Author: Dr. Rafat Amari/Monday, November 11, 2019/Categories: Islam, Quran, Quran and Science, Article
The Myths of the Quran
By Dr. Rafat Amari
The Qur’an repeats the mythology in vogue at the time of Mohammed. His thoughts reflect ancient teachings about the earth, the sun and the creation. These teachings can be traced in the well-known mythology of the people of the middle and Far East.
Mohammed built the Qur’an around hundreds of myths, one of which is about the sun. In Sura (or chapter) 36:38, the Qur’an states that the sun goes to a staying place where it rests.
When Mohammed was asked where the sun goes to stay, he said “it goes to the throne of Allah where it worships with the moon till the angel Gabriel takes a garment of light from the throne according to the hours of the day and puts it on the sun, making it able to shine during the day. Then Gabriel takes a garment from the throne and puts it on the moon also”. Al Tabari 1: pages 47,48(the authorized and sacred book of the Hadith of Mohammed).
This a well-known Babylonian myth which views the sun as a secondary god passing after sunset through a gate located in heaven. The sun goes to stay in a big room where it takes its rest and worships the superior gods of Babylonia. After this, the gods bring a garment of light that they put on the sun so that it may shine during the day.
Mesopotamian mythology is easily transmitted to Arabia, because the eastern part of the Arabian Peninsula has always been under the control of Mesopotamia and, in later times, the Persians. Therefore, hundreds of myths existed from people who were in contact with the Arabs. Mohammed copied many of these myths into the Qur'an.
Another myth about the sun is found in Sura Al kahef 18:86. Here, Mohammed made Alexander the Great a prophet of Allah, and Mohammed made Alexander reach to where the sun sets only to find that the sun sets in a spring of mud.
In a well-known story from Arabic-Yemeni mythology, the Yemeni leader, Tubu’, wrote a poem in which he described the sun setting in a spring of mud. Tubu’ occupied Mecca before Mohammed was born.
Mohammed’s Qur’an has many mythological ideas about the earth as well. In the Sura Alkalam 68:1, Allah swears in the whale and the pen, as very important entities. Mohammed explained in his Hadith, which is his inspired words, what that means as we are told, in Al-Tabari 1:39 and 40:
Mohammed said the throne of Allah was originally on the water, ( Sura 11:7) and Allah created a pen which wrote down everything that should happen till the end of the age. Allah created a whale over which he placed the earth. Then the whale moved and the earth started shaking. So Allah created the mountains through which he attached the earth to the whale to keep it from vacillating. The mountains became stakes.
Mohammed created many verses in the Qur’an to support his claim. He said that Allah put the mountains as Stakes to keep the earth from shaking (Sura 41: 9,10 and Sura 21:31). Mohammed supported his idea in the Qur'an about the earth being vacillating (shaking) and then fixed by the mountains in other Hadith. Thus, he confirmed his belief in a whale carrying the earth and causing this vacillation.
The myth is not exclusive to the Qur'an. It also appears in the tales of many ancient nations of the East. A Babylonian god by the name of Nabo was known as the first one to create the magic pen by which he wrote the destiny of everything.
Ancient nations in the Middle East held to similar myths. Starting from the Sumerians believed the first deity was water, and all the other gods came from the water. The gods resembled fish. Even the god, Nabu, was a fish-like god.
The earth was carried along by gods who resembled fish according to the mythology of many Eastern people.
The mountains providing stakes to hold the earth is also an ancient myth-this time from India. The sacred Indian book, the Mahabharata, was written between 300 B.C. and 300 A.D. It speaks about the mountains as gods that control the earth so it will not shake or vacillate. It says that at one time, the mountains flew away. Then the earth started shaking until the other gods made peace with those mountains. When that happened, the gods made the mountains return to act as stakes, and the earth became stable again.
All these ancient myths make it easy for us to see how Arabs at the time of Mohammed adopted the same concepts about the earth as the nations around them. Many Arabs used to worship a big whale-type fish that carried the earth on its back.
One of the Arabian gods was the Hoot god, which means the whale. The Arabians believed the Hoot god was a divine whale, which within other deities carried the earth. The mountains were stakes to anchor it in place. These myths are included in old Arabian script known at the time of Mohammed called (Sahift Lukman), veneered by Mohammed as he quoted from it regarding the earth and how it was carried. Mohammed copied this perfectly and included it in many verses of the Qur'an.
In the Qur’an there are about 400 myths like these. Their origins are well known as myths of various nations in Mesopotamia, Arabia, Persia, Egypt and India.
While Mohammed was reciting these myths to his contemporaries in the form of poetry, claiming that these were inspired verses of “Allah,” the well-educated people of Mecca knew the origin of these myths. Sura 23:83 records that they told Mohammed these were the “myths of the ancients known to them.”
This caused Mohammed to leave the city where his myths were known and joined Aus and Khasrage, two wild and savage tribes. These tribes did no work, but obtained their food by attacking caravans from other cities. Mohammed organized them to attack the caravans of Mecca and other cities. He wanted to subdue them, because they refused to believe in what they knew at the time were “the myths of the ancients.”
We can easily see that much of the Qur’an is the fruit of ancient mythology repeated by Mohammed and known by his fellow citizens and by us today as mythology.
In Sura 71:15 and16, the Qur'an describes the sun passing through one layer or floor at a time in a building of seven skies. This causes the sun and the moon to illuminate the seven floors of the sky.
This mythological story was well known in the literature of many Gnostic groups at the time of Mohammed. Among them were the Mandaeans, called “the Sabians”. They had much influence in Arabia. The similarity of belief caused the people of Mecca to call Mohammed and his followers Sabians, because the claims of Mohammed were taught before his time by the Sabians in Mecca
from the Mandaeans, Mohammed copied the way to figure the distance between the earth and heaven. In the Mandaean’s main religious book, Ginza Rba, we find that the prince of darkness, named “Ur,” waged war against the kingdom of light. He traveled to heaven in one day, which was equal to many hundreds of years that a man needed if walking on his feet to reach heaven. This was a Mandaean count of huge distances.
Mohammed used the same verse, saying the angel Gabriel descended from heaven in one day, which was equal to a thousand years of “walking on his feet.” It means the Arabian in his time would walk one thousand years on his feet till he reaches heaven.
Copyright 2017 by Dr. Rafat Amari
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Scholar in comparative religions and Author of over 30 books