Addressing the Smokescreens of a Muslim Polemicist
It seems that Zawadi never learns and just doesnt know when to give up, no matter how many times he has been refuted. He is trying so hard to disprove the fact that his own religious scripture along with specific traditions attributed to Muhammad confirm the textual preservation and auuthority of the Holy Bible.
In a recent article (*) Zawadi tries to discredit the following narration attributed to Muhammad (*) which testifies to the availability of the original Torah during his time:
Sunan Abu Dawud
Book 38, Number 4434
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:
A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school.
They said: 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).
Here is how Zawadi tries to undermine the clear witness of this narrative to the preservation and accessibility of Gods uncorrupt Torah:
Is the narration authentic?
This report is considered weak because one of its reporters is Hisham ibn Sa'd whose narratives are disturbed and corrupted according to many hadith critics like Ibn Hanbal, Ibn Ma'een, Abu Hatem, al-Nisa'ee, Ibn Sa'd, Ibn 'Adii, al-Madini, al-Hakim, al-'Aqili, Ibn Habban and others.
This is the reason why Ibn Hazm notes:
As for the report in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) took the Torah and said: "I believe in thee", it is a fabricated false report that did not reach us with proper chain of transmission(Ibn Hazm, Al-Fisal fe al-Milal wa al-Ahwaa wa al-Nihal 1/237)
It is also noteworthy that this particular hadith has been reported through multiple chains of transmission; however, none has ever mentioned the incident of the Prophet (saws) praising the Torah except in the report of Hisham ibn Sa'd from Zaid ibn Aslam.
There are several major problems with Zawadis assertions. First, there is an obvious reason why other versions of this event conveniently omitted this particular section of Muhammad praising the Torah in his hands and it has nothing to do with this specific part being unreliable. It rather has to do with certain Muslims being troubled with their prophet embracing the Torah as the uncorrupt Word of God and as the standard to consult and judge by.
Second, just because the chain of narrators for a given narration is deemed weak this doesnt mean that its contents are false or unreliable especially when there are other reports to support it. More on this shortly.
Third, Zawadi himself admits that not every Muslim considered Hisham ibn Sa'd unreliable since one of his very own scholars whom he quotes quite extensively throughout his articles and "rebuttals" deemed him acceptable:
(depending on SOME scholars such as Sheikh Al Albani who credited Hisham bin Sa'd although I still believe that the majority of the hadith scholars have spoken against him and thus their case is stronger) (emphasis ours)
Now the reader may be wondering who exactly was sheikh al-Albani. Apart from being one of the authorities that Zawadi quotes ad nauseum ad infinitum al-Albani is considered by Salafi Muslims to be one of the greatest hadith scholars of all time (1, 2, 3). Hence, if Hisham was good enough for al-Albani then he should be good enough for Zawadi, irrespective of how many other Islamic authorities disagreed (which is nothing more than the fallacies of ad populum and of ad verecundiam).(1)
Furthermore, renowned Sunni exegete Ibn Kathir also quoted this particular narrative in his commentary:
Abu Dawud recorded that Ibn `Umar said, "Some Jews came to the Messenger of Allah and invited him to go to the Quff area. So he went to the house of Al-Midras and they said, `O Abu Al-Qasim! A man from us committed adultery with a woman, so decide on their matter. They arranged a pillow for the Messenger of Allah and he sat on it and said
<<Bring the Tawrah to me.>> He was brought the Tawrah and he removed the pillow from under him and placed the Tawrah on it, saying
<<I trust you and He Who revealed it to you.>> He then said
<<Bring me your most knowledgeable person.>> So he was brought a young man and then he mentioned the rest of the story that Malik narrated from Nafi` These Hadiths state that the Messenger of Allah issued a decision that conforms with the ruling in the Tawrah, not to honor the Jews in what they believe in, for the Jews were commanded to follow the Law of Muhammad only. Rather, the Prophet did this because Allah commanded him to do so. He asked them about the ruling of stoning in the Tawrah to make them admit to what the Tawrah contains and what they collaborated to hide, deny and exclude from implementing for all that time. They had to admit to what they did, although they did it while having knowledge of the correct ruling (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 5:41; source)
What makes this particular quotation interesting is that the translators of Tafsir Ibn Kathir deliberately omitted any narration or story which they felt wasnt sound or supported by the evidence:
Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim, which is famous by the title Tafsir Ibn Kathir, by Al-Hafiz. Abu Al-Fida' 'Imad Ad-Din Isma'il bin 'Umar bin Kathir Al-Qurashi Al-Busrawi (d. 774 H.), is the most popular interpretation of the Qur'an in the Arabic language, and the majority of the Muslims consider it to be the best source based on Qur'an and Sunnah. This Arabic work spans three thousand and two hundred pages in four volumes. To cover all of the references, Ibn Kathir has also collected some weak Ahadith and Israelitish stories. Some repetitions also occur in it, as and when the topics required these.
