Debate Question: Does Islam Compel Its Followers to Live Lives in at least Some Degree of Contradiction?
Something to keep in mind -- a possible explanation regarding why there might be contradictions in the Quran and in the hadiths.
There is one possible explanation that readers should consider: that Muhammad did not have the best memory, and in reciting his revelations from Allah, he forgot precisely what revelations he had said earlier, and unknowingly wound up contradicting earlier verses. Muhammad himself declared that his memory was not perfect in this hadith told by Muhammad's wife, Aisha: "The Prophet (SAW) heard a man (reciting the Quran) in the Mosque, and he said, 'May Allah bestow His Mercy upon him. No doubt, he made me remember such-and such Verses of such-and-such Sura which I dropped (from my memory).'" [Sahih Bukhari, 3:823].
Contradictions in the Quran and hadiths? Readers are invited to determine for themselves whether the following statements in the Quran constitute contradictions:
From the Quran:
Contention: Allah could have a son: "If Allah had willed to choose a son, He could have chosen what He would of that which He hath created." (Quran 39:4)
Contention: Allah could not have a son: "How could Allah have a son when he has no consort?" (Quran 6:101)
Contention: Every living thing was created from water: "Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water?" (Quran 21:30)
Contention: Not every living thing was created from water: "And the Jinn we created before from scorching fire." (Quran 15:27)
Contention: Disbelievers will speak on the Day of Judgment. "That Day, We will seal over their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their feet will testify about what they used to earn." (Quran 36:65).
Contention: Disbelievers will not speak on the Day of Judgment. "Until, when they arrive [at the place of Judgment], He will say, 'Did you deny My signs while you encompassed them not in knowledge, or what [was it that] you were doing?' And the decree will befall them for the wrong they did, and they will not [be able to] speak." (Quran 27:84-85).
Contention: Allah is the sole guardian of the Muslim: "Surely Allah's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; He brings to life and causes to die; and there is not for you besides Allah any Guardian or Helper." (Quran 9:116).
Contention; Allah is NOT the sole guardian of the Muslim: "Your guardian can be only Allah; and His messenger and those who believe, who establish worship and pay the poor-due, and bow down (in prayer)". (Quran 5:55).
Contention: Everything obeys Allah: "Unto Him belongs whosoever is in the heavens and the earth. All are obedient unto Him." (Quran 30:26).
Contention: NOT everything obeys Allah: "We said unto the angels: Prostrate yourselves before Adam, they fell prostrate, all save Iblis. He demurred through pride, and so became a disbeliever." (Quran 2:34).
Contention: Allah forgives all sins. "Say: 'O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'" (Quran 39:53). [See also Quran 4:110, which states: "And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself but then seeks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Forgiving and Merciful."]
Contention: Allah does NOT forgive all sins. "Allah forgives not (the sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgives whom He pleases other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, Has strayed far, far away (from the right)” (Quran 4:116).
Contention: Allah sent down 3,000 angels to help the Muslim warriors at Al-Badr. "When you said to the believers: Does it not suffice you that your Lord should assist you with three thousand of the angels sent down?" (Quran 3:124).
Contention: "Allah sent down 1,000 angels to help the Muslim warriors at Al-Badr. “When you sought help of your Lord and He answered you (saying): I will help you with a thousand of the angels” (Quran 8:9).
Contention: Humans were created from nothing. “But does not man call to mind that We created him before out of nothing?” (Quran 19:67)
Contention: Humans were created out of something. “He has created man from a sperm-drop; and behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer!” (Quran 16:4). Not just the sperm drop; the Quran alleges in other verses that humans were also created out of dust, clay, water, and a blood clot.
Contention: Muhammad was the first Muslim. “And I am commanded to be the first of those who bow to Allah in Islam." (Quran 39:12).
Contention: Muhammad was NOT the first Muslim. “Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in Faith, and bowed his will to Allah's (Which is Islam), and he joined not gods with Allah” (Quran 3:67).
Contention: Allah is "The Compassionate, the Merciful" Quran 1:1,3; Quran 2:37.
Contention: Allah is NOT compassionate, and NOT merciful. "Those who reject our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, We shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise." (Quran 4:56).
Contention: Through’s Allah’s decree, each Muslim warrior is more deadly than ten disbelievers. “If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred (steadfast) they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve” (Quran 8:65).
Contention: Each Muslim warrior is only as deadly as two non-Muslims. “So if there be of you a steadfast hundred they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a thousand (steadfast) they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah.” (Quran 8:66, the very next verse!). This here is obviously an abrogation, with Allah quickly changing his mind about how deadly he wants all Muslim warriors to be in the future.
