I continue building my case that the Quran cannot be the word of the true God (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/is-the-quran-gods-word-pt-1/).
What is the Mother of the Book?
According to the following passage,
He it is who has revealed to thee the Book, of which there are some verses that are decisive, they are the mother of the Book (ummu al-kitab); and others ambiguous; but as for those in whose hearts is perversity, they follow what is ambiguous, and do crave for sedition, craving for (their own) interpretation of it; but none know the interpretation of it except God. But those who are well grounded in knowledge say, ‘We believe in it; it is all from our Lord; but none will remember save those who possess minds. S. 3:7 Palmer
The verses that are clear are said to be the mother of the book (umm al-kitab). It may shock the readers to discover that Muhammad called the first Surah of the Quran, titled al-Fatiha, the mother of book, a chapter that contains only seven verses!
I: What has come regarding the Fatiha of the Book
It is called the “Mother of the Book” because it is the first to be written in copies of the Qur’an and the first to be recited in the prayer. “Deen” means repayment, in both good and evil, from the verb, “to repay, be in debt” (dâna, yadînu). (Aisha Bewley, The Sahih Collection of Al-Bukhari, Chapter 68. Book of Tafsir https://bewley.virtualave.net/bukhari30.html)
Which was revealed in Makkah
The Meaning of Al-Fatihah and its Various Names
This Surah is called Al-Fatihah, that is, the Opener of the Book, the Surah with which prayers are begun. – It is also called, Umm Al-Kitab (the Mother of the Book), ACCORDING TO THE MAJORITY OF THE SCHOLARS.
In AN AUTHENTIC HADITH recorded by At-Tirmidhi, who graded it Sahih, Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said…
Al-Hamdu lillahi Rabbil-`Alamin is the Mother of the Qur’an, the Mother of the Book, and the seven repeated Ayat of the Glorious Qur’an…
The Reason it is called Umm Al-Kitab
In the beginning of the Book of Tafsir, in his Sahih, Al-Bukhari said; “It is called Umm Al-Kitab, because the Qur’an starts with it and because the prayer is started by reciting it.” It was also said that it is called Umm Al-Kitab, because it contains the meanings of the entire Qur’an. Ibn Jarir said, “The Arabs call every comprehensive matter that contains several specific areas an Umm. For instance, they call the skin that surrounds the brain, Umm Ar-Ra’s. They also call the flag that gathers the ranks of the army an Umm.” He also said, “Makkah was called Umm Al-Qura, (the Mother of the Villages) because it is the grandest and the leader of all villages. It was also said that the earth was made starting from Makkah.’’
Further, Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah narrated about Umm Al-Qur’an that the Prophet said…
(It is Umm Al-Qur’an, the seven repeated (verses) and the Glorious Qur’an.)
Also, Abu Ja`far, Muhammad bin Jarir At-Tabari recorded Abu Hurayrah saying that the Messenger of Allah said about Al-Fatihah,
(It is Umm Al-Qur’an, Al-Fatihah of the Book (the Opener of the Qur’an) and the seven repeated (verses).) (Tafsir Ibn Kathir http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/1/0; capital emphasis mine)
What this means is that only these seven verses are clear, and all the rest of the verses are Quran are ambiguous whose meanings are known only to Allah!
The Reason Why Q. 3:7 Was “Revealed”
According to the Islamic expositors, the following verses,
It is He who has sent down to you (Muhammad) the book (this Qur’an). In it are Verses absolutely clear, they are the basis of the book; and others are not entirely clear. As for those in whose hearts there is deviation (from the truth), they follow what is unclear thereof, seeking mischief, and seeking for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly rooted in knowledge say: “We believe in it, all from our Lord.” None will heed except the people of understanding. S. 3:7 (Abdul Hye https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/3/st75.htm)
It is He who has sent down to you the Book. Some of its verses are precise in meaning they are the foundation of the Book and others obscure. Those whose hearts are swerving with disbelief, follow the obscure desiring sedition and desiring its interpretation, but no one knows its interpretation except Allah. Those who are wellgrounded in knowledge say: ‘We believe in it, it is all from our Lord. And none remember except those who are possessed of minds. (Hasan al-Fatih Qaribullah https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/3/st16.htm)
Was actually “sent down” in response to Muhammad’s debate with a group of Arab Christians from Najran:
One of Sunni Islam’s renowned commentators Ibn Kathir concurs with all the above and also had this to say about the sixth verse:
Which was revealed in Al-Madina
Surah Al `Imran was revealed in Al-Madinah, as evident by the fact that the first eighty-three Ayat in it relate to the delegation from Najran that arrived in Al-Madinah on the ninth year of Hijrah (632 CE). We will elaborate on this subject when we explain the Ayah about the Mubahalah [3:61] in this Surah, Allah willing. We should also state that we mentioned the virtues of Surah Al `Imran along with the virtues of Surat Al-Baqarah in the beginning of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Baqarah. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/3/0)
(He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He wills.)… meaning, He creates you in the wombs as He wills, whether male or female, handsome or otherwise, happy or miserable.
