The Koran contains stories, claims and statements which seem strange, mythological, plainly contrary to the laws of physics or simply incredible. Within Islam. Many are seen as miracles, but the absence of blind faith enables the cold light of reason see them for what they are! Some of these have already been encountered (eg heaven and earth talking to God). Many More can be easily found throughout the Koran by simply reading the text with an open Mind.
Some commentators have described a certain poetic quality in the Koran and this could be an explanation for what otherwise can only be interpreted as mythological notions. What follows is one description of the Koran, among many:
The Holy Qur’an has its own style, which is different from that of both poetry and prose. It is not poetry because it is neither rhymed, nor has it a metrical rhythm. Moreover, poetry entails a sort of imagery called poetic fancy. It is interwoven with exaggeration which amounts to telling a lie. The Holy Qur’an has no poetic imagery nor fanciful similes and Metaphors. At the same time it is no ordinary prose, for it is characterized by a kind of harmonious flow and cadence not found in any other prose work. The Muslims have always recited the Holy Qur’an with a particular harmonic tune.
The recitation of the Koran which is considered beautiful does not of course make up for what the text actually says if this contains mythological or magical ideas. Here is a selection of fantastic ideas. Some we have already encountered in other chapters. In each case I have given the comment of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan:
(1) According to 19.23-25 when Mary is giving birth to Jesus under a palm tree, she complains to a palm tree about the pains of childbirth. A voice (perhaps the tree?) responds by talking, telling her to shake its trunk and ripe dates will fall.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan comments that this was an angel who spoke to her –
(2) In 19.30ff Jesus as a baby in the cradle starts talking and professes he is the slave of God and a prophet. Further in 19.33 he refers to the fact that he will be raised from the dead (although the fact of crucifixion is denied in 4.157).
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan mentions the miraculous nature of the event but does not comment on the inconsistency with Islamic doctrine that Christ was not actually crucified with the baby Jesus’ prediction that he will be raised from the dead. He does however focus on 19.35: ‘..it does not befit the majesty of God that he should beget a son’, to emphasise the Islamic doctrine that begetting a son conflicts with the unity of God principle.
(3) In 2.31 Allah taught Adam all the names (it appears) of the plants and animals, which Must have taken a while since there are an estimated 1.7 million species that are known today, with probably another 10 million or so that are yet to be discovered. And this does not include species that have gone extinct since the (Mythological) time of Adam.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan makes no relevant comment
(4) According to 2.65-6 Allah turned Jews who break the Sabbath into apes to be despised and hated. According to this should we have to accept that all modern non-practising Jews are descendants of apes or that some modern apes are descendants of Sabbath-breaking Jews?
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan naturally does not criticise of this piece of anti-semitisim, but comments that the audacity of the Jews in violating the Sabbath incurred God’s displeasure, and that ‘whenever one turns against the law of God one puts oneself on a par with animals’.
(5) This theme is pursued in 5.60: Allah has turned some Christians and Jews into apes and swine.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan expresses no surprise but simply supports the polemical nature of the verse
(6) In 2.67-9 Allah tells the Jews to sacrifice a bright yellow cow.
The whole passage shows the Israelites wrangling with Moses rather than simply obeying him. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan criticises them for this. No comment is made about the colour of the cow.
(7) In 2.74 it states there are rocks that fall down for fear of Allah.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan’s comment suggests landslides are meant
(8) In 2.243 Allah is said to have told thousands of soldiers to die. Then after they died, Allah brought them back to life.
M in a long comment finally sums up: ‘Abandoning the path of trust in God leads to the Moral death of nations and communities, while opting for the path of trust in God leads to their regeneration.’
(9) In 2.259 Allah Makes a man “die” for 100 years, and then brings him back to life.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan makes no comment
(10) In 2.260, to show how he gives life to the dead, Allah tells Abraham to cut up the bodies of four birds, scatter their remains on four hills, and then call to them. Allah says that the dead birds will come quickly to Abraham.
I note Maulana Wahiduddin Khan translates this verse differently so as not to suggest the birds are cut up
(11) In 5.111, the disciples of Jesus are said to have described themselves as Muslims! (A term not known for at least 6 decades after 632)
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan avoids this difficulty as he translates the word ‘Muslims’ (as appears in Pickthall) with the phrase: ‘We have submitted’
(12) Belief in demons, angels or Jinns : 6.100; Allah created the jinn but he is not in partnership with them. 15.27: Allah created the jinn from fire. 6.112: He appointed jinns to be the adversaries of prophets. 6.128: Jinns have led many humans astray and 6.130: The jinn were disbelievers. . See also 55.33, 67.6 and surah 72 (naMed ‘The Jinn’)
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan interestingly comments on 6.100 that ‘Since ancient times it has been a weakness on the part of man to find some distinction or mysticism in a thing and then to consider that thing to be a partner of God and start worshipping it..’
(13) When Allah revealed himself to Moses, the Mountain came crashing down. (7.143)
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan translates this passage differently to show that God split the mountain in two. He Makes no comment about this Miracle
(14) In 7.148 the Golden Calf made by the tribes of Israel while Moses was on Mount Sinai gave a lowing sound!
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan makes no comment about the lowing sound emanating from a statue.
(15) 9.40: Allah is said to have supported Muhammad with armies that no one else could see.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan makes no comment on this miracle
(16) 27.18-19 Solomon and the ants talk to each other.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan cmments that Solomon’s army included birds and ants
(17) 27.20-21: Solomon is concerned that the hoopee is not among the birds in his army, and says he will kill the hoopee unless he has a good excuse for his absence.
As above. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan sees no incongruity
(18) 65.12 shows Allah has created seven Heavens
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan translation continues .. ‘and the same number of earths’. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan candidly comments that astronomy has not been able to discover the other 6 earths, so that only God knows the meaning of this verse. Maybe now that planets in other solar systems are being found Muslims will claim this passage predicted them.
Those who are Muslims and who have been taught not just to read or memorise the Koran but also to understand the Arabic, say they do not notice the magical and mythological elements in their reading because they experience the Koranic language as poetic and beautiful.
It takes therefore a translation to reveal just how incredible and legendary some of the Koran appears to a sceptical reader. It is readily understandable that some poetic metaphors to explain a religious point is useful, but what is the significance of ants talking, statues lowing or hoopees being part of Solomon’s army?
What is the explanation for the presence of this material? We have to make allowances for the culture and mindset of the people in whose time the Koran was created; they were a people who found belief in jinns normal. They had a culture centring around stories and memories. Legends and poetry were their culture and the stuff of entertainment. This of course again places the Koran firmly in a historical context, and makes its human origin more likely. If God were issuing revelations why would he have resorted to such material, which he would have known was not true? A devout Muslim will respond that the Koran is the word of God and therefore whatever it says is true.
Having considered a sampling of incredible, mythological and magical material in the Koran, the reader will judge how far how the Traditional claim for the Koran stands up and whether the idea that it is a perfect book and that God authored it is believable.
This section explores the mythical and bizarre material found in the Koran which places it firmly in its historical period and suggest human rather than divine authorship.
 Pickthall translation
 Supernatural beings that could be good or evil, believed in by Middle East folklore