Q&A And A 3: Did Muhammad plagiarize The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard?

Proceeding naturally from Muhammad’s prayer to the Lord let’s continue with even more famous plagiarisms of Islamic literature, beginning (as is my fashion) by highlighting the material that’ll eventually be adapted out of its original context as found in the Gospel of Matthew.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard. About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’ The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:1-16

After having read Matthew there are key features worth taking note of, nonetheless, for the plagiarism being so brazen, there’s little reason to highlight its particularities, instead let’s continue on to the words of sahih-bukhari Volume 3, Book 36, Number 469: ‘Allah’s Apostle said, “Your example and the example of Jews and Christians is like the example of a man who employed some laborers to whom he said, ‘Who will work for me up to midday for one Qirat each?’ The Jews carried out the work for one Qirat each; and then the Christians carried out the work up to the ‘Asr prayer for one Qirat each; and now you Muslims are working from the ‘Asr prayer up to sunset for two Qirats each. The Jews and Christians got angry and said, ‘We work more and are paid less.’ The employer (Allah) asked them, ‘Have I usurped some of your right?’ They replied in the negative. He said, ‘That is My Blessing, I bestow upon whomever I wish.”‘

Having read my last post I needn’t review my original points regarding who’s the plagiarist and when did they do their plagiarisms, we as ordinary people can’t hope to tease apart Muhammad’s words from those of later Muslim propagandists and political figures who presumptuously spoke in his name. Nevertheless we are able to accept the Muslim position on the subject for the sake of examining the implications thereof, let’s accept then that the above is an authentic saying of Muhammad. Moreover, since already outlining the proposition let’s move directly on into the Muslim rebuttals, the first A of this Q&A and A.

 What Muslims say: Denial, The brotherly love defence.

(1) Denial: These writings aren’t plagiarisms, sameness doesn’t mean one has taken from the other. For example, Matthew writes about denarius, while the passage you say is plagiarised says nothing of the sort.

(2) Bargaining. (AKA The brotherly love defence.) Muhammad is actually quoting from his fellow prophets, this isn’t a plagiarism as they were all prophets of Allah, thus they were all preaching the same message.

 What OldSchoolContemporary says: Muhammad plagiarized The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.

(1) Debunking denial.

Are courts as of today incapable of uncovering plagiarism without wholesale lifting of the text?! Of course not, no reasonable person requires total thievery of a text so to show there’s been some sort of plagiarism involved. For example, if I (or Muhammad) were to write a plagiarism equivalent to: ‘It was the best of days, it was the worst of days, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of silliness, it was the epoch of trust, it was the epoch of stupidity, it was the season of daytime, it was the season of Darkness,’ Who would take the Muhammadan seriously when they fire back with words of ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, as found in A Tale of Two Cities, and it was the best of days aren’t word for word alike, therefore no plagiarism has taken place!’? So weak an excuse is hardly worth dismissing, however, as people are actually buying into this it had to be dispatched!

(2) Bargaining. (AKA The brotherly love defence)

Rather than outline what I’ve dubbed the brotherly love defence (which can be found elsewhere online) I’ll allow for others who subscribe to the notion to explain the argument for themselves, as they say: ‘Your accusation of plagiarism, is unfounded, in a spiritual sense. After all, we acknowledge Jesus son of Mary as a Prophet of his LORD God.’ Hence Muhammad is incapable of stealing the words of Christian and Jewish prophets because he himself claimed to be a prophet of Allah. There’s an expression of this same point thereafter: ‘First, Jesus and Muhammad are brothers in prophethood and the later succeeded the former in Messengership.’

From this we’ve got something similar to the argument’s bedrock, a foundation which if undermined the entire Muhammadan defence begins to crumble. As a consequence to the above believers in Muhammad consider prophets belonging to some sort of club, and as the final member of this same club their particular prophet had free rein to espouse the words of other prophets as his own revelatory experience unchallenged.

