Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ezra (Uzair) and the next Quran error

Let's go to the third Quran (Koran) error I use in my opening with Muslims:

YUSUFALI: The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
PICKTHAL: And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!
SHAKIR: And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

The Quran claims that Jews called Ezra (Uzair) "the son of Allah." BTW, you'll notice Yusuf Ali trying to soft-pedal the point by using "a son" instead of "the son." Clearly, this is an attempt to obfuscate the matter because here's the original Arabic:
Waqalati alyahoodu AAuzayrun ibnu Allahi
waqalati alnnasara almaseehu ibnu Allahi
Notice that the phrase referring to the Jews (al yahoodu) and the phrase referring to the Christians (al nnasara) look exactly the same.

It is common knowledge that Jews do not have a specific person who they believe in "the son of God." This is a key contentious point between Jews and Christians, and a blasphemous comment for a Jew to make. The closest you can get in the Bible are references to one of three things (
  • Angels are sometimes referred to as sons - "Benei Elohim"
  • The real king of Israel -( II Samuel 7: 14, with reference to King David and those of his descendants who carried on his dynasty; comp. Psalm 89:27, 28)
  • Israel as a people (comp. Exodus 4: 22 and Hosea 11:1)
Remember this quote from the Old Testament:
Do not have any other gods before Me. Do not represent [such] gods by any carved statue or picture of anything in the heaven above, on the earth below, or in the water below the land. Do not bow down to [such gods] or worship them. I am God your Lord, a God who demands exclusive worship
It's blasphemous to refer to any other gods but YHWH. That's it.

Even the coming of Messiah is referred to as God or "king. " Let's even consider the blasphemous thought that maybe, possibly, the Messiah could be referred to as the "son" of God...still, there is no mention of Ezra as either the Messiah or "The Son of God" in modern or ancient Judaism. None. Thus, a clear mistake.

I think Edward Henry Palmer said it best
The Moslem tradition is that Ezra, after being dead 100 years, was raised to life, and dictated from memory the whole of the Jewish Scriptures which had been lost during the captivity, and that the Jews said he could not have done this unless he had been the son of God. There is no Jewish tradition whatever in support of this accusation of Mohammed's, which probably was entirely due to his own invention or to misinformation.

Muslim Apologetics

What do the Muslim apologists have to say? Has anybody found a single Jew in history that said Ezra was the son of God? Funny enough, I can only find one response on the Net:

Unfortunately for Muslims, not even this response is able to quote a single Jew referring to Ezra as the son of God. Basically, the best part of this response is just a quote of another Muslim apologist, this one from the 300 years after Mohammad. Apologists quoting apologists do not quite solve a critical mistake made in a supposedly "perfect" book by a supposed infallible God.

Let me take this response apart in more detail:

It opens with a discussion of Ezra's life, and a quote discussing where he might be buried. The point here is that Ezra was a key figure in reforming Jewish law.

G. D. Newby

Next, it continues with a quote from Newby where an attempt is made to place a connection between Ezra, the human, and Enoch, the angel:
It is easy, then, to imagine that among the Jews of the Hijaz who were apparently involved in mystical speculations associated with the merkabah, Ezra, because of the traditions of his translation, because of his piety, and particularly because he was equated with Enoch as the Scribe of God, could be termed one of the Bene Elohim. And, of course, he would fit the description of religious leader (one of the ahbar of the Qur'an 9:31) whom the Jews had exalted
So Newby is trying to explain the verse by equating Ezra to Enoch, and angel. Now, "Benei Elohim" literally means "sons of God," and refer to angels, as described above. Nowhere is he saying that Jews referred to Ezra as "the Son of God." Also, as the reader can easily see, Newby is engaging in a rather convoluted train of thought to help him understand the verse not to assert that "the Jews" believe Ezra is "the Son of God."

Ibn Hazm

Next, we get another quote that appears to be the most damaging at first light:
"H. Z. Hirschberg proposed another assumption, based on the words of Ibn Hazm, namely, that the 'righteous who live in Yemen believed that 'Uzayr was indeed the son of Allah.' According to other Muslim sources, there were some Yemenite Jews who had converted to Islam who believed that Ezra was the messiah. For Muhammad, Ezra, the apostle (!) of messiah, can be seen in the same light as the Christian saw Jesus, the messiah, the son of Allah.[4]"
Let's look at the Quran again:
"The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah."
It doesn't say some Jews, it says "The" Jews.

