The Quranic Witness to Biblical Authority

Sam Shamoun


A common accusation leveled by Muslims against Christians is the belief that the Holy Bible in our possession today, has been corrupted and no longer represents the original teachings of God's messengers. Hence, Muslims believe that God sent down the Quran as a criterion to judge and correct the Bible, exposing the corruption made to it. Accordingly, anything contained within the Holy Bible that is confirmed by the Quran can be trusted and is acceptable to Muslims. At the same time, the passages of the Bible that disagree with the Quran are rejected as interpolations added on later by the community of believers expressing their personal beliefs and experiences.

Doctrines such as Original Sin, the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, His vicarious death and atonement, are ideas foreign to the original, pristine teaching of Jesus and His first followers, whom the Quran agrees, were Muslims submitted to the exclusive worship of the One True God. Since the Bible teaches the above-mentioned doctrines, it could not have possibly been preserved from deliberate textual corruption, since it would have agreed with the Quran in every detail.

This assumption is fallacious for the following reasons:

 

1.
The Quran confirms the Torah of Moses and the Injil (Gospel) given to Jesus. It never mentions the Gospels (plural) or the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).

Response:

The Quran affirms the Torah that was available at the time of Muhammad, and the Gospel in usage at that time:

Sura 7:156-157:

"And I will write down (my mercy) for those who are righteous and give alms and who believe in our signs; who follow the apostle, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in the Torah and the Gospel THAT IS WITH THEM.

Remark: This verse states that there is a prophecy of Muhammad to be found in the Gospel [singular] available during that time. This destroys the Muslim contention that the Quran mentions the Gospel given to Jesus, not the gospels written about him, since the only Gospel in usage at the time of Muhammad were the same four-fold Gospel accounts contained within our modern-day New Testaments.)

Sura 53:36:

"Nay is he not acquainted with what IS IN THE BOOKS OF MOSES."

Sura 5:46:

"But why do they (the Jews) come to thee for decision, when they have the Torah in which IS the command of God."

Sura 5:50:

"And let the People of the Gospel judge by what God has revealed in it. If any fail to judge by what God has revealed, they are licentious."

Sura 5:71:

"Say, O People of the Book! You are not (founded) on anything UNTIL you PERFORM the TORAH and the GOSPEL, and what was revealed to you from your Lord."

Sura 3:93-94:

"All food was lawful to the children of Israel except what Israel made unlawful for itself before the Torah was revealed. Say, `BRING the TORAH and READ it, if you are men of truth.' If any, after this, invent a lie and attribute it to God, they are indeed transgressors."

Sura. 28:48-49:

"But when the truth has come to them from Us, they say: `why is he not given the like of what was given to Moses?' Did they not disbelieve in that which was given to Moses before? They say: `Two kinds of magic (the Torah and the Quran) each helping the other!' And they say: `Verily! In both we are disbelievers.' Say (to them, O Muhammad): `Then bring a Book from Allah, which is a better guide than these TWO (the Torah and the Quran), that I may follow it, if you are truthful.'"

Remark: Notice how Muhammad is commanded to defend both the Quran and the Torah of Moses that was available to him as a guidance from God. No mention of textual corruption whatsoever.

Sura 32:23:

"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."

These verses presuppose that an uncorrupted Torah and Gospel exist which both Jews and Christians are commanded to study and adhere to.

The only Torah the Jews have ever known, and Gospel that Christians have possessed are that which make up the five books of Moses and the four gospel accounts* found in our modern Bibles today.

[ * The Gospel of Jesus is not a book, but the Good News that God sent His Son into the world to atone for sin and make reconsiliation between God and man. Hence, Jesus is the living Gospel sent to the world. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are not four different gospels, but four different perspectives on the one Gospel of God revealed in the person of Christ. The authors, writing under inspiration, give mutually complementary, not contradictory, material on the life and passon of Christ. This multiple attestation serves the purpose of fulfilling the requirement of the Mosaic Law that, "by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established." Deuteronomy 19:15 ]

In fact, God personally states to Muhammad in 32:23 that he should have no doubt that the Torah of his time is the very same Torah of Moses.

This is solidified by the fact that we have copies of these books that are both prior to and contemporary with the time of Muhammad, and are identical to what we have today. It is purely wishful thinking to suppose that the Torah and Gospel referred to at the time of Muhammad were something totally different in content from what we have in our possession.

 

2.
The Quran never alludes to the Bible, only the revelation originally given to the Prophets, i.e. Moses, David, Jesus, etc.

Response:

This is another unsubstantiated assumption. It is presumed that since the word "Bible" does not appear in the Quran, then what the Judeo-Christian communities commonly refer to as God's Word is not acceptable to the Muslims.

Yet, if one were to trace the word Bible back to the Greek, one would discover that the word itself comes from the term biblia, meaning "books." Hence, in time the collection became classified as the Book due to the fact that although the Bible consisted of 66 individual writings, the author was one, the Holy Spirit, having one unifying theme: the advent of God's Messiah-Deliverer.

Not surprisingly, we find the Quran mentioning the Book (Arabic- al-Kitab) of the Jews and Christians:

Sura 2:113:

"The Jews say, `The Christians are not (founded) upon anything.' And the Christians say, `The Jews are not (founded) upon anything.' And yet THEY READ THE BOOK."

Sura 3:79:

"It is not for a man to whom is given the Book and wisdom and prophecy that he should then say to people, `Be worshippers of me in place of God.' But rather, `Be true teachers (rabbnyn), since you TEACH the BOOK and you STUDY IT EARNESTLY."

