Leaving Islam





Imrul Qays  

In ancient Arabia , poetry was a passion. Poets were highly regarded in society, and the words of many accomplished poets were regarded as next to god’s words. In a desert land, bereft of much entertainment and natural relaxation, the ancient Arabs used to find solace, peace, tranquillity and even the raging emotion of war and revenge through the mesmerising words of their poets. Poets supplied the Arabs with their mental food. Seven such poets had their verses permanently posted on the walls of Ka’ba. These verses were known as Muallakat or suspended.  

The Dictionary of Islam (Hughe’s Dictionary of Islam, p.460) writes that those verses were also known as Muzahhabat or the golden poems because they were written in gold. The authors of those poetical verses were: Zuhair, Trafah, Imrul Qays, Amru ibn Kulsum, al-Haris, Antarah and Labid.  

Among those seven immortal poets the most famous was Imrul Qays, the undisputed ‘king’ or the legend of Arabic poetry. He was a prince as his father was an Arab tribal king. Through his passionate devotion to love and poetry he irked his father and was banished from the palace. Thereafter, he lived a solitary life by tending the sheep and keeping alive his undying dedication to poetry. Eventually, he became a wanderer and led a melancholic life when his tribe was almost eliminated in a tribal war. He travelled around and finally arrived at Constantinople .  It is said that he was put to death by the Roman ruler of Constantinople because he won the heart of a Roman princess through love and poetry. He died around the year 530-540 A.D., before Muhammad’s birth. His matchless verses were on the lips of many Arabs, and surely Muhammad had memorised many of his superb works. Muhammad is said to have declared Imrul Qays the greatest of Arab poets. No doubt then that he was keenly motivated to emulate Imrul Qays in the very early verses of the Qur’an.  

The chroniclers’ of the Qur’an usually list Sura al-Alaq (the clot, Sura 96) as the first revelation of Allah to Muhammad. However, a systematic study of the Qur’an may reveal that that may not be the case at all. In fact, the Dictionary of Islam (Hughes Dictionary of Islam, p.485), citing Islamic sources, writes that some earliest Suras (before the first revelation, Sura 96) are most likely to be:  

99—az-Zalzalah (the Earthquake)

103—al-Asr (the Declining Day)

100—al-Adiyat (the Chargers)

1—al-Fatiha (the Opening)  

Those Suras were, short, deep in spirituality and enthralling. It may be worthwhile to examine two such short Suras; namely:  

Sura 99 (the Earthquake)

099.001 When the earth is shaken to her (utmost) convulsion,
099.002 And the earth throws up her burdens (from within),

 099.003 And man cries (distressed): 'What is the matter with her?'-
099.004 On that Day will she declare her tidings:
099.005 For that thy Lord will have given her inspiration.
099.006 On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done).
099.007 Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it!
099.008 And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it  

Sura 103 (the Declining Day)

103.001 By (the Token of) Time (through the ages),
103.002 Verily Man is in loss,
103.003 Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.

W. St. Calir-Tisdall, the author of the famous essay The Origin of Islam (The Origins of the Koran, pp.235-236), by comparing two passages from the Sabaa Mu’allaqat, finds close similarity with the verses from the Qur’an. Some of these verses are:  

054.001 The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder.

093.001 By the Glorious Morning Light,

Commenting on verse 54.1 W. St. Clair-Tisdall writes:  

‘It was the custom of the time for and orators to hang up their compositions upon the Ka’aba; and we know the seven Mu’allaqat were exposed. We are told that Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter, was one day repeating as she went along the above verse. Just then she met the daughter of Imrul Qays, who cried out, “O that’s what your father has taken from one of my father’s poems, and calls it something that has come down to him out of heaven;” and the story is commonly told amongst the Arabs until now.’  

Thus, the relationship between Imrul Qays’ poems and some of the early verses of the Qur’an is pretty obvious. In this connection, W. St. Clair-Tisdall elaborates (The Origins of the Koran, p.236) further:  

 “The connection between the poetry of Imra’ul Qays and the Koran is so obvious that the Muslims cannot but hold that they existed with the latter in the Heavenly table from all eternity! What then will he answer? That the words were taken from the Koran and entered in the poem?—an impossibility. Or that their writer was not really Imra’ul Qays, but some other who, after the appearance of the Koran, had the audacity to quote them there as they now appear?—rather a difficult thing to prove!”

In fact, the word Allah is found in Muallaqat as well as in the Diwan of poet Labid. So when the Muslims claim the Qur’an to be the words of Allah, do they mean Allah copied the Qur’anic verses from Imrul Qays?  

We shall now briefly review the contribution of Zayd ibn Amr to the authorship of the Holy Qur’an.