(La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Almighty, the All-Wise.) meaning, He is the Creator and thus is the only deity worthy of worship, without partners, and His is the perfect might, wisdom and decision. This Ayah refers to the fact that `Isa, son of Mary, is a created servant, just as Allah created the rest of mankind. Allah created `Isa in the womb (of his mother) and shaped him as He willed. Therefore, how could `Isa be divine, as the Christians, may Allah’s curses descend on them, claim `Isa was created in the womb and his creation changed from stage to stage… (Ibid. http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/3/5)
The Christians were using Muhammad’s own affirmation that Jesus is Allah’s Word and Spirit to prove Christ’s essential Deity. This prompted Muhammad to come up with Q. 3:7 in order to prevent these Christians from using Muhammad’s own so-called revelations by arguing that those verses of the Quran, which describe Jesus as the Word and Spirit of Allah are among the unclear, ambiguous passages whose meanings no one knows except Allah!
Note, for instance, what renowned Muslim scholar and historian al-Tabari wrote:
OPINION: Some of them said: This verse referred to the Christian delegation from Najran, which came to the Messenger of God to debate with him over what they debated and argue with him, saying, “Do you not claim that Jesus is the Spirit of God and His Word?”1 They interpreted [these words] in a manner consistent with their statement of disbelief.
An account of those who said that:
Al-Muthanna – Ibn Ishaq – Ibn Abi Ja’far – his father – al-Rabi’: “They were resolute-meaning the Christian delegation from Najran that came to the Messenger of God-and they argued with the Prophet, saying, ‘Do you not claim that [Jesus] is the Word of God and a Spirit from Him?’ [The Prophet said] replied, ‘BUT, OF COURSE!’ They said, ‘This is sufficient for us!’ Then God (Mighty and Majesty is He) sent down, But those in whose hearts is doubt pursue that which is ambiguous of it, seeking (to cause) dissension. Then God (Majestic is His praise) sent down the verse [beginning with] Truly the likeness of Jesus with respect to God is as the likeness of Adam (Q. 3:59).”2
1 Jesus is described as His Word and a Spirit from Him in Q. 4:171.
2 According to Suyuti, this mursal hadith from al-Rabi’ is found elsewhere only in the Qur’anic commentary of Ibn Abi Hatim; al-Durr al-manthur, 2:10. (Tabari: Selections from The Comprehensive Exposition of the Interpretation of the Verses of the Qur’an, translated by Scott C. Lucas [The Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute For Islamic Thought and The Islamic Texts Society, 2017], Volume 1, p. 229; capital emphasis mine)
And here’s what Ibn Kathir wrote:
(they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof) meaning, they refer to the Mutashabih, because they are able to alter its meanings to conform with their false interpretation since the wordings of the Mutashabihat encompass such a wide area of meanings. As for the Muhkam Ayat, they cannot be altered because they are clear and, thus, constitute unequivocal proof against the misguided people. This is why Allah said…
(seeking Al-Fitnah) meaning, they seek to misguide their following by pretending to prove their innovation by relying on the Qur’an — the Mutashabih of it — but, this is proof against and not for them. For instance, Christians might claim that (`Isa is divine because) the Qur’an states that he is Ruhullah and His Word, which He gave to Mary, all the while ignoring Allah’s statements…
(He (`Isa) was not more than a servant. We granted Our favor to him.) (43:59), and…
(Verily, the likeness of `Isa before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: “Be!” and he was.) (3:59).
There are other Ayat that clearly assert that `Isa is but one of Allah’s creatures and that he is the servant and Messenger of Allah, among other Messengers. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/3/7; bold emphasis mine)
And here’s his exposition of Q. 3:61:
The reason for the call to Mubahalah and the revelation of the Ayat from the beginning of this Sarah until here, is that a delegation from the Christians of Najran (in Yemen) came to Al-Madinah to argue about `Isa, claiming that he was divine and the son of Allah. Allah sent down the beginning of this Surah until here, to refute their claims, as Imam Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar and other scholars stated.
