Quran with text

Who Wrote the Quran? – Real Examination of the Authorship of the Qur’an

You have probably heard of the Holy Book called the Quran. Is it really divine sourced? Who is the

 You have probably heard of the Holy Book called ‘Qur’an’! What do you know about it? Perhaps you wonder who wrote the Quran? Is it really divinely sourced?  And who is the real author of ‘The Quran’? 

In this article, we will discuss the origin of the Quran in detail. We will criticize and look through all the available possibilities till we come to an objective conclusion. 

We will give answers to some frequently-asked questions about the Qur’an such as: Is the Quran Human-sourced? Does the Quran rely on Biblical sources? Did Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon Him) write the Quran? Did the Jews and Christians write the Quran? Did Meccan people write the Quran? And last but not least, did the devil write the Quran?

Morover, we will refer to the testimonies of both western and Arab scholars regarding this research. We will also discuss the linguistic miracle of the Quran and its superiority.

What Is the Quran?

The Qur’an is a holy book that was revealed 14 centuries ago. Muslims believe that the Quran is the final revelation from Allah (the Arabic name for The Only One God) and that it was sent to prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as a guidance for humanity. 

The Quran calls people to worship Allah the One true God. It contains many stories of the past nations and their prophets such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lut, Moses, Jesus, and others. It states the fact that all the previous prophets and messengers before it came with the same message from God.

The Quran states it is a confirmation of the previously revealed original scriptures. However, the previous scriptures were corrupted by people and were partially or totally lost.

The Quran retrieves their pure message. It doesn’t only contain details on the beliefs of the Jews and Christians, but it also evaluates, corrects, and comments on them.

Who Wrote the Quran (1)

Who Wrote the Quran? Is the Quran Human-Sourced?

Muslims argue the Quran was written by the scribes of Prophet Muhammad after being revealed from God. Some critics argue that human beings wrote the Quran and that it is human-sourced. However, looking through the Qur’an’s content, we find many sophisticated historical, religious, and cultural references which could be challenging for a human being to know.

Does the Quran Rely on Biblical Sources?

The Quran couldn’t be Biblically sourced as some critics suggested! Gabriel Reynolds, a Christian professor of Islamic Studies and Theology at the University of Notre Dame (USA), wrote a book in 2018 called “The Qur’an and the Bible” in which he tried to argue how the Qur’an discussed, evaluated, and even quoted texts in the Bible, the Talmud, and other ancient writings.

Actually this claim is not true for several reasons as The Bible was first accessible to Arab-speaking people when translated to Arabic, even partially, decades after the death of prophet Muhammad (PBUH). 

Besides, the Talmud was first translated in the 21st century and that was the time when the other writings (such as Apocrypha, manuscripts and hidden books) were only discovered tens of years ago. Moreover, The Quran comments on and corrects the Bible in many verses.

Yet, orientalists still arbitrarily stick to the humanity of the source of the Qur’an. 

Who Are the Possible Authors of the Quran?

Orientalists claim that the author of the Quran must be either Muhammad (PBUH), a well-informed scholar who taught him.

The source of the Quran was one of the significant debates of Orientalism for centuries. They don’t believe in supernatural intervention, so they had to hypothesize the natural source of such accumulated knowledge.

Who is the author of the Quran

Did Muhammad (PBUH) Write the Quran?

If we contextualize prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his environment, we would have more insights on this matter and we would reach a solid and convincing conclusion at the end.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born at the beginning of the 7th century in Mecca. He was illiterate like the majority of Mecca community. The local tribes used to call him “The Most truth-teller and Trustworthy Person” (Al- Sadiq Al-Ameen). He was raised among Meccan people who were pagans and didn’t have or cared about any knowledge of the previous scriptures or. This is because they were thousands of miles away from any civilization.

If we review the biography of Muhammad (PBUH), the places he visited, and the people he lived with, we’ll come to the conclusion that Muhammad (PBUH) couldn’t be the author of the Qur’an.

