Errors in Quran


QuranQuran is the principle text of Islam and one of the three sources from which the Sharia law is cast. The Quran (also spelled Koran or Qur'an) was dictated from 609 to 632 AD by Muhammad and compiled after he died.

The most sensitive issue with the Quran concerns errors. Muslims claim the Quran is infallible and error-free, while others claim the Quran has errors.

Are there errors in the Quran?

The Quran does have errors. Some of the errors in the Quran are self-contradictions that Naskh tries to bridge. But Quran also has historical and archaeological errors, as well as errors in mathematics and logic. For example, the Quran states that one night, Allah took Muhammad to "al-Aqsa" mosque in Jerusalem:

"Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa ..." - Quran 17:1

The Muslim army captured Jerusalem in 637 AD and al-Aqsa mosque was built in the early 8th century. The problem with the above claim in the Quran is that Muhammad died before the Muslim army even reached Jerusalem and decades before al-Aqsa mosque was built (for details, see al-Aqsa Mosque).

Or consider Quran 20, which claims that Moses confronted "Aaron" and a "Samaritan" for having made the golden calf for the Israelites while he (Moses) was on Mount Sinai:

"[Moses] said, "O Aaron, what prevented you, when you saw them going astray, from following me? Then have you disobeyed my order?" [Aaron] said, "O son of my mother, do not seize [me] by my beard or by my head. Indeed, I feared that you would say, 'You caused division among the Children of Israel, and you did not observe [or await] my word.'" [Moses] said, "And what is your case, O Samaritan?" - Quran 20:92-95

Assyria conquered the Jewish northern kingdom in 722 BC, exiled its upper class and brought in conquered people from other lands who intermarried with the lower class Jews who had been allowed to stay. Their offspring were called "Samaritans" ("Samiri" or "Samarians" in some translations of the Quran) because they occupied the region of "Samaria," named after its original owner, "Shemer" (see 1 Kings 16:24 in the Bible). The Jews despised the Samaritans both for being a mixed race and for setting up their own temple to compete against the temple in Jerusalem.

But the golden calf incident near Mount Sinai mentioned in Quran 20:92-95 above took place in 1446 BC, which was 725 years before the first Samaritan was born in 721 BC.

It gets worse. Here is what the Quran says about Mary, the mother of Jesus:

"Then she brought [Jesus] to her people, carrying him. They said, "O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste." - Quran 19:27-28

"And Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, and We breathed into (her body) of our spirit; and she believed in the words of her Lord and of His revelations, and was of the devoutly obedient." - Quran 66:12

There are a number of "Mary" - also spelled "Maria" or "Miriam" in English - in the Bible. One of them is the mother of Jesus:

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: after His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit." - Matthew 1:18

But the Mary who is the "daughter of Imran" (spelled "Amram" in the Bible) and the "sister of Aaron" was the sister of Moses who lived in the 15th century BC:

"The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam." - Numbers 26:59

Therefore, unless Mary was 1,500 years old when she bore Jesus (see how old was Mary when she had Jesus?) - indeed, unless Joseph married a 1,500 year old virgin - Muhammad mistook two different women in the Bible as the same Mary.

Why does the Quran contain such glaring errors?

The proximate reason is that Muhammad was illiterate and therefore could not read the Bible for himself. He had only a vague and often incorrect knowledge of the Bible (see Bible vs. Quran) from what others read to him.

The ultimate reason, of course, is that Muhammad was a false prophet who confessed to mistaking the voice of Satan as God's (see "Prophet" Muhammad) and who tried to cover up these and other embarrassing errors with Naskh.

As for the Quran's self-contradictions, see There is No Compulsion in Religion.