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Pharaoh and Haman:
The following article was sent to brother Matthew Smith (Yusuf); may Allah Almighty always be pleased with him.
From: "Matthew Smith" <email@example.com>
Subject: Answer to "Pharaoh and Haman" problem
Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 19:18:05
I was just reading through your site and I noticed that your response to the "problem" of supposed historical compressions in the Qur'an consist of a stock response. I just thought I'd add a reply to the section on "Pharaoh and Haman":
Most of the queries on Jochen Katz's site consist of wholly specious claims based on distortion or ignorance of Arabic. This, however, needs closer examination by experts, as it has the power to confuse ignorant Muslims. (For this reason, I discourage Muslims I find trying to debate with Christians in the Speakers Corner in London, as they may well succeed in inspiring doubt in people about their deen (religion). On the other hand, getting people out of Islam is a very different proposition from persuading them of the "truth" of Christianity, and if truth isn't with Islam, then there is no truth in the world. In any case, the proofs for the Qur'an are so numerous that these small matters cannot stand up to them.)
The "historical compression" Katz alleges is in fact in his imagination alone. In various articles on his site he alleges that "Haman" was not an Egyptian name (or at least, doesn't appear in books of ancient Egyptian names); that a character by this name appears in the Biblical book of Esther, as a Persian politician at King Xerxes' court who was an enemy of the Jews; that the tower Haman built (or was asked to build) for Pharaoh has never been dug up by archaeologists; and that Egyptians didn't use "burnt bricks" until Roman times; that the tower reaching the sky was a confusion with the Tower of Babel.
Answer to problems 1 & 2: Haman may have been Persian for all Katz (or anyone else) knows! And just because a character appears in one place doesn't mean someone by the same name appears in the other. Or perhaps Haman was a nickname.
Problem 3: a tower that high wouldn't be archaeologists' business. Ruins and foundations get dug up, not towers reaching to the sky. The reason it isn't there today is either because it never got built (there is no evidence in the Qur'an that it did actually get built), or because it fell down, perhaps in an earthquake, and the bricks used for other purposes.
Problem 4: As for "burnt bricks", the Qur'an does refer to using a fire, but surely that was for baking bricks in a kiln? The Israelites were, according to Exodus, used by the Egyptians as slaves to make bricks.
Problem 5: The confusion with Babel is his invention. The tower of Babel was only 23 meters high! Hardly "reaching to the Heavens"; it probably just seemed that way to the people who saw it. Again, just because something happens in one era doesn't mean it can't happen in another!
Katz seems to assume that the Qur'an, when it claims to "confirm that which went before it", means it necessarily agrees with everything written in the scriptures then available to the people of the Book. In fact what contradicts the Bible is in fact in correction, and by no means demolishes the Qur'an's claim. If the current scriptures were sufficient guidance, there would have been no need for the Qur'an!
Wa Salaat wa Salaam 'ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa 'ala aalihi wa sahbihi wa sallam.
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