Cataloguing the Historical Anachronisms in the Qur'an

Muslim apologists often contend that the Qur’an is free, in its entirity, from contradiction, inconsistency or historical inaccuracy. I have seen many Muslims assert that the historical and scientific accuracy of the Qur’an was what impressed them about this book and convinced them that Islam is true. Previously, I have addressed Muhammad’s wildly inaccurate understanding of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and have also posted this video regarding the claims of the Qur’an concerning the historicity of Jesus’ crucifixion (see this link for articles published by myself and others concerning Islam generally).

In this article, I am going to focus specifically on the historical accuracy of the Qur’an. As we shall see, the claim that the Qur’an is historically accurate — particularly when it describes events hundreds of years removed from its writing — is not a tenable position.

Dirham Coins in Joseph’s Day?

According to Surah 12:20,

“[Joseph’s] brethren sold him for a miserable price, for a few dirhams counted out: in such low estimation did they hold him!”

The problem with this claim is that dirham (derivative of the Greek drachma) didn’t exist prior to the twelfth century B.C. This means that the Qur’an makes the claim that Joseph was sold into slavery using a currency that had not yet been invented — and would not be invented until seven centuries later.

Did David Produce Chain Mail?

According to Surah 34:10-11,

“We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from ourselves: ‘O ye Mountains! Sing ye back the Praises of Allah with him! and ye birds also! And We made the iron soft for him;- Commanding, ‘Make thou coats of mail, balancing well the rings of chain armour, and work ye righteousness; for be sure I see clearly all that ye do.'”

The problem is that chain mail was first invented by the Celts in the fifth century B.C. But David lived in the tenth century B.C.

Was Crucifixion Practiced in Ancient Egypt?

According to Surah 12:41 and Surah 20:71, the method of execution by crucifixion was practiced, during the time of Joseph and Moses respectively, by the Egyptians. The former lived during the nineteenth century B.C., and the latter lived during the fifteenth century B.C. Unfortunately, however, this mode of execution was first invented by the Persians in the sixth century B.C., well after the time of both Moses and Joseph.

Moses and the Samaritans

We read in Surah 20:35-88, 95 that a Samaritan led the people of Israel to create the golden calf during the time of Moses, shortly following the Exodus out of Egypt. The problem is that the city of Samaria did not exist until several centuries following the Exodus. Furthermore, the people group who became known as the “Samaritans” did not come into existence until an even later stage when the Northern Kingdom was invaded by Assyria.

Confusing Mary and Miriam

In Surah 19:28, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is spoken of as being the sister of Moses and Aaron. Furthermore, Surah 66:12 states that the mother of Mary is Amram. It is abundantly clear from this that Muhammad is confusing Mary the mother of Jesus with Miriam (Moses’s sister), who lived centuries earlier.

Moses and Haman

According to Surah 28:5-8,

“And We wished to be gracious to those who were being depressed in the land, to make them leaders in faith and make them heirs, to establish a firm place for them in the land, and to show Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts, at their hands, the very things against which they were taking precautions. So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: ‘Suckle thy child, but when thou hast fears about him, cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve: for We shall restore him to thee, and We shall make him one of Our apostles.’ Then the people of Pharaoh picked him up from the river: It was intended that Moses should be to them an adversary and a cause of sorrow: for Pharaoh and Haman and all their hosts were men of sin.”

The problem is that Haman lived approximately during the sixth century B.C. in Persia (not Egypt). He is a key character in the book of Esther. Why is it, then, that the Qur’an refers to Haman as having opposed Moses in Pharaoh’s court — nine centuries earlier?

Conclusion

I could continue in this vein for considerable time — and believe me I could. But the cumulative force of the above arguments combined seems to render implausible the Islamic view that the Qur’an is historically accurate in every respect. Even if there is wiggle room with respect to one or two of those cases (which I don’t think there is), there are enough instances of such historical anachronisms to render it immensely implausible that all of them will be shown to have plausible resolutions.

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13 replies
  1. psiloiordinary says:

    Listen carefully Jonathan and surely somewhere deep down is a closed off bit of your brain there is a little tiny version of you making an indistinct noise – it might be laughing or crying.

    Reply
  2. Prayson Daniel says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this Jonathan. The more I read Suras in Qur’an the more I came to find out that they look more like Muhammad’s commentaries of both the O.T and N.T.