The Muslim scripture again presumes the existence of an uncorrupted Book which both Jews and Christians study. The only Book in the hands of the Judeo-Christian community at the time was the Bible as it exists in its present form. Furthermore, the Arabic term used for the Bible is the very same used in the Quran, al-Kitab al-Muqaddas, the Holy Book. Hence, the Kitab referred to in the Quran is the very Kitab used by Arab Christians during and after the time of Muhammad.

Furthermore, it is not true either that the term Torah only referred to the five books of Moses. In both the Holy Bible and the Hadith the word is used in a generic sense to refer to the Old Testament as a whole.

For instance, the Mishkat al-Masabih cites several traditions (Book XXVI, Ch. XVIII, pp. 1232, 1233 and ch. XIX, p. 1244) which indicate that the Torah prophesies the coming of Muhammad:

Ata b. Yasar told that he met `Abdallah b. `Amr b. al-As and asked him to inform him of the description of God's messenger given in the Torah. He agreed, swearing by God that he was certainly described in the Torah by part of the description of him given in the Qur'an when it says,

"O prophet, We have sent you as a witness, a bearer of good tidings, and a warner, and a guard for the common people." (From Al-Ahzab 33:45 up to here. The following is from the Torah-Old Testament, Isaiah 42:1-3,6-7.) "You are my servant and my messenger; I have called you the one who trusts, not harsh or rough, nor loud-voiced in the streets. He will not repulse evil with evil, but will pardon and forgive, and God will not take him till He uses him to straighten the crooked creed so that people may say there is no god but God, and he opens thereby blind eyes, deaf ears and hardened hearts. Bukhari transmitted it, and Darimi also gives something to the same effect on the authority of `Ata who gave as his authority Ibn Salam.

The citation from the Torah is actually found in Isaiah 42:1-3, 6-7. You will not find a single reference in the Torah of Moses matching the above citation. This proves that at least in this Hadith the word "Torah" referred to more than the first five books of Moses.

Commenting on the preceding hadith, Ibn Kathir writes:

"... Al-Bukhari recorded it from 'Abdullah bin 'Amr. It was also recorded by Al-Bukhari [up to the word] forgoes. And he mentioned the narration of 'Abdullah bin 'Amr then he said: ‘It was COMMON in the speech of our Salaf that they describe the Books of the People of the Two Scriptures AS THE TAWRAH, as some Hadiths concur. Allah knows best.’" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 4, (Surat Al-Ar'af to the end of Surah Yunus), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: May 2000], p. 179; bold and capital emphasis ours)

"Jesus answered them `Has it not been written in your LAW, I said you are gods?'" John 10:34

Jesus includes Psalm 82:6 as part of the Law (i.e. Torah).

"The crowd spoke up, `We have heard from the LAW that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, "The Son of Man must be lifted up?" Who is this Son of Man?'" John 12:34

There is no reference in the books of Moses that indicates Christ will remain forever. The only places you'll find such statements are Psalm 110:1,4 and Daniel 7:13-14. Hence, the Jews used the term "Law" (Torah) as a reference for the whole of the Hebrew Bible.

"But this is to fulfill what is written in their LAW: `They hated me without reason.'" John 15:25

Jesus alludes to Psalms 35:19 and 69:4 as part of the Law.

In Romans 3:10-19 Paul alludes to Psalms 5:9, 10:7, 36:1, 14:1-3, 51:4, 53:1-3, 59:7-8, 140:3 and Ecclesiastes 7:20 as "the Law".

"In the LAW it is written: `Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,' says the Lord." 1 Corinthians 14:21

Paul includes Isaiah 28:11-12 as part of the Law. This should sufficiently demonstrate that the term Torah or Law came to be used in a broader sense referring to the entire Hebrew Bible. This is precisely what we find in the Hadith as well.

Finally, by the start of the second century the term "Gospel" was used by the early church to refer to the fourfold Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Noted scholar, F. F. Bruce explains:

"At a very early date it appears that the four Gospels were united in one collection. They must have been brought together very soon after the writing of the Gospel according to John. This fourfold collection was known originally as `The Gospel' singular, not `The Gospels' in the plural; there was only one Gospel, narrated in four records, distinguished as `according to Matthew', `according to Mark', and so on. About A.D. 115 Ignatius, bishop, of Antioch, refers to `The Gospel' as an authoritative writing, and as he knew more than one of the four `Gospels' it may well be that by `The Gospel' sans phrase he means the fourfold collection which went by that name." (Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? [Intervarsity Press; Downers Grove Il., rpt. 1992], p. 23)

Bruce goes on to cite another church father:

"By the time of Irenaeus, who, though, a native of Asia Minor, was bishop of Lyons in Gaul about A.D. 180, the idea of a fourfold Gospel had become so axiomatic in the Church at large that he can refer to it as an established and recognized fact as obvious as the four cardinal points or the four winds:

`For as there are four quarters of the world in which we live, and four universal winds, and as the Church is dispersed over all the earth, and the gospel is the pillar and base of the Church and the breath of life, so it is natural that it should have four pillars, breathing immortality from every quarter and kindling the life of men anew. Whence it is manifest that the Word, the architect of all things, who sits upon the cherubim and holds all things together, having been made manifested to men, have given us the gospel in fourfold form, but held together by one Spirit.'" (Ibid., p. 24)

Hence, to a Christian living at the time of Muhammad the term `Gospel' meant the fourfold collection found in our present day Bibles.

