Ask the People of the Book?
Many missionaries often quote Qur’an 10:94 as proof that they have true knowledge about God, and this verse proves that Muslims must depend on Christians and Jews to understand the Qur’an, Islam and God. How do we respond to this?
It is important to first begin by understanding this passage. Qur’an 10:94 reads as follows:
“So if you are in doubt, [O Muhammad], about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters.”
The passage does not state that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was in doubt, nor does it state that the Muslims should be in doubt. The passage then concludes by commanding that we should never doubt the Qur’an, “so never be among the doubters”. This passage therefore, does not give authority to modern-day Christians to be judges about the truth of Islam. To argue this, would be to ignore the entirety of what the passage says. Tafseer Maar’iful Qur’an comments about this passage:
In the third verse (94), the address is obviously to the Holy Prophet (ﷺ). But, it goes without saying that there is no probability of his doubting the revelation. Therefore, the purpose is to beam the message to the Muslim community through this address where he is not the intended recipient. Then, it is also possible that this address may be to human beings at large asking them if they had any doubts about the Divine revelation sent to them through Sayydina Muhammad al Mustafa (ﷺ). If they had, let them ask those who recited the Torah and Injil before them. They would tell them that all past prophets and their Books have been announcing the glad tidings of the Last among Prophets. This will remove their scruples and suspicions.
The Qur’an specifically identifies who is to be asked. This may come as a surprise to many people, but the missionaries who often misuse this verse are unaware that their is a specific person the Qur’an referred to at the time of its revelation in nascent Islamic Arabia. The Qur’an in 46:10 states:
“Say, “Have you considered: if the Qur’an was from Allah, and you disbelieved in it while a witness from the Children of Israel has testified to something similar and believed while you were arrogant…?” Indeed, Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.”
The Qur’an clearly states that there was a witness from among the Children of Israel who testified to the truth of the Qur’an at the time of the Prophet (ﷺ). Therefore, when the Qur’an in 10:94 speaks of asking those who knew the previous messages sent by God, the Qur’an directly informs us that there was indeed a witness that confirmed what the Qur’an said from the People of the Book! The Qur’an therefore, does not identify modern day Christians, whether they be Protestants or Catholics as the people that the Qur’an in 10:94 referred to. Tafseer Maar’iful Qur’an comments about Qur’an 46:10 as follows:
“The statement by Sayyidina Sa’d (رضي الله عنه) reported in some narrations of Bukhari, Muslim and Nasa’i, that this verse was revealed about Sayyidina Abdullah Ibn Salam (رضي الله عنه) and the same statement from Ibn Abbas (رضي الله عنه), Mujahid, Dahhak, Qatadah (رضي الله عنه), etc. is not against this verse being Makki, as in this case, it will be a prophecy for the future.”
In conclusion, Qur’an 10:94 asks a hypothetical and rhetorical question: if anyone is in doubt about what the Qur’an says, then they should ask those who know the previous revelations. The Qur’an then tells us who should be asked in 46:10, and it identifies a witness (who was known at that time) to be the one who is knowledgeable about the previous scriptures, and that this person confirmed the teachings of the Qur’an. Either way, this verse does not give authority to modern day Christians to judge about the truth of Islam, such an interpretation ignores the verse’s context and it’s overall message as it fits into the Qur’anic narrative. Should a missionary raise Qur’an 10:94, they should duly be informed of Qur’an 46:10.
and Allah knows best.