How one Muslim Polemicists Defense Exposes Islams Prophet
We resume our response (*) to Bassam Zawadis attempt of disproving (*) our repeated assertion that the Quran confirms the authority and textual veracity of the Holy Bible.
In this current article we will demonstrate how Zawadis citations incriminate Muhammad and call his integrity into question.
Under his section titled, Evidence from the Statements of the Prophet Muhammad, Zawadi quotes the following ahadith:
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah As-Saffar told us: Ahmad Ibn Mahdi Ibn Rustum Al-Asfahani told us: Mu'azh Ibn Hisham Ad-Distwani told us: my father told me: Al-Qasim Ibn Awf Ash-Shaybani told me: Mu'azh Ibn Jabal - radiya Allahuanhu - told us that he went to Sham and saw the Christians prostrate to their Bishops and priests and saw the Jews prostrate to their Rabbis and scholars. He said, "Why do you do this?" they answered, "This is the greeting of Prophets (peace be upon him)". I said, "We better do this to our Prophet". Allah's Prophet - salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam - said, "They lied about their Prophets just as they distorted their Book. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone, I would command woman to prostrate to her husband for his great right upon her. No woman will taste the sweetness of Faith till she does her husband's rights even if he asks herself while she is on a Qutub"(Al-Hakim commented, "This hadith is authentic according to standards of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, but they did not relate it" This hadith was also related by At-Tabarani in "Al-Mu'jam Al-Kabir" vol. 8, p.31 but it includes An-Nahhas Ibn Fahm who is a weak narrator. Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal related it with a sound chain of transmission in his Musnad vol. 4, p. 381 (online source) with the following chain: Abdullah told us: my father (Ibn Hanbal) told me: Mu'azh Ibn Hisham told us: my father told me: Al-Qasim Ibn Awf - a man from Al-Kufa, one of Bani Murra Ibn Hammam - told me: Mu'azh Ibn Jabal - radiya Allahuanhu - told us that .. and mentioned the hadith. This hadith has been authenticated by Ibn Hajar Al Haytami in his Majma' Al Zawaaid, Volume 4, page 312. He said of the narrators in the chain 'their men are men of authenticity')
The Bani Israel wrote a book, they followed it and left the Torah.(This hadith was reported in Tabarani's Al Mu'jam Al Awsat and was authenticated by Sheikh Nasr Al Deen Al Albani in his Silsila Al Ahaadeeth Al Saheeha, hadith no. 2832.)
The Bani Israel as a long time passed and their hearts became hardened, they invented a book from themselves. It took over their hearts and their tongues.(This hadith was reported in Al Bayhaqi's Shu'b Al Eemaan, Volume 2, no.439. Sheikh Nasr Al Deen Al Albani has authenticated this hadith in his Silsila Al Ahaadeeth Al Saheeha, hadith no. 2694.)
The above references seem to imply that Muhammad doubted the veracity of the Jewish Scriptures (we say seem because the last two narratives say nothing of biblical textual corruption. They merely speak of the Jews writing a book which led them to abandon the Torah). The major problem with these narratives is that they happen to contradict other reports which claim that Muhammad actually confirmed the textual authenticity of these very Scriptures:
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:
A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school.
They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.
