Al-Isra and the “Temple” in the Islamic Sources: Response to Sam Shamoun, Part III-B
Originally posted on the Quran and Bible Blog
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.”
– The Quran, Surah Al-Isra, 17:1
This article is a continuation of my three-part refutation of Sam Shamoun’s latest train-wreck. Here, I will respond to “Part 2” of Shamoun’s rebuttal. As we will see, Shamoun has a weird hang-up on the meaning of the word “mosque” (this will be seen in Part III-C as well). He is so convinced of his own idiotic opinion, that he will even try to twist the scholarly sources to say what he wants them to say, and even try to revise established history just to glorify his ego. However, Shamoun’s shoddy and deceptive tactics will be refuted, inshaAllah.
Sam Shamoun – The Fraud, Act 2
Shamoun begins this train-wreck in “Part 2” by appealing to some more ahadith which he thinks support his argument, but which actually further demonstrate his incompetence and ignorance of classical Islamic sources. Moreover, this is just a repetition of the same argument that I have already thoroughly refuted. When the ahadith refer to the “Mosque of Aqsa” or the “Mosque of Aelia”, or when they state that the Prophet prayed “in” the mosque, they are referring to the entire compound. Shamoun has yet to refute this, and yet he has convinced himself of his own delusion, which is why he says that:
“[s]eeing that the Kabah and Muhammad’s mosque are clearly physical buildings, this means that bait al-mqadis [sic] must be a physical building as well. There’s simply no way around this.”
It is truly amazing to see how deluded Shamoun really is. He really expects us to accept his flawed logic based on a non-sequitur. We have already established that Al-Masjid Al-Haram and Al-Masjid An-Nabawi were both built as open-air mosques. The dome that currently sits on top of the latter was only added later. In its original form, Al-Masjid An-Nabawi was just like Al-Masjid Al-Haram. Not only that, but the Kaaba (which is part of Al-Masjid Al-Haram) itself is part physical-building (the cube-shaped building) and part open-space (Al-Hatim). Finally, even if these were physical buildings complete with doors, windows, etc., that does not mean that Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa must also necessarily be a similar building. Shamoun just cannot get it through his head that this is just flawed logic on his part. As I explained in Part II, if I went on vacation and said that “I left my house in the morning and traveled to Tokyo”, no one in their right mind would assume that Tokyo must also be a house. Rather, it would be understood that it is a city.
The extent of Shamoun’s delusion is so great that he even proposes the ridiculous and far-fetched theory that Surah 17 was “composed after the caliph Abd al-Malik bin Marwan”! He also states:
“[a]fter all, what better way to justify the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem than to claim that their prophet had been taken there as a sign that Allah had given him and his followers the right to it seeing that he is the seal of all the biblical prophets, and therefore the rightful heir to this holy place?”
But does Shamoun present any scholarly evidence to support this, other than his own idiotic non-sequitur and misunderstanding of the Islamic sources? Of course not. This is all in Shamoun’s incompetent mind. Indeed, the evidence is once again in opposition to Shamoun and his delusions.
First of all, the fact is that there was no need to “justify the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem” by making up a verse about it which doesn’t even mention Jerusalem by name. If the motive was to establish a link between Islam and Jerusalem, then one would assume that the verse would have been forged so as to leave no doubt that it was referring to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, as we have seen, the verse was indeed clearly referring to the Holy Land (see Part III-A). The point is that if the motivation was to place a Muslim claim over Jerusalem by forging the verse, then it follows that the verse would have plainly mentioned Jerusalem by name, which is not the case.
The other reason why there was no need to justify a Muslim claim over Jerusalem by forging this verse is that there is no doubt that Muslims prayed in the direction of Jerusalem from the beginning, until the qibla (direction of prayer) was changed to Mecca. On this point, there is no disagreement, whether among Muslim scholars or non-Muslim scholars. No one denies that the first qibla was towards Jerusalem. Shamoun would be very hard-pressed to refute this. Indeed, it would be very unlikely, and down-right impossible, that all the qibla verses would also have been forged after Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan!
Second, we can point to the paleographical evidence to refute Shamoun’s absurd theory. A manuscript of the Quran, Codex Sana’a I, has been dated to the mid-first century AH (after hijra), and specifically to within 15 years after the Prophet Muhammad’s death. As explained by “Islamic-Awareness”, scholars have thoroughly analyzed this codex and concluded that:
“…the scriptio inferior text belonged to the period of the companions of Prophet Muhammad, whilst the scriptio superior text belonged to the ʿUthmānic tradition, and using stemmatics, the ʿUthmānic tradition was shown to give the most accurate reproduction of the Prophetic prototype.”
Moreover, the scriptio superior text is thought to have been written:
“…by the first or second half of the 7th century or even the early 8th century (more generally the 1st century hijra).”
