Why I don’t believe in the Quran

Note: This blog post isn’t intended to offend Muslims. It’s an attempt to highlight various flaws in the arguments commonly made by Muslims in favour of the Quranic scripture.

Living in an Islamic country, the only thing you get to hear publicly about Quran is praise. One’s usually not even made aware that there’s another side of the debate. There’s a reason why many people don’t believe in Islam, and perhaps some effort should be made to understand their point as well.

When I tell a Muslim that I don’t believe in the Quran, his first assumption is that I haven’t read the book. That’s rather condescending. It doesn’t occur to many that a person may have chosen not to believe it despite adequate knowledge of what he’s rejecting. How many Muslims have read Bhagvad Gita or studied the Old Testament in detail before rejecting them both?

Based on this assumption, I’m always presented a series of arguments about why I should believe in the Quran. I shall now address them separately.

  • 1) Quran is the best piece of literature in the world!

I’m afraid that cannot be said for any literary work, no matter how good it is. Literature can never be compared effectively across lingual barriers, as the rules of literature are different for different languages.

For instance, here’s a question: “Who’s the better writer? Ghalib or Shakespeare?” A smart reader would immediately recognize this as a nonsensical query, as the English plays of Shakespeare cannot be compared with the Urdu poetry of Ghalib. Both did exceptionally well in their own areas.

At most, a person might argue that Quran is the best piece of Arabic literature, but that too would be an unfair assumption as this is largely subjective. Some works are more likeable than others, but there’s no way to objectively decide that one of these is the single most superior piece of work in terms of spiritual value or literary style.

  • 2) Quran is scientifically accurate!

I’m afraid not. Ask a chemist if salt water and fresh water fail to mix, or is there such a thing as ‘diffusion’? Ask a biologist if a staff can spontaneously morph into a snake.

The universe was not created in six days (50:38), but billions of years. In fact, the term “creation” itself is meaningless as the universe is still being created…still evolving. One might even raise an eyebrow over why it took an omnipotent force six days to create a universe. Why not five? Or maybe just a moment?

Not all living organisms are created in pairs (51:49). Asexual and hermaphroditic species exist as well. Stars are not missiles to throw at satan (67:5), and semen does not arise from between the spine and the rib cage (86:6-7)

Here’s a list of scientific errors. You may check the context and compare various translations if you please.

  • 3) The scientific miracles of Quran!

This argument involves pointing out different passages from the Quran that resemble modern scientific discoveries, and ask how people 1400 years ago could have known about such things. The ones most commonly used include a verse somewhat resembling the account of a Big Bang, and the detail of embryogenesis which was claimed to be a scientific miracle by Keith.L.Moore (from then onwards, the Muslim world has fallen in love with Mr.Moore and his books are recommended in all medical schools).

If Quran had stated so clearly that the universe came from a violent explosion, and not crafted by a divine being, why did it take Muslims a thousand years to figure it out? Why weren’t Muslims the ones to present the idea of a big bang, instead of a Belgian priest in 1921 (he didn’t prove the theory, he only proposed the idea).

Why did Muslims wait a thousand years for non-Muslims to make these propositions and then say, “Haha! We knew about this all along! Our holy book says so!”.

It’s called the Forer’s Effect, where a statement general enough to apply to a large number of things, gives the impression of talking about something very specific. It’s the same effect that sells horoscopes. You don’t understand what the horoscope is predicting until the event actually happens, and your brain draws a false connection between the event and the vague statement in the newspaper column.

  • 4) To understand Quran properly, you need to learn Arabic.

Isn’t it odd that a book claiming to be universal and timeless is written in a language that is not understood universally? Did the author, in all His wisdom, not anticipate that the translation of the text in various languages with entirely different syntaxes would inevitably cause problems in understanding the scripture? That its powerful poetry, and the magic of its rhyming words, would be lost in translation?

  • 5) Follow the Quran, not Muslims. Many Muslims portray Islam incorrectly.