He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi' (No. 4431). (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, Number 4434)
The apostle wrote to the Jews of Khaybar according to what a freedman of the family of Zayd b. Thabit told me from Ikrima or from Said b. Jubayr from Ibn Abbas: In the name of God the compassionate the merciful from Muhammad the apostle of God friend and brother of Moses WHO CONFIRMS WHAT MOSES BROUGHT. God says to you, O scripture folk, and you will find it in your scripture "Muhammad is the apostle of God; and those with him are severe against the unbelievers, merciful among themselves. Thou seest them bowing, falling prostrate seeking bounty and acceptance from God. The mark of their prostrations is on their foreheads. That is their likeness in the Torah and in the Gospel like a seed which sends forth its shoot and strengthens it and it becomes thick and rises straight upon its stalk delighting the sowers that He may anger the unbelievers with them. God has promised those who believe and do well forgiveness and a great reward." I adjure you by God, AND BY WHAT HE HAS SENT DOWN TO YOU, by the manna and quails He gave as food to your tribes before you, and by His drying up the sea for your fathers when He delivered them from Pharaoh and his works, that you tell me, DO YOU FIND IN WHAT HE SENT DOWN TO YOU that you should believe in Muhammad? IF YOU DO NOT FIND THAT IN YOUR SCRIPTURE THEN THERE IS NO COMPULSION UPON YOU. "The right path has become plainly distinguished from error" so I call you to God and His Prophet (313). (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaqs Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], p. 256; capital emphasis ours)
According to what I heard from Ikrima, freedman of Ibn Abbas or from Said b. Jubayr from Ibn Abbas, Jews used to hope that the apostle would be a help to them against Aus and Khazraj before his mission began; and when God sent him from among the Arabs they disbelieved in him and contradicted what they had formerly said about him. Muadh b. Jabal and Bishr b. al-Bara b. Marur brother of B. Salama said to them: O Jews, fear God and become Muslims, for you used to hope for Muhammads help against us when we were polytheists and to tell us that he would be sent and describe him to us. Salam b. Mishkam, one of the B. al-Nadir, said, He has not brought us anything we recognize and he is not the one we spoke of to you. So God sent down about that saying of theirs: And when a book comes to them from God CONFIRMING what they have, though beforehand they were asking for help against those who disbelieve, when there came to them what they knew, they disbelieved in it, so Gods curse rests on the unbelievers.
Malik b. al-Sayf said when the apostle had been sent and they were reminded of the condition that had been imposed on them and what God had covenanted with them concerning him, No covenant was ever made with us about Muhammad. So God sent down concerning him: Is it not that whenever they make a covenant a party of them set it aside? Nay most of them do not believe.
Abu Saluba al-Fityuni said to the apostle: O Muhammad, you have not brought us anything we recognize and God has not sent down to you any sign that we should follow you. So God sent concerning his words, We have sent down to thee plain signs and only evildoers disbelieve in them. (P. 257; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)
Rafi b. Haritha and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila came to him [Muhammad] 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 men, and I dissociate 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 from your Lord. What has been sent down to thee from they Lord will assuredly increase many of them in error and unbelief. But be not sad because of the unbelieving people. (P. 268; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Now Zawadi has a problem! In light of these conflicting traditions both he and his Muslim cohorts are left with the following three options to choose from:
1) The Islamic corpus contradicts itself since there are certain reports that have Muhammad confirming the textual preservation of the Holy Bible whereas certain other narratives quote Muhammad as questioning the preservation of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. The Muslim must therefore accept the narratives which agree with the Quran, which essentially means that they must reject Zawadis reports since the Muslim scripture confirms the textual veracity and authority of the Jewish-Christian Bible (see the articles in this section).
2) The narrations which speak of corruption are not referring to the Bible but to specific books such as the Talmud, which the Jews held to be inspired and authoritative but which actually corrupted the meaning of their sacred Scriptures. Interestingly, one of Zawadis reports (the one from al-Tabarani) provides substantiation for this view since it speaks of a book that the Jews wrote which caused them to abandon the Torah. More on this issue a little later.
3) These narratives serve to expose Muhammad for being duplicitous since when he was around the Jews he claimed that his Quran was sent down to confirm the Torah and that he believed in it. Yet when he was with his followers he changes his tune by attacking the textual preservation of the Jewish Bible.
It seems that Allah, Muhammads god, was also involved in his prophets duplicity since he had his messenger say that the Quran was sent down as a confirmation of the Books of the Jews and Christians (see this list).
