Where is the Blood?

An Examination of the Biblical and Islamic View of Blood Atonement

Sam Shamoun

The Quran says that one of its functions is to confirm and explain the former scriptures:

"It is He (God) who sent down to thee the Book in truth, attesting to (the truth of) what IS between its (his) hands, and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel before this as a guide to mankind." S. 3:3

This Qur'an is not such as can be produced by other than God; but it is a verification of that which IS between his (its) hands, and the explanation of the book, wherein there IS no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds. S. 10:37

... It (the Qur'an) is not a fabricated story, but a verification of that which IS between his (its) hands, a detailed explanation, a guide and a mercy to the people who believe. S. 12:111

That which we have revealed to you of the Book is the truth, attesting to (the truth of) that which IS between his (its) hands... S. 35:31

The expression, "which IS between his (its) hands," clearly refers to the scriptures which were in the possession of the Jews and Christians of Muhammad's time.

The Quran also exhorts believers to observe the previous scriptures:

And if they had observed the Torah and the Gospel and what has been now sent down to them from their Lord, they would, surely, have eaten of good things from above them and from under their feet. Among them are a people who are moderate; but many of them are such that evil is what they do. S. 5:66 Sher Ali

Say, `O People of the Book, you stand on nothing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has now been sent down to you from your Lord.' And surely what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will increase many of them in rebellion and disbelieve; so grieve not for the disbelieving people. S. 5:68 Sher Ali

Furthermore, the Quran says that the Lord Jesus came to confirm the authenticity and authority of the scriptures in the possession of the Jews of his day:

And I come fulfilling that which IS before me, namely the Torah; and to allow you some of that which was forbidden unto you, and I come to you with a Sign from your Lord; so fear ALLAH and obey me; S. 3:50 Sher Ali

And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear God. S. 5:46 Y. Ali

When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity; and how I taught thee the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and how thou didst shape of clay as it were the likeness of a bird by My permission, and didst blow upon it and it was a bird by My permission, and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead by My permission; and how I restrained the Children of Israel from (harming) thee when thou camest unto them with clear proofs, and those of them who disbelieved exclaimed: This is naught else than mere magic. S. 5:110 Pickthall

And when Isa son of Marium said: O children of Israel! surely I am the apostle of Allah to you, verifying that which IS before me of the Taurat and giving the good news of an Apostle who will come after me, his name being Ahmad, but when he came to them with clear arguments they said: This is clear magic. S. 61:6 Shakir

The NT concurs with the Quran regarding the Lord Jesus upholding the divine inspiration of the Hebrews Scriptures, confirming them as the very words of God which predicted his coming:

"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished." Matthew 5:17-18

"But Jesus answered them, 'You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.'" Matthew 22:29

"And he said to them, 'O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Luke 24:25-27

"Then he said to them, 'These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.' Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'" Luke 24:44-47

Due to the historical data available to us today, we know what the Old Testament looked like at the time of Jesus, and what the Bible (i.e. OT and NT) looked like at the time of Muhammad. There can be no doubt that, in light of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with all the extant MSS of both the Old and New Testaments, we definitely hold in our hands the very scriptures that were in use among the Jews and/or Christians at the times of Jesus and Muhammad.

Let us summarize the teaching of the Quran's view of the previous scriptures:

1. The Quran confirms the previous scriptures and is an explanation of them.

2. The Quran commands people to uphold the teachings of the Torah and the Gospel, along with its own teachings.

3. The Lord Jesus upheld the integrity and authenticity of the Hebrew Scriptures, a fact which the NT documents confirm.

4. The historical evidence (i.e. the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint, thousands of extant MSS of both the Old and New Testaments) shows beyond any reasonable doubt that the scriptures of today are virtually identical to what existed in the times of Jesus and Muhammad.

The foregoing leads one to expect that the Quran would naturally mention something about the Torah's insistence on salvation by atonement via the sacrificial system and the priesthood. Blood atonement through the animal sacrificial system lies at the very heart and essence of the Mosaic law, as any cursory reading of the Torah shows. In fact, once a year the Aaronic high priest was required to go before the Lord in the most holy place of the tabernacle/temple and provide an atoning sacrifice. If the sacrifice was pleasing to God and done in accordance with the precise specifications given to Moses, then the Lord would forgive all of the sins committed (whether intentional or unintentional) by the entire nation. Due to its extreme importance in understanding the means of salvation as delineated in the Mosaic system, we quote the entire sixteenth chapter of Leviticus:

The LORD spoke to Moses, after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD and died; and the LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at all times into the holy place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is upon the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat. But thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and shall have the linen breeches on his body, be girded with the linen girdle, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water, and then put them on.

