The Quran’s Confirmation of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures
In this somewhat lengthy article we are going to cite some of the many verses of the Quran which acknowledge and testify that the original, uncorrupt Scriptures that God had given to the Jews and Christians were still in existence during the lifetime of Muhammad. The purpose of doing so is to help Christians refute and silence the oft-repeated Muslim charge that the Quran does not acknowledge the textual reliability and authority of the books of the Holy Bible.
- Muhammad refers to the previous revelations such as the Torah and the Gospel as still being extant during his lifetime.
“those who follow the Messenger, ‘the Prophet of the common folk, whom they find written down WITH THEM IN THE TORAH AND THE GOSPEL, bidding them to honour, and forbidding them dishonour, making lawful for them the good things and making unlawful for them the corrupt things, and relieving them of their loads, and the fetters that were upon them.” S. 7:157
God has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of God; they kill, and are killed; that IS a promise binding upon God IN THE TORAH, AND THE GOSPEL, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than God? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph. S. 9:111
They say, ‘Why does he not bring us a sign from his Lord?’ Has there not come to them the clear sign of WHAT IS IN THE FORMER SCROLLS? S. 20:133
Truly it is the revelation of the Lord of all Being, brought down by the Faithful Spirit upon thy heart, that thou mayest be one of the warners, in a clear, Arabic tongue. Truly IT IS IN THE SCRIPTURES OF THE ANCIENTS. Was it not a sign for them, that it is known to the learned of the Children of Israel? If We had sent it down on a barbarian and he had recited it to them, they would not have believed in it. S. 26:192-197
Thou seest them bowing, prostrating, seeking bounty from God and good pleasure. Their mark is on their faces, the trace of prostration. That is their likeness IN THE TORAH, and their likeness IN THE GOSPEL: as a seed that puts forth its shoot, and strengthens it, and it grows stout and rises straight upon its stalk, pleasing the sowers, that through them He may enrage the unbelievers. S. 48:29
Or has he not been told of what IS in the scrolls of Moses, and Abraham, he who paid his debt in full? S. 53:36-37
Note the use of the present tense, i.e. “IS,” “IN,” when speaking of the previous revelations.
- The Quran confirms the Scriptures that were in the possession of the Jews and Christians of Muhammad’s time.
Children of Israel, remember My blessing wherewith I blessed you, and fulfil My covenant and I shall fulfil your covenant; and have awe of Me. And believe in that I have sent down, confirming that WHICH IS WITH YOU, and be not the first to disbelieve in it. And sell not My signs for a little price; and fear you Me. And do not confound the truth with vanity, and do not conceal the truth wittingly. And do not confound the truth with vanity, and do not conceal the truth wittingly. And perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and bow with those that bow. Will you bid others to piety, and forget yourselves WHILE YOU RECITE THE BOOK? Do you not understand? S. 2:40-44
And they say, ‘Our hearts are uncircumcised.’ Nay, but God has cursed them for their unbelief; little will they believe. When there came to them a Book from God, confirming WHAT WAS WITH THEM — and they aforetimes prayed for victory over the unbelievers — when there came to them that they recognized, they disbelieved in it; and the curse of God is on the unbelievers… And when they were told, ‘Believe in that God has sent down,’ they said, ‘We believe in what was sent down on us’; and they disbelieve in what is beyond that, yet it is the truth confirming WHAT IS WITH THEM. S. 2:89, 91
When there has come to them a Messenger from God confirming WHAT WAS WITH THEM, a party of them that were given the Book reject the Book of God behind their backs, as though they knew not, S. 2:101
You who have been given the Book, believe in what We have sent down, confirming WHAT IS WITH YOU, before We obliterate faces, and turn them upon their backs, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-men, and God’s command is done. S. 4:47
- The Quran claims that the Jews and Christians of Muhammad’s time were studying and reciting the Book, thereby implying that they possessed the original, uncorrupt Scriptures.