The third option seems to be all the more probable when we realize that both the Quran and the sunna of Muhammad allow Muslims to lie and deceive unbelievers. The following text is an excellent example of what we mean:
Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security. Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying. S. 3:28 Pickthall
Allah is basically telling Muslims that they can pretend to be friends to unbelievers in order to receive their protection, or to protect themselves from them. Notice how the exegetes explained this reference:
(Let not the believers take) the believers ought not to take [the hypocrites:] 'Abdullah Ibn Ubayy and his companions [and] (disbelievers) the Jews (for their friends) so as to become mighty and honourable (in preference to believers) who are sincere. (Whoso doeth that) seeking might and honour [by taking the hypocrites and disbelievers as friends] (hath no connection with Allah) has no honour, mercy or protection from Allah (unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them) save yourselves from them, (taking (as it were) security) saving yourselves from them by speaking in a friendly way towards them with, while your hearts dislikes this. (Allah bideth you beware (only) of Himself) regarding the shunning of unlawful killing, unlawful sex, unlawful property, consuming intoxicants, false testimony and associating partners with Allah. (Unto Allah is the journeying) the return after death. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn Abbâs; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Let not the believers take the disbelievers as patrons, rather than, that is, instead of, the believers - for whoever does that, that is, [whoever] takes them as patrons, does not belong to, the religion of, God in anyway - unless you protect yourselves against them, as a safeguard (tuqatan, 'as a safeguard', is the verbal noun from taqiyyatan), that is to say, [unless] you fear something, in which case you may show patronage to them through words, but not in your hearts: this was before the hegemony of Islam and [the dispensation] applies to any individual residing in a land with no say in it. God warns you, He instills fear in you, of His Self, [warning] that He may be wrathful with you if you take them as patrons; and to God is the journey's end, the return, and He will requite you. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
The Prohibition of Supporting the Disbelievers
Allah prohibited His believing servants from becoming supporters of the disbelievers, or to take them as comrades with whom they develop friendships, rather than the believers. Allah warned against such behavior when He said
<And whoever does that, will never be helped by Allah in any way> meaning, whoever commits this act that Allah has prohibited, then Allah will discard him. Similarly, Allah said
<O you who believe! Take not My enemies and your enemies as friends, showing affection towards them>, until
<And whosoever of you does that, then indeed he has gone astray from the straight path.> [60:1]. Allah said
<O you who believe! Take not for friends disbelievers instead of believers. Do you wish to offer Allah a manifest proof against yourselves> [4:144], and
<O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as friends, they are but friends of each other. And whoever befriends them, then surely, he is one of them.> [5:51].
Allah said, after mentioning the fact that the faithful believers gave their support to the faithful believers among the Muhajirin, Ansar and Bedouins
<And those who disbelieve are allies of one another, (and) if you do not behave the same, there will be Fitnah and oppression on the earth, and a great mischief and corruption.> [8:73].
Allah said next
(unless you indeed fear a danger from them) meaning, except those believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers. In this case, such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers OUTWARDLY, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' said, "We smile in the face of some people ALTHOUGH OUR HEARTS CURSE THEM.'' Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, "The TUQYAH is allowed until the Day of Resurrection... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; source; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Moreover, didnt Muhammad further say that war is deceit?
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle called: "War is deceit". (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 268)
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah:
The Prophet said, "War is deceit." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 269)
And didnt he further permit lying in other contexts as well (1, 2, 3)?
In light of the above, could this have been the actual reason why Muhammad told the Jews one thing and his followers something else? Did Muhammad feel that since he was in war with the Jews and feared that they would befuddle his community by pointing to all the places where the Quran contradicted their inspired Scriptures he therefore decided to play both sides of the fence, i.e. he warned the Muslims against fully believing the Jewish Torah whereas in the presence of the Jews he pretended that he completely trusted their Book in order to convert them to his faith?
Whatever option Zawadi decides to choose, this one point remains clear Zawadis articles and "rebuttals" only manage to strengthen our case against Muhammad and his religion. It is rather unfortunate that Zawadi doesnt see this for himself since if he did this would save him from exposing Muhammad and for embarrassing his fellow Muslims in the process.
A Counter Reply to Zawadis Responses
Zawadi, after citing the hadiths of al-Tabarani and al-Bayhaqi, anticipated some possible objections that a Christian may raise and decided to answer them in advance. He states:
So here we see that the Prophet peace be upon him is saying that the Israelites wrote their own book and started following it. Possible objections and responses to them are...
Objection: The Prophet was only referring to a certain group of the Israelites.
Response: The hadiths do not imply this, the Prophet peace be upon him made a general statement. If you want to limit the scope of the meaning of the statement then please provide objective evidence.
Here, Zawadi has placed himself in a precarious position which he will be incapable of escaping, provided he is to remain honest and consistent.
If Zawadi really believes what he writes at this point then he must accept the fact that the Quran falsely accuses all the Jews during Muhammads time of worshiping Ezra as Gods son and for further slandering them along with the Christians for taking their rabbis and monks as lords besides Allah:
And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One God. There is no God save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)! S. 9:30-31
Notice here that the Quran speaks of the Jews and Christians in general and doesnt qualify its statements by saying that only a certain group or party of them took Ezra, their rabbis and monks as divinities in place of Allah.
