The Bible

What is the Bible?

The word Bible comes from a Greek word ‘Biblios’ which means “the collection of books.” So the Bible is not just one book, but it is a collection of many books. These books

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were written by more than 40 people in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek) over a period of 1500 years on three different continents (Asia, Africa andEurope).

The Bible explains a detailed account right from the creation of the Universe and Adam and Eve through the times of Jesus Christ and His followers. That includes detailed information about Adam and Eve, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Twelve Tribes of Israel, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, many more prophets, and about Jesus.

Most Muslims do not realise that the Bible includes the writings of all the prophets. They think that Christians read only ‘the gospels’ while the Jews read the Torah. But Christians read all the writings of the prophets in the Bible and believe them as the inspired word of God. When Muslims reject the Bible they are actually rejecting the prophets.

Torah, Zabur and Injeel

Muslims say that the Bible has been corrupted and that the authentic Bible (Torah, Zabur and Injeel) does not exist.  Muslims, from their childhood, are taught that the Bible which consists of the Torah (The Law) given to Moses, Zabur (Psalms) given to David and Injeel (Gospel) given to Jesus, has been corrupted.

We want to ask our Muslim brothers and sisters a few simple questions: “How did you come to know that the Bible has been corrupted? Where did you get that information? Have you researched it yourself and come to that conclusion, or have you accepted it just because somebody has said it?”  The same principle applies to any other issue.

Before accepting anything as truth we need to investigate for ourselves whether or not the information is true.  If the Bible is proven to be corrupted, then we need to disregard it.  However, if it is proven to be true, then we need to accept it and believe it.  Let’s see whether or not the Bible is really corrupted.

 (A) What the Quran says about the Bible:

Islam came 600 years after Jesus Christ through Muhammad inArabia. The Quran affirms the existence of the Bible, i.e. (Torah) the Law given to Moses, Zabur (Psalms given to David) and Injeel (Gospels of Jesus Christ). Let us see what the Quran has to say about these books:

(1) The Torah that was given to Moses and the Gospels of Jesus Christ are the Scriptures that the Jews and Christians possessed at the time of Muhammad:

الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِندَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالإِنْجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ

Those who follow the Messenger (Muhammad), the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. (Surah 7:157 Pickthall translation)

وَلَمَّا جَاءهُمْ كِتَابٌ مِّنْ عِندِ اللّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِّمَا مَعَهُمْ وَكَانُواْ مِن قَبْلُ يَسْتَفْتِحُونَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَلَمَّا جَاءهُم مَّا عَرَفُواْ كَفَرُواْ بِهِ فَلَعْنَةُ اللَّه عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ

And when there cometh unto them (Jews), a scripture (the Quran) from Allah, confirming that in their possession. (Surah 2:89 Pickthall translation)

The above verses from the Quran tell us that the Jews and Christians possessed the Torah and the Gospels. These verses do not say that Jews and Christians used to possess them in the past and that now they are lost. Rather, the Torah that was given to Moses, and the Gospels of Jesus Christ, are the scriptures that were with them (the Christians and Jews) and in their possession at the time of Muhammad.

 (2) The Quran teaches that all the scriptures should be respected in the same way:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ آمِنُواْ بِاللّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِيَ أَنزَلَ مِن قَبْلُ وَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِاللّهِ وَمَلاَئِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلاَلاً بَعِيدًا

O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Apostle, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Apostle and the scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Apostles, and the Day of Judgement, hath gone far, far astray. (Surah 4:136 Yusuf Ali)

قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَى وَعِيسَى وَالنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لاَ نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the Prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them. (Surah 3:84 Yusuf Ali translation)

A Muslim is not supposed to deny any of God’s books and make distinctions between the revelations of God, but most of the Muslims deny the Bible and make distinctions.

