon a people devoted entirely to some idols they had. They said: “O Moses! Fashion for us a god like unto gods they have. He said: “Surely ye are a people without knowledge,”

We believe verse 7:137 should have come after verse 7:138, as the former talks about the Hebrews being made inheritors of a land (‘promise fulfilled’), which could have happened only after they had crossed the Sea and settled down in part of Palestine, which He had allocated to them, and not before. Keeping this in mind, let us find out what Allah has actually said through these verses.

Contrary to the stand of the Quran, the Book of Genesis, or the Torah, describes a man called Abraham, son of Terah, as a Hebrew. It says that he lived with his parents in Ur, the land of the Chaldeans. Terah took his family to Haran, where he died, whereupon, Abraham migrated with his family to Canaan. Some believe this happened toward the end of 2000 B.C. The Canaanites called them ‘Hebrews,’ the foreigners.

During the 2nd millennium BC, Ancient Egyptian texts use the term Canaan to refer to an Egyptian province, whose boundaries generally corroborate the definition of Canaan found in the Hebrew Bible, bounded to the west by the Mediterranean Sea, to the north in the vicinity of Hamath in Syria, to the east by the Jordan Valley, and to the south by a line extended from the Dead Sea to around Gaza (Numbers 34). Nevertheless, the Egyptian and Hebrew uses of the term are not identical: the Egyptian texts also identify the coastal city of Qadesh in Syria near Turkey as part of the "Land of Canaan", so that the Egyptian usage seems to refer to the entire Levantine coast of the Mediterranean Sea, making it a synonym of another Egyptian term for this coastland

The Hebrews lived and prospered in Canaan until they were driven by foreign aggressors and the tribal warfare of its original inhabitants to its worst areas, spread thinly across the entire region. Canaan became Palestine, after it was conquered by the Philistines.

Driven by repeated draught and starvation, many Hebrews migrated to the fertile delta of Nile in Egypt. Here they multiplied and became a strong community over a period of time. We do not know much about their life in Egypt, but however dim and uncertain their history in the land of the Pharaohs is, there is no doubt that their migration out of it around 1250 B.C. is the single most important event in their entire known and unknown history. This event gave the Hebrews an identity, a nation, a founder and a name used for the first time in the very first line of Exodus, the biblical account of the migration: “bene yisrael,” “The Children of Israel.”

The Hebrews began settling in the north of Egypt about 1500-1250 BC. Other tribal groups, most of them Semitic, had been settling in northern Egypt from about 1800 BC. These foreigners had grown so powerful that for a short time they dominated Egypt, ruling the Egyptians themselves; this period is called the Third Intermediate Period in Egyptian history. When the Egyptians reasserted dominance over Egypt at the start of the New Kingdom, they actively expelled as many foreigners as they could. Life got fairly harsh for these foreigners, who were called "habiru," which was applied to landless aliens (taken from the word, "apiru," or foreigner).[1] The New Kingdom garrisoned their borders in the north and east in order to prevent foreigners from entering the country.

Building garrisoned cities was labor intensive. Typically, building projects involved heavy taxation of local populations; the heaviest tax falling on the foreigners. The forceful employment of the foreigners in building projects formed the substance of the oppression of the Hebrews described in Exodus. In their time of distress, one figure, Moses, united some of the foreigners into a distinct people and led them out of Egypt, thus changing the course of history. He also gave them a religion and a theology that united them forever. But in spite of the masterful portrayal of him in Exodus, Moses is difficult to pin down. Not everyone believes that Moses was a reality.

A question is also often asked: Did Moses and his followers fight a battle with the Egyptians at the Red Sea? The account of this battle is vitally important to Hebrew history, for the deliverance of the Hebrews at the Red Sea stands as the single most powerful symbol of Yahweh's protection of the Hebrews. Exodus gives two accounts; in the first, Yahweh, through Moses, blows the water away to create a ford, and the Egyptians get stuck in the mud and go home. In the second, Yahweh separates the waters and drowns the Egyptians when they try to cross. Which is the correct account?

Without probing deeper into the anomaly of the biblical story, we can conclude that the Hebrews settled down in the land of the Canaanites, after wandering in the desert of Sinai for forty years, to begin a new life.

Having noted a brief history of the Hebrews in Egypt, we now return to their story, as told by the Quean. Because its Pharaohs had been treating them unfairly, and they had also made the rule that their newborn sons be killed and their daughters saved,[2] Allah decided to free the Hebrews from their tyranny. For this purpose, He chose Moses and his brother Aaron and sent them to the court of the Pharaoh of the time, to which the story relates, to demand their release. He refused.

