If you don’t believe in the divine origin of the Qur’an, you’ve got to believe it came from somewhere. This impetus is leading a few Western scholars of Islam to quietly investigate the origins of the Qur’an, offering radically new theories about the text’s meaning and the rise of Islam. Were the early Muslims captivated by Jewish messianism? Was “to kill” really a mistranslation of “to fight”? Are the houris of paradise really “white raisins”? The dearth of historical references to the Qur’an within the first 100 years of Islam is helping to fuel the research, which applies techniques previously used to critique the Bible. “I think in trying to reconstruct what happened, they went off the deep end,” says one professor about this revisionist scholarship, “but they were asking the right questions.” However, a Muslim Islamic studies professor adds that the “implications of some of the revisionist scholarship is to say that the Qur’an is not an authentic book.”
Shahed Amanullah is editor-in-chief of altmuslim.com.