(Last revised 6-21-2014)
Islam is divided just as Judaism and Christianity are, because all three Abrahamic religions became tainted to various degrees by myths and misinterpretations of scriptures, and by the erroneous opinions, misguided judgments, and erroneous doctrines of men.
Consequently, today there are "wolves in sheep's clothing" who claim to be religious authorities and the “official” clergy of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But they are hypocrites who pick and choose certain words and phrases from their scriptures to try to justify their arrogance, aggression and offenses, while simply ignoring God and the full context and true meaning of their religion's original texts.
Theocratic terrorists feel especially justified in picking and choosing certain sentences and paragraphs from the Quran to justify themselves because they cling to a doctrine that they believe allows them to ignore all the sentences and verses that would tell them they are wrong. However, some Quran scholars have pointed out that it is a false doctrine, and some have even called it "The Lie of Abrogation." But Muslim Theocrats, extremists and terrorists believe in it, and they cling to it because they believe it enables them to abrogate or nullify any verses in The Quran that do not suit their theocratic purposes (and in that sense they are like theocratic Jewish and Christian extremists who also pick and choose certain phrases and passages in their scriptures to justify themselves).
For example, "Muslims" who wage False Jihad ignore the fact that Mohammed's Qur'an makes it very clear that Islam does not cancel out the messages of previous prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Enoch, and Jesus. In fact, it is based on them, and the Qur'an commands Muslims to speak with great courtesy to Jews and Christians, because they "all believe in the same God" (Quran 29:46).
Even Muhammad ignored that in certain instances after it was written, and many of his followers later ignored such things. They did not understand that his mission was to give Arabs scriptures of their own to bring them into the family of Abrahamic religions. Instead, some followers of Muhammad wrote in their Hadiths that he was “The Seal of the Prophets” and assumed Islam superseded both Judaism and Christianity. But it does not, just as Christianity was not intended to be a religion that superseded Judaism (See About Christianity).
Even though Muhammad was truly inspired by God in many respects, he certainly was not the last or final prophet, and he was not perfect. In fact, having established Islam in 610 CE, and having had trouble converting some people to his faith, he resorted to violence, which actually contradicted what he himself had stated in the Qur'an, that coercion in matters of faith is wrong (2:256).
So, ignoring his own advice, by 629 CE Muhammad was victorious in the conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 he had managed to control the tribes of Arabia as one religious-political-military-industrial empire.
Unfortunately, because of Muhammad's failings and especially the failings of his followers who enhanced his status after he died, today there are false or misguided sects that claim to serve Allah when they are actually wicked and evil, such as al Queda, the Taliban and many other groups that rule certain other "Muslim" countries where people are persecuted, oppressed and killed by hypocrites claiming to be Muslims, even though they are totally ignorant of Allah/God.
However, there are many good Muslims, just as there are good Jews and Christians, who understand that the basic and true purpose of their religion is to create conditions under which the humble, gentle, kind, peaceful and meek may inherit the earth. And included in the number of good Muslims in the world are about 300 million Sufi Muslims (which is about the size of America's population) who practice a mystical form of Islam that is essentially pacifist and believes that the path to God is through love, music and dance.
Hypocrites and pretenders, on the other hand, do not understand that, and yet they claim they represent Islam.
Such pretenders, false prophets and false shepherds, like their counterparts in who mislead certain Jewish and Christian flocks, have created religious organizations by distorting the actual purpose of their religion to justify themselves, and they tend to think that God gave them the right to rule even if it takes imposing political action, coercion, or force.
Theocratic Muslim patriarchs, like theocratic Jewish and Christian patriarchs, feel justified, unfortunately, by patriarchs who went before them. They believe the fulfillment of prophecies will mean a conquering hero will bring them and their brand of religion to power.
Within what is called Islam there are many patriarchal authoritarian Muslims who believe in Islamic eschatology about the so-called coming of an Imam Mahdi, who they believe will be the redeemer-warrior-messiah of Islam (much as Christian eschatology is about the so-called "second-coming" of the Christ Jesus of Nazareth as an almighty warrior-king).