    Reply
  3. Martin says:

    Christian apologists often contend that the Bible is free, in its entirity, from contradiction, inconsistency or historical inaccuracy. I have seen many Christians assert that the historical and scientific accuracy of the Bible was what impressed them about this book and convinced them that Christianity is true.

    Reply
  4. DKeane says:

    “As we shall see, the claim that the Qur’an is historically accurate — particularly when it describes events hundreds of years removed from its writing — is not a tenable position.”

    Wasn’t the bible written hundreds of years after the stories actually happened? How can you write this section with a straight face?

    Reply
    • ftbond says:

      “Wasn’t the bible written hundreds of years after the stories actually happened”?

      Short answer: It really very much depends on which books you’re actually talking about. For example, the book of Galatians – one of Pauls letters regarding Jesus – was written about 18-20 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. Some books of the Old Testament (ie, some of the prophets, such as Isaiah or Hosea) were written concurrent with events.

      From the information given by this author, regarding the Quran, I think it’s pretty easy to say “the Quran’s historic accuracy is not tenable” with a straight face.

      Reply
  5. J says:

    I would encourage you to take Martin’s post to heart – yes, it is kind of a sarcastic jab at what you’ve done here, but that should not stop you from using the same critical eye you’ve used to examine the historical accuracy of the Qur’an in examining the Christian Bible.

    Reply
  6. littlejohn says:

    Your criticism of the Qu’ran is on target, but are you really not aware of similar criticisms of the Bible? Its authors are unknown and all of it was written generations after the alleged occurrences. None of the gospelers could have met Jesus, and there is no historical reference to Jesus during the first century. There are two (contadictory) accounts of creation in Genesis. I could go on all day, but surely you get my point.

    Reply
    • Grant says:

      Peter, who was the primary source for Marks gospel met Jesus. John and Matthew met Jesus. James met Jesus. Most scholars put most of the NT prior to 70AD… Well within the life of many eye witnesses.

      Reply
  7. Ray says:

    So, like the Bible, the Koran is not historically accurate. What’s your point? They both therefore are equally valid.

    Reply
  8. Ian says:

    Let’s see. What do we know? We know that the earth was formed over 4.5 billion years ago and not in the biblical six days.

    We know that mankind shared a common ancestor with the primates, and before that with ALL other organisms in the planet. Therefore there was no ‘garden of Eden’ in the sense of Genesis, therefore the ‘creation myth’ is just that ( a beautiful story but not true), following on no fall from grace therefore no need for the crucifiction (but of course if there had been ‘God’ he/she/it would have known that.

    Also in the bronze age serpents were revered as the guardians of wisdom and knowledge so the charge agains the serpent is a bum rap! But it would be natural for the scribes/storytellers of the day to incorporate that into the narrative.

    The story of the flood was taken from the Epic of Gilgamesh.

    Had he story of the Exodus been true, which it wasn’t, when the Israelistes reached the land ‘flowing with milk and honey’ they would have met the Egyptian army (at the point in history most of the Levant was a fully garrisoned province of the Egyptian empire). The wall of wate that resulted in the destruction of Pharoah’s army was from the volcanic explosion of Thera (Santorini), in other words a Tsunami.

    I think that’s enough to be going on with. But please do yourself a favour and study the history and development of Judaism and Chrstianity.

    Reply
  9. MIKE says:

    it’s interesting to hear him be critical of another holy book, when the bible has so many contradictions, fairy tales, etc–the bible is just one of the reasons i walked away from christianity–it is intellectually insulting

    Reply
  10. Syed Kope says:

    Reforming Muslims NOT Islam

    * There is NO sects in Islam, Sunni and Shia are CULTS of satanic’s mullahs

    * ONLY follow Allah and Prophet and NO one else

    * Ali, Abu Bakr, Hussein, Omar, Aisha, Fatima, Hassan, Osman all are DEAD and they cant help you and you should pray for them that Allah show mercy to them

    * It is SAD that Sunni and Shia divided Islam for the LOVE for the Sahabahs and Prophet’s family than to unite Muslims for LOVE for ALLAH

    * It is SAD that SAHABAHS divided Islam for the LOVE for the POWER then unite Ummah for LOVE for ALLAH

    * Remember Sahabas were fallible human being they help our prophet and they made many mistakes in life like human do… Muslims MUST respect them for their GOOD work

    * The CALIPHATE is unislamic satanic concept for power hungry people

    * Did Allah institute concept of caliphate? one leader for all the Muslims in the world?

