In his most recent article trying to address Muhammads blatant inconsistency and failure of applying the Qurans censuring of all poetry (*), Bassam Zawadi seeks to undermine my claim regarding the Quran confirming the Holy Bible. After citing a text to show that the Quran commands Zawadi to believe in all the books revealed to the Jews and Christians (cf. Sura 4:136), Zawadi says:
Okay what is the problem. The verse says that I should believe in the Book that God sent down BEFORE. I do believe in all His books and that the Gospel, which he revealed to Jesus is a book that I believe in.
On the contrary, Zawadi does not believe in all the books which God sent down before Muhammads time since he asserts that these books have been tampered with, that they have been corrupted. He tries to cast doubt on the authenticity and integrity of the Holy Bible, even though this was the revelation which both the Jews and Christians had in their possession and which the Quran commands Muslims to believe in.
To demonstrate what we mean, when in my paper I had cited references to prove that the books that the Quran commands Zawadi to believe in are those found in the Holy Bible, he responds with the following illustration:
Therefore, the Quran comes to confirm the truth of the Torah., which is the red dot as shown above in the diagram.
First, Zawadi assumes that the Quran says that only specific parts of the Holy Bible are true, but fails to provide a single reference to show that this is what the Quran actually teaches. He is essentially begging the question by already presenting his position as a theological given without bothering to carefully deal or address all the verses I cited which prove the contrary. He merely skims through them and offers some brief comments, thinking that this somehow addresses the points I raised.
The fact is that the Quran never says that it only confirms certain portions of the Holy Bible, but quite expressly states that it affirms all of the previous revelation, the entirety of the previous Scriptures:
O children of Israel! call to mind My favor which I bestowed on you and be faithful to (your) covenant with Me, I will fulfill (My) covenant with you; and of Me, Me alone, should you be afraid. And believe in what I have revealed, VERIFYING THAT WHICH IS WITH YOU, and be not the first to deny it, neither take a mean price in exchange for My communications; and Me, Me alone should you fear. S. 2:40-41 Shakir
And when there came to them a Book from Allah VERIFYING THAT WHICH THEY HAVE, and aforetime they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieve, but when there came to them (Prophet) that which they did not recognize, they disbelieved in him; so Allah's curse is on the unbelievers. S. 2:89 Shakir
And when they were told, 'Believe in that God has sent down,' they said, 'We believe in what was sent down on us'; and they disbelieve in what is beyond that, yet it is the truth CONFIRMING WHAT IS WITH THEM. Say: 'Why then were you slaying the Prophets of God in former time, if you were believers?' S. 2:91
Say: 'Whosoever is an enemy to Gabriel -- he it was that brought it down upon thy heart by the leave of God, CONFIRMING WHAT IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi), and for a guidance and good tidings to the believers. S. 2:97
And when there cometh unto them a messenger from Allah, CONFIRMING THAT WHICH THEY POSSESS, a party of those who have received the Scripture fling the Scripture of Allah behind their backs as if they knew not, S. 2:101 Pickthall
He has sent down upon thee the Book with the truth, CONFIRMING WHAT IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi), and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel. S. 3:3
This is a Book We have sent down, blessed AND CONFIRMING THAT WHICH IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (musaddiqu allathee bayna yadayhi), and for thee to warn the Mother of Cities and those about her; and those who believe in the world to come believe in it, and watch over their prayers. S. 6:92
And this Quran is not such as could be forged by those besides Allah, but it is A CONFIRMATION THAT WHICH IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (tasdeeqa allathee bayna yadayhi) and a clear explanation of the book, there is no doubt in it, from the Lord of the worlds. S. 10:37
In their histories there is certainly a lesson for men of understanding. It is not a narrative which could be forged, BUT A CONFIRMATION THAT WHICH IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (tasdeeqa allathee bayna yadayhi) and a distinct explanation of all things and a guide and a mercy to a people who believe. S. 12:111
And that We have revealed to thee of the Book is the truth, CONFIRMING WHAT IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi); God is aware of and sees His servants." S. 35:31
They said: O our people! we have listened to a Book revealed after Moses CONFIRMING THAT WHICH IS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi), guiding to the truth and to a right path: S. 46:30
Notice that in all the above citations the Quran explicitly states that it verifies, confirms that which is in the hands of the Jews and Christians during Muhammads time. None of these references say that the Quran confirms only certain parts of the Holy Bible. And historically we know what the Jews and Christians had in their hands at that time, namely the books of the Holy Bible, both Old and New Testaments.