(3) The Quran says that it confirms and explains more fully the previous scripture:

وَمَا كَانَ هَذَا الْقُرْآنُ أَن يُفْتَرَى مِن دُونِ اللّهِ وَلَكِن تَصْدِيقَ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَتَفْصِيلَ الْكِتَابِ لاَ رَيْبَ فِيهِ مِن رَّبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

This Quran is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book. (Surah 10:37)

Thus, the Quran sees itself as the guardian of the message of all scripture:

وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ

To thee We sent the scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety. (Surah 5:48 Pickthall translation)

وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ هُوَ الْحَقُّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِعِبَادِهِ لَخَبِيرٌ بَصِيرٌ

And that We have revealed to thee of the Book is the truth, confirmingwhat IS before it; God is aware of and sees His servants. (Surah 35:31)

(4) The Quran expects the people of the Book to stand fast by the revelation which was given to them:

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَسْتُمْ عَلَى شَيْءٍ حَتَّىَ تُقِيمُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَلَيَزِيدَنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنْهُم مَّا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ طُغْيَانًا وَكُفْرًا فَلاَ تَأْسَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

Say: “O People of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.” (Surah 5: 68)How can the Jews or Christians stand fast by the Law and the Gospel, if the Law and the Gospel have been corrupted or abrogated? The above verses clearly tell us that the Quran came to confirm the previous scriptures and not to substitute or abrogate them. Again, the assumption of the Quran is that the scriptures that the Christians and Jews have are the reliable Word of God. This means another book (the Quran) is confirming the uniqueness and significance of the previously revealed scriptures as the Word of God (Torah, Zabur and Injeel). It is like saying, “Hey people, listen. I have come to confirm the Torah, Zabur and Injeel. Whatever is written in them is true and I am confirming it”.

(5) A Muslim is instructed, when arguing with a Jew about clean/halal food, to ask the Jew to bring his proof from the Law of Moses. 

كُلُّ الطَّعَامِ كَانَ حِلاًّ لِّبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِلاَّ مَا حَرَّمَ إِسْرَائِيلُ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تُنَزَّلَ التَّوْرَاةُ قُلْ فَأْتُواْ بِالتَّوْرَاةِ فَاتْلُوهَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

Say: “Bring ye the Law and study it, if ye be men of truth.” (Surah 3:93)

How can he (the Jew) bring the Law and study it to determine the truth if it is said to be corrupted or abrogated? The previous scriptures must be reliable to make such a command. The same assumption is also seen in the following verse:

وَقَالُواْ لَن يَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ إِلاَّ مَن كَانَ هُوداً أَوْ نَصَارَى تِلْكَ أَمَانِيُّهُمْ قُلْ هَاتُواْ بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

And they say: “None shall enterParadiseunless he is a Jew or a Christian.” Those are their (vain) desires. Say: “Produce your proof if ye are truthful.” (Surah 2:111)

(6) The scripture that existed before the time of Muhammad was to be consulted by either Muhammad or his Arab contemporaries if they were in doubt about the message that had been given to Muhammad: 

فَإِن كُنتَ فِي شَكٍّ مِّمَّا أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ فَاسْأَلِ الَّذِينَ يَقْرَؤُونَ الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكَ لَقَدْ جَاءكَ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكَ فَلاَ تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُمْتَرِينَ

If thou were in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee. (Surah 10:94)

If the previous scriptures – the Torah, Zabur and Injeel (Bible) have been corrupted, then how it is that Allah is commanding Muhammad to go and consult those who have been reading those books? Does Allah not know that those books have been corrupted or changed?

Thus these earlier scriptures must have been preserved for such a command to have been given.

(7) Finally, the Quran itself states that God would make sure that the Bible would be protected from corruption:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ

“We have, without doubt sent down THE MESSAGE (Zhikra); and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).” (Surah 15:9)

The fact that this includes the Bible (Torah, Zabur and Injeel) is made clear in the following citations:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ

“And before thee We sent none but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess THE MESSAGE (Zhikri).” (Surah 16:43)

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا قَبْلَكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنتُمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ

“Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if ye know this not, ask of those who possess THE MESSAGE (Zhikri).” (Surah 21:7)

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى وَهَارُونَ الْفُرْقَانَ وَضِيَاء وَذِكْرًا لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

“In the past We granted to Moses and Aaron the Criterion (al-Furqana) (for judgment), And a Light and a Message (Zikra) for those who would do right.” (Surah 21:48)

وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِي الزَّبُورِ مِن بَعْدِ الذِّكْرِ أَنَّ الْأَرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحُونَ

“Before this, We wrote in the Psalms, after THE REMINDER (Zhikri): `My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth.'” (Surah 21:105)

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْهُدَى وَأَوْرَثْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ

هُدًى وَذِكْرَى لِأُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ

“We did aforetime give Moses the Guidance, and We gave the Book in inheritance to the Children of Israel – A Guide and A REMINDER (Zhikraa) to men of understanding.” (Surah 40:53-54)

These passages establish that the revelation given to Moses, David, and the Book which Jews and Christians possessed at the time of Muhammad had been sent down by God and that He had promised to preserve the message. If a Muslim says that the Bible has been corrupted, it means that God had failed to guard His message from corruption, breaking his promise of insuring its preservation.