Now, let's look at the quote. The quote speaks of Muslim converts not "The Jews"!

OK, even then, the text says "proposed another assumption" - so it is not a well-known conclusion among Jews, but an assumption. Second, it says, "based on the words of Ibn Hazm" - Ibn Hazm was a Muslim philosopher who was born in Spain 300 years after Mohammad. Using the words of a Muslim apologist to prove Islam without a fact basis is called circular reasoning.

George Sale (or Al-Baidawi)

OK, now the last major quote from George Sale, and 18th century orientalist. This quote, funny enough, actually looks to disprove the Quran by saying that it was not "The Jews," but "
some ancient heterdox Jews, or else of some Jews of Medina" that declared Ezra were the Son of God. And it gets worse because it is not George Sale declaring this fact, rather he is repeating "the commentators" that "endeavour to support" the charge against the Jews. Who are the commentators? Let's go to the original source to find out who is claiming the Jews declared Ezra the Son of God. In the original source, you will find that George Sale footnotes Al Beidawi (Baidawi) making the claims. Who is Al Baidawi? A 13th century Muslim scholar ( This 13th century scholar claims to know "this verse was read to the Jews and they did not contradict it." That's the best he has to offer. So, we are back to circular reasoning again because we see just hearsay by Muslim apologists and no new facts.

The conclusion: an error

So what are we left with? A bunch of smoke and mirrors from Muslim apologists. There is no proof from a single Jew in history that "The Jews" refer to Ezra as "the Son of God." Moreover, there is proof that ancient and modern Jews do not refer to Ezra as the Son of God. Thus, we can only conclude that the Quran is in error again.

Finally, if Allah was all-knowing, he would have created a perfect book. A perfect book would be timeless and always perfect. Thus, even if the Muslim apologists were correct, the Quran should've said, "some Jews at the time of Mohammad believed that Ezra could have been a son of God." The Quran is not perfect for two reasons, 1. It incorrectly asserts that "the Jews" believe Ezra to be "the son of God." 2. It is not timeless in its assertions. The Quran is just a book.


QuddusMow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
QuddusMow said...

A'UudhuBillaahi Minash Shaitaanir Rajeem.

Bismillaahir RaHmaanir RaHeem:

In reference to your detailed but totally unfounded allegations about Al Quraan:

A list of literary faults and strongpoints on a website you found is no more than some newly invented structure among other newly invented structures that someone may use or throw out in their writing project. They do not govern Reality, young man.

You may abide by those literary guidelines and sociology observations but that is never going to be sufficient for yourself or anyone else.

The appropriate documentation of the ways the Jews wrongfully believed in the one called 'Uzair is available.
For Instance one may examine:

I don't assume you would believe it yet but anything is possible Bi Idhnillaah (with the Permission of Allaah).

Silly Allah said...

You can continue to entertain :) I checked your links and, alas, there was no new information. Since you've gone to fallacies to support your argument, I can only assume that you have none. Why are you so dishonest with yourself? Look at you, instead of reviewing the facts to better understand whether you are a blind believer in an imaginary friend, your twitch reflex is to defend without learning. If you cannot defeat the arguments with facts and logic, it means you might be wrong. Use your brain and wake up!

For the readers, we can see the typical fallacies used by Muslims:
"No more than a newly invented structure among other newly invented structures that someone may use or throw out in their writing project."
(this one is funny, it's hard to even understand what he means)

"They do not govern Reality, young man."
(Why is Reality capitalized? Oh, and I'm probably older than he is)

Appeal to authority
"The appropriate documentation..."
(ahh, the "appropriate" documentation...unfortunately, it was inappropriate because it had no facts)

F. Huckabee said...

Dear Webmaster,

1) In fact, "a son" rather than "the" son is a perfectly acceptable translation of the verse. "Uzayru'b nuLlah"
The proof of this is in the fact that if I was to say "Edward ibnu George", "Edward son of George", this does not discount the possibility George having further sons. However, if I said Edward, Al-Ibn George", this would indeed imply "Edward the (sole) son of George". Translators have translated "al-miseehibnu Llah" to mean "the Messiah is the [sole] son of God based on their knowledge that Christians do indeed believe that Jesus is the sole 'son of God', whereas what Yusuf Ali was implying with his differentiation, is that his interpretation of the verse about the Jews was that they believed Ozayr to be one of many 'sons of God'. An elementary knowledge of Arabic demonstrates the validity of the translation.