  1. Muhammad (PBUH) Acknowledged He Didn’t Write The Quran
  2. The High Moral Conduct Of Muhammad
  3. Muhammad (PBUH) Didn’t Aim for Leadership or Wealth
  4. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Never Allowed Exaggerating His Praise
  5. The linguistic Variance between Muhammad’s ٍpeech and the Qur’an
  6. The Qur’anic Prophesies Are Furthur beyond Muhammad’s Ability to Conclude
  7. The Content Of the Qur’an Was Further beyond Muhammad’s Ability to Author
  8. Muhammad Misinterpreted Some of the Revelations
  9. The Intermittency Of the Revelation
  10. The Qur’an reprimanded Muhammad (PBUH) on certain occasions
  11. Absence of Psychological and Emotional Variances in the Quran- Was the Qur’an Affected by Muhammad’s Psychological State?

We have discussed the above 11 arguments in detail in another article Was Muhammad A Prophet of God? Or He made it up?! I urge you to read the discussion there.

the origins of the Quran

Where Did the Quran Come from? – The Origins Of The Quran

Obviously, Muhammad (PBUH) is not author of the Quran the Quran.

Given the Prophet (PBUH) was illiterate, the notion of dedicated study of the non-Arabic books the Hebrew Bible, New Testaments, the Talmud, and other sources that were not yet discovered can’t be a solid argument for the source of the Qur’an. 

So, Islam critics don’t depend on this argument. Hence, we are still faced with the other two possibilities i.e. he learnt from a well-informed, international, and multi-tongue scholar who accompanied him throughout his life, or the All-Knowing and All-Powerful taught him.

We could agree by now that Muhammad (PBUH) couldn’t be the Quran’s author, but let us elaborate more to know who is the author of the Qur’an. It is important to consider two things when dealing with this point.

Firstly, Muhammad lived in or visited four places throughout his life; Bani Sa’idah where his wet nurse lived till the age of four, and Mecca where he was raised and lived till the age of 53. Besides, he went on two trade journeys to Syria that took a few months. The first one with his uncle at the age of 12, while the other at the age of 25. Finally, he lived in Medina where he lived the last ten years of his life from the age of 53 till 63.

And the second thing to consider is that the Qur’an was revealed in portions over the course of the Prophet’s life. From the beginning of the revelation at the age of 40 till his death at the age of 63.

Was The Quran Written By A Meccan source?

 Firstly, let’s see where Mecca is. Mecca lies in the Arabian Peninsula. At the time of the Qur’anic revelation (more than 1400 years ago), It was far away from any civilization. Its people were -as previously mentioned- pagans and illiterate.

For example, Tom Holland, a radical skeptic orientalist, elaborates on the importance of this issue saying:

“The key factor about the traditional account is that Muhammad receives his first revelation in Mecca. And Mecca stands at a fabulous remove from the World of the Roman Empire. … There were no Jews and no Christians in Mecca. … Muhammad was illiterate …if that is the case, … so how explain this text which is full of those sophisticated cultural references except by a miracle. It seems if we are to rely on the Muslim account of how the Qur’an came into being that The Divine must indeed have penetrated this Miracle.”

[The Origin of Islam, a YouTube video at Rancho Mirage]

Meccan People At The Time Of The Prophet Couldn’t Find A Suitable Candidate Who Could Have Taught Muhammad

When the Meccans searched for someone who could teach Muhammad (PBUH) in Mecca, they couldn’t find any. However, there were two possible men who are thought to be candidates; Waraqah Ibn Nawfal and a blacksmith Roman slave. 

Did Waraqah Write the Quran?

Waraqah couldn’t have written the Quran. He was a monotheistic Christian scholar who believed in one God and Jesus (AS) as his Messenger. 

It is impossible for him to be the author as he firstly met Muhammad (PBUH) after he had already received the revelation. 