To force the Pharaoh into compliance of his demand, the Quran says, Moses exchanged a number of miracles with the magicians of his court. When these, too, failed to force the Pharaoh into releasing the Hebrews to Moses’ care, Allah subjected him and his subjects to a number of calamities. Failing to counter Allah’s calamities with his own, the Pharaoh relented and permitted the Hebrews to leave Egypt, with Moses leading their way to Palestine, the eastern and western parts of which, He had, in the meantime, reserved for their settlement, as they had ‘patience and constancy.’ He had also blessed the future home of the Hebrews with His blessings as result of which, rivers of milk and honey gushed out, and flowed all over it.

Moses and the Hebrews reached the bank of the Red Sea,[3] but had no means to cross it. Seeing their predicament, Allah came to their help and parted through Moses its water into two, thus allowing them to safely reach its other bank. When the pursuing Pharaoh and his forces entered into the temporary passage that Allah had created through the water, the walls of water collapsed and drowned the Pharaoh’s forces.[4]

Faced with drowning, the Pharaoh became a Muslim and beseeched Allah to save his life. Allah did not approve his conversion to Islam and drowned him with his forces. Allah, however, saved his body to act as a sign for those who were to come after him.[5]

The name of the Pharaoh who was drowned and where his body had been preserved are not mentioned in the Quran.

After the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea, Allah ordered them: “...Enter the holy land, which Allah hath assigned unto you, ..,”[6] the holy land referred here being the East and West regions of Palestine. But Allah changed His order and made the Hebrews wander in the desert of the Sinai Peninsula for forty years, after they humiliated Him by making and worshipping a lowing calf of gold, despite Moses’ instruction to them to the contrary.

As a punishment to the Pharaoh, Allah leveled to ground his great works and the fine buildings, which he and his people had erected. Is Allah’s claim true? Who was the Pharaoh whose works Had razed to the ground? Let us find out.

Egypt was home to one of the greatest civilizations of the world. Ruled by kings with the title of Pharaoh, it saw the largest number of pyramids constructed between 2686 BC to 2134 BC together with the construction of magnificent royal palaces and the temples of worship. Pyramids were constructed as the Pharaohs’ burial monuments associated with royal solar and stellar cults.

Wikipedia statea:

“The number of pyramids in Egypt today is reported by most sources as being between 80 and 111, with a majority favoring the higher number. In 1842, Karl Richard Lepsius made a list of the pyramids, in which he counted 67, but more have been identified and discovered since his time. The imprecise nature of the count is related to the fact that as many smaller pyramids are in a poor state of preservation and appear as little more than mounds of rubble, they are only now being properly identified and studied by archaeologists. Most are grouped in a number of pyramid fields.”

Assuming that Rameses II (about 1250 BC) was the Pharaoh, who oppressed the Hebrews in Egypt and who is also believed to have been prolific in building pyramids, and that the exodus may have taken place under his immediate successor Merenptah (in about 1225 BC), then none of the pyramids built by them and other Pharaohs before them should now be existing in Egypt, for Allah claimed to have leveled all of them to the ground before or after the Hebrews departed from its soil. But, in reality, that is not the case; almost all the larger pyramids still stand at the spots on which they were built thousands of years ago; the smaller ones having failed to withstand the vagaries of nature.

The following picture shows one of the pyramids, with the Sphinx in its foreground, standing majestically at the spot where both of them were built thousands of years ago.

At least one Muslim scholar we know of has noticed a big hole in Allah’s claim, which he tried to patch up by relying on a remark ‘Most of those pyramids are very much ruined,’ which the author Richard Pococke had made in his 1743 book, titled ‘Travels in Egypt’ without realizing that his description of the pyramids being in a ‘very much ruined condition’ is different from them being leveled to the ground. The said scholar has also failed to understand a very important phenomenon of nature: The damages sustained by almost all the small and large pyramids are the result of the impact that nature had been having on them from the time they were built without receiving any help and protection from the humans. In spite of that, the pyramids retain their original characteristics, some negligible damages noticed on their exterior notwithstanding.

The existence of the pyramids prove that Allah’s claim on leveling the great works and fine buildings of the Pharaohs to the ground is unfounded and, therefore, it is a lie. It is a lie like others He has used in the Quran to fool the people of the 7th century. A liar cannot be a good and reliable Deity. As such, He must be rejected and thrown out of the humans’ life without a second thought.

Returning to the question of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt, we need to know: Did Allah part the water of the Red Sea into two and if they had really crossed it on their way to Palestine? We will need first to look at the geographical location of Palestine to find answers to our questions.

