Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Even More Proof that Muhammad Affirmed
The Textual Incorruptibility of the Holy Bible

Sam Shamoun

It is time, once again, to briefly revisit the issue of the earliest Islamic view regarding the authority and textual veracity of the Holy Bible. In this particular article we are going to take a look at a few texts and hadiths in order to provide further evidence that all of our earliest sources confirm that Muhammad believed that the Scriptures which the Jews and Christians possessed and read from were the original, uncorrupt revelations from God.

We start off with the following passage:

“The Jews say: ‘The Christians are not on the right track,’ and the Christians say: "It is the Jews who are not on the right track," yet both read their Holy Books (Torah or Gospel)…” S. 2:113 Farook Malik 

Here is another version:

"Jews say, ‘The Christians have nothing to stand upon.’ And Christians say, ‘Jews have nothing to stand upon.’ YET THEY ALL READ THE BIBLE…" Bilal Muhammad

It is obvious from this text that Muhammad thought that the Jews and Christians were still reading from the original Scripture which God had sent down to them, a fact confirmed by the following expositors:

“… Ibn Abass said: when the Christians from Najran came to meet with the messenger of Allah, they were met by Jewish Rabbis, and both sides argued with each other before the messenger of Allah. Then, one of the Jewish men (Rafi` bin Huraymilah) said to the Christians: You have nothing to stand on; then he denied Jesus son of Mary as a prophet and the Injil. Then another man from the Christians of Najran said to the Jews: You have nothing to stand on; and he too denied Moses as a prophet and the Torah. That’s when Allah revealed this verse.

“… Al-Rabia said: This verse refers to the people of the book at the time of Muhammad. In interpreting this verse, he said: Allah revealed this to the Muslim believers to let them know that both Christians and Jews ignored the commandments of Allah in their books which clearly testify to the authenticity of these books, that they were revealed by Allah. The Injil, which the Christians believe in its authenticity, testifies to the truth which was revealed in the Torah regarding Moses’ prophethood, and Allah’s commandments to the Children of Israel.  And the Torah, which the Jews believe in its authenticity, testifies to the truth which was revealed in the Injil of Jesus’ prophethood, and Allah’s commandments… yet both sides told each other that each one of them has nothing to stand on despite the testimony of their books. So the most high revealed this verse because what they claimed against each other IS NOT TRUE.

“… Their denial of each other is a denial of the prophethood of the messenger.

“… Qatadah said: this verse means that the early Christians were correct, then they invented new things and went astray, same was true for the Jews.

(yet they study the book)

Means the books of Allah, the Torah and the Injil, which testify against the denial of the Jews and the Christians.

“… Ibn Abass said” they both READ IN THEIR OWN BOOK the truth which testify against both of their claims; meaning the Jews denying Jesus even though THEY HAVE THE TORAH, in which Allah took an oath from them through Moses to believe in Jesus. And in the Injil Jesus testified about Moses and what was revealed to him in the Torah as being from Allah.

(Like unto their word is what those say who know not)

“The commentators differed in their opinion of this verse. Some said it is about the Christians saying the similar things to what the Jews before them had claimed… others said, it is a reference to other nations before the Christians and the Jews… yet others said it is a reference to the pagan Arabs…” (Tafsir al-Tabari, translated by Mutee'a Al Fadi; bold and capital emphasis ours)(1)


Allah said…

(The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); though they both recite the Scripture.)

Allah explained the disputes, hatred and stubbornness that the People of the Book have towards each other. Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "When a delegation of Christians from Najran came to the Messenger of Allah, the Jewish rabbis came and began arguing with them before the Messenger of Allah . Rafi` bin Huraymilah said, `You do not follow anything,' and he reiterated his disbelief in Jesus and the Injil. Then a Christian man from Najran's delegation said to the Jews, `Rather, you do not follow anything,' and he reiterated his rejection of Musa's prophethood and his disbelief in the Torah. So Allah revealed the Ayah

(The Jews said that the Christians follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); and the Christians said that the Jews follow nothing (i.e. are not on the right religion); though they both recite the Scripture.)”

