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2. The Holy Bible (2)

1. The Bible in the Qur’an

It is significant that the Qur’an upholds the Bible as the revealed and inspired Word of God. The usual term in the Qur’an for these previous scriptures is ‘al-kitab’ (the book), and Jews and Christians are identified as ‘Ahl al-Kitab’ (people of the book). The following terms are also used with reference to parts of the Bible:

  1. Tawrat – Torah, the first five books of the Bible
  2. Zabur – the Psalms
  3. Sahaif-e-anbia – the books of the prophets
  4. Injil – the Gospel, the New Testament

In both Islamic and Christian terminology, the word ‘Torah’ generally refers to the revelation given to Hazrat Musa. However, it is also used to describe the complete collection of Jewish scriptures, collectively named by Christians as the Old Testament. Similarly, the ‘Injil’ refers to the Holy Scriptures which Christians call the New Testament.

The Qur’an emphasises that the Tawrat, the Zabur, the Sahaif, and the Injil are all God’s books, His word, His light, and ‘Furqan’ (criterion). In other words, they are the basis of God’s judgement of humankind. Sura 2:97 reads, ‘To Gabriel – for he brings down the revelation to thy heart By God’s will, a confirmation Of what went before.[1]’ So, both the Tawrat and the Injil are endorsed by the Qur’an to give direction. They are, ‘insight to men, And guidance and Mercy.’[2]

2. The Holy Injil as a standard

Christians are told to judge according to the Injil, ‘If any do fail to judge By (the light of) what God Hath revealed, they are (No better than) Unbelievers.[3]’ Would the Qur’an surely command Christians to judge by the Injil if there were any reason to believe that it was not authentic in every way?

3. God’s Word never changes

The Qur’an claims that no one can alter the word of God, ‘In the past: no change Wilt thou find in The practice (approved) of God.[4]’ Long before the Qur’an, the Bible declared in similar words, ‘The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.[5]
The Zabur describes God’s revelation in the Bible beautifully, ‘The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.[6]

4. The Qur’an does not suggest ‘alteration’

In the Qur’an there is no suggestion that the Biblical text has been altered or corrupted. The word ‘tahrif’ is never used with reference to the Bible. The Qur’an occasionally accuses the Jews of concealing the truth but it never makes this accusation at any Scripture. In no way does the Qur’an imply that the text of the Bible has been corrupted.

5. The Bible not corrupted

Before the Prophet of Islam

Some claim that the Injil and the Tawrat were corrupted before the rise of Islam. If that were so, why does the Qur’an affirm that the message of Islam was simply a confirmation of the previous Scriptures? According to the Qur’an, which was written approximately six hundred years after the writing of the Injil; the Tawrat and the Injil were in pure form in the time of the Prophet of Islam. Had the Injil not been genuine and totally accurate at this time, then the Qur’an would not have instructed Christians to judge by which God had revealed in the Gospel.

After the Prophet of Islam

Others maintain that the Tawrat and the Injil were changed sometime after the Prophet of Islam began preaching. However, this charge contradicts the Qur’an since it claims to be the guardian of the previous inspired books.[7] Thus, anyone who asserts that there has been corruption of the text of the Tawrat or of the Injil also charges the Qur’an with failure in its role as guardian!

If the pre-Islamic Scriptures had been corrupted, the Qur’an would not have commanded Muslims:

‘Say ye: ‘We believe in God, and the revelation Given to us, and to Abraham, and Isma‘il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to God (in Islam).’[8]

The history corner

Numerous manuscript copies of all parts of the Bible, written centuries before the time of the Prophet of Islam, are available today. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were written before 68 A.D. contain every book of the Old Testament, except the book of Esther.[9] Some of the oldest Greek manuscripts of the entire New Testament, found in Codex form, are also accessible. Two such examples are the Codex Alexandrinus and the Codex Sinaiticus. These manuscripts date from the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. and may be studied in the British Museum in London. Another early manuscript from the same era is the Codex Vaticanus, found in the Vatican Library. There are in various libraries manuscript portions of the New Testament which date back to the second century which may also be studied. The reliability of the present-day Bible may be verified by comparison with such documents.

The modern translations are basically the same in content as those present in the time of the Prophet of Islam. They do not differ in any belief or doctrine. God has preserved his Word in the past and is able to preserve it in the future.

References

  1. [1] All Qur’anic references are taken from The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary, by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. C.f. Qur’an 2:101, 3:23, 5:44, 40:53-54, 2:53, 21:48, 2:87, 5:46
  2. [2] Qur’an 28:43, c.f. 3:3-4, 6:92
  3. [3] Qur’an 5:47
  4. [4] Qur’an 48:23
  5. [5] All Bible references are taken from the Holy Bible: The New International Version. Isaiah 40:8
  6. [6] Psalm 19:7
  7. [7] Qur’an 5:48
  8. [8] Qur’an 2:136
  9. [9] F.F. Bruce, Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids, Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1964) p.28.

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