According to the Hadith or Hadiths – most of which were not written by the Prophet Muhammad but by later followers – the Mahdi will be accompanied or preceded by an army "led by mighty men with long hair and beards." This army, it is said, will come from the East and march towards Mecca under the banner of "the black flags of Khorasan," an ancient term for Afghanistan. That is why the Taliban and al Queda consider Afghanistan the birthplace of the "true" Army of Islam. But the "prophecy" is wrong, they are wrong, and they are hypocrites who betray Allah and Islam.
They adhere to a misguided, patriarchal, authoritarian doctrine which has justified men who claim to serve God but subjugate and control women, and rule ruthlessly. It is somewhat similar to the patriarchal doctrines of certain Jews and Christians. And such doctrines have inevitably led to their fighting "holy wars."
However, regarding women, misguided Muslims are wrong. For example, the Prophet Muhammad made it clear that a woman's education is necessary, since she must willingly sign the marriage or a business contract, and that obviously requires an education. Moreover, women are not to be subservient to men, and they even have the right to divorce and own their own property separately.
Several verses in the Qur'an speak to this, including 4:19 which says, "O You who have attained to faith! It is not lawful for you to [try to] become heirs to your wives [by owning and keeping them] against their will; and neither shall you keep them under constraint with a view to taking away anything of what you may have given them, unless it be that they have become guilty, in an obvious manner, of immoral conduct."
The first part is as true today as it was then, though the last part after “unless” is irrelevant in a modern civilized society that does not consider many kinds of immoral conduct as crimes punishable by constraint or loss of personal possessions.
Regarding the term "holy war," that is an oxymoron. There is no such thing, because the only "weapons" of God’s true servants are divinely inspired words of truth written by those with true Wisdom, for as Solomon wrote, Wisdom is more powerful than the weapons of war. (And the article titled False Jihad exposes the error of misguided and hypocritical Muslims who are actually thugs and murderers.
As Jesus of Nazareth (or Yeshuah ben Yosef) said, we should love even our enemies; resist not evil, but love good; overcome evil with good; overcome hate with love; and live not by the sword but by Wisdom and the will of our God who would have us all love one another as our selves.
As Solomon wrote: "Wisdom is beneficent and kind. She is the aura of the power of God, the radiance of the eternal Divine Light, a spotless mirror of God. She renews all things, and passing into holy souls from age to age, She produces friends of God and prophets. She is firm, but Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. She is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her. And Wisdom is far better than weapons of war."
And as Muhammad wrote, Muslims should not be offensive and should refrain from retaliation because killing is always a great evil.
The problem is that many Muslims misinterpret and take out of context certain language written in the Qur’an (just as many Jews do with what is written in the Torah and Tanach, and just as many Christians do with what is written in the Christian Bible).
How Will The Problem Be Corrected?
This is to tell you that we, the people of the world, must step up and take responsibility to stop the madness, death and destruction that is being wrought in the name of religious superiority.
Only we, the people of the world, can stop it — not by becoming part of the problem, but by realizing the solution. For peace will not be "won" when all sides are wrong.
Peace will be made – when what is crooked is made straight, when truth prevails over myths and falsehoods, when differences are reconciled, when grievances are redressed, when all offenders make amends – when the world becomes "new," changed by a reformation of governments and religions, particularly of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
A reformation is needed because certain sects of all three Abrahamic religions have been coopted and taken over by proud, militant, self-serving extremists who claim to serve God, but actually ignore and betray God.
They are spiritually blind shepherds and false prophets who divide and alienate their blind flocks and lead them astray, even into carnal, deadly warfare. Thus it is misguided Jews, Christians and Muslims who are causing the most conflict, division, violence, death and destruction in the world, and their deadly actions are having disastrous repercussions in the spiritual and material state of our world.
We must understand that they are ignorant of God and the Spirit of truth, which tells us that the only "weapons" of God are words of truth and wisdom. And only truth and wisdom will overcome and prevail over false doctrines and myths, just as only love will overcome and prevail over hate, and only good will overcome and prevail over evil. For two wrongs do not make a right.
Remember, even though Jesus may have said he was greater than Solomon, the Christian New Testament contains second and third-hand reports as to what Jesus said, either written decades after Jesus died, or revised later.
But we know that Jesus would have agreed with the wise Solomon, who wrote: "Wisdom is beneficent and kind. She is the aura of the power of God, the radiance of the eternal Divine Light, a spotless mirror of God. She renews all things, and passing into holy souls from age to age, She produces friends of God and prophets."
