False prophecy in the Qur’an? A cataclysmic judgement that never arrived?

In another article we have looked at perhaps the most popular claimed prophecy in the Qur’an. Less discussed is a potentially false prophecy in the Qur’an.

The earlier stagedivine cataclysm

In his book (2013 [1990]) God, Muhammad and the unbelievers, David Marshall argues that there is an evolution within the Qur’an in how it envisages the punishment of the disbelievers at Mecca. In an earlier stage Muhammad’s preaching expected a cataclysmic judgement of God’s direct punishment to fall upon the Meccans, much as they had upon other civilisations. We read in the early-Meccan Q 69:

4 The people of Thamud and ʽAd denied that the crashing blow would come: 5 Thamud was destroyed by a deafening blast; 6 ʽAd was destroyed by a furious wind 7 that God let loose against them for seven consecutive nights, eight consecutive days, so that you could have seen its people lying dead like hollow palm-trunks. … 9 Pharaoh, too [an allusion to the destruction of Pharoah’s army in the waters], and those before him, and the ruined cities: these people committed grave sins and disobeyed the messenger of their Lord, so He seized them with an evertightening grip. 10 But when the Flood rose high, 11 We saved you in the floating ship, 12 making that event a reminder for you: attentive ears may take heed. (All Qur’an translations taken from Abdel Haleem. Emphasis added. This passage discovered via Marshall, 2013 [1990], 47-48)

As for the middle to late Meccan periods, ‘[p]erhaps the clearest example’ (Marshall, 54) is Q 41:13: ‘If they turn away, say, ‘I have warned you about a blast like the one which struck ‘Ad and Thamud’. The threat of sudden destruction appears elsewhere too:

97 Do the people of these towns feel secure that Our punishment will not come upon them by night, while they are asleep? 98 Do the people of these towns feel secure that Our punishment will not come upon them by day, while they are at play? (Q 7:97-98. Marshall, 55)

16 Are you sure that He who is in Heaven will not make the earth swallow you up with a violent shudder? 17 Are you sure that He who is in Heaven will not send a whirlwind to pelt you with stones? You will come to know what My warning means. (Q 67:16-17. Cf. also Q 16:45, 17:68-69, 34:9. Marshall, 55)

Mark Durie (2018, 49), who also utilises Marshall’s work (48-49, 53), nicely summarises the diversity of forms that God’s judgement may take:

The actual form the punishment takes varies and is determined by Allāh, through such means as airborne baked stones (the story of Lūṭ: Q 11:82; Q 15:74; Q 67:17); drowning (Nūh’s flood in Q 10:71-73 and the inundation of Firʿawn’s army in Q 10:90); earthquake or thunderbolt (both are applied to the people of Thamūd: Q 7:78; Q 51:44); violent wind (the people of ʿĀd: Q 51:41; cf. Q 2:266); a shout (Q 11:67); and fire (Q 2:266). [N.B.: except for Q 2, these are all Meccan surahs]

Impatience with the coming judgement

Yet Marshall (58ff.) notes a number of passages which recognise that this punishment has not yet come, perhaps even already in the early Meccan period:

1 A man [mockingly] demanded the punishment. 2 [that is certainly] coming to the disbelievers— none can deflect it– 3 from God, the Lord of the Ways of Ascent, 4 by which the angels and the Spirit ascend to Him, on a Day whose length is fifty thousand years. 5 So be patient, [Prophet], as befits you. 6 The disbelievers think it is distant, 7 but We know it to be close. (Q 70:1-7. Marshall, 59)

And later on:

31 Whenever Our Revelation is recited to them they say, ‘We have heard all this before— we could say something like this if we wanted— this is nothing but ancient fables.’ 32 They also said, ‘God, if this really is the truth from You, then rain stones on us from the heavens, or send us some other painful punishment.’ (Q 8:31-32. Emphasis added)

Durie (50) notes the following verses (amongst a number of others):