 

3.
The Quran is sent down as the Criterion (al-Furqan) and a guardian over previous Scripture (muhaiminan `alaihi), indicating that its function is to expose the corruption of the former text.

Response:

The term, al-Furqan, is used also for the revelation given to Moses:

Sura 2:53:

"And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion (between right and wrong): there was a chance for you to be guided aright." - Y. Ali

Sura 21:48:

"In the past We granted to Moses and Aaron the Criterion (for judgement) and a light and a Message for those who would do right..." - Y. Ali

This is a strong indication that the term Criterion does not suggest that a scripture called by this term corrects and exposes corruption to previous revelation, since there were no scriptures prior to the one given to Moses.

The term Furqan also appears in Suras 2:185; 8:29,41 and 25:1:

"The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the Criterion (Furqan)..." [2:185 - Maulana Muhammad Ali; F.E. Peters trans.]

The Quran is stated to be the clear proof of the guidance and of the Furqan, implying that the Furqan is something other than the Quran; at least in this reference.

"O you who believe, if you keep your duty to Allah, He will grant you a distinction (Furqan) and do away with your evils and protect you. And Allah is the Lord of mighty grace." [8:29 - M. Muhammad Ali]

This passage promises Muslims that if they believe and keep duty, Allah would grant them a Furqan. This could not be the Quran since it was already being given piecemeal to the community through their prophet Muhammad.

"And know that whatever you acquire in war, a fifth of it is for Allah and for the Messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, if you believe in Allah and in that which We revealed to Our servant, on the day of Discrimination (Furqan), the day on which the two parties met..." [8:41 - M.M. Ali]

This verse was revealed in connection to the battle of Badr, where the Muslims met the other party in war on the day of Furqan. Based on the context itself, Furqan can only mean victory, i.e. that Allah granted the Muslims victory over the much larger opposition. This suggests that the term can and often does mean more than simply a criterion used in relation to judging right and wrong. In fact, the term is used to refer to things other than the Quran, and is therefore not something unique to Islam.

"Blessed is He Who sent down the Discrimination (Furqan) upon His servant that he might be a warner to the nations." [25:1 - M.M. Ali]

The revelation that Muhammad received is the Furqan that is to be used to warn the nations. Yet, in Sura 3:3 all the books of God were sent as a Furqan:

"He has revealed to thee the Book with truth, confirming that which is before it, and He revealed the Torah and the Gospel aforetime, a guidance for the people, and He sent the Criterion (al-Furqan)..."

This passage makes it clear that the Furqan cannot be referring to the Quran alone, since the two are seen as being distinct. It is precisely this distinction which has led Muslims scholars to differ on the identity of the Furqan itself, whether it is the Quran or all the revealed books of God. Muslim scholar Mahmoud M. Ayoub writes:

"The issue that has concerned commentators in connection with this verse is the mention of the Furqan (criterion) after that of the Qur`an and the Torah and the Gospel. The word Furqan is generally used as one of the names of the Qur`an... Since the Qur`an is mentioned in the previous verse as a revelation preceded by the Torah and the Gospel, what is the wisdom in mentioning it again? Commentators have offered various answers to this problem." [Ayoub, The Quran and Its Interpreters, vol. II - The House of Imran; Albany, N.Y.; State University of New York Press, 1992, p.15]

Some commentators like al-Zamakhshari, believe it to be the entire collection of revealed books, or quite possibly the Psalms of David or the Quran itself:

"If you ask what is here intended by the word Furqan, I answer, It is the entire genre of heavenly books because they are all a Criterion (Furqan) distinguishing truth from falsehood. It may also mean all the Scriptures mentioned here. It is as though God said after mentioning the three Scriptures, `and He sent down that by means of which truth may be distinguished from error,' meaning either all His Scriptures, or these three Books in particular. It may also be that God here intended a Fourth Scripture, which is the Psalms (Zabur), as He says, `and We gave David the Psalms' (Q. 17:55). It may also be that God here repeated mention of the Quran, denoting its special characteristic of being a criterion distinguishing between truth and error. This He did after mentioning it by its generic name, by way of emphasizing its greatness and manifesting its special excellence." [Ibid., p.16]

The view that Furqan refers to all three Scriptures is, according to Razi, "the view of most tafsir masters," since they "are not only a source of divine guidance, they are also divine criteria distinguishing between lawful and unlawful acts and precepts in addition to other sacred laws." [Ibid., p.17]

Ar-Razi, believes differently, arguing:

"As for identifying the Psalms as the Furqan, it is unlikely because the Psalms contain no laws or precepts, but only exhortations. Thus to characterize the Torah and Gospel as Furqan is more probable than the Psalms because they do contain clear evidence of this in their precepts and laws. As for the second view which identifies the Qur`an as the Furqan in this instance, it is also unlikely because God saying `and He sent down the Criterion' is conjoined to what is before it [that is `He sent down the Book to you']. Moreover, that which is conjoined to a thing must be different from the thing which it is conjoined, which is in this case the Qur`an, but which was already mentioned. This means, therefore, that the Furqan must be other than the Qur`an..." [Ibid., p.17]

Razi believes that Furqan refers to "the miracles which God linked to the revelation of these Scriptures." [Op. cit.]

