IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE MOST GRACIOUS THE MOST MERCIFUL
Salutations of Peace and Blessing forever be upon the Prophet Muhammad, upon Jesus, upon Moses, upon Abraham, upon Noah and all of God’s Elect
WHAT IS THE POSITION OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ON THE PREVIOUS SCRIPTURES AND THE PRESENT DAY “BIBLE”?
Much talk and confusion by many who are not fully aware of the Qur’an’s position as it relates to the previous Scriptures is taking place. As a result, much conflict is arising, since the true position of the Qur’an and Islam seems to be misrepresented and distorted. The Holy Qur’an, which is believed in wholeheartedly by the adherents of the Islamic faith, is considered to be the undisputed final revelation of God Almighty, ALLAH that was revealed to the seal of all Prophets and Messengers, Muhammad peace be upon him (S), from God Almighty.
The Prophet Muhammad (S) was born in the late sixth century (570 CE) in the Arabian Peninsula, in the city of
After living a normal life amongst his
people, he was elected to prophet hood at the age of forty. At that time, he
began to receive the revelation of God Almighty, ALLAH, through the Angel
Jibril. The revelation of the Qur’an from ALLAH to Muhammad (S) would continue
over the next twenty-three years until its completion and then, the completion
of the life of the Prophet (S) himself in this world. Makkah
Throughout this time, Prophet Muhammad (S) would encounter some serious challenges and opposition to his prophetic mission. It even occurred that the height and severity of this opposition caused him to have to send many of his followers out of the country to the Christian ruled
Abyssinia, and eventually, the
remaining had to migrate from their homeland of Mecca
to a welcoming asylum in the city of . Madinah
It was in Madinah that the prophetic mission took on a new shape and emphasis, as the Prophet (S) assumed a head of state status alongside the role of prophet hood. This demanded that not only was the Prophet (S) responsible for the spiritual and religious realities of those who accepted and followed his call, but now, he was also to assume a legislative role and authority over his followers. Given this nature, the state, along with defending its security and existence, also met with expansion. In so doing, it began to encounter a larger concentration of peoples, cultures and faiths. It was also here where the Prophet (S) first encountered a Jewish community, who resided in the city. Given this back drop, we witness an array of verses pertaining to people of previous Scriptures and the role and belief of the Muslims towards them.
On the one hand, there was, at times, an antagonistic Jewish community in Madinah, and then a curious Christian community in
and other areas. The prophetic mission was already into its fourteenth year and
the word of Islam was becoming popular. Makkah
was already a very popular and central city, so the news of a new religion and
Scripture from God Almighty stirred up the religious curiosity of the people.
Given this novel phenomenon, locals and foreign delegations began to arrive and question the Prophet (S) about certain beliefs as it related to the Qur’an and its positions on their respective faiths. The following is the explanation of several verses of the Qur’an and their implications and positions referring to the earlier communities as a whole, and those amongst the Prophet (S) as well. Let us hear what the Qur’an says and see what the true position of the Qur’an is on the People of the Book (Jews & Christians) as they are termed.
Also, we would like to introduce here two points of interest that are grossly misunderstood by Christians. Namely, the Qur’an as it relates to Mary, the mother of Jesus and her title as, “The sister of Aaron” and the other point of contention being, Mary mistakenly understood to be part of the trinity. These two points will be dealt with in a separate article, but they are similar in nature in that they are points that the Christians, either ignorantly or arrogantly, prove themselves to be unfair and inconsistent when it comes to looking at the Qur’an and its message.
Before we actually cite the relevant verses, it needs to be understood that the Qur’an has a threefold purpose in addressing the People of the Book. Firstly, it is to acknowledge and inform those who were unaware of the previous Scriptures of what ALLAH has revealed. Secondly, to inform the People of the Book and remind others from amongst them of their covenant that was made with God Almighty, ALLAH, to accept and support the prophets prophesized in the Scripture, and in particular, the Prophet Muhammad (S). Thirdly, it is to correct the People of the Book concerning foreign beliefs that crept into their Scripture and message through physical editing, verbal twisting of the Scripture, and complete rejection of some parts of it. This occurred in some of their beliefs, as well as their denial of the Prophet (S), though they find him clearly described in their books.
