Was the Believer phenomenon a local transformation in a land thinly exploited by monotheism, or a deliberate ontological change meant to challenge Judaism and Christianity that altered the purpose of monotheism, a scythe to eradicate paganism, and inculcate constructions of sin and forgiveness through conversion, intending thereby to change the past by inserting new myths in order to reconstruct the future. Does the Qur’an merely seek to insinuate the conclusions of a group of Arabian prophets, poets and religious thinkers to create an ethnic monotheism, or is there really a mighty god called Allah who was really YHWH, with a different path to the present than YHWH? Have we here a number of realities active with varying backstories preserved through intense literature rather than genuine history?
This paper begins with the contested identity of Noah and primarily imagined catastrophes situated in the reality of the Biblical past. In the end, who owns the past, religion and its subjective, politicised and driven myths or the intellectual scope of historians?
The Qur’an and Muhammad’s career can be considered within the terms of political changes to the north, the sacking of Jerusalem by the Sasanian Persians.
But proclaiming the coming end of the world is the ultimate vision, which makes it all the more remarkable that the Qur’an refused to frame Muḥammad’s prognostication in mantic terms—
or,more accurately, that it was not feasible in the early stages of his career to do so. The preacherof the Qur’an was a mere messenger, with a limited mandate; the Qur’an might prese
nt the Hebrew prophets as a model, but Muḥammad could not yet be one of them. The ministry of Muhammad is thus oddly restricted and circumscribed: he has no miracles, he is not part of a
line of prophets from his own people, he can’t prognosticate, and he is incapable of affecting anything. This limited role is undoubtedly partly because there was no natural setting for his mission, neither a polity to reform nor a king to inveigh against, nor an Israelite cult through to which claim authority.
“The Preacher of the Meccan Qur’an”
The composing of the Qur’an in Arabic allowed for the Believer/Islamic religion to spread quickly, aided also by its incursions into the Near East, Africa and the Middle East where Arab speakers were often in the majority. They could identify with the book more readily, even though the Arabic script employed was archaic. The use of known rhyming prose by Arabic poets helped the dispersion of the religion further. Christianity had evolved within and through the Roman Empire and consequently shrank when the Empire shrank. Also a possible help were the Trader/Prophets claimed by Al Makim, amongst whom was Muhammad, who gathered to discourse over a less fragmented and divisive monotheism.
Sodom and Gomorrah
This short paper will concentrate first on Surah 71, claimed as one of the Meccan Surahs, It will consider its similarities to Christian sermons, where it was actually written and when.
By separating the Qur’an from its roots in Christian and Judaic literature the many scholars began creating a new religion without reference to other religions and cut off through interpretation from the cultures around them. These matters will be revealed through the nature of the text. Of consideration here and elsewhere is the clear (mukamet) and parabolical (mutashabihat) nature of the verses, which here are the former and that parabolical can be seen as original, that is approximate to Muhammad, within the understanding of allusions to previous Judaic text. Islamic textual science, Technique of the Da’Wah, has arrived at the conclusion that Noah was unsurprisingly Arab and the history of the world is, as declared thousands of years ago, that Adam existed as told in the monotheist texts, even though the story resembles Sumerian ones constructed in Mesopotamia long before Judaism. The circular evidence of monotheist religions, if it is written in the Qur’an or Bible it is true, continues unabated. Unfortunately the history claimed by the Da’Wah is not history at all but myth and as a consequence eliminates true historical processes.
Although how this essential historical position can be assumed given the story’s position in the Bible and the aforesaid books’ clear copying of the material from Sumerian literature, such as Gilgamesh and Enuma Elish. The Arabisation of world history needs to be more thorough perhaps.
The abrupt beginning of Surah 71 resembles the start of Jonah in the Bible:
1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
Wickedness in the Bible serves as shorthand for sin in the Qur’an or even at times evil. Where sin in the Qur’an is normally linked to paganism, neither form tends to detail let alone analyse the nature of sin or wickedness. Are the affluent sinful? Is poverty the key to burglary? An allusion to Jesus in the Gospels is detected here: Luke 11:29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” I suspect that the evil here is closer to Bible wickedness, not its modern concept. Below, Muhammad comments on the story by imitating its beginning.
Dr. Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran
Indeed, We sent Noah to his people ˹saying to him˺, “Warn your people before a painful punishment comes to them.” Noah proclaimed, “O my people! I am truly sent to you with a clear warning:7worship Allah ˹alone˺, fear Him, and obey me.
He will forgive your sins, and delay your end until the appointed time. Indeed, when the time set by Allah comes, it cannot be delayed, if only you knew!”
He cried, “My Lord! I have surely called my people day and night, 71:6
ﯚﯛbut my calls only made them run farther away
And whenever I invite them to be forgiven by You, they press their fingers into their ears, cover themselves with their clothes, persist ˹in denial˺, and act very arrogantly. 71:8
Then I certainly called them openly,
then I surely preached to them publicly and privately7:
saying, ‘Seek your Lord’s forgiveness, ˹for˺ He is truly Most Forgiving. 71:11
He will shower you with abundant rain,
supply you with wealth and children, and give you gardens as well as rivers.
What is the matter with you that you are not in awe of the Majesty of Allah,
when He truly created you in stages ˹of development˺?
o you not see how Allah created seven heavens, one above the other
placing the moon within them as a ˹reflected˺ light, and the sun as a ˹radiant˺ lamp?
Allah ˹alone˺ caused you1 to grow from the earth like a plant.
Then He will return you to it, and then simply bring you forth ˹again˺.
And Allah ˹alone˺ spread out the earth for you
to walk along its spacious pathways.’”
The demand/reply method here can be found in Sumerian literature.
