Part 1 of 3
Over the years, a number of Muslims and some non-Muslims have asked me why I had problems defending my Islamic faith. While a Muslim in the late 1980s, and seeking the truth within Islam and also desiring to invite others to Islam, I was faced with a number of challenges to defending my faith. On many occasions while interacting with Christians, I claimed the Bible was corrupted and that the Quran supercedes it. But these Christians claimed that this argument was simply a Muslim position without proof and that the Bible was the word of God and it was not corrupted. Since I had not studied the topic myself, but simply repeated what I was taught, I decided to investigate the trustworthiness of the Bible, and focused my attention specifically on the Injeel, the New Testament of Christians. During this time I realized that I knew very little about how the Quran came into being. Growing up, I was taught by Muslim teachers that the Quran of today is the same as the Quran revealed to Mohammad, the Prophet of Islam and its wording is exactly the same letter for letter, even down to the dots and vowel marks as that which was recited to Mohammad by the angel Gabriel. I was also taught that Allah had guaranteed that He would protect the Quran from human tampering.
The purpose of writing this three-part response is to share with my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters the discoveries I made at that historical point in my journey of faith. During this time I was seeking to find the truth in defense of the Quran, and to prove the Injeel corrupted. In trying to grapple with this topic, I was armed primarily with the Quran, Hadith and Bible, along with supporting works by Muslim and non-Muslim authors. To that end, my first challenge was to determine how I was going to judge if the Quran is un-corrupted and that the Injeel is corrupted. The topics to address this include archeology, science, numerology, history, textual criticism, prophecy, etc. Many eminent scholars have spent years addressing them and others continue to do so. During that time, I did not have the time or the inclination to address the whole field. My goal was limited to making an assessment between the two was the Quran or the Injeel more trustworthy? To that end, I restricted my study to the following three topics regarding the Quran and the Injeel:
In this article I will address only the first topic of the study. The other topics are covered in the second and third segments of the study.
Is there support within the Quran and Injeel that clearly state that God has spoken?
I started to check first into what the Quran and Injeel taught about God communicating and protecting his message. From the Quran it is clear that it claims that Mohammad was Allahs messenger.
O Mankind! The Messenger hath come to you in truth from Allah: believe in him: It is best for you. But if ye reject Faith, to Allah belong all things in the heavens and on earth: And Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. Surah 4:170
This was my understanding as that is part of the Shahada, the confession of faith that Mohammad was Allahs messenger and has brought to us his words. So next I started to look at what Allah said about inspiring other messengers. I was aware of the Muslim teaching that Moses and Isa were also inspired by Allah. That just as Mohammad received inspiration, the previous messengers were also inspired to express the words of God. This is confirmed in the ayah (verse) below.
We have sent thee inspiration, as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him: we sent inspiration to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Psalms. Of some messengers We have already told thee the story; of others We have not;- and to Moses Allah spoke direct; Surah 4:163-164
However I was very surprised to find that Allah states that he makes no distinction among these messages from him. That was a big surprise to me as I was taught that the Quran was superior to all of the other messages and that is why it was also the last and final revelation to come to mankind. But from the ayah below, Allah clearly states that all of them are equal.
We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them - Surah 3:84
When I started to study the Injeel to determine what it says about God message, I discovered that Isa said that the Jewish scriptures had full authority as the words of God. Note what Isa says about the message the Jews had in their possession. These words were spoken during the time when Isa was fasting in the wilderness and Satan came to tempt him. Note Isas response to Satan as he quotes from the Taurat (Torah):
‘But He answered and said, "It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’"’ Matthew 4:4
The words in upper case above are referencing the bolded ones below in the Torah.
He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Deuteronomy 8:3
Regarding the Injeel, Isa makes the claim that his own words are Gods words and they are truth.
"...The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father abiding in me does his work." John 14:10
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. ....Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. John 17:14,17
Also note that in the Injeel, we see Apostle Peter bearing witness of what the Jewish and Christian scripture teach regarding the word of God. The words in upper case refer to quotes from the Jewish scripture.
for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER. And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:23-25
From this portion of my investigation, it became clear, both from the Quran and the Injeel that God had inspired messengers to speak on his behalf and the message they gave are to be considered to be from him. Since the Quran came later, it even goes further and states there was no distinction to be made between the Quran and the previous messages.
Are there claims in the Quran and Injeel that they contain the written words of God?
Next area of importance for me was if God has spoken to us through messengers, has this message been written down? Being a Muslim, I believed this of the Quran. Nevertheless, I checked the Quran to see what claims it makes regarding this.
