The Uncreatedness of the Quran and the Unity of Allah: A Brief Critique of Islamic Monotheism

Sam Shamoun

In two earlier articles (1, 2) we already provided data showing that the Quran and other Islamic sources do not support the Muslim position that Allah is a mere monad, a bare unitarian deity. The evidence conclusively shows that Allah is actually a plurality-within-unity deity, a multipersonal entity. In fact, the very word used to describe Allah's unity points to Allah being a plurality-within-unity. The word used in Islamic theology in relation to Allah's oneness is Tauhid (Tawhid) which, according to the following Muslim sources, literally means:

Tauhiyd comes from the verb wahhad which literally means TO UNITE. In Islamic terminology, it means to realize and maintain the unity of All‚h in one's actions (inwardly and outwardly). The actual word tauhiyd does not occur in the Quran or Sunnah though the present tense of the verb (from which tauhiyd is derived) is used in Sunnah. The Prophet sent Muadh ibn Jabal as governor of Yemen in 9 A.H. He told him, "You will going to the people of the book, so first invite yuwahhidu All‚h [them to the assertion of the oneness of All‚h]".[1] (Source; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Dr. Zakir Naik writes:


Definition and Categories:

Islam believes in ‘Tawheed’ which is not merely monotheism i.e. belief in one God, but much more. Tawheed LITERALLY MEANS ‘UNIFICATION’ i.e. ‘asserting oneness’ and is derived from the Arabic verb ‘Wahhada’ which means TO UNITE, UNIFY OR CONSOLIDATE. (Source)

Furthermore, the Quran mentions that Allah has a Spirit who is both personal and has all the attributes of God.

Islamic orthodoxy also insisted that the Quran is the uncreated speech or word of Allah. Note what the following texts say about the Quran:

Have ye any hope that they will be true to you when a party of them used to listen to the word of Allah, then used to change it, after they had understood it, knowingly? S. 2:75 Pickthall

Say (O Muhammad): O mankind! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah to you all - (the messenger of) Him unto Whom belongeth the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. There is no God save Him. He quickeneth and He giveth death. So believe in Allah and His messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, who believeth in Allah and in His Words, and follow him that haply ye may be led aright. S. 7:158 Pickthall

And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad), then protect him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not. S. 9:6 Pickthall

Sunni Muslim writer, GF Haddad, writes:

This posting sums up the doctrine of the massive majority of the Muslims, namely the People of the Sunna and the Congregation, concerning the pre-existent, pre-eternal [sic], beginningless, and uncreated nature of the Divine Speech Allah Most High has named al-Qur'an, as held by the Salaf al-Salihun and as formulated by the two Masters, Imam Abu al-Hasan al-Ash`ari and Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and their respective schools.

The position of Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama`a differs fundamentally on this matter with that of the rest of the Muslim sects, especially with that of the now defunct Mu`tazila. The position of the Shi`a is indentical [sic] with that of the Mu`tazila, who denied not only the Pre-existent status of the Divine Speech, but of all the Divine Attributes for they considered that they are the same as the Essence.

Ahl al-Sunna agree one and all that the Qur'an is the pre-existent, pre-eternal, uncreated Speech of Allah Most High on the evidence of the Qur'an, the Sunna, and faith-guided reason. (The Uncreatedness Of The Divine Speech - The Glorious Qur'an, source)

Thus, the Muslim logic goes something like this:

  1. Allah's word is uncreated.
  2. The Quran is Allah's word.
  3. Therefore, the Quran is uncreated.

In fact, Muslims at one point threatened to kill anyone who claimed that the Quran was created. For instance, one renowned Muslim jurist named Qadi 'Iyad, citing the work of Malik, wrote that:

He said about someone who said that the Qur'an is created, "He is an unbeliever, so kill him." He said in the version of Ibn Nafi', "He should be flogged and painfully beaten and imprisoned until he repents." In the version of Bishr ibn Bakr at-Tinnisi we find, "He is killed and his repentance is not accepted." (Qadi 'Iyad Musa al-Yahsubi, Muhammad Messenger of Allah (Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad), translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley [Madinah Press, Inverness, Scotland, U.K. 1991; third reprint, paperback], p. 419)

Yet the pages, the ink, and the hearts which contain the Quran are all created. This means that the Quran has two natures, it is both eternal and temporal, uncreated and created at the same time.

