Much has been written regarding the textual transmission of both the Holy Bible and the Quran. Conservative Christians have been forced to constantly address Muslim claims that textual variants of the Holy Bible prove that it has been corrupted. Time and again we have had to repeat that textual variants do not undermine the overall purity of the biblical text, and that no book of antiquity has been transmitted without any variations, so the Bible is not unique in that regard. On the contrary, the Holy Bible is vastly superior to any book of antiquity since it has vastly greater mansucript support and extra-biblical evidence affirming its authenticity and preservation than any other document of that time period.
We have even tried to show that both the official Muslim sources and the available manuscript evidence demonstrate that the Quran itself has hundreds, if not thousands, of variant readings. Thus, if variant readings mean a book cannot be trusted then Muslims must reject not just the Holy Bible, but the Quran as well. Please go here for the documentation of these claims:
What we would like to do in this paper is take a typical Muslim accusation against the textual purity of the Holy Bible and turn it against the Quran. The point of doing this is to show that if the Muslims are consistent in applying their criteria fairly, then they must conclude that the Quran is corrupted and therefore must be rejected. We seek to show that the Quran fails to pass the very standard which Muslims demand the Holy Bible must meet in order for it to be accepted.
For our case study we will use the commentary of al-Jalalayn on Surah 2:79, which speaks of a party of Jews who wrote a book with their own hands and claimed it was from God. Jalalayn's points will help us show that, if correct and valid, then the Quran must be corrupted.
Jalalayn's commentary was translated by our dear brother Dimitrius. May our risen and immortal Lord Jesus richly bless him for all his efforts:
فَوَيْلٌ لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَابَ بِأَيْدِيهِمْ ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَذَا مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا فَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَوَيْلٌ لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ
"فَوَيْل" شِدَّة عَذَاب "لِلَّذِينَ يَكْتُبُونَ الْكِتَاب بِأَيْدِيهِمْ" أَيْ مُخْتَلَقًا مِنْ عِنْدهمْ "ثُمَّ يَقُولُونَ هَذَا مِنْ عِنْد اللَّه لِيَشْتَرُوا بِهِ ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا" مِنْ الدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ الْيَهُود غَيَّرُوا صِفَة النَّبِيّ فِي التَّوْرَاة وَآيَة الرَّجْم وَغَيْرهمَا وَكَتَبُوهَا عَلَى خِلَاف مَا أُنْزِلَ "فَوَيْل لَهُمْ مِمَّا كَتَبَتْ أَيْدِيهمْ" مِنْ الْمُخْتَلَق "وَوَيْل لَهُمْ مِمَّا يَكْسِبُونَ" مِنْ الرِّشَا جَمْع رِشْوَة
Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: "This is from Allah," to traffic with it for a miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands write, and for the gain they make thereby.
"Then woe" refers to the severity of the punishment of "those who write the Book with their own hands", meaning those who invent (words) of their own accord.
"Then say: This is from Allah, to traffic with it for a miserable price" this refers to the Jews who wished to gain a profit in this world (from their writings) in which they changed (removed) the description of the prophet (Muhammad) and the verse of stoning and others from the Torah. They (the Jews) wrote differently from what was revealed.
"Woe to them for what their hands write" meaning their invented sayings. "And for the gain they make thereby" referring to the profit they made from bribes; which is plural for a bribe. (Arabic Source)
Before we show how Jalalayn's comments can be used to incriminate the texual purity of the Quran, we need to first correct his errors. To begin with, the only time that the Jews could have possibly removed any alleged reference to Muhammad is during or after his time. To do so before Muhammad's time implies that they knew what kind of messenger he would be and what kind of message he would bring, i.e. an Arab prophet who would bring a hostile message to them. Obviously, this is not possible. Yet, if they did remove these references during that time then it is easy to show this by examining the extant pre-islamic MSS of the Old Testament. However, when doing so one can observe that all these extant OT MSS are essentially uniform, being virtually identical to the copies of the Hebrew Scriptures which were written after Muhammad's time. Thus, there is absolutely no evidence which proves that Jews deliberately expunged references to Muhammad from their holy Scriptures.
Further evidence which shows the high improbability, if not impossibility, of the Jews doing this can be seen from the fact that ever since the time of Christ, Christians have copied and transmitted the Hebrew Scriptures from one generation to the next. And yet the OT which the Christians have transmitted agrees with the Scriptures in the hands of the Jews.