The Jews say, ‘The Christians stand not on anything’; the Christians say, ‘The Jews stand not on anything’; YET THEY RECITE THE BOOK. S. 2:113
Those to whom We have given the Book and who recite it WITH TRUE RECITATION, they believe in it; and whoso disbelieves in it, they shall be the losers. S. 2:121
It belongs not to any mortal that God should give him the Book, the Judgment, the Prophethood, then he should say to men, ‘Be you servants to me apart from God.’ Rather, ‘Be you masters in that YOU KNOW THE BOOK, and in that YOU STUDY.’ S. 3:79
Those are they to whom We gave the Book, the Judgment, the Prophethood; so if these disbelieve in it, We have already entrusted it to a people who do not disbelieve IN IT. Those are they whom God has guided; so follow their guidance. Say: ‘I ask of you no wage for it; it is but a reminder unto all beings.’ They measured not God with His true measure when they said, ‘God has not sent down aught on any mortal.’ Say: ‘Who sent down the Book that Moses brought as a light and a guidance to men? YOU OUT IT INTO PARCHMENTS, REVEALING THEM, AND HIDING MUCH; and you were taught that you knew not, you and your fathers.’ Say: ‘God.’ Then leave them alone, playing their game of plunging. This is a Book We have sent down, blessed and confirming that which was before it (Ar. musaddiqu alathee bayna yadayhi – lit. confirming that which is between his/its hands), and for thee to warn the Mother of Cities and those about her; and those who believe in the world to come believe in it, and watch over their prayers. S. 6:89-92
Of the people of Moses there is a nation who guide by the truth, and by it act with justice… and there succeeded after them a succession who inherited the Book, taking the chance goods of this lower world, and saying, ‘It will be forgiven us’; and if chance goods the like of them come to them, they will take them. Has not the compact of the Book been taken touching them, that they should say concerning God nothing but the truth? AND THEY HAVE STUDIED WHAT IS IN IT; and the Last Abode is better for those who are godfearing. Do you not understand? And those who hold fast to the Book, and perform the prayer — surely We leave not to waste the wage of those who set aright. S. 7:159, 169-170
- Muhammad calls the Jews and Christians to judge by their respective Scriptures, which again presupposes that these communities possessed the original, genuine revelations of God.
Hast thou not regarded those who were given a portion of the Book, being called to the Book of God, THAT IT MIGHT DECIDE BETWEEN THEM, and then a party of them turned away, swerving aside? S. 3:23
Here is how the Muslim expositors explained this particular text:
Have you not seen those who were given a portion, a share, of the Book, the Torah, being called to the Book of God (yud‘awna, ‘being called’, is a circumstantial qualifier), that it might decide between them, and then a party of them turned away, opposed? to the acceptance of its rulings. This was revealed concerning the Jews: two of them fornicated and they [the Jews] asked the Prophet to adjudicate the case. He ruled that they be stoned, but they [the Jews] refused to do so. WHEN THE TORAH WAS BROUGHT AND CONSULTED, the same verdict was found, and so the two were stoned, but they [the Jews] became wrathful. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn: http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=3&tAyahNo=23&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)
(Hast thou not seen how those who have received a portion of the Scripture…) [3:23]. There is a difference of opinion about this verse’s occasion of revelation. Al-Suddi said: “When the Prophet called the Jews to embrace Islam, al-Nu‘man ibn Awfa said to him: ‘Come, O Muhammad, and let the rabbis judge between us’. He said: ‘Let the Scripture of Allah be judge between us’. They said: ‘No! Let the rabbis judge’. And so Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. On the other hand, Sa‘id ibn Jubayr and ‘Ikrimah reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah entered in on a group of Jews in a Jewish place of study and called them to Allah. Nu‘aym ibn ‘Amr and al-Harith ibn Zayd said to him: ‘O Muhammad, which religion are you on?’ He said: ‘The religion of Abraham’. They said: ‘But Abraham was a Jew’. The Messenger of Allah said: ‘In that case, let us go to the Torah and let it judge between us’. They refused. And Allah, exalted is He, revealed this verse”. Said al-Kalbi: “This was revealed about those who committed fornication in Khaybar and the Jews who asked the Prophet about the legal punishment of fornication”. The elaboration on this will come in Surah al-Ma’idah, Allah, exalted is He, willing”. (‘Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi, Asbab Al-Nuzul, trans. Mokrane Guezzou: http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=86&tSoraNo=3&tAyahNo=23&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Other Quranic verses which command the Jews and Christians to judge by their respective books include the following:
All food was lawful to the Children of Israel save what Israel forbade for himself before the Torah was sent down. Say: ‘Bring you the Torah now, and recite it, if you are truthful.’ Whoso forges falsehood against God after that, those are the evildoers. S. 3:91
Yet how will they make thee their judge seeing THEY HAVE THE TORAH, wherein IS God’s judgment, then thereafter turn their backs? They are not believers. Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein IS guidance and light; thereby the Prophets who had surrendered themselves gave judgment for those of Jewry, as did the masters and the rabbis, following such portion of God’s Book as they were given to keep and were witnesses to. So fear not men, but fear you Me; and sell not My signs for a little price. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down — they are the unbelievers. And therein We prescribed for them: ‘A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation’; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down — they are the evildoers. And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah before him (Ar. musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi minal-tawrati–confirming that which is between his hands of the Torah) and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein IS guidance and light, and confirming the Torah before it (Ar. wa’musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi minal-tawrati), as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down THEREIN. Whosoever judges not according to what God has sent down — they are the ungodly. S. 5:43-47
The obvious question to ask at this point is, why in the world would Muhammad exhort the Jews and Christians to judge by corrupted texts that no longer reflected what the original revelations actually taught? Doesn’t this refute the common Muslim assertion that the previous Scriptures had been corrupted, and that the Jews and Christians therefore no longer had them in their possessions?
In light of this fact, notice how Ibn Kathir, one of the greatest Muslm scholars that ever lived, interpreted this specific text:
“… The Prophet recited…
<<Bring here the Tawrah and recite it, if you are truthful.>> So they brought the Tawrah and read from it until the reader reached the verse about stoning. Then he placed his hand on that verse and read what was before and after it. `Abdullah bin Salam, who was with the Messenger of Allah , said, “Order him to remove his hand,” and he removed his hand and under it was the verse about stoning. So the Messenger of Allah commanded that the adulterers be stoned, and they were stoned. `Abdullah bin `Umar said, “I was among those who stoned them and I saw the man shading the woman from the stones with his body.” Abu Dawud recorded that Ibn `Umar said, “Some Jews came to the Messenger of Allah and invited him to go to the Quff area. So he went to the house of Al-Midras and they said, ‘O Abu Al-Qasim! A man from us committed adultery with a woman, so decide on their matter.’ They arranged a pillow for the Messenger of Allah and he sat on it and said…
<<Bring the Tawrah to me.>> He was brought the Tawrah and he removed the pillow from under him AND PLACED THE TAWRAH ON IT, saying…
<<I TRUST YOU and He Who revealed it to you.>> He then said…
<<Bring me your most knowledgeable person.>> So he was brought a young man… and then he mentioned the rest of the story that Malik narrated from Nafi`. These Hadiths state that the Messenger of Allah issued a decision that conforms with the ruling in the Tawrah, not to honor the Jews in what they believe in, for the Jews were commanded to follow the Law of Muhammad only. Rather, the Prophet did this because Allah commanded him to do so. He asked them about the ruling of stoning in the Tawrah to make them admit to what the Tawrah contains and what they collaborated to hide, deny and exclude from implementing for all that time. They had to admit to what they did, although they did it while having knowledge of the correct ruling… (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 5:41: http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=776&Itemid=60; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)
Pay careful attention to Muhammad’s reverential treatment of the copy of the Torah that the Jews had in their possession. Instead of telling the Jews that what they had was a defective, corrupt copy of the original Torah, Muhammad actually praises their very own copy by confessing his complete trust in its textual veracity and authority!