Waraqah told Muhammad (PBUH) he would follow him. However, he died a few days after this incident and the revelation continued for 23 years after his death. 

Did The Blacksmith Roman Slave Write The Quran to Prophet Muhammad?

The blacksmith Roman slave couldn’t have written the Quran. He was an unqualified, non-Arabic speaker. Moreover, there is no evidence that he had such sophisticated knowledge as that mentioned in the Qur’an. 

Being a Roman (let alone being a slave and a blacksmith), does not make you a dictated multi-tongue scholar of Christianity, Judaism, ancient history …etc.

God comments on this claim in the Quran. [Qur’an 16-103]

Did Prophet Muhammad Write the Quran During His Travels?

Muhammad (PBUH) traveled two times on trade journeys. We will discuss both of them in the next few paragraphs.

A. The First Trade Journey of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Syria

The first time was in the company of his uncle at the age of 12. The importance of this journey for Islam critics is that he met there a Jewish monk called “Buhayra”.

This monk hosted the caravan because he saw signs of prophethood written in their scriptures on this group that he later recognized on the young future Prophet (PBUH). 

The monk advised his uncle to take him back to Mecca because if the Jews saw him, they would kill him as they did to previous prophets. So, his uncle took his advice and sent Muhammad (PBUH) back.

Some critics may argue that Buhayra was the teacher of Muhammad (PBUH) and that’s not possible for many reasons;

  • The meeting didn’t exceed a few hours which isn’t enough for anyone to receive the Qur’an with its detailed references.
  • All the people of the caravan attended the meeting and no one accused Muhammad (PBUH) of learning from Buhayra although later on some of them turned to be his enemies.
  • Others on the trip would have learned the same knowledge he gained. 
  • Muhammad (PBUH) was so young (12 years old) and the revelation started at the age of 40.
  • Also, whoever reads the narration of this incident will find that the monk was the questioner and Muhammad (PBUH) was the answerer, not the opposite.

B. The Second Trade Journey of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to Syria

The second time was at the age of 25 when he went out as a leader of a commercial caravan. This journey lasted for a few months that were mostly consumed on the way.

History does not include any reference of him learning anything from anyone. Most of the Meccans were traders (for longer periods) who were also not scholars (being a trader doesn’t equal scholar i.e. and arguing the contrary would contain bias behind).

For that reason, Islam critics don’t put this journey into consideration while searching for possible sources of the Qur’an because it doesn’t prove anything.

Did Jews and Christians in Medina Write the Quran?

Jews and Christians couldn’t have written the Quran. Muhammad (PBUH) migrated to Medina 13 years after the initiation of revelation, there he met Jewish and Christian people. Some critics argue that Muhammad (PBUH) may have learnt from them. Before taking a decision, we have to know the following:

#1. Most of the historical events were revealed in Mecca before migration to Medina.

How could they teach him before even seeing him?

#2. They sometimes misunderstood the revelation 

How come they teach something they cannot understand? 

For example, it was narrated on the authority of Udai Ibn Hatim (RA), who is an ex-Christian Muslim. He came asking Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) of Surat Bara’ah (chapter no.9):

“ٱتَّخَذُوٓا۟ أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَـٰنَهُمْ أَرْبَابًۭا مِّن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ…”

 “They (Jews and Christians) have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah”. [Qur’an 9:31]

He asked Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “We did not worship them”. Prophet Muhammad replied, “Didn’t they make some unlawful things -which Allah had prescribed- as lawful and then you followed them? And they made lawful things -which Allah had prescribed- as unlawful and then you followed them? This is the kind of worship they receive.’”  

[Tirmidhi 3095, Tabarani 218 and as-Sunan al-Kubra of Bayhaqi 20137]

#3. They used to sit with the Prophet (PBUH) and listen to him

There were people among Jews and Christians who accepted Islam, and others who rejected it despite knowing he was a true Prophet.

