Bassam Zawadi on Jeremiah 8

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi has recently written a paper where he tries to prove from Jeremiah 8:8 that the Torah, or Law of Moses, was corrupted (here). In it, he also addressed some Christian responses to this common Muslim abuse of the Jeremiah text, all of which are actually points taken from my article! Zawadi is clearly addressing my response on this subject but was evidently too afraid to mention it directly, or to link to it. Instead of giving the reference to the article he was seeking to rebut he decided to write a general response. Apparently, he didn’t want people to read his piece along with mine in order to compare the quality of both papers for themselves. Could it be that he knew how shallow and weak his "response" truly is? It will be up to the readers to compare the two and come to their own conclusions.

He begins:

It is very clear from the text that the scribes have corrupted the Law (first 5 books of the Old Testament). How did they corrupt it? With their mouths by giving false interpretations? No! They did so with their "pens". Meaning they altered the text of the Law. How else could a pen corrupt something?

RESPONSE:

Here is the Jeremiah text along with some of its immediate context:

"Even the stork in the heavens knows her times; and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming; but my people know not the ordinance of the LORD. How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the Law of the LORD is with us’? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame, they shall be dismayed and taken; lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD, and what wisdom is in them?" Jeremiah 8:7-9

Although it is clear that the text says that certain scribes turned the Law into a lie, it is not at all obvious that the reference to false pen automatically means that the way in which these scribes made the Law a lie was by corrupting its text. More on this later.

Zawadi next says:

Following are some arguments that Christians put forward to try to show that the verse does not say that the Law has not been corrupted.

The "lying pens of the scribes" means that the scribes wrote misinterpretations of the Law and not actually altered the text of the Law

If scribes wrote misinterpretations of the Law then why would people go and read them? Notice that in verse 7 is says that they don't know the requirements of the Law. If they wanted to know the requirements of the Law, why go and read what the scribes have written when they could easily go to the supposedly uncorrupted text of the Law when it was available. Everything is there. 

Notice how the verse says that they don't have the Law. If the Law was truly there in an uncorrupted form then that means that they had it. 

Some Christians tend to argue that "not having the Law" means that they don'[sic] truly abide by it. However, verse 7 states that they don't know the requirements because the lying pen of the scribes have handled the Law falsely (verse 8). People should have easily went to see what is written in the Law to know the requirements of God and not listen to the scribes. But they couldn't because the scribes corrupted the Law and therefore people could not have known the true requirements because they would not have been able to distinguish between the corrupted and uncorrupted verses of the Law.

RESPONSE:

The reason why they couldn’t simply go and read the Law is because they didn’t have printing presses to mass-produce the Torah so that each individual could have their own personal copy. Before the invention of the printing press, every book was expensive. Only rich people could afford those hand-copied books at all, and in particular a copy of the Torah that had to be produced with so much extra care. Those who were required to have a copy of the Law were the priests, prophets and kings:

"When you come to the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and dwell in it, and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are round about me’; you may indeed set as king over you him whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. Only he must not multiply horses for himself, or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, "You shall never return that way again." And he shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply for himself silver and gold. And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, from that which is in the charge of the Levitical priests; and it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them; that his heart may not be lifted up above his brethren, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left; so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.’" Deuteronomy 17:14-20

"And Moses wrote this Law, and gave it to the priests the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, ‘At the end of every seven years, at the set time of the year of release, at the feast of booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which he will choose, you shall read this Law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this Law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land which you are going over the Jordan to possess.’" Deuteronomy 31:9-13

"When Moses had finished writing the words of this Law IN A BOOK, to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, ‘Take this book of the Law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.’" Deuteronomy 31:24-26

This is why it was the duty of the priests and scribes to explain and expound the Law for the people:

"Also Jesh'ua, Bani, Sherebi'ah, Jamin, Akkub, Shab'bethai, Hodi'ah, Ma-asei'ah, Keli'ta, Azari'ah, Jo'zabad, Hanan, Pelai'ah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. And they read from the book, from the Law of God, CLEARLY; and they gave THE SENSE, so that the people understood the reading. And Nehemi'ah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people wept when they heard the words of the Law… On the second day the heads of fathers’ houses of all the people, with the priests and the Levites, came together to Ezra the scribe in order to study the words of the Law. And they found it written in the Law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, … And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the ordinance." Nehemiah 8:7-9, 13-14, 18

Now this doesn’t mean that a person couldn’t try and get a copy for himself or herself, but that such an endeavor would be very difficult to do on a mass scale for all the inhabitants of Israel.

Furthermore, we are not implying that since the statement regarding the lying pens of the scribes falsified the Law refers to their written commentaries or explanations this therefore means that each individual would be able to own a copy of these interpretive texts that distorted the Law. Much like the Law, mass-producing even these written commentaries would be too expensive and too difficult a task.

