Sam Garrans in his translation of the Quran claims that 9:28 has been mis-transcribed in all copies of the Quran and is actually a commandment to all followers of the Quran to abolish the practice of Hajj after prophet Muhammad.
Below is the verse in question: 9:28.
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا إِنَّمَا المُشرِكونَ نَجَسٌ فَلا يَقرَبُوا المَسجِدَ الحَرامَ بَعدَ عامِهِم هٰذا ۚ وَإِن خِفتُم عَيلَةً فَسَوفَ يُغنيكُمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضلِهِ إِن شاءَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَليمٌ حَكيمٌ
yā-ʾayyuhā lladhīna ʾāmanū ʾinnamā l-mushrikūna najasun fa-lā yaqrabū l-masjida l-ḥarāma baʿda ʿāmihim hādhā wa-ʾin khiftum ʿaylatan fa-sawfa yughnīkumu llāhu min faḍlihī ʾin shāʾa ʾinna llāha ʿalīmun ḥakīmun
[9:28] O you who believe, the idol worshipers are polluted; they shall not be permitted to approach the Sacred Masjid after this year. If you fear loss of income, GOD will shower you with His provisions, in accordance with His will. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
Sam Garrans makes the claim that the يَقرَبُوا (yaqrabū = they come near) has been miss-transcribed by the early scribes and should have been written as as تَقرَبُوا (taqrabū = you [all] come near). This change would effectively change the meaning of the verse from instead of removing the idol worshipers from the Sacred Masjid to God commanding the believers not to enter the Sacred Masjid after this year.
To assess this claim, it makes sense to start with the earliest Arabic texts we have of the Quran. The challenge is that the earliest copies of the Quran did not contain the dots let alone the vowels for the Arabic text. This was added later on in the Arabic text for trying to achieve consistency in the Quran.
There are instances where the letters that were included in the final text ended up being miswritten sometimes because of a misplaced dot (see example here), misplaced vowels regarding the hamza and alif, extra letters regarding lam in some text, and even an instance where a seen was accidentally written as a sad (see image below).
Below are some examples from how the Arabic script looks in some of the early copies of the Quran for 9:28. As you notice the dots and vowels are not present.
Since a case can’t be made by looking at the script of the ancient text then there are two ways that this point can be evaluated.
- If the word should be fa-lā taqrabū is that grammatically correct in the verse?
- Does the word fa-lā taqrabū cause any contradictions in the rest of the Quran?
Would fa-lā taqrabū be grammatically correct in the verse?
While both forms are grammatically correct, if we interpret the word as taqrabū then some irregularities occur in the verse. Below is a word for word breakdown of the verse.
If one goes with the understanding of “you [all] come near” as opposed to “they come near,” then the following expression “their year” would not make sense, and should be “your year”.
It should then read:
“So do not you [all] come near the Sacred Masjid after your (final) year.”
Since this would be the believers final year at the Sacred Masjid. This shows that grammatically this would be inconsistent with the rest of the sentence.
Gerrans makes the following point in his footnote to this verse, which does not seem consistent with what is written:
We know that the believers were victorious over the idol worshipers. They were able to take back the Sacred Masjid and perform the Hajj.
Below is the chronological order of the Quran:
We see that the last revelations in reverse were Sura 110, 9, 5, and 48.
[48:27] GOD has fulfilled His messenger’s truthful vision: “You will enter the Sacred Masjid, GOD willing, perfectly secure, and you will cut your hair or shorten it (as you fulfill the pilgrimage rituals) there. You will not have any fear. Since He knew what you did not know, He has coupled this with an immediate victory.”
Additionally, there is one other grammatical point to be made. Typically in the Quran, when God gives a directive it is written in the plural you form without the ta at the beginning of the word. Therefore if God was giving the commandment to all believers to “not enter the Sacred Masjid”, it would have been written in the form as: قرَبُوا
Does the word fa-lā taqrabū cause any contradictions in the rest of the Quran?
[4:82] Why do they not study the Quran carefully? If it were from other than GOD, they would have found in it numerous contradictions.
The Quran does not contain any contradictions. Therefore any interpretation of the Quran should be consistent throughout the entire Quran. The concept of Quranic abrogation has been throughly debunked. See following podcast episode for details.
The Quran commands the believers that we are to observe the Hajj pilgrimage. If it was the case that this Abrahamic ritual was to not be carried on after the time of prophet Muhammad then these verses would no longer apply to any believer after Muhammad and therefore would contradict 9:28 of the Quran.
[3:97] In it are clear signs: the station of Abraham. Anyone who enters it shall be granted safe passage. The people owe it to GOD that they shall observe Hajj to this shrine, when they can afford it. As for those who disbelieve, GOD does not need anyone.
[22:27] “And proclaim that the people shall observe Hajj pilgrimage. They will come to you walking or riding on various exhausted (means of transportation). They will come from the farthest locations.”
[2:158] The knolls of Safa and Marwah are among the rites decreed by GOD. Anyone who observes Hajj or ‘Umrah commits no error by traversing the distance between them. If one volunteers more righteous works, then GOD is Appreciative, Omniscient.
[2:196] You shall observe the complete rites of Hajj and ‘Umrah for GOD. If you are prevented, you shall send an offering, and do not resume cutting your hair until your offering has reached its destination. If you are ill, or suffering a head injury (and you must cut your hair), you shall expiate by fasting, or giving to charity, or some other form of worship. During the normal Hajj, if you break the state of Ihraam (sanctity) between ‘Umrah and Hajj, you shall expiate by offering an animal sacrifice. If you cannot afford it, you shall fast three days during Hajj and seven when you return home—this completes ten—provided you do not live at the Sacred Mosque (Masjid). You shall observe GOD, and know that GOD is strict in enforcing retribution.
[2:197] Hajj shall be observed in the specified months.* Whoever sets out to observe Hajj shall refrain from sexual intercourse, misconduct, and arguments throughout Hajj. Whatever good you do, GOD is fully aware thereof. As you prepare your provisions for the journey, the best provision is righteousness. You shall observe Me, O you who possess intelligence.
[2:198] You commit no error by seeking provisions from your Lord (through commerce). When you file from ‘Arafaat, you shall commemorate GOD at the Sacred Location (of Muzdalifah). You shall commemorate Him for guiding you; before this, you had gone astray.
[2:199] You shall file together, with the rest of the people who file, and ask GOD for forgiveness. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
[2:200] Once you complete your rites, you shall continue to commemorate GOD as you commemorate your own parents, or even better. Some people would say, “Our Lord, give us of this world,” while having no share in the Hereafter.
[2:201] Others would say, “Our Lord, grant us righteousness in this world, and righteousness in the Hereafter, and spare us the retribution of Hell.”
[2:202] Each of these will receive the share they have earned. GOD is most efficient in reckoning.
[2:203] You shall commemorate GOD for a number of days (in Mena); whoever hastens to do this in two days commits no sin, and whoever stays longer commits no sin, so long as righteousness is maintained. You shall observe GOD, and know that before Him you will be gathered.