  • 53 They challenge you to hasten the punishment: they would already have received a punishment if God had not set a time for it, and indeed it will come to them suddenly and catch them unawares. 54 They challenge you to hasten the punishment… (Q 27:53-54)
  • Do they really wish to hasten Our punishment? (Q 37:176)
  • If We defer their punishment for a determined time, they are sure to say, ‘What is holding it back?’ … (Q 11:8)
  • Say, ‘If what you seek to hasten were within my power, the matter would be settled between you and me, but God knows best who does wrong.’ (Q 6:58)
  • They say, ‘When will this promise be fulfilled, if what you say is true?’ (Q 21:38)

Even ‘the messengers lost all hope and realized that they had been dismissed as liars, [but then] Our help came to them’ (Q 12:110. Marshall, 61). Marshall (60) notes that even Muhammad himself may have not expected to live to see the coming judgement (e.g. Q 13:40. Cf. also Q 10:46, 40:77, 43:41-42).

Judgement through military victory

As Marshall (67) notes, in a number of places in the Qur’an, it stresses that Muhammad is only a messenger, and not responsible for the message’s reception (Q 88:21-2; 50:45; 6:107; 11:12; 42:6. In Q 13:40, where divine punishment is in view:

Whether We let you [Prophet] see part of what We threaten them with, or cause you to die [before that], your duty is only to deliver the message: the Reckoning is Ours. (Marshall, 68)

These verses which ’emphasize the line of demarcation between God and the messenger perhaps indicates that there was an impulse in Muhammad to cross this line into the territory [i.e. of bringing judgement] which the Qur’an insists is God’s alone.’ (68) This impulse may help to explain the Qur’an’s interest in the military exploits of previous prophets (Q 27:37; 21:80; 18:86) (68-69).

Regarding the Medinan period, Marshall (118) quotes Frants Buhl (Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, art. ‘Muḥammad’, 399), approvingly:

The Prophet had an account to settle with the Meccans, for by his expulsion they had triumphed over him in the eyes of the world and the punishment repeatedly threatened them had not materialized, unlike the stereotyped punishments of the godless in the stories of the prophets. … [this situation] led to a new comand, that of the holy war (…al-jihād)

Marshall (134) writes:

The point has often been made that the Qur’an interprets Badr as the coming of the threatened punishment on the unbelieving Meccans. For example, Bell writes: ‘Muhammad did not drop the idea of a special judgement upon Mecca until to his mind it had become an accomplished fact’, and Bell goes on to show that this happened at Badr: ‘The Battle of Badr was the Calamity upon the unbelieving Meccans,’ (Bell 1926, pp. 121, 124) Watt makes a similar comment… (Emphasis added)

‘Most of the Qur’anic material on Badr is to be found in surah 8’ (Marshall 134), and so it is here that we turn:

7 Remember how God promised you [believers] that one of the two enemy groups would fall to you: you wanted the unarmed group to be yours, but it was God’s will to establish the truth according to His Word and to finish off the disbelievers— 8 to prove the Truth to be true, and the false to be false, much as the guilty might dislike it.

Marshall notes the verbal parallels between this section and other passages where God punished the past civilisations (Q 10:81-82, 6:45, 7:72, 15:66. Marshall 135-136). For example, shortly before the destruction of Pharoah’s army in the waters we read:

81 When they did so, Moses said, ‘Everything you have brought is sorcery and God will show it to be false. God does not make the work of mischief-makers right; 82 He will uphold the Truth with His words, even if the evildoers hate it.’ (Q 10:81-82. Emphasis added)

The difference is that in Q 8:7-8,  God’s punishment and vindication of his truth has come about through a military battle.

