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A closer look at the Qur’an

Have you ever tried reading the Qur’an? It is not easy. I can’t speak for the original Arabic, but the English translations seem pretty turgid. Yet if we as Christians are ever to reach our Muslim friends it is vital that we know at least a bit about the Qur’an, since it is what makes them tick. This book aims to help us in that direction. It is What Every Christian Needs To Know About The Qur’an by James R. White (Bethany House, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-4412-6052-9).

You will be surprised, however, at how much James White encourages us to know about the Qur’an. His recommendations are comprehensive, and I suspect most Christians will fall short of them. But if you can stick with it, this book is first class at using the Qur’an itself to show that it can hardly be the divine revelation that it claims to be.

Though the book is for a Christian readership, the author writes on the basis that some of his readers will be Muslims. He respectfully points out the Qur’an’s problems and contradictions. So if you can’t muster the strength to do detailed notes on the book in preparation for discussions with your Muslim friends, you could always chicken out and give them the book to read for themselves.

But then you’d have to handle the questions they would ask you. So maybe you should give the book a go after all. For anyone engaged in active dialogue with Muslims, it is a must.

[I read the book in Kindle format, so the numbers are Location, not Page, numbers.]

I am not attempting to write a book that is, at its heart, a refutation of the Qur’an. But I will note the main areas of conflict and point out what I deem to be the best reasons for not believing it a revelation from God. (143)

From the position of Sunni Islamic orthodoxy, the Qur’an is as eternal as Allah himself. It is the very Word of God, without even the slightest imperfection. The finger of man has no place in it, as the book held reverently in the hand today is an exact copy of a tablet in heaven upon which the Qur’an has been written from eternity past. (203)

A number of Islamic sources record what has become an embarrassment to modern Muslim apologists, regarding the “Satanic Verses.” This includes two of the most important early sources for Muhammad’s life. (302)

…the Qur’anic argumentation that Islam is the natural, but purified and exalted, continuation of Judaism and Christianity. (413)

Though the Qur’an had limited legal wives to four (Surah 4:3), it was not long before a new revelation allowed Muhammad, as the Prophet, to exceed this number… “Muhammad’s wives” is one of the most controversial aspects of Islamic history and continues to engender strife even among Muslims. (449)

…the problem of setting up Muhammad as the paragon of moral virtue for all people and for all time. He was a man of his day, deeply influenced by the mores and traditions of seventh-century Arabia. It’s when those mores and traditions are made specifically normative for all cultures and all times that conflict is sure to result. (465)

The Qur’an affirms light and guidance in other Scriptures (specifically, the Torah [Law] and the Injil [Gospel]) that were “sent down” by Allah (a reference to divine revelation)…  The question then arises: “If no one can change Allah’s words, then how is it Muslims believe that is exactly what happened with the Torah and the Injil?” (681)

Muslims believe Abraham, and David, and Jesus, and His apostles, all were Muslims: They worshiped the same God and proclaimed the same message. (798)

While some Western adherents do not, many Muslims believe that the doctrine of the Trinity and, in particular, the worship of Jesus is an (unforgivable) act of shirk. This has led many of them to conclude that Christians, as a group, are bound for hell as mushrikim. This view, which is based upon a consistent reading of the Qur’an as well as many passages in the ahadith, is the most prevalent in the Islamic world. (880)

It cannot be seriously maintained that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. (939)

The Qur’an is clear: Christians are to cease saying “three.” Why? “Allah is only One God.” It seems plain that the meaning is “Do not say three [gods], for Allah is only One God.” That the Qur’an repeatedly asserts monotheism as the antidote for the Christian claim of “three” indicates the understanding of its author: Christians are in some fashion polytheists, denying, through their beliefs, true monotheism… If the Qur’anic argument is that the “three” in view are Allah, Mary, and Jesus, it is easy to see how such a triad would violate any meaningful concept of monotheism! But if that is the Qur’an’s view, we must conclude that its author was exceedingly confused as to true Christian belief. (1053)

Christians are well within rights to ask, “If you wish to bring me good tidings and correct my errors, should I not see first that you have a right knowledge of what I believe, to confirm that your correction can be accurate and truthful?” (1210)

[We] simply must insist that if its author believed Christians hold to three gods, Allah, Mary, and evidently their offspring, Jesus, then the Qur’an is the result of human effort, is marked by ignorance and error, and so is not what Muslims claim it to be. To this place, at the very heart of the matter in the Christian/Muslim dialogue, we have come not by following traditions or prejudices but by following carefully the Qur’an’s own words. (1276)

The Messengers all had been mere humans. Mary was merely human. Anyone who eats food, evidently, must be a mere human. So it follows, Jesus was a mere human! From the Qur’an’s very pages, and repeated daily by Muslims around the world, this argument shows no firsthand familiarity with Christian theology. (1285)