In fact, the Quran even cites certain biblical passages that are extant in our modern day Bibles:
Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein IS guidance and light; thereby the Prophets who had surrendered themselves gave judgment for those of Jewry, as did the masters and the rabbis, following such portion of God's Book as they were given to keep and were witnesses to. So fear not men, but fear you Me; and sell not My signs for a little price. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down - they are the unbelievers. And therein We prescribed for them: 'A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation'; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the evildoers. S. 5:44-45
The Quran, at this point, is referring to the following OT texts:
"When men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no harm follows, the one who hurt her shall be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." Exodus 21:22-25
"When a man causes a disfigurement in his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has disfigured a man, he shall be disfigured." Leviticus 24:19-20
"A single witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed; only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained. If a malicious witness rises against any man to accuse him of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days; the judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. And the rest shall hear, and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity; it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." Deuteronomy 19:15-21
The Quran also quotes a verse from the Psalms:
For We have written in the Psalms, after the Remembrance, 'The earth shall be the inheritance of My righteous servants.' S. 21:105 Arberry
The above reference is an allusion to Psalm 37:9, 11, 29:
"For the wicked shall be cut off; but those who wait for the LORD shall possess the land But the meek shall possess the land, and delight themselves in abundant prosperity The righteous shall possess the land, and dwell upon it for ever."
Combining the foregoing with all those citations stating that the Quran confirms the Scriptures that existed during the time of Muhammad as the revelation which God had given through his messengers leads us to conclude that the Torah and Psalms we have today is the true Word of God since these were the books which the Jews and Christians had at that time.
Zawadi claims that what the Jews and Christians call the Torah is not the revelation given to Moses. Not only does this fly in the face of all the above citations, but it also basically ignores the testimony of the Quran and Islamic narrations stating that both Jesus and Muhammad confirmed the Torah in their hands as Gods very Word:
And He will teach him the Book and the wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel "attesting to WHAT IS BETWEEN MY HANDS (Wamusaddiqan lima 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 (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi); and We gave him the Gospel - therein is guidance and light and attesting to the Torah WHICH WAS BETWEEN HIS HANDS (wamusaddiqan lima 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 (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayya mina al-tawrati) " S. 61:6
The Sunni Muslim commentator Ibn Kathir comments on Sura 3:50:
<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; online source)
Jesus, according to Ibn Kathir, memorized and upheld the Torah that God taught him even though in reality this was a corrupted Torah (according to Zawadi anyway)! 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; online source)
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; online edition)
As a result of the Dead Sea Scrolls discoveries in 1947, along with Jesus extensive use of the OT as documented in the pages of the New Testament, there is no doubt that the text of the Torah used by first century Jews is virtually identical to what is found in modern Bibles today. And here is Muhammads view of the Torah which was in his possession:
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, Number 4434)
Again, the Torah that Muhammad confirmed as revelation from God is the same that we have in our possession today, since it is simply a matter of historical fact that the Jews have known no other Torah than the books of the OT, specifically the first five books of Moses. It is therefore purely wishful thinking on the part of Zawadi to assume that there was another Torah given other than that which both the Jews and Christians had in their hands during Muhammads time.
Moreover, the reason Zawadi knows that the Torah had been given to Moses is because the previous Scriptures make this claim. The Quran nowhere says that Allah gave Moses the Torah; it is only in the Holy Bible where we are given this information. And it is this same document which identifies the Torah as the first five books of the Old Testament commonly known as the Pentateuch.
In fact, the Quran expressly claims that Muhammad had access to Moses' scriptures:
We did indeed aforetime give the Book to Moses: be not then in doubt of its reaching (thee): and We made it a guide to the Children of Israel. S. 32:23 Y. Ali
Or has he not been told of what is in the scrolls of Moses, S. 53:36 Arberry
Both the historical data and the manuscript tradition leave absolutely no doubt that the Torah we have today is the very pages of Moses which reached Muhammad.
