A Challenge for Islamic Apologists Regarding Islam Before Muhammad

Dhul Qarnayn – Alexander the Great

Islam is the youngest out of all the major religions in the world, though it claims to be the oldest.  Secular historians equate the founding of Islam with Muhammad.  The Arab who claimed to be a Prophet in the line of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.  According to Islam, the first man who ever lived, Adam, was a Muslim.  Muhammad is simply the last in the line of Islamic Prophets according to the Quran and the Hadith.Not only are the Prophets of the Old and New Testaments called Muslims, secular figures are called Muslims as well.  A good example is Surah 18 with Dhul-Qarnayn who is described as a Muslim.  Dhul-Qarnayn is actually a reference to Alexander the Great according to Muslim and secular scholars.  This observation actually serves as an argument against the Quran since Alexander was anything but a Muslim.  He was a Greek polytheist who deified himself, in addition to being a practitioner of homosexuality.  It’s one of numerous examples how the Quran is a polemic against history.

Regardless, what the Islamic sources state is that Islam existed before Muhammad.  For the sake of argument, we will grant Muslims this argument.  However, they now have to answer the following question: Besides Biblical and Quranic figures, who are the pre-Muhammad Muslims?  Yes, we know that Islamic sources claim Moses, Jesus, Alexander the Great, and others were Muslim.  Who else?

Were the ancient Israelites who lived in the era of the first Temple Muslims?  How about Judas Maccabeus?  What about the Apostle Paul and other characters in the book of Acts?  Was St. Ignatius of Antioch a Muslim?  How about St. Augustine of Hippo?  How about the Talmudic Rabbis?

I know what most Muslims are probably thinking.  Augustine believed in the death, resurrection and deity of Christ, how can he be a Muslim?  The Talmudic Rabbis reject the Prophet Jesus, how can they be Muslim?  Valid points, though it is certainly easier to argue for them being Muslim over Alexander the Great.

Who were the Muslims from the time of Jesus until the time of Muhammad?  The truth is that there are no Islamic Christians, Islamic Jews, or any other kind of Muslim before the 7th Century AD.  Muhammad was the first Muslim, not Adam.

It shouldn’t be hard to do this if the Quran is a book from God.  The truth is, it is not.  The Quran has about as much divine authority as the Book of Mormon.  The only reason that Islam has more followers than Mormonism is that their early movement had a military to enforce their book and religion.  They both have an equal claim to truth.

God’s religion will not force us to believe numerous things that have been thoroughly falsified by previous scriptures and secular history.  To all Muslims who read this blog, I invite you to relieve yourself of this enormous burden.  In the 7th century, God’s religion was set up, organized and evangelizing the world.  It was the same Church that was founded in Matthew 16.  It existed in the 7th century and it still exists today.  Come home Muslims.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “A Challenge for Islamic Apologists Regarding Islam Before Muhammad

  1. That is an excellent and succinct blog entry.

    “It’s one of numerous examples how the Quran is a polemic against history.”

    Well put. Islam is the greatest mass delusion that I can think of. I do not say that lightly because I don’t wish to be anything other than charitable towards my fellow men, but I have studied Islam for several years. It is hard to credit how people can be so uncritical and allow themselves to be caught up in this cult. Islam is the first religion I have studied where I haven’t gained some benefit from seeing a different world view (apart from Mormonism). I wish I hadn’t needed to bother studying it, but its influence today is so marked and so baleful – and so wilfully misunderstood by those in power – that I haven’t been able to ignore it.

    It is sad that blogs like this (and people like me) find it necessary to spend time and energy on the false religion of Mohammedanism instead of more time contemplating the Good News of Jesus Christ.

    • Yes, Muslims often challenge us on the Bible. We need to challenge them on their beliefs as well. Thanks for the input.

  2. Islam = Submission to the One God.

    This is the definition of Islam.

    The prophets like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Hud, Salih, Shuayb, Dhul Kifl etc all submitted to the One God, they are considered Muslims. Those who followed them are also Muslim.

    But we do not restrict the definition of Muslim to people named in the Quran or Bible. God sent other prophets as well to other nations. Some were accepted, some rejected, some had few followers others had no followers.

    Dhul Qarnayn is NOT Alexander the Great. The Quran does not name him nor does any Hadith. Some exegetes erroneously thought he was Alexander, others thought he was an ancient Persian king, some claimed he was a king of Tubba and others said he lived at the time of Abraham. Many commentators theorised about who he was but no one had certain knowledge.
    That actually is one of the points of Surah 18, it begins with the people of the cave. We are told that people argued about the details about these people (their number, the duration of their sleep) etc. But God knows the full details. Likewise we are not given the identity of Dhul Qarnayn as a demonstration of our limited knowledge as opposed to God’s full knowledge. The bickering about the specifics of the people of the cave is denounced. Likewise we are to look at the moral of the story of Dhul Qarnayn.

    Who among the Christians were Muslims?These would be people that you would consider heretics. There were sects that believed in the One God and regarded Jesus as His prophet. Many ordinary Christians do not understand the Trinity etc and already have a view of Jesus closer to Islam. If they die without having received the message of Islam they could be considered Muslims on the day of Judgemdnt.

    Who among the Jews were Muslims? These would be those among them who did not receive the pure message of Jesus. If someone did not receive the pure message of a prophet they are not responsible for not believing in him.

    People are not judged based on evidence they did not have access to. This is a clear principle of the Quran.