˹Eventually,˺ Noah cried, “My Lord! They have certainly persisted in disobeying me, and followed ˹instead˺ those ˹elite˺ whose ˹abundant˺ wealth and children only increase them in loss, and who have devised a tremendous plot,
urging ˹their followers˺, ‘Do not abandon your idols—especially Wadd, Suwâ’, Yaghûth, Ya’ûq, and Nasr.
ﯔThose ˹elite˺ have already led many astray. So ˹O Lord˺, only allow the wrongdoers to stray farther away
So because of their sins, they were drowned, then admitted into the Fire. And they found none to help them against Allah.
Noah had prayed, “My Lord! Do not leave a single disbeliever on earth.
For if You spare ˹any of˺ them, they will certainly mislead Your servants, and give birth only to ˹wicked˺ sinners, staunch disbelievers.
My Lord! Forgive me, my parents, and whoever enters my house in faith, and ˹all˺ believing men and women. And increase the wrongdoers only in destruction.”
The shortness of the piece indicates casual use. Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali tells us that the amazing thing about Noah/Nul is that he spent over 900 years of his life trying to convince people to mend their ways (676) when perhaps the truly remarkable thing is that anyone could believe that. Although a few Pharaohs lived into their eighties, only one, Pepiankh, was known to reach his 100th year, or suspected of doing so. He had inscribed: “I passed all the time I spent in the function of a magistrate, while doing good and saying what is wished, in order to gain a good repute with the god.”. Indicating thus the origins of goodness. The great Ramesses II died in his eighties, and it seems was senile. Also, as often with Biblical stories and those here the sins or misbehaviour is rarely if ever defined. It just is, often concerning the behaviour of another despised group.
The autonomy of humankind, expressed in Adam and Eve, brings with it sin, misery and paganism and only by going back to god or Allah can paganism be quelled and misery ended. Immorality, although it is difficult to know if this is what is meant, brings back paganism. The stilling of human autonomy seems the only means of reclaiming Paradise. The stages of development may mean birth and adult stages as claimed by a number of Islamic scholars.Although the document mentioned raises genuine appreciation of the writer/composer’s knowledge of human biology, as the composer is meant to be Allah and insists the first stage is clay this rather defeats its celebration as a scientific wonder. Sin is defined by one original and mythical event that separated human beings from the creator, or father. Goodness is defined by acceptance of the creator not necessarily behaviour, unlike in the Ancient Egyptian example above.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali (2000) insisted that those who do not accept God’s power, preferring earthly power instead, must be suffering an intellectual defect. But such thinking suffers from definitions of belief and the exertions of reality, misunderstanding that belief is not from the intellectual portion of the brain but from the part where custom, authoritarian assertions and states of mind reside. He then examples the natural world, or so it seems, of crops, protein and sustenance of human populations as evidence of God asking where the reader thinks they come from. Well, in their cultivated state, human beings really. All the other elements of sun, moon, etc are evidence of God, demonstrating my point elsewhere that by focusing on God you miss a million other wonders-including science. Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali secured to himself the same charges of intellectual inadequacy he deposited on others. Anyway, clearly the advancing of religious/political power and rejecting of secular power was a move on Muhammad’s part to assume power himself.
Noah exasperated with his people who choose to ignore him, asks God to destroy them (677). Here we have the prophet’s nature. There is only one way, and that is my way. All the people are to be destroyed and the human race started again. In many ways, this is the theme in the original Sumerian story. One used also in European colonisation of North America. Muhammad appears to be commentating on both previous narratives.
In the Sumerian example the gods decide to rid the world of human beings as they are too noisy and keep the gods awake. Only Enki, the God of Wisdom and intellectual pursuits, disagrees with the decision and saves one family group, unknown to the other gods. When the floods subside and the family are found, Enki admits what he has done, the gods forgive him realising they were wrong to destroy the human race. They made a mistake. Here Atrahasis takes the place of Noah.
Man of Shuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu,
Tear down (this) house, build a ship!
Give up possessions, seek thou life.
Despise property and keep the soul alive.
Aboard the ship take thou the seed of all living things.
The ship that thou shalt build,
Her dimensions shall be to measure.
Equal shall be her width and her length.
Like the Apsu thou shalt ceil her.’
Saying to valiant Enlil:
‘Thou wisest of the gods, thou hero,
How couldst thou, unreasoning, bring on the deluge?
On the sinner impose his sin,
On the transgressor impose his transgression!
(Yet) be lenient, lest he be cut off, Be patient,
lest he be dislodged
Instead of thy bringing on the deluge,
Would that a lion had risen up to diminish mankind!
Instead of thy brining on the deluge,
Would that a wolf had risen up to diminish mankind!
Instead of thy bringing on the deluge,
In the stories of Noah and Nuh, it is humankind who are truly sinned against, and Enlil, here the leading god, et al, who is revealed as the sinner.
Allusions to new life and change
Muhammad’s concern for Noah/Nuh was not only to reference the endurance of a prophet to example his own courage and persistence but Noah’s story concerns change. The flood involved moving from one reality to another, one cultural expression to another. Like Islam, the flood is meant to wipe away the old society and replace it with another. This seems less like prediction but a record of success. Jesus also is referenced, a prophet who represented change from one ethical stance to another. Below is what Muhammad was alluding to, Matthew 24:
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of [f]heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42
Did Muhammad hear these verses and amongst his Abrahamic colleagues in a sanctuary or haram hear and discuss its consequences, understanding the verses indicated not just ‘the sign of the times and the end of the age’ (Matt. 24) but profound ontological change?
This part highlights the structure of the surah and the literature it most resembles. Meaning will be considered in reference to Islamic scholars from the first exegetes ignoring allusions within the text to the Old Testament and Christian text, thereby constructing in many Surah’s unnecessary problems in interpretation.
