Does Qur’an validate Bible?
Does Qur’an validate Bible?
A response to Sam Shamoun’s critique: Qur’an Error – Were Jesus’ Disciples Muslims?
Christian evangelists and missionaries apply a standard argument upon Muslims that the Qur’an “validates” Bible! They especially use this argument against Muslims who are uninitiated in missionary tactics. Once a gullible Muslim is sufficiently duped into this cunning deception, “winning souls” into Christianity is not far off [1.].
- Qur’an claims followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be Muslims.
- Qur’an also claims that Bible is the pure, untarnished word of God (the premise).
- However, Bible claims that Jesus’ (peace be upon him) disciples were “Christians”.
- Therefore, Qur’an is in “error”!
In fact Shamoun is so confident about his claim that he pompously exaggerates, “There is simply no way around this fact”. As such in the subsequent installments of this series we would consider the followers of Jesus (peace be upon him) to be “Christians” in the light of the Qur’anic assertion that they were Muslims; and, consequently whether the New Testament disciples were actually “disciples”. Nevertheless, in this piece we would concentrate on the very premise – if Qur’an validates Bible!
Does Qur’an validate Bible?
Christians have a handful of standard Qur’anic verses which they firstly wrench out of context and then interpret to fit their agenda. In the course of this manhandling, they aptly neglect scores of Islamic sources which speak against this presupposition. To start off we would take a look at some of these verses which categorically deny validation of Bible and then proceed to examine the over used verses.
For instance let us take the topic of crucifixion. Consider the following Qur’anic verse:
That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:- (Qur’an 4:157)
Not merely does Qur’an claim that Jesus (peace be upon him) was not crucified but it emphatically asserts that whosoever would differ therein is in “full of doubts” and merely follows “conjecture”. In effect, Qur’an is claiming most part of the “New Testament” to be mere conjecture since Christians “follow” it to get their information about crucifixion!
Qur’an even imputes portions of “New Testament” to be blasphemous,
In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: “Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every – one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things.” (Qur’an 5:17)
This is so because Christians deduce Jesus (peace be upon him) to be “God” from the New Testament.
Qur’an also accuses distorting of Judeo-Christian Scriptures:
And because of their breaking their covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts. They change words from their context and forget a part of that whereof they were admonished. Thou wilt not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly. (Qur’an 5:13, Pickthal’s Quran Translation)
Have ye any hope that they will be true to you when a party of them used to listen to the word of Allah, then used to change it, after they had understood it, knowingly? (Qur’an 2:75, Pickthal’s Quran Translation)
Qur’an recognizes “Scripture” of the Jews and Christians as mere handy work of mortals:
Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture 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.(Qur’an 2:79, Pickthal’s Quran Translation)
At this juncture, expect highly a readymade response from Shamoun that the Qur’anic verses accuses only “a party of” the Jews and Christians for tampering the Scriptures; implying, there was also a faithful cliché who held pristine Scripture in their possession. Multiple responses are in order for this presupposition:
Firstly, not all Qur’anic verse states that it was only “a party” of Jews and Christians distorting Scriptures. For instance, consider Qur’an 5:13 which generalizes and envelopes most Jews and Christians. Note that in the same verse their breaching the covenant with Allah (SWT) is also addressed! Breach of covenant would not be complained unless greater part of the community has breached it. There has to be substantial number of men so that the breach of covenant could be representative of the entire community; similarly, tampering with text would not be complained unless majority either tampered or condoned the tampering of the text.
Secondly, even if we assume for the time being that it was only a party of Jews and Christians tampering with Scriptures, yet we cannot neglect the proposition of the influence if this was powerful and influential coterie. What if the group tampering with Scriptures happened to be the powerful Scribes or the influential Pharisees opposing New Testament Jesus (peace be upon him). The Sanhedrin was single handedly able to persuade even the roman authority to punish Jesus (peace be upon him) although Pontius Pilate was not convinced of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) guilt! (c.f. Matthew 27:22, 25). In fact this is a very feasible option that it was the influential lobby manipulating the Scriptures. Likewise the authority of Christian community was also with only a few. Consider the following biblical verse for our point:
“I am surprised at you! In no time at all you are deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ, and are accepting another gospel. Actually, there is no “other gospel,” but I say this because there are some people who are upsetting you and trying to change the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel that is different from the one we preached to you, may he be condemned to hell! (Galatians 1:6-9)
Observe the rhetoric Paul has employed in the passage. There is a certain authority which Paul had as far as the gospel was concerned (as he presumed). Paul very explicitly singles out a few as the authority who can preach the gospel. Notice how Paul circumvents that even angels were not in authority to preach any other gospel than what he was preaching. This phenomenon is magnified when we know that there were other apostles preaching totally different doctrine of Christ (peace be upon him) alongside Paul (c.f. Corinthians 11:1-4)! In such a scenario it is just too far-fetched that any laity – a common Christian – would ever raise his voice against Pauline preaching. This in turn proves our point that it was only a selected clique in the church which had possession and control over Christian texts and doctrines.
