The Quran Confirms the Bible Has Never Been Corrupted [Part 2]

Sam Shamoun


This is the second part of the debate material.

5. Some Objections Considered

A.   It is asserted by Muslims that S. 5:48 teaches that the Holy Bible is corrupted:

"To you (Muhammad) We revealed the book in truth, attesting to (the truth of) that which IS between his (its) hands from the scripture (the Torah and Gospel), and guarding it (wa muhaiminan `alaihi)."

The assumption is that the word muhaimin means that the Quran affirms whatever remained intact and exposes what has been corrupted. This is simply erroneous since words can convey different meanings in different contexts. According to the Arabic Lexicon muhaimin comes from the root verb haymana, and is related to such words as yuhayminu and hayamanah. These terms can mean ‘to protect, to witness, to keep trust, to back up and to support’ as well as Ameen, control, watch, preserve. Hans Wehr's Arabic dictionary states that muhaimin means protector or watcher.

Here is an example of how the root form of the word is used. The following Arabic expression, ‘haymana al-rajul al-shay’, means that the man protected and guarded the thing. Again, the expression ‘haymana al-ta’ir ala firakhih means that the bird took its young ones under the protection of its wings. It is reported that ‘Umar told the people, "Inni da’in in fa hayminu" ("I am praying; support me by saying amen"). (The preceding was taken and adapted from Al-Maududi’s commentary on S. 5:48)

These expressions are attested by the following Muslim sources. Al-Khalil ibn Ahmed al-Farahidi says that, "It is common in Arabic to describe someone as muhaimin if he protects someone else or is his guardian."

Al-Mibrad states that, "Arabs describe the bird that stretches its wings to protect its young as being muhaimin over them." (The preceding two quotes adapted from this webpage: http://www.duas.org/od/chap8.htm.)

The Quran itself provides an example of muhaimin being used in a different context:

"HE is ALLAH and there is no god beside HIM, the Knower of the unseen and the seen. HE is the Gracious, the Merciful. HE is ALLAH and there is no god beside HIM, the Sovereign, the Holy One, the Source of peace, the Bestower of security, the Protector (al-Muhaimin), the Mighty, the Subduer, the Exalted. Holy is ALLAH, far above that which they associate with HIM." S. 59:22-23 Sher Ali

The following Muslim sites present a list of the ninety-nine names of Allah and translate Al-Muhaimin as:

8. Al-Muhaymin
The Guardian, THE PRESERVER (G.F. Haddad, Allah’s Names and Attributes: source; capital emphasis ours)

Another writer states:

Al-Mu'min: The Trustworthy

The Giver of Faith, to give security; He who makes mankind secure from His wronging them; He who makes His servants safe from His punishment (i.q. Muhaymin); Believer of His servants on the Day of Rising in the questioning, or He who will faithfully give His servants what He promised them; He who has declared in His word the truth of His unity.

Al-Mu'min is one of the Ninety-Nine Names.

"He is Allah. There is no god but Him. He is the King, the Most Pure, the Perfect Peace, the Trustworthy, the Safeguarder, the Almighty." (59:23)

Al-Muhaymin: The Safeguarder

The Safeguarder, the Witness, the one who watches over things HE PRESERVES and guards, Allah is Amin, worthy of trust; PRESERVER.

Al-Muhaymin is one of the Ninety-Nine Names.

"He is Allah. There is no god but Him. He is the King, the Most Pure, the Perfect Peace, the Trustworthy, the Safeguarder, the Almighty." (59:23)

(Aisha Bewley, The Divine Names: online source; capital emphasis ours)

Again:

Allah’s names include the Guardian of Faith (al-Mu’min), the Protector (al-Muhaymin). It is said that they have the same meaning. Muhaymin is said to mean the Trustworthy (Amin). It is the word used at the end of supplications, Amin, is one of the names of Allah and that it means Mu’min. Muhaymin also means the Witness and the Protector.

The Holy Prophet (Sallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam) is called Amin (Trustworthy) when Allah says: ‘Obeyed, then trusty’ (81:21).

The Holy Prophet (Sallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam) was called al-Amin, the Trustworthy. In his poem, al-‘Abbas called him the ‘protector’ when he said:

Then your protecting house contained loftiness
From Khindif under which there are mountains

(Source: http://www.netuse.co.uk/clients/salawaat/Asma.htm)

50. AL-MUHAIMIN - The Protector- Hashr v 23 (Source: http://muttaqun.com/99names.html)

8. al-Muhaymin the Guardian of Faith and Preserver of Safety. (Source: http://www.islamic.org.uk/cncptgod.html)

Al-Hassan al-Basri says that it means the Guardian who testifies to one's truth. Applied to the Almighty, it may carry one of two meanings: His testimony by word, hence His Testimony informing us about His messengers being truthful, and His empowering those messengers to produce miracles, thus testifying to their truthfulness.