Solomon also said that pride goes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before a fall, and it is better to be of a humble spirit than to join the proud and militant in their aggressive and offensive pursuit of the "spoils" of war.
The trouble is, certain arrogant, proud and militant "religious" leaders do not know that. They do not have wisdom, but claim they do, and they tend to be self-important, self-righteous and even dictatorial in their patriarchal, theocratic efforts to rule. They may have originally become religious leaders out of truly good intentions, but gradually, whether unwittingly or otherwise, they became corrupted by egocentric delusion and/or the misguided doctrines of men. And some are so corrupted and malicious that they could be considered as evil masquerading as good, and as "goats" and wolves wearing sheep’s clothing.
Fortunately there are truly good, faithful Jews, Christians and Muslims, just like there are truly good, faithful Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Zoroastrians, etc. They are likened to "sheep" because they are humble, gentle, peaceful and loving, and they understand that the meek shall ultimately inherit the earth, and that men and women should be equal partners.
Now the misguided "goats" must be corrected. In other articles the problems with misguided Jews and Christians are discussed, but here we will discuss Muslims because it is crucial that we understand why they are so divided, why the Shiites and the Sunnis are so at odds, and why groups like the Taliban and al Queda are even more misguided. We need to understand some important parts of the history of Islam. And, more importantly, we all need to understand what True Islam is really about, because it has been distorted by the self-serving doctrines of men, just as Judaism and Christianity have been.
It is especially important that Americans learn the truth about Islam, because most Americans know nothing about it. Many Americans have been led to believe that most Muslims hate America and want it destroyed. But that is not true. Surveys have shown that most Muslims do not hate the American people, and that they actually admire America for its technology, democracy and freedom of speech.
For example, Georgetown University Professor John Esposito, and Dalia Mogahed, executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, helped organize a survey and published their findings into a new book, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think. It is based on a Gallup Poll, the largest of its kind, which surveyed Muslims in more than 35 countries. It asked questions about gender, race, terrorism, the separation of church and state, and the prospects of peace with the West.
This research shows that most Muslims in the world admire the West for its technology and democracy. They support freedom of speech, the rule of law, and the transparency of government. Even in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia, only very small percentages said they admired nothing about the West. But what most of them disliked most about the West is the lack of proper judgment and restraint. (And no wonder.)
However, the most important thing Americans should understand is that only seven percent of Muslims think that the al Queda attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001 were justified. But, almost all of those seven percent of Muslims, like the vast majority of other Muslims, do not think there is any religious justification for suicide bombers and their attacks on civilians, because the Quran in fact prohibits suicide. They are against military imperialism and occupation of Muslim lands by the West, and by Israel, and they desire independence, autonomy, and respect.
Moreover, very few of that seven percent of Muslims are actually the terrorists who do the killing. The mass murderers and terrorists and the demagogic leaders who incite them are a very small minority compared to the billions of Muslims in the world. Nevertheless, it is important that we understand that seven percent of Muslims is 100 million people, and they are sympathetic to those terrorists who are willing to die to fight American and Israeli occupation and imperialism.
Americans and Israelis need to fully understand that, and redress the grievances that so many Muslims have (see the article on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict). For only when amends are made and Muslim grievances are redressed, and only when the small minority of misguided Muslims follow True Islam rather than bigoted, hypocritical hatemongers and warmongers, will we have peace.
It will help if everyone understands why certain Muslims sects misunderstand or ignore certain core teachings of the prophet Muhammad — just as certain sects of Christianity misunderstand or ignore certain core teaching of the Christ Jesus, and just as certain sects of Judaism misunderstand or ignore certain core teachings in their religious scriptures.
After all, the militant, murderous hypocrites who only claim to be Muslims ignore what the Qur'an says in context, and like the radical "Christian Right" they pick and choose isolated words and phrases from their scriptures to try to justify themselves. But we can do the same to prove they are wrong.
What Does the Quran Say?
Mohammed's Qur'an makes it very clear that Islam does not cancel out the messages of previous prophets, such as Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, David, Solomon, Enoch, and Jesus. In fact, it is based on them, and the Qur'an commands Muslims to speak with great courtesy to Jews and Christians, because they "all believe in the same God" (29:46).