Zawadi must further believe that none of Muhammads pagan contemporaries worshiped Allah, the being which Muhammad worshiped, since the Quran speaks in general terms when mentioning their disbelief:
Say: 'O unbelievers, I serve not what you serve and you are not serving what I serve, nor am I serving what you have served, neither are you serving what I serve. To you your religion, and to me my religion!' S. 109:1-6 Arberry
As we all know, all of these assertions and accusations are just plain mistaken and historically incorrect. For more on these specific issues please consult the following:
Furthermore, even if Zawadis reports were speaking of all the Jews this still wouldnt imply the wholesale textual corruption and loss of the original Torah since the Christians were also copying and circulating the Hebrew Scriptures among their own respective communities. The most that Zawadis narrations would prove is that the Jews, not the Christians, were tampering with their sacred texts.
Moreover, this assumes that the narratives are even speaking of the Jews corrupting their religious texts, an assumption that we do not grant Zawadi. After all, a careful reading of the hadiths suggests that the Jews were condemned for inventing some other book, and then following it instead of the Torah, not that they had corrupted the inspired text of Gods Law. What this means is that his quotes are only accusing the generality of the Jews for abandoning the Torah through their embracing uninspired traditions which had been codified within books such as the Talmud and which had the approval and following of the consensus of the Jewish people during this time.
This leads us to our final point. Since Zawadi asks for objective evidence to support the position that Muhammad only had a certain group of Jews in mind, here it is taken from his own Muslim scripture:
Those unto whom We have given the Scripture, who read it with the right reading, those believe in it. And whoso disbelieveth in it, those are they who are the losers. Q. 2:121 Pickthall
Notice how certain exegetes explained this specific text:
Allah then mentioned the believers from among the people of the Book: Abdullah Ibn Salam and his companions, Bahirah the Monk and the Negus and his followers, saying: (Those unto whom We have given the Scripture) given knowledge of the Scripture, i.e. the Torah, (who read it with the right reading) describe it AS IT IS AND DO NOT ALTER IT: expositing what is lawful and unlawful, its commands and prohibitions to whomever asks them, and they further act according to what is clear and unambiguous and believe in that which is ambiguous therein, (those believe in it) in Muhammad and the Quran. (And who disbelieveth in it) in Muhammad and the Quran, (those are they who are losers) who are duped in that they loose both this world and the world to come. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn Abbâs; source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)
(121) Wahidi relates on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, "This verse was sent down concerning the people of the ship who came [to Medina] with Ja'far ibn Abi Talib from Abyssinia. They were forty men, thirty-two from Abyssinia and eight of the monks of Syria. The monk Bahirah was said to be among them." In another tradition related on the authority of al-Dahhak, we are told, "The verse was sent down concerning those among the Jews who accepted faith [such as 'Abdallah ibn Sallam and others]." Still another tradition related on the authority of Qatadah and 'Ikrimah states, "It was sent down concerning the Companions of Muhammad" (Wahidi, p. 37; see also Ibn Kathir, I, pp. 286-287; Qurtubi, II, p. 95; Tabarsi, I, p. 448; and Shawkani, I, pp. 135-136)
Zamakhshari interprets the verse as follows: "'They to whom we have given the scriptures' are the faithful among the people of the Book who recite the scriptures IN THEIR TRUE RECITATION, neither altering nor changing what they contain of the description of the Apostle of God. Those who have faith in their scriptures are contrasted with 'whosoever rejects faith in it [the scriptures],' that is, alterers. 'These shall be the losers' because they exchange guidance for error." (Zamakhshari, I, p. 308) (Mahmoud M. Ayoub, The Qur'an and its Interpreters [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany], Volume 1, pp. 149-150; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Hence, the Quran itself testifies that there were Jews and Christians who were reciting the Scriptures in their true, uncorrupt form.
Objection: The Prophet only said that the Jews wrote a book and followed it, he doesn't say that the Torah was corrupted.
Response: But what does the hadith imply? It implies that the Jews have stopped following the true revelation sent down to Moses and that is the Torah. Instead they followed their own books. Don't the Jews of today follow the Pentateuch? Wouldn't that therefore mean that according to the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him most of the Pentateuch is what was written from the Jews themselves?
