The Quran repeatedly asserts to be a book that provides a detailed explanation of everything:
Say: “Shall I seek for judge other than God? – when He it is Who hath sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.” They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt. S. 6:114 Abdullah Yusuf Ali
This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than God; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book – wherein there is no doubt – from the Lord of the worlds. S. 10:37 Ali
There is, in their stories, instruction for men endued with understanding. It is not a tale invented, but a confirmation of what went before it, – a detailed exposition of all things, and a guide and a mercy to any such as believe. S. 12:111 Ali
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 Ali
A Book, whereof the verses are explained in detail; – a Qur’an in Arabic, for people who understand; – S. 41:3 Ali
This means that the Muslim scripture does not require extra-Quranic sources for it be understood, since it wouldn’t be a perfectly detailed revelation if it did.
Herein lies the problem. Contrary to its repeated assertion, the Islamic text does anything but fully explain all things since it fails to provide adequate details for much of its contents.
Take, for instance, the Quran’s confused and contradictory position regarding who exactly brought down the revelation to Muhammad.
WAS IT ALLAH HIMSELF?
The following passages imply that Allah visibly came to Muhammad with the inspiration:
Your comrade erreth not, nor is deceived; Nor doth he speak of (his own) desire. It is naught save an inspiration that is inspired, Which one of mighty powers hath taught him, One vigorous; and he grew clear to view When he was on the uppermost horizon. Then he drew nigh and came down Till he was (distant) two bows’ length or even nearer, And He revealed unto HIS SLAVE that which He revealed. The heart lied not (in seeing) what it saw. Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he seeth? And verily he saw him yet another time By the lote-tree of the utmost boundary, Nigh unto which is the Garden of Abode. When that which shroudeth did enshroud the lote-tree, The eye turned not aside nor yet was overbold. Verily he saw one of the greater revelations of his Lord. S. 53:1-18 Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall
Oh, but I call to witness the planets, The stars which rise and set, And the close of night, And the breath of morning That this is in truth the word of an honoured messenger, Mighty, established in the presence of the Lord of the Throne, (One) to be obeyed, and trustworthy; And your comrade is not mad. Surely he beheld Him on the clear horizon. And he is not avid of the Unseen. S. 81:15-24 Pickthall
Interestingly, the ahadith testify that Allah actually appeared to Muhammad as a man and physically touched the latter:
Narrator: AbdurRahman ibn A’ish
Allah’s Messenger said: I saw my Lord, the Exalted and Glorious in the most beautiful form. He said: What do the Angels in the presence of Allah contend about? I said: Thou art the most aware of it. He then placed his palm between my shoulders and I felt its coldness in my chest and I came to know what was in the Heavens and the Earth. He recited: `Thus did we show Ibrahim the kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth and it was so that he might have certainty.’ (6:75)
Darimi reported it in a mursal form and Tirmidhi also reported. (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 237 https://www.alim.org/hadith/tirmidi/237/; bold emphasis mine)
47 Chapters on Tafsir
Narrated Mu’adh bin Jabal: “One morning, the Messenger of Allah was prevented from coming to us for Salat As-Subh, until we were just about to look for the eye of the sun (meaning sunrise). Then he came out quickly, had the Salat prepared for. The Messenger of Allah performed the Salat, and he performed his Salat in a relatively quick manner. When he said the Salam, he called aloud with his voice saying to us: ‘Stay in your rows as you are.’ Then he turned coming near to us, then he said: ‘I am going to narrate to you what kept me from you this morning: I got up during the night, I performed Wudu and prayed as much as I was able to, and I dozed off during my Salat, and fell deep asleep. Then I saw my Lord, Blessed and Most High, in the best of appearances. He said: ‘O Muhammad!’ I said: ‘My Lord here I am my Lord!‘ He said: ‘What is it that the most exalted group busy themselves with?’ I said: ‘I do not know Lord.’ And He said it three times.” He said: “So I saw Him place His Palm between my shoulders, and I sensed the coolness of His Fingertips between my breast. Then everything was disclosed for me, and I became aware. So He said: ‘O Muhammad!’ I said: ‘Here I am my Lord!’…”
Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)
English translation: Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3235
Arabic reference: Book 47, Hadith 3543 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/urn/742690; emphasis mine)
(8b) Chapter: Mosques and places of Prayer – Section 2
‘Abd ar-Rahman b. ‘A’ish reported God’s Messenger as saying: I saw my Lord in the most beautiful form, and He said, “What do the angels near My presence dispute about?” I replied,” Thou knowest best.” Then He placed the palm of His hand between my shoulder-blades and I felt the coolness of it between my nipples! Then I knew what was in the heavens and the earth. And he recited, “Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and it was so that he might have certainty (Al-Qur’an; 6:75).”
Darimi transmitted it in mursal form.