Zayd bin Amr bin Naufal  

During Muhammad’s time, a religious movement to counter paganism was taking shape. Led by a group of ‘freethinkers’, this group rejected paganism, and to fulfil their spiritual needs they were searching for an alternative religion. They were known as Hanifites or simply as Hanifs.  

The Dictionary of Islam (Hughes Dictionary of Islam, pp.161-162) writes that the original meaning of Hanif was a convert or a pervert [sort of apostate--to say].  

The other meanings of Hanif are:  

1. Any one sincere in his inclination to Islam 2. One orthodox in the faith 3. One who is of the religion of Abraham.  

W. St. Clair-Tisdall (The Sources of Islam, The Origins of the Koran, p.289 writes:  

’The word Hanif, indeed, originally signified “unclean” or “apostate,” and was so used by the idolatrous Arabs of Zaid, because he abandoned the worship of gods.’  

Muhammad later used the word Hanif, first for the religion of Abraham, then for any sincere believer of Islam. Thus the Muslims are supposed to be Hanifs—and truly speaking, the followers of Zayd! In the same essay W. St. Clair-Tisdal (ibid)) writes further, “The name pleased the Prophet and was used by him in a good sense.”  

According to Ibn Ishaq (Ibn Ishaq, p.99) the most famous of those apostates (Hanifs) in Mecca during Muhammad’s time were:  

  1. Waraqa b. Naufal: he became a Christian
  2. Ubaydullah b. Jahsh: he became a Christian after migrating to Abyssinia . His wife was Umm Habiba d. Abu Sufyan whom Muhammad married later
  3. Uthman b. al-Huwayrith. He later went to the Byzantine emperor and became a Christian
  4. Zayd b. Amr b. Naufal left paganism saying that he worshipped the God of Abraham

Waraqa was the cousin brother of Khadijah, Muhammad’s first wife. Some authors suggest that he was a Jew before embracing Christianity. Ubaydullah was the grandson of Abd al-Muttalib and Uthman b. al-Huwayrith was offered a high position in the Byzantine court of Syria.  

Only Zayd b. Amr remained a diehard Hanif. He used to say (ibid, p.287), “I worship the god of Abraham,” but he blamed his people for having chosen the evil ways.  

According to W. St. Clair-Tisdal (The Sources of Islam, The Origins of the Koran, pp.229-230) Zayd worshipped yearly in a cave near Mecca, and no doubt influenced Muhammad who used to visit the same place for quiet and lonely contemplation.  

Ibn Ishaq (Ibn Ishaq, pp.99-100) writes that when Zayd b. Amr faced the Ka’ba he used to say ‘Labbaka in truth, in worship and in service.’  

When Zayd stood and faced Qibla he would say (ibid), “I take refuge in what Abraham took refuge.”  

Zayd also abhorred animal sacrifice to idols and condemned the pagan practice of burying alive new-born females (this, I believe, was a very rare practice--as not a single instance of live burial of a female baby is cited either in the Qur’an or in Ahadith: these books vaguely talk about this pagan practice without citing any specific case of live burial).  

Abu Bakr’s daughter, Amina once saw a very old Zayd bin ‘Amr in Ka’ba. On this, Ibn Ishaq writes (Ibn Ishaq, pp.99-100):  

‘Hisham b. Urwa from his father on the authority of his mother Asma d. Abu Bakr said that she saw Zayd as a very old man leaning his back on the Ka’ba and saying, ‘O Quraysh, By Him in whose hand is the soul of Zayd, not one of you follows the religion of Abraham but I.’ Then he said: ‘O God, if I knew how you wished to be worshipped I would so worship you; but I do not know.’ Then he prostrated himself on the palms of his hands.’  

Historical records do not mention clearly what eventually happened to Zayd b. Amr. However, Ibn Ishaq writes that Caliph Umar’s father, al-Khattab (Umar b. al-Khattab was Zayd’s nephew) used to harass Zayd b. Amr severely and he was finally killed. Who killed Zayd is a complete mystery. Here is what Ibn Ishaq (Ibn Ishaq, p.102) writes:  

“When al-Khattab (Umar’s father) harassed Zayd bin ‘Amr so much so that he was forced to withdraw to the upper part of Mecca and he stopped in the mountain of Hira facing the town. Zayd could visit Mecca in secret only.

Then Zayd left Mecca seeking the religion of Abraham—went through all of Syria . Then Zayd returned to Mecca but was killed.”  

As written previously, because of his uncompromising stand on Hanifite movement and because of his deriding remarks on paganism, the Quraysh expelled Zayd b. Amr from Mecca and he was forbidden to live there. He was a severely ostracised person, boycotted and utterly disdained by the larger section of the Quraysh. He had to live in the cave of mount Hira , opposite the city. Muhammad, being a forlorn person at that time used to meet Zayd in the cave of Hira .  

