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Is There Proof of Prophets’ Existence?

Questioner

Selma

Reply Date

Apr 20, 2017

Question

My question is to do with history, from my readings of the Quran, I am frequently confronted with verses which urge people to see what happened to disbelievers and the past and how Allah's punishment befell them. For example, when the Pharaoh and his army drown, it is revealed that his body stayed intact and was an ayaa for others. My question is there any archeological or historical evidence about the stories recounted in the Quran? Please could you also give me any information on historical evidence for the existence of Moses, any clues to whether his miracles were recounted in ancient Egyptian writing for example? What about Jesus? I heard his existence is a matter of historical controversy?

Consultant

Answer


Is There Proof of Prophets' Existence

Salam (Peace) Selma,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Authenticity of the Stories of the Quran

As Muslims, we believe that everything recounted in the noble Quran is true.

This applies to all the chronicles of the prophets in the Quran including those of Noah, Abraham, and Moses (peace be upon them all).

Our faith needs no external corroboration from historians or researchers to “prove” the veracity of these narrations.

But as Allah the Almighty has bestowed us with powers of reasoning such as induction and deduction as well as a number of other faculties, we need to use them for the purpose of studying nature and history.

The proper use of such faculties need not be viewed only as part of the vocation of a scientist or historian as such, but it can be viewed as the religious duty of every thinking human.

The foregoing means that as persons obliged to believe in Allah the Almighty as the Creator and Sustainer of everything in the universe and as the Originator and Initiator of every event in history.

It is our duty to conduct objective and thorough research and investigation into all aspects of life and existence. And such studies, if we are not bias against it, will necessarily lead us to a better understanding of the incommensurable Will and Power of Allah as well as of our all-important moral obligations towards Him.  

Did Moses Exist?

Let us consider first Moses and Pharaoh to see whether their story has any historical validity. We know that the Old Testament of the Bible narrates this story and that it differs in some details from the Quranic narration.

Biblical archaeologists have done extensive research on the subject with a view to distinguishing between the Old Testament’s interpretation of what happened and critical history.

They looked for more or less objective sources contemporary with the Biblical events, while acknowledging that the major source of information concerning Israel’s history is the Old Testament itself.

But it was evident to them that the Old Testament writers were primarily concerned with the theological meaning of the events described.

They knew that most of those documents were of a much later time than the events they described. And yet it was found that all Biblical texts that could be dated furnished important historical information.

They revealed facts concerning the period in which they were written, even though they did not necessarily contain literally accurate accounts of the events they reported.

These studies have led the scholars to recognize the truthfulness of all the major events in the history of Israel narrated in the Old Testament.

That is to say, the story of how the Children of Israel were enslaved and oppressed by the Pharaoh and his taskmasters and finally how Moses, by the will of God, was able to lead them out of Egypt was essentially a true history.

Did Jesus Exist?

As for the story of Jesus and the New Testament narrations, difficulties of a different nature were encountered. First it was seen that the New Testament documents were arranged to serve a theological purpose, and not according to chronology.

Of the New Testament stories, we are concerned in particular with the Gospels which tell the story of Jesus himself.

The first problem with the Gospels was that the earliest of them was written some 60 years after Jesus’ disappearance. Secondly, they were the compositions of several persons that significantly differed from one another as to details.

Speaking of the historicity of Jesus, Prof. G.A Wells in his “The Historical Evidence for Jesus” noted:

The Gospels are widely agreed to have been written between forty and eighty years after his [Jesus’] supposed lifetime by unknown authors who were not personally acquainted with him. And their miracle stories are nearly all couched in general terms, with no indication of time or place or details concerning the person or persons who benefited. (Wells, G.A., The Historical Evidence for Jesus, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1988, p. 206)

It is such studies as referred to above that cast serious doubts on the historicity of Jesus, which led some freethinkers to hold the view that the religion of Christianity built around the crucifixion and resurrection of “the Son of God” was a pure invention of Saul of Tarsus, the self-styled “Apostle to the Gentiles”, St. Paul. 

Historian Will Durant observes:

Paul created a theology about the man Jesus, a man that he did not even know, 50 or more years after the death of Jesus, with complete disregard and neglect for even the sayings that are attributed to Jesus in the synoptic Gospels. The simple teachings attributed to Jesus become lost in the metaphysical fog of Paul’s theology. (Cited in Edelen, William, Toward the Mystery [Boise, Idaho: Josylyn & Morris, Inc.], p. 76)

Ian Wilson in his significant work, “Jesus the Evidence” acknowledges the shortcomings of the gospels as history; but at the same time maintains that Jesus did exist. (Wilson, Ian, Jesus: The Evidence, San Francisco, California: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1984)

The Islamic View of Jesus

Outside the New Testament, we have contemporary evidence for the life of Jesus in the apocryphal writings as well as in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

So, the claim that Paul invented Jesus stretches the available historical evidence to the breaking point; while the truth is that Paul has actually subverted Jesus’ teachings under pagan influences.

Indeed, we have absolutely no teaching of Jesus in the Gospels to prove his divinity or the claim that he came to die on the cross to redeem mankind from a mythical Original Sin.

Allah in the Quran says what means:

{He (Jesus) said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet. And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live […]

It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, “Be”, and it is. Verily Allah is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a Way that is straight.}   (Maryam 19:30-36)

I hope this answers your questions. Please keep in touch.

Salam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Miracle Of Qur’an & Proof Of God’s Existence Part 1. Egyptian Pharoh Preserved

Why was Pharaoh’s Body Preserved?

Noah’s Ark Found Exactly Where The Qur’an States




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