Sources of the Quran

By W. St. Clair-Tisdall




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Sources of the Quran

Chapter 1
Sources of Islam according to Islam

Chapter 2
Arabian Customs maintained in Islam

Chapter 3
Sabaeans & Jewish Commentators

Chapter 4
Tales from Heretical Christian Sects

Chapter 5
Zoroastrian Subjects

Chapter 6

The Hanefites



Sources of the Quran: Hanefites Sources





Before the time of Mohammed, there were a few inquirers from amongst the Arabs who had a strong aversion from idolatry, and who accordingly sought to find relief in a better faith. Amongst the Jews, and possibly from ancient tradition still surviving, it was known in Arabia that Abraham was a worshipper of the One true God. Hence both at Mecca and Medina, and also at Tayif, we find that there were men who, seeking after the truth, had abandoned the worship of idols; and these were called Hanefites. The names of six of these are given in the margin, some having also followers of their own Now we hold that these inquirers, and especially Zeid ibn Amr, had a very marlted effect, by their conceptions, conversation, example, upon the Prophet, as we find from the contents of the Coran. Of all the authorities on the subject, that of Ibn Ishac and Ibn Hisham as contained in the Sirat, 3 is by far the oldest, and being nearest the Hegira, the most marriage ceremonial -- the dower being 400 dinars, which formed a precedent for time to come. Now as to Othman, he repaired to the Court of the Emperor of Byzantium, where he obtained high rank and embraced the Christian faith.....

Last of all we come to Zeid, who stood fast,




Abu Ameer
















Notes1Rouzat al Ahbab. 2 Sirat al Rashl, by Ibn Hisham and Ibn Ishac. 3 Sirat al Rasul, or Life of the Prophet.


joining neither the Jewish nor the Christian religion. He broke off from his own people's faith, and gave up idols, the eating of carrion, blood, the slaughter of animals for the gods, and the putting of daughters to death. He said:-- I worship the God of Abraham; but he blamed his people for having chosen evil ways. There is a tradition from Amina daughter of Abu Bekr that she once saw Zeid, then very aged, leaning with his back on the Kaaba, and thus addressing the people:-- O Quaresh by Him in whose hand is the life of Zeid ibn Amr I swear, that not one of you professeth the faith of Abraham, but me alone, Then he prayed:-- O Lord! if I but knew what way was most pleasing unto thee, I would worship thee in that manner; but I know it not. Then putting the palms of his hands to the ground, he bent his body down in worship. We are also told that Mohammed being asked by his relations to pray that Zeid might be forgiven, consented, -- "for he shall be raised up alone, like a community. "l Zeid wrote the following lines regarding his parting with his people's faith, and what happened to him therefrom

Am I to worship one or a thousand
I have altogether forsaken Lat and Uzza,
Henre I neither worship Uzza nor her two daughters,
Neither do I worship Ghanam,
I was astonished, and had strange thoughts in the night seasons.
Since the Lord destroyeth multitudes
And many others he preserveth for their goodness,
Are Divine affairs divided thus'
Thus should every brave and
thoughtful man.
Nor the two idols of the Beni Amr,
nor do pilgrinuge unto them.
Though 1 did regard him my Lord;
when I had little understanding.
And in the day-time the seeing will understand
Because their works are evil;
And cherisheth the little ones.


Amongst us, one day man will
stumble :
But I now worship my Lord Most
Therefore observe the fear of the
Lord your God;
in the Gardens;
During this life disgrace,
And the next, he will be as the branch fed by the rain.
That the Compassionate Lord may
pardon my sin.
So Long as ye do so. ye shall not
But for the unbelievers, flaming hellfire;
And after death that which shall
bitterly cramp their breasts.



Zeid wrote the above lines regarding his parting with his peoples faith


We further learn from Ibn Hisham that Zeid was expelled from Mecca; and being forbidden to remain there, had to live on Mount Hira, opposite the city. The Prophet himself in the summer-time used every year to retire, as the Arabs used to do, into a cave in the Sacred Mount for solitary meditation; and so we believe that he must often have met his relative Zeid there. For he used still to go after his call to be a Prophet, as we learn from Ibn Ishac:- "Gabriel by the mercy of the Lord came to him at Hira in Ramazan... This he did every year, according to the custom of the Quaresh in the days of ignorance, to be alone and refresh their souls." Now everyone acquainted with the Koran and Hadith cannot but perceive how alike is the teaching of both, and that they must have had the greatest influence on each other, in their views about such things for instance as idol-worship, the burying alive of infant girls, the Unity of God, Paradise and Hell, and calling God "the Lord most Merciful and Compassionate." Again, Zeid and the Hanefites, like the Prophet, followed Abraham, calling him by the same name (Hanif) as their own, - in illustration of which we may quote

Surah 4. 126:-

Who is of better religion than he who resigneth himself unto God, and followeth the faith of Abraham the Orthodox (Hanif). THE SOURCES OF ISLAM


.....And again, Surah 3. 89:- Say, The Lord hath said truly, "Follow the faith of Abraham the Orthodox (Hanif), for he was not one of the idolaters." And again, Surah 6. 162:- Verily the Lord hath guided me into the right way, the true faith, the religion of Abraham the Orthodox (Hanif). And thus we see the Prophet calls himself and his people by the name Hanif. The word, indeed, originally signified "unclean" or· "apostate," and was so used by the idolatrous Arabs of Zeid, because he abandoned the worship of their gods. The name pleased the Prophet and was used by him in a good sense. We must not forget, however, that all the four Hanefites were

NOTES 1 Ibn Ishac tells us that Mohammed, while believing himself forbidden to pray for his own mother, yet when asked by a female relative of Zeid whether she might pray for him, said: "Yes, for he will be raised as a separate religious community at the last day."



themselves, as already said, nearly related to the Prophet, - Obeidallah being nephew to Mohammed who took his widow Omm Habtbah to wife; while Waraca and Othman were sons of two aunts of Khadija. Hence the views, sayings, and teaching of these Hanefites cannot but have had a decided influence on the Prophet. We may also remember that though the Prophet is believed to have said that he had no right even to pray for the salvation of his own mother, yet he did so for Zeid and his blessedness hereafter. From all this we see that the Prophet recognized his principles, and attested them as right.