Ibn Ishaq also writes that Gabriel used to visit Muhammad at the Hira cave. When we consider the fact that on many instances Muhammad had confessed that Gabriel, on many occasions, had met Muhammad in the form of human beings it is quite likely that when Muhammad visited  Zayd b. Amr many times to learn about the new religion of the ‘Hanif’ he might have thought Zayd to be the angel Gabriel. It is also quite probable that Zayd b. Amr took an interest in teaching Muhammad how to read (and write)—his poetry (or verses) that later became Qur’anic verses!  

Ibn Ishaq (Ibn Ishaq, p.105) writes that Muhammad used to pray in seclusion in Hira every year for a month to practice ‘tahnanuth’, a pagan practice (thus confirming again Muhammad’s pagan background). According to the Quraysh, ‘tahannuth’ meant religious devotion.  

Sahih Bukhari confirms that Muhammad had encountered Zayd b. Amr in the Valley of Hira Mountain.  

Muhammad meets Zayd b. ‘Amr and offers him meat that was slaughtered for the idols (Sahih Bukhari, 7.67.407, 5.58.169)  

Volume 7, Book 67, Number 407:

Narrated 'Abdullah:

Allah's Apostle said that he met Zaid bin 'Amr b. Nufail at a place near Baldah and this had happened before Allah's Apostle received the Divine Inspiration. Allah's Apostle presented a dish of meat (that had been offered to him by the pagans) to Zaid bin 'Amr, but Zaid refused to eat of it and then said (to the pagans), "I do not eat of what you slaughter on your stone altars (Ansabs) nor do I eat except that on which Allah's Name has been mentioned on slaughtering."

Volume 5, Book 58, Number 169:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:

The Prophet met Zaid bin 'Amr bin Nufail in the bottom of (the valley of) Baldah before any Divine Inspiration came to the Prophet. A meal was presented to the Prophet but he refused to eat from it. (Then it was presented to Zaid) who said, "I do not eat anything which you slaughter in the name of your stone idols. I eat none but those things on which Allah's Name has been mentioned at the time of slaughtering." Zaid bin 'Amr used to criticize the way Quraish used to slaughter their animals, and used to say, "Allah has created the sheep and He has sent the water for it from the sky, and He has grown the grass for it from the earth; yet you slaughter it in other than the Name of Allah. He used to say so, for he rejected that practice and considered it as something abominable.

Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Zaid bin 'Amr bin Nufail went to Sham, inquiring about a true religion to follow. He met a Jewish religious scholar and asked him about their religion. He said, "I intend to embrace your religion, so tell me some thing about it." The Jew said, "You will not embrace our religion unless you receive your share of Allah's Anger." Zaid said, "'I do not run except from Allah's Anger, and I will never bear a bit of it if I have the power to avoid it. Can you tell me of some other religion?" He said, "I do not know any other religion except the Hanif." Zaid enquired, "What is Hanif?" He said, "Hanif is the religion of (the prophet) Abraham who was neither a Jew nor a Christian, and he used to worship None but Allah (Alone)" Then Zaid went out and met a Christian religious scholar and told him the same as before. The Christian said, "You will not embrace our religion unless you get a share of Allah's Curse." Zaid replied, "I do not run except from Allah's Curse, and I will never bear any of Allah's Curse and His Anger if I have the power to avoid them. Will you tell me of some other religion?" He replied, "I do not know any other religion except Hanif." Zaid enquired, "What is Hanif?" He replied, Hanif is the religion of (the prophet) Abraham who was neither a Jew nor a Christian and he used to worship None but Allah (Alone)" When Zaid heard their Statement about (the religion of) Abraham, he left that place, and when he came out, he raised both his hands and said, "O Allah! I make You my Witness that I am on the religion of Abraham."

Narrated Asma bint Abi Bakr: I saw Zaid bin Amr bin Nufail standing with his back against the Ka'ba and saying, "O people of Quraish! By Allah, none amongst you is on the religion of Abraham except me." He used to preserve the lives of little girls: If somebody wanted to kill his daughter he would say to him, "Do not kill her for I will feed her on your behalf." So he would take her, and when she grew up nicely, he would say to her father, "Now if you want her, I will give her to you, and if you wish, I will feed her on your behalf."