The hadith which Zawadi cited implies that the Jews abandoned the Torah, not by corrupting its text, but by following uninspired traditions which they elevated to the level of Divine revelation but which in reality perverted the plain meaning of the inspired Scriptures. We will have more to say about this in the next response.
Objection: It is possible that Prophet Muhammad intended the term 'Torah' to mean Pentateuch and the book that the Jews wrote was the Talmud and it was possible that Prophet Muhammad intended to say that the Jews stopped following the Pentateuch and started following the Talmud only.
Response: That argument would be possible if it were true. The Jews refer to the Talmud in order to better understand the Pentateuch. They haven't abandoned their Pentateuch. They still follow it. If the Prophet said that the Jews wrote a book and followed it along with the Torah, then you might be able to possibly argue that it is referring to the Talmud and Pentateuch in this hadith. However, that is not the case.
First, note just how incoherent Zawadis statements are. If something is true then it no longer remains a mere possibility but an actuality!
Second, Zawadi obviously didnt pay careful attention to his own narrative. Here it is once again, this time with added emphasis:
The Bani Israel wrote a book, they followed IT AND left the Torah.(This hadith was reported in Tabarani's Al Mu'jam Al Awsat and was authenticated by Sheikh Nasr Al Deen Al Albani in his Silsila Al Ahaadeeth Al Saheeha, hadith no. 2832.)
Muhammad clearly differentiated between what the Jews wrote and the Torah which they abandoned. This supports the view that Muhammad had in mind their written traditions such as the Talmud which they elevated to the level of Scripture.
Third, Zawadi naively thinks that the only way the Jews could have abandoned the Torah is if they disbelieved in it completely and refused to follow it. He doesnt realize that their belief in the Talmud would have the same affect since this would essentially entail their abandoning the literal meaning and application of the Pentateuch.
The fact is that the oral law contradicts the written text of the Torah in many places and in various ways, just as the Lord Jesus told the Jews of his day who were upholding the traditions of the elders over against the plain meaning of Gods written Word:
"The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were unclean, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with "unclean" hands? He replied, Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. And he said to them: You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, "Honor your father and your mother," and, "Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death." But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: "Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban" (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." Mark 7:1-13
Christ even went so far as to accuse the unbelieving Jews of not believing in Moses writings, even though they had placed their entire hopes upon him and the Law which God gave through him:
"I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?" John 5:36-40, 45-47
Jesus was basically telling the Jews that their unbelief in him was evidence that they didnt believe in Moses writings despite thinking that they did.
In a similar manner, even though the Jews of Muhammads time thought they were following the written Torah the reality of the situation was that they had actually abandoned it by interpreting Gods inspired text in light of the uninspired teachings of the Talmud which perverted its plain meaning.
Interestingly, there is a report where Muhammad said something which basically confirms our position:
Narrated Ziyad ibn Labid
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) spoke of something and said: It will happen when knowledge will be no more. I said: Allah's Messenger, how will knowledge vanish despite the fact that we will be reciting the Qur'an and teaching its recitation to our children and our children will teach its recitation to their children up to the Day of Resurrection? Thereupon he said: Ziyad, may your mother weep over you. I was of the opinion that you were one of those who have greatest understanding of religion in Medina. Do these Jews and Christians not recite the Torah and the Bible but not act according to what is contained in them?
Transmitted by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi. (Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 105; taken from the ALIM CD-Rom Version)
Notice that Muhammad didnt deny that the Jews and Christians had the original revelations in their possession. He plainly admits that they were reciting the Torah and the Bible but that their problem was that they had basically abandoned their Scriptures by failing to act in accord with their teachings. This is precisely the problem that the orthodox Jews have, namely, they follow the traditions of the Talmud over against the sacred Scriptures even though claiming to be faithfully adhering to the written Torah.
How Zawadi Grossly Distorts and Misunderstands his sources
Zawadi quotes a specific Jewish writer to disprove the assertion that rabbinic Jews believe that the oral law codified in the Talmud is just as inspired and authoritative as the Hebrew Bible:
- Some try to argue back that the Jews only wrote their interpretations of the Torah such as the Talmud and then followed it. However, the Jews never claimed that the Talmud is scripture from God but is used to understand scripture. Rachmiel Frydland, a Talmudic scholar said...
