Laying the Foundation
From its very beginning, even before the New Testament Scriptures were formulated and canonized ('recognized as genuine', Collins and Oxford Dictionaries), critical questions were asked and the content of the faith was attacked. Answers and explanations had to be given - and were given. These answers or explanations had to be specific and had to address the current issues. Those who did or do this are called 'apologists'. "The science of the defense of Christian Truth is named 'Apologetics'. "An effort is made to anticipate the points of a possible attack, and to defend them by evidence and sound reasoning. Positively, a Christian view of God and the world is elaborated, aiming to make it so adequate and winsome as to obviate attack before it even gets started". (Encyclopedia of Religion ed. by Vergilus Ferm).
A more negative sounding word has also been used lately, and that is 'polemics', ("the art or practice of dispute or argument, as in attacking or defending a doctrine or belief", Collins Dictionary). The origin of the word is the Greek 'polemikos' meaning things concerning war.
From the inception of Islam, but particularly in the last few decades, Muslims have levelled heavy attacks against the credibility of the Bible and the person of Christ. Any cross-religious conversation between a Muslim and a Christian will be effected by this. Consequently there is no way to by-pass Apologetics, when witnessing to Muslims. The basics regarding the Islamic-Christian controversy are condensed here. One Scripture may well be used as a warning over the whole issue:
"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead he must be kind to every one, able to teach, not resentful! Those who oppose him he must gently instruct in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil".
Any witness will know by experience, that foolish arguments and quarrels are hardly avoidable. Unfortunately many Christians, when confronted with an argument they cannot deal with, immediately engage themselves in foolish arguments and quarrels, become emotionally upset (and that is the very purpose of the Islamic argument!) and do not gently instruct, but are resentful.
Both sides will argue with a predjudiced mindset. But this is hardly the right approach. Someone coined the following saying:
"Convictions are Worse Enemies of the Truth than Lies".
Convictions are premises, thought structures or hypotheses, which are assumed to be truth, preconditions or fundamentals, which are considered non-negotiables.
A better way, as we already read in the first paragraph, is 'to defend the Christian Truth by evidence and sound reasoning'...
Should we get involved in arguments and disputes? Many people assume that this is useless. Paul did not think that way:
"Paul talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him".
"As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead".
"So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the market-place day by day with those who happened to be there".
"Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks".
"They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews".
"Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus".
Every Muslim with even the most basic instruction about his religion (and who lives within a somewhat Christian context) believes that todays Bible is not a trustworthy book, that Jesus did not die on the cross and that he is neither divine, nor the Son of God, not to speak of God being triune! Christians believe this! We have to bear in mind, however, that in a number of issues misunderstanding of the meaning of certain words is at the root of an argument.
Again the question of truth comes in. Which of the two opposing positions can claim with acceptable evidence to be true, and by that trustworthy? What did really happen in history, way back 1900 years ago? Conviction cannot serve as an argument here, but historical facts can. Can one still check out these facts? Or can they convincingly be reconstructed? The following pages try to give the answer.
The Reason for this Controversy
Muslims, reading the Qur'an, come across this verse:
"And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: 'O children of Israel! I am the apostle of Allah (sent) to you confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of an apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad".
Since the words Ahmad and Muhammad share the same three-letter root 'HMD', this Ahmad had always been understood to be Muhammad. If Jesus said this, it must be found in the Bible. Since the Qur'an encourages the study of the "former Scriptures" too, Muslim scholars started to seek for passages referring to Muhammad in the Bible.
What they found were a number of fundamental contradictions between the Bible and the Qur'an. The Qur'an was, of course, never questioned. The only other conclusion was that the Bible, which was - according to the Qur'an - the Word of God, must have been changed by the Christians:
"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.
In his defense 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' (Surah 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 [assumption, G.N.] and on his wish to safeguard the truth of the Qur'an. 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'. 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'.
Many of the great Muslim thinkers had, indeed, accepted the authenticity of the New Testament text. Listing the names of these men seems a fitting conclusion to this essay. Their testimony proves that Christian-Muslim dialogue need not for ever be stymied by the allegation introduced by Ibn-Khazem. Two great historians, Al-Mas'udi (died 956) and Ibn-Khaldun (died 1406), held to the authenticity of the Gospel text. Four well-known theologians agreed with this: Ali at-Tabari (died 855), Qasim al-Khasani (died 860), Amr al-Ghakhiz (died 869) and, last but not least, the famous Al-Ghazzali (died 1111). Their view is shared by Abu Ali Husain Bin Sina, who is known in the West as Avicenna (died 1037). Bukhari (died 870), who acquired a great name by his collection of early traditions, quoted the Qur'an itself (Surah 3:72, 78) to prove that the text of the Bible was not falsified".
