Difficulties in the Qur’an
Contradictions / Difficulties in the Qur’an
The purpose of this page
We do not reject the Qur’an because of this list of contradictions. There are many reasons of much more substantial nature why we do not believe the Qur’an to be from the one true God. You will find those discussed on other pages of this web site (e.g. , ). This page is not intended as an attack on the Qur’an. Sadly, many Muslims have become unnecessarily aggravated because they did not understand the purpose of this collection.
It is my experience that many Muslims try to evade a discussion of the real issues regarding the truth of Islam and Christianity by pushing “101 Bible Contradictions” (or similar compilations) into our face. Muslim web sites abound in articles and collections attacking the integrity of the Bible by means of contradiction lists. Many have the attitude that “because the Bible is riddled with contradictions, errors, absurdities and problems, there is no need for me to make the effort to understand it.” With such an attitude no real dialog can develop. Our goal is to get beyond superficial word games to discussing the relevant core issues over which we differ.
It has mostly proven useless to explain one set of contradictions because there is always another one that can be added to the list. It is important to be able to give explanations of the difficult Biblical passages including those that seem contradictory. We are working hard to provide good answers to honest questions in our Bible Commentary and the section on alleged Bible contradictions. However, most Muslims’ rejection of the Bible is not based on such contradiction lists. For most Muslims this rejection is an integral part of their faith long before they have ever seen any such “contradictions”. These lists are usually only used as a convenient means to justify a rejection of the Bible which would otherwise be very difficult to explain rationally.
Counteracting this evasive or even hostile attitude is the purpose of this page. If both sides can come to the recognition that their own book, the scripture which is the basis of their faith, be it the Bible or the Qur’an, contains some very difficult passages which might even look like plain errors or logical contradictions (depending on the level of hostility employed when looking at it), then we might be more forgiving towards the other and be motivated to not judge prematurely but to make a serious effort to understand each of the books and the essential teachings of the respective faith in a deeper way before we come to a decision why we do or do not believe them.
Debates about contradictions are rarely fruitful because people tend to insist reading the texts of the opponent in the most rigid and literal manner to make it look bad, while being very lenient with their own book, allowing extra assumptions, metaphorical interpretations and other means to somehow explain how this can be understood without being a contradiction.
Some Muslims have proven by their provided responses that they possess a quite ingenious and creative mind. It is for our readers to decide whether or not the provided answers are fully satisfactory for them. It is not for me to make that decision on their behalf. This is one reason that I will not remove even those contradictions that I find answered to my personal satisfaction. A second reason is that keeping the effectively answered contradictions on this site will help Muslims and Christians who don’t know the possible responses to contradictions they encountered elsewhere, to find them here. As such this page can be a valuable resource for both Christians and Muslims, similar to various Christian pages about seeming Bible contradictions. To compare like with like, I will make the strongest possible case for something being contradictory and wrong, similar to the Muslim attacks on the Bible. The difference to Muslim web sites is that we give the right of response.
It is our prayer that even this page may help Muslims and Christians to make progress in mutual understanding, to come to a proper perspective regarding the “contradictions issue” and to a realization what the real issues are which we need to concentrate on in our dialogs and debates.
Having clarified the purpose of this page we now challenge our Muslim friends with the following compilation to rethink their approach for determining the truth of scripture.
Because the Bible seemingly contains errors therefore the Bible is not God’s word. The Qur’an on the other hand is free from discrepancies and this is proof that the Qur’an is from God since Sura 4:82 states:
Do they not ponder on the Qur’an?
Had it been from other than Allah,
they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.
See also this Muslim presentation: The no-contradiction challenge of the Qur’an.
But reality is not as simple as many would want us believe.
There are three basic categories of contradictions in the Qur’an:
- Internal contradictions: Verses contradicting each other or the laws of logic
- External errors: Verses contradicting the facts of history or science
- Verses contradicting the earlier revelations
For your convenience: Download all contradictions in a .zip format.
