Beyond the Cusp

August 10, 2007

Which Quran, Mecca or Medina?

Filed under: Uncategorized — qwertster @ 10:48 AM
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The Quran as we know it today is in reality two quite different books. The older Quran was written in Mecca while the later Quran was written in Medina. This lead some scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to refer to the Quran by its two parts, the Mecca Quran and the Medina Quran. Both were transcribed as told by Muhammad to a scribe, as Muhammad was illiterate as were a majority in his day. A majority of the Surah in the Quran were written in Mecca with the rest written in Medina. The problem is that the Surah in the Quran are not placed in chronological order, but are ordered as shown here, along with the city of origin of each Surah. This will have importance later in this article. By not ordering the Surah in their chronological order one must refer to the Hadiths and other Islamic texts to discern the original order as Muhammad received his visions from Allah. This added to the secretive mystery that was spun around the Quran making its reading less straightforward to non-Muslims.

The Mecca Quran was all about tolerance, tranquility, spirituality, acceptance, and inner cleansing through submission to the word of Allah. This earlier part of the Quran also dictated many of the rules that individual Muslims must perform and abide in their day-to-day lives. In my most humble opinion the Mecca Quran formed a basis for a religion that bridged some of the gaps and controversies between the Christians and the Jews. Where Christians no longer followed much of the Rules of Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws, the Quran reinstated many of these laws. But in the Mecca Quran the idea of an eye for an eye was replaced by a more Christian philosophy. In many ways I see the Mecca Quran as an attempt at a compromise that would appeal to those Jews who found merit in the Christian teachings but refused to release from Jewish traditions while also appealing to those Christians who were not totally comfortable with having left so much of Judaism behind. Either way, Muhammad set about to preach his revelations and gain converts, mostly from among Christians and Jews. The major obstacle in Muhammad’s efforts was that times were economically very good and most people were quite content with their current way of life. When people are happy and things are going well, people are usually not open to change as change may upset the balance or whatever that gives them this comfort and wealth. With time, Muhammad became more vocal as he was probably very frustrated that so few were willing to accept his preaching of Allah. This lead to his being forcefully requested to depart Mecca. So, he and his core converts to Islam made their way to Medina.

Undaunted, upon his arrival in Medina Muhammad continued his preaching and search for converts. Initially Muhammad abided by the peaceable and tolerant words of the Mecca Quran. Early in the Medina period, the life for Muhammad and his followers was difficult as they faced a shortage of food as they had yet to become financially solvent within the society of Medina. This was resolved when Muhammad not only allowed for the raiding of the trade caravans, but blessed the actions and praised the raiders. This naturally upset many of the merchants who were dependant on these caravans for their livelihood. This combined with the rejection of the teaching proselytized by Muhammad by much of the Jewish tribes in Medina gave way to escalating violence. This conflict escalated finally leading to the attack by the forces of Muhammad upon the Banu-Nadhir Jews. During this period Muhammad started to reveal the parts of the Quran from Medina. He had originally ruled that Muslims prayed facing Jerusalem, but the opposition from the Jews had him replace Jerusalem as the center of faith to Mecca. His newer revelations were more violent and had the Jews as the primary focus of this violence. This Medina Quran also incorporated much of the moral blessings of violence and caravan raiding taken from the Arab tribes who thrived on these ventures. This lead to many of these tribes adopting this newer form of Islam as dictated by Muhammad thus supplying Muhammad with a sizeable army at his command.

These were the pressures and societal conditions that lead to the differences between the Mecca and Medina portions of the Quran. While in Mecca Muhammad enjoyed the shared wealth of his clan and his tribe. Living an easier life his writings were more inclusive and passive. After being forced from Mecca and taking up his new residence in Medina, Muhammad no longer had the clan and tribal support and was on his own. This harder reality affected his writings, which became more assertive and violent. The importance here is that Muhammad ruled that if a later Surah contradicted a previous Surah, then the most recent and newer Surah was the true word of Allah. This is why figuring out the chronological order of the Surah is so essential to understanding Islam. It is also why one must read the whole Quran and not listen and decide matters only on quotes of individual Surah. The fact that Surah exist that have opposite intent and meanings should be noted so one can discern the validity of each Surah. If one is quoting from the Mecca Quran and there is a contradicting Surah in the Medina Quran, then the quote is no longer valid. Where much of the rituals come from the Mecca Quran along with the calls for tolerance and peace, the more exclusionary and violence condoning Surah in the Medina Quran negate the peaceful intention of the Surah from the earlier Mecca writings. This is why one must be careful when accepting as fact anybody’s quoting of the Surah of the Quran.

