In this post I intend to supplement the material found in the following posts:
The Quran records the disbelievers accusing Muhammad of parroting the fables and myths of the ancients, which he tried to pass off as revelations from God:
And of them there are some who listen to you; but We have set veils on their hearts, so they understand it not, and deafness in their ears; if they see every one of the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) they will not believe therein; to the point that when they come to you to argue with you, the disbelievers say: “These are nothing but tales of the men of old.” S. 6:25 Hilali-Khan
And when Our revelations are recited unto them they say: We have heard. If we wish we can speak the like of this. Lo! this is naught but fables of the men of old. S. 8:31 Pickthall
Moreover, those who are bent on denying the truth are wont to say, “This [Qur’an] is nothing but a lie which he [himself] has devised with the help of other people, who thereupon have perverted the truth and brought a falsehood into being.” And they say, “Fables of ancient times which he has caused to be written down, so that they might be read out to him at morn and evening!” Say [O Muhammad]: “He who knows all the mysteries of the heavens and the earth has bestowed from on high this [Qur’an upon me]! Verily, He is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!” S. 25:4-6 Muhammad Asad
And when it is said to them, ‘What has your Lord sent down?’ they say, ‘Fairy-tales of the ancients.’ S. 16:24 Arberry
In this post I will document one such fable which made its way into the Quran and Islamic tradition.
According to the Quran (cf. 2:258; 21:51-70; 37:83-99), Abraham disputed with a king and was thrown into a fire after having destroyed the idols of his people and claiming that the big idol did it.
The Islamic sources testify that this king was none other than Nimrod the son of Cush (cf. Genesis 10:8-12):
Have you not seen him who disputed with Abraham concerning his Lord because of the fact that God had given him the kingship? that is his arrogance towards this very grace of God this was Nimrod Nimrūd. When idh is a substitution for hājja ‘disputed’ Abraham in response to the other’s question ‘Who is this Lord of yours to whom you are calling us?’ said ‘My Lord is He who gives life and makes to die’ the One that creates life and death in bodies; he Nimrod said ‘I give life by sparing and make to die’ by killing. He then had two men brought before him killed one and spared the other. When Abraham realised that this man was a fool Abraham resorting to a more sophisticated argument said ‘God brings the sun from the east; so bring you it from the west.’ Then the disbeliever was confused perplexed and amazed; and God guides not the folk who do evil disbelieving to the art of argument. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 2:258 https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=2&tAyahNo=258&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2)
(Bethink thee) have you not been informed (of him who had an argument with Abraham about his Lord) about the Religion of his Lord, (because Allah had given him the kingdom) he is Nimrod Ibn Canaan; (how, when Abraham said: My Lord is He Who giveth life and causeth death) gives life upon the resurrection and causes death by ending the life of this world, (he answered: I give life and cause death. Abraham said) give me proof of what you say. So Nimrod brought two prisoners, killed one and spared the other and then said: this is my proof. When he saw this, Abraham said: (Lo! Allah causeth the sun to rise in the East) from the direction of the East, (so do thou cause it to come up from the West) from the direction of the West. (Thus was the disbeliever abashed) the one who disbelieved kept quiet and could not argue. (And Allah guideth not) to the right argument (wrong-doing folk) the unbelievers, referring here to Nimrod. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs, Q. 2:258 https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=2&tAyahNo=258&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2)
(They cried) their king Nimrod said to them: (Burn him) in the Fire (and stand by your gods and avenge your deities, (if ye will be doing) something to him; and they threw him in the Fire. (Ibid., Q. 21:68 https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=21&tAyahNo=68&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2)
The Debate Between Ibrahim Al-Khalil and King Nimrod
The king who disputed with Ibrahim was King Nimrod, son of Canaan, son of Kush, son of Sam, son of Noah, as Mujahid stated. It was also said that he was Nimrod, son of Falikh, son of `Abir, son of Shalikh, son of Arfakhshand, son of Sam, son of Noah. Mujahid said, “The kings who ruled the eastern and western parts of the world are four, two believers and two disbelievers. As for the two believing kings, they were Sulayman bin Dawud and Dhul-Qarnayn. As for the two disbelieving kings, they were Nimrod and Nebuchadnezzar.” Allah knows best.
(Have you not looked) meaning, “With your heart, O Muhammad!”
(at him who disputed with Ibrahim about his Lord) meaning, about the existence of Allah. Nimrod denied the existence of a god other than himself, as he claimed, just as Fir`awn said later to his people…
(I know not that you have a god other than me) <28:38>.
What made Nimrod commit this transgression, utter disbelief and arrant rebellion was his tyranny and the fact that he ruled for a long time. This is why the Ayah continued…
(Because Allah had given him the kingdom.)
It appears that Nimrod asked Ibrahim to produce proof that Allah exists. Ibrahim replied…
(My Lord is He Who gives life and causes death) meaning, “The proof of Allah’s existence is the creations that exist after they were nothing and perish after they had existed. This only proves the existence of the Creator, Who does what He wills, for these things could not have occurred on their own without a Creator who created them, and He is the Lord that I call to for worship, Alone without a partner.”
This is when Nimrod said…
(I give life and cause death.)
Qatadah, Muhammad bin Ishaq and As-Suddi said that he meant, “Two men who deserved execution were to be brought before me, and I would command that one of them be killed, and he would be killed. I would command that the second man be pardoned, and he would be pardoned. This is how I bring life and death.” However, it appears that since Nimrod did not deny the existence of a Creator, his statement did not mean what Qatadah said it meant. This explanation does not provide an answer to what Ibrahim said. Nimrod arrogantly and defiantly claimed that he was the creator and pretended that it was he who brings life and death. Later on, Fir`awn imitated him and announced…
(I know not that you have a god other than me) <28:38>.