“Apostle” John’s disciple Ignatius very precisely sums up Paul’s state of affairs:
“You should do nothing apart from the bishop” (Ign. Magn. 7.1)
“Be subject to the bishop as to the commandment” (Ign. Trall. 13.2)
If a lay Christian is allowed to do “nothing” apart from the bishop, then it is economical usage of words that Qur’an only blames “a party” of Jews and Christians to have corrupted the Book. Since a lay would have to accept whatever the bishop – “a party” – lays upon him precisely because the bishop’s words are to be seen as the divine Mosaic “commandments” themselves!
In fact, it makes a lot of sense when Qur’an incriminates only “a party” of Jews and Christians tampering with their texts since they (the “party”) were to be seen as “God” and “Lord”:
“We are clearly obliged to look upon the bishop as the Lord himself” (Ign. Eph. 6.1)
Each Christian community had a bishop, and this bishop’s word was LAW [Mosaic?]. The bishop was to be followed as if he were God himself. (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, p.141)
And accordingly when these “Lord” and “God” himselves would change anything from the Scriptures it would but naturally has to be accepted!
Furthermore, it also makes sense why the Qur’an would, at places, blame a certain section of Jews and Christians to have tampered with the Scripture since this particular band was made responsible for the preservation of the Books:
It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah’s will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah’s book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers. (Qur’an 5:44)
Moving on, it is even bizarre that Shamoun appeals to Qur’an for the validity of Bible! Since if Qur’an really validates Bible then it must be finalized in the first place which Bible does it validates. Amidst the wide range of New Testaments available in the incipient Christian era, how does Shamoun confirm that Qur’an validated Matthew, Mark, Luke and John’s version of the gospel while rejecting the other gospels (and other books) now deemed as “apocrypha” by the church!
For instance consider the Thomas’ version of Gospel, an “apocrypha” by the way. In it Jesus (peace be upon him) is depicted as making birds out of clay and they coming to life. Although this particular miracle is not reported by any of the so-called “canonical” gospels, yet this is exactly what the Qur’an confirms of Jesus (peace be upon him):
“And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe; (Qur’an 5:49)
To make matters worse, the Christians who self-labeled themselves as “orthodox” – as against others as “heretics” – were not even sure about the books they needed to have in the Bible. Consider the following instances where church authorities as early as merely second century (i.e. a few years after the penning of canonical gospel of John) considered Shepherd of Hermas – an otherwise “apocryphal” book – as “canonical” and inspired:
And there was a series of visions given to a proto-orthodox prophet, Hermas, whose written account, the Shepherd, was accepted as an authoritative book by many Christians of the early centuries. Quoted by several church fathers as Scripture, the book, like the Epistle of Barnabas, was included as one of the books of the New Testament in the fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus. (Lost Christianities, Bart D Ehrman, p .149)
To further exacerbate the Shamoun’s claim, early “teachers” of Bible considered 2 Peter to be a “forgery”, a book now vetoed as “inspired”:
For example, the famous teacher of the late-fourth-century Alexandria, Didymus the Blind, claimed that 2 Peter was a “forgery” that was not to be included in the canon. Moreover, Didymus quoted other books, including the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas, as scriptural authorities. (Lost Christianities, Bart D Ehrman, pp .230-231)
Later in this paper we have shown that famous “orthodox” figure – Clement of Alexandria considered gospel of Peter to be authentic so much so that he quoted texts from it in his writings.
Thus, we expect some solid argument where it can be finalized that Qur’an validates the New-Old-East-West version of the Bible and it rejects the other as apocrypha.