After Badr

If the Meccans repent, then hostilities will cease (Q 8:38-39. Marshall, 144). But their failure to do so means that they are to be fought and punished at the hands of the believers (Q 9:13-4; Marshall, 146):

13 How could you not fight a people who have broken their oaths, who tried to drive the Messenger out, who attacked you first? Do you fear them? It is God you should fear if you are true believers. 14 Fight them: God will punish them at your hands, He will disgrace them, He will help you to conquer them… (Emphasis added)

This is not to suggest that God is no longer involved in the judgement himself. God had many times actively helped the believers on the battlefield and punished their enemies (Marshall, 150):

25 God has helped you [believers] on many battlefields, even on the day of the Battle of Hunayn. … 26 Then God sent His calm down to His Messenger and the believers, and He sent down invisible forces. He punished the disbelievers— this is what the disbelievers deserve—

Indeed, the Qur’an stresses that at Badr:

It was not you who killed them but God, and when you [Prophet] threw [sand at them] it was not your throw [that defeated them] but God’s, to do the believers a favour (Q 8:17. Cf. also Q 8:9, 12. Marshall, 137)

Implications

So, is there a contradiction between the earlier stage where the expectation seems to be for a divine cataclysmic judgement, and the later stage where in fact divine judgement comes through the hands of the believers on the battlefield? Or is this a form of ‘progressive revelation’, where God does not make the ultimate reality obvious from the start, but gradually reveals certain truths (Christians see this happening in the Old Testament)? Or is there less of a development than Marshall sees? Is the Qur’an open to a military judgement right from the start, as evidenced by those Meccan passages (Q 27:37; 21:80; 18:86, assuming it is Meccan) indicating an interest in previous prophets and warfare which Marshall highlighted? (68-69).

We leave such questions to the reader to answer, who may be interested to read Marshall’s work where his case is made more fully. But let me draw my own tentative conclusions:

  1. Muslims who use secular scholarship to critique the Bible should be aware that secular scholarship goes both way. Secular scholarship can be used to find developments in language and theology within the Qur’an, which to many will seem like very human features.
  2. The argument above could be seen as an example of ‘failed prophecy’ – Muhammad expected a natural disaster to seize the Meccans, but it never came, and so military victory came to be seen as a substitute form of punishment. This would count against Muhammad as a prophet.
  3. If we are to be more charitable readers of the text, and to find not contradiction but instead an outworking and reshaping of earlier themes, perhaps we will also want to be charitable to the New Testament, where critics of the New Testament often claim that the New Testament is mistaken in expecting Jesus’ imminent return and the end of the world. More charitable readings of the New Testament, such as a preterist reading, claim that there are more nuanced and accurate ways to read these passages.

Postscript: one can find some reviews of Marshall’s work here, here and here.

NB: This was always a tentative post, and true to that, some helpful comments that have made me rethink Marshall’s thesis can be found here. At the very least they suggest that even if Marshall has detected broad trends, certain verses (Q 16:126-127, 7:167, 17:5-7, 6:65, taken from Durie, 58. The helpful commentator highlighted Q 17:7 and Q 54:44-45, though we debate the meaning of the latter) should be the added to the list of Meccan passages which foreshadow the shift that is to come. It should be noted that both Marshall and Durie do acknowledge some verses before the hijrah/transition that anticipate later shifts. Whether such anticipations simply foreshadow a genuine shift or challenge whether such a shift occured, will be in the eye of the beholder based on the totality of relevant verses on this topic. Readers are still encouraged to read Marshall and Durie’s works.

Bibliography

Durie, Mark. The Qur’an and Its Biblical Reflexes : Investigations into the Genesis of a Religion. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2018.

Norris, H. T. “Book Review: God, Muhammad and the Unbelievers: A Qur’anic Study. By David Marshall. Pp. 222. Richmond: Curzon Press, 1999.” Journal of Qur’anic Studies 2, no. 1 (2000): 127-31.

Marshall, David. God, Muhammad and the Unbelievers. London & New York: Routledge, 2013. Originally published in 1999 by Curzon Press.

McAuliffe, Jane Dammen. Review of God, Muhammad and the Unbelievers: A Qur’anic Study, David Marshall. Die Welt des Islams 43, no. 2 (2003): 292-94.

