ISLAMIC CLAIM ON THIS
“In the early 7th century, the two most powerful empires at the time were the Byzantine and Persian Empires. In the years 613 – 614 C.E the two Empires went to war, with the Byzantines suffering a severe defeat at the hands of the Persians. Damascus and Jerusalem both fell to the Persian Empire. In the chapter, The Romans, in the Holy Quran, it is stated that the Byzantines had met with a great defeat but would soon gain victory:
“The Romans have been defeated in the lowest land, but after their defeat they will soon be victorious. Within three to nine years. The decision of the matter, before and after, is with God.” (Quran 30:2-4)
These verses, above, were revealed around 620 C.E, almost 7 years after the severe defeat of the Christian Byzantines at the hands of the idolater Persians in 613 – 614 C.E. Yet it was related in the verses that the Byzantines would shortly be victorious. In-fact, Byzantine had been so heavily defeated that it seemed impossible for the Empire to even maintain its very existence, let alone be victorious again.
Not only the Persians, but also the Avars, Slavs and Lombards (located to the North and West of the Byzantine Empire) posed serious threats to the Byzantine Empire’s sovereignty. The Avars had come as far as the walls of Constantinople and had nearly captured the Emperor, himself. Many governors had revolted against Emperor Heraclius, and the Empire was on the point of collapse. Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Armenia, which had earlier belonged to the Byzantine Empire, were invaded by the Persians. In short, everyone was expecting the Byzantine Empire to be destroyed, but right at that moment the first verses of the chapter, The Romans, were revealed announcing that the Byzantines would regain triumph in a few years time. Shortly after this revelation, the Byzantine Emperor proceeded to order the gold and silver in churches to be melted and turned into money in order both to meet the demanding expenses of the army, and finance his drive to regain the lost territories.
Around 7 years after the revelation of the first verses of The Romans, in December, 627 C.E, a decisive battle between The Byzantine Empire and the Persian Empire was fought in the area around the Dead Sea, and this time it was the Byzantine army which surprisingly defeated the Persians. A few months later, the Persians had to make an agreement with the Byzantines which obliged them to return the territories they had taken from them. So, in the end, the victory of the Romans proclaimed by God in the Quran miraculously came through.
Another miracle revealed in the mentioned verses is the announcement of a geographical fact that no-one would have been able to discover in that period. In the third verse of The Romans, it was mentioned that the Romans were defeated “in the lowest land” (Quran 30:3). Significantly, the places where the main battles took place (in Damascus and Jerusalem) lie in a vast area of low-lying land called the Great Rift Valley. The Great Rift Valley is a huge 5,000 km fault line in the earth’s crust that runs from northern Syria in the Middle-East of Asia to central Mozambique in East Africa. The northernmost extension runs through Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordon. The rift then extends south to the Gulf of Aden, makes its way through East Africa, then finally ends at the lower Zambezi River valley in Mozambique.
An interesting fact that has been discovered recently, with the help of satellite images, is that the area around the Dead Sea (located in the Great Rift Valley) has the lowest altitude on Earth. In fact, the lowest point on Earth is the shoreline of the Dead Sea, with an altitude of around 400 meters below sea level. The fact that it lies at the lowest point means that water does not drain from the sea. No land point on earth has a lower altitude than the shoreline of the Dead Sea.
Therefore it becomes clear that the country or prefecture which occupies the rift valley in the vicinity of the Dead Sea is what is meant in the Quran by “the lowest land.” This is a true miracle of the Quran because no-one could have known or foreseen such a fact in the 7th century due to the fact that satellites and modern day technology were not available at the time. Once again, the only possible explanation is that Prophet Muhammad had truly received divine revelation from God, The Creator and Originator of the universe.
THE REALITY OF THIS:
1-LOWEST POINT ON EARTH
The verses 30:2 and 30:3 actually read:
The Roman Empire has been defeated-
YUSUFALI: In a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious-
PICKTHAL: In the nearer land, and they, after their defeat will be victorious
SHAKIR: In a near land, and they, after being vanquished, shall overcome,
These Muslims claim that the word near أَدْنَى can also be translated as lower and hence the above could be read: The Roman Empire was defeated in the lowest land. Then they claim that since the Dead Sea is it the lowest point on earth (1300 ft bellow sea level) Muhammad said something that no one could have known.