The problem is that Quran has always been at the mercy of Muslims. God didn’t compile the Quran. God didn’t translate the Quran. God didn’t preach Quran. God didn’t write the tafseer for the Quran. All of these have been performed, and are being performed, by humans, and thus subject to variation and even errors.

There’s no such thing as “real Islam”, there are multiple versions of it. Apart from the few most basic concepts, like the existence of heaven and hell, and oneness of Allah, each Muslim has a slightly different idea and understanding of what Islam entails and demands. And that’s completely natural, since Islam is what the average human beings of unexceptional intelligence subjectively understand and believe.

Some view this as a flaw in God’s design, leaving the religion in the hands of imperfect humans. A God could’ve sent his commands telepathically to all humans, but for some reason, chose to write a book. A book over the interpretations of which, mankind has been bickering, fighting and even killing for over a thousand year. We may blame this on the stupidity of human beings, but who created these stupid humans in the first place? And more importantly, why did He not anticipate the inevitable sectarianism?

    • Uzma
    • March 18th, 2012

    “When I tell a Muslim that I don’t believe in the Quran, his first assumption is that I haven’t read the book”

    I just finished discussing the same thing with a person who calls himself a Muslim but never bothered to read what he believes in. First he’ll assume I haven’t read anything and when i quote the translation he’ll tell me i don’t have the brains to understand it :s

    • Doosam
    • March 19th, 2012

    Good one, btw I’m ‘Doosam’ if you remember we discussed/argues a couple of times in Jahanzaib Haque’s evolution blog on ET. Let me add a few which trouble me to your list above:

    I have read the translation of Quran and my issue is that the concept of ‘Hell’ is often times used as a fear-mongering tool to the people to believe in One God and follow Islam. Why the need to drill fear into someone and in order convince him/her that something is correct?

    Also there is hardly any mention of ‘Hell’ in the Torah (Old Testament) and Judaism and the whole concept of Hell seems to have been borrowed from the Greek/Roman & later Christian traditions.

    A controversy/mystery is the Zulqarnain verses (18:83-99), which many relate to Alexander the Great or Cyrus of Persia with no clear conclusion.

    So many of the Mesopotamian/Sumerian stories which predate the Quran and Bible by over a thousand years have been borrowed, e.g. Noah’s flood and the Epic of Gilgamesh, Creation myth and Enuma Elesh etc.

    Have you heard of the Sana’a manuscripts and Gerd Puin’s comments? Google it.

    So what’s your verdict on the Quran? Did Muhammad (an illiterate) learn so much of Jewish/Christian stories from Jewish traders he used to encounter and then used his own views on Monotheism to compile the book? Waiting for your reply.

  1. An illiterate man comes to you with a remarkable, Pulitzer-worthy piece of poetry, which he claims he wrote himself. What do you reckon would be more believable?

    1) He has received help from an educated companion.
    2) Plagiarism.
    3) He is not illiterate, on the contrary, he’s quite educated.
    4) Some of the references made in the poem were coincidental, and do not necessarily reflect the writer’s supreme knowledge of historiical events.
    4) The poem was beamed down to him from heaven by angels.

    Simply, on the basis of probabilities and common sense, would a person not consider the first four options before skipping to a supernatural explanation?

    Especially when nobody knows precisely what happened 1400 years ago. There are many controversies surrounding Muhammad and what he was like. Some schools would even have you believe that the Prophet was made of “noor” and had no shadow.

    Prophet was married to Khadija, who brought him in touch with a Christian scholar named Waraqa ibn Naufal. I’m sure there were many others like him in Makkah, which was an important trading post in the Arab region and a veritable hub of information exchange. Many of the Prophet’s companions were educated people. Some were quite wealthy and resourceful, like Hazrat Usman “Ghanni’.

    To me personally, it makes more sense to believe that the Prophet received help from other scribes and scholars, and perhaps himself was secretly educated, than to believe that he had been receiving revelations from some supernatural force.