M.A. Qazi writes:

al-Muhaimin ... "The Protector," one of the ninety-nine attributes of Allah (S.W.). (A Concise Dictionary of Islamic Terms [Kazi Publications, 1215 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL. 60657], p. 41)

T.P. Hughes notes:

AL-MUHAIMIN ... "The Protector." One of the ninety-nine names or attributes of God. It occurs in lix. 23, "He is ... the Protector." (Hughes, Dictionary of Islam Being A Cyclopaedia Of The Doctrines, Rites, Ceremonies, And Customs, Together With The Technical And Theological Terms, Of The Muhammadan Religion [Kazi Publications], p. 367)

Even Abdullah Yusuf Ali, who was by no means sympathetic to the Holy Scriptures, readily admitted that muhaimin does not imply corruption. In his footnote to S. 5:48, Ali wrote:

After the corruption of the older revelations, the Qur-an comes with a two-fold purpose: (1) to confirm the true and original Message, and (2) to guard it, or act as a check to its interpretation. The Arabic word Muhaimin is very comprehensive in meaning. IT MEANS ONE WHO SAFEGUARDS, WATCHES OVER, STANDS WITNESS, PRESERVES, AND UPHOLDS. The Qur-an SAFEGUARDS the "Book", for it has preserved within it the teachings of all the former Books. It watches over these Books in the sense that it will not let their true teachings to be lost. It upholds and supports these Books in the sense that it corroborates the Word of Allah which has remained intact in them. It stands a witness because it bears testimony to the Word of Allah contained in these Books and helps to sort it out from the interpretations and commentaries of the people which were mixed with it: what is confirmed by the Qur-an is the Word of Allah and what is against it is that of the people. (Ali, Quran, fn. 759; taken from the ALIM CD-ROM version)

Aside from Ali's erroneous exegesis of the text, his note demonstrates that there is nothing in the word muhaimin which leads one to conclude that the Holy Bible has been tampered with. In fact, the very definitions given by Ali (i.e., "safeguards, watches over, stands witness, preserves, and upholds") are all quite positive in nature and prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Quran confirms, upholds and testifies to the authority and integrity of the biblical text.

The broad range of meanings of the term demonstrates that one can’t just simply assume what the term means, but see how it is defined within the context. The immediate context (5:43-47) shows that the word can only mean that the Quran confirms and preserves the previous revelation. This understanding is reflected in the following translations and commentaries:

"And We have sent down to thee the Book with the truth, confirming the Book that was before it, and ASSURING IT." (The Koran Interpreted, A. J. Arberry [Touchstone Books, Simon & Schuster Inc., 1996], p. 135)

"And to you We have revealed the Book containing the truth, confirming the earlier revelations, AND PRESERVING THEM (FROM CHANGE AND CORRUPTION)." (Al-Quran - A Contemporary Translation by Ahmed Ali [Princeton University Press, New Jersey, fifth ed. 1994], p. 104)

We have revealed to thee the Book in truth verifying what was before it, AND PRESERVING IT; (The {meaning of the} Qur’an by E. H. Palmer; online source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/palm/005.htm)

We have sent you down the Book with the Truth, to confirm what was already there from the [previous] Book, AND TO SAFEGUARD IT. (Quran by T.B. Irving; online source)

Muslim commentator, al-Baidawi defines the term as:

"A keeper over the whole sacred books, such as shall preserve them from change, and witness to their truth and authority." (Abdiyah Akbar Abdul-Haqq, Sharing Your Faith With a Muslim [Bethany House Publishers, 6820 Auto Road Minneapolis MN, 55438 1980], p. 39 citing W. Muir, CORAN, p. 205)

Here is the actual quote from Muir:

The Corân, besides attesting the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, is here further declared to be itself their custodian or witness. "A custodian over it, that is, a keeper over the whole of the (sacred) books, such as shall preserve them from change, and witness to their truth and authority", ومهيمنا عليه ورقيباً على سائر الكتب يحفظه عن التغير ويشهد لها بالصحة والثبات Baidhâwi. (Sir William Muir, The Corân, p. 205)

Another commentator, Ahmad b. Mahmud al-Nasafi, concurs:

‘"[The phrase] ‘confirming the Book that was before it’ means that the Quran confirms what the Torah says and offers. ‘Assuring it’ means bearing witness to it. The Quran did not say, ‘Believe what I have believed and disbelieve what I have disbelieved and what I keep silent on, neither believe it nor disbelieve it,’ but it says, ‘who so judges not according to what Allah has sent down.’ Muhammad also said: ‘I am the first who fulfills Allah's command and his Book (i.e., The Torah and the Gospel)." (See al-Nasafi's commentary on Sura al-Maida 5:43-48).’ (The True Guidance [Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria 1994], pp. 96-97 citing Tafsir al-Nasafi vol. 1-4, Cairo, Egypt, 1961)

Amazingly, the following translation and commentary of the Quran agrees that the term refers to the Quran preserving and protecting the Holy Bible:

"To each of you (every people or community) Allah has given a law and a way and a pattern of life", before the revelation of the final law, the Quran, which CONFIRMS the earlier revelations and PRESERVES THEM FROM CHANGE AND CORRUPTION. The word "guardian" has been exclusively used for the Quran in connection with the other revealed books. Refer to the commentary of verse 44 of this surah. Therefore Islam is a universal religion. Please refer to the commentary of al Baqarah: 4, 136 and 285; al Nisa: 150. (The Pooya/M.A. Ali commentary on S. 5:48; online source: http://www.al-islam.org/quran/; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Despite admitting that the word muhaimin points to the Quran preserving the previous revelation, the authors still claim that the scriptures have been corrupted! Here are their comments on S. 5:42:

The original Tawrat contained guidance (huda) and light (nur) in order to dispel the darkness of ignorance, in accordance with which the Israelite prophets, who had submitted to Allah (aslamu), gave instructions to the Jews, as did the rabbis and priests WHO REMEMBERED THE TRUE WORDINGS OF THE ORIGINAL BOOK. This verse does not testify the integrity of the corrupted book the Jews now refer to as their revealed book, known as the Old Testament (refer to "The Tawrat" at the end of al-Ma-idah). The rabbis and priests were the witnesses of Allah's writ because they had MEMORISED AND KEPT SAFE (istahfizu- from hifz) THE TRUE TEXT OF THE ORIGINAL BOOK.

