Part 1: THE SAMENESS ILLUSION
Part 3 A: THE ISLAMIC COUNTER NARRATIVE-A
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ISLAMISATION OF NOAH, ABRAHAM, MOSES AND JESUS
Here we examine only the Anchor Prophets, but the same principle applies to all of them, i.e. their identities and messages have been incrementally but intentionally changed by omission, addition, denial, replacement, or by alteration and distortion.
In general, we will demonstrate that, in each case, the Qur’anic account provides some key “apparent similarities” with the Biblical account, thus providing the perception of continuity in line with the “sameness” claim.
These apparent similarities could be in the Islamised name, as well as in some key event or concept that seems to be the same.
Muslim Prophet Nooh (Noah)
The Differences Are Foundational
In the Islamic account of the Islamised Noah, called Nooh and comparing it with the Biblical account, one discovers that although there are some apparent “similarities” in the Flood story, there are however foundational differences and deviations which have major theological implications.
The Biblical account of the universal Flood is rooted in the Lord God’s process of fulfilling His plan for salvation. It was the outworking of the “painful” decision to eliminate all “wickedness”, as this wickedness dominated the human race, but with the saving grace of preserving the “righteous blood line” through Noah, and then providing an unconditional “covenant” to Noah for all generations to come. The details of the Biblical account are very specific since they foreshadow Christ.
In contrast, the Qur’anic account creates a different narrative, a narrative based on eradicating the “unbelievers” in response to a request by Nooh. The rescue of Nooh, his family and some other believers is presented as a process of preserving the Muslim “Ummah” and eradicating all kinds of apostasy.
Justification for the Flood
Let us compare the Lord God’s justification for the Flood with Allah’s. Looking at the Biblical account first, we learn that the Lord God was greatly “grieved” at the condition of humankind by the time Noah was born. Wickedness and sin became so prevalent that the Lord God decided to undo what he had started with the creation of Adam. But Noah found favour as he was not affected by this wickedness, and hence the Lord God provided an avenue to preserve humankind in order to fulfil the promise of bringing salvation through the Messiah. It was the Lord God’s decision and plan of implementation. We see this expressed in Genesis 6:5-8:
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.’ But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord
The Qur’anic account is very different. Instead of focusing on the widespread wickedness within the human race prior to the time of Noah, the Qur’an states that all humankind up to the time of Nooh were Muslim, composed of one Muslim Ummah:
Surah 2:213, “Humankind were one community (i.e. Ummah) and Allah sent prophets with good news and warnings….”
Of course Nooh himself was a Muslim prophet sent strictly to his people.
Surah 7:59, “Indeed, we sent Nooh to his people and he said: ‘O my people, worship Allah. You have no other god but him…’”
According to Islamic sources, idol worship started at the time of Nooh. In fact the Qur’an provides the names of those idols in Surah 71, named “Surah of Nooh”:
Surah 71:23, “And they (idol worshippers of Nooh’s day) said: ‘You shall not desert your gods, nor shall you abandon Wadd, nor Suwaa’, nor Yaghooth, nor Ya‘ooq nor Nasr’ (these are the names of their idols).”
And hence Allah “sent him” to preach Islam.
Surah 10:71-72, “71. And recite to them the news of Nooh. When he said to his people: ‘O my people, if my stay, and my reminding of the signs of Allah is hard on you, then I put my trust in Allah. So devise your plot, you and your partners … 72. But if you turn away, then no reward have I asked of you, my reward is only from Allah, and I have been commanded to be one of the Muslims.’”
As a result and after various attempts to “bring back” the people to Islam, Nooh gave up and asked Allah to destroy all the “Mushriks” (idol worshippers who associate other deities with Allah).
Surah 71:26-27, “26 And Nooh said: ‘My Lord! Leave not one of the disbelievers on the earth!’ 27 ‘If you leave them, they will mislead your slaves, and they will beget none but wicked disbelievers.’”
There is no reference to Allah having been “grieved” by this idol worship, but rather that his decision to bring the flood was an immediate response to the request by his prophet Nooh.
The “Rescue” Process: Salvation?