Perhaps some day a scholar will write a version of the Quran with the Surah in chronological order with footnotes to denote which Surah have been superceded by later Surah. Until then we are left to research these discrepancies ourselves. Not an easy task, but a necessary one if we are to understand Islam and Muslims.

Beyond the Cusp

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44 Comments »

  1. You’ve stated very succinctly the difference in “mood” between the Meccan and Medina ayat. When and where discrepancies exist, the accepted practice within Islam is as you say: the more recent scriptures invalidate the older scriptures, and this is called nasikh. Hence the later, more militant Medina scriptures abrogate the older, more liberal Meccan scriptures. Nasikh is accpeted by both Sunni and Shi’a. May I also point you to http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08692a.htm for an excellent list of which sura originated from Mecca and which originated from Medina; for a superb table of the same, visit http://www.missionislam.com/quran/revealationorder.htm. Thank you for your insights and willingness in running your blog. Mashallah

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Arman Ogilvy — September 22, 2008 @ 8:36 AM | Reply

  2. This was very interesting- I was looking for a good summary of the historical/scriptural significance of the evolution of the suwar.

    I am completely sympathetic to your hope for an annotated Quran. Would you recommend any academic/semi-academic books that are the sources for this post?

    Many thanks.

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    Comment by Chris — May 22, 2009 @ 2:05 PM | Reply

  3. Great article. Actually, Dr. Bill Warner, of the site http://www.politicalislam.com, shares this view with you about the two Korans. I think this is a difficult concept for some people to grasp so I don't refer to it this way.

    However, you wanted a Koran in chronological order and that has been done. Political Islam has actually put that together with the appropriate historical information so that the story flows and is easily understood.

    I am friends with the site owner, but I do not profit from recommending the book. It's just the best Koran out there and will fill in all the blanks. The bad verses are not abrogated. Period. There is no confusion when read in chronological order.

    sioanetwork.com

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    Comment by kendra — November 12, 2009 @ 12:15 AM | Reply

  4. The “footnotes” and chronological order that you are looking for are found in a series called Tafseer-Al-Quran. You may also find many free downloads of explanatory texts at http://www.kalamullah.com. There is also a very nice site called onereason.org which contains a book called “The Man in the Red Underpants”. A fantastic read for those who would like to understand the purpose of life.

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    Comment by CTH — November 16, 2013 @ 1:56 AM | Reply

  5. What is your source for these statements? Is it primary source from people living and writing at that time? I have heard told that Mohammed was assassinated on his way to Medina and someone else hijacked the group and dictated the violent Medina verses for the purpose of conquest and material gain.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Artmanifesto — December 8, 2014 @ 3:41 PM | Reply

  6. […] portion of the Koran and the later, much more violent, Medina surah. (A quick guide can be found here.) The “death to the unbelievers” portions are generally from the later […]

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    Pingback by Taking Islamic Terror Seriously | Jay Currie — January 8, 2015 @ 2:40 PM | Reply

  7. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

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    Comment by OyiaBrown — January 11, 2015 @ 11:50 AM | Reply

  8. It is interesting to compare Mohamed with other prophets .Is there a similarity or complete difference .Many of the prophets of Jewish history were persecuted or executed because their message was unwelcome to a people who had departed from following God .The context of the prophet , the recipients of the message .And the reason why the prophet was appointed by God .Verification ,if in deed the prophet was from God or false .There is no doubt when investigating prophets from Jewish history that the message is always clear .Not clouded .The direction of God was always clear .Even to Jonah who went the other way .And you know the story .It took a whale to turn him the right way !Then some may say what about Elijah and the prophets of baal .What was at stake ?The unmistakable evidence of God’s direction at that event .

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    Comment by Quavertune — April 24, 2015 @ 4:42 AM | Reply

  9. Hi there

    Can I reblog this at skepticink.com/tippling?

    Good succinct article.

    JP

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    Comment by Jonathan MS Pearce — June 23, 2015 @ 2:40 AM | Reply

  10. Does iit say anywhere in the Quran that Muhammad raped women? if so, where?? And is wearing the Burka in the Quran? If so, where. Thank you.

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    Comment by Annie — September 25, 2015 @ 4:54 AM | Reply

    • As far as we have been able to determine, neither is in the Quran or the Hadiths.

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      Comment by qwertster — September 25, 2015 @ 5:48 AM | Reply

  11. Mecca didn’t even exist in Muhammad’s time. How is it that everyone believes that it was written there? Can you provide 1 piece of evidence that proves the existence of mecca pre 700AD?

