Lack of Detail in the Qur'an
The Qur'an states in several verses that it is a book explained clearly and in detail. This page lists verses that contradict this claim by lacking detail or clarity, sometimes for important aspects of Islam.
- 1 Claims of Detail
- 2 Ablution
- 3 Abu Lahab
- 4 Blowing on Knots
- 5 Beast
- 6 Color of Allah
- 7 Companions of the Elephants
- 8 Crucifixion
- 9 Day of Congregation
- 10 Dhul-Qarnayn
- 11 Exalted Assembly
- 12 Examining Women
- 13 Exile
- 14 Fasting
- 15 Five Pillars
- 16 Gog and Magog
- 17 Harut, Marut and the Devils
- 18 Hidden Meanings
- 19 Isra and Mi'raj
- 20 Jesus' Success
- 21 Jizyah
- 22 Job
- 23 Makers of the Pit
- 24 Mother of the Book
- 25 Muhammad
- 26 Pharaoh
- 27 Pharaoh's Wife
- 28 Piercing Star
- 29 Runners
- 30 Sabians
- 31 Seven Things
- 32 Solomon's Throne
- 33 The Balance
- 34 The City
- 35 Thief's Repentance
- 36 Unidentified Prophets
- 37 Homosexuality
- 38 See Also
- 39 External Links
- 40 References
Claims of Detail
The following issues show that in fact the Quran is missing details about many topics or important aspects of Islam.
It is not possible to learn who Abu Lahab is and why he and his wife are damned to hell without referencing hadith, thus leaving the entire 111th chapter of the Qur'an without a point.
Blowing on Knots
Many translators identify those who blow on knots as "those who practice secret arts" or witchcraft, but this information is not found within the actual Qur'anic text. Others choose to translate it accurately as "those who blow on knots", which makes it impossible to identify who these people are and why they would do such a thing.
The Qur'an does not elaborate on the beast, its physical appearance or how it would communicate with humans.
Color of Allah
Allah's color or the meaning behind this phrase is not explained. Some translators replace "colour" with the term "baptism" but this information is not found within the actual Qur'anic text. It is taken from later interpretations by Qur'anic commentators.
Companions of the Elephants
No details about this battle are available.
The lack of detail in this verse has led to different Muslim opinions on Jesus' death with some calling it an illusion, some saying he was immortal and only appeared dead and others saying he was replaced by a look-alike on the cross.
Day of Congregation
The "day of congregation" refers to the day which Muslims gather (usually at a mosque) to perform a congregational prayer. Other translators add "the Friday prayer" (i.e. Jumu'ah) to this verse, but this information is not found within the actual Qur'anic text.
The story of Dhul-Qarnayn continues on for many verses but nowhere does it mention who he is, only that he appears to be a historical figure.
There is no explanation provided concerning who this Exalted Assembly consists of, nor any explanation of their function.
How to examine these women is not explained, nor is the criteria for passing a positive or negative judgment.
These unbelievers are the Banu Nadir, but their identity cannot be known without the tafsirs. What caused them to destroy their own homes is also not explained other than it being attributed to Allah.
Though there seems to be an adequate amount of detail, the certain number of days is not given (the length of the lunar month varies, so does its first day across the globe). Either the sighting of the crescent moon or astronomical start of Ramadan should have been mentioned but both are missing. The rituals like recitation, prayers and Eid are also missing.
The Five Pillars of Islam are central to Islam. This concept is not found in the Qur'an, but within the sirah and hadith, without which four of the Five Pillars would not exist. As an example, praying five times a day is considered very important. Yet the Qur'an does not mention that prayers should be said five times a day. It would take a lot more verses to create specifics for the five pillars.
This differs from most of the other entries on this list, in that it is not strictly a case of the Qur'an lacking detail. The Qur'an never claims there are Five Pillars. However, the Five Pillars form a fundamental part of Islam, and all forms of Islam accept the Qur'an as its holy text. Meaning that, for adherents, this difference is meaningless; they still have a holy text that claims to be detailed, yet fails to mention the most fundamental of Islamic concepts.
Gog and Magog
Very little information is provided about who or what Gog and Magog are.
