MODERN CHARGES OF CORRUPTION BASED
ON THE BIBLE
THOSE Muslims who profess to believe that the Bible has been corrupted by Jews and Christians not only go to the Qur'an for their so-called proofs, but they further busy themselves in trying to cull from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures illustrations to prove their charges. lt is our purpose in this chapter to deal with some of these, and to show that such a method of attack involves the use of a two-edged weapon, which is as likely to injure the user as the one attacked.
It is obviously impossible, in the limits of one small volume, to deal seratim with all the passages of the Bible which have been quoted by various Muslim writers in order to prove their pet theme; we propose, rather, to examine a few specimen passages illustrative of the various methods which have been employed in attacking the integrity of the Bible; and it will not be difficult to show that, if exactly the same principles be applied to the Qur'an, the latter book would likewise have to be abandoned by all honest Muslims.
One of the favourite methods of those who imagine that the Bible has been deliberately corrupted by Jews and Christians is to quote the various readings to be found in the ancient manuscripts of the Bible, or to compare the Authorized and Revised Versions of the English Bible, and then, with a shout of triumph, declare their contention proven. It is necessary here to once again call the reader's attention to Sir Syed Ahmad's definition of the word tahrif as a ‘wilful corruption of the word of God from its true and original purport and intent.’ Now it is obvious that a ‘wilful’ corruption of any word or sentence of Scripture must be done with a purpose. It is impossible to imagine men changing a word here or a word there in the scripture narrative just for the sake of changing; yet very many of the words pointed out by Muslim critics of the Bible as existing in various readings are just words of this class. They may have been copyists’ errors, or they may have been explanatory glosses which inadvertently crept into the text; but whatever they were, there is nothing in them to suggest deliberate falsification. These so-called ‘corruptions’ make no difference whatever to a single doctrine of the Bible, and in most cases no possible object can be conceived for which they would have been made.
If the Bible is to be rejected because of the presence of such various readings, then the Qur'an must be rejected for precisely similar reasons; for the Qur'an itself contains hundreds of similar various readings. The reader should refer to the author's The Qur'an in Islam for a detailed description of the compilation and subsequent recension of the Qur'an; suffice it to state here that, after its compilation by the orders of the Khalifa Abu Bakr, a great number of errors rapidly crept into the reading and recitation of that book, until the Khalifa 'Uthman was forced to the drastic expedient of writing out one copy of the Qur'an and then burning all the rest! The absence of vowel points, however, continued to be a fruitful source of trouble, and soon led again to endless diversity in the reading and interpretation of the Qur'an. Jalalu'd-Din As-Syuti tells us that five copies were made of 'Uthman's recension and sent to the cities of Mecca, Madina, Damascus, Basra, and Kufa, where, some time in the second century of the Hijra, seven noted ‘Readers’ acquired recognition for seven differing ways of reading the Qur'an. Each of these readers, again, is known by two ‘Reporters’. The names of these Readers are Nafi of Madina, Ibn Kathir of Mecca, Abu 'Amr of Basra, Ibn 'Amr of Damascus, 'Asim of Kufa, Hamza of Kufa, and Al-Kisa'i of Kufa.
Many books containing collections of the various readings of the Qur'an have been compiled by Muslim scholars. The most famous is the Taidir of Al-Da'na. This scholar not only mentions the various readings of the different Readers referred to above, but also gives the names of the readers through whom each of the seven obtained his information. Al-Razi in his commentary gives the critical reasons that may be urged in favour of or against the different readings. It will be seen, therefore, that the Qur'an; equally with all other ancient books, contains various readings; and all who have studied that book critically with the help of the standard commentaries know perfectly well that the number of such various readings runs into many hundreds. By way of illustration we here propose to give the various readings quoted by Muslim exegetes as occurring in the eight verses of Surah al-Fatihah 1, the opening chapter of the Qur'an, after which, we trust, we shall hear no more from Muslim controversialists of the various readings of the Bible.
From the famous Tafsiru'l-Baidawi we learn that the reading مالك يوم in verse 3 is the reading of ‘Asim and Al-Kisa'i and Ya'qub . . . whilst the other readers have ملك and the latter is preferable as being the reading of the people of Mecca and Madina. The reader will not fail to note that, in spite of Baidawi's assertion that the reading ملكis to be preferred, yet the current copies of the Qur'an have the other reading مالك. This various reading is also mentioned by the Jalalain.
