This article shows that a study of passages in the Quran testifies that the Taurat and the Gospel have not been altered, nor suffered verbal corruption. Anyone talking of tahrif or corruption, contradicts the Quran, and denies the evidence of what Muslims hold to be a direct revelation from heaven. He who impeaches “the Book” (The Bible) impeaches the Quran, and is not worthy to be called a believer, for he casts the Quran behind his back. Therefore as far as the scriptures are concerned the Christian need hardly waste his strength in proving to Muslims the genuineness of “the Book” for the proof they require lies in the Quran itself. If they lived in the days of Muhammad they would have believed in the integrity of the scriptures, does it not follow that they should today devote themselves to their study now accept what they reveal, and reject all else beside.
Passages in the Quran that confirm the Authority of the Bible
- “Cloak not the truth with falsehood; nor conceal the truth while ye know it.” (Al Baqarrah 2:39)
The Quran claims that the People of the Book knew of passages bearing on the description and character of the Prophet but that they simply denied that such passages existed and withheld the verses or they interpreted them in a way that did not support Muhammad’s claims. It is clear that they believed in their own Scriptures as a revelation from God and that their text was corrupted has no basis from this text. It is quite clear that nothing more was suggested by Muhammad to the Jews than misinterpretation and withholding evidence.
- “When a prophet came unto them from God attesting that (Scripture) which is with them, a part of those to whom the Book was given cast the Book of God behind their backs, as if they knew not.” (Al Baqarrah 2:97)
Muslims say that as the Taurat bore witness to the description and person of their Prophet. The Jews rejected this concept and this rejection was in the eyes of Muslims equivalent to casting the Taurat aside even though they knew it to be true. Muhammad clearly believed that the Jews possessed their Book in an unhampered state yet he does at the same time accuse them of misinterpretation, hiding and ‘casting away’; that is, of suggesting doubts, suppressing evidence, and shutting their eyes to the testimony borne by these Scriptures to his mission. All this shows to the believers in the Quran that the Old Testament Scriptures are accredited by Muhammad as free from the taint of corruption.
- “Verily they that hide that which God hath sent down of the Book, and sell the same for a small price, they shall consume only fire in their bellies; God shall not speak with them in the Day of Resurrection, nor purify them, and they shall suffer a grievous punishment.” (Al Baqarrah 2:170)
According to Ibn Abbas the background of this verse is that Ka’b Ibn Ashraf and other leading Jews were in the habit of receiving offerings from their followers but when the Prophet appeared they feared the loss of these gifts, and so they concealed the prophecies regarding him and his dispensation. Ibn Abbas considered that the “hiding” consisted of altering the Taurat and the Gospel but this cannot be accepted for both the Taurat and Gospel had been handed down in widespread and unbroken succession, which rendered that out of the question. The meaning, then is consistent with the above; the Jews were not accused of altering the text but they are accused of keeping back the true interpretation of passages which were said to be well known in the Taurat concerning the mission of Muhammad and introduced false explanations which diverted their true meaning as revealed by God, or in other words, they hid it.
The People of the Book never dared to tamper with the text of their Scripture for they were its trusted custodians, even as it was originally revealed to them. Muhammad continued to believe in the integrity and purity of the Scriptures, of which he said: “O ye People of the Book, why do ye deny the revelation of God, to which ye yourselves bear witness” that is, feign ignorance before those who have never heard it, while all the time ye know the same, and bear witness to it?
- “O ye People of the Book, why do ye deny the revelation of God, and yet are witnesses of the same.”(Al Imran 3:68)
Muslims say that the Jews are accused of denying the very essence of the Taurat by denying the existence of the passages which bore evidence of the Prophet’s mission. Both in the presence of the Muslims and their own people they are accused of denying the existence of such passages in the Taurat and Gospel then, when they were alone with certain of themselves, they were said to have admitted their existence. They did not remove from their Scriptures the passages which, as Muhammad supposed, bore testimony to his person and mission for in tradition they are said to have denied the existence of such passages in them, while yet (when alone) they admitted their being there so this leaves no place whatever for the imputation that they tampered with their Book.
- “Verily, there is amongst them a party that change their tongues in (reading) the Book, that ye might think it to be from the Book, and it is not from the Book. And they say, “This is from God,” yet it is not from God; and they utter a lie against God, knowing all the while.” (Al Imran 3:77)
This is a text which is so clear as hardly to need comment. It resembles those preceding it, and shows clearly what the perversion (tahrif) of the Taurat charged against the Jews really was, that is, reciting passages in such a way as to give them a wrong meaning. They are said to know the real meaning of the text but lied and this was said to be lying against God. Again it is clear that the text itself was untouched and merely that a party of the Jews were said to have asserted one thing and then contradicted it by giving it a tortuous meaning. Some would still insist that changes have been made in the text and when challenged about this they respond “perhaps a small party may have done it, and then passed off the manipulated matter on to others of their people.” But the very word “perhaps” shows that it was felt to be no real argument at all; and how could “a small party” have tampered with the Taurat? The Scriptures were spread abroad everywhere in such abundance as to render any change impossible; so then the “perhaps” falls into an impossibility!