So there is a good chance that it was written before the reign of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan (i.e., before 685 CE), though it is also possible (but unlikely) that it was written afterwards as well. Now, what does this have to with the present topic? Well, the codex contains more than 40% of the Quran, including Surah 17:1 (folio 6B).
But wait, there is more. There is an even better example of paleographical evidence that completely refutes Shamoun’s theory. Codex B. L. Or. 2165 has been dated to the “second half of the 1st century of hijra”, and folio 39r contains the verse from Surah 17. Furthermore, Yasin Dutton, an international authority on Quranic manuscripts, has suggested that the codex can be dated to before the reign of al-Walid ibn Abd al-Malik(r. 705-715 CE), the son of and successor to Abd al-Malik. In other words, we have good evidence that this codex was written before the time period that Shamoun is suggesting when Surah 17:1 was allegedly forged to manufacture an Islamic claim to Jerusalem! Thus, the paleographic evidence discounts Shamoun’s pathetic theory.
But wait, there’s more! Codex Arabe 331 is another manuscript of the Quran which contains Surah 17:1 (folio 48v), and it has been dated with 89.3% probability to between 652–694 CE, thus placing it before the end of Abd al-Malik’s reign. In contrast, there is only a 6.1% probability that it was written between 747–763 CE.
More evidence of the Islamic connection to Jerusalem and the Holy Land comes from an anonymous Christian chronicler, previously thought to be a bishop named Sebeos. This chronicler is thought to have written his account in the 660s, almost 20 years before the beginning of Abd al-Malik’s reign. According to him, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself had stated that the Holy Land had been given to Abraham (peace be upon him), which is also stated in the the Quran (see Part III-A), and that as the “posterity” of Abraham, the Muslims were to “go and take possession” of that land. It seems unlikely that a Christian would have made up such a claim unless he had heard of the Islamic connection to the Holy Land and Jerusalem in some form.
Finally, Uri Rubin explains that the Quran’s reference to Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem “corresponds to the evidence of the vocabulary of the Qur’an itself…” More importantly, Rubin states that this link (emphasis mine):
“…can be considered pre-Umayyad.”
Also, according to Professor Beatrice St. Laurent (Bridgewater State University), there is evidence that the governor of Syria, Muawiya (may Allah be pleased with him), had built a mosque on the Haram Al-Sharif compound between 638 and 660 CE (this mosque was known as Solomon’s Stables but is now known as the Marwani Musalla). Not only that, but St. Laurent also proposes that it was Muawiya who initiated the construction of the Dome of the Rock, and not Abd Al-Malik Ibn Marwan. Rather, the latter continued the project where the former had left off, and completed the Dome of the Rock in 692 CE. This is an interesting observation, as it would prove that a companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Muawiya, had placed great importance on the entire sanctuary. This is why he would have initiated 2 building projects, one for the Marwani Musalla and one for the Dome of the Rock, the latter being the location from which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ascended to Heaven during the Night Journey. This also proves once again that the entire compound was considered a sacred area, and thus a “mosque”, with smaller mosques built within it.
So once again, Shamoun finds himself on the wrong side of history and the evidence. This concludes Part III-B of my response.
 This is from the Saheeh International translation.
 As we have already established, the “doors” of Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa mentioned in the ahadith simply refer to the gates of the Temple Mount compound. See Part I for a discussion.
 According to Robert Hoyland, the anonymous chronicle does not match “the three surviving excerpts from Sebeos’ composition”, and “so the two must be considered distinct documents, the one by Sebeos having been lost bar the excerpts” (Seeing Islam As Others Saw It: A Survey And Evaluation Of Christian, Jewish And Zoroastrian Writings On Early Islam [Princeton, New Jersey: The Darwin Press, Inc., 1997], p. 124, https://legrandsecretdelislam.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/r-hoyland-seeing_islam_as_other_saw_it.pdf).
 Ibid., p. 129.
 Uri Rubin, “Muhammad’s Night Journey (isra’) to al-Masjid al-Aqsa: Aspects of the Earliest Origins of the Islamic Sanctity of Jerusalem,” al-Qantara 29 (2008): 164, https://www.academia.edu/5617249/_Muhammad_s_Night_Journey_isra_to_al-Masjid_al-Aqsa_Aspects_of_the_Earliest_Origins_of_the_Islamic_Sanctity_of_Jerusalem_.
 Beatrice St. Laurent, “Discovering Jerusalem’s First Mosque on theHaram al-Sharif and Capitalizing Jerusalem in theSeventh Century,” Bridgewater Review, 36, no. 1 (May 2017): 23, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/85c9/35af2ef8cf10a9143b98e3b7a345f86dbe82.pdf.
 Ibid., p. 26.