For example, Safiyya the daughter of Hoyay ibn  Akhtab (a Jewish leader) narrated: “When the Prophet (PBUH) came to Medina and he stayed in Qiba’, my father and my uncle went to him. They didn’t return till it was sunset. I went to them as I used to do but none of them turned to me out of the grief they had. I heard my uncle asking my father “Is it he (the Messenger we are waiting for)??”, my father answered “Yes, by Allah”, my uncle said “Did you know him?”, he answered “yes”, he asked “What’s inside you towards him?”, he replied “His Enmity, by Allah, as long as I live.”

#4. The prophet (PBUH) corrected their mistakes

The Qur’an contains many verses that condemn their wrong beliefs and acts.

For example,

“They have certainly disbelieved who say, ‘Allah is the Messiah (Jesus), the son of Mary’ ”   [Quran 5-72]

“And the Jews say, ‘The hand of Allah is chained.’ Chained are their hands, and cursed are they for what they say.”   [Qur’an 5-64]

#5. No historical narration mentions such a thing.

Prof. Dirazz concluded his research on this issue. He said:

“whoever appreciates the sanctity of history and believed in its events know Prophet Muhammad had no human teacher. For those who claim a Human taught Muhammad (PBUH), please tell us his name, who saw or narrate this reference? What kind of knowledge did he hear? When did it happen and where? Was Muhammad born on Mars? Or was he raised in a world other than ours?”

[Dirazz, an-Naba’ al-‘Adhim, p. 63]

Did The Devil (Satan) Write the Quran?

Some radical skeptics suggested the devil as the source of the accumulative knowledge of the Quran when failed to prove the above. It is enough to read the following verses to know whether it is plausible or not:

“So when you recite the Qur’an, [first] seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the expelled [from His mercy].”

[Qur’an 16-98]

“O you who have believed, do not follow the footsteps of Satan. And whoever follows the footsteps of Satan – indeed, he enjoins immorality and wrongdoing.”

  [Qur’an 24-21]

“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. (168) Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy. He only orders you to evil and immorality and to say about Allah what you do not know.”  

[Qur’an 2- 168:169)]

“And Satan will say when the matter has been concluded, ‘Indeed, Allah had promised you the promise of truth. And I promised you, but I betrayed you. But I had no authority over you except that I invited you, and you responded to me.’ ”  

[Qur’an 14-22]

“Satan promises them and arouses desire in them. But Satan does not promise them anything except delusion.”  

[Qur’an 4-120]

“[The hypocrites are] like the example of Satan when he says to man, ‘Disbelieve.’ But when he disbelieves, he says, ‘Indeed, I am disassociated from you. Indeed, I fear Allah, Lord of the worlds.’ ”

[Qur’an 59-16]

A devil who tells people to be just, give charity, be good to parents, and never follow the devil is not a devil.

What Is The Real Origin of The Quran?

The origin of the Quran appears divine. The Qur’an linguistic style suggests there is a superior entity speaking. It orders Muhammad to say he was not more than a man receiving revelation from God. He didn’t hold the benefit or harm for anybody, nor did he know the unseen except through God.

God said in the Qur’an:

“Say, ‘I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God.’ ”   [Qur’an 18:110] 

“Say, [O Muhammad], ‘I do not tell you that I have the depositories [containing the provision] of Allah or that I know the unseen, nor do I tell you that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me.’ ”   [Qur’an 6-50] 

“Say, ‘I hold not for myself [the power of] benefit or harm, except what Allah has willed. And if I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of good tidings to a people who believe.’ ”   [Qur’an 7-188] 

“[It is] a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. And if Muhammad had made up about Us some [false] sayings, We would have seized him by the right hand; Then We would have cut from him the aorta. And there is no one of you who could prevent [Us] from him.”   [Qur’an 69-43:47] 

“O Messenger, announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message.”   [Qur’an 5-:67]

The commands were clear to Muhammad throughout the whole Qur’an indicating his servitude, and the superiority of the Qur’anic source.