What we mean by this is that the scribes exerted an influence on how the people understood the Law, since the people looked to them for guidance and understanding. This is similar to the situation in Jesus’ day where he often rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for distorting the true spirit of the Law by their traditions:

"Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, ‘Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.’ He answered them, ‘And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, "Honor your father and your mother," and, "He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die." But you say, "If any one 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 precepts of men."’" Matthew 15:1-9

Thus, when corrupt priests distorted the true meaning of the Law either by reading them in light of the understanding of certain written sources or by expounding them in accord with their traditions this would invariable effect the very salvation of the people who looked to them for guidance:

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten THE LAW of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways, and requite them for their deeds." Hosea 4:6-9

"So shall you know that I have sent this command to you, that my covenant with Levi may hold, says the LORD of hosts. My covenant with him was a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him, that he might fear; and he feared me, he stood in awe of my name. True instruction was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips. He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many from iniquity. For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way; YOU HAVE CAUSED MANY TO STUMBLE BY YOUR INSTRUCTION; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction.’" Malachi 2:4-9

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves." Matthew 23:13-15

"Woe to you lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." Luke 11:53

That is why God in his love and mercy sent the people prophets, as well as his own beloved Son, in order to save them from such deceptive distortions and human traditions. As one source states in reference to Jeremiah 8:8:

The words are not to be limited in their reference to the efforts of the false prophets, who spread their delusive prophecies by means of writings: they refer equally to the work of the priests, whose duty it was to train the people in the law, and who, by false teaching as to its demands, led the people astray, seduced them from the way of truth, and deceived them as to the future. The labours both of the false prophets and of the wicked priests consisted not merely in authorship, in composing and circulating writings, but to a very great extent in the oral teaching of the people, partly by prophetic announcements, partly by instruction in the law; only in so far as it was necessary was it their duty to set down in writing and circulate their prophecies and interpretations of the law. But this work by word and writing was founded on the existing written law, the Torah of Moses; just as the true prophets sought to influence the people chiefly by preaching the law to them, by examining their deeds and habits by the rule of the divine will as revealed in the Torah, and by applying to their times the law’s promises and threatenings. For this work with the law, and application of it to life, Jer. uses the expression "style of the Shoferim," because the interpretation of the law, if it was to have valid authority as the rule of life, must be fixed by writing. Yet he did not in this speak only of authors, composers, but meant such as busied themselves about the book of the law, made it the object of their study. But inasmuch as such persons, by false interpretation and application, perverted the truth of the law into a lie, he calls their work the work of the lying style (pen). (Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (2002). Commentary on the Old Testament. (Vol. 7, Page 645). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson; bold and capital emphasis ours)

A similar situation exists with Muslims such as Zawadi, who have been deceived by the Quran and Islamic traditions in distorting the true meaning of the Holy Bible in order to make it agree with the teachings of Islam. And when Muslims can’t successfully distort the meaning they then resort to simply attacking the purity of the biblical text! Moreover, Islamic tradition has also distorted many passages of the Quran by interpreting them in a way that is contrary to the contextual and exegetical meaning of the texts in question.

Hence, just because persons may have access to the Law or any other religious text doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they will have a correct understanding since there will always be individuals masquerading as pious scholars in order to deceive them. After all, if access to the texts automatically resulted in doctrinal purity then we wouldn’t find so many divisions in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Zawadi’s rebuttal is rather na´ve to say the least.

Finally, as we had said in our initial paper, even if we concede that Jeremiah 8:8 referred to a corruption of the text of the Law this would only be in reference to those copies in the possession of the scribes. This would not necessarily apply to all the other copies which were circulating among God’s righteous kings and prophets such as Daniel. Hence, the most this text would prove is that certain copies were corrupted without this implying that there weren’t other copies which had not been tampered with. As we will see shortly, plenty of uncorrupt texts existed, and continue to exist, thereby assuring that the people of God have access to the Divinely inspired Law.

Zawadi now tries to tackle my specific examples which conclusively prove that Jeremiah 8:8 doesn’t mean that the text of the Law was corrupted.

Jeremiah 26:4 says that God still commanded them to follow the Law. How could this be if the Law has been corrupted?