This Quran is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book - wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the worlds. Or do they say, "He forged it"? say: "Bring then a Sura like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can besides Allah, if it be ye speak the truth!" Surah 10:37-38
Hence not only does the Quran make the claim that it is from Allah, but also challenges others to create a Surah of similar caliber. What surprised me though was that Allah states he has inspired other books which implied these previous scriptures were written down. Therefore the Quran does acknowledge other written scriptures as can be seen below.
O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Apostle, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Apostle and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Apostles, and the Day of Judgement, hath gone far, far astray - Surah 4:136
When I started checking the Injeel, it claims that all written scripture, has been inspired by God.
"...and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:15-17
When looking specifically at the Injeel I found Isa claimed that his word is Gods word. In addition, he said that Gods word will be brought to the memory of the apostles, which are written in the Injeel.
"...and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Fathers who sent me." John 14:24
"But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." John 14:26
My understanding was Mohammad had received revelation from Allah and that was directly made part of the Quran, while the other Scriptures were similar to the Hadith (Mohammads words or deeds), as it contained historical facts and quotes from other than Allah. But from the study of the Quran and Injeel, I was surprised that all scriptures have been written down and are from God, regardless of the format, whether in direct command form as most of the Quran is or multiple forms as in the Injeel and the Jewish scripture.
Is there support in the Quran or Injeel that the written scriptures are or can be corrupted?
This was an area of much discussion that I used to have with Christians. In the past, I understood from Muslim teachers that Allah had guaranteed to protect the Quran from human tampering, but the protection of the other Scriptures were given to Jews and Christians and that they had corrupted it. So I started again checking into the Quran regarding this topic, and it became very clear that Allah says that no one can change the words of God.
"There is none that can alter the words of Allah." Surah 6:34
"No change can there be in the words of Allah." Surah 10:64
The question was do the above ayahs restrict the protection only to the Quran? It became clear that this protection included the previous scriptures since Allah makes no distinction among them from Surah 3:84. But what about the Muslim teachers that kept telling me the Injeel and the Torah are corrupted. Where was that in the Quran? I kept looking and only found this type of teaching that says some Jews and Christians were hiding what was in their books. Note the following ayah:
"O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary): There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book," Surah 5:15
I was very disappointed. I was looking for the strong claim to corruption that I had been taught. But the above ayah does not claim that the Jewish or Christian scriptures are corrupted, only that the Christians and Jews were hiding things from the Muslims and that God has now revealed them in the Quran. I continued to look further, but did not find much to support corruption. Though, I was surprised to find that the Quran supports the authority of the Injeel by commanding the Christians to judge by what they have in their scripture. That is, from what they currently posses with them which implied these are not corrupted, else Allah would not ask them to judge by it.
"We sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him. We sent him the Gospel... Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein, if any do fail to judge by the light of what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel..." Surah 5:46-47
So, I turned my attention to see what was being said about corruption in the Injeel. Were perhaps the Jewish scriptures corrupted? Looking at the Injeel, it claims all Jewish and Christian scriptures will stand, even if heaven and earth pass away.
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." Matthew 5:17-18
Note also the reference by Prophet David to Gods word and their relation to heaven and earth in the Psalms (Zabur),
Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands. They stand this day according to Your ordinances, For all things are Your servants. Psalm 119:89-91
Further, Isa who speaks Gods word says the same about his words in the Injeel.
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." Matthew 24:35
At this point, I was satisfied that the Quran and Injeel clearly state that the words of God will stand.
Therefore from study of the Quran and the Injeel I was able to come to the following conclusions:
I had begun with the belief like my other Muslim brothers and sisters that Allah had guaranteed that He will protect the Quran from human tampering, but not the other scriptures. For that reason, I was surprised to learn that Allah had always taught the incorruptibility of scripture even in the Injeel. Protection by God of his message was not new to the Quran. The claim that no human can change the words of God is one made by both the Quran and the Injeel. In addition, nowhere did I find any warning in the Quran that the former Jewish or Christian scriptures had been corrupted. Instead the Quran clearly states that the Jewish and Christian scriptures are authoritative inspiration from God. Regarding the claim that the Injeel was more like the Hadith and contained non-inspired words was not supportable either from the Quran or from the Injeel. I was able to accept that Gods message and teaching can come to us in different forms; it does not always have to come in direct command or quotes from God. Hence based on the ayahs and verses from the Quran and Injeel, it was clear that each of the scriptures speak to itself as being Gods words and to be protected from change.
At this point I was satisfied that I had unjustly denied myself a serious study of the previous scriptures due to fear of corruption. I was now ready to take a serious look at them. It now made sense to me why the Christian Bible not only contains the Injeel but also all of the Jewish scriptures they are all words of God. This caused in me a desire to study all of the words of God, not just what Mohammad had taught.
If you would like to send me your comments or questions, please write to me.
Continue with part two.
Articles by Farooq Ibrahim
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