We do not believe that the TALMUD is inspired by the RUACH HA KODESH (the Holy Spirit of God), or that it is the Word of God. The Talmud does not claim to be the Word of God, but rather an interpretation and an explanation of the Law of God, the TORAH.(Rachmiel Frydland, When Talmud is Right, Source)
You may be wondering who exactly is Rachmiel Frydland. Here is the answer from Zawadis own link:
RACHMIEL FRYDLAND - (1919-1985)
Rachmiel Frydland was raised in an orthodox Jewish home in a village in Poland. At age nine he began the study of the Talmud. Later he enrolled in a YESHIVAH. Puzzled by the identity of the Messiah in Daniel 9:24-26, HE ACCEPTED YESHUA AS MESSIAH. By God's grace he survived the great persecution of World War II, living on the edge of death under Nazi rule.
Mr. Frydland was truly a humble scholar-teacher who lived to proclaim the Messiahship of Yeshua in many countries and languages. He shared his knowledge of rabbinics and Yeshua in books, articles and messages, many which are available from MESSIANIC LITERATURE OUTREACH. (Source; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Frydland was a Jewish believer in Jesus that wrote an excellent defense of Jesus messiahship titled, What the Rabbis Know about the Messiah (*)
What Zawadi failed to see is that Frydland wasnt speaking on behalf of the orthodox, rabbinic Jews, but on behalf of Messianic Jews! Frydland was speaking as a Jewish follower of Jesus who rejects the authority and inspiration of the oral traditions codified in the Talmud. He wasnt claiming that his position is that of the rabbinic community who do in fact believe in the inspiration of the Talmud. Frydland was simply qualifying his use of the Talmud, that as a follower of Jesus he wasnt quoting this Jewish source because he believed it was inspired and authoritative but merely cited it to prove his case that Jesus is the Messiah from the very text which the rabbinic Jewish community upholds as revelation from God.
If Zawadi really wanted to know what orthodox, rabbinic Judaism thought of the Talmud, specifically of the oral law which is codified within it, he could have simply made a search on www.wikipedia.org seeing that he has used this resource in the past (1; 2):
According to classical Judaism and the tenets of Orthodox Judaism, Moses and the Jews at Mount Sinai received an Oral as well as a written Torah ("teaching") from God. The books of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) were relayed with an oral tradition passed on by the scholarly and other religious leaders of each generation, and according to classical Rabbinic interpretation, the teachings of the Oral Law are a guide to that interpretation of the Written Law which is considered the authoritative reading. Jewish law and tradition thus is not based on a strictly literal reading of the Tanakh, but on combined oral and written traditions. Further, the basis of halakha (Jewish law) includes the premise that the Written Law is inherently bound together with an Oral Law
Since the era in which the Oral Law was recorded, there have been dissenting views within Judaism regarding it. The general argument made in the Rabbinic Judaism is that Written Torah cannot be understood on its own terms without the Oral Torah; its laws cannot be followed without the interpretations based on the Oral Torah, and that Oral Torah is actually more integral than just interpretation of the written text (according to Rambam, the law was originally taught in the form of the Oral Torah, and the Written Torah served as notes which helped the generations of rabbis remember the Oral Torah, just as lecture notes can help a professor remember the lecture but by no means constitute the whole lecture). (Source; underline emphasis ours)
He could have even consulted the online Jewish Encyclopedia:
Term used to denote the laws and statutes which, in addition to the Pentateuch, God gave to Moses. According to the rabbinical interpretation of Ex. xxxiv. 27, the words indicate that besides the written lawGod gave orally to Moses other laws and maxims, as well as verbal explanations of the written law, enjoining him not to record these teachings, but to deliver them to the people by word of mouth (Gi?. 60b; Yer. Meg. iv. 74a; comp. also IV Ezra [II Esdras] xiv.). The expression "Torah shebe-'al peh" denotes, therefore, "the law indicated in the word ' 'al peh,'" and hence only the law which was given to Moses orally. But even disregarding that Talmudic interpretation, the expression is equivalent to the Torah, which was given orally (), not in writing. Compare (So?ah vii. 7), used of a recitation of the Biblical text by rote. In a wider sense, however, "Torah shebe-'al peh" includes all the interpretations and conclusions which the scribes deduced from the written Torah, as well as the regulations instituted by them (comp. Yoma 28a, b and Rashi ad loc.), and therefore comprises the entire traditional teaching contained in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the halakic midrashim, since these were taught only orally and were not committed to writing. In later haggadic statements, however, the complete body of rabbinical doctrine is said to have been revealed to Moses on Sinai; so that R. Joshua b. Levi declared (Yer. Peah ii. 17a) that all the rabbinical teachings, even those which the scholars found and promulgated later, were given to Moses on the mountain (comp. also Ber. 5a).It is a foundation of our faith to believe that God gave Moses an oral explanation of the Torah along with the written text. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Oral Law; source; underline emphasis ours)
And if he still wanted more information he could have done a search on www.aish.com and found the following article written by a rabbi:
This oral tradition is now essentially preserved in the Talmud and Midrashim.