If you are able to resolve to your own satisfaction the Qur’an problems presented here, then probably you will be able to understand that Christians can with a similar effort explain to their own satisfaction most of the difficulties in the Bible. Try to be fair and evaluate the Bible with an equal standard as the Qur’an. Don’t judge it with harsher criteria than you are ready to use when reading the Qur’an. Even better, read the Bible to understand its meaning and message and not to find fault with it on such superficial levels.
Think about this: Errors in the Bible prove that the Qur’an is not from God.
To several of the presented problems Muslim responses are available on our site. Links to the individual responses will be given usually at the bottom of the pages dealing with the specific issue. If you want to contribute your personal response to one of the topics below I need to insist that you do this in this format also outlining my policy on linking or displaying Muslim responses, as well as the issue of using English translations of the Qur’an. But some think my offer is dishonest. There are further Muslim responses to this summary page available.
Important notice: This is an overview page which only gives short summaries of the observed contradictions. Before you respond to any of them, first click on the link to the detailed discussion of the individual contradiction!Internal Contradictions:
- Who suffers loss if Muhammad was wrong? Sura 34:50 commands Muhammad to say, “If I go astray, I go astray only to my own loss,” which is a severe factual error in the Qur’an as well as contradicting the teaching of the Qur’an in a number of other verses.
- Allah, Adam, and the Angels. There are a great number of problems and inconsistencies between the several accounts of Adam’s creation, Allah’s command to prostrate before Adam, Satans refusal, etc.
- Who Was the First Muslim? Muhammad [6:14, 163], Moses [7:143], some Egyptians [26:51], or Abraham [2:127-133, 3:67] or Adam, the first man who also received inspiration from Allah [2:37]?
- Can Allah be seen and did Muhammad see his Lord? Yes [S. 53:1-18, 81:15-29], No [6:102-103, 42:51].
- Were Warners Sent to All Mankind Before Muhammad? Allah had supposedly sent warners to every people [10:47, 16:35-36, 35:24], Abraham and Ishmael are specifically claimed to have visited Mecca and built the Kaaba [2:125-129]. Yet, Muhammad supposedly is sent to a people who never had a messenger before [28:46, 32:3, 34:44, 36:2-6]. This article also raises other issues: What about Hud and Salih who supposedly were sent to the Arabs? What about the Book that was supposedly given to Ishmael? Etc.
- What will be the food for the people in Hell? The food for the people in Hell will be only “Dhari” [Sura 88:6], or only foul pus from the washing of wounds [S. 69:36], or will they also get to eat from the tree of Zaqqum [S. 37:66]? Together, these verses constitute three contradictions.
- Can Angels Cause the Death of People? The Qur’an attacks those who worship anyone besides God (e.g. angels or prophets) because those can neither create, nor give life, nor cause anyone to die. Yet, the Qur’an explicitly states that one angel or several angels are causing certain people to die [Sura 4:97, 16:28, 32, 32:11].
- Confusion Concerning Identity of the Spirit and Gabriel (a long discussion of dozens of references)
- ‘Iddah rules for divorced and widowed women appear to be arbitrary and inconsistent.
- Is there a minimum age of marriage for girls?
- To Marry or Not to Marry? The Qur’an forbids believers to marry idolatrous women [Sura 2:221], and calls Christians idolaters and unbelievers [9:28-33], but still allows Muslims to marry Christian women [5:5].
- Will it be accepted of them or not?
- Will Allah reward the good deeds of Unbelievers? S. 9:17 and 9:69 clearly say no. However, S. 99:7 implies yes. Moreover, S. 2:62 promises Christians reward for their good deeds. But S. 9:28-33; 5:17, 72-73 calls Christians idolaters, and S. 9:17 is very clear that idolaters will have no reward.
- Should Muslims Accept Peace or Not?
- Fighting All People Until They Do What?
- Compel them or Not?
- Can They Disbelieve in the Last Day and be Safe?
- Should Muslims show kindness to their parents? On the one hand, the Quran commands all Muslims to show kindness to their parents, even if they are disbelievers [17:23-24, 31:14-15, 29:8, etc.]. On the other hand, it demands not to show any love or friendship to those who oppose Muhammad, even if they are their parents [9:23, 58:22].