Ayoub goes on to list the different ways the verse has been interpreted such as the fact that some say Furqan refers to both the Quran and Muhammad (Nisaburi), to the faith in the divine oneness in relation to the universal mind (Ibn Arabi), to every clear and unambiguous verse (Imam Ja`far al-Sadiq), or even to "all the fundamental and ancillary [religious] sciences which God sent down to His prophets through revelation" (Tabataba`i). (Ibid., pp. 17-20)

Thus, due to the text's ambiguity Muslim apologists cannot convincingly demonstrate that Furqan is used for the Quran as a criteria over previous Scriptures. In fact, a case can and has already been made by Muslims themselves to prove that all Scripture is al-Furqan.

The other term used in relation to the Quran is found in Sura 5:48:

"To you (Muhammad) We revealed the book in truth, attesting to (the truth of) that which IS between his (its) hands from the scripture (the Torah and Gospel), and guarding it (wa muhaiminan `alaihi)."

It is presumed that the Arabic phrase, "guarding it in safety", refers to the Quran's role as a quality control agent, affirming that which remains intact and exposing any tampering to the biblical text. Muslims often accuse Christians of misquoting the Quran, reading verses out of their intended context. Amazingly, Muslims are guilty of the very same thing and against their own scripture!

When the verse is read in conjunction with the previous passages and within the verse itself, the Quran is seen as protecting and guarding uncorrupted scriptures; it says absolutely nothing about exposing textual corruption whatsoever. (cf. Sura 5:43-47,68 - Ali)

In fact, the Quran came as an Arabic verification of the Bible to the Arabs who were ignorant of the contents of the Judeo-Christian Scripture:

Sura 35:31:

"That which We have revealed to you of the Book is the truth, attesting to (the truth of) that which IS between his (its) hands (the Torah and Gospel)..."

Sura 10:37:

"This Quran is not such as can be produced by other than God; but it is a verification of that (the Torah and Gospel) which IS between his (its) hands, and the explanation of the Book, WHEREIN THERE IS NO DOUBT, from the Lord of the worlds."

Sura 6:154-157:

"Then We gave Moses the Book, complete as to whatever is excellent, and explaining all things in detail, and a guide and a mercy, that they might believe in the meeting with their Lord. And this (the Quran) is a Book which We have revealed, blessed: so follow it and be righteous, that you may receive mercy: lest you should say, 'The Book was sent down to two peoples before us, and for our part, we remained unacquainted with all that they learned by assiduous study; or lest you should say: `If the Book (the Torah and Gospel) had only been sent down to us, we should have followed its guidance better than they.'"

Sura 46:12:

"And before this was the Book of Moses as a guide and a mercy: and this Book is a verification (of it) in the Arabic tongue to warn those who transgress and as glad tidings to the righteous."

Sura 26:192-197:

"And lo! It is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds, which the True Spirit hath brought down upon thy heart, that thou mayest be (one) of the warners, In Plain Arabic Speech. And lo! It is in the Scriptures of the men of old. Is it not a token for them that the doctors of the children of Israel know it?"

In the preceding passages the Quran is sent as a confirmation of the Book "in which there is no doubt." Not once do these verses state that the Book at the time of Muhammad had been corrupted and needed to be corrected in any way. Furthermore, it is the Quran, not the Bible, that needs to be viewed in light of previous Scripture for verification purposes:

"And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee. Verily the Truth from thy Lord hath come unto thee. So be not thou of the waverers." [S. 10:94]

Furthermore, this commits an etymological fallacy. The meaning of the word is not derived from its root but in the manner and the context in which it is used within a sentence. For instance, one of the 99 names of God in the Quran is al-muhaimin:

He is Allah, besides Whom there is no God; the King, the Holy, the Author of Peace, the Grantor of Security, Guardian (muhaimin) over all, the Mighty, the Supreme, the Possessor of greatness. Glory be to Allah from that which they set up (with Him)! [S. 59:23]

One Muslim writer defines this title of Allah as:

Al-Muhaymin: The Safeguarder

The Safeguarder, the Witness, the one who watches over things He preserves and guards, Allah is Amin, worthy of trust; Preserver.

And:

Al-Mu'min: The Trustworthy

The Giver of Faith, to give security; He who makes mankind secure from His wronging them; He who makes His servants safe from His punishment (i.q. Muhaymin); Believer of His servants on the Day of Rising in the questioning, or He who will faithfully give His servants what He promised them; He who has declared in His word the truth of His unity. (Aisha Bewley, The Divine Names; online source)

Are we to assume that Allah confirms that which remains intact in creation and exposes corruption to it since he is called muhaimin? Obviously not, since as the reader can notice all the above definitions provided by the Muslim site are positive in nature, i.e. that Allah's role as muhaimin is to preserve, protect and safeguard his followers. This therefore indicates that the word does not have just one meaning as some modern Muslim apologists seem to suggest. In light of the fact that in the context of surah 5:48 the Quran is said to confirm the previous revelation, we can safely assume that muhaimin clearly carries the same range of positive meanings provided by the above Muslim site: I.e. the Quran preserves, protects, safeguard, testifies to the truth of the Holy Bible. In fact, this is precisely how one Muslim commentator, al-Baidawi, understood the term:

A keeper over the whole sacred books, such as shall preserve them from change, and witness to their truth and authority." (Abdiyah Akbar Abdul-Haqq, Sharing Your Faith With a Muslim [Bethany House Publishers, 6820 Auto Road Minneapolis MN, 55438 1980], p. 39 citing W. Muir, CORAN, p. 205)

The late Reverend Edward Sell mentioned al-Baidawi's view, as well as the view of some others, regarding surah 5:48:

In fact, the Qur'an is said to be "confirmatory of previous scriptures and their safeguard" (v. 52). If then, as some Muslims say, the Bible has been corrupted, the Qur'an has failed of its purpose, and has not been a "safeguard." The commentator Husain interprets the term "Muhaiminan," translated "safeguard," as "a guard over the books which protects them from change." - Tafsir-i-Husain, vol. i, p. 148. The same interpretation is given in the Khalasatu't-Tafasir, vol. i, p. 529. Baidawi says -- "A guardian over all the books, preserving them from change and witnessing to their correctness and permanency." (vol. i, p. 260). (Sell, The Faith of Islam [Printed at the Society For Promoting Christian Knowledge (S.P.C.K.) Press, Vepery Madras; third revised and enlarged edition, 1907], pp. 89-90, fn. 4; online source; underline emphasis ours)

The following online translation of Sahih Al-Bukhari quotes Ibn Abbas' defintion and interpretation of muhaimin in surah 5:48:

Chapter 69. Book of the Virtues of the Qur'an

I. Chapter. How the Revelation descended and the first of it to be revealed.

Ibn 'Abbas said that "muhaymin" (5:48) means "TRUSTWORTHY." The Qur'an is the gurantor of every Book before it. (Source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Muslim commentator Ahmad b. Mahmud al-Nasafi concurs:

"[The phrase] 'confirming the Book that was before it' means that the Quran confirms what the Torah says and offers. 'Assuring it' means bearing witness to it. The Quran did not say, 'Believe what I have believe and disbelieve what I have disbelieved and what I keep silent on, neither believe it nor disbelieve it,' but it says, 'who so judges not according to what Allah has sent down.' Muhammad also said: 'I am the first who fulfills Allah's command and his Book (i.e., The Torah and the Gospel).' (See al-Nasafi's commentary on Sura al-Maida 5:43-48)." (True Guidance [Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria 1994], pp. 96-97 citing Tafsir al-Nasafi vol. 1-4, Cairo, Egypt, 1961)

Even Abdullah Yusuf Ali, who was by no means sympathetic to the Holy Scriptures, readily admitted that muhaimin does not imply corruption. In his footnote to S. 5:48, Ali wrote:

After the corruption of the older revelations, the Qur-an comes with a two-fold purpose: (1) to confirm the true and original Message, and (2) to guard it, or act as a check to its interpretation. The Arabic word Muhaimin is very comprehensive in meaning. IT MEANS ONE WHO SAFEGUARDS, WATCHES OVER, STANDS WITNESS, PRESERVES, AND UPHOLDS. The Qur-an SAFEGUARDS the "Book", for it has preserved within it the teachings of all the former Books. It watches over these Books in the sense that it will not let their true teachings to be lost. It upholds and supports these Books in the sense that it corroborates the Word of Allah which has remained intact in them. It stands a witness because it bears testimony to the Word of Allah contained in these Books and helps to sort it out from the interpretations and commentaries of the people which were mixed with it: what is confirmed by the Qur-an is the Word of Allah and what is against it is that of the people. (Ali, Quran, n. 759- taken from the ALIM CD-ROM version)

Aside from Ali's erroneous exegesis of the text, his note demonstrates that there is nothing in the word muhaimin which leads one to conclude that the Holy Bible has been tampered with. In fact, the very definitions given by Ali (i.e., "safeguards, watches over, stands witness, preserves, and upholds") are all quite positive in nature and prove beyound any reasonable doubt that the Quran confirms, upholds and testifies to the authority and integrity of the biblical text.

Finally, the Quran itself states that God would make sure that the Bible would be protected from corruption:

"We have, without doubt sent down THE MESSAGE (Zhikra); And We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)." [S. 15:9 - Y. Ali]

That this includes the Holy Bible is made clear in the following citations:

"And before thee We sent none but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess THE MESSAGE (Zhikri)." [S. 16:43 - Y. Ali]

"Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if ye know this not, ask of those who possess THE MESSAGE (Zhikri)." [S. 21:7 - Y. Ali]

"In the past We granted to Moses and Aaron the Criterion (al-Furqana) (for judgment), And a Light and a Message (Zikra) for those who would do right." [S. 21:48]

"Before this, We wrote in the Psalms, after THE REMINDER (Zhikri): `My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth.'" [S. 21:105]

"We did aforetime give Moses the Guidance, and We gave the Book in inheritance to the Children of Israel - A Guide and A REMINDER (Zhikraa) to men of understanding." [S. 40:53-54 - Y. Ali]

These passages establish that the revelation given to Moses, David and the Book which Jews and Christians possessed at the time of Muhammad is also part of that Reminder which God sent down and promised to preserve. Hence, for Muslims to state that the Bible is corrupt basically means that God failed to guard his message from corruption, breaking his promise of insuring its preservation.

In one discussion forum, a Muslim who goes by the name Servant made the following candid admission regarding surah 15:9 on December 2004, post #49:

Readers must know that in addition, the word "Dhikr" may be sued to be in reference to Allaah's Deen and law AS A WHOLE. This is its purport in the Ayah (verse),
Surah An-Nahl 43
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ إِلَّا رِجَالًا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْأَلُوا أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ (43)

And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم) any but men, whom We sent revelation, (to preach and invite mankind to believe in the Oneness of Allh). So ask (you, O pagans of Makkah) of those who know the Scripture (learned men of the Taurt (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)), if you know not.

