Does the Qur’aan affirm the Bible?


Question:

Does the Qur’aan affirm the Torah and the New Testament?

Answer:

There is a fundamental difference between what Muslims consider the Bible to be, and what the Christians and Jews consider the Bible to be. To understand these differences, please note the following verses:

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَقَفَّيْنَا مِن بَعْدِهِ بِالرُّسُلِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ

And We did certainly give Moses the Torah and followed up after him with messengers. And We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs and supported him with the Pure Spirit. (2:87)

وَقَفَّيْنَا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِم بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنجِيلَ فِيهِ هُدًى وَنُورٌ وَمُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَهُدًى وَمَوْعِظَةً لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. (5:46)

In the Islamic belief, the Prophets Moses and Jesus (may God’s peace be upon them), both were given scripture – to Moses the Torah and to Jesus the Injeel.

The Torah

The Torah of which the Qur’aan speaks of, is different to the Torah of the Jews. Today’s Jews use the JPS translation of the Masoretic texts which dates to the 7th and 8th centuries of the Christian Era. Here is an article by a Jewish society outlining the differences between the various transmitted Torahs. The Torah of which the Qur’aan refers to, is a Torah revealed to Moses. The Masoretic Torah is thus not from Moses’ time but is from the 7th and 8th centuries of the Christian Era. As expected, Jews would say it is well preserved, but the very article I linked to describes the vast differences between the various Torah collections.

It is important to remember that the Jews are assuming that their Torah has been handed down securely throughout the generations, but as the Tanakh itself mentions, there have been instances where the entire Tanakh had disappeared from Jewish society altogether! King Josiah ruled for 31 years without the Torah, until it was discovered by a Priest:

And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.

Concerned by the words which were in the book, and the contrasting actions of the Israelites, they were not obeying the laws within it – the King ordered the Priest to find the meaning of the words in the book:

Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.

This famous story is found in 2 Kings 22 of the Old Testament. From this, it would be naive to believe that the Jews had always protected their Torah, knew its meaning or followed what it said. For if it could have disappeared from society once before and not even the generation before the King were known to obey the laws within it, then we must accept the inevitable. That would be that if the Jews could not understand or have the book in their possession for two generations, we have no indication that the book found is the Torah of Moses, we can however call it the Torah of King Josiah or of Priest Hilkiah. A Christian or Jew may then point us to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but as textual critic Immauel Tov has written about it, and as the Jewish website quotes him:

“From the great liberties which these scribes took it is evident that they do not reflect a tradition of precise and conservative copying, but rather a popular or vulgar one” (Tov, p. 108).

The article after quoting Tov says:

The other quarter of these texts show marked differences from the Masoretic Text that we have. Can these texts shed doubt on the textus receptus? Does the wide variety of different versions tell us that the Masoretic Text was only one of many versions of the Torah that were circulating at that time?

Appealing to the age of the Dead Sea Scrolls (400 BC) is therefore useless, as it could very well be a transmission of the Tanakh from King Josiah’s time (650 BC) as there was no other known Torah to use at the time of King Josiah. In any case, the Dead Sea Scrolls are not used by the Jews of today. So where does this leave us? It leaves us with a very clear answer – none of the Torahs of today are from the time of Moses, or can trace their textual history to the time of Moses. So what the Qur’aan affirms is what was sent to Moses and what it does not affirm is the 8th century Masoretic Text or the Dead Sea Scrolls from which the Jews of that time did not read. The Jews of Jesus’ time used the Greek Septuagint, a translation of a Torah (from which collection of scrolls the Septuagint is translated from – no one knows). In any case, the Torah was not given to Moses in Greek.

Conclusion? The Qur’aan affirms a Torah given to Moses. It does not affirm the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Greek Septuagint or the Masoretic Text, as none of those texts are from the time of Moses, or can be successfully traced to the time of Moses. Historically speaking we can at the latest date, assume them to be from the time of King Josiah.

Interestingly, the Qur’aan affirms that the Torah of the today is something which was written and then claimed to be the Torah. We are not saying that Torah of Allaah was corrupted, rather what the Qur’aan is saying that men wrote documents and claimed it to be the Torah:

So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn. (2:79)

The Gospel/ Injeel

Earlier you were introduced to this verse of the Qur’aan:

وَقَفَّيْنَا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِم بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنجِيلَ فِيهِ هُدًى وَنُورٌ وَمُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَهُدًى وَمَوْعِظَةً لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. (5:46)

Muslims believe in a Gospel given to Christ as a revelation from God. There is no New Testament today which is claimed to be from Christ. Rather the New Testament is claimed by Christians to be traditions of Jesus written after him. Clearly then, these are two different books. The Muslim believes in a Gospel given to Christ, while Christians believe in a Gospel about Christ, after Christ.

What about Qur’aan 10:94?

Many missionaries claim that this verse validates the Bible, for it says:

And if thou be in doubt concerning that which We have sent down unto thee, then ask those who have read the Books before thee. Assuredly hath the truth come unto thee from thy Lord, so be not then of the doubters.

How can the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) ask the people of the Jews and Christians about the truthfulness of their scriptures, when Muslims and the Qur’aan claim the Torah and Gospel to have been long corrupted by the Jews and Christians?Surely then, the Old and New Testaments at that time must’ve been the true ones?

This however is flawed thinking. As mentioned earlier, various groups of Jews had their own collections (codices) of the Tanakh (Jewish Bible), they had their own exegeses (understanding of the Bible), so the Qur’aan is not commanding the Muslims to authenticate the Bible of that time, rather it is mentioning that there are Jews and Christians who have knowledge of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) arrival and that the Muslims should ask them about this knowledge. Indeed so, many affirmed that in their understanding of what the Bible had said, it did foretell of the coming of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Here’s one example of a Christian exegete confirming Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Torah. Therefore, the Qur’aan does not affirm the Bible of that time, it affirms that at that time, there were people who had knowledge of the Bible in which Muhammad (peace be upon him) was foretold within.

Two companions of the Prophet peace be upon him, are of special importance. Abdullah ibn Salam was a Jewish Rabbi and Salman al Farsi was a Christian. Both of them converted to Islam. The verse in question speaks about the knowledge of the Jews and Christians who knew of the Prophet’s coming. Assuredly, the Jewish Rabbi Abdullah ibn Salam and the learned Christian Salman al Farsi who both learned the Qur’aan and are prominent companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not question the authenticity of this verse of the Qur’aan. Surely, if it was anyone to claim that verse 94 is a lie, then these individuals would have been the first to do so.

Conclusion? 10:94 does not affirm the Bible, but affirms a specific portion of knowledge about the Bible which certain Jews and Christians at one time possessed and as linked to, still claim to have.

and Allaah knows best.

Extra Reading:

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