If these are not enough then Islam categorically rejects most of the New Testament:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Mary, and all the prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no prophet between me and him (i.e. Jesus).” (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 651)
Quite logically, if there had been no “prophet” between Jesus and Mohammad (peace be upon them) then there could be no prophetic inspirations in the interim. Consequently, Islam does not recognize any “inspiration” after Jesus (peace be upon him) up until Mohammad (peace be upon him). Yet we find New Testament – the “canonical” New Testament – containing philosophies attributed [2.] to Paul, James, Peter, so on and so forth. Thus, to claim that Qur’an ratifies Bible per say is a colossal misrepresentation of Islamic position.
In the house of Islam, “Injeel” refers to the revelations dictated to prophet Isa (peace be upon him) just like Qur’an was dictated to Mohammad (peace be upon him). New Testament does not even come close to this import of the word ‘Injeel’. On the contrary, the New Testament – the orthodox, “canonical” collection – does concede to report Jesus’ (peace be upon him) words only partially:
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
Through the boldfaced sentence, Paul was quoting Jesus (peace be upon him). However, New Testament gospels are void of this statement attributed to Jesus (peace be upon him)!
Thus, it is extremely week argument to claim that Qur’an validates Bible while New Testament itself is denying it. Let us take a few more examples before we close.
Qur’an claims that Mohammad’s (peace be upon him) prophethood was prophesized in Jewish-Christian Scriptures (c.f. 2:146, 26:197, 61:6). So if Qur’an “validates” the Bible then it obviously expects it to contain prophecies of Mohammad (peace be upon him) in it! It is illogical to even argue that Qur’an would “validate” an “Injeel” or a “Taurat” which has no prophecies of Mohammad (peace be upon him) in it! Christians categorically deny of any such prophecies in the Bible, thus, Qur’an could not possibly “validate” such a text!
Let alone the issue of Qur’an validating the Bible, the first query to be made is: can New Testament validate itself? The New Testament scholarship is now virtually unanimous that Matthew and Luke took their “inspirations” from a certain source called as “Quelle” or simply “Q”. “Q” is reckoned to predate Mark’s gospels around a decade and a half and contemporary to Paul’s writings. However, Q is now absolutely lost. In other words, the source which Matthew and Luke were using is lost. Thus, where we have facts that Qur’an could not possibly validate Matthew’s and Luke’s gospel, in the same place, the probability further shrinks that Qur’an would ratify something whose source is agreeably lost.
And why the emphasis on the proposition that Qur’an validates a secondary source or derived source – the canonical gospels – since it would be much logical to claim that Qur’an validates “Q” – the primary source!? But we know this claim would never be made since it would create an absurd picture of the argument.
In fact “Q” is not the only biblical material to have been lost! Not all epistles of Paul show up in the “canonical” New Testament either:
I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: (1 Corinthians 5:9)
Paul refers to an earlier letter which he wrote to the Corinthians preaching them not to consort with the fornicators. However, ironically, he refers to this earlier letter in the biblically “first” letter to the Corinthians which the New Testament could canonize. Bible scholars do accept this “loss” of “Scriptures”:
I wrote to you in my letter (not this present epistle, which τῇ ἐπιστολῇ might mean, see reff.,—for there is nothing in the preceding part of this Epistle which can by any possibility be so interpreted,—certainly not either 1Co_5:2 or 1Co_5:6, which are commonly alleged by those who thus explain it—and ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ would be a superfluous and irrelevant addition, if he meant the letter on which he was now engaged:—but, a former epistle, which has not come down to us: (Henry Alford’s The Greek Testament, 1 Corinthians 5:9)
Albert Barnes is even more candid in his admissions that apart from the “inspired” Pauline letters, multiple other “inspired” books from other “inspired” authors were also “lost”:
(4) it is altogether probable that Paul would write more letters than we have preserved. We have but fourteen of his remaining. Yet he labored many years; founded many churches; and had frequent occasion to write to them.
(5) we know that a number of books have been lost which were either inspired or which were regarded as of authority by inspired men. Thus, the books of Jasher, of Iddo the seer, etc., are referred to in the Old Testament, and there is no improbability that similar instances may have occurred in regard to the writers of the New Testament. (Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 1 Corinthians 5:9)
Acknowledging the hefty loss with the loss of the important and inspired Pauline letter, noted Bible scholar Robertson yearns if it could be miraculously retrieved from some parchment heap:
I wrote unto you in my epistle (egrapsa humin en tēi epistolēi). Not the epistolary aorist, but a reference to an epistle to the Corinthians earlier than this one (our First Corinthians), one not preserved to us. What a “find” it would be if a bundle of papyri in Egypt should give it back to us? (Robertson’s Word Pictures, 1 Corinthians 5:9)
The above hard evidence from the New Testament itself of a particular Pauline letter and its subsequence absence along with the unanimous view of scholars that it has been “lost” confirms beyond any scintilla of doubt that the New Testament is not preserved in its own capacity let alone Qur’an validating it!
