Answering Atheist hatemonger Ibn Warraq

"Sorry  Ladies--- I am taken."


Ibn Warraq is the best selling author, critic of Islam, whos views not only distort the peaceful and tolerant face Islam but has no regard for Muslim opinion and schoarship. However looking over his work, I can only say that Warraq’s work is unscholarly and is mainly polemic. Regardless this is my short response to his first book Why I am Not A Muslim (1995). Also I show what others say about him and why his work shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone studying any religions.

Before I get into the contents of his book, Ibn Warraq (an Indian Born Writer) is one of these “apostates” from Islam who left the faith after studying Islam. Who did they study Islam from? Orentalists- European Writers and Academics (in other words “white people” if that’s the politically correct word for their ethnicity) who study not only Islam but the Middle East with basisness and a Superiority Complex. The problem with these apostates are they are looking for some kind of “revenge” against their former faith. My guess is that these “former” Muslims had some kind of trouble with their faith in their past. Probably had to do with strict parents which “abused” them in the name of Islam or some other disgusting part of their childhood or past which has made them reculant and bitter towards Islam. I’ve read what these people have written about Islam and most of it is laugable and their own interpretation of Islam. Their hatered for Islam is  So much so that they would twist things out of context, put their own “spin” on Quranic verses and use phony or laugable scholarship on various topics regarding Islam or Prophet Muhammad. Most of this is mainly polemic and this is exactly what Ibn Warraq does. He takes things out of context, puts his own opinion or spin on things, and relies mostly on Oreinatlist writings on Islam…this makes Ibn Warraq’s work unoriginal and unscholarly. 

Warraq in his book, makes all sorts of claims against Islam, however fails to be reasonable, fair and balanced. He mainly uses English translations of the Quran instead of Arabic like he is suppose to when dealing with the Quran. Even in the beginning of his book he makes a foolish claim that Allah in the Quran is cruel, angry and proud. This of course is not true. The Quran tells of Allah’s loving and kind nature all over the place (see Quran 2:222, 2:195, 3:176, 3:134, 3:146,3:148, 3:159, 5:42, 5:54, 5:93, 9:4, 9:7, 9:108, 19:96). This just shows that Warraq has not done the research he was suppose to do when writing his book on the Quran or anything else on Islam.
Another false claim Warraq makes is on The Problem of sources page 66-85 of his book. Ibn Warraq alleges that the Quran didn’t come into being until about the ninth century about 200 years after Prophet Muhammad. That’s simly not true. Another claim is that the hadith are not accurate accounts of the Prophet’s life. Most of his book is centered around this claim and he even brings up that some people say that the Quran and hadith are so altered and corrupt that we may never know the real Prophet Muhammad. But here’s the funny thing. Warraq says these things yet he also uses the Quran and hadith to prove his claims! The Quran was written on the spot during the time of Prophet Muhammad and is perfectly preserved as it was during the time of Prophet Muhammad. The time between the death of Prophet Muhammad and the complete written Quran was only one year. Uthman had burnt copies of Qurans that were different in dialect only. Warraq also claims the same about the hadith that they are unrealiable on the historical Prophet Muhamad. Although it is true that some Hadith in the six collections aren’t credible, a majority of them are. [1]

Other evidence of Ibn Warraq’s sloppy research on the Quran and understanding of the text is when Warraq quotes the Quran’s story of the fall of Satan found in the Quran 2:30-39, 7:11-18,15:28-43, 17:61-65, 38:71-85. Here he says that it is rather inconsistent that God allows Satan to worship Adam when God alone is to be worshipped in the Quran. However Ibn Warraq failed to understand that when Allah tells the Angels to bow down to Adam, he is not telling them to worship Adam but rather to pay respect to him. As Yousef Ali in his commentary of the Quran states: “The Angels were told to bow down to Adam by Allah’s grace, so his status is raised higher.” Allah is not telling the Devil (Iblis) to worship Adam as Warraq claims, rather he is telling him to bow to Adam to honor man, these are two different things Warraq gets confused about.
On page 131 Ibn Warraq states that Arabs are not decendants from Abraham’s son, Ishamael. This of course is not true. Arabs are descendants of Ismhamel through his son Kedar. Many classic Arabs have traced their lineage back to Ishmael the son of Abraham.  [2]

Other Claims of Ibn Warraq
-Most of what Ibn Warraq’s first book is on, is basically what he believes. He has written numerous books on the alleged “sources” of the Quran, “Apostates” leaving Islam, etc. However if one reads his first book, Why I am Not A Muslim(1995) the book basically summarizes all his arguments against Islam.
-Apparently Ibn Warraq has a hard time actually reading the Quran completely. On page 144-153 of his first book he makes the claim that it is impossible that Prophet Moses had received the Torah. He then quotes Robin Fox to prove that the Torah was written by a group of unknown authors known as J, E, P and D. Later Ibn Warraq then states that Prophet David couldn’t have recived the Psalms because the Psalms were finished after him, therefore the Quran is wrong. Again if Ibn Warraq carefully read the Quran he would notice Quranic Verses such as Quran 2:79, Quran 5:14-15, which clearly point to the Bible being corrupt.
-Most of Ibn Warraq’s work including his book, try to pinpoint the sources of the Quran with no success. As we’ve already seen most scholars are certain there was no books/Bibles of any sort in Arabia.