This does not necessarily have to be referring to the Law of Moses. It's possible it could be referring to the revelations that God had sent down to Jeremiah. e.g.. Jeremiah Chapter 7 and 36

RESPONSE:

Note the desperate attempt of evasion. Here is the text once again in order to expose Zawadi’s desperate means of escaping the plain meaning of the verse:

"You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my Law which I have set before you, and to heed the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently, though you have not heeded, then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.’" Jeremiah 26:4-6

The revelation given to Jeremiah would not be called Law, but would fall under the words of the prophets. In fact, when the Bible refers to the Law in relation to the prophets this normally refers to the Law given to Moses:

"So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the Law AND the prophets." Matthew 7:12

"On these two commandments depend all the Law AND the prophets." Matthew 22:40

"But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses AND the prophets; let them hear them.’ … He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses AND the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’" Luke 16:29, 31

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the Law AND the prophets bear witness to it," Romans 3:21

Here now are some more passages from Jeremiah which presuppose the availability and preservation of the Law:

"Then they said, ‘Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for THE LAW shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words.’" Jeremiah 18:18

Unlike Zawadi, even the unbelievers had sense enough to realize that God’s Law would not cease!

"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put MY LAW within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:31-34

Zawadi would have us believe that the same Jeremiah who wrote that God would write the very Law within the hearts of his people actually believed that God was incapable of preserving the written record of that very Law!

"After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the LORD, saying: ‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts, great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. You have shown signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all mankind, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day. You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror. And you gave them this land, which you swore to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. And they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or walk in YOUR LAW. They did nothing of all you commanded them to do. Therefore you have made all this disaster come upon them. Behold, the siege mounds have come up to the city to take it, and because of sword and famine and pestilence the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. What you spoke has come to pass, and behold, you see it. Yet you, O Lord GOD, have said to me, ‘Buy the field for money and get witnesses’--though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.’" Jeremiah 32:16-25

This text not only shows that Jeremiah had knowledge of the Law of Moses, but also presupposes his familiarity with the stories contained therein such as the plagues of Egypt, the Exodus to the promise land etc. How could Jeremiah have known all these events if the Law was corrupted? And if Zawadi argues that God revealed these things to Jeremiah then this only proves my point that the same God who was able to make known the contents of the Law to Jeremiah would also be able to have his prophet restore its text if it was corrupted.

"They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked IN MY LAW AND MY STATUTES WHICH I SET BEFORE YOU AND BEFORE YOUR FATHERS." Jeremiah 44:10

God says that he had set the very same Law and statutes before the people of Jeremiah that their ancestors had access to! Again, this text conclusively proves that the Law must have been available to the people.

"Because you have burned sacrifices and have sinned against the LORD and not obeyed the voice of the LORD or walked in His Law, His statutes or His testimonies, therefore this calamity has befallen you, as it has this day." Jeremiah 44:23

Let us see what the expression, "His Law, His statues or His testimonies," refers to:

"This is the law that Moses set before the people of Israel. These are the testimonies, the statutes, and the rules, which Moses spoke to the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt," Deuteronomy 4:44-45

"You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD has promised. When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’" Deuteronomy 6:16-25

The foregoing shows quite conclusively that Jeremiah clearly did not mean that the text of the Law of Moses was corrupted and no longer available in its original pristine form. The overall context of his writings indicates that he simply meant that the scribes had falsified the Law’s meaning by their interpretations of it. The following translation best captures the intended meaning of the text:

"How can you say, ‘We are wise! We have the law of the Lord’? The truth is, those who teach it have used their writings to make it say what it does not really mean." NET Bible

We can now move on to his next shallow response:

God could have restored the Torah just like how he did with Jeremiah's own revelations in Jeremiah 36:1-7, 20-32, 27-32

Irrelevant, because Jeremiah 8:8 does not say that God restored the Law. Yes he could have done it. God could do anything. But the verse didn't say that.

RESPONSE:

As we saw, these passages are quite relevant in proving that not only could God have restored the Law if it were corrupted, but would actually have done so since the Law was God’s standard by which his people were expected to live.

Zawadi resumes his evasion tactics:

In Nehemiah, chapter 8 we find that Ezra reads the Law to the people of Israel for a whole week, day after day. For example in verses 8, 13-14, and 18. This is in about 430 B.C. about 180 years after Jeremiah's temple address which took place in 609 or 608 B.C., the first year of the reign of king Jehoiakim (see Jeremiah 26:1). In Malachi 4:4, God tells the people to follow the Law. 

This is irrelevant because Christians are assuming that these books of Nehemiah and Malachi are truly from God. Maybe they were following the same corrupted Law that Christians are following today. This proves nothing.

RESPONSE:

This is only another desperate attempt of avoiding the evidence. The validity of these verses does not depend on whether these books are inspired, since a book can contain accurate information without having to be a revelation from God. What these quotes prove is that there were uncorrupt copies of the Law available to the Jews after the exile. Zawadi’s red herring and straw man argument does nothing to refute this fact, but simply shows how desperate he is to do away with all the overwhelming data which refutes his distortions.

