Wakas’ approach favours the cross sectional analysis of word occurences. This is a favourite method among Quranists who use the Concordance of the Quran to see where each word appears. I don’t believe this method is wrong, in fact if Quran is 3arabiy (faultless or in a totally systematic language), then the meanings of words should be calibrated according to context.
However, this is only the beginning of the story. Quran has also its textuality to consider. Since Quran is a kitab (a book thus implying arrangment, fixedness), then each element was put in place for a reason. This is actually the only objective tool we have (in the sense that all Muslims agree on the Quran as a text) and so neglecting its use will take our analysis from being ‘Quranic’ (which Wakas claims his analysis are). Here is an example from Wakas’ article which shows this problem.
Wakas first quotes 17/1-9 and presents his analysis of it:
Who does 17:1 refer to? It can realistically only be Moses or Muhammad. Moses because he is mentioned in the next verse and it begins with “wa/and” implying a link to what was said previously. Muhammad because when AQ uses 3rd person singular delivery with the
term “abd/servant” and does not explicitly name the abd addressed, it always or strongly points to the messenger of Quran, i.e. prophet Muhammad. Please see all occurrences here: Our abd – 2:23, 8:41, His abd – 18:1, 25:1, 39:36, 53:10, 57:9, God’s abd – 72:19. Note how the start of the very next chapter, 18, and also 25 begin in a similar manner to 17.
This weighs 17:1 in favour of referring to prophet Muhammad.
I applaud the mentioning of musa as a possibility but the choice of favouring Muhammad can only be possible if one ignores the contexts of the ayat. In the ayat Wakas quotes with the occurences of the word 3abd, absolutely none of them are even close to the word Muhammad. The words ‘muhammad’ never appears with ‘quran’ or ‘surah’ at all. While Wakas has ,in the paragraph before the quote above, written against the Traditional translation, He implicitly accepts Traditionalist assumptions that the 3abd is Muhammad. This demonstrates how context is disfavoured in light of external evidence.