Zawadi says in reference to Sura 2:42:
When Surah 2:42 is addressed to the Children of Israel not to hide the truth, this is referring to the truth of the Prophethood of Muhammad peace be upon him whom they can find prophesized in their Torah. (Tafsir of Tabari, Source)
Zawadis response here only compounds his problems. The only way for the Jews to have hidden the truth of Muhammad being predicted in the Torah is if they had the Torah in their possession during that time! Otherwise, how could they hide something which they did not possess? The following text confirms this view:
those who follow the Messenger, 'the Prophet of the common folk, whom they find written down WITH THEM in the Torah and the Gospel, bidding them to honour, and forbidding them dishonour, making lawful for them the good things and making unlawful for them the corrupt things, and relieving them of their loads, and the fetters that were upon them. Those who believe in him and succour him and help him, and follow the light that has been sent down with him -- they are the prosperers.' S. 7:157 Arberry
The above passage clearly says that the Torah and the Gospel were in the possession of the Jews during the time of Muhammad. Again, not wanting to sound like a broken record, the only Torah and Gospel that the Jews and Christians had during that time are the books of the Old and New Testaments respectively. Interestingly, this next Muslim translation even identifies the Torah and Gospel as Deuteronomy and the Gospel of John!
Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e. Muhammad SAW) whom they find written with them in the Taurat (Torah) (Deut, xviii, 15) and the Injeel (Gospel) (John xiv, 16) Hilali-Khan
So did the late Yusuf Ali:
In this verse is a prefiguring, to Moses, of the Arabian Messenger, the latest and greatest of the messengers of Allah. Prophecies about him will be found in the Taurat as now accepted by the Jews, MOSES SAYS: "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me" (Deut. xviii. 15): the only Prophet who brought a Shariat like that of Moses was Muhammad Al-Mustafa, and he came of the house of Ismail the brother of Isaac the father of Israel. In the reflex of the Gospel as now accepted by the Christians, Christ promised another Comforter (John xiv. 16): the Greek word Paraclete which the Christians interpret as referring to the Holy Spirit is by our Doctors taken to be Periclyte, which would be the Greek for of Ahmad. Q. lxi. 6. (Ali, The Holy Quran: Translation and Commentary, p. 388, fn. 1127; capital and underline emphasis ours)
The problem with Alis statements, i.e. "as now accepted by the Jews/Christians", is that the Quran confirms what both these groups accepted as the Torah and the Gospel as the very revelations which God gave to his messengers.
The late Muhammad Asad was another scholar who believed that Deuteronomy and Johns Gospel contained predictions of Muhammad:
By "overlaying the truth with falsehood" is meant the corrupting of the Biblical text, of which the Qur'an frequently accuses the Jews (and which has since been established by objective textual criticism), while the "suppression of the truth" refers to their disregard or deliberately false interpretation of the words of Moses in the Biblical passage, "The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren. like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken" (Deuteronomy xviii, 15), and the words attributed to God Himself, "I will raise them up a prophet from among thy brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in his mouth" (Deuteronomy xviii, 18). The "brethren" of the children of Israel are obviously the Arabs, and particularly the musta `ribah ("Arabianized") group among them, which traces its descent to Ishmael and Abraham: and since it is to this group that the Arabian Prophet's own tribe, the Quraysh, belonged, the above Biblical passages must be taken as referring to his advent. (Note to Sura 2:42; online edition)
The interpolation of the words "later on" before the reference to the Gospel is necessitated by the fact that the whole of this passage is addressed to Moses and the children of Israel, that is, long before the Gospel (in the Qur'anic sense of this term -cf. surah 3, note 4) was revealed to Jesus. The stories of some of the earlier prophets given in this surah -beginning with the story of Noah and ending with that of Moses and the children of Israel - constitute a kind of introduction to this command to follow the "unlettered Prophet", Muhammad. The stress on his having been "unlettered" (umma), i.e., unable to read and write, serves to bring out the fact that all his knowledge of the earlier prophets and of the messages transmitted by them was due to divine inspiration alone, and not to a familiarity with the Bible as such. For the Old Testament predictions of the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (especially in Deuteronomy xviii, 15 and 18), see surah 2, note 33; for the New Testament prophecies to the same effect, see 61: 6 and the corresponding note 6. (Note to Sura 7:157; online edition)