Nevertheless, if Qur’an does not uphold the pristine preservation of the earlier Scriptures then why does it allegedly exhort People to judge by their Scripture! Shamoun (mis) used the following Qur’anic verses to his cause:
If you are in doubt regarding what We have sent down to you, then ask those who have been studying the book from before you. The truth has come to you from your Lord, so do not be of those who doubt. S. 10:94 QRT
Shamoun reads the above verse; captures his agenda in it; and makes his case out of it without caring as what Muslims should “ask” those “studying the Book”!? What if Muslims were to go to a random Jews and “ask” about the chastity of Mary – “the mother of god”; Or even worse, enquire about the legality of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) birth (Ben Pandera?) or his Messiah-ship. The foregoing line of reasoning should guide us that a Muslim was not supposed to go enquire anything everything from anybody everybody from those studying the Book.
As such, to majority of scholars, the subject verse through the Prophet (peace be upon him) rhetorically addressed believers to enquire, if they wanted, the sincere amongst the Jews and Christians, of the likes of Abdullah ibn Sallam and Salman al-Farsi (may Allah(SWT) be pleased with them) respectively about the veracity of Islam and its Prophet (peace be upon him) as prophesied in their scripture:
(And if thou) O Muhammad (art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee) concerning that with which We sent Gabriel, i.e. the Qur’an, (then question those who read the Scripture) i.e. the Torah ((that was) before you) ‘Abdullah Ibn Salam and his followers. The Prophet (pbuh) did not ask nor was he ever in doubt about the Qur’an. Rather, Allah was addressing with these words the people of the Prophet. (Verily the Truth from thy Lord) i.e. Gabriel with the Qur’an from your Lord, containing the events of past nations (hath come unto thee) O Muhammad. (So be not thou of the waverers) be not of the doubters.(Qur’an 10: 94, Tafsir Ibn Abbas)
In fact Qur’an could not possibly ask an enquiry to the Jews and Christians in the general sense. This can be easily established by the way of the following examples:
Qur’an 37:102-103 asserts that it was Ishmael (peace be upon him) who was offered by Abraham (peace be upon him) as a sacrifice to God. However, Bible (Genesis 22:2) claims that Abraham (peace be upon him) chose Isaac (peace be upon him) for the sacrifice! Obviously, therefore, in this mutually exclusive situation, Allah (SWT) would not ask Qur’an followers to confirm Qur’anic message from the Bible followers!
The context of Qur’an 10:94 lends another explanation. Verses 75 through 93 provide the context for verse 94. In the context we have the Moses’ (peace be upon them) struggle against Pharaoh and his magicians, the subsequent exodus of Israelites from Egypt and the consequential doom of Pharaoh and his army:
Then after them sent We Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh and his chiefs with Our Signs. But they were arrogant: they were a people in sin. When the Truth did come to them from Us, they said: “This is indeed evident sorcery!” Said Moses: “Say ye (this) about the truth when it hath (actually) reached you? Is sorcery (like) this? But sorcerers will not prosper.” They said: “Hast thou come to us to turn us away from the ways we found our fathers following,- in order that thou and thy brother may have greatness in the land? But not we shall believe in you!” Said Pharaoh: “Bring me every sorcerer well versed.” When the sorcerers came, Moses said to them: “Throw ye what ye (wish) to throw!” When they had had their throw, Moses said: “What ye have brought is sorcery: Allah will surely make it of no effect: for Allah prospereth not the work of those who make mischief. “And Allah by His words doth prove and establish His truth, however much the sinners may hate it!” But none believed in Moses except some children of his people, because of the fear of Pharaoh and his chiefs, lest they should persecute them; and certainly Pharaoh was mighty on the earth and one who transgressed all bounds. Moses said: “O my people! If ye do (really) believe in Allah, then in Him put your trust if ye submit (your will to His).” They said: “In Allah do we put out trust. Our Lord! make us not a trial for those who practise oppression; “And deliver us by Thy Mercy from those who reject (Thee).” We inspired Moses and his brother with this Message: “Provide dwellings for your people in Egypt, make your dwellings into places of worship, and establish regular prayers: and give glad tidings to those who believe!” Moses prayed: “Our Lord! Thou hast indeed bestowed on Pharaoh and his chiefs splendour and wealth in the life of the present, and so, Our Lord, they mislead (men) from Thy Path. Deface, our Lord, the features of their wealth, and send hardness to their hearts, so they will not believe until they see the grievous penalty.” Allah said: “Accepted is your prayer (O Moses and Aaron)! So stand ye straight, and follow not the path of those who know not.” We took the Children of Israel across the sea: Pharaoh and his hosts followed them in insolence and spite. At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, he said: “I believe that there is no god except Him Whom the Children of Israel believe in: I am of those who submit (to Allah in Islam).” (It was said to him): “Ah now!