    • Doosam
    • March 20th, 2012

    I’d say your #2 and 3 in the main blog are like two sides of the same coin. One can easily misinterpret and quote out of context many Quranic verses about science (as Wikiislam had done throughout) in much the same way that Muslims quote many other verses as some sort of miracle. Both are wrong.

    Wikiislam (one of many anti-Islamic sites) quotes various verses where there are the questions of literalism and various possible interpretations. Wikiislam has taken things completely out of context, e.g. in 2:117 (…“Be,” and it is) isn’t about human creation at all. Almost each and every one of wikiislam’s assertions on your link is just wrong, wish you had given a more credible and scholarly source.

    But I’d agree on the literacy of Prophet Muhammad. Not all Muslims believe he was illiterate, some shias believe he was literate but never needed to write himself (after proclaiming prophet hood i.e.) as his companions did so for him. But does it matter that he was literate or not or prove anything for that matter?

    Is it claimed in the Quran somewhere that it is perfect or the best piece of literature? I know that it challenges any one to come up with something similar or better. The Quran is very good but perhaps not good enough to convince everyone who has read it. Ultimately it’s a matter of belief and an argument is that this is where the test lies.

    Why many people don’t believe in Islam? It’s because they are born into some other religion or creed don’t want to read enough about it. And as for apostates or atheists of a rational disposition, they have come to assume that man was basically stupid until science rescued him and are so certain that religion is all but ignorance and nothing else. My point is what’s the point in attacking religion for thinking it has all the answers when you think you have all the answers yourself? Blind faith is fatuous but so is blind doubt.

  2. I’ve evolved past arguing over interpretations of the scripture, as there are so many and each school would claim that it alone follows the “true” meaning while all others are being led astray.

    I understand your point, which is why I always compare translations by multiple scholars to ensure that I’m not cherry-picking the most controversial of the translation. I deal similarly with interpretations, and pick out the ones most commonly used.

    Literalism is the way of most of the Islamic world. It’s a dangerous approach, one that I would never endorse, but this is the case. But the conundrum is that if you stop doing that, how do you sift out the metaphors from the literal commands? How does an average believer on a prayer mat decide that the part about man being moulded from clay is just metaphorical, but the part about hell and eternal fire is literally true? Do we just “metaphorize” any verse that we think has become too difficult to defend due to its controversial nature?

    And no, I don’t think religious people are stupid. But I do believe that religion is an impediment to scientific and social advancement, and that life would be so much simpler without the boundaries and complexities it generates.

    The only religious people I would actually call stupid, are the self-righteous ones who try to invade my life and manage my businesses for me, in the delusion that they’re saving me from “hellfire”. Otherwise, I fully recognize a person’s right to believe what he wills and live his (own) life in accordance to it.

    • Anonymous
    • August 30th, 2012

    Hmm Interesting article! It is so good to know that there are some like minded people like me I wish i could also write a blog like this but i am too scared . It is only courageous people like you who can express their opinions so freely. 🙂

    • Paki Existentialist
    • October 1st, 2012

    I am an atheist.I have learned a great thing from you in a short time silently that it is not necessary to criticize religious people and try to convince them.If we can reach to this conclusion on our own that God is a product of imagination they can also do so if they want and we don’t have to force them like they do to us.It should be the difference.I am very thankful to you for this.I have been researching on this issue of fallacies in Quran and Islam for many years.I agree with your stance in this blog. To be honest with you I have numerous other stronger and better arguments(just because of ardent research) to prove Islam is a erroneous doctrine in every aspect and so are other religions. But thanks God(lolz) we both don’t need that.Very happy to see you my faithsharing(lolz again) brother.

    • John2find
    • February 15th, 2013

    Great work.
    Its good to hear that , that some muslims too are athiest.
    I thought that if once islma eats once brain, their is no escape.

    I have argued with sevral muslims , gave them all points why Koran is not perfect and what evil it contains.