This prediction is supported by several references in the Gospel of St. John to the Parakletos (usually rendered as "Comforter") who was to come after Jesus. This designation is almost certainly a corruption of Periklytos ("the Much-Praised"), an exact Greek translation of the Aramaic term or name Mawhamana. (It is to be borne in mind that Aramaic was the language used in Palestine at the time of, and for some centuries after, Jesus, and was thus undoubtedly the language in which the original - now lost - texts of the Gospels were composed.) In view of the phonetic closeness of Periklytos and Parakletos it is easy to understand how the translator - or, more probably, a later scribe - confused these two expressions. It is significant that both the Aramaic Mawhamana and the Greek Periklytos have the same meaning as the two names of the Last Prophet, Muhammad and Ahmad, both of which are derived from the verb hamida ("he praised") and the noun hamd ("praise"). An even more unequivocal prediction of the advent of the Prophet Muhammad - mentioned by name, in its Arabic form - is said to be forthcoming from the so-called Gospel of St. Barnabas, which, though now regarded as apocryphal, was accepted as authentic and was read in the churches until the year 496 of the Christian era, when it was banned as "heretical" by a decree of Pope Gelasius. However, since the original text of that Gospel is not available (having come down to us only in an Italian translation dating from the late sixteenth century), its authenticity cannot be established with certainty. (Note to Sura 61:6; online edition)
Despite the assertions of Ali and Asad regarding the alleged corruption of the Bible, the very fact that they had to both appeal to Deuteronomy 18:15-19 and John 14-16 to show that there are prophecies of Muhammad provides implicit proof for our position that these are the books which the Quran identifies as the Torah and the Gospel. In other words, their statements essentially affirm that these are the very same books which were extant during the time of Muhammad and which the Quran identifies as the revelations which the prophets like Jesus received and passed on to their followers.
Zawadi went on to claim:
As for Surah 2:113, the Christians reprimanded the Jews because they were denying Jesus even though their own Torah mentioned him (possibly OT prophecy of virgin birth) and the Jews reprimanded the Christians because they were not following the Law set by Moses (which was attested by Jesus in the Gospel).
It is said that the first Christians and Jews had 'something to stand upon' but the later ones began innovating and went astray.(Tafsir of Tabari, Source)
The earliest Muslim biographer Ibn Ishaq gives us the reason why this verse was supposedly "revealed":
"When the Christians of Najran came to the apostle the Jewish rabbis came also and they disputed one with the other before the apostle. Rafi' said, You have no standing, and he denied Jesus and the Gospel; and a Christian said to the Jews, You have no standing and he denied that Moses was a prophet and denied the Torah. So God sent down concerning them: The Jews say the Christians have no standing; and the Christians say that the Jews have no standing, and yet they read the scriptures. They do not know what they are talking about. God will judge between them on the day of resurrection concerning their controversy, i.e. each one reads IN HIS BOOK THE CONFIRMATION OF WHAT HE DENIES, so that the Jews deny Jesus THOUGH THEY HAVE THE TORAH in which God required them BY THE WORD OF MOSES TO HOLD JESUS TRUE; while IN THE GOSPEL IS WHAT JESUS BROUGHT IN CONFIRMATION OF MOSES AND THE TORAH HE BROUGHT FROM GOD: so each one denies WHAT IS IN THE HAND OF THE OTHER." (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaqs Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], p. 258; bold, capital, and underline emphasis ours)
According to the above, the Torah and Gospel that the Jews and Christians had at the time of Muhammad were the very same revelations that Moses and Jesus received and passed on to their communities. Both these books confirmed the other as true, with the Quran affirming that these books were essentially one since they were authored by the same source, namely God Almighty. This is essentially the same point Tabaris commentary made. Thus, this verse provides additional evidence that the Quran confirms that the Holy Bible is that very revelation which God sent down through the prophets and which still remains intact.
But this places Zawadi in a dilemma. Since the Quran confirms that the Holy Bible is the true Word of God and even appeals to it for verification:
If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord: so be in no wise of those in doubt. S. 10:94 Y. Ali
This means that the Quran must agree completely with the teachings of the Holy Bible. If it does not agree with the previous books then it must be discarded as a false revelation. And the fact is that the Quran does contradict the Bible, which therefore proves that it cannot be revelation from the true God of the Holy Bible.
This concludes our analysis of Zawadis rebuttal for now. Lord Jesus willing, we will seek to combine all the other the issues made by Zawadi in some of his recent articles and refute them point by point in one article.
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