This is of course wishful thinking of deluded believers and the absurdity of that is evident. The Romans were not defeated in the Dead Sea but in Jerusalem and Jerusalem is above sea level. If we had to take this arbitrary translation and disregard the obvious meaning of the word as was understood by all the translators of the Quran, this verse would have become yet another blunder of Muhammad. That would have meant that Romans were defeated in lowest land (which should have then been the Dead Sea, and not Jerusalem!) and it would have been a massive mistake, since Romans were defeated in Jerusalem!
However, all the interpreters of the Quran have translated the verse correctly. See how the person forcibly trying to find a miracle in these verses when none exists has given the meaning of the word as ‘lower’ and then assumed it as ‘lowest’ whereas ALL the authentic translators of the Quran who were devout Muslims themselves like Yusuf Ali, Pickthall and Shakir have used the correct word ‘near land’.
If Muhammad really wanted to impress his followers about his knowledge of geography, he could have easily said that the ‘Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth’. Simple and clear! This again shows that since no miracle exists in the Quran, and it contains a lot of mistakes, Muslims forcibly try to desperately find miracles, twist meanings and make hoaxes.
Note that the verse is mentioning land and not sea. Let us say, for argument’s sake that through this hidden meaning “Romans were defeated in a land near by” the author of the Quran (God or Muhammad or anyone else) is actually trying to say along with the Romans’ defeat that Dead Sea is the lowest point on the earth. Then the word which should have been used is LOWEST POINT, not LOWEST LAND since Dead Sea is water not land. But since the word LAND is used, it is clear that Muhammad is talking about Jerusalem, which is a land near to Muhammad’s. Muhammad is talking about Jerusalem and not about the Dead Sea .
2-VICTORY OF ROMANS
The Quran that we have today is compiled during the Caliphate of Othman. Othman started his Caliphate in 644 AD and ruled till AD 656. By that time the two wars between the Persians and the Romans were over and the victors in each case had already been known. What are the chances that the verses 2-4 of Sura 30 that says first the Romans will be defeated and a few years later they will become victorious were altered because the original verses pronounced by Muhammad were wrong? It is well-known and well acknowledged by Muslims themselves that the Quran was compiled during Othman’s rule.
In Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall’s translation of the Quran (Pickthall’s translation is considered as very authentic) the following things are mentioned in the “Introduction” before the Quran’s first chapter:
“All the surahs of the Koran had been recorded in writing before the Prophet’s death, and many Muslims had committed the whole Koran to memory. But the written surahs were dispersed among the people; and when, in a battle which took place during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr- that is to say, within two years of the Prophet’s death-a large number of those who knew the whole Koran by heart were killed, a collection of the whole Koran was made and put in writing. In the Caliphate of Othman, all existing copies of surahs were called in, and an authoritative version, based on Abu Bakr’s collection and the testimony of those who had the whole Koran by heart, was compiled exactly in the present form and order, which is regarded as traditional and as the arrangement of the Prophet himself, the Caliph Othman and his helpers being Comrades of the Prophet and the most devout students of the Revelation. The Koran has thus been very carefully preserved.” (Page xxviii of Pickthall’s translation of Quran, Madhur Sandesh Sangam, New Delhi, India, 1995)
And as we have seen in “Logical proofs” and in “The religion of Islam”, some scholars have shown that the text of the Quran may have been altered even after 656 AD until at least as late as the middle of the 9th century AD and many feel that it was finalized at last in AD 933. Conclusive evidence shows that parts of the Quran are lost. But even if we go as per the accepted Islamic history of the Quran being finalized in AD 656, it was much after the Romans had been victorious in around 628 AD.
Of course if what Muhammad had said had been wrong, Othman would not have allowed it to be published, which would have shown Muhammad to be a false prophet. These verses would have been adjusted in 656 AD to reflect what had actually happened.
Othman ordered all other versions that did not match his, to be destroyed. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 6, Book 61, Number 510] Why? It is because they contradicted the one he had put together. As the result the evidence is lost. We can’t prove that Muhammad was wrong and Muslims can’t claim these verses as prophecy. It is absolutely illogical that the compilers would have kept the original verses if the history had proven Muhammad to be a false prophet.
