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An Islamic perspective on the Jewish & Christian Bible

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As Muslims, we believe in the previous revelations, such as the Jewish Torah, and the Gospel. It is a requirement of faith for Muslims to believe in the previous revelations, believing in the previous revelations is part of the six articles of faith Muslims believe in.

Now some argue that this may sound like a contradiction, after all, if Muslims and Islam confirm the previous scriptures, then why does the Quran contradict those previous scriptures, and why do Muslims reject many of the teachings found in those books if we believe in them? Some missionaries often try to use this as an argument against Muslims, i.e. that the Quran confirms the Bible, therefore Muslims should follow and obey the Bible, and not go against it.

In light of this, it is important to clarify the Islamic perspective on the previous scriptures, as there is a lot of confusion amongst non-Muslim apologists when it comes to the issue.

Yes, Islam does confirm the previous scriptures, however the scriptures Islam confirms are not the modern day scriptures Jews and Christians possess with them. When Islam confirms the previous scriptures, it is quite specific, the Torah Islam confirms is the one that was given to Moses, and the Gospel confirmed by Islam is the Gospel given to Jesus.

The Quran says nothing about confirming what is called the New Testament, which includes 4 gospels, and several other books. The Quran never even mentions the Gospel in the plural form, i.e. believe in the gospels, it always refers to a specific and singular revelation that was given to Jesus, the Gospel of Jesus.

This is where most of the confusion lies as non-Muslim apologists never understand this context, that the Quran is referring to the original revelations, which we do not possess with us. Now within the Jewish Bible, and the Christian New Testament, there still is a lot of truth contained within these scriptures that Muslims believe in and would affirm. As Muslims we would argue that these teachings are part of the original teachings that have managed to remain in the book, despite the corruption that exists within them.

Now this view is not merely a Muslim opinion, but rather this is based on the Islamic texts themselves, and this is very important, because these issues are clarified by Islam itself, something non-Muslim apologists often like or try to ignore. Non-Muslim apologists, primarily Christian apologists, argue that the concept of the Bible becoming corrupt over time, is a ‘modern’ Muslim invention, rather than being a classical Islamic view, and off course this is nonsense as we shall shortly demonstrate.

Within the Quran, and the hadith, are several texts that mention the corruption of the scriptures:

Therefore woe be unto those who write the Book with their hands and then say, "This is from Allah," that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby. (2:79)

In this verse we clearly see the Quran mentioning how certain people write the scriptures with their own hands, and then say that this is the book of God. The context of this verse was in reference to the Israelites, so in this verse we see a clear reference of corruption within the Jewish texts, that certain people were writing the scriptures with their own hands, writing what they want and desire, and altering what they so wished, and then called it the book of God i.e. the Torah or the Jewish Bible.

Another very clear verse in the Quran that points to the corruption of the previous scripture comes from chapter 4 verse 157 which says:

And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.

In this verse the Quran says that those who dispute about whether Jesus died or not, believing him to have died, follow conjecture, i.e. a corruption. Now which scriptures do we possess, that clearly mentions Jesus dying, and that we have to believe in Jesus’ death as a requirement for salvation? These teachings come from straight from the New Testament, in the 4 gospels, and the writings of Paul. Now according to the Quran, this is nothing but conjecture, i.e. corruption, hence the Quran is very clear and explicit about the corruption of the Christian scripture.

We then have a very clear and explicit hadith from one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the companion in question, is Ibn Abbas, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) speaking about Ibn Abbas said the following about him:

Bukhari Volume 001, Book 003, Hadith Number 075. Narated By Ibn 'Abbaas : Once the Prophet embraced me and said, "O Allah! Bestow on him the knowledge of the Book (Qur'an)."

Now according to Ibn Abbas, he said the following concerning the Jewish and Christian scriptures:

Bukhari Volume 9, Book 93, Number 614: Narrated 'Ubaidullah bin 'Abdullah:'Abdullah bin 'Abbaas said, "O the group of Muslims! How can you ask the people of the Scriptures about anything while your Book which Allah has revealed to your Prophet contains the most recent news from Allah and is pure and not distorted? Allah has told you that the people of the Scriptures have changed some of Allah's Books and distorted it and wrote something with their own hands and said, 'This is from Allah, so as to have a minor gain for it. Won't the knowledge that has come to you stop you from asking them? No, by Allah, we have never seen a man from them asking you about that (the Book Al-Qur'an ) which has been revealed to you.

The hadith pretty much speaks for itself, Ibn Abbas was a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), so this claim that Muslims later on invented teachings that the Bible was corrupt and is not something classical, is nonsense as we said.

We then also have the view of Uthman concerning the previous scriptures, Uthman was another close companion of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), he was the 3rd Caliph of Islam, and was also responsible for making an official standardized Quran to be distributed amongst the Muslim community. This is what Uthman has to say concerning the previous scriptures:

Because they (the Jews) distorted the Torah. They added to it what they liked and erased from it what they hated and they erased the name of Muhammad peace be upon him from the Torah and for that Allah became angry. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

In conclusion, Islam affirms the former and original scriptures that were given, the original Torah given to Moses, and the original Gospel given to Jesus. Islam also clarifies that the previous scriptures were eventually corrupted, and that they are not the original unaltered word of God.

Interestingly enough, modern day scholarship and academia has confirmed the Islamic perspective as well, that the previous scriptures have indeed been altered, changed, and corrupted. These major scholarly studies have also been done by people that are not Muslims, with many of them being Christians as well. And in these scholarly findings, they also show how the modern day texts we have, i.e. the Jewish and Christian Bibles are in fact not the originals. One can easily consult the works of scholars such as Dr. Bruce Metzger and Dr. Bart Ehrman. So the Quran and hadiths claims have even been proven, which in of itself is another proof of Islam’s divine origin, as it made these claims 1400 years ago, before major studies-scholarship were able to verify and prove it.

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