The word "Dhikr" in the above Ayah (verse) means Allaah's religion, OR EVERYTHING THAT ALLAAH HAS REVEALED AS THE GUIDANCE OF MANKIND. Therefore, a priori, it cannot be stated that that al-dhikr الذِّكْر in,
Surah Al-Hijr 9
إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ (9)

Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Qur'n) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption) {1}.

is referring only to Glorious Qur'aan. It is rather referring to Qur'aan and Sunnah both. On this point ibn Hazm noted,

"There is no difference of opinion from anyone among the specialists in language or of the Shariah THAT ALL OF WHAT ALLAAH HAS REVEALED IS [REFERRED TO AS] THE SENT DOWN AL-DHIKR الذِّكْر. AND ALL OF THE INSPIRATION IS PRESERVED WITH CERTAINTY BY ITS PRESERVATION BY ALLAAH. Anything that Allaah preserves with His preservation WILL NOT HAVE ANYTHING LOST FROM IT. Nor will anything ever by distorted of it except that there would appear clear proof showing THE FALSEHOOD [OF THAT DISTORTION]" {Ibn Hazm, Al-Ihkaam fi Usool al-Ihkaam, vol. 1, p. 109.} (Source; capital and underline emphasis ours)

Now, obviously, if Zhikr in surah 15:9 is not limited to the Quran, and since the word is used in relation to the other revelations which God inspired, then this means that surah 15:9 is also referring to the preservation of the Holy Bible since it is part of the very Zhikr sent down by Allah!

Moreover, in his zeal and anxiousness to refute Osama Abdallah, one Muslim propagandist named Jalal Abualrub had to make this rather candid admission:

  1. Here is a question to ask of Osama: Since Allah called the Torah ‘Dhikr,’ then, what evidence does he have that Ayah 15:9 [Verily, We, it is We Who have sent down the Dhikr and surely, We will guard it], is even about the Quran rather than the Torah?
    1. Read Ayah 15:9 to try and find direct evidence in it that it is about the Quran.
    (Jalal Abualrub, If You Love Allah, Then Follow Muhammad, p. 42)

Indeed, there is absolutely nothing within the immediate context which limits the protection of the Zhikr to the Quran. The natural reading of the verse is that Allah would protect all the Zhikr that he sent down, not just bits and pieces of it, which means that Allah would preserve the all of previous Scriptures such as the Torah and the Gospel. So then how does Abualrub prove his case that this text is referring to the Quran alone? By appealing to the opinions of Muslim scholars, of course!

 

4.
The Quran clearly indicates that the Bible has been falsified in Sura 2:79:

"Therefore woe be unto those who write Scripture with their hands and then say, `This is from Allah,' that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby."

Response:

It cannot be overstated that the context of any scripture quoted is very important in understanding the passage presented. Hence, when one reads the verse before it, the meaning of the verse cited above takes on a whole new dimension:

"Among them are unlettered folk who know the Scripture not except from hearsay. THEY BUT GUESS." [S. 2:78]

It becomes obvious that this passage is referring to certain Jews during Muhammad's time who knew nothing of their respective Scriptures, falsifying revelation for gain. Yet, the passages that we examined before it affirm that there were Jews and Christians who knew the Book, studying it in truth.

In fact, Sura 3:199 clearly states that there were many who would not falsify revelation for profit:

"And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in God, and that which has been revealed to you, in that which has been revealed to them, bowing in humility to God. They will not sell the signs of God for miserable gain. For them is a reward with their Lord, and God is swift in account."

Sura 3:113-114:

"Not all of them are alike. Some of the People of the Book are an upright people. They recite the signs (or verses) of God in the night season and they bow down worshipping. They believe in God and the last day. They command what is just, and forbid what is wrong and they hasten in good works, and they are of the righteous.

Further, the Quran accuses a certain number of the Jewish faction of perverting the text with their tongues, reading it out of context. It never accuses them of perverting the text itself:

Sura 3:78:

"There is among them a party (fariq) who (in reading) twist their tongues with the Book so that you will count it from the Book and it is not from the Book. And they say it is from God and it is not from God. And they say a lie against God and they know (it)."

Sura 5:12-13:

"God formerly took a covenant from the Children of Israel, and We appointed twelve captains among them... and because of their (Jews') breach of their covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard. They change the words from their (right) places and they forgot a part of that whereby they were admonished. You will not cease to find deceit in them, excepting a few of them, but pardon them, and forgive, for God loves those who are kind.'"

Finally, Jews did the very same thing when hearing the Quran:

"Can you (O men of faith) still earnestly desire that they (the Jews) will believe in you? And verily a party (fariq) among them hear the Word of God, then they pervert it knowingly after they have understood it. And when they meet the believers they say, `We believe,' but when they meet each other in private they say, `Why do you tell them what God has revealed to you (in the Torah), that they may engage you in argument about it before their God? What do you not understand?' Do they not know that God knows what they conceal and what they make public?" [S. 2:75-77, c.f. S. 4:44-47]

No Muslim would dare say that the Quranic text had been corrupted by these Jews who were perverting Muhammad's words to them. Hence, perversion refers to misinterpreting the meaning of, never to corruption of, the text of Scripture.

In concluding this study, we would like to address one final Muslim attempt to prove that the Islamic Scripture denies the authority of our present Bible by referring to the following traditions:

Abu Huraira reported God's Messenger as saying:

"In the last days there will be lying dajjals who will bring you traditions of which neither you nor your fathers have heard, so beware of them. They will neither lead you astray nor seduce you." Muslim transmitted it. He also said that the People of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and expound it in Arabic to the Muslims, so God's messenger said, "Neither believe nor disbelieve the People of the Book, but say, Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is 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. 2:136) Bukhari transmitted it. (Mishkat ul-Masabih, Bk. 1, Ch. VI, p. 42 [tr. James Robson, Ashraf, Lahore, 1963])

It is suggested that Muhammad is commanding Muslims from neither accepting nor rejecting the Bible, using the Quran as the Criteria instead.