    * Who is your caliph NOW?

    * What does GOOD come out from “Rightly Guided Khalifas” beside division of Islam and bloodshed and hates among the Muslims?

    * Are you going to hell for not having Khalifa now?

    * Concept of Caliphate was a satanic for power hungry people
    just like TODAY politician fight for power

    * Islam has nothing to do with Caliphate

    * ISLAM IS NOT PROPERTY OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD

    * And do not celebrate prophet birth day

    * Who told you to celebrate Prophet birth day? Allah or Prophet himself or your Mullah?

    * ISLAM IS THE RELIGION OF ALLAH ALONE

    * Islam has nothing to do with Prophet’s families and his companions ( Sahabahs )

    * I RESPECT ALL THE COMPANIONS OF THE PROPHET and his family, O Allah forgive them and have mercy on them

    * OUR BELOVED PROPHET WAS A FALLIBLE HUMAN BEING AND HE CANT SAVE YOU AND HIS FAMILY FROM HELL FIRE

    * The Prophet was human like you and me AND Allah said he forgave prophet sin in the Quran REPEATEDLY

    * In the Quran Allah said that Allah forgave prophet Mohammed’s sin
    Read Quran yourselves …..

    * Quran 040:055 Pickthal : Then have patience (O Muhammad). Lo! the promise of Allah is true.((And ask forgiveness of thy)), and hymn the praise of thy Lord at fall of night and in the early hours.

    * O Allah! Forgive me my sins that I did in the past or will do in the future, and also the sins I did in secret or in public.” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 5919)

    * Some hadiths are true and some hadiths are false and some Hadiths are invented by satanic’s Muslims scholars

    * Satanic’s Sunni and Shia mullahs invented lots of Hadiths to support their satanic sect

    * Shia and Sunni both claimed that Prophet Muhammad founded their CULT………LIARS
    our Prophet was a Sunni or Shia?

    * ( Sunnism and Shiaism ) is about worshiping and glorifying early Islamic WAR heroes NOT about glorifying our creator ALLAH

    * Hadiths are BLESSING and CURSE / fitnah for among the Muslims

    * Hadiths guide Muslim to understand Islam and also misguide Muslims about Islam and Allah

    * Hadiths create lots of fitnah among Muslims

    * Please chose Hadiths wisely

    * YOU can reject ( A ) Hadith if you don’t like because our Prophet DID NOT wrote Hadiths by his own hand

    * Quran alone people are misguided

    * Do not love Prophet more than Allah and do not celebrate Prophet birth day

    * Do not follow schools of thoughts (madhabs) but respect Islamic scholars and reject their particular view about Islam

    * Which school of thought did prophet Muhammad follow?

    * LOVE QURAN FIRST and love Hadiths very very very ………….last

    * Who should Muslim love the most Allah or Prophet Muhammad?

    * LOVE ALLAH ALONE he wont disappoint you and love Prophet Muhammad very very very………….last

    * And do NOT love Prophet Muhammad’s family and his companions BUT respect them ONLY

    * Muslims in general tend to obsess with the Prophet Muhammad at the expense of Allah

    * ALLAH is the ONLY savior of OUR Prophet and yours from hellfire

    Quran(46:9) : Say, (O Muhammad ) “I am not something original among the messengers, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear warner.”

    * If Allah decided to put Ali and Hussein in hellfire NO one can help them NOT even Prophet Muhammad
    * Christians and Jews and other believers in God

    * Did Prophet Muhammad said that Jews and Christians will go to the hell?

    * So why do you say that?

    * STONING TO DEATH

    * Did Allah prescribed / approved stoning to death as punishment?
    would Prophet Muhammad stone someone to dead?

    * DEATH FOR APOSTASY

    * Allah said there is NO compulsion in RELIGION

    * Prophet Muhammad said whoever changed his religion KILL HIM

    * Who should you follow Allah or his servant ?

    * Who do you follow Allah or Prophet? did the Prophet Muhammad disobeyed Allah and kill the apostate ?

    * Did Prophet Muhammad really say to KILL apostate or our liars mullahs invented those hadiths?

    Think about it.