Referring to allusions in the Qur’an (Surah 11) to Lot’s wife, involving Jesus’ referencing to it, Gabriel Said Reynolds remarks:
Yet the allusive style of the Qurʾan was a source of great consternation to Muslim scholars For when Qurʾanic exegesis (tafsīr) arose, the exegetes (mufassirūn) were either not aware of the details of the biblical story to which the Qurʾan alludes, or, perhaps more likely, were mistrustful of biblical literature and commentaryeither way, they kept the Qurʾan separate from the Bible Instead of turning to biblical literature for the details of the visitation story, the mufassirūnattempted to find those details by extrapolating the references in the Qurʾan This proved particularly vexing in regard to one peculiar detail of this passage: the mention of Abraham’s wife laughing in Qurʾan 11:71 It is to this detail that the present paper is dedicated. Incidentally, if the homiletic quality of the Qurʾan was problematic to the medieval exegetes, it could be quite helpful to critical scholars today. For if the Qurʾan is a homily, in this case a homily on a biblical narrative, it ceases to be in a competitive relationship with the Bible (or any other text on which it might be commenting)on the contrary, the two texts become the best of friends, one helping the other along one text provides the material, the other text provides the interpretation The Qurʾan can no longer be accused of borrowing from the Bible or vulgarizing the Bible The Bible, meanwhile, can no longer be off limits to studies of the Qurʾan, which no longer appears exnihilo on the contrary, this model would demand that students of the Qurʾan become no less students of the Bible.
In Nuh there is no actual preamble as in Surah 11 Hud where the composer sets out, indeed continuously asserts his relationship with Allah, and where on occasion the two identities seem to merge.
Muhammad Vendestra demonstrates other components of Noah/Nuh presenting them within dual context of repentance and the forgiveness of god. He understands Nuh as an Arab, a Believer and not a proto-Jew. Here he is Noah Ibn Lamik having undergone a complete transformation. No mention is made here or elsewhere that the story of Noah comes from Sumerian literature (Epic of Atrahasis, see above) and he cannot thereby be Arab, let alone Hebrew. He conjures at length the pseudo histories of early prophets with all the belief of an author his newly formed characters, providing how distant each life was from the other. Islam’s dependence upon and infatuation with words never seems to allow for the presentation of ancient fiction except as unembellished truth. He demonstrates that in the Bible Noah is chosen as the next progeny of the human race, although the reader understands within Biblical text that it is only the Jews that are central to the re-peopling of the earth the narrators are discussing. Islam’s claim regarding the corruption of early text seems to concern disagreements between their text and the Jews or Christians, with their more recent inventions being somehow right. The flood in the Genesis story (6) is an act of cleansing, and similar aspects are in Nuh:
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. 5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.
This thereby is a story of racial purity and YHWH’s mistake. The mixing of divine entities meant that humans, or semi-divine humans, could compete with god, and that was the evil YHWH needed to expurgate. Even on this early stage of his development, the monotheist god could not bear competition. Human beings have here done nothing that requires forgiveness as the responsibility is God’s alone. The same moral testament is found in Atrahasis. The contradiction lies in his creation being both heroes of old and also evil. The composer of Surah Nuh could not have known that this was part of a different tradition to that of Adam and Eve. All products deemed holy must be from a godly whole! The Nephilim references Sumerian myth in which the story of the Flood emerged carrying all the details of Noah in the Bible. The Qur’an redaction concerns paganism, the symbol of sin and corruption. The jarring inadequacy of this group to determine Muhammad’s chosen victim is never discussed.
The Nephilim (giants), briefly seen in Surah 71 within elites, could equally have been subjects of a Canaanite myth, muddying the Islamic referencing even more. Symbolically reference to these and an elite, otherwise not explained, might be the Arab aristocrats apparently against Muhammad. Whatever the case, the composer employs narrative easily recognised by his listeners and ‘elite’ can mean powerful people anywhere. Using elite, Muhammad at once references the earlier Noah, but also accuses his enemies.
According to Vendestra (2018), the crime of the people was idol worship thereby extending iconoclasm back several thousand years and providing credibility for what was a late development. The heroes of the Bible become, it seems righteous people, and their offspring are the evil ones. Allah had apparently been worshiped before all this upheaval within the myth of Genesis, in the role first assumed by YHWH. Babylon existed then alongside all sorts of political, historical and geographic miracles in this story. The redaction holds that not only Biblical history (sic) is overturned, but history itself.
In Surah 71 the God is fully transformed into Allah, forgiveness is now indeed the result of idolatry, and not of the previous Biblical misdemeanours. The complex problems with divine ethnicity have been replaced with Islamic concerns in 7th century Arabia. Allah has replaced YHWH, although we cannot be certain that the former God was Allah and not Enkil. Nevertheless, each of the religions considered here provide understandings of past and present through the narrow scope of patriarchs, and the Qur’an is no exception. Each also provides lessons on the patriarchs, caught up in several modes of transmission and several areas without going beyond the interface of presumed descriptives of holy types and positions.They are characters in separate epics or narratives dealing with similar aspects defining religious character. In Nuh, Muhammad, if it is Muhammad, is defined through Nuh, but in order to legitimise his claims Nuh needs to become an Arab. Muhammad identifies with Nuh. The Arab Muhammad becomes the Arab Nuh, not the Hebrew rooted Noah. An allusion to Jesus can here be noted referencing (Luke 11:30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation). In addition is 1Enoch 6-11, which Muhammad again might have heard as a trader mixing with other prophet traders, elaborated on briefly at the end of this paper:
- And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. 2. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’ 3. And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ 4. And they all answered
Enoch carries on the story in Noah
- And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. 2. And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: 3. Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, 4. the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. 5. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood. 6. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.