It should be noted that although the original Tawrat had been corrupted by the Jews but some important and basic essentials were kept safe in the memory of some of their honest scholars; whereas Allah Himself has taken the responsibility of keeping the Quran in original form without any additions or omissions (Hijr: 9). The declaration of the Holy Prophet (refer to hadith al thaqalayn on page 6) points to the divinely chosen custodians of the book of Allah. (Ibid., bold and capital emphasis ours)

Amazingly, even though the translators admit that the rabbis and priests memorized and kept the original revelation safe, and that the Quran preserves the previous revelation, they still have the audacity to claim that the previous scriptures have been altered. It seems that certain Muslims have already made up their mind that the Bible has been corrupted and no evidence to the contrary can convince them otherwise.

In spite of this, it should be clear to all that muhaimin simply means that the Quran preserves and affirms the Holy Bible.

B.   Muslims say that the following passage also proves Bible corruption:

"So woe to those who write the Book with their hands, and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may sell it for a little price. So woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for their earnings." S. 2:79

This seems to imply Biblical corruption until we look at its original context:

"Can you (O men of faith) still earnestly desire that they (the Jews) will believe in you? And verily a party (fariq) among them hear the Word of God, then they pervert it knowingly after they have understood it. And when they meet the believers they say, ‘We believe,’ but when they meet each other in private they say, ‘Why do you tell them what God has revealed to you (in the Torah), that they may engage you in argument about it before their God? What do you not understand?’ Do they not know that God knows what they conceal and what they make public? Among them are unlettered folk who know the Scripture not except from hearsay. THEY BUT GUESS." S. 2:75-78

Once the passage is read in its proper context, we discover that it is not speaking of Jews and Christians corrupting their Holy Book, but rather unlettered Jews who were ignorant of the content of the scriptures who falsified their own revelation for gain.

Some Muslims claim that S. 2:79 is referring to a different group from those mentioned in 2:78 since the group in 2:78 is said to be unlettered (ummiyuuna), implying that they couldn’t read or write. Based on this assertion it is then claimed that these unlettered folk wouldn’t be able to write anything with their hands, and hence cannot be the same folk mentioned in S. 2:79.

This interpretation is based on a gross misunderstanding of what the term unlettered actually means. A careful reading of the Quran shows that this term doesn’t necessarily refer to people who couldn’t read or write. Rather, it refers to people who were unfamiliar with the inspired Books of God. Note for instance the following passage:

He it is Who hath sent among the unlettered ones (ummiyyeena) a messenger of their own, to recite unto them His revelations and to make them grow, and to teach them the Scripture and wisdom, though heretofore they were indeed in error manifest, S. 62:2 Pickthall

Unlettered here cannot literally mean that Muhammad was sent to people who couldn’t read or write, since there were hundreds of Arabs who were reading and writing both before and during Muhammad’s time. In fact, Muslim traditions assert that Muhammad had Arab scribes who would write down the Quran for him.

The meaning of unlettered becomes clear from the following passages:

If they argue with you, then say, "I have simply submitted myself to GOD; I and those who follow me." You shall proclaim to those who received the scripture, as well as those who did not (ummiyyeena), "Would you submit?" If they submit, then they have been guided, but if they turn away, your sole mission is to deliver this message. GOD is Seer of all people. S. 3:20 Khalifa

And this is a Book which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that ye may receive mercy: Lest ye should say: "The Book was sent down to two Peoples before us, and for our part, we remained unacquainted with all that they learned by assiduous study:" Or lest ye should say: "If the Book had only been sent down to us, we should have followed its guidance better than they." Now then hath come unto you a clear (sign) from your Lord, - and a guide and a mercy: then who could do more wrong than one who rejecteth Allah's signs, and turneth away therefrom? In good time shall We requite those who turn away from Our signs, with a dreadful penalty, for their turning away. S. 6:155-157

Some assert that Muhammad was called unlettered in the sense that he didn’t know how to read or write. Cf. S. 7:157-158.

Again, the Quran explains in what sense Muhammad was unlettered:

And thou (O Muhammad) wast not a reader of any scripture before it, nor didst thou write it with thy right hand, for then might those have doubted, who follow falsehood. But it is clear revelations in the hearts of those who have been given knowledge, and none deny Our revelations save wrong-doers. S. 29:48-49 Pickthall

Muhammad is unlettered not in the sense that he couldn’t read or write, but that he hadn’t read or written down any revealed Scripture prior to his allegedly "receiving" the Quran. This is a view with which many Muslims wholeheartedly agree. (Cf. http://www.quran.org/ap28.htm, http://www.quran.org/gatut.html)

This is precisely what S. 2:78-79 is saying, namely that a group who were unlettered in the sense of not knowing the scriptures personally decided to concoct their own false revelation for gain.