This is why Ibrahim said to Nimrod…
(Verily, Allah brings the sun from the east; then bring it you from the west.)
This Ayah means, “You claim that it is you who brings life and death. He who brings life and death controls the existence and creates whatever is in it, including controlling its planets and their movements. For instance, the sun rises everyday from the east. Therefore, if you were god, as you claimed, bringing life and death, then bring the sun from the west.” Since the king was aware of his weakness, inadequacy and that he was not able to reply to Ibrahim’s request, he was idle, silent and unable to comment. Therefore, the proof was established against him. Allah said…
(And Allah guides not the people, who are wrongdoers) meaning, Allah deprives the unjust people of any valid proof or argument. Furthermore, their false proof and arguments are annulled by their Lord, and they have earned His anger and will suffer severe torment.
The meaning that we provided is better than the meaning that some philosophers offered, claiming that Ibrahim used the second argument because it was clearer than the first one. Rather, our explanation asserts that Ibrahim refuted both claims of Nimrod, all praise is due to Allah.
As-Suddi stated that the debate between Ibrahim and Nimrod occurred after Ibrahim was thrown in the fire, for Ibrahim did not meet the king before that day. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 2:258 https://www.alim.org/quran/tafsir/ibn-kathir/surah/2/258)
Suffice it to say, this is another Jewish fable which the Quran adopted as historical fact. As the later Dr. Robert A. Morey wrote:
7. He was not thrown into a fire by Nimrod as the Quran claims in Suras 21:68, 69 and 9:69.
This last error is most serious because it reveals a very frequent problem in the Quran.
Nimrod lived many centuries before Abraham. How then did Nimrod manage to throw Abraham into a fire when Nimrod had been dead for centuries?
The seventh-century Arab, and Muhammad in particular, did not think in terms of linear time, that is, historical chronology.
In the West, people think of history in terms of a straight line with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
In the East, people think of time in terms of neverending cycles.
Evidently, in the Middle East at the time of Muhammad, Arabs did not have any settled conception of time at all.
Arab stories and legends put together places, people, and events in one present vision as if they were all living at the same time!
This is why throughout the Quran, Nimrod and Abraham, Haman and Moses, Mary and Aaron, etc. were all pictured as living and working together.
This is why the Quran can put together the flood and Moses, the tower of Babel and Pharoah, etc. as if all those things happened at the same time.
This is a very serious challenge to the integrity of the Quran because it violates the historical chronology of the Bible and secular history at the same time. (Morey, Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World’s Fastest Growing Religion [Christian Scholars Press, Revised and expanded edition 1992], pp. 158-159)
The tale of Abraham being delivered from Nimrod’s fire came from the Midrash Rabbah (see Suras 21:51–71; 29:16, 17; 37:97, 98). It must be also pointed out that Nimrod and Abraham did not live at the same time. Muhammad was always mixing people together in the Quran who did not live at the same time. (Ibid., p. 171)
Here, now, is the source for this Islamic fairytale:
[Genesis 11:28 says,] “And Haran died in the presence of his father Terach.” Rabbi Hiyya said: Terach was a manufacturer of idols. He once went away somewhere and left Abraham to sell them in his place. A man came in and wished to buy one. “How old are you?” Abraham asked the man. “Fifty years old,” he said. “Woe to such a man, who is fifty years old and would worship a day old object!” Avraham said. On another occasion a woman came in with a plateful of flour and requested him, “Take this and offer it to them.” So he took a stick and broke them, and put the stick in the hand of the largest. When his father returned he demanded, “What have you done to them?” “I cannot conceal it from you. A woman came with a plateful of fine meal and requested me to offer it to them. One claimed, ‘I must eat first,’ while another claimed, ‘I must eat first.’ Thereupon, the largest arose, took the stick and broke them.” “Why do you make sport of me? Have they any knowledge?” Terach said. “Should not your ears hear what your mouth has said?” Avraham said. Thereupon Terach seized him and delivered him to Nimrod. “Let us worship fire,” Nimrod said. “Let us rather worship water which quenches fire,” Avraham said. “Let us worship water,” Nimrod said. “Let us rather worship the clouds which bear the water,” Avraham said. “Let us then worship the clouds,” Nimrod said. “Let us worship the wind which disperses the clouds,” Avraham said. “Let us worship the wind,” Nimrod said. “Let us worship human beings which can stand up to the wind,” Avraham said. “You are just bandying words, and we will worship nothing but the fire. Behold, I will cast you into it, and let your God whom you adore come and save you from it!” Nimrod said. Now Haran was standing there undecided. “If Avraham is victorious, I will say that I am of Avraham’s belief, while if Nimrod is victorious, I will say that I am on Nimrod’s side,” he thought. When Avraham descended into the fiery furnace and was saved, Nimrod asked him, “Of whose belief are you?” “Of Abraham’s,” he replied. Thereupon he seized him and cast him into the fire; his innards were scorched and he died in the presence of his father. Hence it is written, “And Haran died in the presence of his father Terach.” (Genesis Rabbah 38 https://www.sefaria.org/Bereishit_Rabbah.38.13?lang=bi)
The foregoing shows that the disbelievers were right when they accused Muhammad of plagiarizing the fairytales, myths, legends, fables etc., of the Jews, Christians, pagans etc., and passing them off as revelations from God. This in itself exposes the farce and fraud of the Quran, proving that Muhammad is a false prophet, and Allah of Islam is a false god.