Allah made it clear that each party READ THE AFFIRMATION of what they claimed to reject IN THEIR BOOK. Consequently, the Jews disbelieve in Jesus, even though THEY HAVE THE TORAH in which Allah took their Covenant by the tongue of Moses to believe in Jesus. Also, the Gospel contains Jesus' assertion that Moses' prophethood and the Torah came from Allah. Yet, each party disbelieved in what the other party HAD. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; bold and capital emphasis ours)(2)


The Jews say, ‘The Christians stand on nothing’, that can be used as support [for their claims], and they rejected Jesus; and the Christians say, ‘The Jews stand on nothing’, that can be used as support [for their claims], and they rejected Moses; yet they, both groups, RECITE THE SCRIPTURE, REVEALED TO THEM: in the Scripture of the Jews there is the confirmation of Jesus, and in that of the Christians there is the confirmation of Moses (yatlūna’l-kitāba, ‘they recite the Scripture’: the sentence is a circumstantial qualifier). Thus, in the way that these have said, the ignorant, from among the Arabs and others, say the like of what these say (this last phrase [mithla qawlihim, ‘the like of what they say’] is the explication of dhālika, ‘that [way]’): that is to say, to every person of religion they would say, ‘You have no basis’; God shall decide between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding their differences, in religion and will admit the confirmer into Paradise and the falsifier into the Fire. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold and emphasis ours)

The views of these Muslim expositors that the Jews of Muhammad's day "HAVE the Torah", and that both they and the Christians disbelieved in what the other party had even though both of them were reciting the Scripture which God had revealed to them, presuppose that the Jews and Christians possessed the original, uncorrupt revelations which God had given to both Moses and Jesus.

Thus, according to these renowned scholars the Jews and Christians of Muhammad’s time were reciting the original revealed Scripture which confirmed what the other possessed, i.e. the Scripture of the Jews confirmed the coming of Jesus, and the Scripture of the Christians confirmed the prophethood of Moses. And yet Muslim apologists would have us believe that what this verse really means is that the Jews and Christians were reciting corrupted, unreliable scriptures which no longer accurately reflected what the original revelations taught, despite the fact that the text itself says absolutely nothing about textual corruption!

The next passage is another text which confirms that Muhammad believed in the textual preservation of the previous Scriptures:

Say: "Who was an enemy to Gabriel, so that he descended it on your heart/mind with God's permission, confirming to what (is) between his hands, and (a) guidance and a good news to the believers." S. 2:97 Muhammad Ahmed - Samira

The following Muslim scholar mentions a specific narration in relation to the foregoing verse which gives us a clear idea of how some of Muhammad’s companions viewed the sacred writings of the Jews and Christians:

(97, 98) These two verses were sent down, as Wahidi relates, on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, when the Jews of Medina came to the Prophet saying, "We shall ask you concerning certain matters. If you answer us truthfully, we will follow you. Tell us who of the angels comes down to you, for there is no prophet but that an angel comes to him from his Lord with the [charge] of apostleship and revelation. Who is your angel?" He answered, "He is Gabriel." They said, "He is the one who comes down with strife and battle; he is our enemy. Had you said, ‘Michael,’ the angel who comes down with rain and mercy, we would have followed you" (Wahidi, p. 26). Wahidi further relates on the authority of al-Sha'bi that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "I used to frequent the Jews in their schools WHEN THEY STUDIED THE TORAH AND MARVEL AT HOW THE TORAH CONCURS WITH THE QUR'AN AND HOW THE QUR'AN CONCURS WITH THE TORAH. They said to me, 'O 'Umar, there is no one dearer to us than you.' 'Why?' I asked. 'Because,' they said, 'you come to us and enjoy our company.' I answered, 'I come to marvel at how THE BOOKS OF GOD CONFIRM EACH OTHER.'…” (Mahmoud M. Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters [State University of New York Press (SUNY), Albany, NY 1984], Volume One, p. 127; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Umar’s statements indicate that he believed that his Jewish contemporaries were studying from the original Torah given to Moses. Otherwise, we would have to assume that Umar marveled over the fact that a corrupted Torah concurred and confirmed the Quran and vice-versa!