The Challenge Of Producing A Similar Book Like Quran

God raised a challenge to humanity to prove the Qur’an is his word. God says in the Quran: “And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful.”   [Qur’an 2:23]

If you believe this book is authored by Muhammad or any human being, do the following: gather all the human poets and the most eloquent authors and produce a chapter like that of the Qur’an.

the origin of the Quran

What do Western scholars Say About “who wrote the Quran”?

Professor David Thomas, an emeritus Professor of Christianity and Islam at the University of Birmingham said:

“Precisely what Muḥammad knew about Christianity and its teachings remains unclear. A Christian presence in the Ḥijāz and his native Mecca is less easy to identify. It is the same with the Qurʾān. The fact that it has within it a great deal of detailed information about Christians, including monks and priests, and their beliefs about the Trinity, Incarnation, and person of Jesus is undeniable. And it seems just as clear that it assumes an advanced degree of knowledge of Abraham, Moses, and other biblical figures, about whom it tends to comment rather than narrate, as though contributing to an ongoing conversation concerning the meaning and importance of their deeds and words. But exactly how this relates to contemporary Christian beliefs, doctrines, and teachings has long been the object of investigations that have so far not yielded much that lies beyond dispute.“

[David Thomas et al (eds), Christian-Muslim Relations, pp. 2-3]

To Sum Up – Who Wrote The Quran And How Was It Put Together?

The Quran was written by God Almighty. According to the evidence mentioned above, It is clear there is no other rational possibility of the source of the Quran.

The Quran’s content, linguistic miracle, and superiority suggest it is from God Almighty. God says in the Quran:

“Do they not then reflect on the Quran? Had it been from anyone other than Allah, they would have certainly found many inconsistencies in it.”

 [Qur’an 4:82]

God revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) throughout his life to convey God’s message of all prophets, teach people, and retrieve the corrupted scriptures.

When God revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), he memorized it, and likewise, his companions did. They wrote the Quran down till the Quran was completed by the death of Prophet Muhammad. At that time, the Quran was collected in one book at the time of the first Caliph Abu Bakr.

Conclusion | What Is the original source of the Quran?

Muslims believe the Quran is sent by God to humanity. And according to the evidence above, Prophet Muhammad could not the source of writing the Quran, neither anyone of the people he met.

It is obvious that the Qur’an’s content wasn’t authored by Muhammad (PBUH) who was morally elevated and illiterate. And by studying the Quranic verses we would find that it directed its speech to Muhammad (PBUH) as a learner not an author. Also, by reviewing history we find that he wasn’t taught by any human being.

The whole article showed the historical context of the Qur’an must be from God, and that’s not the only aspect.

The Qur’an’s language is so beautiful and affecting. Its linguistic style is of a high level of eloquence that no one could get anything similar. Try listening.

The Qur’an’s teaching is the strongest evidence it is from God. It says it is a confirmation of the revelations before, and orders us to believe in all Messengers and revelations Allah has sent. It has teachings for purifying oneself, learning about our Creator, the purpose of our life, and the Hereafter and has flexible rules for organizing our lives starting from the small details concerning the small family till the whole society and the whole world. When are you going to start reading it?

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About Samaa Mohammad

Samaa Muhammad is an academic Pharmacy Lecturer, web writer, and Islamic researcher. Besides Samaa's work in the academic field at Cairo University, She has been researching in several Islamic fields; such as The Quran and Sunnah. Moreover, she reads in comparative religion, especially Christianity and Judaism. Samaa Muhammad has several articles discussing The authorship of The Quran and The Bible, The True God, and The True Religion as well. Her articles are academic, objective, and well-discussed. Samaa believes everyone has the right to ask, read, and learn. So, she is always keen on self-learning and helping others to learn as well.

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