We see the proof of this last point as one of the main reasons why we find a Jewish community residing in Madinah. The Jews never had any religious connection to Madinah, so why were they there? They were present because they were awaiting a prophet to come out of the
Arabian Peninsula, as described in their books. But many of them denied what they found in
their own scripture, by one way or another.
This is the essence of why ALLAH revealed verses about the People of the Book in the Qur’an. These verses, as often times grossly misunderstood by Christian apologists and ignorant laymen, are not designed for Muslims to try and prove that the Prophet Muhammad (S) is found in the Bible in order to authenticate his prophet hood. Not at all! ALLAH has already authenticated that. These verses are primarily to expose the People of the Book for their denial of the Prophet Muhammad (S), as it is clear that he is in their books. These verses are to expose them for their denial and the breach of the covenant that was made regarding him.
Understanding these reasons for the verses being revealed about the People of the Book in the Qur’an should clear up much of the confusion amongst the Christians, who have irresponsibly attempted to interpret many of these verses in their favor, as to imply that the Qur’an unequivocally confirms and authenticates the inspiration, preservation and authority of their present day scripture. For certainly, the Qur’an DOES NOT! Rather, quite the opposite, as we will now see.
In the following verses of the Qur’an (ayahs), we will see how beautifully the Qur’an highlights the relationship between the previous scriptures. If one can understand these verses, then they will understand all other verses related to the People of The Book. ALLAH begins with the Torah and concludes with the Qur’an, showing how clear ALLAH makes His signs, for those who reflect and understand.
Qur’an Ch. 5, verses 44, 46-48:
“Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers…” (5:44).
“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).
“And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient” (5:47).
“And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return altogether, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ” (5:48).
In a large section dealing with the People of the Book, ALLAH begins with the Jewish community and part of their scripture called the Torah. He stated that it contained light and guidance and was used by their prophets, Rabbis and scholars to judge by. Note that ALLAH states here that they were ENTRUSTED with their scripture and witnesses thereto. This is a fundamental belief here because ALLAH makes it clear that He revealed the Scripture to them, and entrusted them with it and to be witnesses thereto and over it. So, it was for the Jewish community to bear their scripture and assure its application and preservation. This is expressed clearly in another part of the Qur’an, where ALLAH says:
“The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah and then did not take it on is like that of a donkey who carries volumes [of books]. Wretched is the example of the people who deny the signs of Allah. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people” (62:5).
Ibn Kathir, in his footnote on this ayah, says that they were even worse than donkeys since they corrupted, changed and distorted the Torah, and donkeys don’t have that ability. But, the point here is that they were ENTRUSTED WITH IT.
Next, ALLAH mentions that He sent Jesus, the son of Mary, following in their footsteps and confirmed that which came before him in the Torah, and that ALLAH gave Jesus the Injil (Gospel). Again, affirming that it contained guidance and light and that it confirmed what came before it, i.e. the Torah. ALLAH continues and states, “…And let the People of the Injil (Gospel) judge by what ALLAH has revealed therein…” (5:47). What is the meaning of this? Remember that ALLAH is highlighting the succession of scripture and prophets and how one relates to the other and confirms the other. So, just as ALLAH revealed the Torah, it was for the people of the Torah to judge by it as it relates to the people of the Injil (the coming of Jesus) and likewise, ALLAH commands the people of the Injil to judge by what ALLAH revealed in their book as it relates to the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (S). This is clearly the case, as stated in the following ayah where Allah says:
“Say, ‘O People of the Scripture, you are [standing] on nothing until you uphold [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, AND what has been revealed to you from your Lord.’ And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. So do not grieve over the disbelieving people” (5:68).