Palestine was, and is still, located at north-east of Egypt, and a low-lying stretch of marshland, situated in the Egyptian side of the Sinai Peninsula, with reeds, acted as a barrier between these two countries. However, as the marshland’s north-west end was not connected with the Mediterranean Sea, a patch of high and dry land lying between it and the Sea created a highway, which enabled people, and their caravans, to travel between Egypt and Palestine and beyond. Therefore, the right thing that the Hebrews needed to do was to walk toward the Mediterranean Sea, and upon reaching the highway, turn towards Palestine and enter it without having to cross the marshland. They did not have to go south-east, cross the deep, wide and the turbulent Red Sea at a certain point, and then trek north-westerly direction to reach the land of milk and honey.

But that was not what we believe the Hebrews had done. Fearing that the Pharaoh’s forces might attack them from behind, they took the shortest route towards Palestine and ended up breaking their march, when they reached the bank of the marshland; here they set up tents, while their leaders became busy in finding water transport for taking them to the other side of the ‘Sea of Reeds.’

(The image, above, of the Suez Canal, taken in our modern time by NASA of the United States, helps us understand where the low-lying marshland may have existed at the time of the Hebrews’ exodus to Canaan or Palestine. It ran across the Egyptian side of the Sinai Peninsula; from south-east to north-west. This marshland was excavated in 1869 to create the Suez Canal, which connects the Gulf of Suez (below the image) with the Mediterranean Sea (shown at the top of the image).

While the preparations for crossing the Sea of Reeds were in progress, a powerful earthquake struck the bed of the Mediterranean Sea. The resulting tsunami or waves of water rushed into the Sea of Reeds, raising its water level. This appeared to them like the waves they had seen before in the Red Sea. They crossed the marshland after its water receded, and narrated what they saw to the people they had found on their way to their final destination as well as to those people with whom they had settled down in Palestine. As time passed, their real story got twisted; with extra materials intentionally added to it to make it appear juicy, sensational and hair-raising to its listeners.

When the Hebrews’ story on their crossing of the Sea of Reeds was being written, we believe the writers mistook it for the Red Sea and incorporated it thus in their writings. Religious leaders capitalized on their mistake, and made it one of the cardinal beliefs of their respective faiths, for religions thrive on myths, sensationalism, unfathomable and bizarre stories, such as the one that relates to the creation of Adam and Eve in heaven and their expulsion from it on a ground that is not only unbelievable, but also unsustainable. Yet, beliefs like this one rule the hearts and minds of the believers, thus shielding them from logic and reason. This is an unfortunate reality, and we will have to live with nobody knows for how long with the hope that perhaps a day will come when religious inanities will disappear from the earth, and humans will learn how to live their lives without them.

The Quran seems to tell us that the Egyptian Hebrews were following and practicing a religion that was of Allah’s liking and satisfaction, even though He had sent them no prophet or apostle (rasul in Arabic) before Moses’ arrival in their midst to take them out of their adopted country. And this was, perhaps, one of the reasons for which they were persecuted by its successive Pharaohs. The Quran also seems to tell us that Allah’s problem with the Hebrews developed after they had safely gone out of the reach of the Pharaoh’s pursuing army, when the came across a people who worshipped some idols. Who were those people and where they lived?

Those people were Egyptians and they lived in the Egyptian side of the Sinai desert. Barred by Allah from entering the Promised Land, the Hebrews lived among those idol worshippers for forty years. But why did the Hebrews feel tempted to worship an idol, if they were not worshipping one or many idols while living in Egypt? And if they worshipped idols, then why Allah took so much trouble to bring them out of Egypt?

Abul Ala Maududi helps us in finding answers to our questions by stating:

“The extent to which the Israelites had become degenerated as a result of their slavery may be gauged by Joshua's last address to the Israelites delivered seventy years after their exodus from Egypt.

‘Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the’ Lord (Joshua 24: 14-15).’

This shows that even though the Israelites had been taught and trained by Moses for forty Years and by Joshua for twenty-eight years, they had still been unable to purge their minds of those influences which had warped their outlook and mentality during their period of bondage under Pharaoh. These Muslims had begun to look upon idol-worship as natural. Even after their exodus, the sight of a temple would incline them to indulge in the idolatrous practices which they had observed among their former masters.”[7]

Maududi clearly says that the Hebrews were Muslims, which means that they had all along been worshipping Allah and submitting themselves to His Will. If it were true, then how the same Muslims could ask Moses to make an idol so that they could worship it? How could a people reject Allah and take to worshipping an idol, when they saw with their own eyes how Allah had Moses perform a number of miracles to force the Pharaoh into freeing them and, when they found themselves helpless before mighty Red Sea, how He parted its raging water into two so that they could save themselves from the pursuing army of the Pharaoh by crossing it on foot? How could those Muslims deny Allah when He had the army of the Pharaoh drowned in the water of the Sea? And if the Hebrews had been Muslims during their long stay in Egypt, then what did Moses and Joshua teach them for seventy years?