And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering. "And Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. Then he shall take the two goats, and set them before the LORD at the door of the tent of meeting; and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for Aza'zel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the LORD, and offer it as a sin offering; but the goat on which the lot fell for Aza'zel shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Aza'zel. "Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house; he shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small; and he shall bring it within the veil and put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat which is upon the testimony, lest he die; and he shall take some of the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle the blood with his finger seven times.

"Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood within the veil, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat; thus he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel, and because of their transgressions, all their sins; and so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which abides with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. There shall be no man in the tent of meeting when he enters to make atonement in the holy place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar which is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar round about. And he shall sprinkle some of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and hallow it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel.

"And when he has made an end of atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat; and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land; and he shall let the goat go in the wilderness. "Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting, and shall put off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there; and he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place, and put on his garments, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people. And the fat of the sin offering he shall burn upon the altar. And he who lets the goat go to Aza'zel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be carried forth outside the camp; their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned with fire. And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.

"And it shall be a statute to you for ever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves, and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you; for on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute for ever. And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father's place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments; he shall make atonement for the sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. And this shall be an everlasting statute for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins." And Moses did as the LORD commanded him.

The following passage also highlights the centrality and necessity of blood for forgiveness and salvation:

"If any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers that sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood. Any man also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust. For the life of every creature is the blood of it; therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off." Leviticus 17:10-14

The New Testament is in perfect agreement:

"Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." Hebrews 9:22

The necessity of blood for atonement and the need of a priest to intercede wasn't something which God revealed for the first time during the Mosaic dispensation. The Holy Bible shows that the need for sacrifice and a priest to administer it was known from the very start of man's existence:

"When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make {one} wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?' He said, 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.' And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?' The man said, 'The woman WHOM YOU GAVE (to be} with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate'... The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." Genesis 3:6-12, 21 NASB

Note carefully that, in spite of the first couples' attempt of hiding their shame by sowing fig leaves, they were still ashamed to stand before God. Later in the text we read that it was God who had to cover over their nakedness and shame by clothing them with coats of skin. The preceding text establishes at least five points:

1. The first couples' reaction after sinning against God was to run away and hide from their Creator. Carefully notice that when God appeared to them in their moment of crisis, they didn't run to him, but away from him. This shows the negative effects sin has upon us, that sin causes us to run away from God and makes us shun him. This is also the reason why God came looking for the first couple, since he knew that sin would cause them to flee from his perfect and holy presence.

2. Man's response to God that the woman he had given him caused him to sin demonstrates another negative effect of sin. Instead of confessing and repenting of the sin he committed, man puts the blame indirectly on God for giving him the woman in the first place. In other words, sin affects man in such a way as to prevent man from confessing and turning away from his transgressions.

3. Man cannot hide or cover up his sin and shame by his own efforts, that is, by his own good works, since God still sees man's nakedness and shame.

4. God alone can satisfactorily cover up man's sin since he alone can provide the means of salvation. This points to the need of God's mercy and grace in dealing with sinners since he alone (if he so chooses) can provide an adequate covering for sins which satisfies him.

5. The making of garments of skin strongly implies that a sacrifice was made by which God provided the clothing required to hide man's shame and wickedness. According to Genesis 1:31 and 2:1-3, after seeing that everything he had made was very good, God then ceased from creating anything else. This seems to suggest that God didn't simply create garments of skin from nothing, but acquired them by means of what he had already created, much like God created man from matter which had already been formed. In light of the foregoing, we are safe in assuming that God sacrificed certain animals by which clothes were made to cover up the shame of the first couple.

Here are some additional passages showing that individuals living before Moses' time were aware of the need of atonement through sacrifice:

"In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell." Genesis 4:3-5

Abel and Cain both brought offerings to God, with God looking upon Abel's offerings with favor. According to the book of Hebrews, God regarded Abel's offering because it was offered in faith, whereas Cain's wasn't (cf. Heb. 11:4). We will have more to say about this significant point in our Appendix. Suffice it to say that, right from the start of creation, man already knew to present gifts and sacrifices to God.

"Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing odor, the LORD said in his heart, 'I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.'" Genesis 8:20-21

Yahweh makes a promise to never completely destroy all flesh again BECAUSE of Noah's burnt offerings which pleased him greatly.

"And Mel-chiz'edek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!' And Abram gave him a tenth of everything." Genesis 14:18-20

Melchizedek appears on the scene out of nowhere to bless Abram. Coming out of what later became known as Jerusalem, Melchizedek is already functioning as a priest of the Most High God, long before Moses sets up the Levitical priesthood!