"Can we trust the Gospel?" by J.Wijngaard
Up to this present day the argument of the corrupted Bible is upheld by Muslim teachers. In the following pages we are going to investigate this claim critically.
Where and How Do the Bible and the Qur'an Differ?
While there are a great many deviations, we can look here only at some of the more striking and some of the more fundamental contradictions:
NOAH his three sons survived the Flood
"So the Lord said, 'I will wipe mankind whom I have created, off from the face of the earth - men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air - for I am grieved that I have made them'. But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.
This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japhet.
Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, 'I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth ... But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with you".
Genesis 6:7-13 + 18
NÚH one son only who drowned
"So the Ark floated with them on the waves (towering) like mountains. And Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself (from the rest): 'O my son! embark with us, and be not with the Unbelievers!'.
The son replied: 'I will betake myself to some mountain. It will save me from the water'. Noah said: 'This day nothing can save from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy! And the waves came between them, and the son was among those over-whelmed in the Flood".
ABRAHAM's father was Terah
"Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran".
IBRAHIM's father was Azar
"Lo! Abraham said to his father Azar ...".
MOSES was rescued by Pharaoh's daughter
"When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying: 'I drew him out of the water'".
MOOSA was rescued by Pharaoh's wife
"The wife of Pharaoh said: 'Here is a joy of the eye, for me and for thee. Slay him not. It may be that he will be of use to us, or we may adopt him as a son'. And they perceived not (what they were doing)!".
PHARAOH, HAMAN AND THE TOWER OF BABEL
Pharaoh lived 1700 BC (see Exodus 1)
Haman lived 510 BC (see Esther 3)
The tower was built 2250 BC (see Genesis 11)
|"Pharaoh said: 'O
Chiefs! No god do I know for you but myself; therefore, O Haman light me a (kiln to
bake bricks) out of clay, and build me a lofty palace, that I may mount up to the god
of Moses. But as far as I am concerned, I think (Moses) is a liar!".
Other translations read:
"...high tower that I may ascend unto the God of Moses" (G.Sales)
"...and make me a tower that I may mount up to Moses" (Arberry)
"...a tower, that I may reach the avenues of the heavens and ascend unto the God of Moses" (Palmer and Rodwell)
SACRIFICES, particularly the blood of these, are basic and essential to forgiveness and atonement.
"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life".
"He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it".
"If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to offer a male without defect. He must present it at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting so that it will be acceptable to the Lord. He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He is to slaughter the young bull before the Lord, and then Aaron's sons the priests shall bring the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting".
"John saw Jesus coming towards him and said: 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'"
"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body'. Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins'".
"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished".
"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!"
"And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
"But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year; and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance ... In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood and, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness".
Hebrews 9:7 + 22
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood".
QURBAN (= sacrifice) is a symbol, the blood of this avails nothing.
"To every people did we appoint rites (of sacrifice) that they might celebrate the name of Allah over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your God is One God; submit then your wills to Him (in Islam) and give thou the good news to those who humble themselves.
The sacrificial camels we have made for you as among the symbols from Allah: in them is (much) good for you. It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches him".
Regarding the meaning of the sacrifice, we have to ask what the word Qurban actually means: 'Approaching near', to whom? How? Why?
The sacrifice offered on Idu'l Adha has its origin in the Bible:
"A few months after his arrival in Medina, Muhammad saw the Jews keeping the great Fast of the Atonement; and he readily adopted it for his own people.
Ashor, or the 'Fast of the Tenth', i.e. the tenth day of the seventh month [Lev. 13:27]. It was a day of affliction and atonement; but popular tradition at Medina assigned to it another origin. When Muhammad asked the Jews what was the origin of the Fast, they said that it was in memory of the delivery of Moses out of the hands of Pharaoh, and the destruction of the tyrant in the Red Sea. 'We have a greater right in Moses than they', said Muhammad; so he fasted like the Jews, and commanded his people to fast also. Afterwards when the Muslim Fast of Ramadan was imposed, Muhammad did not command the Fast of Ashor to be observed, neither did he forbid it, i.e. he left it optional to keep up the one as well as the other. [At-Tabari, i. 1281 'Ashura is the tenth (or ninth) day of the first month, Moharram]".
