Outside the Qur'an, we have no other evidence for crucifixion before the 6th century BCE.

However, Qur'an 20:71 mentions crucifixion at the time of Moses (approx. 15th century BCE).

Pharaoh threatened, “How dare you believe in him before I give you permission? He must be your master who taught you magic. I will certainly cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and crucify you on the trunks of palm trees. You will really see whose punishment is more severe and more lasting.”

Can't it therefore be argued that the Qur'an provides evidence that crucifixion was carried out far earlier than historians commonly claim?



The Qur'an is not a book of history. Even if one were to accept that every word in it is literally and completely accurate, all this ayah "proves" is that Pharaoh once threatened his people with this. It doesn't indicate that this was a common punishment, or even that it was ever actually accomplished.

There's also the question of whether the word itself ("لأصلبنكم", translated as "I will certainly…crucify you") actually even meant the same during the time of Pharaoh as what we understand as "crucifixion" today.


The Quran mentions crucifixion even before Moses ( عليه السلام), at the time of Joseph ( عليه السلام) . The interpretation of the dream of one of his companions in prison was that he would be crucified:

يا صاحبي السجن أما أحدكما فيسقي ربه خمرا وأما الآخر فيصلب فتأكل الطير من رأسه قضي الأمر الذي فيه تستفتيان

O two companions of prison, as for one of you, he will give drink to his master of wine; but as for the other, he will be crucified, and the birds will eat from his head. The matter has been decreed about which you both inquire."

Quran 12:41

Note that تصليب (translated as crucify) is simply the act of suspending and displaying the body of the deceased. There is testimony to it in the Torah:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.

Numbers 25:4

You may see various commentators have called this crucifixion:

refers to the punishment of crucifixion, a mode of capital punishment which was adopted by most of the nations of antiquity

Either by way of impalement or by way of crucifixion, both of which were familiar modes of punishment.

Also see:

When someone is convicted of a crime punishable by death and is executed, and you hang him on a tree

Deuteronomy 21:22

Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.

Genesis 40:19

Regarding your claim that there is no other evidence for 'crucifixion' before the 6th century BCE, then maybe that applies to specific variants of the punishment: such as where a cross is used or where the hands and feet are nailed to the wood, or where the person is killed after being hanged. All of these are not essential.

The following article is also relevant: https://www.islamic-awareness.org/quran/contrad/external/crucify.html

  • Some dead links in the article you link to at the end of your answer @UmH, but otherwise, a very informative article which helps shed light on the problem of defining what practice is actually referred to by the term "crucifixion". Feb 27 at 13:23

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