Al-Tabari provides some support for this proposed interpretation by citing Ibn Abbas. Muslim turned atheist Ibn Warraq, while writing about the different definitions proposed by scholars regarding the meaning of ummiyyun, says:

"Bell thinks 'ummiyyun means belonging to the 'ummah or community, while Blachere translates it as ‘Gentiles,’ in the sense of ‘pagan.’ For the French scholar it is clear that the word 'ummi designates pagan Arabs, who, unlike the Jews and Christians, had not received any revelation and were thus living in ignorance of the divine law. Tabari does indeed quote some traditions that give this sense to the word ummi: according to Ibn 'Abbas, 'ummiyyun (refers to) some people who did not believe in a prophet sent by God, nor in a scripture revealed by God; and they wrote a scripture with their own hands. Then they said to the ignorant, common people: "This is from God."’ However, Tabari himself does not accept this interpretation, instead gives a totally unconvincing and improbable account of the derivation of the word: ‘I am of the opinion that an illiterate person is called ummi, relating him in his lack of ability to write to his mother (umm), because writing was something which men, and not women, did, so that a man who could not write and form letters was linked to his mother, and not to his father, in his ignorance of writing.’" (Warraq, "Introduction," What the Koran Really Says, Language, Text & Commentary [Prometheus Books, 2002; ISBN: 157392945X], p. 44; underline emphasis ours)

Others believe that unlettered actually refers to the Gentiles, i.e. that Muhammad was a Gentile prophet who was supposedly sent to the Gentile communities. (Cf. http://www.mostmerciful.com/ummi.htm)

In fact, Ibn Ishaq, in his biography on Muhammad, defined ummiyyun as Arab or Gentile converts to Judaism:

... God said: ‘Do they not know that God knows what they conceal and what they proclaim, and some of them are gentiles who do not know the book but merely recite passages (310). They only think they know,’ i.e. they don't know the book and they do not know what it is in it, yet they oppose thy prophethood on mere opinion. (Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume, p. 252)

Guillaume has a note in which he says:

I This word is generally translated ‘illiterate’. In Sura 7.157 and 158 Muhammad calls himself 'the gentile prophet'; but practically all Arab writers claim that he meant that he could not read or write (see, e.g., Pickthall's translation). Geiger, op. cit. 26 f., was, I think, the first to point out the only possible derivation of the word, and he has been followed by every subsequent European Arabist. But this passage brings to light the fact that he was preceded by these early traditionists who identified the ummiyyun as Arab proselytes who did not themselves know the scriptures. (Ibid.)

Furthermore, even if it were speaking of Bible corruption, this still wouldn’t prove the Muslim claim. The text says that only a party of them wrote false revelation and sold it for gain. The Quran says that there were others who would not allow the revelation to be tampered with for the sake of monetary profit:

"And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in God, and that which has been revealed to you, in that which has been revealed to them, bowing in humility to God. They will not sell the signs of God for miserable gain. For them is a reward with their Lord, and God is swift in account." S. 3:199

C.   It is claimed that the Quran never mentions the Bible. This is blatantly false since the Quran refers to the Book of the Jews and Christians:

"It is not for a man to whom is given the Book and wisdom and prophecy that he should then say to people, ‘Be worshipers of me in place of God.’ But rather, ‘Be true teachers, since you TEACH the Book and you STUDY it earnestly.’" S. 3:79

The Book that both the Jews and Christians were reading during Muhammad’s time was the Holy Bible containing the Old and New Testaments. Even though the unbelieving Jews obviously didn’t accept the New Testament, the Quran could still say that they were reading the same book as the Christians.

In fact, Kitab is the Arabic equivalent of the term Bible, as even these Muslims realized:

Those to whom We have given the Book (BIBLE) ... S. 2:146 Muhammad Sarwar (http://al-shia.org/html/eng/books/quran/quran-and-hadith/2.htm)

He has sent the Book (Quran) to you (Muhammad) in all Truth. It confirms the original BIBLE. He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. S. 3:3 Sarwar (http://al-shia.org/html/eng/books/quran/quran-and-hadith/3.htm)

A group among the People of the Book when reading THE BIBLE, deliberately mispronounce words in order to change their meaning, try to show that what they have read is from the true BIBLE. In fact, what they have read is not from the true BIBLE. They say, "What we read is from God." In reality, it is not from God. They knowingly ascribe false statements to God. S. 3:78 Sarwar

Believers, have faith in God and His Messenger, the Book which is revealed to him, and THE BIBLE which has been revealed before. Whoever refuses to believe in God, His angels, Books, Messengers and the Day of Judgment, has gone far away from the right path. S. 4:136 Sarwar (http://al-shia.org/html/eng/books/quran/quran-and-hadith/4.htm)

... who have no relation with you and who distort certain words of THE BIBLE ... S. 5:41 Sarwar (http://al-shia.org/html/eng/books/quran/quran-and-hadith/5.htm)

We have revealed the Book to you (Muhammad) in all Truth. It confirms THE (original) BIBLE and has the authority to preserve or abrogate what THE BIBLE contains ... S. 5:48 Sarwar

... Those to whom We have given THE BIBLE know that the Quran has been revealed to you from your Lord in all Truth ... S. 6:114 Sarwar (http://al-shia.org/html/eng/books/quran/quran-and-hadith/6.htm)

... This confirms the existing Book (THE BIBLE) and explains itself ... S. 10:37 Sarwar (http://al-shia.org/html/eng/books/quran/quran-and-hadith/10.htm)

... so that they will not be like the followers of THE BIBLE who lived before them ... S. 57:16 Sarwar (http://al-shia.org/html/eng/books/quran/quran-and-hadith/57.htm)

... so that the followers of THE BIBLE will know that they can receive no reward from God ... S. 57:29 Sarwar

And, behold, there are indeed some among them who distort THE BIBLE with their tongues, so as to make you think that [what they say] is from THE BIBLE, the while it is not from THE BIBLE… S. 3:78 (Asad, The Message of the Qur'an [Dar Al-Andaulus, Gibraltar, rpt. 1994], p. 157)

O followers OF THE BIBLE! ... O followers OF THE BIBLE! ... S. 5:15,19 (Asad, p. 144)