"The Life of Muhammad" by Muir, p.191
It is certainly revealing to notice that the Jewish 'Yom Kippur' or 'Day of Atonement' (Lev. 16) falls on the same day or very close to Idu'l Adha, on which Muslims offer their Qurban.
Against this we read:
"And we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice".
This contradicts Surah 22:37, but would be in keeping with the Bible and the annual Qurban sacrifice offered by Muslims on Eid-ul-Adha.
JOHN THE BAPTIST carried a name which was quite common in Israel
"The sons of Josiah: Johanan the firstborn, Jehoiakim the second son, Zedekiah the third, Shallum the fourth.
The sons of Elioenai: Hoda-viah, Eliashib, Pelaiah, Akkub, Johanan, Delaiah and Anani - seven in all".
Chronicles 3:15 + 24
"Ahimaaz the father of Azariah, Azariah the father of Johanan".
"And Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, a mighty man among the Thirty, who was a leader of the Thirty; Jeremiah, Jahaziel, Johanan, Jozabad the Gederathite...".
(See also Ezra 8:12 and Nehemiah 6:18)
YAHYA carried a name, which no one had before
"O Zakariya! We give thee good news of a son. His name shall be Yahya: On none by that name have we conferred dis-tinction before".
This is a misleading translation. It actually should read: '... Yahya [or John] whose name no one had before'. John is, of course, an English name. 'Yohanan' is the Hebrew version, which was actually the name by which John was called. This was by no means an uncommon name.
MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS is not identical with Miriam, sister of Moses
"The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, a descendent of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam" (BC1450). Numbers 26:59
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they could come together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit" (BC 4).
MIRYAM, the sister of Aaron and Moses, was the mother of Jesus
"At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: 'O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!
O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!".
Imram (biblical Amram) was the father of Moses, Aaron and Miryam (Miriam) [by implication in Surahs 19:28; 66:12; 20:25-30]. But Miriam (or Mary), the mother of Jesus, was actually born about 1500 years later!
JESUS is the Son of God, gives eternal life and is the only way to God
"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end".
"The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God'. 'Yes, it is as you say', Jesus replied.
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can snatch them out of my hand".
"Jesus answered: 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me'".
ISA is no more than an apostle (messenger) of God.
"Christ the son of Mary was no more than an apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food ... In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary.
They do blaspheme who say: 'Allah is Christ the son of Mary'".
Surah 5:72-73, 75
"The Jews call Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. (In this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!".
CRUCIFIXION is a historical fact
"Carrying his own cross, he went out to The Place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him.
Jesus said: 'It is finished'. With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit".
John 19:17 + 30
"When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left.
Jesus called out with a loud voice, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit'. When he had said this, he breathed his last".
Luke 23:33 + 46
"When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit".
Matthew 27: 35-37 + 50
CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS never took place, neither was he killed
"They [i.e. the Jews] said (in boast), 'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of Allah'. But they killed him not, nor crucified him. But so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow. For of a surety they killed him not".
TRINITY is the Nature of God
"I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us - yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said: 'Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me'; and so he became their Saviour [ Hebrew 'Yeshua' = Jesus]. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them".
Isaiah 63: 7-11
TRINITY is blasphemy
"They do blaspheme who say: 'Allah is one of three in a trinity'; for there is no god except one Allah".
"O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion; nor say of Allah aught but truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (nor more than) an apostle of Allah. And his word, which he bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from him: so believe in Allah and his apostles. Say not 'Trinity': desist. It will be better for you: For Allah is one Allah. Glory be to him. (For exalted is he) above having a son".
It is obvious that Muslims pick on the Bible aiming to discredit it and to show the superiority of the Qur'an.
It is clear to the careful reader, that the Qur'an does not only use misunderstood or even historically falsified biblical stories, but actually teaches concepts which totally contradict the fundamentals of the Bible.
This forces us to consider whether the Qur'an or the Bible is reliable, and with that trustworthy. After all: we deal here with matters determining our eternal destiny!!
Obviously Muslims are convinced to have the unadulterated truth - and so are the Christians. Subjective argument is futile. We have to look at the facts as we will do just now. But we will also have to have a critical look at Islam.
What Today's Islamic Propagators Say About the Bible and Jesus
One would be able to fill volumes of statements similar to those quoted here. For the sake of brevity we just have some brief extracts of two authors which are typical.
"What is the present Bible then?, you may ask. Is it not the Word of God? The answer is: What used to be the Word of God has been so adulterated by human hands that the Word of God is hardly distinguishable from the word of man. In some places we do still find a glimmer of the truth that Jesus taught - the gems of divine wisdom that he uttered for the good of his people - but these are few and far between in the jungles of interpolations and contradictions with which the Bible is dense.
