Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Early Islam’s View of the Holy Bible

Derik Adams

Many Christians (including specialists in the field of orientalism) after having read the earlier Islamic sources have noted that these books convey a different view of the Holy Bible in comparison to the position later adopted by most Muslims i.e. the position that rejects the purity and preservation of the Bible.

Today’s Muslims after encountering these clear facts about the earlier Islamic sources have attempted to do damage control. One such Muslim writer, Sami Zaatari is so confident in the attempted Muslim solution to this problem that he boasts:

"You see folks when me, Bassam, Karim, and Umar began writing and refuting Answering-Islam's garbage we set out with a plan, that we would refute every single major argument and article they have, and we have done this, Bassam put the nail in the coffin when he completely destroyed Sam Shamoun on whether the Quran confirms the Bible's authenticity. This was the last remaining argument that was not answered well enough, and thanks to brother Bassam Zawadi this argument has now been thrown in the trash bin alongside several other arguments which have been propagated by these group of desperate missionaries." (Bold Emphasis Ours)

But is this really the case? Far from it! In fact Bassam Zawadi has had to form a presuppositional methodology in order to deal with this issue. He openly admits this in several cases:

"My position is that I accept ALL the narrations that speak about Bible corruption and harmonize those verses that are abused by missionaries, while they (missionaries) can't harmonize everything together." (Source; bold emphasis ours)

"Thirdly, Ibn Abbaas's statement could be reinterpreted in order to be reconciled with the other statements that he has made." (Source; bold emphasis ours)

Several problem’s here. Firstly, if Zawadi is willing to accept all and any narrations that speak about biblical corruption does this mean that the science of hadith is now irrelevant as long as a hadith makes a negative statement about the Bible? If so, this doesn’t paint a good picture for Zawadi. This may not be the case, Zawadi may not have intended to go that far but nonetheless this does show that a Muslim such as Zawadi is anything but objective.

Secondly, Zawadi is willing to accept all narrations that refer to biblical corruption. However, when he finds a verse and/or hadith that teach the opposite i.e. a statement endorsing the Bible, he tries to reinterpret these passages enlight of his a priori understanding of other hadith he believes are referring to corruption and imposes his incorrect view into hadith endorsing the Bible. But why would he start off with this presupposition? Why not interpret the passages that seem to suggest that the Bible is corrupt with the narrations that have a positive view of the Bible? It would seem reasonable to see which of the two views appear more frequently and also what view is more attested to within the Quran and the broader spectrum of hadith literature before starting off with this sort of presupposition as Zawadi has.

Zawadi's presuppositional interpretive methodology starts with giving more emphasis to the hadith that he conveniently already believes in religiously (i.e. the corruption of the Bible) and then somehow or someway dismisses the hadith that say something different. It seems that he will do anything possible such as reinterpret, reconcile and even attack the chain of narration in order to maintain his absurd position that has no support in the Quran or Sunnah.

For this article I will bring attention to some of the stronger passages (from the Qur’an and hadith) that Muslims use to support their position (of course the support only occurs if you have taken away these passages from there original context and environment). I will also point out how the Answering Islam Team has already exhaustively and adequately addressed these texts. I will further demonstrate that the essential sources of Islam do not make the positive assertion: "The Bible (including specifically: the Torah, the Zabur, the Injeel) have been textually manipulated and yet still contain some truth". This invented belief system came later on in Islamic History beginning in the 11th Century.

Lack of Quantity?

How much real credible evidence in the Qur’an and Sunnah is there to support the view that the Salaf believed the Bible was corrupted?

Is there any verse(s) in the Quran that explicitly indicate the Biblical Text may have been viewed as being corrupted?

Therefore woe be unto those who write the Book 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. Qur’an Chapter 2:79

This is the only passage in the entire Quran that even suggests that something was corrupted and perverted textually. And therefore it’s the best passage that a Muslim can utilize in a discussion with a Christian. No other passage in the Quran mentions any Book being corrupted textually with the exception of the Muslim scripture itself! (cf. Q. 15:91) The most Muslims can do after this one is quote ambiguous passages that can easily be addressed.

