For a Muslim, such an idea is inconceivable. If Allah
changes His mind and abrogates a verse, or if He cancels a
verse inspired by Satan, that is one thing. But an error about
a matter of fact is another. In the Koran itself, Allah
proclaims this is impossible: ‘‘This is a mighty scripture.
Falsehood cannot reach it from before or from behind’’
(Sura 41:41–2). It is ‘‘free from any flaw’’ (Sura 39:28). In
short, ‘‘it is the indubitable truth’’ (Sura 69:51).
Yet, in fact, the Koran contains many historical errors.
For example, it claims that Alexander the Great was a
Muslim in the story of Zulqarnain (Sura 18:89–98), whom
Muslim exegetes both ancient and modern identify as
Alexander. Such appropriation of historical figures might be
understandable in the case of a figure like Abraham, but
Alexander was not even a monotheist.
In its retelling of the adventures of Moses and Aaron in
Pharaoh’s court, the Koran has Pharaoh threatening his
magicians with crucifixion, a punishment that was not
devised until centuries later — and then by the Romans, not
the Egyptians. Elsewhere, a Samaritan is said to have
helped the Israelites to build the Golden Calf (Sura 20:90). It
is an established historical fact that Samaria did not exist
prior to the existence of Israel. The Golden Calf episode, of
course, took place in the wilderness at Mount Sinai before
the Israelites entry into the Promised Land (see Ex 32).
The Koran also claims that John the Baptist was the first