The Qur’an 2:136 instructs Muslims to say: "We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered."
Beyond that, according to Islamic principles and the Prophet Muhammad, even the Hindu Lord Krishna was a true Prophet of God, and the original core teachings of Hinduism and Islam are the same -- the unity of God and Humanity. In fact, the Quran says that God sent "messengers to every people" (10:48 and 16:37).
The Qur'an also condemns violence and aggression, and holds that killing is always a great evil (2:190 and 2:217). Moreover, they ignore the fact that even though the Qur'an does permit a war of self-defense to fight foreign invasion and persecution, when the Prophet Muhammad had it written, one of his main purposes was precisely to stop indiscriminate killing!
The Qur'an states quite clearly that warfare is not the best way of dealing with difficulties and conflict. It says that the faithful should "argue (with unbelievers) in the most kindly manner, with wisdom and goodly exhortation."
It does say that, if attacked, the faithful may retaliate in an appropriate way that is proportionate to the wrong suffered. However, it also says that tolerance is far more advisable than retaliation. It says: "To bear yourselves with patience is far better for you, since God is with those who are patient in adversity." (16:125- 127)
Indeed, it even says it is a meritorious act to "be charitable and to refrain from retaliation." (5:45) It is very similar to the teaching of Jesus, which advises us to "turn the other cheek" rather than retaliate by striking back.
The Qur'an also makes it clear that Mohammed's mission was not to create a new world religion, but to bring the religion of Abraham and Jesus to the Arabs, because they had no prophet before Mohammed, and they had no scriptures in their own language.
In fact, Jesus is mentioned more than Mohammed in the Q'uran. It speaks of the "good news" of the Righteous Messiah Jesus (3:45-46). It also states that a Muslim should say: "We believe in God ... and that which Moses and Jesus received, and which the prophets received from their Lord God. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto God we have surrendered." (2:136).
Furthermore, Mohammed made it very clear that he was not founding a religion to which everyone had to belong. According to the Qur'an, "There must be no coercion in matters of faith" (2:256).
Therefore, coercion or the imposition of religion on unwilling people or all citizens is not permitted. If people disagree with a Muslim, he is to say: "Unto you your moral law, and unto me, mine." (109:6) In fact, in the Qur'an, as in Jewish and Christian scriptures, there is an emphatic prohibition of imposition, force and compulsion in religious matters (which is something the imposing American Christian Right really needs to learn and abide by).
Additionally, we need to understand how and why most religious sects, whether they call themselves Jews or Christians or Muslims, misunderstand prophecy, and how and why they have been misled, divided, and pitted against each other.
Of course, there are an incredible number of false beliefs about how prophecy will be fulfilled. Each religion and each of their religious sects have different ideas about it. But, many Jews believe in the imminent coming of a Mashiach King, just as many Christians believe in the imminent "second" coming of Jesus as a Superman King. And some Muslim sects believe that a messiah-like "Imam Mahdi" will come around the same time that Jesus "comes again," and they will work in concert.
Even worse, many proud and militant Jewish Zionists and Christian and Muslim fundamentalists erroneously believe there must be a "final holy war between good and evil" (as they judge it), and it doesn't seem to matter to some of them whether the "evil" they judge is another sect or faction of their own religion, or another religion, or all other religions.
Therein lies the problem, because aside from the fact that most of them have false expectations about a messianic figure, they simply do not understand that killing is wrong, and that only good can overcome evil, only love can overcome hate, and two wrongs do not make a right. They do not realize or understand that as they judge they are so judged, and their enemy is a reflection of their very selves.
That is made clear in Judaic scriptures (the Torah and Tanach), the Christian Bible, and the Quran (Koran), just as it is made clear in the scriptures of all other religions. But religious hypocrites ignore that, and they pick and choose certain isolated words in their scriptures to justify themselves.
The problem is that many Jews, Christians and Muslims have been misled by the inaccurate opinions of men who only thought they served God, because those opinions are considered as "gospel truth." Therefore, they have been given the wrong idea. They do not realize there will be no "second coming" of the Christ Jesus, nor will the Imam Mahdi come in person.
But, a man does fulfill the real prophecies.