Azazel teaches humankind how to use metals, make swords and shields, enabling them to learn but according to this tale grow wicked. Autonomy from God is civilisation, closeness to God is infantilization/obedience and dependence. The former also represents a state of sin. Both men and women have been defiled by the angels. –These stories are similar to Sumerian ones on human kind (see Enuma Elish, Quigu (VI 29) below). It seems that this Enoch had access to a library.
This world is washed away and a new one begun. This approach can be found in both Jesus and Muhammad. The ideology of Islam is connected to these ancient beliefs and below the acts of peoples before the catastrophes that eliminate them appears to come from 1Enoch. It is probable that Muhammad had heard 1Enoch recited or Umayya b. Abi I-Salt, who is thought to have been literate, may have read it and explained it to Abrahamic colleagues.
Muhammad’s audience here for what may have been an impromptu piece of oratory refashioned later, were Believers who may have required reinforcement of the nature of the new Arabic religion, thereby the use of known Arab names and myths. In Enoch their identity as a new community was forged. The Nuh Surah may then have been a late production, although where it was delivered is uncertain. Equally it could have been a representation of Sasanian Persians and Jewish troops besieging of Jerusalem, the Holy City, and the massacres there of Christians (People of the Book) in 614.
A number of points are of interest. Here, Nuh asserts that believing in Allah will provide earthly wealth, a distinct difference to the Christian message, where poverty is perceived in Far Eastern fashion as an indicator of holiness or righteousness, but one found in Judaic religion. In early Christianity, wealth is viewed as an evil (Mark 10: 23-27). Of course there are a number of interpretations of this with some commentators insisting that the early writers were concerned with a fixation on life. But by the time Muhammad was born both monastery life, where poverty was a virtue, and the Christian virtue of pacifism were causing harm to Byzantine economy and martial ability. In Judaism the poor were protected and considered weak members of the community and there was no damnation of affluence. The Qur’an’s view mirrors Judaism as seen in the Surah Al Baqrah, verse 215 where wealth is approved as a gift from Allah (consequent with The Book of Job and the god there-not necessarily YHWH) as long as the poor are helped. The closeness of the Judaic view and Qur’an view suggests the latter inherited this stance from the former, but it is as likely culturally based within the general region. Pre-Islamic Arabs were known for their wealth and Muhammad apparently accumulated immense wealth by the time of his death. It is possible that Christianity gained its leanings towards poverty from a Far East connection as suggested above, but they equally may have been part of an egalitarian revolution claimed for Jesus, similar to the one claimed for Muhammad.
The assertion that Allah created humankind like a plant can only reference YHWH making humankind from clay, as in Sumerian myths, but in the Bible there are actually two different versions of YHWH making humankind (Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, leading commentators to conceive of two different scribal groups). The two accounts have different gods, Elohim and YHWH, or Lord. There are a number of other differences.. The Qur’an version is spread through the book but references the first Genesis story in many ways but also the Sumerian myth of human creation. In the Qur’an myth angels bow down to human beings, in the Babylonian myth gods are gratified at the creation of human beings-angels were a development from Mesopotamian pantheons. In Enuma Elish, Quigu (VI 29) takes the place of Iblis in the Qur’an and Hadiths. The reference to the Mesopotamian myth comes likely from Umayya b. Abi I-Salt , who in More than One Qur’an, One Muhammad, One Islam provided one of several connections between Mesopotamian literature and the Qur’an. Here, again the Qur’an provides a commentary considering and contemplating other ideas.
3: Surah 11
Noah/Nuh features as one of the prophet, catastrophe, and vindication themes that denote aspects of warner or messenger identity that involves also a reciprocal master/servant relationship with god.
Noah/Nuh the first of the examples of mocked prophets in Surah 11 meets the conditions of allusive literature, whereby listeners to the preacher or prophet are referred to the Old Testament but which includes additional material on the nature of the Believer group. Noah/Nuh stands large in the preacher’s endeavours. In the Midrash, Tanchuma: ‘They mocked and laughed at him in their words’ This is the discomfort every real prophet somehow had to endure from Noah, Zoroaster, Jesus to Muhammad. Although each of them dealt with it differently, it underwrites Jesus and Muhammad’s legitimacy- not being listened to and being persecuted for their knowledge. Zoroaster in some stories meets the same opposition. In the Genesis Rabbah, Noah’s persistence and the mockery of his neighbours is again described, and in the Sibylline Odes his retaliatory words are revealed. Michael Lodahl (2010) describes a growing legend, the story expanding. Although considered in 2 Peter as a ‘preacher of righteousness’ Noah preaches nothing but is known by his attitude in the face of ridicule and continued boat building activity. He represents the human being who knows, the stubborn genius, demonstrating the mettle required of a prophet, but like Abraham he preaches nothing. It is the midrashic Noah that the Qur’an takes up as emblematic of the Islamic preacher and prophet (218). In Surah 11, Nuh speaks with his own and the writers/preachers voice. The writer/preacher becomes Noah, and Noah him. The substitution of one and the other morphs one prophet, otherwise in the Bible silent, into the other. Into the mix is Jesus, whom Muhammad imitates in Mecca reliving the earlier prophet’s determination and character in order to convey knowledge. In here, it is the war against paganism through conditions of obedience and subservience to the Will of a God, achieved through the structuring of human behaviour as wicked/evil through an unwillingness to accept ontological chains.