... And so We have cast enmity and hatred among the followers OF THE BIBLE ... If the followers OF THE BIBLE would but attain to [true] faith and God-consciousness, we should indeed efface their [previous] bad deeds, and indeed bring them into gardens of bliss; S. 5:64-65 (Asad, p. 157)

Say: "O followers OF THE BIBLE! You have no valid ground for your beliefs unless you [truly] observe the Torah and the Gospel, and all that has been bestowed on you by your Sustainer!" S. 5:68 (Asad, p. 158)

Asad also translated Kitab as Old Testament!:

THE FOLLOWERS of THE OLD TESTAMENT demand of thee [O Prophet] that thou cause a revelation to be sent down to from heaven ... S. 4:153 (Asad, p. 133)

The late Muslim translator, T.B. Irving, did likewise:

We had Jesus, the son of Mary, follow in their footsteps in order to confirm what had come before him from the Torah and We gave him the Gospel which contains guidance and Light, to confirm what he already had in the Old Testament (al-Taurat), and as guidance and a lesson for those who do their duty. S. 5:46 T.B. Irving

God has bought up their persons and their property from believers, so they may have the Garden [instead). They fight for God's sake; they kill and are killed as a rightful promise from Him [to be found] in the Old Testament (al-Taurat), the Gospel and the Quran. Who is more Trustworthy with His word than God? ... S. 9:111 Irving

So Jesus the son of Mary said: "Children of Israel, I am God's messenger to you, confirming whatever came before me in the Testament (al-Taurat) and announcing a messenger coming after me whose name will be Ahmad." Yet when he brought them explanations, they said: "This is sheer magic!" S. 61:6 Irving

Those who are laden with the Old Testament (al-Taurat), yet do not carry it out may be compared to a donkey who is carrying scriptures. S. 62:5 Irving (Source)

And these next quotes are taken from the Koran Translation by Muhamed Ahmed and his daughter Samira which can be found here.

And He teaches/instructs him the Book, and the wisdom and the Torah and the Bible/Holy book descended on Jesus. S. 3:48

He descended on you the Book with the truth, confirming what (is) between His hands, and He descended the Torah and the New Testament/Bible. S. 3:3

You the Book's people, why (do) you argue/quarrel in Abraham, when the Torah and the New Testament/Bible were not descended except from after him, so do you not reason/understand? S. 3:65

And how (do) they ask you to judge/rule, and at them (is) the Torah/Old Testament, in it (is) God's judgment/rule, then they turn away from that, and those are not with the believing. That We descended the Torah/Old Testament, in it (is) guidance and light, the prophets those who submitted/surrendered , judge/rule with it, to those who guided/Jews, and the knowledgeable Lord worshippers, and the religious scholar with what they memorized/safe kept (learned) from God's Book and they were not on it witnessing/present; so do not fear the people and fear Me, and do not buy/volunteer with My signs/verses a small price, and who does not judge/rule with what God descended, so those, they are the disbelievers. S. 5:43-45

And We sent after (following) on their tracks with Jesus, Mary's son confirming what (is) between his hands from the Torah/Old Testament, and We gave him the New Testament/Bible in it (is) guidance and light, and confirming what (is) between his hands from the Torah/Old Testament, and a guidance and a sermon/advice/warning to the fearing and obeying. And the New Testament/Bible's people should judge/rule with what God descended in it, and who does not judge/rule with what God descended, so those, they are the debauchers. And We descended to you the Book with the truth, confirming to what (is) between his hands from The Book, and guarding/protecting on it, so judge/rule between them with what God descended and do not follow their self attractions for desires about what came to you from the truth... S. 5:46- 48

And if that they took care of the Torah/Old Testament, and the Bible/New Testament and what was descended to them from their Lord, they would have eaten from above them and from below their feet... S. 5:66

Say: "You the Book's people, you are not on a thing, until you keep up the Torah/Old Testament and the Bible/New Testament, and what was descended from your Lord." ... S. 5:68

That God bought from the believers their selves and their properties/wealths, with that from them (is) the Paradise, they fight/kill in God's sake, so they fight/kill and they be fought/killed, a promise truthfully in the Torah/Old Testament, and the Bible/ New Testament, and the Koran, and who (is) more fulfilling/completing with his promise/pledge than God? ... S. 9:111 (Source)

... and their example in the Bible/New Testament, as/like a plant/crop, it brought out/emerged its sprout/shoot, so it surrounded and strengthened it, so it hardened/thickened, so it straightened/leveled on its stem, it pleases/marvels the sowers/seeders/planters to anger/enrage with it the disbelievers, ... S. 48:29 (Source)

Hence, the foregoing shows that even Muslims realized that the Quran could only be talking about the Holy Bible, both Old and New Testaments respectively, when it refers to the Book or Books that were in the hands of the Jews and Christians.