It will make any reasonable man wonder how this book ever came to be called "the Word of God".
The present Bible, therefore, can never by any stretch of imagination be called "the inspired Word of God".
It is admitted by the most learned men in the Hebrew language that the present English version of the Old Testament contains at least one hundred thousand errors! (i.e. appr. 3 errors in every verse! Editor)
Faith demands total allegiance to the Bible - with its faults, absurdities, everything. Reason, on the other hand is loath to accept matters that constitute an insult to the human intelligence.
Although an extravagant claim is put forward by Bible Societies and other fanatics that the Bible is the most read book in the world, the contrary is true.
The faith, therefore, as practised by present-day Christians, is a strange mixture of paganism. Paulianity and Churchianity.
A little chastisement on the Son of God, therefore, was taken as remission for the sins of all men together.
The doctrine of Atonement presents God in a bad light: as a cruel, merciless God who could not forgive the sins of men without exacting his 'pound of flesh'".
"The Tauraat we Muslims believe in is not the 'Torah' of the Jews and the Christians, though the words - one Arabic, the other Hebrew - are the same. We believe that whatever the Holy Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) preached to his people, was the revelation from God Almighty, but that Moses was not the author of those 'books' attributed to him by the Jews and the Christians.
Likewise, we believe that the Zaboor was the revelation of God granted to Hazrat Dawood (David)(peace be upon him), but that the present Psalms associated with his name are not that revelation. The Christians themselves do not insist that David is the sole author of 'his' Psalms. [The book of Psalms states that Asaph is the writer of 12 Psalms and 5 are ascribed to the sons of Korah][emphases are ours].
What about the Injeel? Injeel means the 'Gospel' or 'good news' which Jesus Christ preached during his short ministry. The 'Gospel' writers often mention that Jesus (sic) going about and preaching the Gospel (the Injeel):
- And Jesus went ... preaching the gospel ... and healing every disease among the people'. (Matthew 9:35)
- '... but whoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it'. (Mark 8:35)
- '... preached the gospel ...'. (Luke 20:1)
The 'gospel' is a frequently-used word, but what Gospel did Jesus preach? Of the 27 books of the New Testament, only a small fraction can be accepted as the words of Jesus. The Christians boast about the Gospel to St. Matthew, according to St. Mark, according to St. Luke and according to St. John, but there is not a single Gospel 'according' to (St.) Jesus himself! We sincerely believe that everything Christ (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) preached was from God. That was the Injeel, the good news and the guidance of God for the Children of Israel. In his life-time Jesus never wrote a single word, nor did he instruct anyone to do so. What passes off as the 'gospels' today are the works of anonymous hands!"
"If it is possible for God to have a 'son', then why is it not possible for Him to have a grandson also? In this way He will be able to raise generations of he-gods and she-gods.
In His first experiment of creating mankind, God was a failure: 'And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart'. (Genesis 6:5-6). So the questions are:
- Why cannot He be a failure in His second experiment of wiping sin off from the face of the earth by hanging his only begotten son?
- Since the son departed from the earth and is sitting snugly beside his daddy, has the sin decreased or increased? If the latter is true, then
- Has not God failed in His second experiment as well?"
As Christians, who are convinced of the Bible to be the Word of God, we do not mind a spiritual and intellectual argument. The type of presentation we just read, are malicious statements, in which the authors have not even the decency to respect the religious feelings of fellow men.
It has become obvious that Muslims base their arguments on their concept of inspiration and revelation which differs from the Christian one. We shall investigate this shortly.
An altogether different attitude is shown in the Qur'an. It totally defies all the contemporary Islamic propaganda.
... and what the Qur'an Says About the Bible
"Say ye: 'We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between one and another of them. And we bow to Allah".
"Allah! There is no God but He - the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal. It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step) in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it. And He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this as a guide to mankind".
"O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and his apostle, and the scriptures which he hath sent to his apostle and the scripture which he sent to those before (him). And who denieth Allah, his angels, his apostles, and the Day of Judgement, hath gone far, far astray".
"It was We who revealed the Law (of Moses); therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophet who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah's will, by the Rabbis and the Doctors of Law; for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's Book. And they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men but fear Me, and sell not my Signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers".
"And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light. And confirmation of the Law that had come before him. A guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah".
"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".
"To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety; so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth, that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed, he would have made you a single People, but (his plan is) to test you in what He hath given you; so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah. It is he that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute".
Surah 5:44, 46-48
- "The goal of you all is to Allah", should read "for you shall all return to Allah".