"After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here am I.' He said, 'Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori'ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.' So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, 'Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.' And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, 'My father!' And he said, 'Here am I, my son.' He said, 'Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?' Abraham said, 'God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.' So they went both of them together... And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son." Genesis 22:1-8, 13

The preceding passage presupposes that Abraham and Isaac already knew what a burnt offering was and didn't therefore need God to explain to them the precise details.

"Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Mid'ian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God." Exodus 3:1

"Jethro, the priest of Mid'ian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt... Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare, and went into the tent. Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the hardship that had come upon them in the way, and how the LORD had delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the LORD had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, 'Blessed be the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods, because he delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians, when they dealt arrogantly with them.' And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, offered a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God." Exodus 18:1, 7-12

Again, even before Moses received divine instructions on sacrifices, his father-in-law Jethro, who was also a descendant of Abraham through Midian (whom Keturah bore for Abraham), already knew how to present burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Job is another example of a person who functioned as a priest, and who offered sacrifices for atonement before the giving of the Mosaic Law:

"His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each on his day; and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, 'It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.' Thus Job did continually." Job 1:4-5

"After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eli'phaz the Te'manite: 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.' So Eli'phaz the Te'manite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Na'amathite went and did what the LORD had told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer." Job 42:7-9

Some scholars believe that Job was actually a contemporary of Abraham, or lived sometime during the period of the patriarchs. Whatever the case may be, the story of Job demonstrates that even non-Israelites knew of the need of the mediation of priests and sacrifices for atonement.

The Holy Bible says that Moses and Samuel functioned as (were) priests of God:

"Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the LORD, and he answered them." Psalm 99:6

In fact, the sons of King David were also called priests!

"and Benai'ah the son of Jehoi'ada was over the Cher'ethites and the Pel'ethites; and David's sons were priests." 2 Samuel 8:18

David's sons become prophetic types of the Lord Jesus since he also is a son of David by lineage, and is priest and king at the same time.

In light of the foregoing, one would think that the Quran would have something positive to say about the important significance of blood atonement and the centrality of the animal sacrificial system of the Mosaic law. Yet even though the Quran says that sacrifices were demanded of all nations, it denies the salvific nature of these rites:

In them ye have benefits for a term appointed: in the end their place of sacrifice is near the Ancient House. To every people did We appoint rites (of sacrifice), that they might celebrate the name of God over the sustenance He gave them from animals (fit for food). But your God is One God: submit then your wills to Him (in Islam): and give thou the good news to those who humble themselves,- S. 22:33-34 Y. Ali- see 22:67

And among the sacred Signs of ALLAH WE have appointed for you the sacrificial camels. In them there is much good for you. So mention the name of ALLAH over them as they stand tied up in rows. And when they fall down dead on their sides, eat thereof and feed him who is needy but contented and him also who supplicates. Thus have WE subjected them to you, that you may be grateful. Their flesh reaches not ALLAH, NOR DOES THEIR BLOOD, but it is your righteousness that reaches HIM. Thus HE has subjected them to you, that you may glorify ALLAH for HIS guiding you. And give glad tidings to those who do good. S. 22:36-37 Sher Ali

Instead of living up to its own claim of confirming the previous scriptures, the Quran denies the very heart and essence of both the Torah and the Gospel. In fact, the Quran not only denies the necessity of blood for atonement, but actually claims that God provided a different system of atonement for Israel than that found in the Torah:

And certainly Allah made a covenant with the children of Israel, and We raised up among them twelve chieftains; and Allah said: Surely I am with you; if you keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and believe in My apostles and assist them and offer to Allah a goodly gift, I will most certainly cover (laokaffiranna ) your evil deeds, and I will most certainly cause you to enter into gardens beneath which rivers flow, but whoever disbelieves from among you after that, he indeed shall lose the right way. S. 5:12 Shakir

The above passage asserts that God prescribed a works-based system of atonement for Israel, similar to what the Quran prescribes for Muslims. For instance, the Quran tells Muslims that avoiding major sins makes atonement for lesser sins:

If ye avoid great sins from which ye are forbidden, we will cover (nukaffir) your offences and make you enter with a noble entrance. S. 4:31 Palmer

The words laokaffiranna and nukaffir come from the Arabic word kaffara, which is the equivalent of the Hebrew word used in the Holy Bible for atonement, namely kaphar. The Arabic, much like the Hebrew, can mean to hide something or cover something, which in these respective contexts refer to the covering over of sins.