- Can one be a believer in God and oppose Muhammad at the same time?
- How many mothers does a Muslim have? Only one [58:2, the woman who gave birth and none else], or two [4:23, including the mother who nursed him], or at least ten [33:6]?
- And it just doesn’t add up: Sura 4:11-12 and 4:176 state the Qur’anic inheritance law. When a man dies, and is leaving behind three daughters, his two parents and his wife, they will receive the respective shares of 2/3 for the 3 daughters together, 1/3 for the parents together [both according to verse 4:11] and 1/8 for the wife [4:12] which adds up to more than the available estate. A second example: A man leaves only his mother, his wife and two sisters, then they receive 1/3 [mother, 4:11], 1/4 [wife, 4:12] and 2/3 [the two sisters, 4:176], which again adds up to 15/12 of the available property.
- How many angels were talking to Mary? When the Qur’an speaks about the announciation of the birth of Jesus to the virgin Mary, Sura 3:42,45 speaks about (several) angels while it is only one in Sura 19:17-21. (This article has received many Muslim responses which are quoted or linked and/or discussed at the end of the article.)
- Further numerical discrepancies Does Allah’s day equal to 1,000 human years (Sura 22:47, 32:5) or 50,000 human years (Sura 70:4)? — According to Sura 56:7 there will be THREE distinct groups of people at the Last Judgement, but 90:18-19, 99:6-8, etc. mention only TWO groups. — There are conflicting views on who takes the souls at death: THE Angel of Death [32:11], THE angels (plural) [47:27] but also “It is Allah that takes the souls (of men) at death.” [39:42] Angels have 2, 3, or 4 pairs of wings [35:1]; but Gabriel had 600 wings. [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 455]
- Are angels protectors? “NO protector besides Allah” [2:107, 29:22]. But in Sura 41:31 the angels themselves say: “We are your protectors in this life and the Hereafter.” And also in other suras is their role described as guarding [13:11, 50:17-18] and protecting [82:10].
- Is Allah the only Wali? On the one hand, Allah is supposedly the only wali (protector, helper, friend) [9:116, 17:111, 32:4, 42:28], on the other hand, the messenger and the believers are walis [5:55, 9:71], Allah has walis [10:62], and he raises walis [4:75].
- Does Allah Act Alone Or Does He Have Partners That Assist Him?
- Is Allah the Only Judge or Not?
- Is Allah the only sovereign or isn’t he?
- Are all obedient and prostrating to Allah? That is the claim in 16:49 and 30:26, but dozens of verses speak of the proud disobedience of Satan [7:11, 15:28-31, 17:61, 20:116, 38:71-74, 18:50] as well of many different human beings who reject His commands and His revelations.
- Does Allah forgive shirk? Shirk is considered the worst of all sins, but the author of the Qur’an seems unable to decide if Allah will ever forgive it or not. No [4:48, 116], Yes [4:153, 25:68-71]. Abraham committed this sin of polytheism as he takes moon, sun, stars to be his Lord [6:76-78], yet Muslims believe that all prophets are without any sin.
- Abraham and the Sun
- Abraham’s Monotheism
- Abraham’s Progeny? How the Qur’an messed up Abraham’s family tree
- Did All Prophets Receive the Same Book?
- The event of worship of the golden calf: The Israelites repented about worshipping the golden calf BEFORE Moses returned from the mountain [7:149], yet they refused to repent but rather continued to worship the calf until Moses came back [20:91]. Does Aaron share in their guilt? No [20:85-90], yes [20:92, 7:151].
- Was Jonah cast on the desert shore or was he not? “Then We cast him on a desert shore while he was sick” [37:145] “Had not Grace from his Lord reached him, he would indeed have been cast off on the naked shore while he was reprobate.” [68:49]
- Moses and the Injil? Jesus is born more than 1,000 years after Moses, but in 7:157 Allah speaks to Moses about what is written in the Injil [the book given to Jesus].
- Can slander of chaste women be forgiven? Yes [24:5], No [24:23].
- How do we receive the record on Judgment Day? On Judgement day the lost people are given the Record (of their bad deeds): Behind their back [84:10], or in their left hand [69:25].