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    Comment by @wishcoat — October 13, 2015 @ 6:32 AM | Reply

  12. […] in with the later more violent “Medina” verses as explained in this article: https://beyondthecusp.wordpress.com/2007/08/10/which-quran-mecca-or-medina/. Apparently, later verses take precedence over earlier ones, which means that the more violent […]

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    Pingback by What To Do About ISIS? | Janelle the Atheist — November 17, 2015 @ 5:35 PM | Reply

  13. […] the mood, situation and outlook which affected Mohammad’s outlook and authority in our article Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? The description touches on the basics but if visits are any indication, then it does fulfill that […]

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    Pingback by Islam and the Future of Representative Governance | Beyond the Cusp — November 30, 2015 @ 3:58 AM | Reply

  14. It is my belief that though 2 Korans were dictated by prophet Mohammed and written by scribes, either one or both Korans were amended, altered, changed, additional material was added not long after prophet’s death, at the time of battle between Yazid and prophets’ grand son Hussain who was killed in the battle at Karbla, the place and time of birth of Shia sect in Islam. Therefore logically, the identity of two Korans was transferred to Sunni and Shia korans respectively.

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    Comment by Aqil Minhas — December 1, 2015 @ 4:54 PM | Reply

  15. […] made them so different may we recommend one of our much earlier articles on the subject titled Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? and hope it and the other links, mostly in the comments section, will be of some […]

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    Pingback by United Nations Working Group Plans for Jews and Israel | Beyond the Cusp — December 17, 2015 @ 3:13 AM | Reply

  16. Basically the mecca Koran describes a religion like many others, that we could live peacefully with. But the Medina Koran describes a warlike cult, where the religious, secular, and military leader are all one person, with that person advocates spreading their religion by war and violence, and persecuting non believers. This makes the Medina Koran far more like a totalitarian political ideology, like Fascism or Communism, than any religion. So the real difference with Islam being a religion of peace is are they only following half the religion (the Mecca half) or all of it (including the murderous Medina half). Because of this, Islam is one of the few religions where the more devoted you are to following all of the religion, rather than just part of it, the more violent and dangerous you become.
    Also, unlike Christianity, where the more violent old testament is explicitly superseded by the more peaceful New Testamant, in the Koran the murderous violent Median portion supercedes the more peaceful Mecca portion. Because of this, I do not believe any Muslim should be allowed into Western society unless the publically renounce the Medina Koran, and swear they will only be bound by the Mecca Koran, just as a Christian Nazi would be able to keep their Christianity, but renounce their Nazism.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by richard40 — December 22, 2015 @ 5:26 PM | Reply

  17. […] from Mecca. (For a quick synopsis and a number of useful links in the comments visit our article Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? for a quick summary and reasons for the differences between the two writings of the Quran and why […]

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    Pingback by America Election 2016 and Beyond | Beyond the Cusp — December 30, 2015 @ 4:10 AM | Reply

  18. […] book, the Quran, which is actually two books written in two cities and two opposing viewpoints, the Medina Quran and the Mecca Quran representing the contrasting periods and fortunes in Muhammad’s life. The followers who finally […]

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    Pingback by Disturbing Dreams Near and Far | Beyond the Cusp — January 10, 2016 @ 3:14 AM | Reply

  19. If you are going for most excellent contents like I do, only visit this site everyday since it presents feature contents, thanks

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    Comment by mushaf maqamat — January 17, 2016 @ 9:38 AM | Reply

  20. […] with numerous links added by our readers along with others all in the comments here at our article Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? The changes would take time as the indoctrination of the Arab society has been so immersive and […]

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    Pingback by President Obama’s Wars on United States and Israel | Beyond the Cusp — February 4, 2016 @ 3:14 AM | Reply

  21. […] surrender to Allah which includes surrender to the whims of the Imams. A simple summary can be read here with numerous links offered in comments which answer many of the questions one might have, all in all our readers have grown this essay into a complete […]

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    Pingback by What Could Israel do to End the Stalemate | Beyond the Cusp — March 3, 2016 @ 3:59 AM | Reply

  22. […] the Quaran — the latter part named Medina overrides the early part of their bible, the Mecca (more details). Whatever is contradictory in the Quran the Medina part overrides the Mecca part — reason? […]

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    Pingback by A Clear and Present Danger – Forfeit Liberty, Forfeit All — March 5, 2016 @ 9:21 PM | Reply

  23. I was telling an agnostic friend I had read the Koran cover to cover and was just getting to the difference of the parts written in Mecca and Medina. Just at the moment I was about to explain abrogation, we were interrupted by a woman dressed in a burka. She commandeered the conversation emphasizing that Mohammed had said “To you, yours; to mine, mine”. Long story short, I told her I would find the passage and determine what what stage Mohammed had said it and it’s meaning, IF, she would look up “Abrogation” and see what Mohammed preached thereafter. Sure enough, she was quoting from the Meccan period. With the Koran…abrogation, abrogation, abrogation. My conclusion, Islam is NOT a religion of peace. Any abrogation to refute my conclusion?

