From Where Did Muhammad/Allah “Borrow” The Stories in the Quran?

There is very little in the Quran that is original thinking. Practically all of it is “borrowed” from older times, or from sourrounding cultures. The laws mainly are from old Arab traditions, added by some ideas from mainly the Jews, the Christians and Persia. Also ethical and moral ideas came from the same sources – partly originally from Hellas. (But then Islam never really had a philosophy of moral or ethics – they never was interested in knowledge for the sake of knowledge and actively fought against things like philosophy – a war Islam won in 1095 with a book attacking just philosophy and written by “the second greatest Muslim ever” al-Ghazali. They instead followed the few and sometimes inhuman orders in the Quran). And the same goes for knowledge and sciense – mainly from Hellas and Persia and some from India. But actually knowledge and science was in short supply at the times of Muhammad – translation of the old books to Arab came much later.

At the times of Muhammad Arabia simply was in a permanent barbaric state with little education except the basic learning – and that only for a selected few – and with the tribes constantly fighting each other in a real anarci. The only form of art that existed was storytelling and poetry. The country was even more barbaric than the worst places in north Pakistan and Afghanistan and Africa today. (This may be a reason why Islam had success in Arabia after it was changed to a war religion – the Arabs were by culture – or rather by anarchism – warriors by heart because that was they had been brought up to become, and a war religion fitted their not-culture. Barbarism is not a culture, no matter what semi-intellectuals say).

In such situations Muhammad was not to blame for stealing good ideas from the surroundings – actually not to do so would just be stubborn stupidity – like what you see some places even today: Everything from the outside, and especially from the west, is bad, instead of picking the good ideas and leaving the bad ones. Muhammad – or Allah – was wise enough to try to pick the good ideas from where he found them.

But Muhammad was no thinker himself (sorry, but hardly any real scientist today believe the Quran was made by a god – nothing points towards a god, everything towards Muhammad and/or human helpers). And also in the Quran there is little or nothing of original stuff. The stories are all taken from other sources known in Arabia at that time (why should a god do so?)

Much is taken from the Bible, but “adjusted” to fit Muhammad’s teaching. But much of this really is not from the Bible, but from religious fairy tales and folk tales or from texts made up by different fringe sects – gnostics f. ex. made up quite a number of  “gospels” and other “holy” stories. If we say that Muhammad made up the Quran himself, it is easy to see why he frequently missed here:

I.              He did not know much about Jewish religion, until after he came to Medina, and then it was too late.

II.            He never knew much about the Christian religion.

III.          Perhaps he did not know how to read, and for sure he never had a Bible.

IV.         There was a myriade of stories and poems also about religious subjects in Arabia – as I said storytelling (and story making) and poetry were the only arts in Arabia, and also one of the few pastimes in such cultures during long evenings.

It often was impossible for him to know what really was a true story and what not.

Besides he had to mix divinity into the stories, if it was not there before – it may as well be there from before, because then an intelligent but rather short of fantasy brain like Muhammad’s only had to name the god behind the stories “Allah“. Actually he used both religious and non-religious stories and changed them enough to fit his teaching.

But as for stories presumably from the Jewish and even more so from the Christian religion some of them were just twisted a little or a lot, whereas others were plainly from made up folk and fairy tales, legends and myths known in Arabia at that time.

I do not comment the places the Quran twists the Bible – most of my readers will recognize them. I only ad that in Syria and Arabia there were many from the partly Christian Gnostic sects living, and actually many of the stories pretending to be from the Bible in the Quran, are from made up Gnostic tales.  But I will take some of the others – and a couple of Gnostic ones (sources: Among others Slot-Henriksen: Comments on the Quran):

001     Moses and the fish – from Arabic folk tales about search for eternal life. May be originally from Babylon – the Babylonian Ugarit texts has a very similar story about the god El (not unknown in and around Arabia).

002     Solomon listening to the ants – fairty tale perhaps inspired by the Bible, Sol. 6/6.

003     Jinns working for Solomon – from local fairy tales, folk tales and myths (jinns were beings in Arab folklore that are incorporated in Islam). Anyone who has read f. ex. 1001 Nights knows that supernatural beings sometimes worked for humans.

004     Mary working in the temple (in Jerusalem) as child/youth – from “The Proto Gospel after Jacob”, part 8,1 and 8,1b.

005     Jesus talking in the crib – from the religious legend “The Egyptian Child Gospel” perhaps via the as made up “The Arab Child Gospel” (originally from Syria) – both fairy tales about fantastic things concerning the child Jesus. “The Arab Child Gospel” also got stories from “The Proto Gospel after Jacob” and “The Thomas’ Child Gospel” – both made up religious legends or myths.

006     Jesus making birds from clay – read the heretical Gnostic “Child Gospel after Thomas” verse 1 – 4, a very made up child gospel. (Actually none of the storeys about Jesus in the Quran is reckoned by scientists to be true. Actually most of what is said in the Quran about Christian religion, is from apocryphal – made up – sources. Not unnatural as there f. ex. were many Gnostics and other semi-Christian and semi-Jewish sects in the fringes of Christianity. sects. Syria and Arabia definitely were in – and outside – those fringes).

007     Mary and the palm – from the made up religious fable “The Proto Gospel after Mathew”, chapter 20.

008     Muhammad’s Night Journey to Heaven – read about different such travels in Jewish Merabah mysticism or even more the gnostig “Enoc’s Journy to Heaven” (nearly identical to Ibn Ishaq’s by Islam accepted story after Abu Said al-Chudri)

009     The sleepers in the cave – the even today well known religious fable from Efesus, about the 7 youths that fled from emperor Decius (a real emperor reigning only 2 years around 250 AD) and went to sleep in a cave, and then woke up maximum 196 years later (the Quran says 300 or 309 years) under the more well known emperor Theodocius). Just read it – it normally even is better told than in the Quran.

010     Alexander the Great/Duh’l Quarnayn – anyone knowing the story of Alaxander; read this part oft Surah 18 and weep – or laugh. Copycatting at its most naïve. (He f. ex. was no Muslim, he never went west – this we know from history, there no place in the world was enough iron blocks to close off a whole valley around 330 BC, etc.).

012     The story about Ad (many times repeated) – copied from Arab folk tales, presumeably a story from more than 2000 years before Muhammad (before Moses (around 1230 BC) according to the Quran), and Muhammad had no written sources. Besides all the other: How big is the chance that a folk tale is true and identical with the reality after 2ooo years?

013     The stories about Thamud – copied from Arab presumably 2ooo years old folk tales. See the tales about Ad just above.

014     The stories about Median – copied from Arab folk tales.

If you look, may be you will find more copycatting.


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