Surah [i.e. chapter] 19 bears as its title the name of Jesus’ mother. The author seems to confuse Mary, mother of Jesus, with Miriam, sister of Moses, though Muslim apologists have offered a number of intriguing explanations. (1350)

…the Holy Spirit, which Muslims today understand as Gabriel. (1421)

Words are attributed [by the Qur’an] to Jesus about which history never speaks. No first-, second-, third-, fourth-, or fifth-century source provides substantiation that any follower or enemy of Jesus ever heard Him speak in this fashion. But the Muslim understanding is that no such historical foundation is needed for lengthy portions of narrative for its words to be true. This is the Qur’an. It has been preserved. For the large majority, that ends the discussion, even when the same believers will then embrace historical criticism to question the value of His words in the Gospels, which were recorded within the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses of His ministry! (1461)

The only ayah in the Qur’an denying the death of Jesus, Surah 4:157, is the source of one of the major conflicts between Christians and Muslims. (1523)

Muslims are to fight (go to war with) those Jews and Christians who do not believe in Allah or the last day and who, evidently, do not follow the rules laid down by Muhammad and refuse to submit to Islam. (1566)

[How do we] come to the conclusion that the crucifixion of a Jewish rabbi in the backwaters of the Roman Empire comprises one of the past’s most unassailable facts? The answer is simple: For anyone willing to let the facts speak for themselves, the evidence is overwhelming. Only those with a preconceived position to defend (e.g., radical skeptics and atheists, who deny Jesus’ existence, or Muslims who follow the Qur’an’s teachings) deny it. (1699)

No crucifixion; hence, no burial, no resurrection, no Christian gospel. That is the understanding of the majority of the world’s Muslims to this day. Most, unaware of the historical facts, consider this a fitting view. “How could Allah allow such a beloved Messenger to die in such a dishonorable way?” is their oft-expressed and honest question. (1791)

In Islam, forgiveness is an impersonal act of arbitrary divine power. In Christianity, forgiveness is a personal act of purposeful and powerful yet completely just divine grace. (2063)

Did the People of the Book Corrupt the Scriptures? This may be the most important question we will address in this work. In my experience, this is the topic to which the conversation most often turns; every Christian should be prepared to discuss it, and every Muslim should consider well what they are saying when they accuse the Scriptures—Torah or Injil, Hebrew Old Testament or Greek New Testament—of being “corrupted.” (2218)

The Qur’an presents such a profoundly different view of what is actually found in the New Testament especially, that the Muslim is faced with a choice: Reject Muhammad as a prophet and the Qur’an as a revelation from God, or accuse the Christians of radically altering their text from what it originally said. (2252)

If the gospel was sent down by our Lord, and we judge Muhammad by its clear and consistent teaching on so many subjects, we find him wanting. We cannot accept his prophetic claims. He did not know the gospel. The stories he had heard from his few encounters with Christians did not give him a sufficient knowledge of the New Testament. His teachings are directly contrary to many of the specific truths taught by Jesus and His apostles. So how can we believe both the Qur’an’s affirmation of the gospel’s continued existence and inspiration and the claims that Muhammad is the continuation of that line, God’s final messenger? (2484)

…the popular claim (made by Ahmed Deedat and repeated by many others) that the very name Muhammad appears right in the text of the Hebrew Bible. Where? Song of Solomon 5:16: “His mouth is full of sweetness and he is wholly desirable...” [Hebrew machammadim] …It is hard to take such argumentation seriously, but somehow many do. (2786)

…its claim that the Egyptians engaged in crucifixion in the days of Joseph. Historians tell us they did not; the Qur’an (e.g., Surat 7:124; 12:41; 20:71; 26:49) anachronistically places it in an era where historically it did not exist. (2836)

The same Muslims who say differences in the Gospels are evidence of their unreliability rarely if ever consider that the Qur’an contains parallel accounts of the same events that differ in detail, order, and content. (2902)

The Qur’an seems to make no differentiation between legendary Jewish tradition and what actually appears in the Hebrew Scriptures. (3229)

Muslims must come to grips with the fact that their holy book misrepresents the Christian faith on this matter and attributes to us beliefs we never have confessed and do not now confess. (3705)

When we obey the command of Surah 5:47 and test Muhammad’s claims in the light of the gospel, of history, and of consistency and truthfulness, we find him, and the Qur’an, to fail these tests. The Qur’an is not a further revelation of the God who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. The author of the Qur’an did not understand the gospel, did not understand the Christian faith, and as such cannot stand in the line of Moses Jesus Muhammad that he claimed. (3730)

That there is almost no evidence even of Mecca’s existence prior to the time of Christ is one of the most difficult issues for Islamic apologists to overcome. (3787)

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