For more info on these issues we recommend reading the above mentioned articles.

In this paper we would like to posit a paradox for Muslims to ponder over. Muslims often produce biblical references and/or posit philosophical arguments to undermine the logical validity and coherency of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Here, we would like to return the favor and let Muslims try and resolve a dilemma resulting from their belief that the Quran is uncreated.

If we assume that the Quran is eternal then we must assume that the following prayer is eternal as well, being part of the eternal Quran:

In the name of ALLAH, the Gracious, the Merciful. All praise is due to ALLAH alone, Lord of all the worlds. The Gracious, the Merciful. Master of the Day of Judgment. THEE alone do we worship and THEE alone do we implore for help. Guide us in the straight path, The path of those on whom THOU hast bestowed THY favours, those who have not incurred THY displeasure and those who have not gone astray. S. 1:1-7 Sher Ali

Here is a prayer directed to Allah, and yet this is supposed to be an eternal prayer, a prayer that has existed before creation. In light of this view, this either means that the Quran is a living personal entity distinct from Allah, since it is praying to God, or that Allah has actually been praying to himself from all eternity. If the first position is indeed correct, then this posits two distinct eternal entities, Allah and the Quran, i.e. there are two Gods, if not more, or that Allah exists as a plurality within himself.

The second position is quite plausible and tenable in light of the following Quranic passages which teach that Allah actually prays:

He it is who sends PRAYERS on you (Arabic- yusallii alaykum), as do His angels ... S. 33:43

Allah and His angels PRAY for the Prophet (Arabic- yasalluuna alan-Nabiyy): O ye that believe PRAY for him (salluu `alayhi), and salute him with all respect. S. 33:56

There is, in fact, a Muslim narration which refers to Allah reciting surahs from the Quran!

Narrated AbuHurayrah
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "A thousand years before creating the heavens and the Earth, Allah RECITED Ta-Ha and Ya-Sin, and when the angels HEARD the recitation they said, 'Happy are the people to whom this comes down, happy are the minds which carry this, and happy are the tongues which utter this." Darimi transmitted it (Tirmidhi Hadith, 660- ALIM CD-ROM Version)

Hence, the foregoing supports the view that Allah may have occupied himself by praying the fatihah before having created anything. If this is the case, it then means that Allah is either worshiping himself or is actually praising another as God since this prayer consists of praises and petitions to God.

Yet, I prefer the first understanding since the Quran contains many passages that are not prayers but events and conversations between people. What this essentially means is that the Quran must be a living personal, conscious entity. There are some hadiths which essentially the same thing:

Abu Umama said he heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) say: Recite the Qur'an, for on the Day of Resurrection it will come as an intercessor for those who recite It. Recite the two bright ones, al-Baqara and Surah Al 'Imran, for on the Day of Resurrection they will come as two clouds or two shades, or two flocks of birds in ranks, pleading for those who recite them. Recite Surah al-Baqara, for to take recourse to it is a blessing and to give it up is a cause of grief, and the magicians cannot confront it. (Mu'awiya said: It has been conveyed to me that here Batala means magicians.) (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1757)

Narrated AbuHurayrah:
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: A surah of the Qur'an containing thirty verses will intercede its reader till he will be forgiven. That is: "Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the sovereignty" (Surah 67). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 6, Number 1395)

991. Abu Umamah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "Read the Qur'an, for it will come as an intercessor for its reciters on the Day of Resurrection.'' [Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith tells the excellence of reciting the Qur'an and acting upon its injunctions. Intercession (in this Hadath) means that the Qur'an will be endowed with the power of speech by Allah and it will request Allah to forgive the sins of its reciters who acted upon its teachings. Allah will accept the request of the Qur'an, as signified in other Ahadith.