Besides, the surahs of the Quran are not arranged in chronological order. They are arranged in order of length, with the largest being first and the smallest being later. This jumbled up order, putting any chapter anywhere is another proof that the Quran is from man and not God, since a true God would have ensured that it is available to mankind in the right order, and not in any random order. There is no clarity on exactly when was a surah revealed. There are many chapters in the Quran whose verses are of different revelation places, i.e. some verses of the same chapter were revealed in Mecca while others in Medina. So, there is no way to know exactly when this statement of victory of Romans was made in the Quran.
These verses don’t prove anything because their authenticity is dubious. However, there are many other verses in the Quran that have been proven to be wrong. Consequently, Muslim scholars try to reinterpret them and twist their meanings. If there is one error in the Quran, the book cannot be the word of God. There are hundreds of errors in that book. It is quite possible that since the Romans were monotheist Christians fighting idolators, and idolators had defeated them, Muhammad made the above statement just to tell his supporters that the idolators’ victory is a temporary one and ultimately God will defeat idolators and make Romans (who were monotheist Christians) victorious, and it could have been a lucky guess. Could Muhammad have said that ‘Idolator Persians will defeat monotheist Christian Romans’ when he was so desperately against idolatry and claiming monotheism?
Some Christian scholars have also tried to refute this claim. Their rebuttals are worth reading here and here. Just some of the points raised by them are “The Persians defeated the Byzantines (Christian Romans) and captured Jerusalem at about A.D. 614 or 615. The Byzantine counter-offensive did not begin until A.D. 622 and the victory was not complete until A.D. 628, making it a period between thirteen to fourteen years, not “a few years” alluded to in the Quran. The words used in the Quran limit the number of years to 3 to 9, but it was a good 13 to 14 years after the Romans’ defeat.
But if God could make future predictions unknown to ordinary human beings like Muhammad and demonstrate such knowledge in the Quran to prove that Islam is from Him, then he could have easily revealed some events going to happen every year since AD 622 till the end of life on earth so that all beings living from and after Muhammad’s time would know that Islam is true! He could have written “In AD 622, this will happen, in AD 623, this will happen, etc etc” right until the end of life on earth! He could have easily predicted that man will go the moon in 1969 AD, which was beyond Muhammad’s reach.
Muhammad raided Khaibar and tortured to death its keeper Kinana to make him tell where the treasure was hidden. After killing him, his beautiful 17-year old wife Safiyah was taken by Muhammad, whose husband he had killed the same day, and her father two years before. Could not his God tell him where the hidden treasures were? God did not, and could not help Muhammad know this information!
When a woman whose male relatives were massacred by Muhammad prepared for him a lamb tainted with poison, Allah did not stop his prophet from eating. Couldn’t God have informed Muhammad of this? Only after he ate some and one of his followers fell dead, did Muhammad realize the lamb was poisoned. Muhammad actually died because of this poisoning, though he lived for 3 more years after that.
Narrated ‘Aisha: The Prophet in his ailment in which he died, used to say, “O ‘Aisha! I still feel the pain caused by the food I ate at Khaibar, and at this time, I feel as if my aorta is being cut from that poison.” [Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 59, Number 713]
If Muhammad had any knowledge of the unknown through God, why did he send spies to the towns of his victims to see when they are most vulnerable to raid them? Couldn’t Allah or his angel reveal the unknown to him? This shows that Muhammad had absolutely no communication from God, or else God would have informed him that the meat of Khaibar is poisoned, and told him where the treasure of Khaibar is.
God could have given the Quran in any other language which existed at that time, but Muhammad did not know, e.g. Sanskrit, Tamil, etc, or at least done something which was beyond Muhammad’s reach. Instead would God have chosen to say that Romans will be victorious soon which was in AD 628, also during Muhammad’s lifetime? Since there is no proof at all as to when this passage was revealed, or dictated by Muhammad, whether in AD 614-15 (if that is so, then it would also be a mistake as it would mean Romans would be victorious after more than 9 years), or AD 620, or at any time, it is quite possible that Muhammad himself said this after the victory of Romans was apparent, obvious or already achieved!