Here is a final passage:
But had the People of the Book believed and been godfearing, We would have acquitted them of their evil deeds, and admitted them to Gardens of Bliss. Had they performed the Torah and the Gospel, and what was sent down to them from their Lord, they would have eaten both what was above them, and what was beneath their feet. Some of them are a just nation; but many of them — evil are the things they do… Say: ‘People of the Book, you do not stand on anything, until you perform the Torah and the Gospel, and what was sent down to you from your Lord.’ And what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will surely increase many of them in insolence and unbelief; so grieve not for the people of the unbelievers. S. 5:66-68
Muslim biographer Ibn Ishaq provides the supposed historical context behind the “revelation” of the foregoing verses:
Rafi b. Haritha and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila came to him [Muhammad] and said: ‘Do you not allege that you follow the religion of Abraham and believe in the Torah WHICH WE HAVE and testify that it is the truth from God?’ He replied, ‘CERTAINLY, but you have sinned and broken the covenant CONTAINED THEREIN and concealed what you were ordered to make plain to men, and I dissociate myself from your sin.’ They said, ‘We hold by WHAT WE HAVE. We live according to the guidance and the truth and we do not believe in you and we will not follow you.’ So God sent down concerning them: ‘Say, O Scripture folk, you have no standing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been sent down from your Lord. What has been sent down to thee from they Lord will assuredly increase many of them in error and unbelief. But be not sad because of the unbelieving people.’ (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], p. 268; bold and capital emphasis ours)
Here was Muhammad’s chance to plainly tell the Jews that they had corrupted the text of the Torah. Instead, Muhammad tells them quite clearly that he fully believed the Torah which they possessed.
We now add a few more citations from Ibn Ishaq which further corroborate this fact:
The apostle wrote to the Jews of Khaybar according to what a freedman of the family of Zayd b. Thabit told me from ‘Ikrima or from Sa‘id b. Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas: ‘In the name of God the compassionate the merciful from Muhammad the apostle of God friend and brother of Moses WHO CONFIRMS WHAT MOSES BROUGHT. God says to you O scripture folk, and you will find it in your scripture “Muhammad is the apostle of God; and those with him are severe against the unbelievers, merciful among themselves. Thou seest them bowing, falling prostrate seeking bounty and acceptance from God. The mark of their prostrations is on their foreheads. That is their likeness in the Torah and in the Gospel like a seed which sends forth its shoot and strengthens it and it becomes thick and rises straight upon its stalk delighting the sowers that He may anger the unbelievers with them. God has promised those who believe and do well forgiveness and a great reward.” I adjure you by God, AND BY WHAT HE HAS SENT DOWN TO YOU, by the manna and quails He gave as food to your tribes before you, and by His drying up the sea for your fathers when He delivered them from Pharaoh and his works, that you tell me, DO YOU FIND IN WHAT HE SENT DOWN TO YOU that you should believe in Muhammad? IF YOU DO NOT FIND THAT IN YOUR SCRIPTURE THEN THERE IS NO COMPULSION UPON YOU. “The right path has become plainly distinguished from error” so I call you to God and His Prophet’ (313). (Ibid., p. 256; bold and capital emphasis ours)
According to what I heard from ‘Ikrima, freedman of Ibn ‘Abbas or from Sa‘id b. Jubayr from Ibn ‘Abbas, Jews used to hope that the apostle would be a help to them against Aus and Khazraj before his mission began; and when God sent him from among the Arabs they disbelieved in him and contradicted what they had formerly said about him. Mu‘adh b. Jabal and Bishr b. al-Bara’ b. Ma‘rur brother of B. Salama said to them: ‘O Jews, fear God and become Muslims, for you used to hope for Muhammad’s help against us when we were polytheists and to tell us that he would be sent and describe him to us.’ Salam b. Mishkam, one of the B. al-Nadir, said, ‘He has not brought us anything we recognize and he is not the one we spoke of to you.’ So God sent down about that saying of theirs: ‘And when a book comes to them from God CONFIRMING what they have, though beforehand they were asking for help against those who disbelieve, when there came to them what they knew, they disbelieved in it, so God’s curse rests on the unbelievers.’
