More of the Incomplete Quran Exposed: Who or What Is Ahmad?

This is a continuation of my series documenting that the Quran is an incoherent, unintelligible, jumbled piece of literature:

The Incompleteness and Incoherence of the Quran (https://answeringislam.net/Quran/Incoherence/index.html).

The Incomplete Quran Revisited: The Story of Ishmael (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/11/the-incomplete-quran-revisited-the-story-of-ishmael/).

As I have shown in the previous segments, the Quran repeatedly styles itself a clear book that provides a full exposition of everything:

It is He Who has set the stars for you, so that you may guide your course with their help through the darkness of the land and the sea. We have (indeed) explained IN DETAIL Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, Revelations, etc.) for people who know. It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and has given you a place of residing (on the earth or in your mother’s wombs) and a place of storage [in the earth (in your graves) or in your father’s loins]. Indeed, We have EXPLAINED IN DETAIL Our revelations (this Qur’an) for people who understand. S. 6:97-98 Hilali-Khan

Say (O Muhammad): “Who has forbidden the adoration with clothes given by Allah, which He has produced for his slaves, and At-Taiyibat [all kinds of Halal (lawful) things] of food?” Say: “They are, in the life of this world, for those who believe, (and) exclusively for them (believers) on the Day of Resurrection (the disbelievers will not share them).” Thus We explain the Ayat (Islamic laws) IN DETAIL for people who have knowledge. S. 7:32 Hilali-Khan

Certainly, We have brought to them a Book (the Qur’an) which We have explained IN DETAIL WITH KNOWLEDGE, – a guidance and a mercy to a people who believe. S. 7:52 Hilali-Khan

One day We shall raise from all Peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness against these (thy people): and We have sent down to thee the Book EXPLAINING ALL THINGS, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims. S. 16:89 Y. Ali

With the foregoing in perspective, I have a few challenges concerning the following text:

And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the apostle of God (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad (ahmadu).” But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, “this is evident sorcery!” S. 61:6 Y. Ali

  • Prove from the Quran alone that Ahmad is the same person as Muhammad.

The name Muhammad appears only four times in the Quran:

Muhammad (muhammadun) is but a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) have passed away before him. Will it be that, when he dieth or is slain, ye will turn back on your heels? He who turneth back on his heels doth no hurt to Allah, and Allah will reward the thankful. S. 3:144 Pickthall

Muhammad (muhammadun) is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things. S. 33:40 Pickthall

And those who believe and do good works and believe in that which is revealed unto Muhammad (muhammadin) – and it is the truth from their Lord – He riddeth them of their ill-deeds and improveth their state. S. 47:2 Pickthall

Muhammad (muhammadun) is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. Thou (O Muhammad) seest them bowing and falling prostrate (in worship), seeking bounty from Allah and (His) acceptance. The mark of them is on their foreheads from the traces of prostration. Such is their likeness in the Torah and their likeness in the Gospel – like as sown corn that sendeth forth its shoot and strengtheneth it and riseth firm upon its stalk, delighting the sowers – that He may enrage the disbelievers with (the sight of) them. Allah hath promised, unto such of them as believe and do good works, forgiveness and immense reward. S. 48:29 Pickthall

There is nothing within the Islamic scripture that explicitly connects Muhammad with Ahmad, showing that they are one and the same individual.

  • Prove that Ahmad is a proper name as opposed to being a descriptive noun or adjective.