This is the explanation of the aforementioned verse about the people of the Injil judging by what ALLAH revealed therein. This judging has everything to do with the acceptance of the Prophet Muhammad (S), just as the judging of the Jews, in the general sense, had everything to do with the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. If the Christians are to blame the Jews for not believing in the Messiah, although mentioned in their books, then they are as well to be blamed for not believing in the Prophet Muhammad, who was mentioned in their books. This is made clear and seals the case shut in the following two verses, where ALLAH says:
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Allah took a covenant from those who were given the Scripture, [saying], ‘You must make it clear to the people and not conceal it.’ But they threw it away behind their backs and exchanged it for a small price. And wretched is that which they purchased” (3:187).
“O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much. There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book” (5:15).
Clearly again, ALLAH is reminding the People of the Book of their covenant, which was to accept and support the Prophet Muhammad as described in their books, while blaming them for trying to hide that fact and rejecting him.
Consider the following quote from the scholar, Professor Abdul Ahad Dawud in the foreword of his great work titled, Muhammad in the Bible, where we can find an in depth look at the Prophet Muhammad (S) in the previous scriptures. He states:
“We read the following words in the Book of Deuteronomy chapter xviii, verse 18: ‘I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth.’ If these words do not apply to Prophet Muhammad, they still remain unfulfilled. Prophet Jesus himself never claimed to be the Prophet alluded to. Even his disciples were of the same opinion: they looked to the second coming of Jesus for the fulfillment of the prophecy. So far, it is undisputed that the first coming of Jesus was not the advent of the "prophet like unto thee," and his second advent can hardly fulfill the words. Jesus, as is believed by his Church, will appear as a Judge and not as a law-giver; but the promised one has to come with a "fiery law" in "his right hand." In ascertaining the personality of the promised prophet the other prophecy of Moses is, however, very helpful where it speaks of the shining forth of God from Paran, the
. The words in
the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter xxxii, verse 2, run as follows: ‘The
Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from
mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints; from his right hand went
a fiery law for them.’ mountain
In these words the Lord has been compared with the sun. He comes from Sinai, he rises from Seir, but he shines in his full glory from Paran, where he had to appear with ten thousands of saints with a fiery law in his right hand. None of the Israelites, including Jesus, had anything to do with Paran. Hagar, with her son Ishmael, wandered in the wilderness of
, who afterwards
dwelt in the wilderness of Paran (Gen. xxi. 21). Beersheba
He married an Egyptian woman, and through his first-born, Kedar, gave descent to the Arabs who from that time till now are the dwellers of the wilderness of Paran. And if Prophet Muhammad admittedly on all hands traces his descent to Ishmael through Kedar and he appeared as a prophet in the wilderness of Paran and re-entered Mecca with ten thousand saints and gave a fiery law to his people, is not the prophecy above-mentioned fulfilled to its very letter?
The words of the prophecy in Habakkuk are especially noteworthy. His (the Holy One from Paran) glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of his praise. The word "praise" is very significant, as the very name Muhammad literally means "the praised one." Besides the Arabs, the inhabitants of the wilderness of Paran had also been promised a Revelation: "Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the islands. The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war, he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies" (Isaiah). In connection with it there are two other prophecies worthy of note where references have been made to Kedar. The one runs thus in chapter lx of Isaiah: "Arise, shine for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee ... The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from
come. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with
acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory" (1-7).
The other prophecy is again in Isaiah "The burden upon Sheba Arabia.