Whittingham, Martin. “Book Review: Marshall, David, 1999, God, Muhammad and the Unbelievers.” https://www.cmcsoxford.org.uk/resources/book-reviews/marshall-david-1999-god-muhammad-and-the-unbelievers.

13 thoughts on “False prophecy in the Qur’an? A cataclysmic judgement that never arrived?

  1. Proving Islam

    In Surah 54 of the Quran, Allah describes the divine punishments that came upon the previous nations, then he threats Quraysh

    “Now, are you ˹Meccan˺ disbelievers superior to those ˹destroyed peoples˺? Or have you ˹been granted˺ immunity ˹from punishment˺ in divine Books? Or do they say, “We are all ˹a˺ united ˹front˺, bound to prevail.”? ˹Soon˺ their united front will be defeated and will turn their back.”

    So here we see that in Makkah, the Quran prophecized a military conquest as their punishment. So we see the Quran was warning them of punishment, whatever form that may have been in.

    Further, there is a hadith where Muhammad (SAW) says to the Quraysh in Makkah, “I have brought you slaughter”. Here we see the prophet (SAW) again warning them in Makkah that their punishment would be by the sword. You can check it out the hadith out here https://islamqa.info/en/answers/135590/is-the-hadeeth-i-have-brought-slaughter-to-you-saheeh-and-how-should-it-be-understood.

    Thus the idea that their is development is wrong because they were already warned of a military punishment in Makkah.

    Finally, I wanna mention the natural disasters the Quran describes as punishment, one may say that these are not divine punishments just natral things- after all, they’re even called “natural” disasters. However, the point in the Quran is that Allah is highlighting the metaphysical realities behind these disasters- that in reality, they were divine punishments- and Allah himself sent these things or he sent angels that aided in the destruction of these people (For example in the hadith- its Jibreel the angel (AS) who puts mud in firawn’s mouth so he doesn’t say words that would cause Allah to accept his repentance). You can check out the hadith here https://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/PrintFatwa.php?lang=E&Id=337408

    Similarly, the Quran is sure to point out that the military defeats also had a metaphysical dimension to the; in that angels came down and fought together with the muslims. Just like natural disasters, someone may say the military defeats were naturalistic; but the Quran highlights their metaphysical realities.

    For example, “[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip. That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty. “That [is yours], so taste it.” And indeed for the disbelievers is the punishment of the Fire.” (8:12-15)

    Another example is, “[Remember] when you were asking help of your Lord, and He answered you, “Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another.” And Allah made it not but good tidings and so that your hearts would be assured thereby. And victory is not but from Allah. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise”. (8:9-10)

    Finally, this example, “And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them.1 And you threw not, [O Muḥammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw2 that He might test the believers with a good test.3 Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (8:17)

    So just like the Quran highlights the metaphysical realities behind the natural punishments, it highlights them with the military conquests.

    Reply
    1. Proving Islam

      Btw i wanna mention the “i have brought you slaughter” was directed to the leaders of the disbelievers in makkah as the link mentions which is what happened according to surah 9 12 “And if they break their oaths after their treaty and defame your religion, then combat the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths [sacred] to them; [fight them that] they might cease”.

      Also remember, a difference between the Arabs and those other nations is that the Arabs generally ended up believing in Muhammad (SAW) unlike the other nations described.

      Reply
      1. Proving Islam

        Also in case anyone doesnt get arabic; the verse I quoted from surah 54 (43-45) are talkign about a military conquest because the term turn their back is an idiom in arabic it means fleeing from a battlefield.

        ““Now, are you ˹Meccan˺ disbelievers superior to those ˹destroyed peoples˺? Or have you ˹been granted˺ immunity ˹from punishment˺ in divine Books? Or do they say, “We are all ˹a˺ united ˹front˺, bound to prevail.”? ˹Soon˺ their united front will be defeated and will turn their back.”