- Can angels disobey? No angel is arrogant, they all obey Allah [16:49-50], but: “And behold, we said to the ANGELS: ‘Bow down to Adam’. And THEY bowed down, EXCEPT Iblis. He refused and was haughty.” [2:34]. This article includes links to answers to four Muslim responses.
- How many wings does an angel have? Angels have 2, 3, or 4 wings [35:1]; but Gabriel had 600 wings according to Sahih al-Bukhari.
- Is Satan an angel or a jinn?
- Three contradictions in 2:97 and 16:101-103 Who brings the revelation from Allah to Muhammad? The ANGEL Gabriel [2:97], or the Holy Spirit [16:102]? The new revelation confirms the old [2:97] or substitutes it [16:101]? The Qur’an is PURE Arabic [16:103] but there are numerous foreign, non-Arabic words in it.
- Do not say, “Three”!? It is impossible to recite Sura 4:171 without transgressing the command contained in it.
- The infinite loop problem Sura 26:192,195,196: “It (the Qur’an) is indeed a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds, … in clear Arabic speech and indeed IT (the Qur’an) is in the writings of the earlier (prophets).” Now, the ‘earlier writings’ are the Torah and the Injil for example, written in Hebrew and Greek. HOW can an ARABIC Qur’an be contained in books of other languages? Furthermore, it would have to contain this very passage of the Qur’an since the Qur’an is properly contained in them. Hence these earlier writings have to be contained in yet other earlier writings and we are in an infinite loop, which is absurd.
- Is the Torah like the Qur’an, or is it not? The Muslim claim of the corruption of the Bible leads to a contradiction between S. 2:24 and 17:88 on the one hand, and 28:49 and 46:10 on the other.
- Should Jews and Christians follow the Bible or the Quran?
- “An old woman” and God’s character About the story of Lot: “So we delivered him and his family, – all exept an old woman who lingered behind.” [Sura 26:170-171] And again: “But we saved him and his family, exept his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. [Sura 7:83]. Either this is a contradiction or if indeed Lot’s wife is derogatorily called “an old woman” then this does not show much respect for her as a wife of a prophet.
- 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 different.
- The “pleasure” of Allah? Is God’s action of punishment or mercy and guidance or misguidance arbitrary?
- Did Abraham smash the idols? The accounts of Abraham, Suras 19:41-49, 6:74-83 differ quite a bit from Sura 21:51-59. While in Sura 21 Abraham confronts his people strongly, and even destroys the idols, in Sura 19 Abraham shuts up after his father threatens him to stone him for speaking out against the idols. And he seems not only to become silent, but even to leave the area (“turning away from them all”).
- What about Noah’s son? According to Sura 21:76, Noah and his family is saved from the flood, and Sura 37:77 confirms that his seed survived. But Sura 11:42-43 reports that Noah’s son drowns.
- Was Noah driven out? “Before them *the people of Noah* rejected (their messenger): They rejected Our servant and said, ‘Here is One possessed!’ And he was driven out.” [Sura 54:9] Now, if he is driven out [expelled from their country] how come they can scoff at him while he is building the ark since we read “Forthwith he (starts) constructing the Ark: Every time that the Chiefs of *his people* passed by him, they threw ridicule on him.” [Sura 11:38] He cannot be both: Driven out and near enough that they can regularly pass by.
- Pharaoh’s Magicians: Muslims or Rejectors of Faith? Did the Magicians of Pharaoh, Egyptians, become believers in the God of Moses [7:103-126; 20:56-73; S. 26:29-51] or did only Israelites believe in Moses [10:83]?
- How many gods did the Egyptians worship?
- Pharaoh’s repentance in the face of death? According to Sura 10:90-92, Pharaoh repented “in the sight of death” and was saved. But Sura 4:18 says that such a thing can’t happen.
- Abrogation? “The words of the Lord are perfect in truth and justice; there is NONE who can change His words.” [Sura 6:115] Also see 6:34 and 10:64. But then Allah (Muhammad?) sees the need to exchange some of them for “better ones” [Sura 2:106, 16:101]. And it is not for ignorant people to question Allah because of such practices!