His attempt to undermine Daniel’s testimony is even worse:

Daniel Chapter 9 shows that Daniel read from the Book of Jeremiah and also believed in an uncorrupt Torah. This shows that Daniel did not understand Jeremiah 8:8 to mean that the text of the Law was corrupted

First of all the only evidence of what verses that Daniel read from the Book of Jeremiah are Jeremiah 25:11, 12 and 29:10 where God predicts that Israel would be taken into captivity to Babylon for 70 years. This does not prove that he read the whole book of Jeremiah. 

Even if there was proof that he read the whole book of Jeremiah that does not mean anything. Daniel could have easily misunderstood the passage just like how Christians are today. Maybe he twisted around its true meaning just like how Christians do today because he they don't want to admit that their scripture is corrupted.

RESPONSE:

First, as Zawadi admits, it is irrelevant to my point whether Daniel had the entire copy of Jeremiah in his possession, or whether he read Jeremiah 8:8, since this fact still remains: Daniel had in his possession a copy of Moses’ book which he had read and understood since he prayed the following:

"In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in THE BOOKS the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and made confession, saying, ‘O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the LORD our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore the LORD has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly. ‘O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.’" Daniel 9:1-19

Daniel realized that the reason why the Jews were sent into captivity is because they had violated what was written in the Law of Moses. He was even aware of the curses which were written in the Law of Moses! Daniel’s prayer presupposes that:

  1. One of the books which he had in his possession was the Law of Moses.
  2. There were uncorrupt copies of the Law of Moses circulating in Babylon.

Moreover, let us continue reading Daniel 9 to see whether Daniel misunderstood what he had been reading from the books within his possession:

"While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the LORD my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. HE MADE ME UNDERSTAND, speaking with me and saying, ‘O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.’" Daniel 9:20-23

Daniel received revelation from God through the angel Gabriel who helped him understand. Now if Daniel had been mistaken on anything wouldn’t Gabriel have corrected him? So much for Zawadi’s argument.

Third, Zawadi is so desperate to prove that the book of Moses has been corrupted that he would dare slander a prophet of God by placing him on the level of uninspired Christians of today who often do misunderstand what they read from the Holy Bible. By so doing he has only managed to slander his false prophet and his false book which command him to say the following:

And they say: Be Jews or Christians, then ye will be rightly guided. Say (unto them, O Muhammad): Nay, but (we follow) the religion of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the idolaters. SAY (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which THE PROPHETS received from their Lord. WE MAKE NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN ANY OF THEM, and unto Him we have surrendered. S. 2:135-136 Pickthall

The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books AND HIS APOSTLES; WE MAKE NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ANY OF HIS APOSTLES; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course. S. 2:285 Shakir

Here the author of the Quran commands Muslims to profess faith in all the messengers of God sent to the Jews and Christians. Since both the Jews and Christians have accepted Daniel as one of the prophets and messengers of God, Zawadi must accept him if he is to be a faithful Muslim. But Zawadi has committed unbelief (kufr) by making a distinction between the prophets with his lying slander against Daniel, whereby he has broken the commands of his god and prophet. If Zawadi is correct then this means his god and his messenger were liars because they said that Muslims believe in all the messengers, or they must have been ignorant since they weren’t aware that Daniel was a false prophet or that he had been mistaken.

Zawadi may pull out the canard that the Quran doesn’t mention Daniel by name and he is therefore under no obligation to embrace him. Just in case he does we only need to remind him of the following texts:

We have revealed to thee as We revealed to Noah, and the Prophets after him, and We revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, Jesus and Job, Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and We gave to David Psalms, and Messengers We have already told thee of before, and Messengers We have not told thee of; and unto Moses God spoke directly -- S. 4:163-164 Arberry

We sent Messengers before thee; of some We have related to thee, and some We have not related to thee. It was not for any Messenger to bring a sign, save by God's leave. When God's command comes, justly the issue shall be decided; then the vain-doers shall be lost. S. 40:78 Arberry

That these inspired messengers included Daniel is evident from the statements of noted historian and commentator al-Tabari:

… So Nebuchadnezzar attacked him, slew him, took the Egyptians captive, and proceeded through North Africa (Maghrib) until he reached its farthest point. He then returned (home) with many captives from Palestine and Transjordan, among them DANIEL AND OTHER PROPHETS. (The History of al-Tabari: The Ancient Kingdom, translated by Moshe Perlmann [State University of New York Press (SUNY) Albany, 1987], Volume IV, p. 45; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

… they chose THE PROPHET DANIEL, and he took charge of their affairs… (Ibid., p. 50; capital emphasis ours)

… The Christians assert that she bore him a son on his way to Babylon, and that he named it Cyrus. They also assert hat the rule of Ahasuerus lasted fourteen years, that Mordechai taught him the Torah, and that Cyrus embraced the faith of the Israelites and learned from THE PROPHET DANIEL and his companions, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah… He appointed Daniel as judge and transferred to him all power, ordering him to remove from the reassures and return to Jerusalem whatever Nebuchadnezzar had taken from there. The king striated the reconstruction of Jerusalem. It was built and completed in the days of Cyrus b. Ahasuerus. (Ibid., p. 51; capital emphasis ours)