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    Comment by Mark Laird — April 20, 2016 @ 8:09 PM | Reply

  24. The first mosques builded to 740 had their Qibla towards Petra isnt that odd. After that it became Mecca. that suggest that Mecca did not exist before that time so how could Mohammed received the revelation while Mecca did not exist in his time? Look how the holy city is decribed… Mecca as an important trade city ? Well in no early important trade documents is mecca to find…instead we find Petra en from Petra we know it was a important city on a major arabic traderoute.
    Jay Smith gives explanation in a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd9lIuUjPs0

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    Comment by Elchino — April 29, 2016 @ 9:52 AM | Reply

  25. […] the Mecca Quran as it was the most recent interpretations of the will of Allah, as we explained in Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? Additionally, there are numerous links added by other people which can add significantly to our […]

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    Pingback by Obama Intent to Crush Israel | Beyond the Cusp — May 9, 2016 @ 2:53 AM | Reply

  26. […] in the proper precedence and superceding versus. More can be read about this in our article Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? As the good, quiet, respectable and good neighbors know the Quran in its entirety and the […]

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    Pingback by Coming Culture Clash; Prepare or Lose by Default | Beyond the Cusp — June 1, 2016 @ 2:32 AM | Reply

  27. […] Quran and many quality links throughout the comments may we suggest our article and the comments of Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? The difference between the two writings are so stark that there have been rumors that they were […]

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    Pingback by Weeds in the MENA Garden Conclusions | Beyond the Cusp — June 4, 2016 @ 2:43 AM | Reply

  28. […] of numerous links provided by many of our readers added in the comments section at our article Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? This Sura adds even more to the meaning of what we reveal in our […]

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    Pingback by Terror Strikes United States in Orlando Club | Beyond the Cusp — June 14, 2016 @ 2:11 AM | Reply

  29. […] cast as “conquer the world for Allah.” A somewhat deeper explanation can be read starting with Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? and followed up after that brief summary from a wealth of information added by numerous readers in […]

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    Pingback by Our Feckless World | Beyond the Cusp — June 20, 2016 @ 2:11 AM | Reply

  30. […] If Muhammad said two things that appear to be contradictory, you must heed the last command he gave.  And he did that a LOT, by the way.  There are a whole BUNCH of what I call “convenient suras” in which Muhammad contradicted something he had previously said in order to justify getting something he wanted.  And in the case of the history of Muhammad and the Islam he created, there is simply no question: when Muhammad started out in Medina, he was the underdog and even his own tribe refused to follow hi…. […]

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    Pingback by The Stupidest Lie In All Human History: It Has Nothing To Do With Islam When Muslims Force You To Recite Qur’an Or Die | Start Thinking Right — July 5, 2016 @ 6:16 AM | Reply

  31. […] a reformation and declares the Mecca Quranic writings as superseding the Medina Quranic writings (click for a brief explanation of the differences and reasons with links provided by other readers in…). Odd as it may seem, that is all that is required for Islam to become as any other religion […]

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    Pingback by Turkish Coup Second Guessing Begins | Beyond the Cusp — July 17, 2016 @ 11:55 PM | Reply

  32. […] by Islam, particularly Sunni Islam and then the Medina Quran over the Mecca Quran (Explained here) which strictly protect Islam as the only religion by which a nation can be ruled, period. There […]

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    Pingback by Replacing the Two State Paradigm | Beyond the Cusp — July 25, 2016 @ 4:42 AM | Reply

  33. […] and the Mecca Quran can become dominant over the Medina Quran (read our intro to the two Qurans here) and the initial verses of tolerance and welcome will prevail over those of conquest by the sword […]

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    Pingback by How Many Innocents Must Die? | Beyond the Cusp — July 30, 2016 @ 12:33 AM | Reply

  34. […] by force if required which were recorded in Medina. An introductory explanation can be found here. Suffice it to say these different and opposing verses are implemented such that Islam slowly […]

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    Pingback by Colonial Expansions Resumed | Beyond the Cusp — September 1, 2016 @ 2:39 AM | Reply

  35. […] of the later verses from Medina. It was this question we addressed a few years back in our article Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? This article has many additional links to further information from all sides and points of view […]

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    Pingback by Why Must Israel and Jerusalem Remain One? | Beyond the Cusp — September 25, 2016 @ 2:18 AM | Reply

  36. […] more on the writings of the Quran we wrote a short piece as an introduction titled Which Quran, Mecca or Medina? and friends of BTC have added numerous informative and accurate links to a varied assortment of […]

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    Pingback by President Obama’s Surprise No Surprise at All | Beyond the Cusp — December 26, 2016 @ 3:16 AM | Reply


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