In the very next sentence of the Qur'an to the one commented on above we have another various reading pointed out by Baidawi who writes:
قُرِئ إياك بفتح الهمزة
'Some read the letter hamza with a fatha instead of a kesra.'
Then, again, the Imam tells us, some read the two nuns in this passage with a kesra instead of a fatha; whilst in verse 6 he points out a startling variation from the received text. The Imam writes thus:
قُرئ صراط من أنعمت عليهم
‘Some read sirat man an'amta alaihim’ in place of the words found in current copies of the Qur'an ‘sirat alladhina an'amta alaihim.’ It would puzzle the great Imam, let alone the Muslim reader of this little book, to tell us which of these readings represents the original words spoken by Muhammad. There is even considerable doubt whether the Prophet spoke either, for one of the greatest of the ‘Companions,’ himself an eminent reader of the Qur'an, lbn Mas'ud, discarded this whole chapter as not being a part of the Qur'an at all!
Jalalu'd-Din has preserved this interesting piece of information, 27 for he tells us that
قال ابن حجر في شرح البخاري قد صحح عن ابن مسعود انكار ذلك فاخرج الحمد
‘Ibn Hajar has said in Sharahu'-Bukhari that Ibn Mas'ud denied that, and cast out Al Hamd (i.e. Surah al-Fatiha, from his Qur'an).’
Baidawi mentions still another reading in the eighth verse of this chapter, for he tells us that in place of the words لا الضالين la addalina, some read غير الضالين ghair addalina; whilst still another reading of the same word mentioned by him is that with hamza, namely, لا الضالين.
It is admitted that none of the various readings referred to above makes any serious difference to the meaning of the passage. But that is not the point here. The point is that the Qur'an is just as open to criticism on the ground of the presence of various readings as is the Bible. Moreover, it would not be difficult to quote very many various readings in later chapters of the Qur'an which do seriously alter the meaning. Some of these are quoted in the book The Qur'an in Islam referred to above. Despite these facts, there are still not wanting educated Muslims who continue to attack the Bible and impugn its trustworthiness because of the various readings to be found in various ancient manuscripts. Could insincerity and inconsistency go further!
If the Bible and the Qur'an be compared with respect to this matter of various readings, it will readily be seen that the advantage lies altogether with the Bible. We have already referred to the drastic expedient of the Khalifa 'Uthman for eliminating the various readings of the Qur'an by retaining one copy and burning all the rest. Muslims are, therefore, necessarily shut up to this one text, though, as we have already shown, that text is open to the gravest suspicion. Under these circumstances it is impossible for Muslim scholars to compare the various ancient manuscripts of the Qur'an, and so determine the correct text. With Christians, however, the case is entirely different; for they have carefully preserved with jealous care all ancient manuscripts of the Bible, and are, therefore, able to compare them, and by a process of elimination, determine with a great degree of accuracy, what was the original text. The reader will be better able to follow the argument by comparing the imaginary readings of eight different and differing manuscripts given below. The differences are purposely exaggerated for the purpose of illustration. A careful comparison of the different texts will show that the first is almost certainly the correct one. Such a process would be impossible in the case of the Qur'an, where Muslims are forever shut up to one arbitrary text, with no means of testing its correctness. With a hundred texts to collate, the result would be still more certain.
- Jesus went down to Capernaum, and entered a synagogue of the Jews.
- Jesus went up to Capernaum, and entered a synagogue of the Jews.
- Jesus went down to Capernaum, and entered a temple of the Jews.
- Jesus went to Capernaum. and entered a synagogue of the Jews.
- Jesus, therefore, went down to Capernaum, and entered a synagogue of the Jews.
- Jesus went down to Capernaum, and entered a synagogue of the Samaritans.
- Jesus went down to Nazareth, and entered a synagogue of the Jews.
- Jesus and His disciples went down to Capernaum, and entered a synagogue of the Jews.