The message is that the Muslims are to compete with the Jews and Christians in doing good since they will face Allah in the Last Judgment.
"Say: 'O People of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord".
"This Qur'an 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".
"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".
[This refers to the Bible]. Surah 10:37 + 94
"Say: 'Bring ye the Law and study it, if ye be men of truth!'"
"O ye People of the Book! Believe in what we have (now) revealed, confirming what was (already) with you. Before we change the face and fame of some (of you) beyond all recognition, and turn them hindwards, or curse them as we curse the Sabbath-breakers; for the decision of Allah must be carried out".
"Before thee [i.e. Muhammad] also the apostles [i.e. prophets] we sent were but men, to whom we granted inspiration. If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message".
When Muslims claim that the Qur'an also teaches that the biblical Scriptures have been changed, they can only find support in two verses:
"Ye People of the Book! Why do ye clothe Truth with falsehood, and conceal the Truth, while ye have knowledge?
"There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues; (as they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say 'That is from Allah. It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it!".
Surah 3:71 + 78
These two verses do not accuse "the People of the Book" of anything else but:
- They conceal the Truth of which they have knowledge (!)
- They pretend to read from the Book something which is not contained in it.
This presupposes that the Book was available, that it is Truth, but that there were some who twisted it. To conclude from this that the Bible has been corrupted is nothing short of deceit.
THE QUR'AN DEMANDS FAITH IN THE BIBLE
MUSLIMS REFUSE TO BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE
|A Muslim is obliged to believe in the "former revelations". (Surah 2:136; 4:136 and 29:46)||Muslims do not believe in the former Scriptures reasoning that these have been lost or corrupted, which is not what the Qur'an teaches.|
|These revelations were given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus. (Surah 2:136)||Muslims perceive that "Books" were given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Jesus. This was not so. It is an Islamic concept of revelation.|
|"We (= Allah) make no difference between one and another of them". (Surah 2:136)||Muslims indeed differentiate between the Qur'an and the former Scriptures.|
|The Qur'an is confirming (Muhammad thought) the former Scriptures, which as a matter of fact it does not. (Surah 3:3; 5:49; 10:37 and 4:47)||The Qur'an does not confirm the former Scriptures in most fundamental theological issues.|
|Islam teaches that Allah is the same as the God of the Bible. (Surah 29:46)||Allah is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is a fundamental tenet of God in the Bible. Further, his character and nature do on fundamental issues not co-incide with Jahweh. We deem him not to be the same. (See Volume I, 'Islam', p. 86, "The God of Islam").|
|This proves that the former Books were available at the time of Muhammad. (Surah 10:94; 3:93; 21:7 and 3:71)||If the former books were available at the time of Muhammad - when were they changed as Muslims claim today? They cannot be! All biblical manuscripts date before the time of Muhammad.|
|The Book (Biblical Scripture) is the ground on which Christians and Jews should stand. (Surah 5:71)||Thus Muslims should appreciate if Christians believe in the Bible.|
|Muslims should not dispute with the Christians except in an upbuilding manner. (Surah 29:46)||Muslims would do well to remember this when debating with Christians.|
We conclude that all the talk of a corrupted Bible is the Islamic way to make Muslims resistant to its message. Further to undermine its authority for fear of it to be found more trustworthy than the Qur'an, more desirable in content, better evidenced, and subsequently more reliable to follow.
Any sober-minded scholar who has some integrity will have to admit, that the statements made by Islamic apologists are in contrast to the Qur'an although they claim it to be their absolute and divine guide.
We can trace the reasons for their dilemma:
- The Qur'an claims to be the Word of God
- The Qur'an equally claims the Bible to be the Word of God (or at least what is termed the Taurat, the Zabur and the Injil)
- However, the Qur'an contradicts the Bible (= dilemma).
The logical and rational reaction should be to believe the historically older statements, as these were recorded at a time when the information was revealed.
While theological statements on a doctrine, like faith in the atonement, which was effected by the death of Christ on the cross, can hardly be verified by history, archaeology or such disciplines, the historicity of the crucifixion and the consistency of the teaching of atonement in the Old Testament and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy in the crucifixion of Jesus for the remission of sins are undeniable facts with strong implications. (See "Evidences").
However, Islam chose to overlook or reject these. It is only logical then, that they resort to an undignified and irrational emotional campaign of indoctrination. Fear of hell and pressure and reprisals by society, family and friends are to keep the Muslims from even considering an alternative - to their own detriment.