In the Biblical account, the unilateral decision by the Lord God to execute a universal flood would lead to the commanding of Noah to build the “ark” with full details as to its dimensions, structure, materials to be used and method of construction (Genesis 6:15-21) and concluding in Genesis 6:22, “Noah did everything just as God commanded him,” with precise attention to detail:
Genesis 7:1-5 The Lord then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.’
And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.
The Bible continues with specific reference to times and dates as the flood began to recede:
Genesis 8:3-5, The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.9 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.
The details of disembarkation are also significant:
Genesis 8:6-12, After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.
Upon disembarkation, Noah would build an altar to the Lord:
Genesis 8:13-20, By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry. Then God said to Noah, ‘Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.’ So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another. Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.
Moving now to the Qur’anic account of the Nooh story, it starts with back and forth interactions between Nooh and his people, in terms of ridiculing his building of a “ship”, not an ark (bearing in mind that typologically, Noah’s Ark foreshadows Christ):
Surah 11:38, “And as he was constructing the ship, whenever the chiefs of his people passed by him, they made a mockery of him. He said: ‘If you mock at us, so do we mock at you likewise for your mocking.’”
The details of this “ship” are not mentioned. Instead we are told that as the Flood started, Nooh and his family, plus possibly other “believers” boarded the ship and took with them (single) pairs of animals:
Surah 11:40-41, “40. (So it was) till then there came our command and the oven gushed forth (water like fountains from the earth). We said: ‘Embark therein, of each kind two (male and female), and your family, except him against whom the word has already gone forth, and those who believe.’ And none believed with him, except a few. 41. And he [Nooh] said: ‘Embark therein, in the name of Allah will be its moving course and its resting anchorage….”
The text above “except him against whom the word has already gone forth” refers to Qur’anic statements that one of Nooh’s wives and one of his sons drowned as “Kafirs” (unbelieving apostates) along with the other unbelievers.
Surah 11:42-43, “42. So it (the ship) sailed with them amidst the waves like mountains, and Nooh called out to his son, who had separated himself (apart), ‘O my son! Embark with us and be not with the disbelievers.’ 43. The son replied: ‘I will betake myself to a mountain, it will protect me from the water.’ Nooh said: ‘This day there is no protector from the decree of Allah except him on whom he has mercy.’ And a wave came in between them, so he (the son) was among the drowned.”
Hence, even when Nooh would plead with Allah to rescue his son, Allah would refuse, declaring that a Kafir has nothing to do with Nooh’s family:
Surah 11:45-46, “45 And Nooh called upon his Lord and said, ‘O my Lord, my son is of my family! And certainly, your promise is true, and you are the most just of the judges.’ 46 He (Allah) said: ‘O Nooh, surely, he is not of your family; his work is unrighteous, so ask not of me that of which you have no knowledge. I admonish you, lest you be one of the ignorant.’”
The Qur’an gives an alternative and brief account of the disembarkation. After the flood and the recession of the waters, the ship would settle on “Mount Judi”:
Surah 11:44, “And it was said: ‘O earth, Swallow up your water, and O sky, stop the rain.’ And the water was made to subside and the matter was accomplished, and the ship rested on Mount Judi, and it was said: ‘Away with the unjust people (Kafirs, polytheists)’.”
What Happened after the Rescue?
According to the Biblical account, after the rescue the Lord God would announce an unconditional “covenant” not to destroy all life again, despite the fact that man’s sinful nature was still there:
Genesis 8:21, The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma [of the burnt offering given in Gen. 8:20] and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.’
Genesis 9:11-13, “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.’
But the Biblical story does not end here. The entire account of Genesis 10 (the record of the descendants of Noah) and Genesis 11 (the Tower of Babel) are not to be found in the Qur’an. In contrast, the Qur’anic account ends with the rescue via the “ship” with no further continuity, other than that after Nooh, people started to deviate from Islam, thus necessitating further sending of messengers and prophets to call people back to “Islamic Monotheism”.