The Quran also prescribes camels for sacrifices which was forbidden in the Torah:

"The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Say to the Israelites: "Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you."’" Leviticus 11:1-4

"Do not eat any detestable thing. These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep. You may eat any animal that has a split hoof divided in two and that chews the cud. However, of those that chew the cud or that have a split hoof completely divided you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the coney. Although they chew the cud, they do not have a split hoof; they are ceremonially unclean for you." Deuteronomy 14:3-7

The Quran therefore contradicts the Torah both on the significance of blood and on the issue of clean versus unclean animals!

No greater examples could have been provided to show just how much these two books contradict each other regarding the history of God's people (i.e. Jews and Christians) and on essential doctrines than the preceding. One book says that God prescribed blood atonement for Israel whereas the other states that God commanded a works-based atonement!

Interestingly, the Quran is totally silent about the slaughter of the Passover lamb on the night God brought Israel out of Egypt:

"The LORD said to Moses, 'Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence; when he lets you go, he will drive you away completely'... And Moses said, 'Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go forth in the midst of Egypt; and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sits upon his throne, even to the first-born of the maidservant who is behind the mill; and all the first-born of the cattle. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever shall be again. But against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, not a dog shall growl; that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel. And all these your servants shall come down to me, and bow down to me, saying, `Get you out, and all the people who follow you.' And after that I will go out.' And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger." Exodus 11:1, 4-8

"The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 'This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall KILL their lambs in the evening. Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled with water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning, anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever'... Then Moses called all the elders of Israel, and said to them, 'Select lambs for yourselves according to your families, and KILL the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood which is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to slay you. You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and for your sons for ever. And when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, "What do you mean by this service?" you shall say, "It is the sacrifice of the LORD's passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he slew the Egyptians but spared our houses."' And the people bowed their heads and worshiped... Exodus 12:1-14, 21-27

Notice once more how significant the blood was in preventing God from striking down all the firstborns of Israel. It was the blood again which saved Israel from death, just as the blood of Jesus saves believers from spiritual death (cf. Matthew 26:28; Mark 10:45; John 5:24; 6:50-51, 58; 11:25-27). And yet the Quran says nothing about this important event which marked the day of Israel's exodus from Egypt! The Quran's silence here is truly astonishing to say the least.

The Muslim may say that the Quran has abrogated the need for blood atonement. We have three main responses to this claim.

First, the verses which refer to abrogation speak of the Quran abrogating itself, not the previous scriptures. This can be seen from the fact that the verses do not say that the Quran cancels out the previous books (Arabic - kitab/kutub), but abrogates certain verses/signs (Arabic - ayat):

And when We exchange a verse (ayatan) in the place of another verse (ayatin) and God knows very well what He is sending down -- they say, 'Thou art a mere forger!' Nay, but the most of them have no knowledge. S. 16:101 A.J. Arberry

The word ayah generally refers to either miracles or to the verses of the Quran. The use of ayah, as opposed to kitab, demonstrates that there really aren't any conclusive statements which say that the Quran has abrogated the Holy Bible, at least not explicitly. One must read this meaning back into these Quranic passages in order to draw this conclusion.

If we turn to the hadiths, then it is quite clear that the verses on abrogation refer to the Quran itself:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:
Umar said, "Ubai was the best of us in the recitation (of the Qur'an) yet we leave some of what he recites." Ubai says, "I have taken it from the mouth of Allah's Apostle and will not leave for anything whatever." But Allah said, "None of Our Revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten but We substitute something better or similar." 2.106 (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 61, Number 527)

The Quran also says that the previous Scriptures are a criterion over it, a rule of faith determining whether the Quran is true or false:

But if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to you, ask those who read the Book before you; certainly the truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore you should not be of the disputers. S. 10:94 Shakir

Hence, the Quran, instead of abrogating the previous scriptures, actually appeals to them for verification purposes.

Second, even if we were to accept the claim that the Quran abrogates biblical doctrines such as the need of blood atonement, what did it replace it with? After all, the Quran says that when Allah abrogates a verse he will replace it with something better or similar:

Whatever verses we cancel, or cause thee to forget, we bring a better or its like. Knowest thou not that God hath power over all things? S. 2:106 Rodwell

What did Allah give in place of blood for salvation that is similar or even better? The Holy Bible tells us that the sacrificial system and the OT priesthood have been consummated in the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as in his work as mediator and intercessor:

"Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed." 1 Corinthians 5:7 NASB

"Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levit'ical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchiz'edek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchiz'edek, who has become a priest, not according to a legal requirement concerning bodily descent but by the power of an indestructible life." Hebrews 7:11-16

"This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant. The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office; but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever." Hebrews 7:22-28

"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant." Hebrews 9:11-15

"Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with BETTER sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." Hebrews 9:23-28

"For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins... And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." Hebrews 10:1-4, 10-14

"You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot." 1 Peter 1:18-19

The New Testament, therefore, didn't abrogate the need of blood atonement, but consummated the entire OT sacrificial system in the death of the Lord Jesus, whose blood is infinitely better than the blood of animals!