In the forest in Arabia shall ye lodge, O ye
travelling companies of Dedanim. The inhabitants of the
brought water to him that was thirsty, they prevented with their bread him that
fled. For they fled from the swords and from the bent bow, and from the
grievousness of war. For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year,
according to the years of an hireling, and all the glory of Kedar shall fail:
And the residue of the number of archers, the mighty of the children of Kedar,
shall be diminished" Read these prophecies in Isaiah in the light of one
in Deutero- nomy which speaks of the shining forth of God from Paran. If
Ishmael inhabited the wilderness of Paran, where he gave birth to Kedar, who is
the ancestor of the Arabs; and if the sons of Kedar had to receive revelation
from God; if the flocks of Kedar had to come up with acceptance to a Divine
altar to glorify "the house of my glory" where the darkness had to
cover the earth for some centuries, and then that very land had to receive
light from God; and if all the glory of Kedar had to fail and the number of
archers, the mighty men of the children of Kedar, had to diminish within a year
after the one fled from the swords and from the bent bows - the Holy One from
Paran (Habakkuk iii 3 ) is no one else than Prophet Muhammad. Prophet Muhammad
is the holy offspring of Ishmael through Kedar, who settled in the wilderness
of Paran. Muhammad is the only Prophet through whom the Arabs received
revelation at the time when the darkness had covered the earth. Through him God
shone from Paran, and land of Tema
is the only place where the House of God is glorified and the flocks of Kedar
come with acceptance on its altar. Mecca
Prophet Muhammad was persecuted by his people and had to leave
. He was thirsty and
fled from the drawn sword and the bent bow, and within a year after his flight
the descendants of Kedar meet him at Badr, the place of the first battle
between the Meccans and the Prophet, the children of Kedar and their number of
archers diminish and all the glory of Kedar fails. Mecca
If the Holy Prophet is not to be accepted as the fulfillment of all these prophecies they will still remain unfulfilled. "The house of my glory" referred to in Isaiah lX is the house of God in
and not the as thought by
Christian commentators. The flocks of Kedar, as mentioned in verse 7, have
never come to the Church
of Christ Church of Christ; and it is a fact that the villages of Kedar
and their inhabitants are the only people in the whole world who have remained impenetrable
to any influence of the . Again, the
mention of 10,000 saints in Deuteronomy xxx 3 is very significant. He (God)
shined forth from Paran, and he came with 10,000 of saints. Read the whole
history of the wilderness of Paran and you will find no other event but when Church
of Christ was conquered by
the Prophet. He comes with 10,000 followers from Mecca and re-enters "the house of my glory."
He gives the fiery law to the world, which reduced to ashes all other laws. Medina
The Comforter – the Spirit of Truth - spoken of by Prophet Jesus was no other than Prophet Muhammad himself. It cannot be taken as the Holy Ghost, as the Church theology says. "It is expedient for you that I go away," says Jesus, "for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send him unto you." The words clearly show that the Comforter had to come after the departure of Jesus, and was not with him when he uttered these words.
Are we to presume that Jesus was devoid of the Holy Ghost if his coming was conditional on the going of Jesus: besides, the way in which Jesus describes him makes him a human being, not a ghost. "He shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that he shall speak." Should we presume that the Holy Ghost and God are two distinct entities and that the Holy Ghost speaks of himself and also what he hears from God? The words of Jesus clearly refer to some messenger from God. He calls him the Spirit of Truth, and so the Qur'an speaks of Prophet Muhammad,
"No, indeed, he has brought the truth, and confirmed the Messengers." Ch.37:37”
Now, this article is not about trying to prove the Prophet Muhammad (S) in the Bible, but rather, to show those who don’t understand the reason behind the command in the Qur’an for the People of the Book to JUDGE by their respective scripture. If this understanding is lost, they will continue to misinterpret the verses of the Qur’an. When ALLAH states for them to judge by their scripture, it is in fact telling them to honor their covenant and accept and believe in the Prophet Muhammad (S).
Well, one may ask, how about the fact that the Qur’an says that it confirms the previous scriptures? Doesn’t that mean that the Bible is true? How or why would ALLAH confirm a scripture if the scripture is not true? This is a very good point to consider. And in fact, the Qur’an does attest to the veracity of the previous scriptures, but it does so in its principle and in their original form, as Allah states in the following verse, “O you who have believed, believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book that He sent down upon His Messenger and the Scripture which He sent down before. And whoever disbelieves in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day has certainly gone far astray” (4:136).