But now some of our objectors may say, Suppose we accept as true all that you have told us of the various Sources from which Islam is derived, then it would prove that Mohammed himself had personally no influence on the Faith;- a thing hard to believe. Certainly, we reply, it is impossible to imagine that as Mohammed himself was the Author of the Faith, his own purpose and mind had no effect in the structure; just as in a building the use of stones, etc., in its erection, does not detract from the skill and ability of the architect, without whom they would be of no possible use. And in like manner, as the edifice of Islam has its own established character, and differs from all other religions, it is clear that it is the work of one possessed of the highest gifts and power, and, from the beauty of the composition of the Koran we see that he was singularly wise and eloquent. Moreover, from his life as given in Tradition, and the history of his time, the personality of the Prophet is manifest in the

Koran. Thus before his flight to Medina, being a mere ordinary citizen of Mecca, he made no mention in the passages given forth there, of force or war for the extension of the faith.

But, FIRST, after the Hidgra, when he had gained the powerful body of the Ansarss for his followers, he gave them leave to defend themselves and beat off their opponents. Thus in Surah 22.40:- Permission is given to them to fight, because they are persecuted..... those who have been turned out of their houses without just cause other than that they say, Our Lord is God; and it is allowed by the Commentaries, that this was the first revelation giving permission to fight.

SECOND, some time after, when Mohammed had gained victories over his enemies, this simple permission was changed into command, as we find in Surah 2. 212, 214:- War is enjoined you, but it is hateful unto you... They will ask thee concerning the Sacred Month, whether they may war therein. Say, - To war therein is grievous

but to obstruct the way of God and infidelity towards him and the holy Masjid, and to drive out his people from thence, is more grievous in the sight of God; and temptation (to idolatry) is more grievous than to kill. The instruction in this passage being that the Moslems should war against the Quaresh even in the Sacred months, because they prevented them from visiting Kaaba. ··-

THIRD, when in the sixth year of the Hidgra, the Prophet had conquered the Beni Coreitza and other tribes, he issued still sterner commands against his adversaries, as we find in Surah 5. 37:- The recompense of those who fight against God and his Apostle, and study to act corruptly on the earth, is that they shall be slain or crucified, or have their hands and their feet cut off on the opposite sides (of the body), or be banished from the land. Such shall be their disgrace in this world, and in the next they shall suffer a grievous punishment. The Commentators hold that this terrible command relates to idolaters only, and not to Jews and Christians.

FOURTH. But towards these also, the attitude of the Prophet towards the end of his life entirely changed; and so we read in the last revealed Surah (9:5, 29) that after the four Sacred months had passed, they should again commence war, as follows: And when the Sacred months are ended, kill the idolaters wheresoever ye find them, take them prisoners and besiege them, and lay wait for them in every convenient place. But if they repent, and offer up the appointed Prayers, and pay the legal Alms, then dismiss them freely, for God is gracious and merciful.....Fight against those who believe not in God, nor in the last day, nor forbid that which God and his Apostle have forbidden, and profess not the true religion, namely, of those to whom the Scriptures have been given, until they pay

tribute by the hand, and be reduced low.

And so we learn from these successive passages in the Koran, that the great and unchanging Almighty God, step by step, allowed his Divine Law to be altered as the Prophet and his followers gradually gained successive victories by the sword. Not only so, but we see the same liberty of change permitted in respect of certain passages in the Koran to be canceled by other passages; thus in Surah 2. 100:- We abrogate no verse, or cause it to be left out, but we bring in its place a better, or one like unto it. Ah! dost thou not know that God is over all things almighty?

Hence so long as Mohammed entertained the hope of bringing together both Jews and Christians, and also the Arab tribes, by the retention of some of their national practices, there seemed to him the possibility of uniting all Arabia in one Grand religion. But when he found this to be impracticable, then it remained for him either to abandon and eventually destroy the two former, or else lose the native Arabs as a whole. The objects and the mind of the Prophet are manifest throughout hi s prophetic life. Thus, to take an instance, the marriage with Zeinab wife of his adopted son Zeid, as justified in the Koran, (Surah 33:37) shews how much the revelation and whole system of the


Whosoever, then, desires to know what was the faith of Father Abraham, the Friend of God, let him diligently read the Torha of Moses, so strongly borne testimony to in the above verses of the Koran; and there he will find the blessed promise given him by the Almighty, that the one Divine Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, was to come of the de scendants of Abraham and of his son Isaac. The Patriarch accepted the the promise, and believed in the coming Messiah, as we see in a passage of the Torah, where God spoke thus to Abraham:- And God said, Sarah your wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.(Gensis 17:19) 1 The same promise is repeated again in the Book of Genesis to Abraham:- And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice.(Genesis 22:18)' And Jesus himself refers to this promise when he said to the Jews:- Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56) The Apostle Paul also makes mention of the same expectation: To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, -- And to seeds, as of many; but as of One; And to thy seed, which is Christ; and again:- If ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise. (Galations 3:16,29)

May the gracious and compassionate Lord, who hath in his infinite mercy fulfilled this his eternal covenant, grant that the humble Writer and the Kind Reader of these pages, may, along with the blessed Patriarch, be made partakers of the, heavenly inheritance thus promised through our Savior Jesus Christ. And to his


Amen, so let it be!