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16. Who Started Islam: Abraham or the Arabs?
Chapter 6. Summary and Outlook

6.1. Answers from the Koran

Who started Islam: Abraham or the Arabs? We have tried to answer this question from South India by looking carefully at the four concepts that make up this question: Islam, Abraham, the Arabs and the act of starting something. We have encountered a multiplicity of problems in connection with the texts consulted. Therefore, we understand that the lady professors, who raised this question, looked for help from outside. The answer is not simple, because you get different answers on the basis of different sources. Let us therefore briefly summarize our findings by focusing on the three different kinds of sources we have looked at, sketching which answers can be given in the context of each one of these sources.

We start with the Arabic Koran, because it is at the heart of Islam in our world today. Three answers can be given in its context:

On the one hand, the answer from the Koran could be that Muhammad started Islam, because according to the Koran he was commanded to be the first Muslim (see 5.2a). Another reason for this answer is that Muhammad was the person through whom the Koran came into being from the very moment in which the first words of the Koran reached him (see 4.6a), and without the Koran there would be no Islam in our present understanding of the term. Also, the Arab followers of Muhammad, by listening to and obeying him, were involved in starting Islam, because without them we would not have a Koran today (see 4.6c) and nobody would know that Muhammad lived and started Islam together with his Arab followers (see 4.6a and 4.6b).

On the other hand, the answer from the Koran could also be that Abraham started Islam, because according to the Koran Abraham and Ishmael did not only become Muslims (see 1.2), but they also constructed the Ka'ba (see 3.2). And since the Koran through words given to Muhammad changed the direction of prayer from Jerusalem to the Ka'ba in Mecca (see 3.6) the Arabs around Muhammad came to practice the Islam, which Abraham and his son Ishmael had started ages ago, according what the Koran claims.

Finally, the answer from the Koran could also be that neither Muhammad nor Abraham started Islam, because Noah was a Muslim before Abraham and the Koran says that everyone in the heavens and on earth were or are Muslims (see 5.2b). And since the Koran teaches that the only religion acceptable by Allah is Islam (see 5.2c) and that Islam is rooted in the teaching of the Koran that Allah universally and continually begins creating people, thereby establishing their duty to be Muslims unto him, one could even say that Allah himself started and continually starts Islam, at least in the lives of each newly created person past, present and future (see 5.3).

This bewildering diversity of answers is typical for the Koran. You find such mutually contradicting answers in connection with many other teachings of the Koran, for example in the question whether the Koran is completely composed in a clearly understandable Arabic or not (see 4.3). Even though the Koran states that it is in clear Arabic, this is evidently not the case, because there are inscrutable letters at the beginning of some Suras and many non-Arabic words in the vocabulary of the Koran. In addition, if you look at the details of the three options listed above, you will discover that the wordings of the Koran verses on which these conflicting answers are based are sometimes so vague that more problems arise than are solved. We saw this for example in connection with the Koran verses that suggest Abraham went to Mecca (see 3.3). Therefore, we suspect that the major reason, why the lady professors in South India were not able to resolve the question about whether Abraham or the Arabs started Islam, has its root in this ambiguity, vagueness and sometimes outright inconsistency in many teachings of the Koran. This in turn may be rooted in the fact that the Koran was not finished as a book when Muhammad died, but was compiled two decades after his death in a complex and contested process after many of his first companions had died (see 4.6c).

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