The Prophet Muhammad said in the Qur’an (25:31) that the time would come when the true meaning of the Qur’an would be "abandoned" or distorted by self-serving men. There is also a saying attributed to the Prophet to the following effect:
"There will come a time upon the people when nothing will remain of Islam except its name and nothing will remain of the Quran except its inscription. Some of their mosques will be splendidly furnished but destitute of guidance, and they will revere as divine the worst people, who create strife."
However, the Prophet of Islam and the wisest Muslim seers foresaw that God would send a man who will bring about a renaissance of Islam to reform Islam and correct Muslims and mankind, consistent with the prophecies and teachings of the Qur’an, the Tanach, and the Bible.
This was recognized also in the books of the Muslim Hadith, which also indicate and acknowledge that there would come a just judge from among you; that he will refute erroneous doctrines with reason and clarification; rebuke the greedy and the hypocritical; and stop war. (See Prophecies Re: He Who Fulfills Them.)
That person tells the world that part of the problem is that much of the "Islamic" doctrines that have caused conflicts, and are still causing conflicts, stem from writings not in the Qur’an. For example, as already mentioned, the Hadith or Hadiths are writings by followers of Muhammad. Some were apparently written by those who had known Mohammad, but most were written by those who had heard what his companions had said, and are merely hearsay. And some were written as late as three centuries after Muhammad’s death.
The Main Problem
In spite of the facts listed above, like the epistles and books in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Hadiths are revered as "gospel truth." And they are considered by some Muslims as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, even though they were not the scriptures for which Muhammad was actually responsible.
Furthermore, just as Jesus was not God, Muhammad was not God. He was a fallible human being, just like all authors of religious scriptures — which is evident in his dictating and decreeing harsh traditional Arab punishments and sexist rules as if they were sanctioned by God/Allah. It is also evidenced by the historic fact that Muhammad changed his mind and ruled by violence and force when he thought "necessary." He probably rationalized that he was fighting a defensive "Jihad," but that wasn't really true. He fought offensive wars to build an empire. But then, Muhammad, like the writers of Judaic and Christian scriptures, was only human and a man of his times, and some of his actions were wrong and some of his words have become outdated and rendered obsolete.
Like other writers of scriptures, Muhammad also left some of his words to be easily misinterpreted and distorted by prudish, tyrannical patriarchs. And the worst of them, like the leaders of al Queda and the Taliban, don’t stop there. They simply ignore Muhammad’s words that don’t suit their purposes — words that actually contradict their brand of Islam. And, in that respect, they are like the proud and militant zealots who claim to be Jews and Christians, who conveniently pick and choose which words in scripture to justify themselves and ignore words that don’t suit their purposes.
Each religion has sects that use their scriptures to suit their own purposes. For example, Wahhabism, the dominant Muslim sect in Saudi Arabia, is rigidly puritanical. It is based on an absurdly literal interpretation of the Qur’an and the Hadith, promoted originally by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. He hated the Ottoman Sunni Muslims and claimed they did not follow "true" Islam, and his followers killed any Muslim who did not accept Wahhab’s intolerant, puritanical version of Islam. Wahhab personally stoned a woman to death, and his followers also banned music and flowers, forced men to grow beards and women to be veiled and secluded. That was in spite of the fact that the prophet Muhammad made no such demand or recommendation, and in spite of the fact that Muhammad forbade coercion or force in religious matters, and said killing was evil.
Of course, there are other Muslim sects or groups that are also misled, some of them terribly, like the Taliban and al Queda. But even so, and in spite of religious leaders who tend to be despotic and theocratic, most Muslims, like most Christians and most Jews, are good people.
It is only the arrogantly proud, militant, misguided few who are causing the oppression, conflict and violence. Unfortunately, as we've seen, those few can create horrendous havoc, death and destruction. That's why everyone needs more understanding of the situation, and the history of Islam. In fact, it is crucial that people in the West and in Israel be educated about true Islam, so they can encourage and join true Muslims in speaking out to expose the false, hypocritical, militant bigots who only claim to be Muslims.
Sharia, an Arabic word meaning "the right path," refers to traditional Islamic law. However, its origins are only partly from the Quran, the Islamic Bible. Sharia Law also stems from interpretations of the Prophet Muhammad's teachings in the Quran, and those interpretations are written in other texts, such as the Hadith or Hadiths.