        The Quran mentions this idiom many places for ex. in surah 59 11-12

        “Have you not seen those who became hypocrites, saying to their brethren who denied among the People of the Scripture, “Indeed, if you are evicted, we will certainly depart with you and not obey anyone against you, ever, and should anyone combat you, we will certainly support you”? But Allah bears witness that they are certainly liars. Indeed, if they are evicted, they will not depart with them; and indeed, if anyone combats them, they will not support them. And(even) if they do support them, they will(then) certainly turn their backs, then they will not be supported.”

        Reply
  2. Proving Islam

    Idk why my comment didnt post so ill retry

    In Surah 54 of the Quran, Allah describes the divine punishments that came upon the previous nations, then he threats Quraysh

    “Now, are you ˹Meccan˺ disbelievers superior to those ˹destroyed peoples˺? Or have you ˹been granted˺ immunity ˹from punishment˺ in divine Books? Or do they say, “We are all ˹a˺ united ˹front˺, bound to prevail.”? ˹Soon˺ their united front will be defeated and will turn their back.”

    So here we see that in Makkah, the Quran prophecized a military conquest as their punishment. So we see the Quran was warning them of punishment, whatever form that may have been in.

    Further, there is a hadith where Muhammad (SAW) says to the Quraysh in Makkah, “I have brought you slaughter”. Here we see the prophet (SAW) again warning them in Makkah that their punishment would be by the sword. You can check it out the hadith out here https://islamqa.info/en/answers/135590/is-the-hadeeth-i-have-brought-slaughter-to-you-saheeh-and-how-should-it-be-understood.

    Thus the idea that their is development is wrong because they were already warned of a military punishment in Makkah.

    Finally, I wanna mention the natural disasters the Quran describes as punishment, one may say that these are not divine punishments just natral things- after all, they’re even called “natural” disasters. However, the point in the Quran is that Allah is highlighting the metaphysical realities behind these disasters- that in reality, they were divine punishments- and Allah himself sent these things or he sent angels that aided in the destruction of these people (For example in the hadith- its Jibreel the angel (AS) who puts mud in firawn’s mouth so he doesn’t say words that would cause Allah to accept his repentance). You can check out the hadith here https://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/PrintFatwa.php?lang=E&Id=337408

    Similarly, the Quran is sure to point out that the military defeats also had a metaphysical dimension to the; in that angels came down and fought together with the muslims. Just like natural disasters, someone may say the military defeats were naturalistic; but the Quran highlights their metaphysical realities.

    For example, “[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip. That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty. “That [is yours], so taste it.” And indeed for the disbelievers is the punishment of the Fire.” (8:12-15)

    Another example is, “[Remember] when you were asking help of your Lord, and He answered you, “Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another.” And Allah made it not but good tidings and so that your hearts would be assured thereby. And victory is not but from Allah. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise”. (8:9-10)

    Finally, this example, “And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them.1 And you threw not, [O Muḥammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw2 that He might test the believers with a good test.3 Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (8:17)

    So just like the Quran highlights the metaphysical realities behind the natural punishments, it highlights them with the military conquests.

    Btw i wanna mention the “i have brought you slaughter” was directed to the leaders of the disbelievers in makkah as the link mentions which is what happened according to surah 9 12 “And if they break their oaths after their treaty and defame your religion, then combat the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths [sacred] to them; [fight them that] they might cease”.

    Also remember, a difference between the Arabs and those other nations is that the Arabs generally ended up believing in Muhammad (SAW) unlike the other nations described.

    Also in case anyone doesnt get arabic; the verse I quoted from surah 54 (43-45) are talkign about a military conquest because the term turn their back is an idiom in arabic it means fleeing from a battlefield.

    ““Now, are you ˹Meccan˺ disbelievers superior to those ˹destroyed peoples˺? Or have you ˹been granted˺ immunity ˹from punishment˺ in divine Books? Or do they say, “We are all ˹a˺ united ˹front˺, bound to prevail.”? ˹Soon˺ their united front will be defeated and will turn their back.”