The writer/preacher/prophet continually references himself directly or through metamorphosis; he experiences what other prophets have experienced in acts of supreme ventriloquism.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali
A good place to start here perhaps is with Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali’s considerations of the Surah.  The writer happily admits that Muhammad was commissioned to save human beings from polytheism and lead them to tawhid, salvation. Why polytheism is such a scary place to be is not explained and never is, but it seems to be based on Genesis where obviously the creator has formed everything by himself, hook, line and sinker. But, and here’s the rub, polytheists rule throughout Arabia-so what occurred, why is monotheism not evident now? Now we know Genesis is a myth, but Muhammad and his group of prophets did not. Polytheism (not of course a single entity, but with many distinct faces) has to be destroyed? It is an evil and in order to remove the sin of polytheism, monotheism, expressed through Allah, must become universal. In reality, Muhammad and his group’s position seems based first on Arabia, if even there monotheisms were evident and had inspired Muhammad.
Casual conversation is rendered as if it was true, an impossible thing to record in any circumstances, but nevertheless the writer points out the crucial verse:
“a Book, whose verses are well expressed and made plain, from the All-Wise and All-Knowing” (I).
The connection with Allah is made, but why?
With more insight, commendable in itself, the author remarks (217):
The surah has one outstanding feature which distinguishes it from the rest it is full of intensely personal, direct and indirect instructions addressed to Prophet Muhammad, using the first personal pronoun, emphasizing the weight and the significance of the mission he had undertaken.
This is untrue, as the Bible is full of such conversations and these were common in Sumerian literature. If anything, these were influenced by or copied from Biblical literature. This can be taken as an allusion to god’s presence in the Bible (Exodus 33: 14). It may also reflect Corinthians 20:18. Whereby god is always with the Believer. The passage below fits this.
He is told that:
You [Muhammad] may be contemplating to omit some of what is being revealed to you or feeling distressed by it because they [the unbelievers] say, “If only he was given a treasure or had an angel sent down to him!” But you are merely a warner, and God has control over everything. (12)
Again an allusion to Moses, and Jonah. The uncertainty fits Jonah and the doubt within Jesus’ group as part of the stage before action. Doubting Thomas in the Gospels may have expressed gratitudeand thereby allude to the comfort given to Muhammad by Allah. The story thereby is made fuller, with more significance through association with the Bible and Gospels, especially for Muhammad’s audience. It is likely many would have grasped the allusions and connectedness of Judaic material. They knew the stories.
He is told that only God has knowledge and then referred to the tale of Noah, which no one knew before. The knowledge concerns God’s future actions. Clearly, Noah’s travails would have been known already, so why is Muhammad told this? At that point the Arab’s accusations that Muhammad has been lying is considered, and creating puzzlement over who at least his audience is. In fact, the seemingly confusing approach may just be oratorical skills and of no more importance. The connection with biblical Noah is clear, and the earlier if mythical character’s difficulties with too being believed. Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali’s declaration about Muhammad’s untarnished reputation is part of the literature of Islam, and not thereby necessarily correct and hardly evidence, certainly given how suspicious people are. Job was in a similar position, his reputation immense until being afflicted by God. Perhaps, this story is too being alluded to. Although in many ways it seems an early book, given the apparent nature of its audience, other declarations suggest otherwise. The story itself, as admitted, seems to come from the Sumerians. 
The Qur’an includes an episode missing from Genesis, of a son of Noah/Nuh who refuses to board the Ark as the rain begins to fall. Lodahl (2010) perceives this as evidence of the Umma, whereby families are less important than Believing and the Believer group. Although in this he points out Islam’s lack of racial concern, believing trumps skin colour, this is actually no different to later Judaism, Christianity, the Ethiopian church being one clear example, and any pagan religion. As excellent as this is, it is not the innovation Lodahl (2010) imagines it to be. That believing divides remains a constant in monotheist religions. Roman citizens could be German, Spanish, North African, Celt and Syrian and Christian Bishops predominantly Arab or North African. It was common then, if it ceased to later become.
While the story here concerns Hud, a figure without any historical basis, the Surah asserts that he is still a character within Islamic moral and ideological processes. There is indeed no clear equivalent elsewhere.
The Surah leads on to the people of Ad and their response to Hud (218), which seems the same or similar to other occasions in both the Bible, Gospels and Qur’an. In the Gospels it can result in death. Muhammad’s rejection in Mecca detailed in Ibn Ishaq seems very similar to Jesus’ experience, based on his familiarity to those around him and his claims for exceptionality (1 Peter 2.7). It is possible this allusion was known by the audience, certainly Jesus’ promotion to godliness. The text concerns Hud and other prophets who warned of imminent doom from God. These, in order are Hud, Salih, Abraham and Lot, Shuaib and Moses, providing an Arabian focus based on older Judaic stories. The point seems to be to not only associate but fully identify the Believer religion with the older Jewish religion. In each case, those the message is directed to ignore the warning. Where possible attempts will be made to locate the Qur’anic material within the ethno/religious/cultural/historical background of Muhammad.There will be some attempt to show pre-Islamic moral codes at their best, and their alternative roots in the nobleness of man (not woman) and not in Judaic constructs of human sinfulness.
God says: “When Our judgment came to pass, We delivered Hud through Our mercy, together with those who believed with him, and We spared them a horrifYing scourge” (58). This is followed, yet again, with a comment directed at Muhammad, saying: “Such were ‘Ad. They denied the revelations of their Lord, and disobeyed His Messengers and followed the words of every headstrong tyrant”
This paragraph seems based on Jonah and the tyrant reference may be directed towards the Quraysh or even the Persian Sassanian king. Daniel Beck argues that Muhammad’s Mission took wing, which means made sense, when the Sasanian Persians overran Jerusalem, massacred its citizen and took the Patriarch Zachariah to Persia. He had a reason for his apocalyptic utterances. It may be that it was then that he bound his career up with Jonah, Nuh, as well as Abraham and Jesus, identifying with and becoming them. His verses indicated such identification but was equally perhaps a histrionic gesture for his followers. Reciting his words was perhaps a performance.