That is why, against all reason, practically all Muslims believe not what the Qur'an says about the Bible, but what their Maulanas or Sheikhs teach them.
Our Response to Muslim Attacks on the Bible
Because many Christians do not know a Muslim's thinking and argumentation, they are constantly intimidated by Muslims, who question the Bible by many arguments, which Christians are not trained to answer. Christians react and feel forced into unnecessary defence. Here is a model which can help even less informed Christians to repudiate such arguments.
- The Qur'an, the ultimate authority of all Muslims, teaches undeniably that the Bible is the revealed Word of God. (See above references)
- The Qur'an further states categorically:
"No change can there be in the words of Allah"
"There is none that can alter the words of Allah"
THIS LEAVES ONE OF THREE POSSIBILITIES:
- God will not allow any change in His revelation, as the Qur'an distinctly states, hence the Bible could not have been changed.
- The Bible was changed before the time of Muhammad. In this case the Qur'an would not have stated the contrary.
- The Bible was changed after Muhammad. This cannot be, for all biblical manuscripts date long before Muhammad.
Subsequently all the arguments levelled against the Bible contradict the very Qur'an Muslims profess to believe in!
For Muslims and Christians alike there is a need to understand the concept of inspiration and revelation.
Inspiration and Revelation
THE ISLAMIC VIEW
Muslims have a simple answer:
The Qur'an Is Eternally Preserved On Heavenly Tablets
"Nay, this is a Glorious Qur'an. (Inscribed) in a tablet preserved".
The Same Message Was Given To Former Prophets
"Nothing is said to thee that was not said to the apostles before thee."
The Qur'an Was Handed Down By The Angel Gabriel Piece By Piece Over 23 Years
"Those who reject Faith say: 'Why is not the Qur'an revealed to him all at once? Thus (is it revealed), that we may strengthen thy heart thereby, and we have rehearsed it to thee in slow, well-arranged stages, gradually".
Subsequently The Qur'an Is 'Nazil' = Come Down By Inspiration
"They ask thee concerning the spirit (of inspiration). Say: 'The spirit cometh by command of my Lord; of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you (o man!)".
"Raised on high above ranks (or degrees), (he is) the Lord of the Throne (of authority). By his command doth he send the spirit (of inspiration) to any of his servants he pleases, that it may warn (men) of the Day of Mutual Meeting".
"Thus have we sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Qur'an, that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her".
It Is Considered To Be Revelation
"Verily this is a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. With it came down the spirit of Faith and Truth to thy heart and mind that thou mayest admonish in the perspicuous Arabic tongue. Without doubt it is (announced) in the mystic Books of former peoples".
"Say thou: 'I am but a man like you; it is revealed to me by inspiration that your Allah is One Allah; so stand true to him, and ask for his forgiveness'. And woe to those who join gods with Allah".
"Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord. In Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe and as a Guide and glad tidings to Muslims".
But Inspiration Is Met With Doubt
"When we substitute one revelation for another - and Allah knows best what he reveals (in stages) - they say: 'Thou art but a forger'; but most of them understand not.
We know indeed that they say: 'It is a man that teaches him'. The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear".
Surah 16:101 + 103
To sum up:
- Allah reveals (not himself, but) his will (Surah 42:51)
- by inspiration (Surah 41:6; 42:7)
- i.e. by the Holy Spirit (Surah 16:102),
- which is generally understood to be Gabriel.
- The 'Book' came down in Arabic, bringing Good News and admonition (Surah 41:4)
- to the 'Mother of Cities' (i.e. Mecca) (Surah 42:7),
- but the people there accused the messenger (i.e. Muhammad) of forgery,
- because "it is a man that teaches him" (referring to Salman, the Persian) and because one 'revelation' is substituted for another (see "Abrogations").
THE BIBLICAL CONCEPT
Christians have an altogether different concept which we have to look at for better understanding. We find the word "inspiration" only once in the Old Testament (AV), in Job 32:8. It actually means "breath" (and is so translated once in the New Testament (AV), where the original Greek word is "theopneustos", of which the exact translation is given in the NIV:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work".
A word much more used is 'to reveal' or 'revelation'.In the Hebrew original text the word 'galah' is used, which means, translated, to "uncover", "unveil". The same meaning has the Greek word 'apokalupto' (for the verb) and 'apokalupsis' (for the noun)":
"Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets".
"He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him".
"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law".
The best description of revelation we probably find in 1. Cor. 2:9-11
"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned".
What in particular has been or will be revealed by God?