However, the Bible that is possessed today, although it does contain some of the original message to a certain degree, has unfortunately, undergone serious and gross manipulation and distortion. There have been additions and deletions, so much so that the Bible now consists of the words of God, along with the words of prophets, wise men, historians, and even unscrupulous men, claiming to represent God. As such, it is nearly impossible to decipher on one’s own what is actually from God and what is from other than God. For this reason, in the first series of verses quoted above, we see that ALLAH commands us to believe also in the Qur’an, as it is a preserver and guardian over the previous scriptures. It is by the Qur’an that we know what is from God and what is not in the scriptures that we have at our disposal now. So yes, the Qur’an confirms the previous scriptures, even in their distorted form, because that cannot be taken away from the reality of that book, but it also clearly states that the Qur’an is the revelation from God that will make clear what is from God and what is not in the former scriptures. And this is another meaning of the verse in which ALLAH tells the People of the Book that they have nothing unless they, not only believe in their book, but also believe in what was sent in the final revelation to the Prophet Muhammad (S). If not, then belief in their book alone is not enough. It is, in fact, the Qur’an that comes to not only confirm the previous Scriptures, but also to safeguard the true teaching therein and to serve as a detailed explanation of it, as ALLAH states in another verse in the Holy Qur’an:
“And it was not [possible] for this Qur'an to be produced by other than Allah, but [it is] a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of the [former] Scripture, about which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds” (10:37).
So, if we find, for example, the stories in the Bible about previous prophets committing major crimes and breaches of even the commandments, while we find those same prophets being honored and shown to be examples to follow in the Qur’an, then we disregard the Biblical stories about those prophets and dismiss them and its content as not being from ALLAH, God Almighty. Similarly, if we read passages that seemingly allude to the worship of any other than God Almighty, while in the Qur’an we see a strict monotheism presented, we disregard those verses in the Bible and dismiss them and their content as not being from ALLAH, God Almighty. This is what is meant here, and there is no doubt in it (i.e. the Qur’an).
Let us now turn our attention quickly to the fact concerning the historical preservation, or the lack thereof, of the previous scriptures.
In the book of Jeremiah, Ch. 8:8-9, it reads, “How can you say, we are wise, for we have the law of the Lord, when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely? The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped, since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?”
In Galatians, Ch. 1:6-7, Paul clearly shows his disdain for other gospels when he says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ.”
The above are very interesting quotes from the Bible itself. One need not be a doctor of law to understand that some manipulation, distortion and conflicting sources are pressing upon the Biblical text. Again, this article is not designed to explore this point extensively, but we hope that the above mentioned citations are helpful in pointing to the lack of historical preservation as it relates to previous scriptures.
Now, let us turn to what the Qur’an says about this matter. In the following verses, Allah says:
“But those who wronged, changed [those words] to a statement other than that which had been said to them, so We sent down upon those who wronged, a punishment from the sky because they were defiantly disobeying” (2:59).
“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).
“And indeed, there is among them a party who alter the Scripture with their tongues so you may think it is from the Scripture, but it is not from the Scripture. And they say, "This is from Allah," but it is not from Allah. And they speak untruth about Allah while they know” (3:78).
“So for their breaking of the covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort words from their [proper] usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. And from those who say, ‘We are Christians’ We took their covenant; but they forgot a portion of that of which they were reminded. So We caused among them animosity and hatred until the Day of Resurrection. And Allah is going to inform them about what they used to do. O People of the Scripture, there has come to you Our Messenger making clear to you much of what you used to conceal of the Scripture and overlooking much. There has come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book” (5:13-15).
The above verses are emphatically clear to the fact that the People of the Book, those of the former scriptures, have misappropriated and distorted their book, in different ways and times. And it is for this fact and others that ALLAH followed up their scripture with the final scripture, the Qur’an. This, He Glorified and Exalted be He, made clear that the Qur’an is to be a correcting agent over the previous scriptures. Moreover, ALLAH guaranteed the safe keeping and preservation of this final revelation, as He stated in the following verse:
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur'an and indeed, We will be its guardian” (Qur’an, 15:9).
Wait, just a minute! What about those verses in the Qur’an where ALLAH states emphatically that none can change His Words? How could ALLAH state this and at the same time, say that His previous revelations were changed? Would that not be a contradiction?