(B) Muhammad and the Torah

You have read (above) what the Quran has to say about the Bible (Torah, Zabur and Injeel).  Now let’s see what Muhammad has to say about it:

Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38 (Kitab al Hudud, ie. Prescribed Punishments), Number 4434 states:

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:

A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace-be-upon-him) to Quff. So he visited them at their school.

They said, ”Abul Qasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them” They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace-be-upon-him), who sat on it and said, ”Bring the Torah.” It was then brought in.  He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying, “I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.”

He then said,”Bring me one who is learned among you.”  A young man was brought in. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi’ (No. 4431).”

Does this not mean the Torah was accepted as not being corrupted in the days of Muhammad?

From this hadith we learn the following lessons:

1. That the prophet Muhammad had an authentic copy of the Torah which was widely used during his time.  The Jews did not protest that Muhammad’s copy was any different than their own. In fact, it probably was a copy from the Jews, since Muhammad or the Arabs could not read it themselves. This copy was God’s infallible word. There was no corruption in the Scriptures, Allah’s inerrant Word. (Surah 10:94)

2. The very fact that he called for the Scriptures for reference should be an example to every Muslim today. We notice that the prophet withdrew the cushion from beneath him and put the Torah on it. This is how every devout Muslim should treat Allah’s Holy Scriptures.

3. The very fact that the prophet said, “I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee” should be an exhortation to all of us to believe in the entire Bible, following his example. Don’t get silly and say, “But dear Christian Friend, we don’t have the authentic, original Torah.” Do you know better than Prophet Muhammad? He himself asserted his belief in the Holy Scriptures which were handed down from generation to generation.

(C) Evidence from the earliest biographies of Muhammad

Some people might even say that these books Torah, Zabur and Injeel (Bible) were safe at the time of Muhammad but they were corrupted later.

Muhammad lived during the 6th/7th century A.D. We have Bibles from before, during and after this time. Archaeological evidence confirms that the Torah and Gospel mentioned in the Quran are the same books that are found in the Bible today.

This fact is also confirmed by Ibn Ishaq, who wrote the earliest biography (Sirat) of Muhammad. He clearly identifies the Gospel mentioned in the Quran as what Christians call the ‘New Testament’.

“Among the things which have reached me, about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted from what John the Apostle set down for them when he wrote the Gospel for them from the Testament of Jesus Son of Mary.” (Ibn Ishaq’s “Sirat Rasulallah”, translated as “The Life of Muhammad”, by A. Guillaume, Karachi: Oxford, 1998, pp. 103-104, bold added)

Here we see Ibn Ishaq referring to the Apostle John and the Gospel that he wrote: “This is simply what Christians call the Gospel according to John and it is part of the New Testament.”

We have seen that neither the Quran nor Muhammad says that the Bible (Torah, Zabur and Injeel) was corrupted. It has been taught for generations that the Torah, Zabur and Inzeel are corrupted and cannot be trusted yet there is no evidence.  This seems to be a fabrication created to lead Muslims away from the truth.  Can anyone show a clear-cut, unambiguous and unequivocal statement to the contrary? 

(D) The origin of the corruption idea

The early Muslims did not believe that Torah, Zabur and Injeel (Bible) were corrupted as Muslims believe it to be today.  Today’s Muslims have no evidence that the early Muslims believed that the Torah, Zabur and Injeel (Bible) were corrupted.

In the first four centuries after Muhammad (600-1000 AD) there was no Muslim theologian that seriously contended that the Gospel texts were not authentic. It was only with Ibn-Khazem (who died atCordobain 1064 A.D), that the charge of falsification was born.