Omissions, Replacements, Additions, Changes and Distortions
In comparing the Qur’anic vs. the Biblical accounts of the Noah/Nooh stories we summarise the issues as follows. The original Biblical story of Noah demonstrates not only historical facts in precise detail, but provides some key markers and foreshadowings for events to come, as expressed for example by Jesus Himself (Matt. 24:37-41), and in the Epistle to the Hebrews (11:7). Some examples of these theologically significant foreshadowings are given herein, each of which is ultimately either countered or omitted in the Qur’anic version. However, our list is far from being exhaustive and does not provide a point-by-point comparison:
1. The Lord God Himself because of the worldwide spread of evil initiated the Flood decision. He was deeply grieved about the state of man at that point, and found favour in one man, Noah, and his family to preserve the human race. This foreshadows the concept of “rebirth” which is foundational in Biblical Christianity.
2. The Bible provides very specific details about the Ark (not ship as in the Qur’an), its design, method of construction, even the materials used for the construction. The Ark is symbolic of Christ himself as the source and means of our salvation.
3. The Bible also provides details about the Flood itself, its duration, and eventually its end. These details are also crucial in understanding typology and the foreshadowing of Christ (see Bibliography Refs 11, 17, 18 and 19):
a. The number 40 is a significant Biblical number: The Flood was complete in 40 days, after which Noah opened the window of the Ark. Note that Jesus fasted for 40 days. The Israelites spent 40 years in the desert. These are just some of many examples.
b. The number 7 is also symbolic: 7 pairs of each animal type; the Ark came to a place of rest on the 17th day of the 7th month. This is considered to be a foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Jesus, as the Resurrection happened on that same day in the Jewish calendar.
c. In the decision about when to leave the Ark, Noah sends a raven and then a dove. These are foreshadowings of the doctrines of “law” (raven) and “grace” (dove).
4. Upon disembarking, Noah built an altar, and sacrificed animals in a burnt offering, thus affirming the blood sacrificial system, again another foreshadowing of the sacrifice on the Cross.
5. The Lord God would make an unconditional covenant with Noah and his sons that He would never destroy the earth in another flood.
In sharp contrast, the Qur’anic story of the “Anchor Prophet” Nooh provides a different version of the “Flood”—through deconstruction of the Biblical narrative, and its almost point-by-point replacement by the Islamic narrative—as derived from the Fitrah, the Tawheed and Muslimhood of all the prophets, to establish Muhammad’s call for all humankind to return to the “original Islamic Monotheism”. The following list provides examples of such Qur’anic countering of the Biblical narrative:
1. Until the time of Nooh all of humanity was “one Muslim Ummah” thus affirming the doctrine of the Fitrah and the Muslimhood of humankind.
2. Shirk (associating deities with Allah) started at the time of Nooh, thus causing Allah to send Nooh to bring the people back to Islam.
3. The call to destroy all of humanity was by a demand from Nooh to Allah to destroy all the idol worshipers, meaning “Mushriks” who associated other deities with Allah. [See Bibliography, Ref. 24.]
4. The Flood event established some important Islamic precedents to be further elaborated upon in various Islamic doctrines:
a. Being a Muslim is not a matter of choice.
Surah 42:13, “He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion (Islam) which He ordained for Nooh, and that which we have inspired in you (O Muhammad), and that which we ordained for Ibrahim, Moosa, and Issa, saying you should establish religion, and make no divisions in it. Intolerable for those who associate partners with Allah, is that to which you (O Muhammad) call them….”
Surah 3:83, “Do they seek other than the religion of Allah, while to him submitted all creatures in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly…”
Surah 3:85, “And whoever desires a religion other than Islam – never will it be accepted from him, and in the hereafter, he will be among the losers.”
b. A Kafir (apostate) member of a family does not have any rights and is doomed to hell fire.
c. Though labelled an “Anchor Prophet” Nooh could not intercede for anyone, including his son.
d. However, Allah would respond positively to Nooh when it came to the destruction of all opponents (the Kafirs).
e. After the Flood the Muslim community (i.e. Ummah) was restored for a while, but the need for more prophets and messengers continued until the time of the “final messenger”, Muhammad.
to be continued : Muslim Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)….