Another class of Scripture frequently quoted by some Muslims to prove the corruption of the Bible is that class of passage which has reference to the sins of the Prophets. Thus in a scurrilous book published in the Bengali language and called Raddi Christian a whole chapter is devoted to what the author calls ‘abuse of the Saints of God’. He (and others like him) starts off with the baseless assumption, which has not the slightest foundation in the Qur’an, that all Prophets are sinless; consequently every passage of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures in which the sins of the Prophets are mentioned must be necessarily false; and therefore the Bible is corrupted. Such is the logic and such the arrogance of some Muslim controversialists!
The author of the book Raddi Christian mentioned above is not alone in the possession of this unique power of reasoning. A so-called ‘Maulana,’ writing in the Bengali magazine Naba Nur for the month of Jaiystha, 1327 A.H., after fulminating against the Bible, quotes a number of Biblical passages in which the sins of Lot, Jacob, Aaron, David, Solomon and others are mentioned, and then with no little semblance of indignation asks whether such passages can possibly be portions of the real Torah and lnjil; for, he proceeds, ‘According to the Qur'an it is proved that the verses referred to are false and corrupted.’
Unfortunately for these persons and their logic the Qur'an itself contains exactly similar teaching, and the sins of not a few of the Prophets are clearly mentioned therein! This being so, it is difficult to see how, on their reasoning, Muslims can reject the Bible, and yet retain the Qur'an. If the Bible goes because of its alleged unworthy representations of the Holy Prophets, surely the Qur'an must be rejected for exactly similar reasons.
It may be well, before moving on to our next point, to quote a few of the verses of the Qur'an in which the sins of the Prophets and their repentance and prayers for pardon are clearly mentioned; after which, it is hoped, we shall hear less of this ‘proof’ of the corruption of the Bible.
Of Abraham we read in the Qur'an that he said, when speaking of God,
وَالَّذِي أَطْمَعُ أَن يَغْفِرَ لِي خَطِيئَتِي يَوْمَ الدِّينِ
‘Who, I hope, will forgive me my sins in the day of reckoning.’ 28 Some of the sins referred to, such as falsehood, are clearly mentioned in other places of the Qur'an and in the Traditions.
Of Moses it is written in the Qur'an that he killed an Egyptian,
فَوَكَزَهُ مُوسَى فَقَضَى عَلَيْهِ قَالَ هَذَا مِنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ عَدُوٌّ مُّضِلٌّ مُّبِينٌ قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي ظَلَمْتُ نَفْسِي فَاغْفِرْ لِي
‘And Moses smote him with his fist and slew him. Said he, “This is a work of Satan; for he is an enemy, a manifest misleader.” He said, “O my Lord, I have sinned to mine own hurt; forgive me”.’ 29
David's sin of adultery is referred to in Qur’an Saad surah 38 and in verse 24 his repentance and prayer for pardon is recorded as follows:
فَاسْتَغْفَرَ رَبَّهُ وَخَرَّ رَاكِعًا وَأَنَابَ
‘So he asked pardon of his Lord, and fell down and bowed himself and repented.’
In the same chapter Solomon is described as a sinner, and his prayer for pardon is recorded in these words:
فَقَالَ إِنِّي أَحْبَبْتُ حُبَّ الْخَيْرِ عَن ذِكْرِ رَبِّي ... ثُمَّ أَنَابَ قَالَ رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لي
‘And he said, “Truly I have loved the love of earthly goods above the remembrance of my Lord” . . . Afterwards he returned (to us) in penitence. He said, “O my Lord, pardon me”.’30
The illustrations given above are sufficient to prove that the Qur'an, equally with the Bible, depicts the Prophets as weak and erring men, who repeatedly asked pardon for their sins. Yet because the Bible contains such teaching it is derided as ‘corrupted’ and unworthy of acceptance. Surely, in view of what we have written above, it is time such writing ceased. If this is the best Muslim controversialists have to offer, it makes a sorry exhibition, not only of inconsistency, but of utter insincerity; for the men who write thus must know perfectly well that the Qur'an is open to precisely the same charges. The fact is, the ancient Prophets were men of like passions with ourselves, and the Bible has faithfully recorded both their successes and failures, their virtues and their vices.
Another method adopted by some Muslim controversialists in order to disparage the Bible and throw doubt on its integrity is to select various passages of the Bible relating to the same event, and then pretend to discover ‘contradictions’ in the different narratives. The fourfold Gospel narrative of the life of Christ affords a happy hunting ground for such men, who spare no pains to show, with much pretended indignation, that the various verbal disagreements manifest prove the corruption of the Bible. Now when these so-called ‘contradictions’ are carefully examined it will be generally found that the difficulty is no difficulty at all, but is entirely due to the crass ignorance of the objector. Moreover, as we shall show in these pages, exactly the same kind of difficulty may be met with over and over again in the pages of the Qur'an.
