The incorruptibility of Allah’s words
And the Charge of Biblical Corruption
How a common Muslim allegation against
The textual preservation of the inspired Scriptures
Ends up undermining the integrity and sovereignty of Allah
And introduces a contradiction within the Quran
When trying to prove that the Quran denies the textual reliability of the Holy Bible Muslims will often appeal to the following passage:
Can ye (o ye men of Faith) entertain the hope that they will believe in you? - Seeing that a party of them heard the Word of God, and perverted it knowingly after they understood it. Behold! when they meet the men of Faith, they say: "We believe": But when they meet each other in private, they say: "Shall you tell them what God hath revealed to you, that they may engage you in argument about it before your Lord?" - Do ye not understand (their aim)? Know they not that God knoweth what they conceal and what they reveal? And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture. Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: "This is from God," to traffic with it for miserable price! - Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby. S. 2:75-79 Y. Ali
According to these Muslims this reference establishes that the Holy Bible isn’t completely reliable and that not everything it contains is from God since some (if not most) of the books were written by mere fallible human beings which they then tried to pass of as God’s Word.
We have proven that this specific citation does not support the allegation that the text of the Holy Bible has been changed so that it no longer reflects what the original writings said.
However, for the sake of argument we will assume that this citation does refer to the corruption of the previous Scriptures. Little do Muslims realize that this means that the Quran is contradicting itself and that Allah either lied or is both incompetent and impotent.
There are at least two passages which testify to the incorruptibility of Allah’s words in places that expressly mention the books that Allah revealed:
Say: "Shall I seek for judge other than God? - when He it is Who hath sent unto you the Book, explained in detail." They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt. The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all. S. 6:114-115
And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him. S. 18:27
It is apparent that in context “His words” include the books which Allah sent down, which means that Allah’s books are being identified as his words. As such, none of his revealed books can ever be corrupted since these texts emphatically say that no one is capable of changing the words of Allah.
Interestingly, this is precisely how some of the Muslim expositors understood and explained these verses, i.e. Allah’s words refer to his books such as the Quran which can never be corrupted:
(Perfected is the Word of thy Lord) the Qur'an, detailing the commands and prohibitions (in truth) in His speech (and justice) from Him. (There is naught that can change His words) the Qur'an; it is also said that this means: the Word of your Lord has prescribed that His friends shall triumph. He is truthful in His speech and just in that which shall come. Nothing can change His words about His giving help to His friend. It is also said that this means: the religion of your Lord is now manifest, people truthfully believe that it is Allah's religion. Allah's command is just and nothing will ever change His religion. (He is the Hearer) of their speech, (the Knower) of them and their works. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs, Q. 6:115; bold and underline emphasis ours)
The word of God meant in this verse is the Quran. This word is complete in truth and justice. Nothing can change Allah’s word which he revealed in his BOOKS. The liars cannot add or delete from Allah’s BOOKS. This is referring without a doubt to the Jews and Christians because they are the people of the books which were revealed to their prophets. Allah is revealing that the words they (the people of the book) are corrupting were not revealed by Allah, but Allah’s word cannot be changed or substituted. (Tafsir al-Tabari, Q. 6:115; bold and capital emphasis ours)
In fact, a group of Muslim scholars even used Q. 6:115 to prove that books such as the Torah could never be corrupted since they are the revealed words of Allah:
On the other side, another party of hadith and fiqh scholars said: these changes took place during its interpretation and not during the process of its revelation. This is the view of Abi Abdullah Muhammad bin Ishmael Al-Bukhari who said in his hadith collection:
“No one can corrupt the text by removing any of Allah’s words from his Books, but they corrupted it by misinterpreting it.”
Al-Razi also agrees with this opinion. In his commentary he said:
There is a difference of opinions regarding this matter among some of the respectable scholars. Some of these scholars said: the manuscript copies of the Torah were distributed everywhere and no one knows the exact number of these copies except Allah. It is impossible to have a conspiracy to change or alter the word of God in all of these copies without missing any copy. Such a conspiracy will not be logical or possible. And when Allah told his messenger (Muhammad) to ask the Jews to bring their Torah and read it concerning the stoning command they were not able to change this command from their copies, that is why they covered up the stoning verse while they were reading it to the prophet. It was then when Abdullah Ibn Salam requested that they remove their hand so that the verse became clear. If they have changed or altered the Torah then this verse would have been one of the important verses to be altered by the Jews.
Also, whenever the prophet would ask them (the Jews) concerning the prophecies about him in the Torah they were not able to remove them either, and they would respond by stating that they are not about him and they are still waiting for the prophet in their Torah.
Abu Dawood narrated in his collection that Ibn Umar said:
A group of Jewish people invited the messenger of Allah to a house. When he came, they asked him: O Abu Qassim, one of our men committed adultery with a woman, what is your judgment against him? So they placed a pillow and asked the messenger of Allah to set on it. Then the messenger of Allah proceeded to say: bring me the Torah. When they brought it, he removed the pillow from underneath him and placed the Torah on it and said: I BELIEVE IN YOU AND IN THE ONE WHO REVEALED YOU, then said: bring me one of you who have the most knowledge. So they brought him a young man who told him the story of the stoning.
The scholars said: if the Torah was corrupted he would not have placed it on the pillow and he would not have said: I believe in you and in the one who revealed you.
This group of scholars also said: Allah said:
"And the word of your Lord has been accomplished truly and justly; there is none who can change His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing." (Q. 6:115)
And the Torah is Allah’s word. (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ighathat Al Lahfan, Volume 2, p. 351; bold and capital emphasis ours)
The reasoning which these Muslims employed is sound since both their premises and the conclusion they drew from them are logically valid.
- None can change or corrupt the words of Allah.
- Books such as the Torah and the Gospel are the words of Allah.
- Therefore, none can change or corrupt the text of any of Allah’s Books such as the Torah and the Gospel.
Here is where the problem lies for the Muslims who insist that Q. 2:75-79 establishes that the text of the Holy Bible has been corrupted. This interpretation means that the Quran is wrong since Allah’s words can be corrupted and changed. It also means that Allah either lied or is incompetent since he claimed that no one could ever change his words. However, his words have been changed according to the Muslims which therefore proves that Allah either deceived Muslims since he never had any intention of preserving his words or he is impotent since as much as he tried to preserve them he was prevented from doing so by imperfect, fallible human creatures!
We will leave it to the Muslims to clean up the mess that they have created for themselves by insisting that passages such as Q. 2:75 and 79 claim that the Jews and Christians have changed the Books which God revealed to his prophets and messengers.