Unfortunately for the Muslim line of argument, this Hadith does not reject the Holy Bible itself, but its oral translation Arabic. The Jews were reading the Torah in Hebrew, a language foreign to Muhammad and his followers, and proceeded to interpret its meaning in Arabic; and believing that the Jews were not honest in their dealings with Muslims, Muhammad could not be certain of their honesty in correctly conveying the meaning of their Scripture.

In his commentary on Bukhari, Ayni affirms this when he states that the Muslims were unable to know whether or not the interpretations given by the People of the Book accorded with the Torah, suggesting that to confirm a lie or to deny the truth provokes the wrath of God. (Ernest Hahn, The Integrity of the Bible According to the Qur'an and the Hadith, p.30)

That Muhammad believed that the text of Torah had not been corrupted is solidified by this Hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38 (Kitab al-Hudud, i.e., Prescribed Punishments), No. 4434:

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: Abul Qasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgement 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' (see also No. 4431).

Hence, Muhammad not only believes in the integrity of the Jewish Scripture, but respects it enough to place it on a cushion! This in effect proves that corruption refers to misinterpretation, not to textual tampering.

This following story is taken from Ibn Ishaq's Sira Rasulullah:

"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." (Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, p. 268)

Muhammad believes in the Torah available in his day as the truth from God. His skepticism was not directed towards the purity of the text itself, but the Jewish misinterpretation of God's holy Book. Hence, there is no evidence that Muhammad believed that the Holy Bible had been tampered with.

Muslims, both of the past and present, who agree with this, include Ibn Abbas, Ali Tabari, al-Baidhawi, ar-Razi, al-Ghazzali, Ibn Taymiyya, Muhammad Abduh, Maulawi Muhammad Sa'id, Sayyid Ahmad Husayn Shawkat Mirthi, Maulawi Chiragud-Din, Mahmoud Ayoub, Ibn Khaldun, and Adil Ozdemir. All these scholars affirm that the Quran in no way assumes the corruption of the Biblical text, but rather, the People of the Book's deliberate misinterpretation of it (cf. E. Hahn, op. cit., Appendix III; (cf. Gerhard Nehls, Dear Abdallah, Letter 2).

For instance, Muhammad Abduh Sayyid Ahmad Khan, a religious and social reformer of modem times (died 1905), states:

"As far as the text of the Bible is concerned. it has not been altered ... No attempt was made to present a diverging text as the authentic one. (M. H. Ananikian, The Reforms and Religious Ideas of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. The Moslem World 14 (1934) p. 61).

Another example of a Muslim who agrees that the Bible is not corrupted is the Egyptian scholar, Muhammad 'Abduh. In regards to alleged biblical corruption, he notes that the

"charge of corruption of the Biblical texts makes no sense at all. It would not have been possible for Jews and Christians everywhere to agree on changing the text. Even if those in Arabia had done it, the difference between their book and those of their brothers, let us say in Syria and Europe, would have been obvious." (Jacques Jomier, Jesus, The Life of the Messiah, C.L.S., Madras, 1974, p. 216.)

Furthermore, in the words of Mahmoud Ayoub:

"Contrary to the general Islamic view, the Qur'an does not accuse Jews and Christians of altering the text of their scriptures, but rather of altering the truth which those scriptures contain. The people do this by concealing some of the sacred texts, by misapplying their precepts, or by `altering words from their right position" (4:26; 5:13,41; see also 2:75). However, this refers more to interpretation than to actual addition or deletion of words from the sacred books. The problem of alteration (tahrif) needs further study. ("Uzayr in the Qur'an and Muslim Tradition" in Studies in Islamic & Judaic Traditions, ed. W.M. Brenner and S.D. Ricks, The University of Denver, 1986, p. 5.)

Finally, Islam's premiere commentator, Ibn `Abbas, believed in the preservation of all of God's books:

"From Kitaab (the book of) Al-Tawheed, Baab (chapter) Qawlu Allah Ta'ala, "Bal Huwa Qur'aanun Majeed, fi lawhin Mahfooth - Or, the Book of the Oneness of God, the Chapter of Surat Al-Borooj (no. 85), Verses 21, 22 which says, `Nay this is a Glorious Qur'an, (Inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved': `They corrupt the word' means `they alter or change its meaning,' Yet no one is able to change even a single word from any Book of God. The meaning is that they interpret the word wrongly.'" [Arabic]

And,

"The Imam Muhammad Isma'il al-Bukhari (p. 1127, line 7), records that Ibn `Abbas said that `the word Tahrif (corruption) signifies to change a thing from its original nature; and that there is no man who could corrupt a single word of what proceeded from God, so that the Jews and Christians could corrupt only by misrepresenting the meaning of the words of God.'" (T. P. Hughes, Dictionary of Islam [Kazi Publications, Inc, 3023-27 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago Il. 60618, 1994], p. 62)

Hence, the commentary of Abdullah Ibn `Abbas who is one of the Sahaba (companions) and Mohammed's cousin. His opinions are held to be above the opinions and commentaries of all other Sheiks who are not Sahaba.