- But a little while before, wast thou in rebellion!- and thou didst mischief (and violence)! “This day shall We save thee in the body, that thou mayest be a sign to those who come after thee! but verily, many among mankind are heedless of Our Signs!” We settled the Children of Israel in a beautiful dwelling-place, and provided for them sustenance of the best: it was after knowledge had been granted to them, that they fell into schisms. Verily Allah will judge between them as to the schisms amongst them, on the Day of Judgment. (Qur’an 10:75-93)
Then comes verse 94 rhetorically urging believers to enquire Jews about the incidents transpiring in Egypt. Note that the chances are very scarce that Muslims of Medina – an otherwise obscure community – would know the action taking place in another continent – Africa, that too thousands of years ago! Although the enquiry is more of a rhetorical tool (as we would soon observe) yet when we compare the details of this particular incident with what is portrayed in the current Old Testament we find similarities [3.]. So Qur’an is merely approving the remnant similarities in a broader sense.
Also note that verse 93 assert Jews to have “fallen into schisms” amongst themselves with regards to these details of Moses’ (peace be upon him) triumph over Pharaoh. In this sense, the exhortation of verse 94 (to enquire people reading the book) could be a rhetorical assertion for the veracity of the details of the Mosaic struggle amidst the confusion in Jewish differences.
Shamoun also appealed to Qur’an 5:47 in the following manner:
It even commands Christians of Muhammad’s day to judge by the Gospel which Jesus passed on to them, since it was still in their possession:
And We sent after (following) on their tracks with Jesus, Mary’s son confirming for what (is) between his hands from the Torah/Old Testament (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi min al-tawrati), and We gave him the New Testament/Bible (al-Injeela) in it (is) guidance and light, and confirming to what (is) between his hands from the Torah/Old Testament (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi min al-tawrati), and guidance and a sermon/advice/warning to the fearing and obeying. And the New Testament’s/Bible’s people (ahlu al-Injeeli) should judge/rule with what God descended in it, and who does not judge/rule with what God descended, so those, they are the debauchers. S. 5:46-47 Ahmed Ali
Notice how Shamoun chooses one of less known and unpopular translation of the Qur’an. He abided by the deceptive trainings of evangelization so that he could substitute Injeel with “New Testament” and Taurat with “Old Testament”! However, the more standard translators have translated as follows:
And We sent after them in their footsteps Isa, son of Marium, verifying what was before him of the Taurat and We gave him the Injeel in which was guidance and light, and verifying what was before it of Taurat and a guidance and an admonition for those who guard (against evil) And the followers of the Injeel should have judged by what Allah revealed in it; and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the transgressors. (Qur’an 5:46-47, Shakir’s Quran Translation)
The verse is not asking the Christians of Prophet’s (peace be upon him) era to judge by whatever document they then possessed. On the contrary, it implicates that they should have judged (past tense) by the precepts of Injeel when it was revealed to Isa (peace be upon him).
The foregoing is further corroborated by the fact that it is prohibited in Islam to follow/“judge” by the religious rulings of previous prophet during the ministry of current prophet:
Muhammad Ibn al-Alâ’ told us that Ibn Numayr reported from Mujâlid from Ibn Aamir from Jaabir that Umar Ibn al-Khattâb brought a copy of the Torah to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: “O Apostle of God, this is a copy of the Torah.” But [the Prophet] kept silent. Then Umar started reading and the face of the Prophet kept changing. So, Abu Bakr interrupted him violently: “Don’t you see the face of the Prophet (peace be upon him)?” Umar looked at the Prophet’s face and said “May God preserve me from His anger and from the anger of his Apostle (peace be upon him), we accepted God as Lord and Islâm as religion and Muhammad as prophet.” Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “By the One Who owns Muhammad’s soul, if Moses (peace be upon him) appeared to you and you followed him and left me, you would go astray from the right path and if he were alive and reached [the time of] my prophet hood he would have followed me.” (Sunan Al Daarimi, Kitab: Al Muqadimmah, Bab: Maa Yuttaqaa min tafseer Hadeeth Al Nabi Salaah Allaahu ‘Alayhi Wassallam, Hadith no. 436, Source.)