From the hadiths:
Contention: There is no evil omen. “Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: There is no transitive disease, no evil omen, no safar, no hama…” Sahih Muslim 26:5508
Contention: There are evil omens. “Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar: Allah's Messenger said, "there is neither 'Adha nor Tiyara, and an evil omen is only in three: a horse, a woman [!!] and a house." (Sahih Bukhari 7:71:666)
Contention: Dajjal is blind in the right eye. “Ibn Umar reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). made a mention of Dajjil in the presence of the people and said: Allah is not one-eyed and behold that Dajjal is blind of the right eye and his eye would be like a floating grape.” Sahih Muslim 41:7005
Contention: Dajjal is blind in the left eye. “Hudhalfa reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Dajjal is blind of left eye with thick hair and there would be a garden and fire with him and his fire would be a garden and his garden would be fire.” Sahih Muslim 41:7010
Contention: After becoming a prophet, Muhammad was in Mecca for 10 years. “Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet was neither conspicuously tall, nor short; neither, very white, nor tawny. His hair was neither much curled, nor very straight. Allah sent him (as an Messenger) at the age of forty (and after that) he stayed for ten years in Makkah, and for ten more years in Medina.” Sahih Bukhari 7:72:787
Contention: After becoming a prophet, Muhammad was in Mecca for 13 years. "Narrated Ibn Abbas: Allah's Messenger started receiving the Divine Inspiration at the age of forty. Then he stayed in Makkah for thirteen years, receiving the Divine Revelation. Then he was ordered to migrate and he lived as an Emigrant for ten years and then died at the ageof sixty-three (years)." Sahih Bukhari 5:58:242
Contention: After becoming a prophet, Muhammad was in Mecca for 15 years. "Ibn 'Abbas reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) stayed in Makkah for fifteen years (after his advent as a Prophet) and he heard the voice of Gabriel and saw his radiance for seven years but did not see any visible form, and then received revelation for ten years, and he stayed in Medina for ten years." Sahih Muslim 30:5809
Debate Question: Do you believe that there are contradictions within Islamic scripture, and if so, what do you believe caused these contradictions to occur?
Muslims contend that any discrepancies that arise between the Bible and the Quran stem from the fact that the Bible was corrupted. If the Bible and the Quran disagree about something, the Bible is wrong and the Quran is right. Muslims further allege that it is impossible for the Quran to have become corrupted. Our Debate Question: How is it completely logical for the god of the universe to permit any of his sacred scriptures to ever become corrupted? Why not get everything correct the first time?
In trying to better understand and evaluate potential contradictions in Islam, it is helpful to define both the word, "contradiction," and the word, "abrogation."
An abrogation is "an act of repealing, superseding, putting aside (by formal means), or abolishing" while a contradiction is "a statement or proposition that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous."
That Allah would change his mind and abrogate a verse in the Quran is mentioned in the Quran: "Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?" (Quran 2:106, see also Quran 16:101). An example of abrogation is the following;
Consider these two verses, which indicate the food of each inhabitant in Islamic hell:
"No food will there be for them but a bitter Dhari [a thorny plant]" (Quran 88:6)
"Nor has he any food except the foul discharge [or pus] from the washing of wounds" (Quran 69:36)
Now as a thorny plant is not the same as discharge from a wound, we have a contradiction. The verses refer to what Allah intends to feed the inhabitants of hell in the future after the Day of Judgment, and Allah has changed his mind about what He wants to do. So we should determine which of the 2 verses abrogates the other. In this case, after doing a bit of research, we find that the later verse is 69:36 (The chapters of the Quran are not in chronological order). Thus, the residents of hell will eat only the discharge (or pus according to some translations) of wounds.
Much more noteworthy and serious is what arises when 2 verses contradict each other, with neither (seemingly) abrogating the other. This suggests a mistake has been made. Consider the following: Muhammad proudly declared that he was the first Muslim (Quran 6:163, 39:11-12). But then on other occasions when reciting different Quranic verses, Muhammad stated that others were Muslims before him!! For example, "Ibrahim [someone alive long before Muhammad] was not a Jew nor a Christian but he was (an) upright (man), a Muslim, and he was not one of the polytheists." (Quran 3:67). In addition, we read that Jesus Christ's followers (living centuries before Muhammad) were Muslims (Quran 5:111): "...I inspired the disciples to have faith in Me and Mine Messenger: they said, 'We have faith, and do thou bear witness that we bow to Allah as Muslims.’"
Our Debate Question: Can a truly omnipotent god of the universe allow anyone to enter mistakes into his divine book of revelation?