But a more important question for the Muslim is why does Allah only say this one time? Only once in the entire Quran is textual impurity even addressed! Muslims tell us the very reason the Quran was sent down was to correct the previous revelations that were corrupted by men and yet Allah only addresses this essential issue once. Why isn’t Allah more clear about it? Why not just come out and say the Torah, Injeel and Zabur are that which were corrupted but some aspects of truth remain in the corrupted version? Interestingly, Muslims have done eisegesis and have read the term "Bible" into this verse, when it hasn’t actually been mentioned or addressed! For detail Answering Islam has already exhaustively investigated this passage and its context here.

Is there anything in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that explicitly indicate the Biblical Text was believed to be corrupt?

Sahih Bukhari
Volume 9, Book 93, Number 613:

Narrated 'Ikrima:
Ibn 'Abbaas said, "How can you ask the people of the Scriptures about their Books while you have Allah's Book (the Qur'an) which is the most recent of the Books revealed by Allah, and you read it in its pure undistorted form?"

Sahih Bukhari
Volume 9, Book 93, Number 614:

Narrated 'Ubaidullah bin 'Abdullah:
'Abdullah bin 'Abbaas said, "O the group of Muslims! How can you ask the people of the Scriptures about anything while your Book which Allah has revealed to your Prophet contains the most recent news from Allah and is pure and not distorted? Allah has told you that the people of the Scriptures have changed some of Allah's Books and distorted it and wrote something with their own hands and said, 'This is from Allah', so as to have a minor gain for it. Won't the knowledge that has come to you stop you from asking them? No, by Allah, we have never seen a man from them asking you about that (the Book Al-Qur’an) which has been revealed to you.

Once again we come up short! The only reference in the entire corpus of Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim (and that means more than 15,000 hadiths!) to mention actual explicit textual corruption is the above. The above may seem like compelling evidence that Ibn Abbas believed the Scripture was corrupted until we put the view of Ibn Abbas in context which is done here.

So there you have it! In the three main sources of Islamic History and Doctrine you have only three references (one twice repeated) that address textual corruption. Now this is opposed to a myriad of verses establishing the position of the Qur’an and Sunnah that the Torah and Gospel were not only available during the time of Mohammed, but they were also read in both Hebrew and Arabic. In fact, there are several instances where Allah even commands Muslims to obey, follow, and perform them, to use the Torah and Gospel to judge truth with and also to believe in them! That is all demonstrated here.

Is there anything in other Islamic Sources (Sira/Tarikh/Hadith, etc) that explicitly indicate the Biblical Text was believed to be corrupt?

I better not neglect to mention the absence of evidence for biblical textual corruption from these Sunni volumes of hadith:

  1. Sunan Al-Sughra, (also known as Sunan an-Nasa'i)
  2. Sunan Abu Dawud,
  3. Sunan Al-Tirmidhi,
  4. Sunan Ibn Majah.
  5. Malik’s Muwatta.

That’s the six (seven if one adds the Muwatta, instead of replacing Ibn Majah’s Sunan with Malik’s collection) major hadith volumes of Sunni Hadith without one shred of evidence. Lets not forget "The Biography of the Messenger of God (Arabic: Sirat Rasool Allah)" the earliest known written record of Mohammed’s life never says the Bible is textually corrupted either; in fact it says the opposite several times.

So far from what Zaatari and Zawadi would like to think, the evidence is conclusively against their position and Zawadi could only grasp at straws several times in his articles, by using arguments such as: "well it’s (a hadith quoting what it calls Torah) quoted here, but its not in the present day Torah". Does Zawadi think he can get away with such sloppy argumentation? Did it ever occur to him his Qur’an and Hadith persistently confuse the Torah with the Talmud? The sayings and myths of Jesus in his Quran are also confused with Gnostic heresy, Infancy Gospels etc? Zawadi also never thought that the hadith may not be accurate or even reliable; Zawadi automatically presupposes it’s the Bible’s fault without any basis of reason offered to us. Once we can see all the facts, we see just how desperate these particular Muslim individuals are to even attempt to use such references to prove the early Muslims believed the Bible was corrupt.