As Darussalam has made a policy to publish only such works which are based on Qur'an and authentic Ahadith we appointed a board of Islamic scholars to summarize Tafsir Ibn Kathir in the original Arabic language. Shaykh Abu Al-Ashbal Ahmad Shagif of Rabitah Al-'Alam Al-Islami, Makkah, and Shaykh Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, Head of the Research Committee of Darussalam worked with a team of other scholars for about two years on this project. We published this summarized version in the Arabic language titled as Al-Misbah Al-Murur fe Tahdhib Tafsir Ibn Kathir
To translate a book in another language is a task requiring great skill, and when it comes to the translation of Tafsir and Hadith, then it becomes a greater responsibility, requiring the skills of both languages and the knowledge of religion and religious terms. The help, advice, guidance and cooperation of many persons was sought for the various steps of the project. The translation was done by Mr. Jalal Abualrub (USA), Mr. Nasir Khitab, his wife Mrs. Huda Khitab (Canada), Mr. Aqeel Walker (USA), Dr. Muhammad Al-Jibali (USA) and Mr. Sami Ayoub (USA). The translation was edited by Mr. Abu Khaliyl (USA), Mr. Muhammad Farooq (Pakistan), Mr. Abdul Ahad (India) Mrs. Jalal Abualrub (USA), Mr. Abdul-Mun'im (Egypt), Mr. Sidheeque M.A. Veliankode (India). Qari Muhammad Iqbal (Pakistan), Mr. Shakil Ahmad As-Salafi (India) and Hafiz Abdul-Matin (Pakistan). Layout planning and computer programming in an advanced publishing software was voluntarily carried out by Mr. Muhammad Munawar (Pakistan)
We have tried our best NOT TO INCLUDE ANY WEAK HADITH IN THIS PRESENTATION. All the authentic sayings of the Prophet (S) have also been presented in the Arabic language along with diacritics
General Manager, Darussalam Publications
Riyadh, March 2000 (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Parts 1 and 2 (Surat Al-Fatihah to Verse 252 of Surat Al-Baqarah), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore, First Edition: January 2000], Volume 1, p. 6; source; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)
The foregoing shows that this particular narrative met the approval of the committee, that the scholars working on this abridged version deemed this hadith from Abu Dawud to be authentic or sound enough to include in their translation. This, therefore, provides further support for its authenticity.