Let alone mere dubious books attributed to Moses (peace be upon him), even his physical presence does not allows following the nuances of his religious ways; on the contrary, Moses (peace be upon him) himself would have to “judge” by the religious rulings inspired to Mohammad (peace be upon him) abandoning his own religious rulings! In such a situation it is a very weak argument to claim that Qur’an exhorted Christians to “judge” by their Book per se.
On one hand Qur’an invites Jews and Christians to follow Mohammad (peace be upon him) superseding the religious rulings of previous/their prophets [Moses (p) would follow Mohammad (p)]; consequently, on the other hand, Qur’an cannot ask them to “judge”, in other words, follow their scriptures. On the foregoing, Qur’an 5:47 blames Christians that they should have judged (past tense) by their Scripture!
Furthermore, the contextual verses also support that Qur’an was complaining that followers of Injeel should have followed it when revealed for them (past tense). Consider the sequential flow of preceding/contextual verses:
Surely We revealed the Taurat in which was guidance and light; with it the prophets who submitted themselves (to Allah) judged (matters) for those who were Jews, and the masters of Divine knowledge and the doctors, because they were required to guard (part) of the Book of Allah, and they were witnesses thereof; therefore fear not the people and fear Me, and do not take a small price for My communications; and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the unbelievers.
And We prescribed to them in it that life is for life, and eye for eye, and nose for nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth, and (that there is) reprisal in wounds; but he who foregoes it, it shall be an expiation for him; and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the unjust.
And We sent after them in their footsteps Isa, son of Marium, verifying what was before him of the Taurat and We gave him the Injeel in which was guidance and light, and verifying what was before it of Taurat and a guidance and an admonition for those who guard (against evil). And the followers of the Injeel should have judged by what Allah revealed in it; and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the transgressors.
And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it of the Book and a guardian over it, therefore judge [present tense] between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their low desires (to turn away) from the truth that has come to you; for every one of you did We appoint a law and a way, and if Allah had pleased He would have made you (all) a single people, but that He might try you in what He gave you, therefore strive with one another to hasten to virtuous deeds; to Allah is your return, of all (of you), so He will let you know that in which you differed; (Qur’an 5: 44-48, Shakir’s Quran Translation)
Notice the chronological flow of the verses; it starts with Moses (peace be upon him) and his ministry and calls that his followers judged by what was revealed to him.
Then Jesus (peace be upon him) comes and his followers should have judged by the revelation given to him.
Finally Mohammad (peace be upon him) came with Qur’an to judge all by it.
On the foregoing, when Qur’an referred to the followers of Jesus (peace be upon) and Injeel, it merely urged that they should have judged (past tense) by it. It was a strong warning to them that by not judging by the standards of Injeel they were in gross error.
To further expose Shamoun’s argument, if on one hand Qur’an allowed Christians to “judge” by “Injeel” in their possession; then, on other hand it also informs that Jesus (peace be upon him) prophesied about Mohammad (peace be upon him) in his “Injeel”:
And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, “this is evident sorcery!” (Qur’an 61:6, Yusuf Ali)
This particular quotation establishes two points:
Firstly, it negates any claim that Qur’an validates Bible. It is because, as per Qur’an, the “Injeel” of Jesus (peace be upon him) should contain prophecies of the advent of a prophet after Jesus (peace be upon him), in fact this prophet would be explicitly recognized as “Ahmad” (peace be upon him), however, as Christians edify us, it was never present in the “New Testament”!
Secondly, the verse also exposes the double standards employed by Christian apologists; since if we allow Shamoun that Qur’an indeed allowed Christians to “judge” by those texts which were in their hands at the time of Prophet (peace be upon him) then Qur’an also exhorts that they should expect a prophet after Jesus (peace be upon him) whose name would be “Ahmad”. So if Shamoun truly want to “judge”, then he should follow the Prophet (peace be upon him) of Islam!