- “A nd when God took the covenant of those to whom the Book was given, “That ye shall publish it to mankind, and shall not hide it”; yet they cast it behind their backs, and sold it for a small price. Wretched is that which they sold it for.” (Al Imran 3:185)
The followers of Moses and Jesus are here said to intentionally injure Muhammad by concealing the passages in the Taurat and Gospel which were said to bear on his mission; and they are said to have tampered (tahrif) with them, or placed false interpretations on them and suggested unworthy doubts. The Jews who were looked up to by their own followers as learned authorities were said to act “for a small gain” and they are accused by the Muslims of hiding these passages because they feared losing their honoured position. We have no instance anywhere of Muhammad casting reflection on the safe guardianship of the Taurat and Gospel. Muhammad speaks of the Jews and Christians as “the People of the Book”; he never throws out any suspicion that the Taurat, as was in their hands, was any other than “the Book” revealed to Moses, nor the Gospel any other than that revealed to Jesus. He simply accuses them of confusing and hiding the evidence which (as he claimed) bore testimony to himself .
- “Of the Jews there are that change the word from its place, and who say, “We have heard, and have disobeyed”; and “hear without being made to hear; and “Raina” (look on us), changing (the sense) with their tongues, and speaking evil of the faith. Now, if they had said, “We have heard and have obeyed,” and “Hearken and behold us,” it had been better for them, and more upright. But God hath cursed them for their unbelief, and they shall not believe excepting a few.” (Al Nisa 3:44)
- “They change the word from its place” (Al Maida 5:14)
These two verses tell the same thing. The Muslim Commentators in citing Al Nisa 3:44 point to the well-known case of the adulterers of Kheiber. Now the penalty in the Taurat is stoning. But the Jews, favouring the high position of the offenders, sent a deputation to the Prophet, hoping he would order a lighter punishment saying at the same time to them, “If he orders stoning, beware, and do not consent” but it is said that Gabriel brought down the command for stoning and the Jews refused this judgement. Muhammad then, as directed by Gabriel, then proposed that Ibn Sureya of Fadak (who was said to be the best versed in the Scriptures of any Jew on the whole face of the earth) should be an arbiter between them. The Jews accepted these terms. So the Prophet put Ibn Sureya on his solemn oath as to whether the punishment for adultery was stoning in the Taurat. When he replied that it was the Jews leapt upon him but he was firm, saying that he feared to tell a lie because of the eternal punishment. Muhammad then ordered both offenders to be stoned to death at the gate of the mosque. And so the text about “changing the word from its place” refers to this affair, as the Jews sought to substitute “scourging,” in place of “stoning to death.” The change of word from its place is again an accusation of verbal suppression of the text rather than a corruption of the written text.
Muslim commentators give other alleged changes (tahrif) such as matters concerning the height of Adam supposedly in the Taurat, but by saying these things they are arguing that the mission of Muhammad is in the scripture and that therefore the scriptures are pure. The issue was that they clothed their scriptures in a false dress as they interpreted them otherwise, or concealed them. If, indeed, there had been suspicion of textual interpolation, it would clearly have been mentioned in the Quran, as well as misinterpretation and concealment.
- “And how shall they make thee their judge, since they already have the Taurat, in which is the judgement of God? Then they will turn their backs after that, and they are not true believers.” (Al Maida 5:44)
Here is an expression of surprise from the Almighty because the Jews were said to have appealed to Muhammad in the case of the adulterer (as above), while they had already the punishment of stoning laid down in their Taurat. They are said to be obstinate and practicing falsity for they turned aside from the command of God in their Scripture, and sought exemption from Muhammad to give up the practice of stoning for adultery. They “turned their backs,” that is, from the command which they knew to be in their Scriptures. Three important conclusions come from this verse as commented on:
1) The testimony that the Taurat, as in the hands of the Jews, contained the law of God, which sets at rest any question of tahrif in the sense of tampering; for every Muslim must see that if there had been textual corruption, there would have been nothing authoritative to refer to; and here we are told of the Jews that “they had the Taurat, in which is the judgement (commandment or law) of God.
2) It follows that the Taurat was sufficient for their guidance, apart from the word of Muhammad or any other; since it was sufficient (we are told) in the case of adultery, and so also in every other matter as it is described in the Quran as “a guide out of the ways of error.”
3) As the Jews are said to have applied to the Prophet in the hope of obtaining from him a laxer sentence than that in the law of the Taurat, it follows that they did not dare to tamper with their Scripture in order to obtain the relaxation of their law which they desired. The Taurat, in which are the commands of God, is here affirmed to be in use by the Jews; the Scripture which, as shown above, is genuine and free from touch.