In his defence of Islam against Christians, Ibn-Khazem came up against the contradictions between the Quran and the Gospels. One obvious example was the Quranic text, “They slew him not and they crucified him not.” (Surah 4:156) “Since the Quran must be true,” Ibn- Khazem argued, “it must be the conflicting Gospel texts that are false. But Muhammad tells us to respect the Gospel. Therefore, the present text must have been falsified by the Christians.” His argument was not based on historical facts, but purely on his own reasoning and on his wish to safeguard the Quran. Once he was on this path, nothing could stop him from pursuing this accusation. In fact it seemed the easiest way to attack the opponents. “If we prove the falsehood of their books, they lose the arguments that they take from them.”  This led him eventually to make the cynical statement: “The Christians lost the revealed Gospel except for a few traces, which God has left intact as an argument against them.”

Later, writers took up the same reasoning, enlarged it and embellished it. The alleged falsification of the Bible was thus asserted by Salikh Ibn-al-Khusain (died 1200 A.D.), Ahmad at-Qarafi (died 1285 A.D.), Sa’id Ibn-Khasan (died 1320 A.D.), Muhammad Ibn-Abi-Talib (died 1327 A.D.), Ibn-Taimija (died 1328 A.D.) and many others. From then on, it became a fixed ingredient of Muslim scholars.

Many great Muslim teachers DO NOT believe the Bible has been corrupted and ACCEPT the authenticity of our PRESENT New Testament texts.

Ali al-Tabari (died 855 A.D.) accepted the Gospel texts.

Amr al-Ghakhiz (869 A.D.) accepted the Gospel texts.

Bukhari (810-870 A.D.) accepted the Gospel texts (he gathered some of the earliest tradition of Islam quoting the Quran itself to support his belief in the text of the Bible. (Surah 3:72, 78)

Al-Mas’udi (956 A.D.) accepted the Gospel texts.

Abu Ali Husain Bin Sina  (1037 A.D.) accepted the Gospel texts.

Al-Ghazzali (1111 A.D.) accepted the Gospel texts (probably the greatest Muslim scholar and he lived after Ibn-Khazem but did not accept his teachings).

Ibn-Khaldun (1406 A.D.) accepted the Gospel texts (he lived after Ibn-Khazem and did not accept his teachings but rather believed the earlier Islamic teachers).

Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, founder of theAligarhCollege, said: “In the opinion of us Mohammedans, it is not proved that corruption (tahrif-i-lafzi)…was practiced.”

Fakhruddin Razi, on the authority of Ibn Abbas, a nephew of Muhammad, “The Jews and early Christians were suspected of altering the text of the Taurat and Injil; but in the opinion of eminent doctors and theologians it was not practicable thus to corrupt the text, because those Scriptures were generally known and widely circulated, having been handed down from generation to generation.”

Muslims still need to answer the question: Why do you believe that the Bible has been corrupted, when neither Muhammad nor the early Islamic scholars believed that it was corrupted? And they need to decide whether they are going to believe what the Quran, Muhammad and the early Islamic scholars believed or what Ibn-Khazem claimed.

Finally a great quote from another Islamic Scholar:

Since the “authorized” scriptures of Jews and Christians remain very much today as they existed at the time of the Prophet, it is difficult to argue that the Quranic references to Tawrat and Injil were only to the “pure” Tawrat and Injil as existed at the time of Moses and Jesus, respectively. If the texts have remained more or less as they were in the seventh century CE, the reverence the Qur’an has shown them at the time should be retained even today. Many interpreters of the Qur’an, from Tabari to Razi to Ibn Taymiyya and even Qutb, appear to be inclined to share this view. The wholesale dismissive attitude held by many Muslims in the modern period towards the scriptures of Judaism and Christianity do not seem to have the support of either the Quran or the major figures of tafsir. Further research is required to explore the complexities associated with the doctrine of tahrif and the social, political and intellectual contexts in which this doctrine developed within Islam.

(The Charge of Distortion of Jewish and Christian Scriptures by Saeed, Abdullah Muslim World; Fall 2002, Vol. 92 Issue 3/4, p. 419)

Thus the Bible can be accepted as the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God.

Dear reader, I want you to analyse the facts and make your decisions based on those facts.

Now let’s turn to the topic The Concept of God in Islam and Christianity.

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