In fact according to famous Qur’an exegesis, Tafsir Ibn Abbas, the sense of the verse is specifically (not general) towards the same issue of Prophet’s (peace be upon him) presence in the revelations to Jesus (peace be upon him) and about the punishment ruling on adulterers:
(Let the People of the Gospel judge) such that the people of the Gospel elucidate (by that which Allah hath revealed therein) that which Allah has elucidated in the Gospel regarding the traits and description of Muhammad (pbuh) and the legal ruling of stoning. (Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed) He says: whoever does not show that which Allah has elucidated in the Gospel; (such are evil-doers) transgressing disbelievers. (Tafsir Ibn Abbas, Qur’an 5:47)
The following Qur’an commentator also interprets the verse to be specific about the ruling of stoning for adulterers:
(O Messenger! Let not them grieve thee who vie one with another in the race to disbelief…) [5:41-47]. Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Hasan al-Hiri informed us by dictation> Abu Muhammad, the chamberlain of Ibn Ahmad al-Tusi> Muhammad ibn Hammad al-Abiwardi> Abu Mu’awiyah> al-A’mash> ‘Abd Allah ibn Murrah> al-Bara’ ibn ‘Azib who said: “One day, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, passed by a Jewish man who had just been flogged and had his face darkened with coal. He summoned the Jews and asked them: ‘Is this what your Scripture decrees as punishment for the adulterer?’ ‘Yes!’ they replied. He then summoned one of their doctors and asked him: ‘I implore you by Allah who has sent the Torah to Moses, is this what your Scripture decrees as punishment for the adulterer’. He said: ‘No! And if you had not implored me by Allah, I would not tell you. Our Scripture rules that the punishment of the adulterer is stoning. But it became widespread among our notables. Initially, when one of the notables committed adultery, we left him unpunished while we applied stoning on the communality in cases of adultery. Then we decided to look for a punishment that was applied on both the notables and communality of people. And so we agreed on darkening the face with coal and flogging to replace stoning’. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: ‘O Allah! I am the first to reapply your command after they had suspended it‘. And he ordered that the Jewish man be stoned. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed (O Messenger! Let not them grieve thee who vie one with another in the race to disbelief) up to His words (If this be given unto you, receive it…), they said: ‘Go to Muhammad; if he directs you to flog the adulterer and darken his face with coal and apply flogging, then follow him. But do not follow him if he directs you to apply stoning on him’. Up to His words (Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers) [5:44]. He said: ‘This relates to the Jews’. Up to His words (Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are wrong-doers) [5:45]. He said: ‘This relates to the Christians’. (Wahidi, Asbab Al Nuzul, Qur’an 5:47)
Therefore in the light of the foregoing exegesis if Qur’an exhorted People of the Book to judge by what was revealed for them then it was specific to the application of punishment of stoning for adulterers which remained preserved (at least in essence and import) during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and even to our days. Old Testament (Leviticus 20:10, Ezekiel 23:47) does explicitly condemn adulterers to stoning and New Testament (Matthew 5:17, John 8:4-7) follows the suit. As such “judging” by previous scriptures does not mean accepting anything everything from it. It was specific about those issues about which the Prophet (peace be upon him) well realized that they (Jews and Christians of his time) knew the truth of the rulings (compatible with Islamic position from their revelations), and yet nagged around. (Islam also adjudges adulterers for stoning till death.)
Finally Shamoun also quoted Ibn Ishaq to support Bible’s validity. Here is what he Shamoun had to claim:
“This is further confirmed by the earliest extant writing on Muhammad’s life which was written by a Muslim scholar named Ibn Ishaq in the eighth century AD. In it, Ibn Ishaq cites John’s Gospel as being the written account of the very Gospel which God gave Jesus to pass on to his followers!
“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: ‘He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, “They hated me without a cause” (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord’s presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord’s presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.’
“The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete. (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 103-104; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Notice how this Muslim author quoted John 15:23-16:1 without ever questioning this Gospel’s veracity.”
We are glad that Shamoun quoted Ibn Ishaq since by doing so he has further helped us to expose his ruses.
Shamoun appeals to Ibn Ishaq’s referral to the gospel of John but he comfortably ignored that Ibn Ishaq did not quote John’s gospel to certify its authenticity and accuracy. On the contrary, he did so to prove Prophet’s (peace be upon him) presence in the gospel(s). Consider the concluding lines from the same citation which Shamoun tried to cover by not emphasizing it:
“The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete. (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 103-104; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Thus, Ibn Ishaq did not “ever question this Gospel’s veracity” because it was not his scope and subject when he quoted the text. He was expressly interested in proving the prophecy of Prophet (peace be upon him) in the “gospel of John”!