Third, Muslims both during and after Muhammad's time quoted certain biblical passages which they feel pointed to Muhammad. Case in point:
Narrated Ata bin Yasar:
I met Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As and asked him, "Tell me about the description of Allah's Apostle which is mentioned IN THE TORAH (i.e. OLD TESTAMENT)." He replied, "Yes. By Allah, he is described IN TORAH with some of the qualities attributed to him in the Quran as follows:
‘O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness (for Allah's True religion) And a giver of glad tidings (to the faithful believers), And a warner (to the unbelievers) And guardian of the illiterates. You are My slave and My messenger (i.e. Apostle). I have named you "Al-Mutawakkil" (who depends upon Allah). You are neither discourteous, harsh nor a noise-maker in the markets. And you do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness. Allah will not let him (the Prophet) die till he makes straight the crooked people by making them say: "None has the right to be worshipped but Allah," with which will be opened blind eyes and deaf ears and enveloped hearts.’" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 34, Number 335)
Some Muslims believe that what is quoted here in Bukhari is taken from Isaiah 42.
If these sources are correct then this proves that Jalalayn is wrong since the Jews did not expunge verses referring to Muhammad; otherwise the Muslims mentioned above wouldn't have been able to point to these biblical citations. Now, we obviously do not believe that these passages refer to Muhammad, but they do serve as examples that Jalalayn was wrong regarding Jews corrupting the Scriptures in order to obscure alleged prophecies of Muhammad. To see who Isaiah was speaking of in Isaiah 42, please read the following article: The Prophecy of Isaiah 42: Jesus or Muhammad?
Fourth, Jalalayn is in error regarding the Jews expunging the stoning verse from the Torah since one can find it there till this day:
"If a man commits adultery with another man's wife-with the wife of his neighbor-both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death." Levitiucs 20:10
"If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, you shall take both of them to the gate of that town AND STONE THEM TO DEATH - the girl because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man's wife. You must purge the evil from among you." Deuteronomy 22:22-24
In fact, the so-called sound Islamic narrations attest to the existence of this verse within the very Torah which Muhammad and his contemporaries saw and held:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:
The Jews came to Allah's Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse. Allah's Apostle said to them, "What do you find in the Torah (Old Testament) about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?" They replied, (But) we announce their crime and lash them." Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm." They brought and opened the Torah and one of them placed his hand on the Verse of Rajm and read the verses preceding and following it. Abdullah bin Salam said to him, "Lift your hand." When he lifted his hand, the Verse of Rajm was written there. They said, "Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm. The Prophet then gave the order that both of them should be stoned to death. ('Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "I saw the man leaning over the woman to shelter her from the stones." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 829)
Thus, Jalalayn is simply in error for saying that the Jews omitted the verse on stoning.
With that issue behind us, we now want to turn our attention to the Quran and show how the Muslim argument works more forcefully against it and proves that it, not the Holy Bible, has been corrupted.
Do note that acccording to Jalalayn's logic, the omission of the verse of stoning from the Holy Bible constitutes as evidence that the Jews had corrupted the text of the Torah, even though the verse is still there and was there in the Torah of Muhammad's day. Yet, amazingly, we find Muslim sources emphatically stating that the Quran actually contained an injunction to stone adulterers, a command that is no longer present in the text of the Quran! Note what the following so-called sound narrations say about stoning:
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
'Umar said, "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) IN THE HOLY BOOK, and consequently they may GO ASTRAY by leaving AN OBLIGATION that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession." Sufyan added, "I have memorized this narration in this way." 'Umar added, "Surely Allah's Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 816)
... In the meantime, 'Umar sat on the pulpit and when the callmakers for the prayer had finished their call, 'Umar stood up, and having glorified and praised Allah as He deserved, he said, "Now then, I am going to tell you something which (Allah) has written for me to say. I do not know; perhaps it portends my death, so whoever understands and remembers it, must narrate it to the others wherever his mount takes him, but if somebody is afraid that he does not understand it, then it is unlawful for him to tell lies about me. Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the Verse of the Rajam (the stoning of married person (male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this Verse and understood and memorized it. Allah's Apostle did carry out the punishment of stoning and so did we after him.