The idea that Allah must be obeyed even by those who do not know him reflects YHWH in the Old Testament and the narration of for example Moses, and may be an allusion to that event. In the Judaic religion it represents the attempt to gain a prominence it never had through constructing romantic fiction. Similarly, it is evident in ancient Mesopotamian literature so is therefore a common devise to embed the god amongst disbelievers.
Although some commentators have averred that Hud and Ad are a local Arabian myth they do not have to be. Within this translation the use of tyrant or its equivalent, a term known to Greek and Roman culture but not to Middle Eastern cultures, to describe the rulers of Ad suggests the kind of polities known from Hellenistic times. Here we can see either the influence or writings of Umayya b. Abi I-Salt, who may have introduced a cosmopolitan note into the Qur’an. Again, it reads like the story of Jonah in the OT (Jonah,1), a fabricated story of the planned destruction of Nineveh, which simply did not occur except in the minds of scribes and priests centuries later. Although Nineveh was reprieved as likely as not this may have been because its presence was still evident to travellers. Passive-aggressive revenge probably anyway for Assyria’s actual destruction of Israel. Although the story of Jonah may have been appropriated from other cultures, a normal process in the religious Books, its narrative of potential destruction serves the same purposes of those discussed here. For the writers, its reality would not have been important, and besides in oral societies people readily believe what they are told without scrutiny.
Hud has not been identified, although a lively book  declares happily that the site of Ad has been identified as ancient Ebla. An expedition carried out by, amongst others, Giovani Pettinato made a number of excessive claims about the ruins, which were quickly dismissed. The ruins in Syria seem never to have been associated with Ad but the lurid claims made centred on Biblical literature not the Qur’an. The city and its people as with many other similar monotheist claims did not exist. But the purpose in Surah 11 was to demonstrate alternative kinds of catastrophe and destruction. Ad was long ago ruined, probably through natural causes or a powerful invading army. Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians demonstrating the same consequences of the Jonah narrative with additional reflections on the nature of prophethood. Ilkaa Lindstedt convincingly suggests it was actually the Nabataean town of Iram, or Wadi Ram, in Jordan. A Hismaic inscription found in the temple of Lat there says that the temple was built by Ġṯ son of ʾSlh son of Ṯkm of the tribe of ‘d.  Possibly, the ad of Arab.
Shaykh Muhammad al-Ghazali makes the point (244) that once God’s judgement is passed on a people, they reject him as if there was something terribly odd about their rejecting a foreign, unknown God they had likely never heard of. While this is common in these Surahs, the author makes no note of the stories’ roots in the Bible. The model of the God, described as powerful, being rejected and then venting destruction places the gods as universal, both in the Bible and Qur’an, and everyone bows to them. Ebla has no references to a single god, as Egypt has none to Moses let alone YHWH. In the case of the Jews, it was the actions of a tiny failed state creating illusions for later cultures to absorb, but what of the young religion of Believers? Were they actually Christian, or possibly not yet Believers when the Surah was composed and merely assumed Biblical stories? Nevertheless, it is interesting that the author holds this literary model is clearly evident elsewhere.
A further point concerns the ease with which the author envisages mass destruction of these various communities for seemingly unknown crimes as it seems the will of God does not concern morality. Millions can die at a stroke but there is no concern. His Will is the only necessary motive. This surely is a pagan concept where Zeus or Bal strike down communities with a lightning bolt or storm based on a whim? Certainly, the stories go back to when YHWH was just a storm god and nothing else.
There is plenty of evidence for the existence of the above, representing the only peoples that had a genuine existence outside of fiction and fantasy. Thamud existed north of Hijaz, approximately 200 years before the time of Muhammad, its fate by then coloured in myth. Ludicrously in this alternative history, the author describes a caste system that arose from the time of Noah, and was still strong in Thamud. But this concerns class and race, not history, and Muhammad’s discussion of both in terms of an equal system. This seems to be a furtherance of the ‘elite’ Muhammad indicates and serves thereby as an insightful commentary on the Noah story and also a commentary on pre-Islamic society, tribal and clan societies led by aristocratic Arabs, and probably came after Believer victories. It is also an attempt to connect Arab roots with Judaic history, serving also as an allusion to Jesus (Luke: 14:13: But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and Like 6: 20-21 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.). This method enables the listener to fill out the hints in Muhammad’s rhetoric. These verses indicate the dismantling of aristocratic kings and chiefs, particularly the Umayyad elite.
These quotes above nevertheless themselves reference Jewish quotes and thinking. Although social change and equality may have occurred early in Islam that change was ontological not social. There are many powerful women in pre-Islam society but not after Islam. Nevertheless, if ontological change bestowed equality on women this was an immense step in itself. The comparison with pre-Islamic Arabian societies seems biased, the concubinage Islamic literature confers on pre-Islamic society is noted within Islamic society itself, with little evidence in the former.Myth as history is a crucial part of religious societies and belief. Ilkaa Lindstedt records with a trace of irritation:
A critical examination of the Islamic sources (the Qurʾān and the later tradition) shows that Muslims did not have any information about the historical Thamūd (on which see Macdonald 1995). The Thamūd narrative in the Islamic source is, quite simply, a myth (Stetkevych 1996). It tells the story of the Thamūd that live in al-Ḥijr (ancient Egra/Ḥgrʾ, modern Madāʾin Ṣāliḥ), a city carved out of rock (Q. 11:61–68; 15:80–84; 41:13–17; al-Ṭabarī, Taʾrīkh: I, 244–252). A prophet, called simply Ṣāliḥ, “Pious,” emerges from among them, but the Thamūd disbelieve and God’s punishment wipes them all out. But in historical reality, al-Ḥijr was a Nabataean city (see e.g. Nehmé 2005). Writing of Nabataean Aramaic in al-Ḥijr survived the fall of the Nabataean state in 106 well into the fourth century CE. There is no evidence whatsoever that Thamūd lived there before or after the Nabataeans. It should be reminded, at this junction, that the varieties of Ancient North Arabian inscriptions called “Thamudic” do not have anything at all to do with the tribe Thamūd; “Thamudic” is merely a modern and unfortunate misnomer. The Islamic sources are correct, though, in that the Thamūd seems to have been an extinct tribe before Islam. The last mention of them is in the fifth-century CE Byzantine military document Notitia Dignitatum (Shahîd 2000: 436a). Al-Ḥijr, a city that was probably more or less abandoned by the lifetime of 6 Muḥammad, became connected in the minds of the people with a lost tribe, the Thamūd. But for the study of the historical Thamūd, the Islamic sources are of little or no value.