Alleged Scientific Errors in the Quran:
on page 137 of his book, Warraq claims that the Quran says that the earth was created before the heavens (41:12). However the Quran says no such thing. Heres what the Quran really says: So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge. (Quran 41:12) So the Quran does not speak of earth, rather the seven heavens. The term means the universe. That could be the first heaven the Quran is talking about. Allah says that he adorned the lower heaven with lights so that could be implying the stars. As Warraq states that there were stars before the sun so Allah is speaking about that. Warraq then foolishly states that the Quran says that the moon gives off light and quotes Surah 10:5. However nowhere does the Quran say that the moon gives off its own light. The Quran as a matter of fact says what Ibn Warraq is saying that the moons light is reflected off the sun! The Quran states:  Do you not see how He created seven heavens in layers, and placed the moon as a light in them and made the sun a blazing lamp? (Qur'an, 71:15-16)

In the above verse, the word "light" is used for the Moon ("nooran" in Arabic) and the word "lamp" for the Sun ("sirajan" in Arabic.) The word used for the Moon refers to a light-reflecting, bright, motionless body. The word used for the Sun refers to a celestial body which is always burning, a constant source of heat and light.
On the other hand, the word "star" comes from the Arabic root "nejeme," meaning "appearing, emerging, visible." As in the verse below, stars are also referred to by the word "thaqib," which is used for that which shines and pierces the darkness with light: self-consuming and burning. Plus the Quran says that the sun is a blazing lamp in the above verse, and else where in Sura 78:12-13. Nowhere in that verse does it say that the moon is a blazing lamp or that it gives off its own light. And yes Warraq, the earth does orbit the sun and the Quran agrees with that, 86:11 and 51:7. All the Quran says that the sun has an orbit in Surah 21:33 and modern science agrees with that. According to astronomers' calculations, the Sun moves along a path known as the Solar Apex in the path of the star Vega at an incredible speed of 720,000 kmph. In rough terms, this shows that the Sun traverses some 17.28 million km a day. As well as the Sun itself, all the planets and satellites within its gravitational field also travel the same distance. So Warraq fails to show any scientific error in the Quran.

Alleged Historical Errors in the Quran

Quran 40:38- Warraq claims that Haman was not a minister of Pharoh at the time of Prophet Moses. Apparently the claim made by Ibn Warraq and other Oreintal writers on Islam, the claim is that the author of The Quran got confused with the Haman character in the Book of Esther of the Old Testament.  The following Quranic verse places a figure named Haman during the time of the Pharaoh of the time of Prophet Moses:

Pharaoh said: "O Chiefs! no god do I know for you but myself: therefore, O Haman! light me a (kiln to bake bricks) out of clay, and build me a lofty palace, that I may mount up to the god of Moses: but as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!" (Quran 28:38)

Many Western Oreintalist had concluded that Haman was unknown to Egyptian history. The claim is tha name of Haman is first found in Esther therefore the author of the Quran made a mistake of placing the Esther Haman 1100 years back in time to the time of the Pharaoh. However looking carefully at Egyptian hieroglypics- the language of ancient Egypt- we see that indeed the Quran is correct, Haman did have a role in the Egyptian Pharaoh’s construction crew.[3]  After this discovery by a French Egyptologist he stated the following: “Had the Bible or any other literary work, composed during a period when the hieroglyphs could still be deciphered, quoted "Haman," the presence in the Qur'an of this word might have not drawn special attention. But, it is a fact that the hieroglyphs had been totally forgotten at the time of the Qur'anic Revelation and that no one could not read them until the 19th century AD. Since matters stood like that in ancient times, the existence of the word "Haman" in the Qur'an suggests a special reflection.”  [4]

As for the Quran 2:249-250 and David and Saul I think Abdullah Yousef Ali says it best in his commentary of the Quran:
“A commander is hampered by a large force if it is not in perfect discipline and does not whole-heartly believe in its Commander. He must get rid of all the doubtful ones, as did Gideon before Saul, and Henry V. in Shakespeare’s story long afterwards. Saul used the same test as Gideon: he gave a certain order when crossing a stream: the greater part disobeyed, and were sent back. Gideon’s story will be found in Judges 7:2-7.”
As for Warraq’s claim about the Quran speaking about Alexander the Great in Quran 18:82, however the Quran is not speaking about Alexander the Great. See The section Questioning the Quran for more on this issue.

