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Why Follow Jesus?

Chapter 2: The Bible and the Qur'an

It is interesting to know that the Qur'an also upholds the Bible as the Word of God. It is God who revealed the Scriptures. The usual term in the Qur'an for the previous scriptures is "al-kitab" (the book), and Jews and Christians are identified as "Ahlul Kitab" (people of the book). The following terms are also used with reference to parts of the Bible:

  1. Tawrat - Torah, the first five books of the Bible
  2. Zabur - the Psalms
  3. Sahaif-e-anbia - the books of the prophets
  4. Injil - the Gospel, the New Testament

Both in Islamic and Christian terminology, the word "Torah" generally refers to the revelation given to Moses. However, it is also used to describe the sum total of Jewish scriptures, collectively known by Christians as the Old Testament. Similarly, the "Injil" is used to refer to the whole collection of Holy Scriptures which Christians call the New Testament.

The Qur'an emphasises that the Tawrat, the Zabur, the Sahaif and the Injil are all God's books, His word, His light, and "Furqan" (criterion). In other words, they are the basis of God's judgement of men. [1] The universality of the Torah and the Injil is endorsed by the Qur'an and it insists that the Injil and the Torah are guidance for every one, "clear testimonies for mankind, and a guidance and a mercy."[2]

Injil as a standard

Christians are told to judge according to the Injil, "Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed, such are evil-livers."[3] Would the Qur'an have commanded Christians to judge by the Injil if there had been any reason to believe that it was not authentic in every detail?

God's word never changes

The Qur'an claims that no one can alter the word of God, "It is the law of Allah which hath taken course aforetime. Thou wilt not find for the law of Allah aught of power to change."[4] Long before the Qur'an, the Bible claimed in similar words, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands for ever." [5]

The Qur'an does not suggest alteration

In the Qur'an there is no suggestion that the Biblical text has been altered or corrupted. The word "tahrif" is never used with reference to the Bible itself. The Qur'an occasionally accuses the Jews of concealing the truth but it never levels this accusation at Christians. It in no way implies that the text of the Bible has been corrupted.

Before Muhammad

Some claim that the Injil and the Torah were corrupted before the rise of Islam. If that were so, why does the Qur'an affirm that the message of Islam was simply a confirmation of the previous Scriptures? According to the Qur'an, which was written approximately six hundred years after the writing of the Injil, the Torah and the Injil were in pure form in Muhammad's time. Had the Injil not been genuine and totally accurate in the time of Muhammad, then the Qur'an ought not to have instructed Christians to judge by that which God had revealed in the Gospel.

After Muhammad

Others maintain that the Torah and the Injil were changed sometime after Muhammad began preaching. However, this charge contradicts the Qur'an's claim to be the guardian of the previous inspired books.[6] Thus, anyone who asserts that there has been corruption of the text of the Torah or of the Injil also, inevitably, charges the Qur'an with failure in its role as guardian!

If the pre-Islamic Scriptures had been corrupted, the Qur'an should not have ordered Muslims to:-

"Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and which was revealed unto Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the Prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered."[7]

Documentary evidence

Numerous manuscript copies of all parts of the Bible written centuries before the time of Muhammad are available today. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were written before 68 A.D. contain most of every book of the Old Testament except one, Esther.[8] Also, some of the oldest Greek manuscripts of the entire New Testament which are available for research are the Codex Alexandrinus and the Codex Sinaiticus. These manuscripts date from the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. and may be studied in the British Museum in London. Another early manuscript is the Codex Vaticanus in the Vatican Library which is also from the same era as the other two manuscripts. In many great libraries, manuscripts of portions of the New Testament which date back to the second century may also be studied. The reliability of the present-day Bible may be verified by comparison with such documents as these.

Modern bona fide translations are basically the same in content as the documents current in Muhammad's time. They do not differ in any item of doctrine. God has preserved his Word in the past and is able to preserve it in the future.


References

  1. Qur'an 2:101, 3:23, 5:44, 40:53-54, 2:53, 21:48, 2:87, 5:46
  2. Qur'an 28:43, cf. 3:3-4, 6:92
  3. Qur'an 5:47
  4. Qur'an 48:23
  5. Isaiah 40:8
  6. Qur'an 5:48
  7. Qur'an 2:136
  8. F.F. Bruce, Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls, (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964), p.28.

 

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