I am afraid that after a long time has passed, somebody will say, By Allah, we do not find the Verse of the Rajam in Allah's Book, and thus they will go astray by leaving an obligation which Allah has revealed. And the punishment of the Rajam is to be inflicted to any married person (male & female), who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if the required evidence is available or there is conception or confession. And then we used to recite among the Verses in Allah's BOOK: O people! Do not claim to be the offspring of other than your fathers, as it is disbelief (unthankfulness) on your part that you claim to be the offspring of other than your real father ..." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 817)
from 'Ali when the latter stoned a lady to death on a Friday. 'Ali said, "I have stoned her according to the tradition of Allah's Apostle." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 803)
I asked 'Abdullah bin Abi 'Aufa about the Rajam (stoning somebody to death for committing illegal sexual intercourse). He replied, "The Prophet carried out the penalty of Rajam." I asked, "Was that before or after the revelation of Surat-an-Nur?" He replied, "I do not know." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 824)
Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani:
A bedouin came and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Judge between us according to Allah's BOOK (Laws)." His opponent stood up and said, "He has said the truth, so judge between us according to Allah's Laws." The bedouin said, "My son was a laborer for this man and committed illegal sexual intercourse with his wife. The people said to me, 'Your son is to be stoned to death,' so I ransomed my son for one hundred sheep and a slave girl. Then I asked the religious learned men and they said to me, 'Your son has to receive one hundred lashes plus one year of exile.'" The Prophet said, "I shall judge between you according to Allah's BOOK (Laws)! As for the slave girl and the sheep, it shall be returned to you, and your son shall receive one-hundred lashes and be exiled for one year. O you, Unais!" The Prophet addressed some man, "Go in the morning to the wife of this man AND STONE HER TO DEATH." So Unais went to her the next morning and stoned her to death. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 9, Book 89, Number 303)
Zirr ibn Hubaish reported: "Ubayy ibn Ka'b said to me, What is the extent of Suratul-Ahzab? I said, Seventy, or seventy-three verses. He said, Yet it used to be equal to Suratul-Baqarah and in it we recited the verse of stoning. I said, And what is the verse of stoning? He replied, The fornicators among the married men (ash-shaikh) and married women (ash-shaikhah), stone them as an exemplary punishment from Allah, and Allah is Mighty and Wise." (As-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p. 524, as quoted in Gilchrist, Jam' al-Qur'an; italic emphasis ours)
From the foregoing we can conclude that the Muslims have corrupted the Quran since a verse regarding the stoning of adulterers has been expunged from it. If Jalalayn's claim that the Jews expunging a command to stone adulterers is evidence that the Torah is corrupted (despite the fact that the verse in question has never been expunged from the Torah and can still be found there till this day), then surely the same holds true with Muslims omitting a similar command from the text of the Quran. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.
Now we are sure that Muslims will try to make up any possible excuse they can to avoid the inevitable conclusion that the Quran has been tampered with, i.e. that these narrations are lies or that the command had been abrogated. Yet, neither of these explanations will solve the dilemma. For instance, the reports which assert that stoning was part of the Quran and even carried out by Muhammad come from sources deemed authentic by the majority of Sunni authorities. Furthermore, what does this say about the integrity of Muslims? Were Muslims so dishonest as to lie against their god and their holy book by coming up with commands which they then claimed were "revealed" by God? If they were this dishonest then what is to say that they didn't add other commands to the Quran and/or omitted certain others?
Third, Sunni scholars agree that the Quran contains both the abrogated and the abrogating verses, so saying that this command was abrogated doesn't account for it not being found within the text of the Quran. Besides, didn't Umar know it was abrogated, and if so why did he still complain that the verse was not included within "Allah's Book"?
Finally, to this day the Sharia (Islamic law) states that the punishment for adultery is stoning. It is sunnah, just as the following Muslim site states:
Stoning to death for adultery is part of the Shariah’s penal code, whether we like it or not ! Muslims should not be apologetic about any law of the Shariah as it is not the product of the human mind, but it is divinely revealed.
RAJM(STONING) FIRMLY ESTABLISHED IN SHARIAH
The issue of rajm or stoning for adultery IS ESTABLISHED AND PROVEN from the authentic traditions and practices of the Final Messenger(s.a.w.). The scholars of Islam ARE UNANIMOUS that stoning a married person(male or female) for adultery is the prescribed Hadd(penal punishment) of the Shariah. This is established by the Sunnah(prophetic traditions) and these traditions are in the rank of tawaatur ( it's narrations CANNOT BE DENIED due to it's appearance in all three generations by numerous narrators). It is also PROVEN BY THE CONSENSUS OF THE SCHOLARS which is the third source of Islamic Law. Ibn Masud(r.a.) reports: "The blood of a Muslim person is not permissible except in one of three situations; the adulterer who is married, one who has killed unjustly, and the apostate."(Bukhari and Muslim) This hadeeth is also reported with different wording by Uthmaan, Ayesha, Abu Hurairah, Jaabir and Ammaar bin Yaasir(may Allah be pleased with all of them). Then there is the incident reported by Abu Hurairah(r.a.) and Zaid bin Khalid Al-Juhani(r.a.) regarding a workman who committed adultery with another woman. The Messenger of Allah(s.a.w.) instructed a man from the tribe of Aslam: "Go in the morning to this (particular) lady; so if she confesses, then stone her." (Bukhari, Muslim, Muatta, Musnad Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, An-Nasaai) (Source; capital emphasis ours)
It is quite evident that the Quran, at one time, did contain this command to stone adulterers which was then taken out by Muslims. This proves, per Jalalayn's logic, that Muslims corrupted the Quran.
For more hadiths documenting that Muhammad did in fact stone people, please read these articles:
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page