Moreover, a reports reliability is strengthened when there is sound corroborating evidence verifying or supporting its contents. This is precisely what we find in the case of this narration, namely, there are specific Quranic verses and Islamic narrations which provide evidence establishing that this narrative from Abu Dawud accurately reflects Muhammads attitude towards the Torah which was in his possession at that time:
He has sent down upon you the Book with the truth, confirming what is BETWEEN ITS/HIS HANDS (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi), and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel before this, as guidance to the people, and He sent down the Salvation/Criterion (al-Furqan). As for those who disbelieve in God's signs, for them awaits a terrible chastisement; God is All-mighty, the Avenger. S. 3:3-4 our translation
And before this, was the Book of Moses as a guide and a mercy: And this Book CONFIRMS (IT) in the Arabic tongue; to admonish the unjust, and as Glad Tidings to those who do right. S. 46:12 Y. Ali
They said, "Our people, we have heard a Book that was sent down after Moses, confirming what is BETWEEN ITS HANDS (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi), guiding to the truth and to a straight path." S. 46:30 our translation
Let the reader pay careful attention to the fact that all of the foregoing references emphatically testify that the Quran is sent to confirm, in Arabic, the Gospel and Torah or the Book of Moses which were in Muhammads own hands. In light of this it shouldnt surprise us to discover the following report:
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. (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. 268; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Here was Muhammads chance to plainly tell the Jews that they had corrupted the Torah. Instead, Muhammad tells them quite clearly that he fully believed the Torah which they possessed.
Zawadi thinks he has a response to this specific narration from Ibn Ishaq:
This problem arises because Alfred Guillaume did not translate a very crucial word properly. Below is the Arabic text of the story and the proper translation
Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him and Rafi b. Haritha, and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila and they (the Jews) said to them: O Muhammad, do you not allege that you follow the way of Abraham and his religion, and believe in what we have from the Torah and testify that it is the truth from Allah? The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him replied: Yes, however you have innovated and broken the covenant contained therein and concealed what you were ordered to make clear to people, and I dissociate myself from your innovations. 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.'
If this story does anything now, it only serves as evidence that the Jews have corrupted their scriptures. Notice how the crucial words "innovated" and "innovations" were not translated proper by Alfred Guillaume. He simply translated the words as "sinned" and "sins".
The fact that the Prophet peace be upon him accused the Jews of innovating shows that the Prophet peace be upon him accused them of adding things to the religion that were not supposed to belong there.
Zawadi erroneously thinks that the words "innovated" and "innovation" imply that Muhammad believed that the Jews corrupted the text of the Torah. Talk about being desperate! In light of Muhammad informing the Jews that he did believe in their Torah these words can only mean that the Jews innovated new doctrines and/or interpretations that went against the plain meaning of the Torah thereby distorting it. Zawadi even admits that this is a possible meaning of the narrative since he then says:
Now the Christian might reply back and say that it is possible that Muhammad peace be upon him intended to mean that the Jews innovated by adding their false interpretations. With all honesty, I will admit that this is true. However, the Christian must also be honest and equally admit that it is possible that the Prophet peace be upon him intended to say that the Jews innovated by adding false verses into the text of the Torah. (Emphasis ours)
It is not only possible it is actually the only plausible meaning in light of the overall teachings of the Quran and the narratives attributed to Muhammad. Here are other citations from Ibn Ishaq which further corroborate this point:
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). (Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, p. 256; bold and 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)
Interestingly, the foregoing provides an explanation of what Muhammad meant when he said in the Quran that his scripture confirms the Books in the possession of the Jews and Christians. By confirmation he didnt intend to convey the notion that the Quran accepts only certain parts of the Judeo-Christian Books, contrary to the wishful thinking of Muslims like Zawadi, but that it testifies that these texts are completely reliable and fully authoritative. If Muhammad believed that the Jewish-Christian Scriptures were corrupted he could have stated it here by simply telling the Jews that he didnt fully believe that the Torah which they had was completely reliable. Instead of denouncing the textual purity of the Torah he confirms his belief in its authenticity and textual accuracy.
This is why Christians cannot admit that it is possible that what Muhammad meant in this specific report from Ibn Ishaq is that the Jews innovated by corrupting the text of the Torah.
After stating that it is possible that by innovations Muhammad was referring to the false interpretations of the Jews Zawadi tries to then go into damage control:
Just by examining this narration alone, we can't know what the Prophet's intention was. The story is ambiguous when examined alone. Since it is ambiguous Christians have no right to use this story as a proof that the Prophet peace be upon him affirmed the textual purity of the Torah since the story allows for the possibility that the Prophet intended to say that the Jews textually corrupted their scriptures.