    The Quran mentions this idiom many places for ex. in surah 59 11-12

    “Have you not seen those who became hypocrites, saying to their brethren who denied among the People of the Scripture, “Indeed, if you are evicted, we will certainly depart with you and not obey anyone against you, ever, and should anyone combat you, we will certainly support you”? But Allah bears witness that they are certainly liars. Indeed, if they are evicted, they will not depart with them; and indeed, if anyone combats them, they will not support them. And(even) if they do support them, they will(then) certainly turn their backs, then they will not be supported.”

    Reply
  3. steelmanapologetics Post author

    Hi Proving Islam, thank you so much for taking the time to give your comments, which are very thought-provoking 🙂

    Let me deal with a couple of minor points before dealing with I think the key passage:

    1) You appeal to the Hadith to establish that Muhammad had already made a warning of military action in Mecca. The hadith is classed as Hasan, and the best collection it is included in seems to be Ibn Hanbal’s Musnad. I think a lot of Muslims I know might be reluctant to put so much weight on such a hadith! Furthermore, Western scholars like David Marshall and myself will be unconvinced of the value of a hadith if it seems to contradict what otherwise the Qur’an seems to teach. So I don’t think we will agree on the merit of this hadith.

    2) Marshall does actually note in his book that there is a contrast between the Qur’an and later Muslim sources (the Sirah, can’t remember if he mentions the Hadith too). So this hadith would tie in with that point.

    3) I fully agree, and briefly mention in my article, that the Qur’an sees military action as supported by and made successful by God’s active involvement. This applies to natural disasters too, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

    Now I think you’re really onto something interesting with Q 54:43-45. David Marshall, nor Mark Durie, seem to have anticipated this passage and its potential objection to their theories. So I’m very grateful to you pointing it out 🙂

    I think the key question is whether this section does indeed suggest the Meccans will be punished by military action. And I’m not sure:

    1) You say ‘the term turn their back is an idiom in arabic it means fleeing from a battlefield’, and yes it often does (e.g. you highlight Q 59:11-12). But it doesn’t seem to have this meaning in Q 17:46. The parallel phrase in Q 4:47 (that this is a parallel, see Q 5:21) likely isn’t military either.

    But even if Q 54:43-35 is using military language, which it may well be, the Qur’an seems to use military language and themes to describe non-military situations. Similar to Q 54:44, where the disbelievers trust in their own strength, so too in Q 41:15 do they boast in their own strength; but the following verse says they are destroyed by ‘a furious wind’ rather than military battle. Muntasir in v. 44, although it sounds like they are considering a military resistance, occurs in Q 18:43, 28:81, 51:45, 54:44. In every other one of these instances God strikes with a natural disaster, not with military force. And so that makes me wonder if the same is true in Q 54:44.

    So it is an interesting verse, but I’m not sure it’s enough to overturn Marshall’s thesis. But it should definitely be factored in to the equation.

    Reply
  4. Sami

    The hadith is classed as Hasan, and the best collection it is included in seems to be Ibn Hanbal’s Musnad.

    Say this to any Muslim and they will immediately know talking to you would be a waste of time. May be research a bit more.

    Reply
    1. Sami

      [I think a lot of Muslims I know might be reluctant to put so much weight on such a hadith!] this part. Thank you for putting a smile on my face. This was the second post I read from your blog, and hopefully this would be my last. You know very little.

      Reply
  5. Bilal khan

    Bismillah

    You mentioned that punishments were given in form of natural disaster in other words natural punishments and even the meccans were warned about such punishments ( natural punishments) but instead of natural punishments the meccans were punished with military force

    First of all the standards you said aren’t consistent

    Punishments mentioned were 2 types

    1. Natural (natural disaster), like wind, rain etc…
    2. Supernatural, like stone raining, sea splitting and then joining again causing pharoah to drown etc…

    So the standards from the first place aren’t consistent and 1

    Moreover

    As the brother quoted Quran 54:45 which is a makki surah says

    Soon this ‘large group’ shall be 👉defeated👈, and 👉all of them will turn their backs👈

    It is very clear that it will be war and they will be 👉defeated👈 and 👉they will run away.👈

    Moving on the Quraish were punished with natural and super natural punishments

    Here is hadith about this

    https://sunnah.com/bukhari:4823

    And there is indications of it in

    Quran 44:10-16

    Reply
    1. steelmanapologetics Post author

      Hi Bilal Khan,

      Thank you for your comment 🙂

      I can see what you mean about natural vs. supernatural, but I think the point stands that they are both in the category of things that God does seperately from using human armies. Also I think when God brings things like floods or earthquakes, this is a supernatural use of natural means.