992. An-Nawwas bin Sam`an (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying, "The Qur'an and its people who applied it, will be brought on the Day of Resurrection preceded with Surat Al-Baqarah and Surat Al-`Imran arguing on behalf of those who applied them.'' [Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith means that on the Day of Requital, the Qur'an, with Surat Al-Baqarah and Al-`Imran in the forefront, will intercede before Allah for those who used to recite and act upon them in the life of the world. (Riyad-us-Saliheen, Compiled By Al-Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Ad-Dimashqi, Chapter 180, "The Excellence of Reciting the Qur'an"; online edition; bold emphasis ours)

Despite the commentary's claim that the Quran will be endowed with speech, something not stated in the hadiths themselves, the point is still clear. The Quran will act as an intercessor which shows that the Quran is a living being.

Furthermore, the Quran obviously didn't always exist as a book, otherwise this would imply that there was a material tablet that also existed eternally. But if there was an eternal tablet, this then leads to the dilemma that matter and space are not created. After all, for there to be an eternal tablet in heaven it must occupy space and a material form of some kind, and therefore implies that Allah isn't the only entity that is eternal. Thus, for the Quran to eternally exist, and yet to have existed even before it became a book, implies that the Quran existed as a conscious, personal entity alongside Allah.

The Muslim will have to agree that the Quran did not eternally exist as a book, in a material form, which means that it either existed in the mind of Allah or as a distinct entity coexisting with Allah. If the former, then this means that Allah has been conversing with himself before there was anything else, which leads us to the second point mentioned above, i.e. that Allah was praying or reciting the fatihah to himself in eternity.

There is an additional problem with this position, since everything existed in the mind of God in the sense that God perfectly knows and has decreed everything that will exist. So to say that the Quran existed in the mind of God implies that the Quran's preexistence is really not much different than any other aspect of creation, with the exception that it is held to be the revelation of God. But even here it isn't unique, since the Quran speaks of creation as a revelation of God, i.e. the manifold signs of Allah to humans of his existence. The Quran even classifies the other books given through prophets and messengers as revelation, and these books also existed within God's mind. Yet it is obvious that the Muslims mean something quite different when they speak of the Quran being the uncreated speech of Allah, they don't simply mean that the Quran existed within God's mind as did all the other things which God decreed or knew would exist.

But choosing the other option, that the Quran is a distinct entity from Allah, leads to there either being more than one God, or to the belief that Allah exists as a plurality.

Moreover, if the Quran is Allah's uncreated speech, existing from eternity, then this means that all the events and conversations found within it were preordained. In other words, Allah must have predestined all the acts, words, deeds etc. mentioned in the Quran since these speeches and events were eternally recorded by God. This is even supported by the following narration:

Abu Huraira reported that God’s messenger told of Adam and Moses holding a disputation in their Lord’s presence and of Adam getting the better of Moses in argument. Moses said, "You are Adam whom God created with His hand, into whom He breathed of His spirit, to whom He made the angels do obeisance, and whom He caused to dwell in his garden; then because of your sin you caused mankind to come down to the earth." Adam replied, "And you are Moses whom God chose to deliver His messages and to address, to whom He gave the tablets on which everything was explained, and whom He brought near as a confidant. How long before I was created did you find that God has written the Torah? Moses said, "Forty years." Adam asked, "Did you find in it, ‘And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred’?" On being told that he did, he said, "Do you then blame me for doing a deed which God had decreed that I should do forty years before He created me?" God’s messenger said, "So Adam got the better of Moses in the argument." Muslim transmitted it. (Mishkat Al-Masabih - English Translation With Explanatory Notes by Dr. James Robson, Volume I [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprint 1990], p. 23; bold emphasis ours)

Adam tells Moses that Allah had already ordained the fall which can be found written in the book which was given to Moses. Yet, instead of quoting the Torah, the source quotes the Quran, namely surah 20:121!

Instead of trying to address this dilemma, we will let Muslims solve this paradox for themselves. After all, this is their problem which comes as a result of their belief in the uncreated nature of the Quran.

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