So the possible interpretation of the story is that when the Jews asked the Prophet if he believed that what they have in the Torah is the truth from God he said yes because he believed that there was truth in it, however the Jews added their innovations to it.
As long as this interpretation is possible, Christians can't use this narration as evidence.
Contrary to Zawadis wishful thinking, the narrative is not ambiguous but rather clear in communicating the point that Muhammad did affirm his complete trust and faith in the Torah which the Jews were reading during his time. The problem is that Zawadi simply doesnt like what this report is saying since it proves that Muhammad believed in the textual veracity of the Holy Bible which therefore means that Jews and Christians can use their religious Scriptures to test and see whether he was a true prophet or not. This is precisely what Muhammad told the Jews to do according to Ibn Ishaq. Unfortunately for Zawadi, a careful examination of the life and teachings of Muhammad in light of Gods Word shows that he was actually a false prophet who deceived people into following a false message. Again, this is exactly what the Jews in Ibn Ishaqs reports claimed, that Muhammad couldnt be a prophet since he didnt bring a sign or a message which agreed with their Scriptures and the Torah made no mention of him. Zawadi himself clearly realizes this problem which explains why he is so desperately trying to convince people that his prophet did not confirm the textual reliability of the Holy Bible (but failing every time to accomplish his purpose).
In fact, various Sunni Muslim groups accuse each other of "bidah" (innovation) which refers to the interpretation of the Quran or hadith and certain ways of practicing the faith. They are not accusing others of corrupting the text of the Quran. That Zawadi now wants to apply this word as meaning "corrupting the text itself" seems to be itself an innovation.
Moreover, it is Zawadi who has no right to distort, even pervert, the plain meaning of these texts in order to force them to agree with his presuppositions. He has no business of twisting such narratives in order to use them to disprove that his false prophet Muhammad confirmed the Holy Bible.
Yet sadly, Zawadi has the consistent habit of not just perverting the texts of Gods true Word, the Holy Bible, he also has a problem of distorting what his own religious books say, as false as these scriptures may be to begin with. He will do just about anything to avoid admitting that he is wrong and ignorant about what both the Holy Bible and the Islamic source material teach about a given subject.
Zawadi is not alone since he is following in the footsteps of his own scholars who also had no hesitation to distort and pervert the sayings of their prophet in order to make them agree with their theological agendas. Here is a case in point:
If it is will it prove the argument of the missionaries?
Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani said.
And so, some used this hadith as an indication to show that the Torah that the Jews presented, at that time, to the prophet was all sound and correct and not being altered. However, this argument is far from correctness because even saying: ((I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.) cannot be used as this saying refers to the original Torah (which was revelaed to Moses)[ Fat-h Al-Bari Fi Sharh Saheeh Al-Bukhari: Section of rulings of Ahlu Al-thimma]
As a result, even if we assume the Hadith classification is authentic (depending on some scholars such as Sheikh Al Albani who credited Hisham bin Sa'd although I still believe that the majority of the hadith scholars have spoken against him and thus their case is stronger) the saying of believing in the Torah and who revealed it does not mean that the Prophet peace be upon him was referring to what the Jews presented at all. The Prophet peace be upon him was referring to the original book (Torah) itself. It does not follow that the whole of the text of the Bible is being endorsed. The Prophet peace be upon him specifically followed this particular ruling without generalization i.e., he did not intend to follow all the rulings of the Torah, but only the judgment on stoning in that particular incident when the Jews approached him requesting for a judgment to punish the adulterers. So, while this tradition leaves no doubt that the passage in the Torah that prescribes the stoning of adulterers is authentic, it cannot be used to prove the authenticity of other passages. The additional sentence would only refer to the origin and the core of the Torah, not its textual status, as Imam Ibn Hajar has noted.