The term Hadith means tradition and is considered as reports from the Prophet Muhammad. However, that is not actually true. The Hadiths of Islam are much like the Talmud of Judaism, for Judaism is based not only on the Tanakh (the Old Testament) but also on the Talmud, which consists of scholarly interpretations of the Torah and Tanakh.
So it is with Sharia Law, because while its seed origins were from the Quran, its development came later between the seventh century when Muhammad died and the 10th century, when many Islamic legal scholars attempted to interpret the Quran to establish Sharia Law for the expanding Muslim Empire.
In a way, the Christian “New Testament” is somewhat like the Talmud and Hadith, because while some of it probably contains words that Jesus of Nazareth actually spoke, it also contains the interpretations, ideas, insights and opinions of the authors of the texts in the official church canon.
Regarding the content of Sharia Law, it is important for Jews, Christians and Muslims to understand that much of Sharia Law is similar to the laws of Moses in the Hebrew Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Tanakh and the Christian Bible). And it is even more important to understand that some of those ancient and archaic laws are now outdated and obsolete.
Take, for example, the Mosaic Judaic law declaring that anyone that does not observe the Sabbath should be killed or stoned to death. Besides the fact that Jesus of Nazareth rejected that opinion, such punishment would now be considered cruel and unusual punishment even for the crime of murder.
There are many other such “laws” in both the Hebrew/Judaic and Arabic/Islamic texts that call for the death or shunning of people who do things that are not even considered crimes in modern, civilized societies. And such “laws” should be recognized as archaic, outdated and obsolete.
The modern son of man reminds you that God forbids killing. And now God’s messenger has exposed and rejected all cruel and unusual punishment — and that includes the cruel and unusual punishments of any and all societies, such as torture, dismemberment, female genital mutilation, so-called “honor killings,” stoning, and all other such inhumane punishments.
Humanity must progress and advance beyond cruel and primitive traditions established long ago, and instead abide by the Universal Divine Imperative: Treat all others as you would want to be treated if you were them.
(Continued in About Islam, Part 2, which discusses the history of how and why Islam was originally divided into Shiites and Sunnis in 680 CE, and also discusses the general conflicts between Muslims, Jews and Christians, which will stop when blessed peacemakers replace hypocritical warmongers in leadership positions.)
 "The Lie of Abrogation"
As mentioned near the beginning of this article, terrorists waging a false Jihad believe they are justified by the Quran, and that is largely because of verse or surah 2:106.
In many translations of Surah 2:106 it states: “Whatever previous verse We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We reveal in this Qur'an one better or the like thereof. Do you know not that Allah has full power to do all that He wills?”
“Jihadist” terrorists have been led to believe that means previous judgments or verses can be abrogated, forgotten, or substituted for something “better” or more important. And terrorist leaders assume that they have the authority to ignore certain verses and alter or interpret the message of the Quran to suit their purposes.
However, in some Arabic interpretations and in most English translations of Surah 2:106 the words “verse” and “abrogate” are inappropriate translations of the original Arabic words, and they can be interpreted differently and more accurately. According to some Quran scholars those two words are ayat (or ayah, which is the plural) and nansakh, and the most appropriate meanings of those words are not verse or abrogate.
Here is Surah 2:106 showing where those two words are placed: “Whatever previous ayah We nansakh or cause to be forgotten, We reveal in this Qur'an one better or the like thereof. Do you know not that Allah has full power to do all that He wills?”
First let’s examine the meaning of the word “Ayah” or "Ayat" (plural) because that word as used in various verses in the Quran can have one of four different meanings:
1) A miracle, such as in “We supported Moses with nine profound Ayat (miracles)." (17:101);
2) An example for people to take heed from, such as in “And the folk of Noah, when they disbelieved the messengers, We have drowned them and made them an Ayah (example) for all people" (25:37);
3) A sign, such as in: "My Lord, give me an Ayah (sign)." (19:10); and
4) A verse in the Quran, such as in: "This is a book that We have sent down to you that is sacred, perhaps they will reflect on its Ayat (verses)." (38:29)
Consider Surah 43:46-48 "And We have sent Moses with Our Ayah’s (miracles or signs) to Pharaoh and his elders proclaiming : ‘I am a messenger from the Lord of the universe’. When he brought them our Ayah’s they laughed at him. Every Ayah We showed them was greater than the one that preceded it."