Third, denying the significance blood plays in redemption and forgiveness is not an abrogation, but a direct contradiction. Either the Quran is right, or the Holy Bible is right, but both can't be true at the same time. Both could be wrong, but they cannot both be correct, since the two positions are a direct violation of the law of non-contradiction:

A. Blood is necessary for forgiveness and salvation, and makes atonement.

Non-A. Blood is not necessary for forgiveness and salvation, and does not make atonement.

Since the Quran states that the Holy Bible is true, and that one of its alleged functions is to confirm the previous scriptures, then the Quran must be wrong on this issue.

So what happened to the blood in Islam? Where is Islam's atonement? Where is the need of a priest to mediate on behalf of the people before God? If Islam and the Quran are truly from the God of Abraham, and if the Quran does confirm and explain the Holy Bible, then there must be a suitable replacement or equivalent to the Torah's sacrificial system and priesthood, which the NT says have been fully consummated and perfectly fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The fact that Islam has none only further proves that it is not the religion of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Quran, instead, presents a rather confused and convoluted system of atonement that isn’t simply based on faith-works, but on Allah punishing Jews and Christians in the place of sinful Muslims! See the following article for the details: www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/ransom.htm.


I Desire Mercy Not Sacrifice?

Muslims oftentimes appeal to certain biblical passages which, on the surface level, seem to deny the importance of blood sacrifices. For example, appeal is often made to Hosea 6:6, which the Lord Jesus also quoted in Matthew 9:13 and 12:7:

"For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings."

There are many other passages that basically say the same thing and which Muslims feel prove that the Quran's position regarding the blood being unnecessary is actually correct.

Yet a careful reading of any of these passages will show that the biblical writers were in no way denying the importance of blood sacrifices, but were condemning the rather cavalier attitude of the Israelites in offering them with sinful hearts and minds. For instance, if we take Hosea 6 in context, we will discover that the people were offering sacrifices with an unrepentant and wicked heart:

"But at Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. Gilead is a city of evildoers, tracked with blood. As robbers lie in wait for a man, so the priests are banded together; they murder on the way to Shechem, yea, they commit villainy. In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing; E'phraim's harlotry is there, Israel is defiled. For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed. When I would restore the fortunes of my people," Hosea 6:7-11

It must be stated that the sacrifices were only efficacious (made effective) for people who offered them in sincere faith and repentance. Otherwise, God would not accept them on behalf of the person making them. Earlier we mentioned the offerings made by Cain and Abel and how God accepted the one offering but not the other. Hebrews tells us why:

"By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking." Hebrews 11:4

Note that Abel's faith made his offering efficacious and acceptable to God. This means that Cain's offering was rejected because he had no faith, a fact supported by the context of Genesis itself (cf. 4:6-7).

This shows the importance and necessity of faith on the part of the offerer, otherwise his sacrifices will be nothing more than vain ritualism, which does nothing to commend him to an infinitely holy and just God.

But if a Muslim wants to insist that these passages make void all of those passages of the Torah which specifically highlight the necessity of the sacrificial system, then he/she will also have to reject the necessity and importance of prayers and other rituals:

"Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomor'rah! 'What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of he-goats. When you come to appear before me, who requires of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more VAIN offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and the calling of assemblies - I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow." Isaiah 1:10-17

Using the logic of the Muslim to understand Isaiah, we must conclude that the Israelites didn't need to pray or observe the Sabbaths or any of the other holy days prescribed in the Torah, which is obviously quite nonsensical. The point of Isaiah, as well as the other prophets, is that prayers, sacrifices, Sabbath observances etc. mean nothing to God when done with unrepentant and unbelieving hearts.

King David puts this all together; after sinning against God by committing adultery, David (by inspiration) cried out to God in repentance through the following Psalm:

"Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance. O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For thou hast no delight in sacrifice; were I to give a burnt offering, thou wouldst not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good to Zion in thy good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, THEN wilt thou delight in RIGHT sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on thy altar." Psalm 51:14-19

In the words of the Lord Jesus:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, WITHOUT NEGLECTING THE OTHERS." Matthew 23:23

Qur'an Contradictions
Articles by Sam Shamoun
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