- His Son (Gal. 1:16; Lk. 17:30; 2. Thess. 1:7)
- His Word (1. Sam. 3:7)
- He Himself (Jn. 14:9)
- His Glory (Isa. 40:5; Rom. 8:18; 1. Pet. 4:13)
- His Righteousness (Isa. 56:1)
- His Wrath (Rom. 1:18)
- His Judgement (Rom. 2:5)
- His Mystery (Eph. 3:3; Rom. 16:25; Col. 1:25-27)
- His Cause (Jer. 11:20)
- The Anti-Christ (2. Thess. 2:3)
- Thoughts of our heart (Lk. 2:35)
Let Us Have A Look At How God Reveals.
"I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up..." (Isa. 6:1)
"Thus says the Lord..." (Jer. 13:8 etc.)
"The Word of the Lord came to me..." (Jer. 13:1 etc.)
"The oracle (or burden) of the Word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi" (Mal. 1:1)
"I saw what happened to be...." (Rev. 15:2)
"When I saw Him I fell at his feet as though dead. But He laid his right hand upon me, saying, fear not!" (Rev. 1:17)
"To the married I (Paul) give charge, but not the Lord...I say this by way of concession, not of command ... This is my (Paul's) rule in all the churches...I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion..."
(1. Cor. 7:10, 6, 17, 25)
Revelation is not confined to oral communication. It equally includes experimental revelations (e.g. I saw, an oracle or a burden).
It also includes advice of the divinely inspired writers.
Mr. Deedat in his booklet Is the Bible God's Word? reasons:
"We Muslims have no hesitation in acknowledging that in the Bible, there are three different kinds of witnessing recognizable without any need of specialized training. These are:
- You will be able to recognize in the Bible what may be described as "The Word of God".
- You will also be able to discern what can be described as the "Words of a Prophet of God.".
- And you will most readily observe that the bulk of the Bible is the records of eye witnesses or ear witnesses, or people writing from hearsay. As such they are the "Words of a Historian".
You do not have to hunt for examples of these different types of evidences in the Bible. The following quotations will make the position crystal clear:
The first type:
- "I will raise them up a prophet ... and I will put my words in ... and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him". (Deut.18:18)
- "even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no saviour". (Isa.43:11)
- "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the end of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else". (Isa.45:22) (KJV)
Note the first person pronoun singular in the above references and without any difficulty you will agree that the statements seem to have the sound of being GOD'S WORD.
The second type:
- "Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani? ...". (Matth.27:46)
- "And Jesus answered him. The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord". (Mark 12:29).
- "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God". (Mark 10:18) (KJV)
Even a child will be able to affirm that: Jesus "cried", Jesus "answered", and Jesus "said", are the words of the one to whom they are attributed, i.e. the WORDS OF A PROPHET OF GOD.
The third type:
- "And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he (Jesus) came, if haply he (Jesus) might find anything thereon: and when he (Jesus) came to it, he (Jesus) found nothing but leaves ...". (Mark 11:13) (KJV)
- The bulk of the Bible is a witnessing of this third kind. These are the words of a third person. They are not the Words of God or of His prophet, but the WORDS OF A HISTORIAN.
- For the Muslim it is quite easy to distinguish the above types of evidence, because he also has them in his own faith. But of the followers of the different religions, he is the most fortunate in this that his various records are contained in separate Books!
One: The first kind - THE WORD OF GOD - is found in a Book called The Holy Qur'an.
Two: The second type - THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET OF GOD - (Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) are recorded in the Books of Tradition called The Hadith.
Three: Evidence of the third kind abounds in different volume of Islamic history, written by some of high integrity and learning, and others of lesser trustworthiness, but the Muslim advisedly keeps his Books in separate volumes!"
It seems that to a Muslim the revelation of God in history (I Cor. 10:1-6, 11-12) is no revelation at all. Neither what other people have to say about God. Only what God says Himself. This comes somewhat as a surprise (or clear deception?) for the Qur'an has that identical phenomenon:
"For me, I [i.e. Muhammad] have been commanded to serve the Lord of this city".
Has Allah been commanded to serve the "Lord of this city" (which is, no doubt, the Haram area of Mecca)? Who was the "Lord of the city" before? It was Hubal, whose statue was kept in the Ka'ba. The statue is surely not addressed here either. No doubt Muhammad speaks here, and reports that he has been commanded to serve. This is done in the first person.
A goodly number of Qur'an texts are written in the second or third person (Allah = you or he); and not the first (i.e. I or we).
In the very first Surah we read:
"Thee do we [second person] worship, and thine aid we [second person] seek. Show us [second person] the straight way. The way of those on whom thou hast bestowed thy grace, thou whose (portion) is not wrath and who go not astray".