As an instance of the kind of thing referred to we might mention an article which appeared in the Muslim Review, a Muhammadan, or rather Qadiani, journal published at Woking, England. The writer of the article in question based his attack on the variations in the Gospel narratives of the inscription which was placed over the cross on which Jesus was crucified. As is well known, there exists a verbal disagreement in the records of the Evangelists. Thus St. Matthew tells us that the accusation was written, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews,’31 whilst St. Mark quotes more briefly, ‘The King of the Jews.’32 St. Luke writes, ‘This is the King of the Jews,’33 whilst in St. John's Gospel the words are given as ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’.34
Now if we apply Sir Syed Ahmad's definition of tahrif to these passages, we shall at once see how impossible it is to believe that the differences pointed out were deliberately made. In other words, according to the great founder of Aligarh College, the passages in question afford no illustration of tahrif at all. On the other hand, any honest attempt to understand these passages will make it indubitably clear that the writers were simply quoting the substance of what was written, and not the exact words. Moreover, we are told by St. John that the inscription was written in Hebrew and Latin and Greek, and it is not impossible that such verbal variations existed in the original writings. However, the explanation given above is ample for any fair-minded man; and those who would find in such verbal disagreements a reason for distrusting the Bible, would do well to remember that the Qur'an is full of examples of exactly the same kind of verbal disagreement. Therefore, if such men are consistent, they must reject the Qur’an, no less than the Bible.
Another passage often quoted by Muslims to prove the corruption of the Bible is St. Matthew 27:9. It is there written: ‘Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the Prophet, saying, and they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter's field as the Lord appointed me.’
lt is pointed out by the critics that the words here attributed to Jeremy the Prophet are not to be found in the Book called by his name, but in the Book of Zechariah. Even there, there is no verbal agreement with the words quoted by Matthew, and so, argue these clever gentlemen, the Bible is corrupted. Now if the reader will bear in mind what was written above regarding the fourfold quotation of the inscription on the cross, he will be prepared to see that Matthew, here, is only giving the substance of the prophecy, and is making no attempt to quote it literally.
The Book of Jeremiah, it is well known; was placed first in the Jewish collection of the Prophetical books of the Hebrew Bible, and, for that reason, often gave its name to the whole collection; just as in common speech the word Torah, because of its position at the beginning of the Old Testament, is often applied to the whole of that book, though, strictly speaking, the title only belongs to the Books of Moses. For confirmation of this the reader is referred to Sir Syed Ahmad's book,35 in which he writes: ‘Although the term Torah is strictly applied to the Books of Moses, yet, in the use of Muslims the term sometimes signifies the Book of Moses, and sometimes it is used for all the Books of the Old Testament.’
Now he might well quote a passage from any of the Prophets as being ‘written in the Torah,’ yet who would convict him of error? Similarly, when Matthew uses the term Jeremy for the whole collection of the Prophetical Books of the Old Testament, it is futile to contend that he did not know what he was writing about, or that later persons ‘corrupted’ the words originally written by him. The passage before us affords an excellent illustration of the danger of criticising without full knowledge.
We now give two or three illustrations, out of scores which might be quoted, to show that the Qur'an contains exactly the same kind of verbal disagreement taken objection to by some Muslim critics of the Holy Bible.
In the tenth verse of Surah Ta-Ha 20 we are told that when Moses saw the burning bush in the wilderness, he addressed his people in certain words. Again in Qur’an An-Naml (surah 27:7), the same incident is recorded including Moses’ speech to his people; but we find striking ‘discrepancies’ in the two accounts. We give them side by side, so that the reader can see for himself how wide those ‘discrepancies’ are.
‘Hath the history of Moses reached thee? When he saw a fire, and said to his family, “Tarry ye (here) for I have perceived a fire: haply I may bring you a brand from it, or find at the fire a guide”.’
‘When Moses said to his family, “I have perceived a fire: I will bring you tidings from it, or will bring you a blazing brand, that ye may warm you”.
