A Muslim website (www.islam-qa.com), in answering a question by a reader (Question #2001: Corruption of the Tawraat (Torah) and Injeel (Gospel), quotes certain Muslim expositors in order to show that the Quran teaches that the Bible has been corrupted. Yet, in quoting these Muslims, they actually prove that the corruption which the Quran has in mind is not textual. Their quotes show that the distortion resulted from misinterpreting or changing the meaning of the text.
We will quote, here, the Muslim response and provide some comments on what is quoted. All capital emphasis ours.
After quoting surah 2:75, the article quotes some Muslim traditions:
Qutaadah said: "The phrase then they used to change it knowingly after they understood it refers to the Jews, who used to HEAR the words of Allaah, then they altered it after they had understood what it meant."
Abu Aaliyah said: "They took what Allaah had revealed in their Book describing Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and changed ITS MEANING." Ibn Zayd said: "The phrase [they] used to hear the Word of Allaah (the Tawraat), then they used to change it refers to the Tawraat which Allaah revealed to them; they changed it, making what it permitted forbidden, and what was forbidden allowed, changing the truth to falsehood and falsehood to truth " [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]
Carefully pay attention to what these sources are saying. Qatadah says that the Jews altered God's word after hearing it, which obviously refers to a verbal distortion of those words, that the Jews were changing the meaning of what they heard. Qatadah says nothing about them corrupting the text. Abu Aaliyah essentially says the same thing. Ibn Zayd's comments can also be understood in this fashion, that as a result of the Jews misinterpreting their Scriptures, and because of their traditions, they made lawful what was forbidden and vice-versa.
The Lord Jesus basically accused the religious Jews of his day of doing the same thing:
"Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat. He answered them, And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, "Honor your father and your mother," and, "Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die." But you say, "If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father." So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."" Matthew 15:1-9
Note that Christ says that the Pharisees had set aside God's commands by their traditions, interpretations, customs, etc., not by corrupting the text of Scripture.
Furthermore, even if Ibn Zayd did mean that the text of the Torah had been corrupted, his comments would only apply to Jews; and even then, only to a specific group of Jews, since not all Jews would have tampered with the text of their Scriptures, just as the Quran itself testifies (Cf. surah 3:113-114, 199). Besides, he says nothing about Christians corrupting the text, and yet we know that Christians were also copying and preserving the Hebrew Scriptures.
In fact, Ibn Zayd's comments presuppose that there were uncorrupted copies of the Scriptures available for scrutiny, otherwise, how would he (or anyone else) have known what the Torah actually said about what was permissible or forbidden?
The next commentary is in relation to the meaning of surah 4:46:
The phrase "[they] displace words from (their) right places" means that they MISINTERPRET THEM and UNDERSTAND THEM in a way that Allaah did not intend, doing this deliberately and inventing lies against Allaah. [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]
Ibn Kathir clearly says that corruption here refers to misinterpretation and misunderstanding, not to textual corruption.
The final passage they cite is surah 5:13, after which they provide the following comments:
"[They] have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them" means that they stopped following its teachings because they did not want to follow them. Al-Hasan said: "They did not adhere to their religion or keep their duties towards Allaah, without which no deeds are acceptable to Him; their fitrah (innate nature) was not sound and their deeds were not righteous." [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]
Again, there is absolutely nothing regarding textual corruption, that Jews and Christians had corrupted the text of Scripture. All the quotes cited within this article relate to a distortion to the meaning of God's Words, that some of the People of the Book (specifically the Jews) were changing the revelation by deliberately misinterpreting them.
For more on this subject, please read the articles that are posted here: http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Bible/
The Qur'an About the Bible
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page