Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Anachronisms in the Qur'an

Anachronism #1: Joseph sold for Dirhams
"[Joseph's] brethren sold him for a miserable price, for a few dirhams counted out: in such low estimation did they hold him!" (Sura 12:20)
Joseph lived around the nineteenth century B.C. The dirham, which is derived from the Greek drachma (δραχμή), could not be found earlier than the twelfth century B.C. So how could the Qur'an claim that Joseph was sold using a currency that wasn't to be invented for another seven centuries?

Anachronism #2: David's Chain Mail
"We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from ourselves: 'O ye Mountains! Sing ye back the Praises of Allah with him! and ye birds also! And We made the iron soft for him;- Commanding, 'Make thou coast of mail, balancing well the rings of chain armour, and work ye righteousness; for be sure I see clearly all that ye do.'" (Sura 34:10-11)
David lived around the tenth century B.C., whereas chain mail armour was not to be invented until around the fifth century B.C. by the Celts. How could David have produced a form of armour that wasn't to exist for another five centuries after his time?

Anachronism #3: Crucifixion in Ancient Egypt
"O my two companions of the prison! As to one of you, he will pour out the wine for his lord to drink: as for the other, he will hang from the cross, and the birds will eat from off his head. So hath been decreed that matter whereof ye twain do enquire." (Sura 12:41)

"Pharaoh said: "Believe ye in Him before I give you permission? Surely this must be your leader, who has taught you magic! be sure I will cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will have you crucified on trunks of palm-trees: so shall ye know for certain, which of us can give the more severe and the more lasting punishment!" (Sura 20:71)
In the two Qur'an quotes mentioned above, it is mentioned that crucifixion/impalement was used as a method of execution by the Egyptians during the time of Joseph (nineteenth century B.C.) and Moses (fifteenth century B.C.). Yet crucifixion/impalement as a form of execution was not invented until around the 6th century B.C. by the Persians (not the Egyptians). Surely, if the Qur'an had any sense of history, we would not expect to find historical errors such as this one.

Anachronism #4: Haman in Pharaoh's Court
"And We wished to be gracious to those who were being depressed in the land, to make them leaders in faith and make them heirs, to establish a firm place for them in the land, and to show Pharaoh, Haman, and their hosts, at their hands, the very things against which they were taking precautions. So We sent this inspiration to the mother of Moses: 'Suckle thy child, but when thou hast fears about him, cast him into the river, but fear not nor grieve: for We shall restore him to thee, and We shall make him one of Our apostles.' Then the people of Pharaoh picked him up from the river: It was intended that Moses should be to them an adversary and a cause of sorrow: for Pharaoh and Haman and all their hosts were men of sin." (Sura 28:5-8, cf. 28:38, 29:39, 40:24,36)
Haman was an Agagite noble who lived in Persia (not Egypt) around the sixth century B.C., and is the main antagonist in the book of Esther. It behooves any thinking person to wonder why the Qur'an records Haman being present in the court of Pharaoh and opposing Moses, who lived nine centuries before his time in a completely different culture and context. Did Haman somehow invent a time machine to travel back in time and oppose Moses?

(Reposted from a Christian-Muslim discussion page on Facebook.)

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