Nor is this the only report which mentions Umar’s fascination with the Torah:

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah
Umar ibn al-Khattab brought to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) A COPY OF THE TORAH and said: Allah's Messenger, This is a copy of the Torah. He (Allah's Messenger) kept quiet and he (Umar) began to read it. The (colour) of the face of Allah's Messenger underwent a change, whereupon AbuBakr said: Would that your mother mourn you, don't you see the face of Allah's Messenger? Umar saw the face of Allah's Messenger and said: I seek refuge with Allah from the wrath of Allah and the wrath of His Messenger. We are well pleased with Allah as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as Prophet. Whereupon Allah's Messenger said: By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, even if Moses were to appear before you and you were to follow him, leaving me aside, you would certainly stray into error; for if (Moses) were alive (now), and he found my prophetical ministry, he would have definitely followed me.
Transmitted by Darimi. (Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 69; ALIM Online Version)

Pay close attention to the fact that Muhammad didn’t attack the textual veracity of the Torah, which is what we would have expected him to do if he didn’t believe that the Holy Bible was preserved. Rather, Muhammad’s whole issue with Umar reading the Book of Moses is that the Quranic legislation has replaced the Mosaic Scripture, and Muslims are therefore obligated to follow Muhammad’s rules as opposed to those given by the previous prophets and messengers.

And here is one final hadith which provides further evidence that Muhammad thought that the Jews and Christians still possessed the original uncorrupt Torah and Scriptures which God had given them: 

Narrated Ziyad ibn Labid

Allah's Messenger spoke of something and said: It will happen when knowledge will be no more. I said: Allah's Messenger, how will knowledge vanish despite the fact that we will be reciting the Qur'an and teaching its recitation to our children and our children will teach its recitation to their children up to the Day of Resurrection? Thereupon he said: Ziyad, may your mother weep over you. I was of the opinion that you were one of those who have greatest understanding of religion in Medina. Do these Jews and Christians not recite the Torah and the Bible but not act according to what is contained in them?

Transmitted by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi. Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 69; ALIM Online Version)

Notice how Muhammad says that Muslims will be like Jews and Christians who, although still possessing and reading the Torah and the Bible, do not act according to what is taught in them.

It is therefore time for the Muslim apologists to come to terms with the fact that their own prophet truly believed in the textual reliability of the Holy Bible which the Jews and Christians possessed and were reading during his lifetime. As such, they need to face reality and accept that these same Scriptures which Muhammad believed in, and confirmed to be the revelations sent down from God, condemn him as a false prophet.

After all, since Muhammad contradicted the core essential doctrines taught in the sacred writings of the Jews and Christians he cannot be a true prophet sent by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Rather, he is one of the antichrists which the Scriptures warned against:

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour… Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” 1 John 2:18, 22-23 

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:9-13

There is simply no way around this.


(1) The assertion that the Najrani Christians denied the prophethood of Moses would be so much contrary to Christian teaching, that it is most likely a Muslim perversion of what happened in order to put in place their Muslim polemic and propaganda. The Jewish rejection of Jesus and the Gospel is approximately correct, but making the Christian rejection of the Jewish faith a mirror image of the Jewish polemics is at least uninformed, at worst a deliberate twisting of their arguments in order to appear as the “savior of both” by overcoming their differences by accepting both – like the Baha’is who appear as if they accept everyone. Even though this might seem more attractive and reasonable to embrace differing religious views as equally valid, nonetheless it is a self-destructing one since to embrace irreconcilable religious views as being of divine origin is illogical and unworkable.

(2) Apart from the above mentioned factual error about the Christian position, there is a strong irony in this whole argument, at least when looking at it through the lens of modern-day Muslim polemics.  After all, the Jews are condemned for their disbelief in Jesus and the Injil, i.e. the Book that the Christians read.  And the Christians are condemned for their disbelief in the Book that the Jews read.  And what are Muslims doing? They now disbelieve in the books of both, the books that the Christians read as well as the books that the Jews read.  They decided to follow the errors of both; in exact opposition of the early Muslim solution to claim that both are right in what they affirm and wrong in what they disclaim in regard to the other, they now propagate that both are wrong in what they affirm.  If that is not ironic, then what is? 

Even more, it is the Quran that affirms both books as being divine revelation, and despite the Quran speaking of and affirming these books, the Muslims reject the books as they are and do exactly what the Jews and the Christians are condemned for, i.e. rejecting what is affirmed in their own book.