Malik b. al-Sayf said when the apostle had been sent and they were reminded of the condition that had been imposed on them and what God had covenanted with them concerning him, ‘No covenant was ever made with us about Muhammad.’ So God sent down concerning him: ‘Is it not that whenever they make a covenant a party of them set it aside? Nay most of them do not believe.’
Abu Saluba al-Fityuni said to the apostle: ‘O Muhammad, you have not brought us anything we recognize and God has not sent down to you any sign that we should follow you.’ So God sent concerning his words, ‘We have sent down to thee plain signs and only evildoers disbelieve in them.’ (Ibid., p. 257; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)
These citations illustrate what Muhammad meant when he said in the Quran that his scripture confirms the books in the possession of the Jews and Christians. By confirmation he didn’t intend to convey the notion that the Quran accepts only certain parts of the Judeo-Christian books, as some Muslim polemicists would have us believe, but that it testifies to the fact of these texts being completely reliable and fully authoritative. If Muhammad believed that the Jewish-Christian Scriptures were corrupted he could have stated it here by simply telling the Jews that he didn’t fully believe that the Torah which they had was completely reliable. Instead of denouncing the textual purity of the Torah he confirms his belief in its authenticity and textual accuracy.
- Quranic passages where Muhammad commands the people to consult the previous Scriptures in order to verify his claims and stories.
So, if thou art in doubt regarding what We have sent down to thee, ask those who recite the Book before thee. The truth has come to thee from thy Lord; so be not of the doubters, S. 10:94
And We gave Moses nine signs, clear signs. Ask the Children of Israel when he came to them, and Pharaoh said to him, ‘Moses, I think thou art bewitched. S. 17:101
Surely it is a Reminder to thee and to thy people; and assuredly you will be questioned. Ask those of Our Messengers We sent before thee: Have We appointed, apart from the All-merciful, gods to be served? S. 43:44-45
The two Jalals, considered some of Islam’s greatest commentators, explain Muhammad’s exhortation to his contemporaries to ask the Messengers that came before him for verification of his assertion:
And ask those of Our messengers whom We sent before you: Did We [ever] appoint, besides the Compassionate One, that is to say, [any] other than Him, gods to be worshipped? It is said that this is to be understood literally, in other words, that God gathered for him all the messengers on the Night [of the] Journey; but it is also said that this meant [that he should ask] any communities belonging to either of the two Peoples of the Scripture. According to one of the two opinions, he never asked [anyone] since the point of this command to ask is to affirm to the idolaters of Quraysh that no messenger or scripture ever came from God with the command to worship [any] other than God. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn: http://altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=43&tAyahNo=45&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold and underline emphasis ours)
The foregoing citations conclusively prove that Muhammad believed in the inspiration and textual reliablility of the biblical books since these were the only Scriptures that the Jews and Christians had in their possessions during his time. As such, this thoroughly refutes the Muslim claim that the Quran does not confirm the inspiration, preservation, reliability and authority of the Scriptures which the Jews and Christians have always possessed.
Part 1: The Quran and the Bible (http://answeringislam.net/Campbell/s2c1.html)
Part 2: The Hadith and the Sunna (http://answeringislam.net/Campbell/s2c2.html)
What the Quran says about the Bible (http://answeringislam.net/Quran/Bible/index.html)