Obviously the above could be disproved by any number of historical, scriptural and textual arguments, the most decisive of these combining all three so to prove Muhammad wasn’t within the succession of prophets at all. Something similar we can speedily do by examining the Qur’an and traditions ourselves! Let’s do that therefore, since Muhammad’s ever evolving belief system has actually undone any chance he once had to claim himself a prophet. Chapter 12 verse 38 of the Qur’an happens to do just what I’ve outlined, since this same passage affirmed the ancestry of the Jewish people, which in addition also confirms through who the line of the prophets would come. Jews have always been aware of this expression of faith, for to say Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is to exclude their brothers, sisters and near kinsmen, hence these are the men whose seed would someday take up the prophetic office. So far so good for Muhammad, since if he’d only claimed himself in the line of Jacob (and not anyone else) both he and his revelation from Allah are in agreement. Unfortunately Muhammad unwittingly regaled the Arabs in his company with tales of Ishmael, who he believed himself a blood relative of! (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583.)

Christians, Jews and Muhammadans are in agreement that these accounts (the Qur’an and Muhammad’s) can’t both be correct, since to accept either means excluding the alternative. Nonetheless people may read and wonder to themselves, what precludes both Isaac and Ishmael bearing children who would later hold prophetic offices over their lands. Others are well aware of why (according to both Islamic teachings and Bible history) there’s only one such child through which the promises of God could be fulfilled, moreover, we see this explained within the binding of the child of promise atop of Mount Moriah (as found in Genesis.)

Reasonable believers in Islamic theology wouldn’t deny that whoever is considered ‘promised’ in this fashion is in fact the child who will someday father prophets and holy men favoured of God. However they’re constraint by Muhammad’s later revelation into proclaiming Ishmael that child of promise, by constraint I mean to say they’re given no choice otherwise, for although the Qur’an isn’t explicit concerning which of his children Abraham sought to offer up in sacrifice to God, additional literature suffers no such difficulties.

Therefore if Muhammad is correct Allah’s infallible word (the Qur’an) is fallible, since Muhammad by his own claims disallowed Jacob (Isaac’s son) from entering into the line of prophets, yet the Qur’an affirms both Isaac and Jacob as being prophets. Although if Muhammad’s mistaken and the Qur’an is in fact accurate, then the binding of Isaac as found for reading the Gospel, Torah and Qur’an couldn’t be accurately interpreted by a man who claimed to be sent by God to correct error!

To write it more succinctly would be like so:

(1) If the Qur’an is correct it’s author and his contradictory teachings were in error.

(2) If Muhammad is correct the contradictory Qur’an narrative is in error.

(1) Undermines Muhammad’s claim to be a prophet, which furthermore undermines the Qur’an itself. While (2) discredits Allah’s eternal Qur’an, which supposedly preserved upon tablets of gold forever were then in error forever!

 Conclusion: Acceptance.

Hence (lest we forget) Muhammad’s plagiarism isn’t justified on the grounds of brotherly sharing of quotes and parables between fellow prophets, since Muhammad according to whatever interpretation you choose didn’t belong to the order of prophets. Though if this explanation isn’t punchy enough so to convey accurately the point, I’ll post in brief how one prophet quoting another ought to sound: ‘And He (Jesus) said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;”‘ Then there’s: ‘And He (Jesus) said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.'” (Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46.)

‘It is written’ Plainly eludes to another writer or prophesy which Jesus wanted those nearby to either realise is being fulfilled in Him, or is to be followed more closely by the nations, while the other quotation involves Isaiah as mentioned by name! Jesus stood upon the testimony of His fellow Jewish prophets, He understood prophesy and applied it to Himself in what were seen as scandalous displays of authority and power by His contemporaries. Due to this Jesus’ words are supremely confident, bold and spoken aright, whereas Muhammad’s brotherly borrowing involves vague paraphrases which are often perverted out of their original context, moreover these stolen sayings feature zero mention of the prophets or prophetesses who spoke them originally.

This information adds an other dimension to when the Qur’an says ‘We make no distinction’ regarding the prophets, as there’s apparently no distinction made, for every word the prophet’s have ever spoken has become an overwhelming blob of Muhammad’s own creation, and there’s no distinction between who said what, all serve to propagate Islam amidst powerful Muslim leaders outside and inside of Muhammad’s own life.

 ― T. C. M


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