Both al-Asqalani (who has long been deceased) and Zawadi have adapted the following position, "Dont confuse me with the facts, I have made up my mind already." It really doesnt matter what the Quran or hadith literature says regarding the authenticity of the Holy Bible, these gentlemen have already made up their minds that the Bible cannot be reliable and will force any verse or report to agree with their presuppositions.
Yet the reader should be able to spot the problems with the assertions of al-Asqalani and Zawadi. The report from Abu Dawud nowhere has Muhammad saying that he believed in the original Torah. Nor does the hadith quote Muhammad stating that he only believed in a specific portion of the Torah, that he embraced only the part which mentions the stoning of adulterers and adulteresses. There is no restriction mentioned in this report, in the other narrations, or in the Quranic verses. It never says "the original Torah" or "only this part of the Torah" or "certain parts of your scriptures only". No, the report unambiguously records Muhammad affirming his faith in the Torah which he was holding in his possession. As troubling as this is to Zawadi, this narrative clearly proves that Muhammad was convinced that the Torah that was extant during his time was the original revelation from God.
We will finish off our rebuttal by adapting and modifying Zawadis concluding remarks.
It seems that Bassam Zawadi has been getting most of his research for his articles and "rebuttals" from this Islamic forum
For instance, the arguments which he uses here are actually taken from the responses of the Muslims in this forum. What makes this rather amusing is that even though Zawadi admits that there are Muslims like al-Albani who classified Hisham ibn Sa'd as trustworthy or good he failed to list the names of the other scholars which were provided for him by these very same Muslim posters.
We have, therefore, decided to include their comments here so as to allow our readers to see the names of all the Muslims who deemed Hisham reliable:
09-03-2007, 08:39 AM
Ayman bin Khaled
He was accepted by:
a) Al-ei'jli: He is hasan in hadith
b) Abu Zar'a: he is an honest Sheikh
c) Abu Hatim: We write his Hadiths
d) Abu Dawud: accepted the hadiths he narrates from Zaid bin Aslam
e) Ali Bin Al-Mudaini: he is good but nit strong
f) Imam Bukhari: narrated from him in the Adab Mufrad, A Hadith in the Saheeh (Ta'leeqan)
g) Imam Muslim: narrated from him in the shawahid
h) Al-Saaji: He is honest (Did Prophet Muhammad Confirm the Old Testament?; source)
Note that the two most stringent hadith compilers, al-Bukhari and Muslim, narrated from Hisham! In light of just how meticulous these two hadith scholars were (at least this is what Sunni Muslims always tell us) this pretty much establishes that Hisham can be taken as a reliable transmitter of hadith, and therefore establishes the veracity of the report from Abu Dawud.
In the same discussion thread, another poster named Moumen wrote on 09-01-2007, 05:47 PM:
However, this report has been used by some scholars to prove that there were uncorrupted copies of the Torah in hands of Jews of Madinah together with other corrupted copies. Sheikh al-Islam Ibn Taimiyyah used it as a proof that the corruption in the Torah is not so grave and its main teachings are still intact and pristine.
I recall these views from very ancient readings, so forgive me if I'm mistaken. (Emphasis ours)
How interesting. Even the Salafis most celebrated scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah, used this narration to prove that the corruption of the Torah was so insignificant that it didnt call into question its essential textual purity!
It is little wonder that Zawadi failed to mention any of this since this bit of information soundly exposes and refutes his desperate crusade against the Quranic witness to the authority and preservation of Gods true Word, the Holy Bible.
(1) Not everyone thinks so highly of al-Albani. There are a great number of Muslim scholars who actually view him as an innovator and corruptor of the Islamic faith. To see why these scholars feel this way about him we recommend the following articles:
http://www.ummah.net/Al_adaab/albintro.html (this article can also be read here, and here)
Rebuttals to Answering-Christianity
What the Quran says about the Bible
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page