That makes it very clear that the Ayah is clearly a sign or miracle, and each one was greater that the one that preceded it. Thus the phrase “one better” would make sense.
In any case, the word ‘Ayah’ or ‘Ayat’ can mean a miracle or revelation or example or sign, but not a verse in the Quran or a commandment of God, because:
1) The phrase "cause to be forgotten" could not refer to a verse in the Quran or a commandment of God. After all, if a verse had been abrogated it would no longer exist, so it would not be necessary to mention it, and if it did still exist it could not be forgotten;
2) If the word ‘Ayah’ in 2:106 meant a miracle, an example or a sign, then all the words of the verse would make more sense, because they could be “bettered” by a greater miracle or revelation or sign;
3) The phrase "We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We reveal in this Qur'an one better or the like thereof" is meaningless, because to “abrogate” or nullify or invalidate or abolish one commandment or verse and replace it with an equal or identical commandment or verse makes no sense whatsoever; and
4) The world “abrogate” is an erroneous translation of the word "Nansakh" or "Nastansikh."
The meaning of the word "Nansakh" in Surah 2:106 comes from the verb "nasakha, and because some Arabic interpretations and many English translations indicate that it meas “to annul” or “abrogate," that interpretation is used by radical Muslim extremists because they take it to mean that the verses and passages that suit their purposes have priority over others that don’t. And that is a very big problem.
However, most meanings of nansakh have nothing to do with abrogation.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Muhammed Yunus has commented that: “Many early theologians took a restrictive meaning of the word ‘ayah’ (plural, ayat) as a ‘verse of the Qur’an’ to suggest that a few verses of the Qur’an have been abrogated. This is simply untenable as it purports to imply that God Almighty, like a human being, changed his mind with the changing context of the revelation. The majority of Muslim scholars hold that the verse clarifies the doubts of the contemporaneous Christians and Jews as to why God should send a succession of revelations.” And other Islamic scholars, like David S. Powers, Ph.D. Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Cornell University agree with that view.
Most religious scholars who study Islam agree that a more common use of nansakh is to mean the transcribing or writing down or recording signs or revelations or miracles.
For example, here are three Quranic verses where that meaning of the word has been used, and in parentheses are the actual meanings of the word in the given context.
Surah 45:29 "This is our book; it utters the truth about you. We have been (writing down or recording) everything you did." In that context, the word “abrogating” would certainly not apply, even though the original Arabic word was nansakh.
Surah 7:154 "When Moses" anger subsided, he picked up the tablets, and in (in its written record or in its words ) is guidance and mercy for those who reverence their Lord." In that context, the word annul or abrogate would make no sense either.
Surah 22:52-53 "We did not send before you any messenger, nor a prophet, without having the devil interfere in his wishes. God then (records or writes) what the devil has done.” In that context, the word annul or abrogate would make no sense either.
Therefore, we should question the motive behind the interpreters’ misinterpretations and the translators’ mistranslations of the meaning of 2:106, because the errors are probably not connected to the Quran at all but to the ‘Hadith’. For the Hadith consists mostly of things that were written after the death of Muhammad, and while some Muslims regard the Hadith as Muhammad's words or "Allah's Word," many Hadith scholars believe the concept of abrogation applies to the Hadith since it contains many blatant contradictions.
It is not accurate to say that the Quran contains no errors or contradictions. Like all religious scriptures written so many centuries ago, it is ethnocentric and contains the judgments, opinions and views of a man who was only human. And no religious texts are "the absolute Word of God," regardless of what some Jews, Christians and Muslims have been led to believe.
For example, there are verses in the Quran that would seem to indicate that the Quran supersedes what is written in the Hebrew Torah and Tanakh and the Christian Gospels, which is why some proud Muslims believe that Islam is the superior religion. However, if the meaning of those Quranic verses actually indicates that, it would contradict other verses that reveal that Muslims should honor the Jewish and Christian scriptures.
For example: Qur’an 2:136 declares that Muslims should say: "We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us, and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered."