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More problems with the story of Lot
"And his people gave NO answer but this: They said, "Drive them out of your
city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" [Sura 7:82 & 27:56].
Yet: "But his people gave NO answer but this: They said: "Bring us the Wrath of
Allah if thou tellest the truth." [Sura 29:29]. Obviously these answers are
They are two different questions asked at two different times, and thus, the answers too are different. We will study the evidence of this below. It appears that the author of this list is attempting to make the case that the word "no" in the first two verses implies that the people of prophet Lot (pbuh) never said any other words to him but those found in the first two examples. However, this is a false argument for two reasons:
First of all: We need to notice that the first verse presented by the author, Al-A'araf(7):82, is one verse in a group of five (verses 80-84) which are intended to summarize the whole ministry on Lot in only five verses. It is one in a list of very short stories, narrated one after the other, each one giving a broad summary of the life of a given prophet, the major sin of his people, and how God dealt with each one. The general theme is one of a list of major sins and how God dealt with each people. Noah, Hood, Salih, Lot, Shuaib.., each one's story is run off in rapid-fire succession in only a few verses, each one dealing only with the broadest possible summary of their ministry and their people's response.
Similarly, the second verse presented by him, Al-Namil(27):56, is once again a five verse summary of the whole mission of Lot (verses 54-58). Once again, it is part of a list of extremely short summaries of the ministries of a list of prophets, their people's major sins, and how God dealt with them. Of the prophets mentioned in this list is Lot. In both of these cases the moral is to notice how these people's arrogance and rejection was stamped out quite effortlessly by God, one after the other, till they became naught but tales told to others in a couple of pages. Thus can we too have our arrogance and evil just as quickly stamped out by Allah if we follow in their footsteps.
In both cases the theme is the same throughout. They both deal with very briefly casting light on the most major sin of a given people, their prophet's admonition of them in this major sin, their response, and how God dealt with them. Both of the first two examples do not concern themselves with many side-issues such as these people's secondary sins or vices. In both of these cases the question presented by prophet Lot (pbuh) was the same. It only dealt with their "major" sin, their sodomy. Fittingly, in both cases the answer is exactly same.
Now let us look at a different case. The third verse selected by this author, Al-Ankaboot(29):29, is part of a slightly longer narration of the whole ministry of Lot in only seven verses (verses 28-35). In this case the life of prophet Lot is taken up in a little more detail and closely intertwined with the even longer story of prophet Abraham (pbuh) which itself starts way back at verse 16. In this case more of the side issues and lesser sins of his people are dealt with. In this case we also notice that the question asked by prophet Lot is different than in the first two cases. This time it is a little more comprehensive. Fittingly, in this new situation the answer too is different in some of its details.
What does this all mean? Well, hopefully it will not be considered assuming too much to presume that we can agree that Lot's ministry and preaching to his people consisted of more than two minutes and one sentence which he said only once. It would then be logical to assume that he might have met with his people on many occasions, that he might have spoken to them in the market places, in the streets, in their homes, and in their meeting places. None of the accounts listed by this author specifies a well defined date, occasion, or event, such as saying for example "This is what prophet Lot said on the 16th of January 502 BC while in the town hall and during his one and only trial in front of the governor of that town," etc. or to mention that the person he spoke to was a very specific member of Lot's people, such as a mayor or Governor, whom he is know to have never met nor spoken to except on one very specific and restricted occasion. This is the first major piece of evidence we must notice and it is indeed an important one, as shall be expounded upon shortly by the will of Allah.
Continuing, hopefully we can further agree that the words of admonition prophet Lot spoke to his people during all of these visits and continuous preaching might exceed a one line sentence. And hopefully we can further agree that this would especially be the case with regard to his tribe's "major" sin. In other words if a given tribe is well known for murder but has also been known on occasion to lie, then it would be natural to assume that their prophet would admonish them at times for their lying and at times for their murder, however, his admonition in murder would be much more continuous, diverse, frequent, and varied in nature. When we look at the verses selected by this author we find that this is indeed held out by the text.
In the first two verses the author has chosen, the verses only deal with
the most major aspects of Lot's ministry. If one of us were asked to summarize the
ministry of Lot in three sentences, then obviously we would scan the whole life of Lot for
the specific occasions which best embodied the broadest possible summary of his mission.
Similarly, for this very same reason, the specific admonition of Lot (pbuh) to his people
which was selected by God is one where he only mentioned to them their sodomy, their
"major" or most well known sin. However, in the third verse he has selected (the
longer narration), God is giving us a little more insight into some of the secondary
details of Lot's ministry, and for this reason, He chose to present Lot's words on a
different occasion wherein he admonished his people not only in their major sin, but also
in their other sins which they used to commit. In this case the admonition of Lot (pbuh)
mentions three vices: (1)Their sodomy, (2)their banditry (their robbery of travelers), and
(3)their further evil over and above these two which they used to practiced in their
gatherings. So this implies a different admonition in a different time and place.
Fittingly, the answer too is different in its details, but the same as the first two in
its general attitude towards his advice. In other words, the author of this list is
comparing two different questions to one another and requiring that the answer to both be
exactly the same, otherwise he shall consider them a "contradiction."
Secondly: The Arabic construct "fama kaana jawaba qaumihi illa an qaloo" ("but the reply of his people was naught but that they said..") is a popular construct used to imply someone snubbing or looking down upon someone else when spoken to. It is used to imply that the speaker did not want to give the person the time of day. It implies a restricted answer to a specific question, otherwise, if his claims were true then the verse would not have said "but their reply (to that specific question) was naught but to say," rather, it would have said "but they never spoke to him but to say."
We need to notice that the first two verses say that their
"REPLY" was naught but to say
But their "reply" to what?
The answer is "the reply to the STATED QUESTION." But the stated question is NOT
THE SAME in both cases. In the absence of the text of both verses restricting both
questions to having occurred in a specific time, place and occasion, then the only way to
force the two questions to be one is to force Lot's ministry to be restricted to only one
question and one answer which they said to one-another only once in passing. In other
words, the only way he can have his desired "contradiction" is for him to allege
that Lot got up one day, said one sentence to his people, they replied with one sentence,
and then God killed them all. In this manner he can obtain his desired
"contradiction" by forcing both questions and both answers to be the same ones,
despite their obvious textual differences.
Such concise narrations are indeed a hallmark of the noble Qur'an. In many places throughout the Qur'an God very briefly narrates the story of a given prophet in only a few verses while placing emphasis on a given aspect of that prophet's ministry as the topic at hand requires. For example, Al-Thariat(51):38-40 contains a three-verse summary of whole mission of Moses (pbuh). It says:
"And in Moses too [there is a portent] when We sent him to Pharaoh with a manifest authority. But he turned away along with his hosts and said: 'A sorcerer or a madman.' So We took him and his hosts and discarded them in the sea while he was blameworthy."
However, in Al-Muminoon(23)"45-49 we find another similar very concise narration of the ministry of prophet Moses (pbuh). In this one the verses say:
"Then We sent Moses and His brother Aaron with Our signs and manifest authority. To Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they scorned and were arrogant, They said: 'shall we believe in two men like ourselves and their people are servile to us?' So they denied them both, therefore they became of those who were destroyed. And indeed we gave Moses the Scripture so that they might be guided."
So now, according the current author's logic, do these two passages too "contradict" one another?
These first three verses sum up the whole ministry of Moses (pbuh) in about one paragraph, however, does this mean that it all occurred in a couple of minutes while Moses was standing before Pharaoh? Of course not. For the details of what happened in-between we need to go to other verses which fill in the picture more completely. This is actually part of the beauty and miracle of the noble Qur'an in that it only presents in each case just enough detail in each case in order to get the intended point across without getting into useless "trim." When a different issue is discussed then the details related to that issue are then presented clearly, directly, and only in as far as is pertinent to the topic at hand. There are no frivolous details in the Qur'an that have no use to the reader such as describing fifty generations of ancestors for a given obscure person, or what colors a given obscure engraver used to embroider his work in, etc.
Would it then be a contradiction if the Qur'an were to after recounting
the above three verses of the ministry of Moses to then narrate in a different set of
verses (like Al-Muminoon(23)"45-49) more details of a given occurrence in his
ministry which "fill out" the picture a little and, for example, describe in
more detail how exactly the "manifest authority" of Moses (pbuh) was displayed
to Pharaoh through his many miracles?
There is a distinct difference between this situation and between saying that on a very specific and well defined time, date, and location a person said two different things. For example, in the Bible, we find two different version of one story that occurred in a very "specific" time and "specific" place, specifically the trial of Jesus before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. In Matthew 27:11-14 Mark 15:1-5 and Luke 23:1-4 Jesus said "Thou sayest" and NOTHING ELSE and he adamantly refused to answer any more of the governor's questions. Jesus refusal to answer the questions even went so far as to cause Pilate to "marvel." However, in John 18:33-38 we are told that in this very same trial, on this very same day, in front of the very same person, and in the very same room, Jesus (pbuh) said many things and answered more than one question in detail, responding to all of the questions of the governor and refusing to answer none. No "marveling" by Pilate. No refusal of Jesus (pbuh) to answer. Same time, same place, same people, different claims.
What this author has just attempted to do is to generate a case where,
in order to be fair, it will then be permissible to generalize the specific contradiction
between Matthew 27:11-14 Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-4, John 18:33-38 to now also include any
instance where Jesus (pbuh) is claimed to have said anything at all to the Jews without it
being restricted to differing claims regarding matters which occurred on a specific time,
place, occasion, and in front of a specific person.
Back to Responses to the so called "Contradictions" in the Noble Quran.
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