Moving on to another major theme in Warraq’s book, is the execution of the Banu Qurayza tribe. On page 216 of his book, he tells of the incident of the Banu Qurayza where the Jews were executed. Although men were executed, women and children were spared. The reason for this was for treason. What Warraq does is that he tries to make it like Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) just randomly ordered that these people be killed. Of course this is not true, as the warriors Banu Qurayza were executed for treason against the Islamic state of Madinah. Looking further into this, in Madinah, there were two Arab tribes and three Jewish tribes. So not everyone was Jewish in Madinah. As Western Scholars such as Maxime Rodinson and W. Montgomery Watt argued that it is not correct to judge that incident by twentieth century standards. As Karen Armstrong reasons:

“The Qurayzah had nearly destroyed Medina. If Muhammad had let them go they would at once have swelled the Jewish opposition at Khaybar and have organized another offensive against Medina: the next time the Muslims might not be so lucky and the bloodly struggle for survival would continue indefinatley with more suffering and more deaths.”  [5]

Further in 622, Prophet Muhammed and the Muslims of Makka migrated to Madinah in order to secure freedom of religion and freedom from persecution. The first Islamic state was born when Prophet Muhammed entered Makka. Moreover the Jews of Madinah were one community with the Muslisms and were allowed to practice their own religion. So one can see that Prophet Muhammed had reasons to kill the Jews of the Banu Qurayza and not all Jews were killed, only the warriors as this hadith incidates:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: Some people (i.e. the Jews of Bani bin Quraiza) agreed to accept the verdict of Sad bin Muadh so the Prophet sent for him (i.e. Sad bin Muadh). He came riding a donkey, and when he approached the Mosque, the Prophet said, "Get up for the best amongst you." or said, "Get up for your chief." Then the Prophet said, "O Sad! These people have agreed to accept your verdict." Sad said, "I judge that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives." The Prophet said, "You have given a judgment similar to Allah's Judgment (or the King's judgment)." (Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 148)

Not only that but Prophet Muhammed ordered that the captives be freed as well:

Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet said, "Set the captives free, accept the invitation (to a wedding banquet), and visit the patients." (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 103)

The last subject on Ibn Warraq’s book I want to touch on is Women. On page 297 of his book, Warraq goes further into women. He Quotes various Caliphs or Disciples of the Prophet Muhammad who point to the evil ways of Women. However Ibn Warraq never quotes the sources of where he got this evidence from. I will touch upon what Islam has to say about Women in the next chapter, chapter 11: Women in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Most of the stuff Ibn Warraq states about Women in Islam, such as the myth of polygamy, not educating women is encouraged in Islam, Women cannot leave the house, etc will be debunked in the next chapter.

Conclusions: Ibn Warraq is an atheist so his book and works might upset Christians and Jews. Warraq makes claims such as Prophets Abraham and Jesus never existed, etc. His book is completely one sided, based on things ripped out of context, fails to be reasonable or rational and worse yet only relies on Western thinkers or “Orientalist” of Islam and not Islamic scholars. The book is primarily polemic and unschoalray and pointless to Atheists, Christians and Muslims. No serious student of Islam would read Warraq’s polemics.


. Ibn Warraq can run but he can’t hide from critics.Ibn Warraq's hatemongering has led to bad research not only on Islam but on religion as well.  Ibn Warraq is no “scholar” on Islam or any religion in general. As a matter of fact the thought of someone like Warraq being a scholar makes me laugh.  Rather I consider him as an anti-Islamic polemical who uses poor scholarship and weak arguments to try to prove his points against Islam in general. However it is not only me who thinks Warraq’s works lack credibility and scholarship on Islam. Read what at least two other  scholars are saying about him.

Jeremiah D. McAuliffe, Jr., Ph.D has said that “Warraq is a historical revisionist, not unlike those who seek to revise the history of the Nazis in order to make them look less heinous” and “Warraq is not as familiar or conversant in Euro-American intellectual history as he portrays himself to be. This is devastating for him because he is relying on a subsection of that thought (i.e. the "Orientalist") to attack Islam, and all religions in general, but has no perspective on how that subsection fits in with Western intellectual traditions as a whole. He makes numerous errors.”

Herbert Berg, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Carolina,  has rightly labelled him as polemical and inconsistent in his writing. [6]  Fred Donner, a professor in Near Eastern studies, notes Ibn Warraq's lack of specialist training in Arabic studies, citing "inconsistent handling of Arabic materials," and unoriginal arguments. Donner criticizes Ibn Warraq's book on Muhammad for what he describes as "heavy-handed favoritism" and "the compiler’s [Ibn Warraq] agenda, which is not scholarship, but anti-Islamic polemic. "[7]


  [1] Please visit the internet site: to see the reliability of the hadith
  [2] See pg.176 of my book for the evidence of Arabs being Ishmalies.
  [3] Bucaille (1995) pg. 192-193
  [4] ibid
  [5] Armstrong (1992) pg. 208
  [6] Berg, Herbert (1999). "Ibn Warraq (ed): The Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam's Holy Book". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 62 (3): 558. Retrieved on 7-20-2006.
  [6] Donner, Fred. (2001) Review: The Quest for the Historical Muhammad. Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, University of Chicago.

Of Further Interest (off site):