- “And let the People of the Gospel judge according to that which is revealed therein; and whoso judgeth not according to that which God hath revealed, these are the wicked ones.” (Al Maida 5:48)
Muslims who ask how could the Gospel have been the rule of judgement after the appearance of the Quran are told that
1) Christians were bound to accept the evidence revealed in their Gospel because it spoke of the mission of Muhammad
2) They should still follow whatever has been revealed in the Gospel for is not abrogated by the Quran
3) They should study the Gospel as God has revealed it in order to make true judgement.
The testimony here given of the integrity of the Gospel in the days of Muhammad, and of its freedom from any change, is clear seeing that Christians are exhorted to abide by the commands which God has revealed therein. What would be the point of referring to its testimony if it had been tampered with? Since, after the evidence that has been given (and what is to follow) of the authenticity and purity of the Gospel, it is not open to the Muslim to accept parts of it and refuse others; he is bound to accept the whole, as a guide of life and faith revealed from above.
- “The similitude of those who have been charged with the burden of the Taurat and have not borne it is as the similitude of the ass laden with books. Wretched is the similitude of that people. They give the lie to the religion of God, and God guideth not the transgressing people.” (Al Jamaa 62:5)
This text is further evidence that the Jews of the day believed in the Taurat, as their fathers had done before them, and faithfully preserved it as by the handing down from Moses. The accusation against them is that like an ass who does not benefit from the books it carried so the Jews fared no better for they refused to recognise the prophecies concerning Muhammad found in the Taurat. They resembled the ass which, laden with books, was unaware of their contents.
Again the argument is not against the integrity of the Taurat but the failure to act upon it. Why do our Muslim friends not set themselves now to read it search its prophecies and types and see what are the alleged intimations said to be there in respect of their Prophet? Let them do so, and they will find none.
- “They to whom We have given the Book recognise him as they recognise their own sons; they that injure their own souls, these will not believe.” (Imran 6:20)
The idea of the Jews knowing him as they knew their own sons, must have been either a mere conjecture, or based on the saying of some of the Jewish converts. Muslims claim that the Taurat and the Gospel contained predictions of the coming of Muhammad, in addition they say there was given intimation of the time and place at which he was to appear, of his descent, stature and appearance. Those Jews and Christians who faithfully read their scriptures would then recognise Muhammad as they did their own sons. Muslims say that once these particulars existed at one time before the Prophet appeared but they were tampered with and left out at some previous period. We know of a certainty that the Taurat and Gospel did not contain any such particulars and therefore it is not surprising that he was not recognised. The concealment of such detailed predictions would have been impossible, seeing that the Scriptures said to contain them were spread over the whole world. The real purport of the text is, that Jews and Christians versed in their Scriptures, and thus men of discernment and judgement, were able to test the evidence of Muhammad’s mission, and to estimate the weight of his miracles, and consequently they failed to recognise him as one of their own sons.
- “And if thou art in doubt as to which We have revealed unto thee, ask those who read the Book (revealed) before thee, for verily the truth hath come unto thee from thy Lord. Be not thou, therefore, among those who doubt.” (Yunus 10:92)
The Muslim commentators are unsure as to who this verse is addressed: some say Muhammad, some think it was to those still undecided, so were told that if they have any doubts they should ask the People of the Book that they may assure them of the truth of his mission. Still others say they were Jews who had come over to Islam such as the two Ka’abs. See how much confidence the Quran assures the enquirer to read the Scriptures. Why would the Quran refer such a person to Scriptures that had been tampered with! We insist the only tampering of scripture consisted in the accusation of hiding such passages as bore testimony to Muhammad. If we suppose the Prophet himself (the more received and natural view) was being addressed then the explanation is that at times Muhammad may have had doubts, although it is only stated as a possibility (“If thou art in doubt”); but he was certainly a man liable to be troubled in his heart by doubts and anxious possibilities and these were only removed by clear declarations and manifest proofs of the Almighty’s care. The People of the Book could solve his doubts for they had the true revelation. Muhammad therefore must have been convinced of the purity and preservation of the Scriptures. If the Book had been corrupted, what confidence, could have been placed in it, or why was the Prophet referred to it, to calm and remove his misgivings? The doubts and questionings were, as he says, in the Prophet’s own heart. And when he was commanded to refer to the People of the Book for reassurance, it equally results that his followers are bound to ascertain in like manner the testimony of the preceding Scriptures, and accept their decision in all matters of faith and doctrine, and the line dividing the true from the false. Where, then, is the talk about tahrif, as if it meant tampering with the text! The testimony of the Quran should satisfy every honest Muslim of the safe guardianship of the People of the Book, and consequent purity and authority of the Holy Scriptures.