      Fair enough if you think Q 54:45 is decisive, I discuss this a lot above.

      Thank you for the hadith, that’s interesting – I would still say this doesn’t necessarily change the Qur’anic shift (as opposed to late hadith) that Marshall claims to detect.

      Q 44:16 warns the people of the ‘baṭshata’. In Q 54:36 Lot warns his people of the same thing, and they were not destroyed by military means. They were destroyed by fire from heaven.

      Reply
      1. Bilalkhan

        Thank you for your replay

        But you didn’t discuss Q54:45

        Which exclusively says defeat, and says will turn their backs

        The word defeat makes it clear it should be war, moreover in Quran 38:11
        It becomes crystal clear

        They are but] soldiers [who will be] defeated there among the companies [of disbelievers].

        Soldiers will be defeated makes the prophecy crystal clear that it is war and soldier (army, military will be defeated) so it is clear cut military punishment

        The surah is makki surah and also after the same verse the next verses talk about people of noah, phraoh etc…

        Quran 38:12

        The people of Noah denied before them, and [the tribe of] ‘Aad and Pharaoh, the owner of stakes,

        Quran 38:13

        And [the tribe of] Thamūd and the people of Lot and the companions of the thicket [i.e., people of Madyan]. Those are the companies.1

        Reply
      2. Bilalkhan

        I wrote a comment but IDK it disappeared somehow

        Quran 54:45
        You only said that it uses the words they turned their back, and the brother pointed that this means escaping from war, but you said it ain’t obvious

        What I wanted to say is that the verse says

        Their] assembly will be 👉defeated👈, and 👉they will turn their backs [in retreat].👈

        The word defeated makes or clear that this is in context of war

        Quran 38:11
        Completely debunks this theory

        Quran 38:11
        They are but] soldiers [who will be] defeated there among the companies [of disbelievers].

        Quran 38 is a makki surah
        Here it is made crystal clear that this will be a military punishment since it says
        Soldiers/armies/military will be defeated

        Moreover
        Verses after this talks about punishments sent to other nations like to pharoah, noah etc…

        Quran 38:12

        The people of Noah denied before them, and [the tribe of] ‘Aad and Pharaoh, the owner of stakes,

        Quran 38:13

        And [the tribe of] Thamud and the people of Lot and the companions of the thicket. Those are the companies.

        Reply
        1. steelmanapologetics Post author

          Hi Bilalkhan,

          Please excuse my very slow reply – I’ve had a few weeks off. Thank you for your comment 🙂

          I do discuss Q 54:45 in the comments above, if not in the article itself.

          Q 38:11 is an interesting example, that I wasn’t aware of, and so I thank you for bringing it to my attention. I wonder if, as I have argued for Q 54:45 (see comments above), this is a case of using a military metaphor for a non-military destruction. As in the disbelievers are pictured as gathering together against God, but then God scatters them with supernatural judgement. I explain in my comments on Q 54:45 why I think this may be going on in that verse.

          I also think this fits Q 38:10-14 well. ‘Confederates’ (ahzab) are spoken of in both v. 10 of the Meccans and of these other people groups in v. 13. But even though both are portrayed as a host of people opposing god, God scatters them through non-military means. The people of Noah were destroyed through a flood, Pharoah through drowning in the sea, etc. If this is true of these groups, called ‘confederates’ in v. 13, why is it not true of the Meccans in v. 10, that they are also threatened with non-military forms of punishment?

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