That night a group set out to go to Christ, urged by the rise of an unknown star. They had been discussing that the rise of the star was one of the signs of the birth of the child, as indicated IN THE BOOK OF DANIEL… (Ibid., p, 116; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Zawadi tries to deal with the teachings of both the NT and the Quran regarding Jesus having confirmed the Law:

Jesus gave authority to the Law in the Gospels

How do you know that Jesus even read Jeremiah 8:8? How do you know that Jesus truly gave authority to the Law? Because your Gospel says so? How do you know that the Gospel writers truly quoted Jesus' true words? This will get into a discussion of the authority of the Gospels so lets not go there. However, you cannot use the Bible to prove the Bible has not been corrupted. This is just circular reasoning.

RESPONSE:

This response is truly amazing. First off, it is irrelevant whether Jesus read Jeremiah 8:8 since that doesn’t undermine the fact that Christ is quoted as confirming the Law in his possession as the very uncorrupt Word of God. Second, notice how he again evades the evidence that exposes his desperate lies and slander against God’s true Word by calling into question the authenticity of the Gospels, which is an implicit admission that these documents as they stand refute him. The Gospels demonstrate that God’s Law was confirmed by Jesus which therefore proves that there were uncorrupt copies of the Law in existence during the first century. Indeed, Zawadi doesn’t want to go into the authority of the Gospels since he knows he will be exposed and humiliated even further.

More importantly, I had already anticipated that Muslims would use this very weak and desperate attempt of undermining Jesus’ testimony to the Law by attacking the veracity of the Gospels and therefore chose to appeal to their own sources, namely the Quran. But even the Quran isn’t good enough for Zawadi since he says:

Even your own Quran says that Jesus came to confirm the Law

The Gospel was given to Prophet Jesus to confirm what remained intact from the Torah; and the Glorious Quran was given to Prophet Mohamed (saws) to confirm what remained intact from the Gospel and The Law!

RESPONSE:

This is another lie aimed at trying to deceive people into thinking that the Quran doesn’t confirm that the Torah as it existed in the time of Jesus and Muhammad was the Word of God. Let us repeat what both the Quran and some of the Islamic narrations say about this issue:

And He will teach him the Book and the wisdom and the Torah and the Injeel… ‘attesting to WHAT IS BETWEEN MY HANDS (bayna yadayya) OF THE TORAH, and to make lawful to you a part of that which is forbidden to you.’" S. 3:48, 50

"And in their footsteps (of Moses and the Jews) We sent Jesus the son of Mary, attesting to the Torah WHICH WAS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (bayna yadayhi); and We gave him the Gospel - therein is guidance and light and attesting to the Torah WHICH WAS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (bayna yadayhi): a guidance and an admonition to the righteous." S. 5:46

"Then will God say, ‘O Jesus son of Mary! Recount my favor to you and to your mother when I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit, so that you spoke to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught you the Book and Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel…’" S. 5:110

"And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: ‘Oh Children of Israel! I am the apostle of God to you, CONFIRMING THAT WHICH IS BETWEEN MY HANDS from the Torah…’" S. 61:6

According to these texts, Allah taught Jesus the Torah and the latter confirms the Torah which was in his hands (in his possession). If Zawadi is to be believed then this means that Allah actually taught Jesus a corrupted Torah! In fact, these texts prove my point that if the Torah was indeed corrupted then God could have restored it by simply instructing one of his prophets to write it down and/or recite it, much like the Quran says God supposedly did when he personally taught Jesus the Torah.

Here now are Ibn Kathir’s comments on the above citations:

<the Tawrah and the Injil>. The Tawrah is the Book THAT ALLAH SENT DOWN TO MUSA, son of Imran, while the Injil is what Allah sent down to Isa, son of Maryam, peace be upon them, AND ISA MEMORIZED BOTH BOOKS…

<If you believe. And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Tawrah,> affirming the Tawrah AND UPHOLDING IT," (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 2, parts 3,4 & 5, Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147 [March 2000], pp. 163, 165; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Jesus, according to Ibn Kathir, memorized and upheld the Torah which in reality (at least according to Zawadi) actually means that Jesus memorized and confirmed a corrupted Torah! And:

<'Isa, son of Maryam, confirming the Tawrah that had come before him,> meaning, he believed in it AND RULED BY IT…

<and confirmation of the Tawrah that had come before it,> meaning, HE ADHERED TO THE TAWRAH, except for the few instances that clarified the truth where the Children of Israel differed. Allah states in another Ayah that 'Isa said to the Children of Israel,… <…and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you.>