The first Hadis tells us something about Muhammad’s paganism—that, in the beginning, he probably ate the meat offered to the idols by the pagans (thus confirming Hisham ibn al-Kalbi), but Zayd b. Amr steadfastly refused to eat any meat slaughtered in the name of idols. Muhammad learned from Zayd not to eat the pagans’ meat (or Haram meat). The second Hadis apparently contradicts the first Hadis (7.67.407) on Muhammad’s consumption of ‘pagan’ or Haram meat. However, a little thought on this Hadis evidently shows that Muhammad followed Zayd with respect to Halal meat, and from Zayd he also obtained the idea of Allah to be his (Muhammad’s) God. Can we not, therefore, conclude that the idea of Islam really came from Zayd? In the biography of Muhammad written by Ibn Ishaq (Ibn Ishaq, pp.100-102) we find several verses of poetry written by Zayd that are quite similar to some verses of the Qur’an. Therefore, isn’t it sufficient to say that after the sudden, mysterious and untimely killing of Zayd Muhammad took up his mantle, philosophy, poetry and the zeal to propagate ‘Hanifism’? [For sample verses from Zayd’s poetry and their comparisons with the Qur’anic verses please read the appendix]  

Ibn Sa’d (Ibn Sa’d, vol.i, p.185) writes that when Muhammad started his Islam, a convert told Muhammad about the words of Zayd ibn Amr and Muhammad replied, “I have seen him in Paradise drawing his skirts.” This proves that Muhammad acknowledged the piety and contribution of Zayd towards the concept of Islam or Hanifism.  

The following excerpts from the Islamic historian Ibn Sa’d (Ibn Sa’d, vol.i, p.185) demonstrates further that Muhammad got the idea of Islam from Zayd b. Amr:  

“Zayd Ibn ‘Amr Ibn Nufayl said: I smelled Christianity and Judaism but I disliked them. I went to Syria and its adjoining territories till I came to my strangeness with my people and my abhorrence for idol worship, Judaism and Christianity. He said to me: I see you are in search of the creed of Ibrahim. O Makkan brother! You are seeking a creed which is not practiced now a days. It is the creed of your ancestor, Ibrahim, and it is the true faith. He (Ibrahim) was neither a Jew nor a Christian. He used to offer prayers and prostrate towards this house (Ka’bah) which is in your city. So retire to your city. He will revive the true creed of Ibrahim and he is the most honoured of the creatures of Allah.”  

It is highly palpable that Zayd wrote himself few Suras (probably around 30 Suras, but not in chronological order), including those that contain the Hanifship of Abraham. 

Some of these verses are:  

002.135 They say: "Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (To salvation)." Say thou: "Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with Allah." [The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]
003.067 Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in Faith, and bowed his will to Allah's (Which is Islam), and he joined not gods with Allah. [The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]

003.095 Say: "Allah speaketh the Truth: follow the religion of Abraham, the sane in faith; he was not of the Pagans."[The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]

004.125  Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in Faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend. [The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]

006.161 Say: "Verily, my Lord hath guided me to a way that is straight,- a religion of right,- the path (trod) by Abraham the true in Faith, and he (certainly) joined not gods with Allah." [The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]

006.079 "For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah." [The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]

016.120 Abraham was indeed a model, devoutly obedient to Allah, (and) true in Faith, and he joined not gods with Allah: [The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]  

010.105  "And further (thus): 'set thy face towards religion with true piety, and never in any wise be of the Unbelievers; [The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]

022.031  Being true in faith to Allah, and never assigning partners to Him: if anyone assigns partners to Allah, is as if he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prey) and thrown him into a far-distant place. [The original Qur’an says Hunafaa—my note]

098.005  And they have been commanded no more than this: To worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular prayer; and to practise regular charity; and that is the Religion Right and Straight. [The original Qur’an says Hunafaa—my note]

030.030  So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the Faith: (establish) Allah's handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind: no change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by Allah: that is the standard Religion: but most among mankind understand not. [The original Qur’an says Haneefan—my note]  

As mentioned earlier, Zayd ibn Amr was totally against the pagan practice of burying live female infants. The Qur’an mentions this rare practice of the Quraysh in three verses only.  

These verses are:  

016.058 When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief!
017.031 Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.
081.008 When the female (infant), buried alive, is questioned -
081.009 For what crime she was killed;

Evidently, the above verses were inspired by Zayd b. Amr and most likely were written by him too. Later, when Zayd died Muhammad simply passed them up as Allah’s revelations to him.  

Those examples demonstrate that Muhammad had copied stories, concepts and style of Zayd ibn Amr in the composition of the Qur’an.

Back   <  1    2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  >   Next 





Articles Op-ed Authors Debates Leaving Islam FAQ
Comments Library Gallery Video Clips Books Sina's Challenge

  ©  copyright You may translate and publish the articles in this site only if you provide a link to the original page.