Fazlur Rahman writes succinctly of Sahil and the nature of prophethood and the ‘compound prophetology’ he believes already existed in Arabia at the time of Muhammad. In his thinking, the combining of prophets had taken place at an earlier stage and they had morphed into each other. But Muhammad did not seem to encourage competition even from the past. Rahman points to the problems between the Arab aristocracy and poor Arabs focused on by Muhammad but there is some evidence of bringing the same aristocracy into the Believers. It was the Arab aristocracy who led the attacks on Sasanian Persia and the Byzantines. As in other places, Muhammad here comments on his own times.
As stated by Ayman S. Ibrahim there is no evidence of the motivations above until later, and of course this is not an entirely justified view of pre-Islamic society; Ibrahim has noted that the evidence is consistent and incontrovertible. The earliest sources show no trace of religious motivation, only that the new monotheistic ideas and practices spread by Muhammad’s preaching in Arabia and reinforced by his military successes and skilful diplomacy were one important part of what brought the formerly warring tribes of seventh-century Arabia together. “Islam,” as we know it today, took at least three centuries to develop its legal and theological foundations. As Ibrahim reminds us, at this early stage the Qur’an had not yet been written down as a book. The five daily prayers were a new ritual most people living under this new polity were not yet practicing. Only the Hajj pilgrimage was well known and it had remained practically unchanged in its Muslim form. So being Muslim at this stage was to pledge loyalty to the new state founded by Muhammad in Medina.
The social improvements indicated here may not have appeared until centuries later and therefore been justified concerns as to when the Surah was actually composed. Yet again, the use of warner to describe Muhammad suggests earlier composition. As usual, a confusing picture.
The issue of equality can be found in the bestowing of Muslim on the Believers, separating them as a group from the conquered peoples. This is usual in such cases of conquest by one group of another. The racialism in pre-Arab society seems difficult to prove, but certainly the embrace of all peoples was also practised within early Christianity within the context of the religion. Paul wrote (Galatians 3:28): There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. It seems likely that Muhammad is referencing this in Surah 11. It therefore seems likely this was obtained from local Christians as there appears nowhere else Muhammad could have obtained such a novel idea.
That Islam expressed ontological egalitarian change seems likely, but to what extent egalitarianism was practised is another matter as can be seen by contrary verses in the Qur’an . Also, egalitarianism in early Islam might simply have been the right to be Believers, functioning in the modest ideologies of Believers as their right, as men acted in their right. While men who fought for the faith could keep concubines, women could not keep male slaves for the same purpose as rights were different. A rewrite of this period is necessary.
Prophet Lot was also a tested warner, with a reminder by the redoubtable author that civilisations become decadent and decline, like the West, through decadent practices. As life is a trial, Allah it seems offers to support them in comfort and riches. The morality seems absent or simply narrow and selective and does not seem to cover abstracts like love, benevolence. The sin here of course is homosexuality, but why that should be a sin is never clear. Although above class is referenced as a thing to be dismantled, Muhammad and those around him are clearly above others, in both number of wives and conduct.
In its overwhelming fascination with homosexuality, which in fact the story was not originally about but hospitality involving the reception to strangers and compared to Abraham’s reception of strangers while conversing with God (Genesis 18ff). The Surah references Judaism and its sexual behavioural ideologies, not clearly seen anywhere else. The belief that sexual behaviour carries any moral values is specific to the Hebrews, based on cleanliness. The need of Hebrews for ritually purified bodies is found among priests in temple cultures and aristocrats. Pre-Islamic Arabs seem also to have engaged in purifying rituals using water.
Lot provides another reason for YHWH’s (morphed into Allah) reason for destruction of human beings. But unlike Christian societies’ obsession with the act, Islamic societies experienced common homosexuality. 
“15th-century Egyptian historian Al-Maqrizi noted that “among the Mamluke rulers, love of men became so common that the women in the empire began to envy the men and to wear elegant hats in order to imitate them.”
There are similar events described, including Moses, and a gathering threatening disposition. Although mainly the threats are against polytheists, some like Lot involved other perceived crimes based on Judaic thinking. In fact the piece consists predominately of calls to repent, mainly for behaviour simply disapproved of, and the murder of thousands when they do not. It is a depressing scenario. There is little positive here.
Al Makim suggests that in the Arabian peninsula there was more than one prophet, one reading (Qur’an), one mosque and one Abrahamic monotheist faith based on Christian and Judaic literature, hanif, of which only one, Islam, survived. That trader/prophets met throughout Arabia in harams and sanctuaries to discuss an Arabic monotheism seems equally likely. The story we have is a streamlined rendition based on one individual, Muhammad, in the same way the Christian story is conferred on one individual, Jesus. This simply makes for better, more easily memorised narratives that can be more easily propagated.