    * ( Mut’ah ) temporary marriages is like having sex with a prostitute

    * Ahlulbayt… Ali and Hussain and Hasan and infallible imams did temporary marriages for sex?

    * If mutah marriage is immoral for Ahlulbayt, so why you do this evil sexual act in the name of your ONLY true Islam?

    * ONLY shia practice mu’tah and i dont think Ali, Hussein sleep around for sex, maybe your infallible imams practice mutah for sex

    * How do you Shia feel if your daughter and your mother want to do mutah?

    * Shia asked Ali to help them and make pilgrimage to Hussein and Ali graveyard. the most Shia makes pilgrimage to Karbala than Kaaba, Shia’s new Kaaba is NOW Karbala

    * If you Shia do not stop mutah / temporary marriage for sex and beating, bleeding your chest SOON your young generation will turned to atheism or become Sunni…………Shiaism cant survive internet…….. reform or die

    BIDAH

    * I think words like Sunni / Shia,.. Mahdab (school of thought),.. successor of Prophet,…infallibility of Prophet and Imam is a bidah ( innovation )

    * I don’t think Allah made anyone successor of Prophet nor Allah say our Prophet is a INFALLIBLE man

    * Lots of Sunni / Shia religious leaders are liars they just made up hadiths to glorify their own chosen cult or sect

    DEMI-GODS

    * Shia’s demi-Gods Prophet’s families and their imams

    * Salafi, Wahabis’s demi-Gods Prophet’s companions and Salufs

    * Sufi’s demi-Gods dead people’s graveyard and their mullahs / shaiks

    The other DEMI-GODS that Muslims worship

    * Sahih Al-Bukhari, Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Kathir, Ja’far Al-Sadiq, Ibn Taymiyyah, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i Hanbali, Mustaali-Taiyabi Ismaili, Zaidiyyah, Ibadiyyah, Ahiriyah, Abu Huraira,

    Quran and Hadiths NOT good enough for you?

    * Please do not follow them without questioning their understanding of Quran and Hadiths

    * When you are questioning scholar of islam / imam you are NOT questioning ALLAH and our Prophet, you are only questioning HIS interpretation of Islam / Quran / Hadith

    * Many sheiks / mullahs lie and MADE-UP stories about Prophet and Prophet’s family and Prophet’s companion to glorify them

    What Does Allah Said About Sects?

    Quran Chapter 30 Verse 32
    Those who split up their Religion, and become (mere) Sects,- each party rejoicing in that which is with itself!

    Quran Chapter 6 Verse 159
    As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou hast no part in them in the least: their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did.

    Quran Chapter 19 Verse 69
    Then shall We certainly drag out from (((->every sect<-))) all those who were worst in obstinate rebellion against (Allah) Most Gracious.

    * Only YOUR sect is saved from hell and ALL other sects will go to the hellfire?

    YOUR mullahs lied to you, they write hadiths to support their evil desire

    * Sunni and Shia has NOTHING to do with Islam, more to do with tribalism or God's chosen group mentality or Prophet's chosen group mentality

    * The Allah implores you to be one of pure faith. Do not divide among yourself.

    * I am a Muslim without sect and mahdab (school of thought) but i respect imams of the past and present and i also reject their SOME interpretation of the QURAN and hadiths and YOU SHOULD TOO

    * We Muslims need to destroy cult of Sunni and Shia and bring back true Islam

    * Muslims should use Allah given brain NOT emotions
    * Islam is a BEAUTIFUL religion but we Muslim makes Islam looks bad

    * And REMEMBER fight between Prophet's families and Prophet's companions was about who should be the FIRST Islamic's KING…….. NOT about which Islam is the TRUE Islam

    * Muslims MUST respect Prophet's families and Prophet's companions but do NOT glorify them in the extent they become demi-god

    * Do not make Prophet Muhammad into demi-god as Shia turned Ali and Hussein into demi-god

    * I choose to reject Sunni and Shia's dogma and ideology due to ridiculously over-complicating the religion of Allah.

    * Islam is a religion of Allah NOT religion of Abu Bakr or Ali

    * Work toward uniting Muslims, On the day of judgement Allah will NOT ask YOU about that how much did YOU love Prophet's family and his companions nor about YOUR sect

    * And remember that Muslims are STILL the BEST people on the earth because we "Enjoin Good and Forbid Evil"

    Please read my blog https://reformingmuslim.blogspot.com/

    Reply

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