Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Mary, and all the prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no prophet between me and him (i.e. Jesus).”[Bukhari and Muslim]
According to Islamic standards, Paul does not qualify to be a hadith narrator.
Firstly, he has no verifiable sanad (chain of narrators) in the first place. He just says stuff without a source, and claims authority and revelation based on an alleged vision and alleged meetings with apostles.
When analyzing a narrator, hadith scholars look at two factors:
1. al-Adalah (moral uprightness) العدالة
2. Ad-dabt (accuracy) الضبط
Adalah is determined mostly through their biographical information and reputation and acceptance among other hadith scholars. It evaluates their character, belief, and level of piety.
There are 5 factors which negatively affect their adalah and remove them from being a narrator:
2. Being accused of lying (meaning they have a reputation of telling lies even if it is about non-religious matters)
3. Open sin (sin in public is a sign of shamelessness)
4. Being unknown (we need their biography)
There are 5 factors that negatively affect dabt/accuracy:
2. Frequent errors
3. Disagreement with reliable authorities and narrators
4. Known for misunderstandings
5. Bad memory
Since anybody can claim a vision, this does not qualify for them to have a chain of transmission. You must have met the person and heard it in this world. Dreams and visions are unreliable.
Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God, the Father… (Galatians 1:1)
He has no chain of transmission. He is not a prophet, either, and cannot receive revelation. What is his source? Nobody knows.
“If to others I am not an apostle at least I am to you, for you are the soul of my apostleship.” (1 Corinthians 9:2-1)
“I do not think I am in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles.”
” I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.” (2 Corinthians 11 and 12)
Paul is accused of lying and of being a fake apostle. He is fighting with others who claim apostleship, as well. After all, Paul never met Jesus. His chain of transmission is questionable and unverifiable. There’s no way you’d learn the entire message of any prophet by meeting them or their deputies for a couple days, anyways, and the core of every prophet’s message is always tawhid, the inviolable Oneness of God. Same core message across all time, yet he violates this by claiming a created being is divine. This tampering with the true message sparked centuries of changing Christology because polytheism doesn’t make logical sense. It’s an issue that is impossible to resolve.
Paul also claims that the marks of a true apostle are “signs, wonders, and miracles.” These are, in fact, not the signs of a true apostle. A true apostle is one who has met the prophet face-to-face, believed in him and died believing in him, and can deliver his message according to the above standards. In no way does Paul mean any of these criteria. You could claim he believes in Jesus, but “believing” means understanding and accepting their full message, which Paul does not.
So what is Paul’s alleged source?
“for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Revelation is a divine inspiration/message from God. Non-prophets don’t receive revelation. Also, seeing a prophet in a waking vision is not how revelation works anyways. Additionally, prophets do not deliver revelation, the angel Gabriel ﷺ does.
This is therefore a lie and violates a basic point of creed. Lying eliminates your reliability as a narrator. This also can be categorized as an innovation, being known for misunderstandings, and frequent errors which eliminate both his adalah (moral uprightness) and dabt (accuracy).
Then he says:
15-16 “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia…”
Knowledge comes before speech and action. A prophet would first tell you to seek knowledge, not go to polytheistic Arabia (perhaps the Nabatean kingdom).
We simply have no real facts to deal with for this three year period. Was he preaching to the Nabateans? Without any instruction whatsoever beyond an alleged vision? How do you deliver a message you haven’t received, then? Was it a “spiritual retreat?” Doubt it, knowledge comes first, no prophet would instruct that. Also, your spirituality is tough to develop without instruction. This is why we study tasawwuf through chains of transmission in Islam.
18-19: “Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas (Peter) and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.”
It is impossible to verify whether or not this is true. All we have are his own words, and we’ve already proven that he violates almost every factor of adalah/dabt, which disqualifies him as a narrator.
We are not presented with the details of their conversations and discussions, even if they occurred, either. All we have is Paul’s own claims. Writing these things which likely aren’t true is a convenient way to claim authority that you do not have. Also the fact his core message itself goes against Jesus’ message indicates that he breaks every point of accuracy (dabt) and is an innovator which breaks his adalah (moral uprightness). A true narrator only narrates exactly what they heard, not adding or subtracting one iota from the message, and provide a source from where they heard it.
Galatians 2: “I went up [to Jerusalem] in response to a revelation.”
Again, non-prophets do not receive revelation.
In Islamic sources, fabricated hadith at least had fabricated chains. Or they would take a verified chain and put a fake report under it. Paul, at a minimum, may have a fabricated chain by claiming to meet the apostles. But he doesn’t even give a chain with his various claims throughout (I.E.: “the apostle X told me that Y is what Jesus said). Thus, Paul’s writings are literally even lower than a fabricated hadith, and are far below dai’f (weak) which typically only have one break in a verified chain that otherwise meets the above standards. A dai’f (weak) hadith is light-years beyond everything found in the entire Old and New Testament combined.
I could go on much further, but insha’Allah this is sufficient. You can read his writings on your own and use the above categories to further critique him, if you wish.
Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Mary, and all the prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no prophet between me and him (i.e. Jesus).” [Bukhari and Muslim]
The last and final prophet ﷺ refutes Paul, as well. This is all you really need, but the above criteria provide further elaboration.
Paul is not a reliable source, and nobody should take their religion from him.
For further studies on Christianity, check our Bart Ehrman’s works, such as Misquoting Jesus or A Brief Introduction to the New Testament. Years of NT scholarship has concluded, by consensus, that the actual message of Jesus is not available anymore and has been severely tampered with.
As one Amazon reviewer writes:
“The truth is, if you’re a Christian who has seriously read Ehrman’s work then you’ve already crossed the Rubicon into literate faith. Literal faith is over for you, whether you recognize it or not. You probably don’t need a textual historian to convince you that Earth is more than 5700 years old, that [Christian] theocracy is disastrous, that the Left Behind series is reckless hucksterism. You may have already come to the conclusion that God wants you to be rational and intellectually honest, and that loving God — however less certainly you view God now — involves doing so with the mind you were given. Sometimes faith dies. But as the Jesus legend demonstrates, sometimes that’s also how we experience faith anew. It’s possible that Ehrman’s theses have been on your spiritual reading list all along; that it’s your time to encounter these facts about the faith, and to be further changed into the thinking spiritual person you’re meant to be.
If so, welcome again to the Emmaus Road, where God no longer has the face you knew. For what it’s worth, you’re not traveling alone.”
Note: When it comes to studying religion in general, taking offense is optional. For one, we must be able to question things without getting emotional. We must be capable of being objective. We must slow down (hastiness comes from Shaytan) and deeply think things through and pray to the Creator for guidance. Taking offense when we read things that go against our preconceived ideas is optional. Instead, admit that there are many religions in the world, and the one your parents have is not necessarily right by default.
Only one religion can possibly be true. This is the only logical conclusion. Every prophet had a tough time preaching their message (example: the Jews tried to have Jesus (عليه السلام) killed). Human beings don’t like to change and question things. But we must do so when the truth becomes apparent, and weather the difficulties that come with accepting it. You will not just say “I believe” and not be tested. The people before you were tested, and so will you.