2) Most mufassiroon believe that the Ozayr verse refers to a small group of Jewish people either at the time of early Islam, or before. In fact, contrary to what you say, it is an accepted device in classical Arabic usage to say, for example, "qatala Bani Quraysh", "The tribe of Quraysh killed", not to mean, of course, that the whole of the tribe of Quraysh killed someone, but rather some individuals, or even one individual from the tribe killed someone. So, your claim that the verse necessarily refers to "all" the Jews is unfounded both linguistically and traditionally - in fact the consensus of Muslim scholars is that the verse refers to a group of Jews, rather than all the Jews.

One simply cannot base one conclusions about such matters on English translations - Arabic being a particularly subtle Semitic language and English being a language derived from both indo-European and Germanic roots, both of which are utterly disconnected to Semitic roots - obviously makes translation between the languages essentially an interpretive affair. What I am getting at is that translations of Arabic works into European languages are insufficient tools for adequate interpretations of such works.

3) You imply that a lack in Jewish sources of corroboration of this verse implies that the Qur'an errs. This is simply very careless thinking - you seem to be implying that Jewish history is a flawless account of every single detail of anything ever said, done, or believed over the last several thousand years, when of course 99% of ancient Jewish history (by that I mean all things that actually happened) is lost to us, as is the case with all ancient history. For example, imagine that a source from 13th Century France, a letter perhaps, claims that a group of philosophers in France believe that the Trinity in in fact not the real Absolute, but that God is in fact single and undifferentiated. But then someone says, "hold on, no historians from this time have ever alluded to this group, therefore I can definitively state that they can't have existed!" Whoever said this would of course be making a silly error.

Naturally, the (hypothetical) letter would itself be a historical source, written by someone who knew of this group of philosophers - our assumption would be that the writer is telling the truth - because there is no particular reason to doubt he is telling the truth - he would need a motive to lie. Even if it was a lie (and we would need proof to make the claim) we would have to take into account the fact that lies are not particularly easy to perpetuate when you are talking about whole groups of imaginary people i.e. people around notice the imaginary group is not really there, and take you to task about it.

This leaves us with the possibility that it was misinformation, but again, for someone to go to the trouble of writing about something that they have no certain knowledge of is unlikely - people refer to events, situations and people because they refer to aspects of their own particular situation or experience of life which are relevant - why would someone refer, for example, to a group of philosophers they'd heard of if their certainty that the group of philosophers actually existed was not confident beyond a reasonable doubt? It would not be relevant to a discussion about topics which had instrumental value or relevance.

Now if we take the lesson of this analogy back to the case of the Blessed Prophet Muhammad and the Qur'an, we have two possibilities. One is the idea that the Blessed Prophet was a type of 'sincere delusional' who genuinely thought that he heard the Qur'an recited to him, but was merely mistaken about its origin. The problem with this is that it is incompatible with the actual content of the Qur'an - masses of information on various matters, religions etc. that are corroborated by other sources - meaning that those who pedal the thesis that the Blessed Prophet was not a messenger from God would have to revert to the "insincere power-grabber doing a lot of research into Jewish and Christian sources" thesis they are famously fond of.

It is also incompatible with the extremely rigourous historical record we have of the Blessed Prophet's distinctly non-delusional approach and behaviour - enlightened maxims, arbitration between people, leadership etc.

The idea of someone researching Jewish stories, and all the multifarious aspects of life it would be necessary to know about if one was to 'write' the Qur'an is simply not compatible with the idea of a sincere delusional taking his knowledge from visions - and yet the historical record shows that the Blessed Prophet both experienced visions and was perceived as being utterly sincere by his contemporaries. What I am getting at is that it is very unlikely that the verse in the Qur'an would have been considered 'wrong' by people aware of different Jewish sects in Arabia at the time - as a Medinan surah, if people weren't aware of the Ozayr cult, the Blessed Prophet would have been open to immediate criticism, or at least questioning, over the verse - yet there is no mention of such a phenomena in the voluminous hadith literature.