Muhammad bin Ishaq bin Yasar said in his famous Sirah, “The delegation of Christians from Najran came to the Messenger of Allah. The delegation consisted of sixty horsemen, including fourteen of their chiefs who make decisions. These men were Al-`Aqib, also known as `Abdul-Masih, As-Sayyid, also known as Al-Ayham, Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah, of ﴿the family of﴾ Bakr bin Wa`il and Uways bin Al-Harith. They also included, Zayd, Qays, Yazid, Nabih, Khuwaylid, `Amr, Khalid, `Abdullah and Yuhannas. Three of these men were chiefs of this delegation, Al-`Aqib, their leader and to whom they referred for advice and decision; As-Sayyid, their scholar and leader in journeys and social gatherings; and Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah, their patriarch, priest and religious leader. Abu Harithah was an Arab man from ﴿the family of﴾ Bakr bin Wa`il, but when he embraced Christianity, the Romans and their kings honored him and built churches for him (or in his honor). They also supported him financially and gave him servants, because they knew how firm his faith in their religion was.” Abu Harithah knew the description of the Messenger of Allah from what he read in earlier divine Books. However, his otherwise ignorance led him to insist on remaining a Christian, because he was honored and had a high position with the Christians. Ibn Ishaq said, “Muhammad bin Ja`far bin Az-Zubayr said that, `The (Najran) delegation came to the Messenger of Allah in Al-Madinah, entered his Masjid wearing robes and garments, after the Prophet had prayed the `Asr prayer. They accompanied a caravan of camels led by Bani Al-Harith bin Ka`b. The Companions of the Messenger of Allah who saw them said that they never saw a delegation like them after that… Then Abu Harithah bin `Alqamah and Al-`Aqib `Abdul-Masih or As-Sayyid Al-Ayham spoke to the Messenger of Allah , and they were Christians like the king (Roman King). However, they disagreed about `Isa; some of them said, `He is Allah,’ while some said, `He is the son of Allah,’ and some others said, `He is one of a trinity.’ Allah is far from what they attribute to Him.’’
Indeed, these are the creeds of the Christians. They claim that `Isa is God, since he brought the dead back to life, healed blindness, leprosy and various illnesses, told about matters of the future, created the shape of birds and blew life into them, bringing them to life. However, all these miracles occurred by Allah’s leave, so that `Isa would be a sign from Allah for people.
They also claim that `Isa is the son of Allah, since he did not have a father and he spoke when he was in the cradle, a miracle which had not occurred by any among the Children of Adam before him, so they claim. They also claim that `Isa is one of a trinity, because Allah would say, `We did, command, create and demand.’ They said, `If Allah were one, he would have said, `I did, command, create and decide.’ This is why they claim that `Isa and Allah are one (Trinity). Allah is far from what they attribute to Him, and we should mention that the Qur’an refuted all these false Christian claims.
Ibn Ishaq continued, “When these Ayat came to the Messenger from Allah , thus judging between him and the People of the Book, Allah also commanded the Prophet to call them to the Mubahalah if they still refused the truth. The Prophet called them to the Mubahalah. They said, `O Abu Al-Qasim! Let us think about this matter and get back to you with our decision to what we want to do.’ They left the Prophet and conferred with Al-`Aqib, to whom they referred to for advice. They said to him, `O `Abdul-Masih! What is your advice’ He said, `By Allah, O Christian fellows! You know that Muhammad is a Messenger and that he brought you the final word regarding your fellow (`Isa). You also know that no Prophet conducted Mubahalah with any people, and the old persons among them remained safe and the young people grew up. Indeed, it will be the end of you if you do it. If you have already decided that you will remain in your religion and your creed regarding your fellow (`Isa), then conduct a treaty with the man (Muhammad) and go back to your land.’ They came to the Prophet and said, `O Abu Al-Qasim! We decided that we cannot do Mubahalah with you and that you remain on your religion, while we remain on our religion. However, send with us a man from your Companions whom you are pleased with to judge between us regarding our monetary disputes, for you are acceptable to us in this regard.’”
Al-Bukhari recorded that Hudhayfah said, “Al-`Aqib and As-Sayyid, two leaders from Najran, came to the Messenger of Allah seeking to invoke Allah for curses (against whoever is unjust among them), and one of them said to the other, `Let us not do that. By Allah, if he were truly a Prophet and we invoke Allah for curses, we and our offspring shall never succeed afterwards.’ So they said, `We will give you what you asked and send a trusted man with us, just a trusted man.’… (Ibid. http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/3/59; bold emphasis mine)
What the foregoing indicates is that no Muslim can ever explain what it means for Jesus to be the Word and Spirit of Allah, since no Muslim, not even Muhammad, knows or can know the interpretation of these titles seeing that they are a part of those obscure and unclear passages whose exact interpretation is known only by Allah.
How Allah Stumped Muhammad and His Followers (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/01/how-allah-stumped-muhammad-and-his-followers/)
How Surah 3:7 suddenly makes sense (https://answeringislam.net/Shamoun/sura3_7.htm)