D.   Another common objection is that the Quran doesn’t confirm the Old Testament as it exists, but only confirms the Torah or Law given to Moses. The amazing thing about all this is that the Quran never says that the Torah was given to Moses, this information comes from the Islamic traditions! Other Muslims admit that the term Torah doesn’t refer to the revelation given to Moses alone, but also includes all the revealed books. Ibn Kathir, in his commentary on a hadith, writes:

"... Al-Bukhari recorded it from 'Abdullah bin 'Amr. It was also recorded by Al-Bukhari [up to the word] forgoes. And he mentioned the narration of 'Abdullah bin 'Amr then he said: ‘It was COMMON in the speech of our Salaf that they describe the Books of the People of the Two Scriptures AS THE TAWRAH, as some Hadiths concur. Allah knows best.’" (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 4, p. 179; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The late Rashad Khalifa wrote regarding S. 5:44 in his translation of the Quran:

*5:44 The Torah is a collection OF ALL THE SCRIPTURES revealed through all the prophets of Israel prior to Jesus Christ, i.e., TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT. Nowhere in the Quran do we find that the Torah was given to Moses. (Source: http://www.quran.org/sura5.htm)

E.   It is also asserted that the Quran never confirms the four Gospels of the New Testament, but only the Gospel given to Jesus. Again, this is an erroneous claim since the Quran mentions the Gospel that was available during the time of Muhammad. That Gospel was none other than the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We even quoted Ibn Ishaq who claimed that the Apostle John wrote down the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Quran goes so far as to allude to a parable found only in Mark and calls it the Gospel:

"Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude in the Taurat; and their similitude IN THE GOSPEL IS: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. Allah has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward." S. 48:29

The Quran here calls Mark 4:27-28 the Gospel! The late A. Yusuf Ali notes:

The similitude in the Gospel is about how the good seed is sown and grown gradually, even beyond the expectation of the sower: "the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how; for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the earth"; MARK, iv 27-28 ... (Ali, The Holy Qur'an - Meaning and Translation, p. 1400, n. 4917; bold and capital emphasis mine)

The late S. Abul A’la Maududi concurs with Ali:

This parable is found in a sermon of the Prophet Jesus that has been reported in the New Testament, thus:

"And he said, So is the kingdom of God as if a man should east [sic] seed into the ground: And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come [author- This is taken from Mark 4:26-29]. And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it [author- this comes from Mark 4:30-32]."

The last portion of this sermon is also found in Matthew, 13:31-32. (Meaning of the Qur’an, Volume V, english rendering by A.A. Kamal, M.A. [Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Limited, 13-E, Shahalam Market, Lahore-8 Pakistan], p. 67, fn. 56; underlined emphasis ours)

Interestingly, the following English translations of the Quran and Sahih Al-Bukhari implicitly concur that the singular word Gospel (Injil) does refer to either the Gospels or the entire New Testament:

The followers of the Gospels (the New Testament) must judge according to what God has revealed in it. Those who do not judge by the laws of God are evil doers. S. 5:47 Sarwar (http://al-shia.org/html/eng/books/quran/quran-and-hadith/5.htm)

Narrated 'Aisha:
... Waraqa was the son of her paternal uncle, i.e., her father's brother, who during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the Arabic writing and used to write of the GOSPELS in Arabic as much as Allah wished him to write ... (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 87, Number 111)

And:

Narrated 'Aisha:
The Prophet returned to Khadija while his heart was beating rapidly. She took him to Waraqa bin Naufal who was a Christian convert and used to read the GOSPELS in Arabic ... (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 605)

In light of this, it becomes quite apparent that the Muslim claims regarding the Quran using Gospel, singular, rules out the four Gospels from consideration has no substance behind it.

Perhaps the reason why the Quran refers to the Gospel, as opposed to the Gospels, may be due to early Christian influence. Early on in Church history, Christians began speaking of the four Gospels as the Gospel. The late NT scholar F. F. Bruce explains:

"At a very early date it appears that the four Gospels were united in one collection. They must have been brought together very soon after the writing of the Gospel according to John. This fourfold collection was known originally as ‘The Gospel’ singular, not ‘The Gospels’ in the plural; there was only one Gospel, narrated in four records, distinguished as ‘according to Matthew’, ‘according to Mark’, and so on. About A.D. 115 Ignatius, bishop, of Antioch, refers to ‘The Gospel’ as an authoritative writing, and as he knew more than one of the four ‘Gospels’ it may well be that by ‘The Gospel’ sans phrase he means the fourfold collection which went by that name." (Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? [Intervarsity Press; Downers Grove Il., rpt. 1992], p. 23; bold emphasis ours)

Second century Apologist Ireneaus wrote:

We have learned from none others the plan of salvation, than from those through whom THE GOSPEL has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed ‘perfect knowledge,’ as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually POSSESS THE GOSPEL OF GOD. Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book THE GOSPEL preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. ANF, Vol. 1, Against Heresies 3.1.1. (David T. King and William Webster, Holy Scriptures, The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, Volume III, The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura [Christian Resources - 1505 NW 4th Avenue - BattleGround, WA 98604], p. 17; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Such, then, are the first principles of the Gospel; that there is one God, the Maker of this universe; He who was also announced by the prophets, and who by Moses set forth the dispensation of the law, - [principles] which proclaim the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and ignore any other God or Father except Him. So firm is the ground upon which THESE GOSPELS rest, THAT THE VERY HERETICS THEMSELVES BEAR WITNESS TO THEM, and, STARTING FROM THESE [DOCUMENTS], each one of them endeavors to establish his own peculiar doctrine. For the Ebionites, who use Matthew's Gospel only, are confuted out of this very same, making false suppositions with regard to the Lord. But Marcion, mutilating that according to Luke, is proved to be a blasphemer of the only existing God, from those [passages] which he still retains. Those, again, who separate Jesus from Christ, alleging that Christ remained impassible, but that it was Jesus who suffered, preferring the Gospel of Mark, if they read it with a love of truth, may have their errors rectified. Those, moreover, who follow Valentinus, making copious use of that according to John, to illustrate their conjunctions, shall be proved to be totally in error by means of this very Gospel, as I have shown in the first book. Since, then, OUR OPPONENTS DO BEAR TESTIMONY TO US, and make use OF THESE [DOCUMENTS], our proof derived from them IS FIRM AND TRUE. ANF, Vol. 1, Against Heresies 3.11.7. (Ibid., pp. 21-22; bold and capital emphasis ours)