This is a great question, essential to understanding this subject and as such, clarification here is paramount. So, let us look at some of the verses in which ALLAH mentions that none can change His words and see how that relates to the previous scriptures and their being tampered with and changed.
In the Qur’an, Allah says:
"And certainly were messengers denied before you, but they were patient over [the effects of] denial, and they were harmed until Our victory came to them. And none can alter the words of Allah. And there has certainly come to you some information about the [previous] messengers” (6:34).
“And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing” (6:115).
“For them are good tidings in the worldly life and in the Hereafter. No change is there in the words of Allah. That is what is the great attainment” (10:64).
“And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge” (18:27).
Now, there are two points to note here. Firstly, in all of the above mentioned verses, the context shows that there is a promise that ALLAH’S Words cannot be changed. But, how do we reconcile this fact with the reality that the previous scriptures have been changed and distorted? As we will see, the relationship can be found in the very essence of God’s promise!
It is His very command or promise or threat that ALLAH is stating cannot be changed. In other words, the DECREE of ALLAH cannot be changed! Once ALLAH says that a thing will be like this, in the form of a promise, threat, or the like, that is what it is and none other than ALLAH can change that fact. If ALLAH stated that He will reward a people, give victory, forgive, or guide and so on, then none can alter what ALLAH has decreed therein. Likewise, if ALLAH stated that He will punish, deprive, send astray, or the like, then none can change what He decreed in the matter. In all of the verses above, we find this to be the case. Moreover, the word that is under discussion is a very particular word, as is found in the following hadith, or saying of the Prophet Muhammad (S), which further strengthens this point:
“Then there is sent to him the angel who blows his soul into him and who is commanded with four matters (decrees/words).
This word that we are focusing on here is the word “kalimaat” (كَلِمَاتٍ) and it literally means words in a plural sense. But this word, as seen in all the examples above refers to a decreed word, not revelation, which takes us to our next point.
In all the cases in the Qur’an where ALLAH mentions His Revelation, meaning scripture, this word kalimaat is NEVER used! That is because this word is never associated with revelation or scripture. ALLAH uses words like kitab, wahi, tanzeel, thikr or the proper names of each respective revelation – i.e. Suhuf, Torah, Zabur, Injeel, Qur’an, or Ath Thikr – in reference to revelation. On the other hand, the word kalimaat has never been used to describe any of the Revelations sent by ALLAH. So, the point here is that, when ALLAH states that His Words in the plural form (kalimaat) cannot be changed, He is not referring to His Revelation, but rather, He is referring to His Decreed Word! This is clear to anyone who is familiar with the Qur’an. But, as is seen, when one has no idea of the Qur’an, then gross errors will be made in trying to interpret it!
In closing on this point, it behooves us to examine the understanding of those earliest Muslims from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (S) as it relates to their view of the previous scriptures. Since they were receiving the understanding directly from the Messenger of ALLAH, their views would be very revealing on this matter.
In a very decisive hadith found in Sahih Bukhari, it states the following:
“Narrated Ubaidullah: Ibn 'Abbas said, ‘Why do you ask the people of the scripture about anything while your Book (Quran) which has been revealed to Allah's Apostle is newer and the latest? You read it pure, undistorted and unchanged, and Allah has told you that the people of the scripture (Jews and Christians) changed their scripture and distorted it, and wrote the scripture with their own hands and said, 'It is from Allah,' to sell it for a little gain. Does not the knowledge which has come to you prevent you from asking them about anything?’ No, by Allah, we have never seen any man from them asking you regarding what has been revealed to you!" (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Holding Fast to the Qur'an and Sunnah, Volume 9, Book 92, Number 461). Thus, the matter is clear for those who reflect.
Now, let us look at one more verse from the Qur’an that is often misinterpreted. Often times, the following verse is used to promote the idea of the Qur’an granting some kind of stamp of approval regarding the present day Bible’s preservation and authority and this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is unfortunate how disingenuous people will be to try to promote their estranged beliefs. In the verse under question, Allah states:
“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” (10:94).