So the scholars say that the Injil abrogated some of the rulings of the Tawrah… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 3, Parts 6, 7 & 8, Surat An-Nisa, Verse 148 to the end of Surat Al-An'am, Abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; January 2000, first edition], pp. 193-194; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Finally:

‘Isa said, "The Tawrah conveyed the glad tidings of my coming, and my coming CONFIRMS THE TRUTH OF THE TAWRAH…" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Volume 9, Surat Al-Jathiyah to the end of Surat Al-Munafiqun [September 2000, first edition], p. 617; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Due to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, along with Jesus’ extensive use of the OT as documented in the pages of the New Testament, we know what the text of the OT used by first century Jews looked like. It is virtually identical to what is found in modern Bibles today. Furthermore, these Quranic passages also demonstrate that the Jews were not the only ones entrusted with the protection of the Torah since the Christians, after Christ’s ascension, would have used and cherished the Torah as God’s inspired, infallible Word. The Christian communities have copied and preserved these Scriptures to this very day, because their risen Lord and eternal Master, as well as his beloved Apostles, affirmed them as God’s revealed truth.

The foregoing shows that the Gospels’ statements regarding Jesus confirming the Law are absolutely correct as far as the Quran is concerned, which means that Zawadi has no grounds for calling them into question.

Moreover, here is Muhammad’s attitude towards the Torah of his time:

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:

A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school.

They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. IT WAS THEN BROUGHT. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I BELIEVED IN THEE and in Him Who revealed thee.

He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi' (No. 4431)." (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38 (Kitab al Hudud, "Prescribed Punishments"), Number 4434)

Noted Muslim biographer Ibn Ishaq wrote that:

Rafi b. Haritha and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila came to him and said: "Do you not allege that you follow the religion of Abraham AND BELIEVE IN THE TORAH WHICH WE HAVE AND TESTIFY THAT IT IS THE TRUTH FROM GOD?" He replied, "CERTAINLY, but you have sinned and broken the covenant contained therein and concealed what you were ordered to make plain to man, and I disassociate myself from your sin." They said, "We hold by what we have. We live according to the guidance and the truth and we do not believe in you and we will not follow you." So God sent down concerning them: "Say O Scripture folk, you have no standing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been sent down to you from your Lord. What has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will assuredly increase many of them in error and unbelief. But be not sad because of the unbelieving people." (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], p. 268; bold and capital emphasis ours)

And:

The apostle entered a Jewish school where there was a number of Jews and called them to God. Al-Nu'man b. 'Amr and al-Harith b. Zayd said to him:
‘What is your religion, Muhammad?’
‘The religion of Abraham.’
‘But Abraham was a Jew.’
Then let the Torah judge between us.’
They refused, and so God sent down concerning them: ‘Hast thou not seen how those who have received a portion of scripture when invited to God's book that it may judge between them, a party of them turn their backs in opposition. That is because they say, The fire will not touch us except for a limited time. What they were inventing has deceived them in their religion.’ (Ibid., p. 260; bold emphasis ours)

Muhammad judged according to the Torah and professed complete belief in it. Unlike Zawadi, he didn’t believe that scribes had corrupted the Torah so that it could no longer be trusted. Yet Zawadi obviously knows more than his own prophet on this issue, and Muslims should therefore trust him rather than what their own prophet and Islamic sources say.

Zawadi concludes:

Is God not able to preserve the Torah?

He is able to but just because he allowed it to become corrupted does not undermine His power. It could have been God's divine plan for it to have been corrupted because the Law was probably only meant to be followed for a particular point in time unlike the Holy Quran which is the final revelation of God and has remained intact and preserved and is meant to be followed for all time since it has been revealed.

RESPONSE:

Note the circular reasoning and unproven assumptions. God can preserve his Word but allowed it to be corrupted, an assertion which he hasn’t proven. The obvious questions in light of Zawadi’s assertions are why did God even bother revealing his Words in the first place if he had no intention of preserving them? And how could successive generations of individuals be held accountable for not upholding God’s Words when these persons would not be able to know what those Words truly were since they had been corrupted?

In fact, Zawadi’s skepticism not only calls into question God’s ability to preserve his own Words, despite his denial that it does, he now has no way of proving that his god Allah can, will, or has actually protected the Quran. After all, if Allah didn’t bother to preserve the previous Scriptures then what guarantee is there that he would do so for the Quran? For more on this point, please read the following: http://answering-islam.org/authors/khaled/quran_preserved.html

Citing from the Quran to show that he would do so doesn’t prove anything since this would essentially be a circular argument, i.e. quoting the Quran to prove the Quran. Moreover, the Quran testifies that God has preserved all of his revelations, not just the Quran:

"And to you We have revealed the Book containing the truth, confirming the earlier revelations, AND PRESERVING THEM (FROM CHANGE AND CORRUPTION)." S. 5:48 (Al-Quran - A Contemporary Translation by Ahmed Ali [Princeton University Press, New Jersey, fifth ed. 1994], p. 104)

And:

"Verily, we have sent down THE REMINDER (thikra), and, verily, we will guard it. And we sent before thee among the sects of those of yore." S. 15:9-10 Palmer

The above text connects the Reminder with what Allah had sent before Muhammad which Allah swore to preserve. Now Zawadi may try to get real desperate and say that the context defines the Reminder as the Quran:

"And they say: O thou unto whom the Reminder (thikru) is revealed, lo! thou art indeed a madman!" S. 15:6 Pickthall

This passage actually proves our point, since it shows that if verse 9 was referring to the Quran alone then the author could have made this clear by qualifying his statement much like he did in the above text. To avoid any confusion he could have said, "we have sent down the reminder to you," or "we have sent down this reminder." He could have even said, "we sent down the Reminder, which is the Quran." Clearly, he said none of these things. Instead, Sura 15:9-10 speaks of the Reminder in general, and then proceeds to mention what was sent before Muhammad. We definitely know that the Reminder was also sent down to other apostles since the Quran tells us so:

"And We did not send before you any but men to whom We sent revelation -- so ask the followers of the Reminder (thikri) if you do not know -- With clear arguments and scriptures; and We have revealed TO YOU the Reminder (thikra) that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, and that haply they may reflect." S. 16:43-44 Shakir

Note here that the revelation in the possession of the Jews and Christians, as well as what Muhammad had received, are both called the Reminder.

"And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee other than men, whom We inspired. Ask the followers of the Reminder (thikri) if ye know not?" S. 21:7 Pickthall

"And We verily gave Moses and Aaron the Criterion (of right and wrong) and a light and a Reminder (thikran) for those who keep from evil," S. 21:48 Pickthall

"And verily we have written in the Scripture, after the Reminder (thikri): My righteous slaves will inherit the earth:" S. 21:105 Pickthall

"And We verily gave Moses the guidance, and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit the Scripture, A guide and a reminder (thikra) for men of understanding." S. 40:53-54 Pickthall

The foregoing conclusively shows that the author of the Quran believed that the revelation given to prophets like Moses was also the Reminder. Thus, if Zawadi believes the Quran then he must accept the necessary conclusion of the preceding data, namely that God has indeed protected the Holy Bible from corruption.

This leads us to Zawadi’s second assertion regarding the Quran. He asserts that the Quran is the final revelation which has remained intact, which assumes that (a) the Quran is from God and that, (b) the Quran has been preserved. Let us see what the Quran actually says about its own preservation:

As we sent down (punishment) on the separatists who dismember the Qur'an. S. 15:90-91 Palmer

Lest Zawadi lie again by accusing Palmer of a mistranslation here is a list of other versions:

(Of just such wrath) as We sent down on those who divided (Scripture into arbitrary parts), (So also on such) as have made Qur'an into shreds (as they please). A. Yusuf Ali

So We sent it down on the partitioners, who have broken the Koran into fragments. A.J. Arberry

Like as We sent down on the dividers Those who made the Quran into shreds. Shakir

(such as We have sent down for the quibblers * who have torn the Qur’an apart…) T.B. Irving

Such as We send down for those who make division, Those who break the Qur'an into parts. M.M. Pickthall

We will punish those who foster divisions, Who break up the Koran into parts: J.M. Rodwell

The late A. Yusuf Ali wrote:

"… The Meccan Pagans, in the early day of Islam, in order to dishonour and ridicule the Qur-an, divided what was so far revealed, into bits, and apportioned them to the people coming on pilgrimage to Mecca by different routes, slandering and abusing the Apostle of God." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an Translation and Commentary, p. 653, fn. 2014; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Scholar in Islamic studies Alphonse Mingana commented on this passage:

"Finally, if we understand correctly the following verse of Suratul-Hijr (xv. 90-91): ‘As we sent down upon (punished) the dividers (of the Scripture?) who broke up the Koran into parts,’ we are tempted to state that even when the Prophet was alive, some changes were noticed in the recital of certain verses of his sacred book. There is nothing very surprising in this fact, since Muhammad could not read or write, and was at the mercy of friends for the writing of his revelations, or, more frequently, of some mercenary amanuenses." (Mingana, "Three Ancient Korans", The Origins of the Koran - Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book, ed. by Ibn Warraq [Prometheus Books, Amherst NY, 1998], p. 84; bold emphasis ours)

Mingana mentioned the Muslim reaction to Uthman b. Affan’s burning and wholesale destruction of primary, competing Quranic codices:

"The book, drawn up by this method, continued to be authoritative and the standard text till 29-30 A.H. under the caliphate of 'Uthman. At this time the wonderful faithfulness of Arab memory was defective, and according to a general weakness of human nature, the Believers have been heard reciting the verses of the Koran in a different way. This fact was due specially, it is said, to the hundreds of dialects used in Arabia. Zaid was again asked to put an end to these variations which had begun to scandalize the votaries of the Prophet. That indefatigable compiler, assisted by three men from the tribe of Quraish, started to do what he had already done more than fifteen years before. The previous copies made from the first one written under Abu Bakr were all destroyed by special order of the caliph: the revelation sent down from heaven was one, and the book containing this revelation must be one. The critic remarks that the only guarantee of the authenticity of the Koran is the testimony of Zaid; and for this reason, a scholar who doubts whether a given word has been really used by Muhammad, or whether it has been only employed by Zaid on his own authority, or on the meagre testimony of some Arab reciters, does not transgress the strict laws of high criticism. If the memory of the followers of the Prophet has been found defective from the year 15 to 30 A.H. when Islam was proclaimed over all Arabia, why may it not have been defective from 612 to 632 C.E. when the Prophet was often obliged to defend his own life against terrible aggressors? And if the first recension of Zaid contained always the actual words of Muhammad, why was this compiler not content with re-establishing it in its entirety, and why was the want of a new recension felt by 'Uthman? How can it be that in the short space of fifteen years such wonderful variants could have crept into the few copies preceding the reign of the third caliph that he found himself bound to destroy all those he could find? If 'Uthman was certainly inspired only by religious purposes, why did his enemies call him ‘THE TEARER OF THE BOOKS’ and why did they fasten on him the following stigma: ‘He found the Korans many and left one; HE TORE UP THE BOOK’?…" (Ibn Warraq, p. 84-85; bold and capital emphasis ours)

For more on the textual corruption and variant readings of the Quran please read the articles listed on this page:

http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Text/index.html

Now Zawadi will obviously run to commentaries in order to find convenient explanations to avoid the fact that his own book says that it has been corrupted. He will essentially do what we have done, namely seek to understand a specific text in light of the overall teachings of the book in question. The only major problem with doing this is that, unlike the exegesis we provided for the Holy Bible, Zawadi would not be able to convincingly refute that his book has been corrupted. As we said, quoting the Quran to prove the Quran is circular reasoning, whereas quoting different books of the Holy Bible to understand the Bible is not circular in the least. The reason being is that the Holy Bible is a collection of writings written by different authors at different time periods. Therefore, quoting different books of the Bible provides independent attestation for a specific issue or doctrine. For instance, note how many different books of the Bible confirm that the Law remained intact:

  1. Jeremiah itself.
  2. Daniel.
  3. Ezrah-Nehemiah.
  4. Malachi.
  5. The Gospels.
  6. The New Testament Epistles.

Zawadi, on the other hand, believes that the Quran came to only one man, which means that it cannot provide independent attestation for any given point; that is unless Zawadi wants to embrace the view that the Quran is actually a patchwork of different source documents which were badly put together. But even that wouldn’t help his case since we would still be left with the conclusion that one of the original sources of the Quran taught that the Muslim scriptures had been corrupted, whereas Zawadi may quote from the other source material that disagrees, thereby providing further proof that the Quran was badly edited accounting for the existence of such contradictions.


Conclusion

Jeremiah is explicitly clear by what he meant when he said that the lying pens of the scribes have turned the Law into a lie. The data which we have presented from the book of Jeremiah, and the other biblical writings conclusively show that there are no contradictions with Jeremiah 8:8 and the rest of Scripture which testifies to the Law of Moses having been preserved by God through his people. Thus, Jeremiah 8:8 is a true verse and the Bible is not corrupted.

Moreover, all the data that is available to us makes it quite certain that Jeremiah is really the true author of this book, unlike the Quran where the evidence posits several editors and authors who did a really bad job of editing the final form of the book:

http://geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/quranmulti.html
http://www.geocities.com/freethoughtmecca/menj.html

What is even more interesting is that Zawadi’s own false prophet and his own false book teach that the Law was still extant and available during the time of Christ and Muhammad! So Zawadi has turned Muhammad and his god into liars, or at least slandered them for being completely ignorant of the facts, since his religious texts claim that the Law remained intact even though he has desperately tried (but miserably failed) to show that it has been corrupted.

Do not expect Zawadi in his complete subjectivism to be able to adequately deal with the implications of the foregoing data, since his rebuttal has shown he will simply dismiss it and/or distort the actual facts by slandering God’s prophets, and in so doing he even ends up slandering his own false prophet! However, we encourage that the readers use the above data, especially the words of Zawadi’s own false prophet and false book, to convince honest seekers and objective Muslims of the truth of the Holy Bible.

For more info on this subject please consult the following:

http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Bible/index.html


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