- Guiding to truth? “Say: ‘God – He guides to the truth; and which is worthier to be followed …?” [Sura 10:35] But how much is left over of this worthiness when we also read: “Allah leads astray whom he pleases, and he guides whom He pleases, …” [Sura 14:4]. And how do we know in which of Allah’s categories of pleasure we fall? How sure can a Muslim be that he is one of those guided right and not one of those led astray?
- What is the punishment for adultery? Flogging with a 100 stripes (men and women) [24:2], “confine them to houses until death do claim them (lifelong house arrest – for the women) [4:15]. For men: “If they repent and amend, leave them alone” [4:16]. 24:2 contradicts both the procedure for women and men in Sura 4. And why is the punishment for women and men equal in Sura 24 but different in Sura 4?
- How are the sexually immoral supposed to be punished?
- The Problem of Divine Sovereignty, Predestination, Salvation and Human Free Will
- Who suffers the consequence of sins? The Qur’an declares that everyone will be held responsible only for his own sins [S. 17:13-15, 53:38-42]. Yet, the Qur’an accuses the Jews of Muhammad’s day for the sins committed some 2000 years earlier by other Jews, e.g. worshipping the Golden Calf idol.
- Will Christians enter Paradise or go to Hell? Sura 2:62 and 5:69 say “Yes”, Sura 5:72 (just 3 verses later) and 3:85 say “No”.
- God alone or also men? Clear or incomprehensible? The Qur’an is “clear Arabic speech.” [16:103] Yet “NONE knows its interpretation, save only Allah.” [3:7]. Actually, “men of understanding do grasp it.” [3:7]
- Was Pharaoh Drowned or Saved when chasing Moses and the Israelites? Saved [10:92], drowned [28:40, 17:103, 43:55].
- When Commanded Pharaoh the Killing of the Sons? When Moses was a Prophet and spoke God’s truth to Pharaoh [40:23-25] or when he was still an infant [20:38-39]?
- When/how are the fates determined? “The night of power is better than a thousand months. The angels and spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees.” [97:3,4] “Lo! We revealed it on a blessed night.” [44:3] To Muslims, the “Night of Power” is a blessed night on which fates are settled and on which everything relating to life, death, etc., which occurs throughout the year is decreed. It is said to be the night on which Allah’s decrees for the year are brought down to the earthly plane. In other words, matters of creation are decreed a year at a time. Contradicting this, Sura 57:22 says, “No affliction befalls in the earth or in your selves, but it is in a Book before we create it.” This means it is written in the Preserved Tablet, being totally fixed in Allah’s knowledge before anyone was created. All of the above is contradicted by “And every man’s fate We have fastened to his own neck.” This says that man alone is responsible for what he does and what happens to him. [17:13]
- Wine: Good or bad? Strong drink and … are only an infamy of Satan’s handiwork. [5:90, also 2:219]. Yet on the other hand in Paradise are rivers of wine [47:15, also 83:22,25]. How does Satan’s handiwork get into Paradise?
- Good News of Painful Torture? Obviously, announcing torment and suffering to anyone is bad news, not good news. However, the Qur’an announces the good news of painful torment [3:21, 4:138, 9:3, 9:34, 31:7, 45:8, and 84:24].
- Jinns and men created for worship or for Hell? Created only to serve God [Sura 51:56], many of them made for Hell [Sura 7:179].
- Preferred for Hell? S. 17:70 says that Allah prefers (all) the children of Adam over many of his creatures, but S. 98:6 declares the majority of men to be the worst of creatures, many of them being even created specifically for Hell (S. 7:179).
- Will people stay in Hell forever, or not?
- Will all Muslims go to Hell? According to Sura 19:71 every Muslim will go to Hell (for at least some time), while another passage states that those who die in Jihad will go to Paradise immediately.
- Will Allah disgrace Muslims? On the day of judgment Allah will not humiliate or disgrace the Prophet and those who believe in him [S. 66:8]. However, 19:71 says that everyone will enter Hell, and 3:192 states that whomsoever Allah sends to Hell, is disgraced thereby.