So, here we have a clear proof that when one’s heart is closed, the truth will have no impact on it. Our zealot Christian brothers insist that this verse is proof that the Qur’an authenticates the Bible. As they exclaim, “How can your ALLAH command the Prophet Muhammad (S) to ask the People of the Book if their scripture is corrupt? Indeed, this is a very deceptive question, and if one just reads the context, it becomes quite clear what is being stated here.
Let us examine the very beginning of the verse in question. The very first letter in the verse 10:94, is the letter “FA”. Now, “FA” is a letter of conjunction, meaning, that it follows a thought and can NEVER begin a thought! It is the equivalent of the word “therefore” or “so” in the English language. Now, if you ever see the word “therefore” in a sentence, what is the first thing that comes to mind? One would first want to know what was said before. Why? Because that’s how we will understand why “therefore” was being used. Now, what happens when one neglects to see what came before the “therefore,” even though the word is screaming at you to read what preceded it? Of course, one will most certainly misunderstand the statement. And this is exactly what happens and is the case with the zealots! They are so anxious to find something against the Qur’an that they will violate any and all principles of grammar to manipulate texts in order to suit their agenda.
Now that we have cleared that up, let us see what was being said before so we can fully understand why ALLAH is exhorting the Prophet Muhammad (S) to even ask the People of the Book. It goes up about four verses to verse ninety, so let us start from there - chapter 10, verses 90-93.
“And We took the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, ‘I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims.’ Now? And you had disobeyed [Him] before and were of the corrupters? So today We will save you in body, that you may be to those who succeed you, a sign. And indeed, many among the people, of Our signs, are heedless. And We had certainly settled the Children of Israel in an agreeable settlement and provided them with good things. And they did not differ until [after] knowledge had come to them. Indeed, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ” (Qur’an, 10:90-93).
Given the proper context, one clearly sees that ALLAH is narrating an event that took place involving the Children of Israel, who are termed the People of the Book in the Qur’an, along with the Christians, in order to bring about a historical lesson. ALLAH is making this event known to the Prophet Muhammad (S) and those around him, and in that context, using an expression of emphasis, ALLAH exhorts the Prophet (S), and any after him by extension, to ask those who are familiar with this event from their scriptures if doubts occur.
If I may indulge the point with an example, it is akin to me telling my wife about a childhood story of mine. Then, when I conclude the story, I say (as we hear many people say when trying to emphasize the point), “Ask so & so if you don’t believe me!” This is most common. And such an expression does not, in any way, imply that so & so is free from lies or anything of the like. Nor does it make so & so a sole authority on my life. Rather, it is an expression to reiterate the narration and appeal to someone that in fact is acquainted with the event. If you don’t know about something, then ask those who are familiar with it.
Now, let’s return to the verse at hand. Right afterwards, ALLAH exhorts the Prophet Muhammad (S) to ask those who are familiar with the narrations of the earlier events. He concludes by saying that certainly the Truth has come to you from your Lord, so never doubt!
Does this sound like God is trying to convey, in some way, that the previous scriptures are preserved and authoritative? Rather, the scriptures are not even a subject in this context. It was mentioned as an appeal to a historical narration, as one might appeal to a newspaper, for example. Would that mean that if I appeal to a newspaper to confirm an event of the past, that I am somehow implying that everything in that newspaper is authentic and authoritative? How absurd a conclusion! Yet, we have the same line of reasoning amongst Christian apologist zealots. But as we now see, it is nothing more than a ploy on their behalf.
In closing, I would like to remind us of the verse from the Qur’an in which ALLAH confirms the previous scriptures but makes it absolutely clear to the People of the Book that although you have in your possession a scripture from God Almighty, you still have nothing if you don’t accept and uphold the Qur’an.
“Say, ‘O People of the Scripture, you are [standing] on nothing until you uphold [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord.’ And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. So do not grieve over the disbelieving people” (5:68).
And all praise is for ALLAH, Lord of all that exists.By Aqil Onque of Radush Shubuhaat @