    Thus by this definition, a castaway who grew up alone on an island with no access to info about prophets could be considered a Muslim by God, if he recognises the Oneness of God and worships Him alone.

    A person who only knows idolatry can be considered a Muslim if he abandons the idolatry of his people and seeks out the One God. This would be true even if he never encounters other monotheists.

    • Dhul Qarnayn is Alexander the Great. The Quran borrowed from The Glorious Deeds of Alexander which was a text popular in the Middle East at that time. The story is almost identical. Can you cite me the earliest Muslim commentators who think that it is someone else. Dhul Qarnayn to my knowledge means two horns, and that is how Alexander was depicted on coins in the Middle East from his time to the time of Muhammad.

      I would like you to answer the question that I posed. Can you name some pre-Muhammad Muslims that aren’t mentioned in the Bible or Quran. I would like to know where these Muslims are, what their names were, etc. You said that there were followers of Jesus that were heretics in my eyes but are actually Islamic? Can you name them?

      • Among the early commentators, Wahb b Munabbih thought Dhul Qarnayn was a king of Tubba. Ibn Kathir mentions a list of earlier commentators and their views. Some gave him Arabic names and other gave him Persian names. The fact is they all made educated guesses based on the information they had. From an Islamic perspective, the fact is that the identity of this man is not of the utmost importance.

        As for the claim that the Quran borrowed from the Alexander legends, you would have to prove that the version of the legend you think the Quran borrowed from existed at the time of revelation. To my knowledge there is no manuscript of any of the Alexander legends until centuries after the Quran. It is possible that these legends were updated with Quranic info. However, even if we say that some versions of the legends preceded the Quran it would not prove borrowing. Consider the following scenario:

        1. People knew the original story of Dhul Qarnayn either from previous revelation to some prophet in any of the nations or through historical knowledge.
        2. The original figure of Dhul Qarnayn had become obscured but his deeds were attributed to a more recent figure who was prominent in peoples mind i.e. Alexander. This is how legends are formed by mixing individuals and events.
        3. The Quran tells the story of Dhul Qarnayn without mentioning that he was Alexander of Macedon.
        Note- it would have been very easy for the Quran to have said Alexander but it does not. In the stories of the Quran the main figure is named Adam, Noah,Hud, Salih, Shu’ayb, Abraham, Joseph,Job, Moses, Luqman etc. In Surah 18 however, both the people of the cave and Dhul Qarnayn are not named. The narrative of the people of the cave in the same Surah makes a point about getting the moral of the story instead of getting bogged down on the finer details.

        One example of Muslims in the past are the Israelites who followed the prophets and did not commit idolatry(calf-worship, Baal worship) etc. In Surah 17, we are told of two times that the Masjid of the Israelites was attacked. This is understood by commentators to refer to the Babylonian and Roman attacks. In the middle of these two episodes the Israelites are reminded of the intermediary period about during which it was said “If you do good you do it to your own benefit”[17: 7]

        Judging by your writings, I think you are under the impression that for individuals from the nations before the prophet Muhammad to be considered Muslims they must have the same views on everything as the Quran. This is not true because the Quran itself tells us that it came to clarify what people differed about and that things had been forgotten by the people. There are certain things that are regarded as Kufr(disbelief) such as the Trinity, taking Jesus as an Ilah, taking Mary as an Ilah, taking religious leaders as arbaab instead of God etc.

        On the other hand there are other things that people did erroneously believing that they were from God. For example monasticism (of the monks). While the Quran rejects this practice it does not chastise those who sincerely did it. [57:27]. So here we have an example of monotheist believers who had a faulty understanding but they are still counted as believers.

  3. Fawaz was kind enough to answer the points raised and provide considered comments. However Alan (if I may use his first name) is entirely justified in his comments on Alexander the Great because it is generally agreed by Muslim commentators and scholars that Dhu ‘l-Karnayn, “the two horned”, in Sura XVIII, 83/82-98 is indeed to be identified with the King of Macedon, conqueror of the East and self-styled god. Alan made good and valid observations about that and about supposed pre-Mohammedan Muslims – something which has not been satisfactorily answered by those who defend the idea of their existence. There is no proof of any Muslim followers of Jesus, we know what Jesus’ followers believed and what they preached.

    Let’s not get bogged down in detail though and quibble over things that are relatively unimportant. What Alan provided was an example of how the Koran attempts to set out its own version of history, as well as its own version of what God has revealed to us.

    The key to all this is Mohammed. Basically the Koran is a record of Mohammed’s polemics and it records whatever suited his policy or his desires at the time. In my experience Muslims start off from the position that whatever is written in the Koran is true and whatever else we have as facts, science or history must agree with it.

    Alan has pointed out that the author of the Koran had an agenda. On the basis of the untruths in the Koran, the distortions and the blatant self-serving and changing “revelations” could Mohammed be considered trustworthy? I would say that he was blatantly untrustworthy. I wouldn’t buy a used car off Mohammed never mind trust the fate of my immortal soul with his revelations.

    Muslims set an example of dutiful devotion that religious people can learn from but it is misguided. They appear to ardently desire to worship God and if only they could learn what Jesus really taught they would understand the truth about God and what He wants for us. Muslims claim to revere Jesus but they know so little about him. Mohammed knew next to nothing about Jesus, but unlike Mohammed many modern Muslims are not illiterate and have access to the Old and New Testaments. The teachings of Jesus are available to all in the Gospel and they copies that we have pre-date the time of Mohammed and are much closer to the events they describe than are the Islamic ones. I urge them to learn about Jesus for their own sake.