It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principle winds, while the Church is scattered throughout all the world, and the ‘pillar and ground’ of the Church is THE GOSPEL, and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh. From which fact, it is evident that the Word, the Artificer of all, He that sitteth upon the cherubim, and contains all things, He who was manifested to men, has given us THE GOSPEL under four aspects, but bound together by ONE SPIRIT. ANF, Vol. 1, Against Heresies 3.11.8. (Ibid., p. 22; bold and capital emphasis ours)

These next citations are taken and adapted from the web site: http://isaalmasih.net/bible-isa/tawrat-zabur-injil4.html

Note the following statement from the apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas:

"And when he chose his apostles, which were afterwards to publish HIS GOSPEL, he took men who had been very great sinners; that thereby he might plainly shew, That he came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (The Lost Books of the Bible, p. 149)

Church Father Chrysostom wrote in the fourth century:

"We assert, therefore, that, although a thousand Gospels were written, if the contents of all were the same, they would still be one, and their unity no wise infringed by the number of writers. -- Whence it is clear that the four Gospels ARE ONE GOSPEL; for, as the four say the same thing, its oneness is preserved by the harmony of the contents, and not impaired by the difference of persons." (Philip Schaff, A Select Library of Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: First Series, volume 8, p. 7)

The Apostolic Constitutions, being a late 4th or early 5th century document, makes several references to the Gospel:

"Let him [a bishop] be patient and gentle in his admonitions, well instructed himself, meditating in and diligently studying the Lord's books, and reading them frequently, that so he may be able carefully to interpret the Scriptures, expounding THE GOSPEL in correspondence with the prophets and with the law; and let the expositions from the law and the prophets correspond to THE GOSPEL" ... and let [the repentant] depart after the reading of "the law, and the prophets, AND THE GOSPEL, that by such departure they may be made better in their course of life ..."

"Let us walk after the law, and the prophets by the Gospel." (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, volume 7, pp. 397, 414, 461)

F.   This next tradition is often used by Muslims to show that Ibn Abbas believed the Bible was corrupted:

Narrated Ubaidullah: "Ibn 'Abbas said, 'Why do you ask the people of the scripture about anything while your Book (Quran) which has been revealed to Allah's Apostle is newer and the latest? You read it pure, undistorted and unchanged, and Allah has told you that the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians) changed their scripture and distorted it, and wrote the scripture with their own hands and said, 'It is from Allah,' to sell it for a little gain. Does not the knowledge which has come to you prevent you from asking them about anything? No, by Allah, we have never seen any man from them asking you regarding what has been revealed to you!' (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Holding Fast to the Qur'an and Sunnah, Volume 9, Book 92, Number 461)"

Two comments. First, even if this is what Ibn Abbas meant this would only posit a contradiction within the hadith. We had earlier quoted from Al-Bukhari who said that Ibn Abbas believed that no one could tamper with any of the books of Allah. Second, even this hadith falls short of proving bible corruption. Let us repeat the relevant portion:

"... You read it pure, undistorted and unchanged, and Allah has told you that the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians) changed their scripture and distorted it, and wrote the scripture with their own hands and said, ‘It is from Allah,’ to sell it for a little gain ..."

The above citation seems to refer to the following Quranic passages:

"So woe to those who write the Book with their hands, and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may sell it for a little price. So woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for their earnings." S. 2:79

We have already shown that this passage, in it respective context is not speaking of Jews and Christians corrupting their Holy Book. It refers to a group, not all, of unlettered Jews who were ignorant of the content of the scriptures and falsified their own revelation for gain. Here is the other passage that Ibn Abbas may have been referring to:

"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,’ but it is not from Allah. It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it!" S. 3:78

Here, the changes and distortion refers to a misinterpretation of the text, i.e. "with their tongues". The people were evidently reciting or quoting certain things and passing it off as being part of the actual text. This view is in accord with Al-Bukhari's citation of Ibn Abbas, where the latter stated that the Jews changed and distorted the apparent meanings of the scriptures, yet the text remained unchanged.

In light of this, Ibn Abbas was not claiming that the text had been corrupted. Rather, Ibn Abbas is clearly referring to people changing the text BY THEIR TONGUES, i.e. through their misinterpretation.

G.   Here is another hadith used to show that the Holy Bible was corrupted:

Narrated Abu Huraira: "The people of the Book used to read the Torah IN HEBREW and then explain it IN ARABIC TO THE MUSLIMS. Allah's Apostle said (to the Muslims). 'Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, 'We believe in Allah and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.' (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Holding Fast to the Qur'an and Sunnah, Volume 9, Book 92, Number 460)"

It is surmised that Muhammad is commanding Muslims to neither reject nor accept the Holy Bible, presumably because it was corrupt.

On the contrary, a careful reading shows that Muhammad was not attacking the reliability of the Holy Bible. He was simply rejecting the Arabic explanation of the Hebrew Bible by the Jews. That Muhammad accepted the Bible is clear from what we quoted earlier and what is even stated within this particular hadith:

... Allah's Apostle said (to the Muslims). 'Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, 'We believe in Allah and whatever is revealed to us, AND WHATEVER IS REVEALED TO YOU ...'

And:

"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.’" (Guillaume, Life of Muhammad, p. 268; bold and capital emphasis ours)

These points clearly show that Muhammad was not claiming that the Bible of his day was unreliable.