The truth of the matter is: The Hebrews were not Muslims, in the sense Maududi has used the word “Muslims” for them. They worshipped a number of idols during their long stay in Egypt. That was why they longed for worshipping an idol, when they saw the people they were staying with worshipping their idols. They did not believe in Moses, nor did they see him perform any miracle. The army of the Pharaoh did not pursue them, nor was the water of the Red Sea parted into two.

Because the Hebrews had difficulty in believing Moses and Allah, they always referred to Him as “your Lord,” the word ‘your’ referring to Moses. That is why Moses had to spend forty years of his stay in the desert of Sinai on convincing them with the existence and might of Allah as well as on the authenticity of his divine mission. Joshua did the same thing: He spent twenty-eight years of his life in teaching the Hebrews what Moses had begun teaching them long before his death.

Maududi had to claim that the Hebrews were Muslims, as without doing it, he could not justify all the things Allah is believed to have done to save the idol-worshipping Hebrews from the tyranny of the Pharaoh, and for making them the inheritors of a part of Palestine. Questions on ‘justification’ arise out of the following concerns:

According to the Quran, Allah did His best to convince the Pharaoh that He was the only and all-powerful Allah, who deserved his and his people’s worship; that it was He who had sent Moses and his brother to him to get the idol-worshipping Hebrews out of Egypt and when he refused to oblige Allah, He had Moses performed nine miracles to impress not only the Pharaoh, but also the Hebrews with His awesome power. The Pharaoh caved in; but that was not the case with the Hebrews: they refused to believe in Him and in the divine mission of Moses.

Despite the Hebrews’ continuous defiance of His authority and Moses’ teachings, the Quran says, Allah not only tolerated their obnoxious conduct and utterances with no severe reaction, He also got them settled in a part of Palestine, but when the Pagans of Mecca insisted on Him, through Muhammad, to perform just one miracle, similar to one of those that Moses and Jesus Christ had performed, to convince them that he, indeed, was His Prophet and Apostle, Allah refused to oblige them; on the contrary, He not only castigated them severely, He also did not hesitate to kill some of them with His own hand for defying His wish.

Allah’s harsh treatment of the Pagans of Mecca, and its neighborhoods versus. His kind, gentle and persuasive behavior with the Hebrews of Egypt are the sources of serious dismay for those, who can think rationally. They ask: How can a Deity, who claims to be judicious, kind, magnanimous, omniscient and the creator of all the humans treat two groups of His own people, guilty of the same crime, so differently? Does it not smack of hatred towards one, and favoritism towards the other?

Maududi needed to pre-empt these questions, therefore, he put the seal of ‘Muslims’ on the Egypt’s Hebrews, who had gone astray, but they deserved His gentle persuasions in order to help them revert to His righteous path. The case with the Pagans of Mecca and of the Arabian Peninsula was a different one; they were not ‘Muslims,’ therefore, they deserved no kindness or sympathy; rather they had to be treated in the manner, the Quran says, Allah treated them to force them into His submission. This speaks a lot about Allah's role and attitude towards those humans He did not like in the past, nor does He like them now, thereby proving that He is no better than worst humans we find now, and will also be finding them in our midst in days to come.

How about Allah saving the Pharaoh’s body so that it could act as a sign for those who were to come after him? Was it Merenptah who was drowned in the water of the Red Sea? Has anyone found in the Red Sea a piece of the chariot he rode and with which he was drowned?

Yes, researchers have found Merenptah’s body in an ancient tomb. They also found the mummified bodies of the Pharaohs, who ruled Egypt thousands of years before his birth. Who saved their bodies? If it was done by Allah, then the question arises: Why He had to do that in a time when the Hebrews had not yet set their foot on the soil of Egypt?

The Quran gives us no information on the drowned Pharaoh, as Allah did not know which Pharaoh was on the throne of the Egyptian kingdom at the time the Hebrews are believed to have migrated to Palestine. Nor has anyone found any evidence at the bottom of the Red Sea to prove that the Pharaoh and his forces had lost their lives in its water. All of these indicate that Allah’s claim on saving the Pharaoh’s body was a white lie and as such, it should be forthrightly rejected.


 

[1] Scholars are not unanimous on this; some of them believe the Canaanites gave them this name, when they arrived in their land.

[2] The Quran; 7:141.

[3] The Quran does not say it was the Red Sea; rather, it suffices by calling it the ‘sea’ as in verse 7:136.

[4] The Quran; 7:136.

[5] The Quran; 10:90.

[6] Cf. The Quran; 5:23.

[7] Op. cit. Vol. 2, p. 75.

 
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