If Ozayr being said to be the son of God was an exclusively Arabian phenomena, it would have disappeared very quickly from Arabia after the rise of Islam anyway, hence the lack of Jewish record of this. It may well have been a small mystical group.

Certainly, your argument of Qur'anic error is a rather weak one. Since Muslims know that the Qur'an is a revelation from God, any ambiguity hardly threatens the books integrity - the books reception is not contingent on its correspondence with non-Muslim uncertainty - rather it is the profound spiritual perception of its revealed nature that ensures the continued growth and deep spiritual health of Islam for all time. It is up to speculation to match up to Qur'anic assertions, not the other way round, since this great revelation in its sublime beauty is its own most eloquent epistemological standard.

The Qur'an in reality is the uncreated word of God - and God knows best about who believes what, when, and why - if you read on, the verse is clearly referring to general excesses in raising religious leaders up to stations that are not appropriate to their real natures.

Again, terribly authoritative net "polemics" against Islam and Muslims continue to amuse and dismay with the sheer range of their stupidity. By the way, the title of your blog is potentially offensive not just to Muslims, but to Christians too - Arab Christians (unsurprisingly enough) also use the word "Allah" for God (since it means "God"!!) whilst Jesus, peace be with him himself used the Aramaic word "Allaha".

Silly Allah said...

Wow, a long post, chock full of Muslim apologetics and fallacies, but let's get to your key points in a concise fashion:

1. You claim that Ezra could be referred to as "a son" and not necessarily "the son" based on grammar. If you look back at my original post, I made the point that it referred to "the son" after reviewing the structure of the verse, not the grammar (as the two out of three translators probably did since they agree with me). I will review the structure again below to demonstrate that if what you say is true, the verse in the Quran is in more trouble. I will also go through Hadith which shows the exact same parallel structure!

2. You claim that the verse refers to a sect of Jews, but not THE Jews. Here, you use the fallacy of argument by authority with a little circular logic (Use of Quran apologists to prove the Quran). I found it rather funny because you cleverly avoided the same grammatical reasoning that you used in your first point - why? Because the reader would've seen your argument holds no water. (ALyahoodu= THE Jews). See below where I go through the Arabic itself with English side by side - you know, because Arabic is so subtle and all.

BTW, can you point me and the readers to the words in the Quran that reference "a small group of Jewish people either at the time of early Islam or before" that believed Ezra to be the son of God? I don't see these words, and, since you are not a prophet, I don't believe you're allowed to add words to the Quran.

3. You claim that just because there is no objective proof whatsoever that a single Jew in history ever claimed Ezra to be the son of God doesn't mean the Quran erred. I'll let the readers decide that one if they can stop laughing :) . You also ignore the point that it is traditionally blasphemous for Jews to even claim a son of God. Your rationalizing (and I do mean rationalizing) is based on defeating straw men (more fallacy) including that Muhammad was a "sincere delusional." There are many other straw men, and you only pick your favorite. What if Muhammad just made a mistake? He thought he saw a pattern between Jews and Christians, but had simply made a mistake. Here's another strawman, this time more vicious - what if Muhammad needed some way in which he could discredit Jews. By showing they worshiped the(or a) son of God, he had all the ammunition he needed to finish the very verse: "may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away."

Look, the Ezra error is one of many, many errors in the Quran. You can try apologetics to lie to yourself, but it is much harder for others to buy the lie. Instead of going into denial and attack, maybe you should read the Quran with a skeptical eye before you waste your entire life on the imaginary friend of Muhammad. With that, let's go through the verse in detail once more:

"And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away! (9.30)"

Let's go through the key words (before all that "may Allah destroy them" rubbish) in Arabic:

"Waqalati (they say) alyahoodu (THE Jews) AAuzayrun(Ezra) ibnu(son of) Allahi (Allah)

waqalati (they say) alnnasara (THE Christians) almaseehu (the messaiah) ibnu(son of) Allahi (Allah)".