Not only did Ibn `Abbas believe that the scriptures remained uncorrupt, but others who wrote shortly after him concur:

"Ibn Mazar and Ibn Hatim state, in the commentary known as the Tafsir Durr-I-Mansur, that they have it on the authority of Ibn Muniyah, that the Taurat (i.e. the books of Moses), and the Injil (i.e. the Gospels), are in the same state of purity in which they were sent down from heaven, and that no alterations had been made in them, but that the Jews were wont to deceive the people by unsound arguments, and by wresting the sense of Scripture... Shah Waliyu `Illah, in his commentary, the Fauzul `l-Kabir, and also Ibn `Abbas, support the same view." (T. P. Hughes, p. 62)

And,

"Ibn Kathir in his book Al-Bidaya wa al-Nihaya quotes Muhammad saying about the Jews and Christians: 'David died in the midst of his friends. They were not led astray, nor changed [their books]. The Friends of Christ stayed in His ordinances and guidance for two hundred years' (proved by Ibn Hibban). It is well-known that we have copies of the New Testament that go back to the fourth century A.D. These are in harmony with the books as they are today." (True Guidance, p. 179)

We must also point out that the idea of the Bible being corrupt was first promoted by Ibn Khazem (d. 1064 A.D.) as a means of avoiding the obvious contradictions between the Bible and the Quran. Believing that the Quran could not possibly have been corrupted, he then assumed that it was the Bible that underwent textual modifications. This, he felt, must have been the case (cf. Gerhard Nehls, Dear Abdallah, Letter 2).

This brief examination of the Quran should convince any open-minded Muslim that the Holy Bible has never suffered any textual corruption whatsoever, whether before, during, or after the advent of Islam. This factor makes it incumbent for all Muslims to earnestly study its message, embracing it wholeheartedly. To refuse to do so is to dishonor the very message of the Quran which came to confirm, not to correct, the truthfulness and authenticity of the Holy Bible, God's well-preserved Word.

For a more in-depth study into the Quranic affirmation of the authenticity of the Holy Bible, we recommend the following two books:

  1. Ernest Hahn & Ghiyathuddin Adelphi:

    The Integrity of the Bible According to the Qur'an and the Hadith

    Fellowship of Faith for the Muslims
    P.O. Box 65214
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4K 3Z2

  2. Dr. William Campbell:

    The Quran and the Bible in the light of history and science

    Middle East Resources
    ISBN 1-881085-00-7


Note: Our usage of the Quran does not imply our belief in its authority nor its inspiration. We quote it solely for the sake of convincing the Muslims of the Bible's authority and authenticity as a fact confirmed by their religious text.


 

APPENDIX

QURAN 5:48 AND ITS TRANSLATION

The following translations of Surah 5:48 are cited in order to demonstrate how other Islamic scholars define the term muhaimin:

"And We have sent down to thee the Book with the truth, confirming the Book that was before it, and ASSURING IT." (The Koran Interpreted, A. J. Arberry [Touchstone Books, Simon & Schuster Inc., 1996], p. 135)

The Quran assures the Bible, not expose corruption to it.

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

Note how this Muslim understands the verse to mean that the Quran protects the Holy Bible from being corrupted and changed, not exposing corruption to the biblical text.

"And O dear Prophet (Mohammed - peace and blessings be upon him) We have sent down the true Book upon you, confirming the Books preceding it, AND A PROTECTOR AND WITNESS OVER THEM." Ahmed Raza Khan/Mohammed Aqib Qadri (Source)

According to this Muslim translation the Quran confirms and PROTECTS the previous scriptures!

"And We have sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming and CONSERVING the previous Books." The Noble Qur'an: A New Rendering of its Meaning in English by Abdalhaqq and Aisha Bewley (Bookwork, 1999; ISBN: 1874216363)

We revealed the Book to you with truth verifying the part of Scripture there before it, AND PRESERVING IT. (The Qur'an: A New Translation by Thomas Cleary [Starlatch Press, April 1, 2004; ISBN: 192969444X], p. 55)

"Now We have revealed unto thee this Book comprising the truth, fulfilling that which was revealed before it of the Book, and as A GUARDIAN OVER IT." (The Quran Arabic Text With A New Translation by Muhammad Zafrullah Khan [Olive Branch, New York, 1997], p. 107)

"And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what was before it of the Book and A GUARDIAN OVER IT." (The Quran by Mahomedali Habib, trans. M.H. Shakir [Tahrike Tarsile Quran Inc., 1995], p. 103)

"And to thee We have sent down the Book of the Koran with truth, confirmatory of previous Scriptures, AND THEIR SAFEGUARD." (The Koran by J.M. Rodwell [Ivy Books, New York, 1993], p. 67)

"We have sent you down the Book with the Truth, to confirm what was already there from the [previous] Book, AND TO SAFEGUARD IT." (The Quran by T.B. Irving; http://isgkc.org/EnglishQuran/sura5.htm)

The Quran SAFEGUARDS the Bible.

"And We have revealed to thee the Book with the truth, verifying that which was before it of the Book and A GUARDIAN OVER IT." (Holy Quran Arabic Text, English Translation and Commentary by Maulana Muhammad Ali [Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore Inc., U.S.A., 1995] p. 256)

"And to you We have revealed the Book with the truth. It confirms the Scriptures which came before it and stands as A GUARDIAN OVER IT." (The Koran Revised Translation by N. J. Dawood (Penguin Books, England, 1997], p. 85)

The Quran assures, preserve, guards, safeguards the Bible. These translations made by both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars clearly demonstrates the polemical nature of those Muslim apologists who try to read into this verse Bible corruption.


Continue with Part 2, providing further evidence from the Quran, Hadith and writings of Muslim scholars.

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