Reference: Mishkat al-Masabih 725
In-book reference: Book 4, Hadith 154 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/mishkat:725; emphasis mine)
(8c) Chapter: Mosques and places of Prayer – Section 3
Mu’adh b. Jabal said: God’s Messenger was detained one morning from observing the prayer with us till the sun had almost appeared over the horizon. He then came cut quickly, and when the iqama had been uttered he conducted the prayer in a shortened form; then when he had given the salutation he called out to us saying, “Keep to your rows as you were.” Then turning to us he said, “I shall tell you what detained me from you this morning. I got up during the night, performed ablution, and prayed what I could; but during my prayer I dozed and was overcome, and there and then I saw my Lord in the most beautiful form. He addressed me by name, and when I replied, ‘At Thy service, my Lord,’ He asked, ‘What do the angels near My presence dispute about?’ and I replied that I did not know. He asked it three times. Then I saw Him put the palm of His hand between my shoulder-blades, so that I experienced the coolness of His fingers between my nipples so everything became clear to me and I attained knowledge. He then addressed me by name, and when I replied, ‘At Thy service, my Lord.’…”
Ahmad and Tirmidhi transmitted it, and Tirmidhi said, “This is a HASAN SAHIH tradition. I asked Muhammad b. Isma’il (Al-Bukhari) about this tradition, AND HE SAID IT IS A SAHIH TRADITION.”
Reference: Mishkat al-Masabih 748
In-book reference: Book 4, Hadith 176 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/mishkat:748; emphasis mine)
The above narratives provide implicit support that, according to the aforementioned Quranic texts, it was Allah himself whom Muhammad saw approaching him. This in turn confirms that Muhammad believed that his god could and actually did appear as a man.
WAS IT THE TRUE/HOLY SPIRIT?
And when We put a revelation in place of (another) revelation, – and Allah knoweth best what He revealeth – they say: Lo! thou art but inventing. Most of them know not. Say: The holy Spirit hath delivered it from thy Lord with truth, that it may confirm (the faith of) those who believe, and as guidance and good tidings for those who have surrendered (to Allah). S. 16:101-102 Pickthall
And lo! it is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds, Which the True Spirit hath brought down Upon thy heart, that thou mayst be (one) of the warners, In plain Arabic speech. And lo! it is in the Scriptures of the men of old. Is it not a token for them that the doctors of the Children of Israel know it? And if We had revealed it unto one of any other nation than the Arabs, And he had read it unto them, they would not have believed in it. S. 26:192-199 Pickthall
WAS IT THE ANGELS?
And they say: O thou unto whom the Reminder is revealed, lo! thou art indeed a madman! Why bringest thou not angels unto us, if thou art of the truthful? We send not down the angels save with the Fact, and in that case (the disbelievers) would not be tolerated. S. 15:6-8 Pickthall
By those who bring down the Reminder, S. 77:5 Pickthall
WAS IT THE ANGELS ALONG WITH THE SPIRIT?
He sendeth down the angels with the Spirit of His command unto whom He will of His bondmen, (saying): Warn mankind that there is no God save Me, so keep your duty unto Me. S. 16:2 Pickthall
WAS IT GABRIEL?
Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah’s leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers; S. 2:97 Pickthall
The late Dr. Robert A. Morey perfectly summed up the Quran’s contradictory position in regards to the agent of Muhammad’s so-called revelations:
Four Conflicting Versions
In the Quran, we are told that Allah called Muhammad to be a prophet and an apostle. But, as Dr. William Montgomery Watt observed:
Unfortunately, there are several alternative versions of these events.6
The Quran gives us four conflicting accounts of this original call to be a prophet. Either one of these four accounts is true and the others are false or they are all false. They cannot all be true.
In the Quran Muhammad described his initial call to be a prophet and apostle on four different occasions.
We are first told in Sura 53:2–18 and Sura 81:19–24 that Allah personally appeared to Muhammad in the form of a man and that Muhammad saw and heard him.
This is later abandoned, and we are then told in Sura 16:102 and Sura 26:192–194 that Muhammad’s call was issued by “the Holy Spirit.”
Since Muhammad does not really discuss who or what this “Holy Spirit” is, this is also later abandoned.
The third account of his original call is given in Sura 15:8 where we are told that “the angels” were the ones who came down to Muhammad and announced that Allah had called him to be a prophet.
Even this account is later amended in Sura 2:97, so that it is only the angel Gabriel who issues the call to Muhammad and hands down the Quran to him.
This last account of his original call was influenced by the fact that Gabriel had played a significant role in the birth both of Jesus and John the Baptist.
6 For a full treatment of this contradiction, see W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad’s Mecca, pp. 54–68. (Morey, Islamic Invasion: Confronting the World’s Fastest Growing Religion [Christian Scholars Press, 1989; revised 1992 by Dr. Robert A. Morey. Ph.D.], pp. 81-82)
With the foregoing in perspective, can any Muslim reconcile these gross errors in a harmonious and consistent manner by using the Quran alone?
If Muslims cannot do so then this falsifies the repeated claim of the Islamic scripture that it completely explains all things in detail. This in turn further undermines another one of its claims, namely, that the Quran is free of all contradictions:
Do they not then consider the Qur’an carefully? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much contradictions. S. 4:82 Hilali-Khan
So much for the Muslim scripture being the perfect revelation of the one true God of all.