Harut, Marut and the Devils
Yusuf Ali: They followed what the evil ones gave out (falsely) against the power of Solomon: the blasphemers Were, not Solomon, but the evil ones, teaching men Magic, and such things as came down at babylon to the angels Harut and Marut. But neither of these taught anyone (Such things) without saying: "We are only for trial; so do not blaspheme." They learned from them the means to sow discord between man and wife. But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah's permission. And they learned what harmed them, not what profited them. And they knew that the buyers of (magic) would have no share in the happiness of the Hereafter. And vile was the price for which they did sell their souls, if they but knew!Shakir: And they followed what the Shaitans chanted of sorcery in the reign of Sulaiman, and Sulaiman was not an unbeliever, but the Shaitans disbelieved, they taught men sorcery and that was sent down to the two angels at Babel, Harut and Marut, yet these two taught no man until they had said, "Surely we are only a trial, therefore do not be a disbeliever." Even then men learned from these two, magic by which they might cause a separation between a man and his wife; and they cannot hurt with it any one except with Allah's permission, and they learned what harmed them and did not profit them, and certainly they know that he who bought it should have no share of good in the hereafter and evil was the price for which they sold their souls, had they but known this.
Only the general message of this verse (not to disbelieve) can be understood. The rest of the story consists of unclear, inconsistent and abrupt sentences. There is not enough context provided concerning the angels and their place (Babel). Then they seem to be taking both sides, good and evil. By the end, the subject "they" becomes unclear.
This verse claims the opposite of what verses 6:114, 41:3, 6:38 and 16:89 claim concerning clarity and detail. Which verses are allegorical is not specified. Some which look allegorical may have been intended as literal. Then this verse says there are hidden meanings which no one except Allah can understand. Thus the purpose of details is negated.
Isra and Mi'raj
This verse ends the surah without explaining what "power" (physical or spiritual) was provided to the Children of Israel and how this helped them prevail over the disbelievers. This verse also ignores that, according to Islam, Jesus's message was corrupted, hence his prophethood eventually failed.
No details are provided concerning the Jizyah (i.e. its terms, conditions, amounts or even a definition), other than it must be paid in order to humiliate non-Muslims.
Little can be understood concerning the events surrounding Job. His distress and suffering, the location of where he struck his foot, where his people were, who or what he is supposed to strike with grass, the oath he took. None of these issues are explained.
Makers of the Pit
It is never explained who these "makers" are. Interpreters claim this to have referred to different historical events, such as the persecution of Axumite Christians by Dhu Nuwas in Yemen, the persecutions by Nebuchadnezzar II, or the Battle of the trench.
Mother of the Book
There is no detail about this Mother of the Book or its contents. Even its meaning is not clear and varies across translations.
These are the only four verses that mention Muhammad by name, and the only information they provide about him is that he is a messenger of Allah. Without the hadith and sirah literature, almost nothing would be known about him (e.g. his birth, age, appearance, wives, children, death, and so on).
There is no mention of who this Pharaoh is. Pharaohs were the rulers of Egypt and number in the hundreds. But the word "Pharaoh" is used as a proper noun whenever narrating the story of Exodus.
The previous verse condemns the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut to hell and the next verse praises Mary, but this verse fails to mention the fate of the wife of Pharaoh.
This verse claims it is explaining a star but fails to provide any details. One does not even know what particular star it is describing.
The lack of context makes these verses difficult to understand. Other translators use parentheses to depict this as a scene of war because nothing is clear without them.
Sabians cannot be identified and nothing more is known about them or their extinct religion. Later sources try to point out who they are.
The verse implies that the seven verses are separate from the Qur'an. But what they are is not explained. Major translators write "verses" in parentheses, hence seven may have referred to something entirely different.
Many unanswered questions emerge from this verse. For example, the identity of the body, the reason behind Solomon's repentance, and the possibility of him being responsible for the death of that body.
No explanation is provided concerning "the balance". It could be related to the Book or referring to a separate entity.
The "city" and context of words are not explained in detail.
There are no details on how to judge repentance and what a thief should do to repent. It could be anything from apologizing to doing something as punishment, or a case where the thief repents just after stealing and promises never to steal.
Little is known about Idris and there are no more details concerning the identity of Zul-Kifl.
There are several variations of the translation of this verse for example "two men", "if the two of you" and "man and a woman". This ambiguity could have been easily avoided if Quran had been clear in saying whether it was two men or any thing else. Tafsirs confirm that the Quran is most likely referring to "two men".
- Contradictions and Errors - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Contradictions and Errors
- The Incompleteness and Incoherence of the Qur'an - Answering Islam (archived), http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Incoherence/index.html