Even if we accept the notion for a moment that Ibn Ishaq did not quote Gospel of John to prove Prophet’s (peace be upon him) prophecy yet it cannot be argued that he supported the authenticity of the gospel. It is because numerous early “orthodox” Church fathers used to quote from unorthodox apocryphal Scriptures. In fact the orthodox “fathers” also used to quote from the writings of “heretics” when it suited their agenda:
“We know almost nothing of the Gospels of the Twelve Apostles and of the Basilides, a famous second-century Gnostic heretic. The Gospels of the Egyptians and of Matthias are known only through a few quotations by Origen’s older contemporary, Clement of Alexandria. These quotations give a sense of what we lost when these texts disappeared.” (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, pp 13-14)
Clement of Alexandria – an early “orthodox” church father even quotes from the spurious gospel of Peter quite substantially in his works (2 Clement 5:2-4):
“The second contains a saying not found in the canonical Gospels but known to scholars of Christian antiquity from another surviving document called 2 Clement, a proto-orthodox document of the mid-second century, which nonetheless records a rather peculiar interchange between Jesus and Peter.” (Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities, pp 23)
Thus if the founding fathers of “orthodox” Christianity had no qualms in quoting from text deemed as “apocryphal”, then Ibn Ishaq could well as well quote for the specific reason he was quoting them.
Finally, going by Shamoun’s ignorant reasoning methodology where he says, “Notice how this Muslim author quoted John 15:23-16:1 without ever questioning this Gospel’s veracity.” We can also claim that, notice how this Christian apologist quoted Ibn Ishaq without ever questioning “Sirat Rasul Allah’s” veracity since there are numerous instances in Ibn Ishaq’s work which speak of the truth of Islam and prophet hood of Mohammad (peace be upon him).
In fact at one instance Shamoun himself appealing to texts deemed apocryphal:
(1) It is of interest to note that a third century apocryphal writing attributed to Thomas has the Apostle not only calling Jesus his Lord and his God, but also referring to him as Lord and God of all creation:
So can we claim that since Shamoun was quoting from Acts of Thomas implies that he believes in its authenticity too? To be consistent, if Shamoun can quote from the “apocrypha” to make a positive case for himself, so can Ibn Ishaq!
Apart from a few misused verses of the Qur’an, it is awfully ignorant to assume that Qur’an validates Bible. At most instances Qur’an has criticized that revelations to earlier prophets have gone through distortion by its adherers. On other occasion it alludes to the New Testament as mere “conjecture” and pages of “blasphemy”. Therefore, Qur’an stands as a yardstick to expose the ruses of Jews and Christians whenever they have tried to manipulate the revelations to suit their agenda. This was illustrated in the case of stoning of adulterers.
All of the preceding for the ignorant claim that Qur’an lends credit to the “Bible”; having proved the opposite, we are now in a position to enquire the real issue of this series, namely: Who were the original followers of Jesus (peace be upon him). Herein we would consider the feasibility of Jesus’ (peace be upon him) followers to be “Muslims” as the Qur’an asserts. For this investigation our primary source would be New Testament and no Islamic material to avoid any charge of circular reasoning.
Thereafter, since we are discussing the followership of Jesus (peace be upon him), we would turn the table in the final installment; we would consider the New Testament-disciples of Jesus (peace be upon him) for their discipleship. Inshallah.
[1.] For instance, think about the anxious Muslims in the war torn areas running for shelter and food from Drone attacks; what an opportunity to preach “Kingdom of God” has come! What a gold mine for “missionary” activity!!
[2.] Note that we used the word “attributed” when referring to the authors of New Testament books since there are quite a number of books within it which are generally associated to particular New Testament figure in absence of the factual information about their original author(s). In reality Christian scholarship is unanimous about the anonymity of its author! Book of Hebrews, for instance, is associated to Paul when in reality nobody knows who wrote it (except of course that Holy Ghost inspired it)! This phenomenon further jeopardizes the attempt to prove if “Qur’an” validates Bible.
[3.] This should not be extended to infer that Jews of Medina had same narrations as that of current day Old Testament. And, similarly, this deduction (similarity between Qur’anic descriptions of Moses’ (p) struggle to its biblical counterpart) cannot be used to conclude that those portions of the Old Testament are the-word of God.
[4.] The following article responds to Christian misuse of Thomas’ “My Lord My God” exclamation and other argument for deity of Jesus (peace be upon him):