Not all Muslim translations take Ahmad to be a proper name since they view it as an adjective which singles out a specific quality or aspect of the individual in question:

And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the Praised One. Yet when he hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic. Pickthall

“… whose name will be even more praised (Ahmad)…” Rashad Khalifa

“… whose name will be ‘most acclaimed.’…” (The Monotheist Group, 2013 Edition https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/61/st58.htm)

“… whose name will be ‘most acclaimed.’…” Quran: Reformist Translation (QRT http://www.studyquran.org/resources/Quran_Reformist_Translation.pdf)

Note carefully what the translations of the QRT state:

061:006 The word ahmad is an adjective meaning “most acclaimed” or “most celebrated.” Traditional sources consider it a proper name for Muhammad. THIS CONTRADICTS HISTORICAL FACTS. The name of the prophet that came after Jesus was Muhammad, which is used in the Quran four times. Centuries after the departure of Muhammad, Muhammad-worshipers fabricated 99 names, including Ahmad, for Muhammad, in order to compete with the attributes of God. They could not accept one God having so many beautiful attributes, with their second god having only one attribute, Muhammad. They included many divine attributes, such as, “The First, The Last, The Judge..” in their list for Muhammad. Furthermore, we do not find the word Ahmad in the Bible… Furthermore, we would see many people among his supporters and later Christians giving the name Ahmad to their sons, hoping that their sons would fulfill the prophecy. But, we do not even see a single Christian named Ahmad. Therefore, the Aramaic or Hebrew equivalent of this word did not become a name. However, the name Muhammad sharing the same root and similar meaning with the word ahmad is instructive. (Ibid., p. 354; capital and underline emphasis mine) 

  • Prove that the original Quran, the one first written down and recited by Muhammad even contained the name Ahmad.

The ahadith claim that Ubayy Ibn Kab was one of the four men that Muhammad personally singled out to teach the Quran:

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr:

Allah’s Apostle neither talked in an insulting manner nor did he ever speak evil intentionally. He used to say, “The most beloved to me amongst you is the one who has the best character and manners.” He added, “Learn the Qur’an from (any of these) four persons: ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud, Salim the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifa, Ubai bin Ka’b, and Mu’adh bin Jabal.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 57, Number 104 https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=57&translator=1&start=0&number=104)

Ubayy was even said to have been the best reciter of the Quran:

4719. It is related from Ibn ‘Abbas that ‘Umar said, “Ubayy was the one of us WITH THE BEST RECITATION, yet we leave some of the words of Ubayy. Ubayy said, ‘I took it from the mouth of the Messenger of Allah and will not leave it for anything.’ Allah Almighty says, ‘Whenever We abrogate an ayat or cause it to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or equal to it.’ (2:106)” (Aisha Bewley, Sahih Collection of al-Bukhari, Chapter 69. Book of the Virtues of the Qur’an, VIII: The reciters among the Companions of the Prophet*; capital and underline emphasis mine)

And yet, there are sources which confirm that Ubayy’s reading of  Q. 61:6 did not contain the name Ahmad:

Yet what is interesting is that Ubayy b. Kab, one of the secretaries of Muhammad and who kept a personal codex of the Qur’an, tells us that Surah 61:6 reads:

O children of Israel, I am God’s messenger to you, and I announce to you a prophet whose community will be the last community and by which God will put the seal on the prophets and messengers. (quoted by Abdul-Haqq, Sharing Your Faith With Muslims, p. 51) (Response to Misha’al Al-Kadhi: The Dead Sea Scrolls And Islam?, “Response to Chapter 7 The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gospel of Barnabas” https://answering-islam.org/Responses/Al-Kadhi/r07.html)

In fact, no evidence exists that the name Ahmad was even in use before the year 125 AH (747 AD):

An immediate difficulty presents itself here to the Muslims. The prophet to come is named Ahmad, not Muhammad, and although the two names come from the same root letters (hmd) and therefore have the same basic meaning (“one who is praised”), they are not ultimately the same. The actual difficulty is well defined in this quote:

Whenever Allah has addressed Muhammad in the Qur’an, his proper name has always been clearly specified. He was never called by any other name. Certainly never by the name Ahmed. (Deshmukh, The Gospel and Islam, p. 217).

Another writer makes the same point, stating that Surah 61.6 appears to be a faint allusion to the promise of a Comforter in John’s Gospel:

But why does he name that Messenger to come, Ahmad? That was not Muhammad’s name. Apart from this passage there is no tradition that this was ever his name. (MacDonald, Aspects of Islam, p. 215).