Other Surahs continue:
"Of the people there are some [other persons] who say: 'We believe in Allah and the Last Day'. But they do not really believe ... In their hearts is a disease. And Allah [third person] has increased their disease; and grievous is the penalty they (incur), because they are false (to themselves)".
"It is Allah [third person] who has created the heavens and the earth ... ye have none, besides him to protect or intercede (for you) ... He [third person] rules (all) affairs from the heavens to the earth ... Such is he [third person], the Knower of all things ... He [third person] who has made everything which he [third person] has created ... he [third person] began the creation of man with (nothing more than) clay ... He [third person] fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of his spirit. And he [third person] gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling ... And they [other persons] say: 'What! When we lie, hidden and lost, in the earth, shall we indeed be in a creation renewed?'".
May these few examples suffice to illustrate our point.
We read of Allah in the third person singular (he, him) or by name "...those who fear Allah...", "Allah has set a seal ...", he is called "our Guardian - Lord", "the Lord of the Worlds", "the Knower".
We read that "Abraham said...". "They said..." etc.
Proceeding from their understanding (not necessarily their book), Muslims assume that if the 'Books of Moses' were a book handed down to Moses, it should have been in the first person only = "I say...". The same would apply to books given to David (Zabur) and Jesus (Injil). But neither of these men were given a book. This 'book concept' was Muhammad's idea when he saw that the Jews and Christians had one.
God Revealed Himself And His Will
In reality God revealed Himself in Christ - the Word which became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn.1:14). He also revealed His will, intentions, prophecies, pronouncements, instructions, laws etc. "to His servants, the prophets" - but never in book form - over a period of 1400 years. They were direct orders and pronouncements, but there was also recorded history, from which the believers were to learn about God (I Cor.10) and about the mistakes of man. There was also inspired poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs etc.) to stimulate worship and to attain to wisdom and knowledge.
Prophets Were Not Typewriters
We do not know exactly how it happened when God revealed His word, but we do know that somehow the style, choice of words and even character of the prophets or recorders can be recognized. From this style expert philologists (language experts) are able to distinguish between Amos and Daniel, or between Paul and John.
God embedded His Message in the heart and mind of the messenger, who gave it the human wording under the control of the Holy Spirit.
The Proof Of Revelation
How do we know? While we do not know the process of revelation, we do have the evidence: The Word of Prophecy - the humanly totally unforeseeable prediction of events in the distant future - and its fulfillment!! (See chapter on 'Evidences')
In addition we observe the unity within the revelation. A Jewish theologian and a computer scientist of the University of Haifa (Israel) made an analysis of the Old Testament and concluded that this "has one real author, and he is not a mortal" (Prof. Moshe Katz and Dr. Menachem Wiener).
By the way, theologians and philologists have little difficulty to sort out, which of the portions of the Qur'an were written in Mecca and which in Medina, even in which period of the time they fall, because the style of the composition and its interwoven stories reflected the historical situation at the time of the 'revelation'.
And as Christians believe the Bible, so Muslims believe the Qur'an. It is a matter of faith - though without the biblical evidences to back this up.
Muhammad is the only witness, not only to the Qur'an, but also to all the Hadith and by that the whole of Islam.
While there are difficulties in the Bible, and we come to that right now, we have to categorically state that history, archaeology and fulfilled prophecy anonymously support the revelation character of the Bible. From our studies of the Qur'an we can hardly arrive at the same conclusion, for no supernatural evidence of a divine characteristic can be substantiated. Above that the Qur'an contradicts the Bible.
Mr. Deedat of the Islamic Propagation Centre International published a booklet named "The Qur'an, the ultimate Miracle". In it he endeavoured to substantiate the divine origin of the Qur'an by implying that there is a certain numerical system within it. He concluded that the chances of the Qur'an to be of human origin are 1:63.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000.000 (1:63 octillion)! When we subjected these numerical juggles to tests, we discovered that the chances of the Qur'an to be of human origin according to his uncovered manipulations are 1:1,3. The booklet soon disappeared from the scene! We do not think that dishonest means contribute to the credibility of any book of faith.
Recommended Literature for Chapter 1
Christians answer Muslims, Gerhard Nehls, LCA 1992, pp. 10-12.
Christians ask Muslims, Gerhard Nehls, LCA 1992, pp. 2-16 and pp. 44-48.
Christian Reply to Muslim Objections, W.St.Clair Tisdall, Call of Hope 1904, pp.3-28.