Introduction

And when Jesus, son of Mary said, "O children of Israel, I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was revealed before me in Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the 'Praised One' " (Surah 61:6).

Muslims who read and recite this verse in the Qur'an, work backwards to decide what they think the 'original Gospel' must have said. They claim that it would have clearly predicted the coming of Muhammad. It could not have called Jesus the Son of God and must have denied the death of Jesus by crucifixion. In their efforts to discredit the Christian scriptures, some Muslims look for documents which may fit their argument, no matter if these have been declared as spurious by the whole Christian Church. One such document is the so-called "Gospel of Barnabas". In this 'gospel', as some Muslims claim, there is much which contradicts the canonical gospels but does fit in with Muslim beliefs. In their discussions with Christians, they go so far as to claim this gospel to be the original gospel that descended upon Jesus from heaven and which he dictated to Barnabas. Some Muslims base their presentation of the life and teaching of Jesus upon this document, rather than on the Qur’an, the Bible or the traditions.

A Pakistani Muslim, Attaur Rahim, who took great pains to introduce this ‘gospel’ into Pakistan, had this to say:

The gospel of Barnabas is the only known surviving gospel written by a disciple of Jesus, that is by a man who spent most of his time in the actual company of Jesus during the three years in which he was delivering his message. Therefore he had direct experience and knowledge of Jesus’ teaching, unlike all the authors of the four accepted Gospels [1].

He totally ignores the fact that John was a disciple from the beginning of Jesus' ministry and Matthew shortly after. He offers no evidence that Barnabas was a disciple during Jesus' three year ministry. Another Muslim, Ali Akbar, made the following comments:

Christians do not regard the gospel of St. Barnabas as an integral part of the New Testament and it is not often preached in their churches. This Gospel was condemned by the Christian council three hundred years before the prophet Muhammad. The reason for this is, no doubt, that the advent of the prophet Muhammad is predicted therein in very clear words [2].

No evidence is given of this book's condemnation at any Christian council. Similar claims are made by Abdu L-Ahad Dawud in his popular book, Muhammad in the Bible:

This Gospel has been rejected by Churches because its language is more in accordance with the revealed Scriptures and because it is very expressive and explicit about the nature of Jesus Christ’s mission, and above all because it records the exact words of Jesus concerning Muhammad [3].

What is the truth? Why do Christians reject this gospel? Is it because this gospel has certain alleged prophecies about Muhammad or because they have more solid arguments against the credibility of the document?

References

  1. Rahim, "Jesus, a Propet of Islam", p.37
  2. Akbar, "Israel and the Prophecies of the Qur'an", p.6
  3. Abdul-Ahad Dawud, "Muhammad in the Bible", p.89