The Surah’s seem largely, but not entirely formed on Christian Sermons. That does not of course mean they are Christian, but they might originally have been from nearby Christian cults. That Islam is an Arab religion nevertheless seems indisputable. The text of Surah 11 obeys Christian homiletic, in this case sermons. The text moves from one catastrophic Biblical event to another and resembles similar such world ending outbursts. Although none of these events occurred, Muhammad used them to provide a sense of imminent catastrophe as well as a warning, and it seems an incitement to convert, although this may not be the case. Each catastrophe provides an insight into matters of preparedness and the nature of the strike. Each catastrophe develops the overall theme. The sermons of Origen, although more sophisticated, do the same with each catastrophe denoting an extension and further examination of a central theme. Surah 11 moves the discourse towards the same end of bowing to Allah’s will, the consequences of not doing so, allusions to the destruction of paganism, and the new sinless world ahead. Forceful rhetoric and repetition have a persuasive quality and would have had the desired effect on an illiterate audience..
The Surah’s are possibly early in Muhammad’s output, referencing his apocalyptic claims, similar to Christian sermons of the period and later. Such blood and thunder expositions were common even in the last century using the same material as Muhammad. Not only are these probably amongst the first of Muhammad’s compositions but ones that make greater use of the Old Testament and Gospel accounts of Jesus. Gabriel Said Philips suggests that the refusal of the early Arab exegetes to reference the above caused confusion, and that they may not have known some of the allusions. Certainly, the early Surah seem more coherent, dealing often in commentary form with the Old Testament stories familiar to many at the time and now, providing necessary structure. The later Surahs according to Devin L. Stewart are varied in terms of integral composition but those with OT stories or connections appear more compositionally integrated than others. Stewart reasons on a composite nature to some Surahs-suggesting to me planning.
Further to establishing its audience, the author suggests that rather than providing the story the Qur’an is merely commenting on the same story in the Old Testament, carefully rhymed according to the fasila of the penultimate. It seems homiletic. It is terse, brief filling nothing out in the belief that the audience are acquainted with the story. The message of the Surah is also involved with Jesus’ reference to the events within, say on Lots wife (Luke 17: 32), whereby he references her fate although in the Qur’an her fate is predicted, and nothing can change fate or god’s will, connecting her fate to Nuh’s son.
Generally, the Christian sermons on which this may have been based were themselves dependent on pagan works. What often seems a clear indication of Muhammad’s writings are, rightly or wrongly, polemics usually against pagans, but in fact this identified Christian homilies too. Mary B. Cunningham (9) suggests this concerns the speaker’s self-identification, defining them in relation to pagans for example. In Surah 11 pagans are described as evil, a very harsh term. Origen is noted as a Christian preacher who employed exegetical when speaking to his own community and this seems the case here.
Muhammad’s audience at this stage appear to have been Believers who although knowledgeable about Monotheistic religious’ narratives were illiterate.
Although Biblical books were not available in Arabia, Muhammad knew the Biblical stories on his travels through Al Makim’s (2014) trader prophets and the hadif or Abrahamic circles he belonged to. Certainly he learned it orally and probably, see above, through U, Gerhard Bowering Recent Research into the Construction of the Qur’an (70):
This oral lore was communicated to Muhammad in his mother tongue, but its original forms were in Syriac, Aramaic, Ethiopian and Hebrew materials, as evidenced by the vocabulary of foreign origin to be found in the Arabic Qur’an.4 This foreign vocabulary formed an integral part of Muhammad’s proclamation and was understood by his audience in Mecca and Medina whom he addressed in eloquent Arabic.
Bowering (81) demonstrates through the range of references available that the Qur’an was composed within a wide religious environment that included Christians, Jews, Manichean (perhaps in Medina), Sabians, and Zoroastrians. He talks of informants to the Qur’an such as Waraqa b. Nawful and Uthman b. al- Huwayrith. He mentions too informant slaves. But, Bowering (83):
During his lifetime, Muhammad had a good number of his Qur’anic
proclamations copied down by scribes, but there is no evidence that he used
foreign written source materials for the composition of the Qur’an. Until the
appearance of evidence to the contrary, one has to support the position that it
was oral information on which the Qur’an drew directly, even if behind this oral
information there was a core of passages extracted from written traditions that
were translated into Arabic from one or the other of its sibling languages. This
core, however, has not yet come to light in a distinct form. The almost total
absence in the Qur’an of direct parallels with the normative, midrashic or apocryphal biblical traditions makes it impossible to argue for a direct dependence
on written sources. Essential sections of the Qur’anic message were received
from the oral lore of a variety of religious communities who were rooted in the
widely dispersed and non-normative Jewish and Christian traditions. Not a single
written source, whether scriptural or liturgical, however, has been identified that
would satisfy the search for an underlying Ur-Qur’an, whether postulated as a
Christian hymnal or a Syro-Aramaic lectionary, that served as a written source
book for the Qur’an.
Surah 11 mimics the earlier Noah story of the prophet and his son in Lot’s wife’s demise and through the reach of the catastrophes creates a map of future influence and conquest.
At times the Surah’s discussed here seem to be early ones, but in each there are reasons to be much later, looking back on events rather than situated in a present. In both the sense of reinforcing belief and loyalty is clear. Obedience to Muhammad and Allah is clear, but mainly for t:
So do not be in doubt ˹O Prophet˺ about what those ˹pagans˺ worship. They worship nothing except what their forefathers worshipped before ˹them˺. And We will certainly give them their share ˹of punishment˺ in full, without any reduction.
Here we have the elimination of the past demonstrating Muhammad’s creation of a specific pagan pre-Islamic past while uprooting the new religion from Middle-East history. Or trying to.
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