We thus speak of two Torahs. There is the Written Torah (Torah SheBiKetav) and the Oral Torah (Torah SheB'Al Peh). Both are alluded to in God's statement to Moses, "Come up to Me to the mountain, and I will give you... the Torah and the commandments" (Exodus 24:12)
The Written Torah cannot be understood without the oral tradition. Hence, if anything, the Oral Torah is the more important of the two.
Since the Written Torah appears largely defective unless supplemented by the oral tradition, a denial of the Oral Torah necessarily leads to the denial of the divine origin of the written text as well
Since many non-Jews also accept the Bible as sacred, the Oral Torah is the main thing that distinguishes Judaism and makes it unique. The Oral Torah could therefore not be written until the non-Jews had adopted their own religion based on the Bible. God thus said, "If I would have written the majority of my Torah, [Israel] would be counted the same as strangers" (Hosea 8:12).
The Oral Torah is therefore the basis of God's covenant with Israel. It is even more dear to God than the Written Torah
The Oral Torah is the means through which we devote our lives to God and His teachings.
God revealed all the details of how the commandments should be observed while Moses was on Mount Sinai. God also revealed to Moses many interpretations and laws that would not be used until much later. These, however, were not taught to the people at large.
There is a tradition that God taught Moses the written Torah by day and the Oral Torah by night
Moses taught the Oral Torah to Aaron, his sons, and the Elders, in that order. It is thus written, "Moses called Aaron, his sons, and the Elders of Israel" (Leviticus 9:1). The laws were then taught to all the people and reviewed, until each person had gone over them four times.
Before his death, Moses again reviewed the Oral Torah and clarified any ambiguous points. It is thus written, "Moses took upon himself to expound this Torah" (Deut. 1:5)
The Oral Torah was handed down by word of mouth from Moses to Joshua, then to the Elders, the Prophets, and the Great Assembly. The Great Assembly was the Sanhedrin led by Ezra, at the beginning of the time of the Second Temple, which undertook to enact legislation that would make Judaism viable in the diaspora
In ancient times, the practice was for students first to memorize the basics of the Oral Torah, and then carefully to analyze their studies. During the period preceding Rabbi Yehudah, the memorized laws developed into the Mishnah, while the analysis developed into a second discipline known as the Gemara. After the Mishnah was compiled, these discussions continued, becoming very important in clarifying the Mishnah.
The Gemara developed orally for some 300 years following the redaction of the Mishnah. Finally, when it came into danger of being forgotten and lost, Rav Ashi (352-427 CE), together with his school in Babylonia undertook to collect all these discussions and set them in order. Rav Ashi spent most of his life on this project together with his colleague Ravina. After his death, his son, Mar bar Rav Ashi (Tavyomi) continued the work along with Meremar. The Babylonian Talmud (Talmud Bavli), as it is called, was published in the year 4265 (505 CE). (Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, The Oral Tradition; source; underline emphasis ours)
Thus, Zawadis misuse of Frydland is just another clear-cut example of Zawadi distorting (more like abusing) and grossly failing to understand his sources. Sadly, such sloppy research and scholarship happen to be typical and characteristic of the writings and "rebuttals" of both Zawadi and his fellow cohorts such as Jalal Abualrub.
Moreover, the foregoing citations provide strong corroboration that the book which the Quran is attacking in passages such as Q. 2:79, the book which Muhammad accused the Jews of trying to pass off as the Word of God, is not the Hebrew Bible as we know it today. Rather, the book that Muhammad condemned was literature such as the Talmud which the Jews believed and tried (and still try) to convince others to also believe came as a result of Divine revelation and as therefore having equal authority with Gods inspired written Word.
Lord Jesus willing, more responses to Zawadis article to follow shortly.
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