Before returning to John’s Gospel let us briefly consider this issue. Muslim writers on this subject customarily gloss over the distinction (e.g. Durrani, Muhammad the Biblical Prophet, p. 39), but it has led to some analysis in Western writings. Much of this has centred on the following three traditions attributed to different Muslim sources:

Verily there was a Christian of Maris who recited the Gospel; he said that the description of the Prophet in the Gospel purported to mean that he would be in the progeny of Ismail and his name would be Ahmad . . . Aminah was commanded (by God) during her pregnancy with the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, to give him the name Ahmad . . . The Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him, said: I have been named Ahmad. (Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 1, p. 113-114).

A well-known scholar suggests that the very nature of these traditions leads to the possibility that the prophecy in Surah 61.6 was not originally taken to be a direct prophecy to Muhammad by name:

The fact that Ibn Sa’d thinks it worth including three traditions to the effect that the Prophet’s name was Ahmad is an indication that this had not always been obvious; there are no similar traditions about his name being Muhammad. (Watt, “His Name is Ahmad”, The Muslim World, Vol. 43, p. 112).

It is highly questionable whether Muhammad was ever called Ahmad. The tradition that his mother was actually commanded to give him this name has a forced element about it, for traditions about annunciations of his birth and manifestations on the occasion are generally regarded as spurious and as inventions by later traditionists who sought to create a nativity narrative around Muhammad similar to those about Jesus in the New Testament. There is a very good reason to doubt whether Muhammad was ever given the name Ahmad:

As soon as one starts to inquire into the use of the name “Ahmad” in the early centuries of Islam, a striking fact emerges. Muslim children were practically never called Ahmad before about the year 125 A. H. Indeed, the point may be put even more strongly: it is impossible to prove that any Muslim child was called Ahmad after the Prophet before about the year 125. On the other hand, there are many instances prior to this date of boys called Muhammad after the Prophet; some of these had apparently received that name during the Prophet’s lifetime. … Biographical dictionaries such as the Tabaqat of Ibn Sa’d contain many Muhammads who died before 200 A. H. but hardly any Ahmads. (Watt, “His Name Shall be Ahmad”, op. cit., p. 110).

This anomaly has led some writers to suggest that the name Ahmad, or indeed the whole prophecy in Surah 61.6, is a later interpolation, though this is unlikely for the reason given in the following quotation:

On the other hand some western commentators have suggested that the words ‘whose name is Ahmad’ (ismu-hu ahmadu) were interpolated into the Qur’an to prove that Jesus prophesied the coming of Muhammad by name. But if this were so it would be difficult to understand why the name Muhammad had not been interpolated, since it was much more obvious. (Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, p. 98).

Another Christian writer, however, states that there is some reason to believe it may have been an interpolation: “This appears plausible in view of Ubayy b. Kab’s different version of 61.6 and the silence of Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham as to the word ‘Ahmad'” (Abdul Haqq, Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim, p. 51). Instead of a prophecy to Ahmad by name Ubayy b. Kab’s variant reading of Surah 61.6 makes Jesus announce a prophet who would be the seal from among the prophets and messengers of Allah (Jeffery, Materials for the History of the Text of the Qur’an, p. 170). It seems likely, however, that the word ahmadu in Surah 61.6 “could perhaps be secured by a simpler supposition, namely, that for the first century or so of Islam the word ahmadu was regarded not as a proper name but as a simple adjective” (Watt, “His Name Shall be Ahmad, The Muslim World, Vol. 43, p. 113). (John Gilchrist, The Christian Witness to the Muslim, 9. Miscellaneous Muslim Objections to the Gospel B. Prophecies To Muhammad In The Bible https://www.answering-islam.org/Gilchrist/Vol2/9b.html#p370; bold emphasis mine)

So much for the Quran’s oft-repeated assertion that it is a clear book that provides a detailed explanation of everything.

FURTHER READING

AHMAD OR THE HOLY SPIRIT?

 

2 thoughts on “More of the Incomplete Quran Exposed: Who or What Is Ahmad?

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