    But Muslims End all argumnets with:

    1. I am fool and have nevr read koran.
    2. I am satan.
    3. Abusiing me for being so fool.

    I have read koran several times and have watched the videos of several scholars for the controversial lines.

    I am just suprized how thye justify thos evils in that book.
    Muslism shcolar teaching how to beat once wife. They use softwords liike one should only tap.

    But why to tape even, if your wife is treachorus you should sort the matter by talk and extreme can be divorce, but can nver be use of physical force.

    Many more.

    But I Salute you man that, you being in pakistan born as muslim and have thought beyond islam.
    Hats off.

    • d;plkf;lkm4poi59403580 mgdmn,mgfn,md g,mdgn .,mfgd., m
    • March 25th, 2013

    The Quran says the world was made in 6 stages and not days.
    The Quran says the living things were made in pairs not referring to them sexually but referring to how many were made at the start.
    Then to your third point.The reason Muslims didn’t get the credit for the big bang theory is they had the hypothesis but it was not proven by them. This is same for the Belgium guy however the western world had more media coverage to show the hypothesis and help it get proven. Muslims have always believed in it.
    Reason you need to learn Arabic to understand Quran is look at the bible look how corrupted it is. The king James bible which was made in England changed so much of it. Islam has kept the Quran in its original state and to carry on doing so it should be made in Arabic. For non Arabic speaking Muslims it is still permissible to read the translation and develop an understanding however they should progress to learn in Arabic. Allah even recognises this and rewards those who struggle to read Quran in Arabic extra
    With your last point you don’t judge Christians by the IRA or the crusades but the rules change for Muslims. Islam has not caused thousands to die. Muslims only fight in self defence. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are drug lords who have little understanding for Islam. They seek power not heaven.
    It seems you

    • md shakil hasan
    • April 2nd, 2013

    Surely,ur approach to islam is nothing but negative.u think urself wiser than ur Creator !Allah sent revelation in local language of every prophet.Allah gave u the ability to learn another language.Why do He give u this mainly?To watch movie,listen song or any other stupid work !If u think Quran is not word of God,then Quran challanges u to bring a sura somewhat similar to it;take help from anyone besides Allah,if u tell the truth.

      • BeSincere
      • May 10th, 2017

      Brother, read Quran yourself and ask sincere questions – you’ll find out that the book definitely did not come from God. In fact, it is blasphemy for believing in Quran or in muhammad.

  3. Hey there! I’ve been reading your site for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the good work!

  4. It is certainly pretty open-handed with you to convey unhampered what most
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    • Masni Hartini
    • February 25th, 2014

    i thought you have to read more info about qur’an,,,, ^_^

    • 501
    • October 9th, 2014

    Its very simple, Believe it or dont believe it.

    • lilly
    • June 10th, 2015

    Maybe yall should see this video https

    • lee
    • June 10th, 2015

    The meaning of life by kamal saleh on youtube

    • December 21st, 2015

    Educated muslums can read their hadith’s and the source materials texts existed before islam,(bible,Torah,pagan texts,Greek gods,other myths)not for the ignorants muslums.who only believes wat their imam says..I mean Educated Muslims analyse the characteristics of the guy you respect ,mohmd. I don’t care wateva you say.every work yields you a benefit,in finding a truth.a l

    • busari
    • January 23rd, 2016

    U Av just succeeded in saying bullshit. Am sorry for ur soul. Smh

    • Yusuf
    • January 24th, 2016

    “And when harm touches you upon the sea, those that you call upon vanish from you except Him (Allah Alone). But when He brings you safe to land, you turn away (from Him) And man is ever ungrateful.” Al-Israa, verse 67

    • Jinali Wije
    • March 7th, 2016

    I love u, thanks for this website keep doing this.

  5. Great info. Lucky me I found your site by accident (stumbleupon).
    I have saved as a favorite for later!

  6. I invite you to read a rigorous study of the Quran, a translation to English with its commentary / notes. It’s Sam Gerrans’ http://www.quranite.com

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