This is (unfortunately for them) the best they have, they can’t find a single verse telling us the Torah and Gospel were textually changed, they can’t find Mohammad or his companions mentioning an "original Gospel" and then distinguishing it from the Gospel used by Christians in Mohammed’s time. They can’t find a single verse telling us that the Gospels contain parts of truth and parts of error and that the Qur’an determines what the error is and what the truth is therein. Early Muslims simply didn’t believe what you (Muslims) believe today, and you have no evidence they did!

It’s time to face the facts and admit that the notion that the Bible was corrupted developed within Islam when latter generations of literate Muslims came on the scene and realized the irrevocable differences between the Bible and the Qur’an, as Dr. John Wijngaards pointed out:

"In the Qur'an Muslims are told to respect the Gospel revealed to Jesus Christ and read by Christians. The Qur'an presupposes that the Gospel possessed by Christians is in fact identical with the original one proclaimed by Jesus.2 In the first four centuries after Muhammad (600 - 1000 AD) no Muslim theologian seriously contended that the Gospel texts were not authentic. They might accuse Christians of giving a wrong interpretation to the words; they would not dispute the words themselves. As studies of Muslim apologetics have shown it was only with Ibn-Khazem who died at Cordoba in 1064, that the charge of falsification was born.3

Ibn-Khazem ruled the south of Spain for some time as the vizier of the caliph, waging many civil wars on his behalf. He also took part in theological discussions. Belonging to the so-called Zahiric school, he strongly opposed the Shi'ites. `Both in religion and in politics he was a hard and intransigent fighter. Whoever dared to resist him hurt himself as by running against a rock. His pen was as devastating a weapon as the sword of the warrior. Because of his fanaticism he failed to attract disciples or found a school. But his writings were very influential in later times.4

In his defence of Islam against Christians, Ibn-Khazem came up against the contradictions between the Qur'an and the Gospels. One obvious example was the Qur'anic text ‘They slew him not and they crucified him not’ (Sura 4:156). ‘Since the Qur'an must be true,’ Ibn- Khazem argued, ‘it must be the conflicting Gospel texts that are false. But Muhammad tells us to respect the Gospel. Therefore, the present text must have been falsified by the Christians.’ His argument was not based on historical facts, but purely on his own reasoning and on his wish to safeguard the truth of the Qur'an.5 Once he was on this path, nothing could stop him from pursuing this accusation. In fact it seemed the easiest way to attack the opponents. ‘If we prove the falsehood of their books, they lose the arguments they take from them.’6 This led him eventually to make the cynical statement ‘The Christians lost the revealed Gospel except for a few traces which God has left intact as argument against them.’7

Later writers took up the same reasoning, enlarged it and embellished it. The falsification of the Bible was thus asserted by Salikh Ibn-al-Khusain (died 1200), Ahmad at-Qarafi (died 1285), Sa'id Ibn-Khasan (died 1320), Muhammad Ibn-Abi-Talib (died 1327), Ibn-Taimija (died 1328) and many others. From then on it became a fixed ingredient of Muslim apologetics." (Bold emphasis ours)

For more from this article go here:

So clearly, once Muslims came to actually realize that there were irreconcilable differences, especially after the Bible was translated into Arabic on a wider scale by the time of the great Muslim Exegetes, they started arguing that the previous scriptures had been textually changed but still contained aspects of divine truth. This is clearly something that evolved within Islam later on and no such idea can be found in the earlier Islamic sources.


Muslims (including Zaatari and Zawadi) cannot produce any real documentation (from their own sources) demonstrating what they believe is what the early Muslims also believed. They don’t even come close!