- Will Jesus burn in Hell? Jesus is raised to Allah, [Sura 4:158], near stationed with him [Sura 3:45], worshiped by millions of Christians, yet Sura 21:98 says, that all that are worshiped by men besides Allah will burn in Hell together with those who worship them.
- Is Jesus God or Not? In Sura 16:17, 20-21 and S. 25:3 we find a criterion to distinguish the true God from false gods. Yet, according to S. 3:49, 55, 4:157-158, 5:110, 6:2, and 38:71-72 Jesus satisfies the definition and should be considered true Deity.
- Is Jesus Like Adam? S. 3:59 makes this claim, but how many aspects of likeness are there really?
- Can there be a son without a consort? Allah cannot have a son without a consort [Sura 6:101], but Mary can have a son without a consort because that is easy for Allah [Sura 19:21].
- Who is the father of Jesus? A more involved argument that is difficult to summarize in one sentence.
- Begetting and Self-sufficiency A self-contradiction on account of confused terminology.
- Could Allah have a son? Sura 39:4 affirms and Sura 6:101 denies this possibility.
- Did Jesus Die already? Sura 3:144 states that all messengers died before Muhammad. But 4:158 claims that Jesus was raised to God (alive?).
- One Creator or many? The Qur’an uses twice the phrase that Allah is “the best of creators” [23:14, 37:125]. What other creators are in mind? On the other hand, many verses make clear that Allah alone is “the creator of all things” [e.g. 39:62]. There is nothing left for others to be a creator of.
- From among all nations or from Abraham’s seed? Sura 29:27 states that all prophets came Abraham’s seed. But 16:36 claims that Allah raised messengers from among every people.
- Marrying the wives of adopted sons? It is important that Muslims can marry the divorced wives of adopted sons [Sura 33:37], yet it is forbidden to adopt sons [Sura 33:4-5].
- Messengers were never sent to other than their own people? So it is claimed in Sura 14:4 and 30:47. However, the Bible and the Qur’an, and the Muslim traditions confirm that Jonah was sent to a different nation.
- Messengers Were Sent Only to Their Own People? Sura 14:4 states that never was a messenger sent except in the language of his own people. Yet, the Quran itself claims that Jesus is supposed to be a sign to all people, that the Torah and Gospel are for all people, that Moses was sent to Pharaoh of Egypt, and that Muhammad is sent to all of mankind. The hadith also claim that Noah was sent to “the inhabitants of the earth”.
- Did Allah give a Greek Injil to the Jews?
- What kind of book is the Injil?
- Messengers Amongst the Jinns and Angels? Allah sent only men as messengers [Suras 12:109, 21:7-8, 25:20-21] but there seemingly are messengers from Jinns and Angels [6:130; 11:69,77; 22:75; etc., see article for details].
- Do all of God’s messengers eat food?
- A Messenger from among the beasts? Allah sent only men as messengers [Suras 12:109, 21:7-8, 25:20-21]. Yet, the Qur’an also speaks about a beast that is a messenger from Allah to men [S. 27:82].
- Is Muhammad Only A Warner or a Prophet/Messenger?
- Did the Messengers Perform Miracles?
- Divinely Inspired Ignorance?
- Which Prophets Did the Jews Kill?
- Another eleven contradictions…
- Introductory question
- Solomon listening to ants? In Sura 27:18-19 Solomon overhears a “conversation of ants”.
Is this possible based on our knowledge about the mode and complexity of ant communication?
- The stars and the moon The Qur’an teaches that there are seven heavens one above the other [67:3, 71:15], and that the stars are in the lower heaven [67:5, 37:6, 41:12], but the moon is depicted as being in/inside the seven heavens [71:16], even though in reality the stars are much further away from the earth than the moon.
- Qur’an and Science: Section Four in Dr. Campbell’s book
- Qur’an and Embryology
- Can non-living matter think, feel and have a will?
- The human embryonic development
- The place of Sun rise and Sun set
- The Seven Earths
- Stars created to be thrown at devils?
- Sun and moon are subject to man?
====> Christian Responses