"Al" (in Alyahoodu), as you pointed out, means "The." Thus, we are referring to THE Jews, not Arabian Jews, Jews that knew Muhammad, NY Jews or Los Angeles Jews, but THE Jews without qualification. Are you denying that the Quran is trying to draw a parallel between Jewish and Christian beliefs? The structure of the two sentences is identical. The Quran is saying that what THE Jews think about Ezra is identical to what the Christians think about their Messiah (i.e. Christ) - or maybe you're claiming that Christians don't think that their Messiah (Christ) is THE son of God? The Quran is simply wrong either way. The Jews have never considered any prophet to be the Son of God in the same way that Christians consider Christ to be. It is one of the major differences between Judaism and Christianity. The rest of the verse only makes sense with this understanding (THE Jews) because it then says, "these are the words of THEIR mouths;" Now, Muhammad groups the two together as though Jews and Christians both talk about the son of God. Why would it say "their" mouths if we're talking about all Christians, but just a sect of Jews (and btw, this sect has never been proven)?

For further proof, let's go to the Hadith: Go to Sahih Muslim in The Book of Faith:

...Then the Jews would be summoned, and it would be said to them: What did you worship? They will say: We worshipped 'Uzair, son of Allah. It would be said to them: You tell a lie; Allah had never had a spouse or a son... 1:352

So again, we find Muslims claiming that "the Jews" worshipped Uzair (Ezra) as son of Allah. You can put an "a" or a "the" in there, either way, you're in trouble with history. If you go further, you will find the same parallel structure for the Christians:

...Then the Christians would be summoned and it would be said to them: What did you worship? They would say: We worshipped Jesus, son of Allah. It would be said to them: You tell a lie; Allah did not take for Himself either a spouse or a son.

Again, I'll let the reader decide if there is indeed a parallel structure demonstrating the error.

Let's go further - if what you say about some unproven Jewish sect at Muhammad's place and time is true (and you have no proof), then the Quran is not timeless or universal. It is only for the period and place that Muhammad lived - is that so? How could the "one true religion" be based on a book that's only true for a short period of time in a tiny area of the Arabian peninsula? Worse yet, as I've shown, there's no reason to accept this verse as anything other than an error at any place or time.

And I'm still not done :) Now, let's go to the end of the verse: "May Allah destroy them". So all of this was appears to be build up for Allah's wrath. Allah needed more reason to hate the Jews (as if there wasn't enough anti-Jewish crap in the Quran), and Muhammad gave it to him with this error. It was an error, face it. Moreover, I hypothesize that it was an error with a vicious purpose.

Omar said...

don't you see how using the word "the" in the phrase "the jews" to mean encompassing ALL jews is exactly the kind of idiotic mistake people make when interpreting translations?

Al yahood = "al" can imply the definite article as well as other things, so it's commonly translated as "the." Does that mean it's identical in every way to the english use of "the"? No, not even close, and to imply otherwise is hysterical.

Huckabee pretty much kicked your butt and you responded by basically repeating your talking points and claiming, amusingly enough, that even if you can't interpret the translation of the Quran, you can at the very least interpret the translation of the hadith in the same exact way.

Don't you get by now that the Quran is more a "recitation" than a historical document that should emphasize events in ancient history similarly to how they are emphasized in modern times? One of the points of "the Jews believe ___ is the son of God, the Christians believe ___ is the son of God" is the parallel language, not the relative popularity of those beliefs. Your close-minded agenda to drown these verses in endless criticism has caused you to completely miss the wondrous beauty of them.

Silly Allah said...

It's amazing that you wrote so much but never addressed the issue.

Do you believe the Quran when it says the Jews call Uzair the son of Allah? If so, where is your proof? If not, then you admit the Quran made a mistake?

Nick said...

Hi SillyAllah!

I hope you are alright :)

This blog post (Ezra) intrigued me when I read it, so much so that I decided to make a thread about it on the Catholic Answers Forum; I asked Jews whether or not Ezra really is a "son of God" in their religion. If you would like to check out the thread, you can find it here:

As you can tell from the first post, I got a warm welcome after my suspension was lifted (I was acting uncharitably, so the mods suspensed my account).

moh3ofa said...

Hey I read your post today it's wonderful But Sorry the Jew Blieve that Ezra Son Of God Like U Blieve in Jesus If u Wanna The Proof from your book I will be happy to show U where u can read It and How to pray to Ezra (Ozer)>

Best Regards