To conclude, both the Quran and the early Muslim references confirm that the Holy Bible is the inspired and preserved Word of God.


6. Muslim Scholars on the Integrity of the Holy Bible

Not all Muslims believe that the Holy Bible has been tampered with. Many Muslim writers and scholars readily admit that the Holy Bible is the preserved word of God. The following are quotes from some of these Muslims. Egyptian scholar, Muhammad ‘Abduh, claims that the charge of corruption of the Biblical texts,

makes no sense at all. It would not have been possible for Jews and Christians everywhere to agree on changing the text. Even if those in Arabia had done it, the difference between their book and those of their brothers, let us say in Syria and Europe, would have been obvious. (Jacques Jomier, Jesus, The Life of the Messiah [C.L.S., Madras, 1974], p. 216)

‘Abduh says in regards to the four Gospels:

"We believe that these Gospel accounts are the true Gospel." (Ibid.)

Mawlawi Muhammad Sa'id, a former inspector of schools in Punjab, claimed:

... as God says in the beginning of the Qur'an:

And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter.

These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are the successful. 2:4,5

Some Muslims imagine that the Injil is corrupted. But as far as corruption is concerned, not even one among all the verses of the Qur'an mentions that the Injil or the Tawrat is corrupted. In the concerned passages it is written that the Jews - yes the Jews, not the Christians - alter the meaning of the passages from the Tawrat while they are explaining them. At least the Christians are completely exonerated from this charge. Hence the Injil is not corrupted and the Tawrat is not corrupted. For it does not necessarily follow that these Scriptures are corrupt because of the wrong opinion of some uninformed persons. (quoted in Yusaf Jalil, "The Authenticity of Scripture", in Al-Mushir, Vol. XVIII [The Christian Study Centre, Rawalpindi, 1976], p. 50; Urdu Section; bold emphasis ours)

Scholar Mahmoud M. Ayoub, while discussing various Muslim commentaries on the Quranic claim that Jews call Ezra "the son of God", adds his own conclusion about the subject of tahrif:

"Contrary to the general Islamic view, the Qur'an does not accuse Jews and Christians of altering the text of their scriptures, but rather of altering the truth which those scriptures contain. The people do this by concealing some of the sacred texts, by misapplying their precepts, or by ‘altering words from their right position’ (4:26; 5:13, 41; see also 2:75). However, this refers more to interpretation than to actual addition or deletion of words from the sacred books. The problem of alteration (tahrif) needs further study." (Ayoub, "‘Uzayr in the Qur'an and Muslim Tradition" in Studies in Islamic & Judaic Traditions, ed. W.M. Brenner and S.D.Ricks [The University of Denver, 1986], p. 5; bold emphasis ours)

One Muslim author, who himself denies the integrity and purity of the Bible, specifically the Gospels, admits:

A majority of the scholars of Islam have unwittingly become victim of excesses in determining the status of the Gospel. For some, its status is no more than a book of geneology and others have declared it a divine book free from all mistakes and shortcomings ... (http://www.renaissance.com.pk/janrefl2y3.html#21.)

The author lists some of the names of the scholars who held to the integrity of the Gospel:

21. Mahmud ‘Aqqad, ‘Abqariyatu’l-Masih

Another renowned Muslim scholar who lends implicit support that the previous revelation remained intact was al-Baidawi. Al-Baidawi indirectly attests to the preservation and availability of the Holy Bible during Muhammad's time. The late C.G. Pfander quoted Al-Baidawi regarding the abrogation of the previous Scriptures:

"... Again, in the book entitled عيرن اخبار آلرّضا, chapter 36, occurs the following passage: "Every prophet who was in the days of Moses and after him was upon the highroad of Moses and his religious law and obedient to his book, until the time of Jesus. And every prophet who was in the days of Jesus and after Him was upon the highroad of Jesus and His religious law, and obedient to His book, UNTIL THE TIME OF OUR PROPHET MUHAMMAD. And the religious law of Muhammad shall not be abrogated until the day of the Resurrection." (Pfander, The Mizanu'l Haqq - The Balance of Truth, p. 56; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Al-Baidawi's statement presumes that both the Torah given to Moses and the Gospel of the risen Lord Jesus remain in their pure, pristine form. Jesus confirmed the Torah of his day as God's word and the only Gospel which Christians have upheld as the revelation given by Christ through his Apostles is what we find in the NT scriptures. Since MSS of both the Old and New Testaments exist which predate both Jesus' (in the case of the OT, i.e. the Dead Sea Scrolls) and Muhammad's time, this means that we have in our possession the very revelation given to both Jesus and Moses for our examination.

This clearly demonstrates that there is nothing explicitly stated in the Quran which forces a Muslim to reject the preservation and authenticity of the Holy Bible. It is simply one’s own a priori assumptions that leads one to assume that the Quran teaches biblical corruption. In fact, the evidence actually proves the exact opposite, namely, that Muhammad and his first followers believed in the authenticity, purity and inspiration of the Holy Bible of their day; being identical to what we hold in our hands today.

Recommended Reading

http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Bible/index.html
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Osama/biblecorruption.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Meherally/bible.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Meherally/bible2.htm
http://answering-islam.org/Responses/Meherally/taurat.htm

We highly recommend the following book:

Steven Masood, The Bible and the Qur'an A Question of Integrity, Paternoster Publishing, ISBN 1-85078-369-1; http://www.itl.org.uk/book001.htm


Articles by Sam Shamoun
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