Then the narrative continues in both chapters with a record of the words of God addressed to Moses when the latter approached the fire. We give the two passages in parallel columns, so that the reader may clearly appreciate the verbal disagreements which exist between them.
‘And when he came to it, he was called to, “O Moses I verily I am thy Lord; therefore pull off thy shoes, for thou art in the holy valley of Towa”.’
‘And when he came to it, he was called to,…“O Moses, verily I am God, the mighty, the wise. Throw down now thy staff ”.’
The whole colloquy between God and Moses is too long for quotation in full here, but the opening sentences which we have quoted are sufficient for our purpose. So long as such verbal disagreements exist in the Qur'an, it is both inconsistent and foolish for Muslims to quote the various accounts of the resurrection of Christ as found in the four Gospels, and try to prove from their verbal disagreements that the Gospels have been ‘corrupted’.
It may be of interest to note the reply of Moses as recorded in various places in the Qur'an. We give below two varying accounts. 36
‘He (Moses) said, “O my Lord! enlarge my breast for me, and make my work easy for me, and loose the knot of my tongue that they may understand my speech, and give me a counsellor from among my family, Aaron my brother. By him gird up my loins, and make him a colleague in my work, that we may praise thee often and often remember thee. For thou regardest us”.’
‘He (Moses) said, “My Lord, in sooth I fear lest they treat me as a liar: and my breast is straitened, and I am slow of speech. Send. therefore, to Aaron. For they have a charge against me, and I fear lest they put me to death”.’
lt will be noticed that in Surah Ta-Ha 20, Moses is represented as begging for Aaron to be sent with him as a helper; whilst in Surah Ash-Shu’ara’ he seeks to have Aaron sent instead of him, as he feared capital punishment for the murder which the Qur'an, in another place, has recorded against him. Here we have, not merely the same story told in different words, but we have an entirely different story, differing materially as to questions of fact. What have the Muslim critics of the Bible got to say to this?
Another illustration of verbal disagreement in the Qur'anic narratives may be found in the words of God said to have been addressed to our first parents in the Garden of Eden. We give below three distinct, and differing, records from three different chapters of the Qur'an dealing with this one speech of God, and leave the reader to draw his own conclusions.
'And we said, "Get ye down, the one of you an enemy to the other; and there shall be for you in the earth a dwelling-place and a provision for a season. ... Get ye down from it all together, and if guidance shall come to you from me. whoso shall follow my guidance, on them shall come no fear, neither shall they be grieved. But they who shall not believe, and treat our signs as falsehoods, these shall be inmates of the fire: in it shall they remain for ever".'
He said, "Get ye down, the one of you an enemy to the other; and there shall be for you in the earth a dwelling-place and a provision for a season." He said, "On it shall ye live, and on it shall ye die, and from it shaIl ye be taken forth".'
‘He said. “Get ye all down hence, the one of you an enemy to the other. And if guidance shall come to you from me, whoso shall follow my guidance shall not err, and shall not be wretched; but whoso turneth away from my monition, his truly shall be a life of misery; and we will assemble him (with others) on the day of resurrection, blind”.’
We could quote scores of illustrations from the Qur'an similar to those given above, to show that, that book contains precisely the same kind of verbal disagreement as that so loudly denounced in the Bible. When it is remembered that the men loudest in these denunciations are men who pretend to some measure of education, and who must know perfectly well that the Qur'an is full of such verbal disagreements and discrepancies, the hypocrisy of the whole proceeding becomes self-evident. If these men are sincere in their opinions, then let them, at least, be consistent, and reject the Qur'an as well as the Bible. For ourselves, we are not concerned to explain the many apparent contradictions of the Qur'an, but so far as verbal discrepancies occur in the Bible they give us no cause for disbelief. The narrative of one Evangelist often supplements that of another, often amplifies the brief recital of a predecessor or makes clear the ambiguities to which such brevity sometimes leads; but this is not tahrif, and it in no way affects the general trustworthiness of the Gospel record. More often than not, the substance, and not the actual words, of prophecies of the Old Testament, or of speeches of the New, is all that is quoted by the Gospel writers. To say that the Bible is corrupted because of the absence of literal verbal agreement in such cases, and yet to accept the Qur'an as it stands, is to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.
Ignorance of the Bible and of Jewish customs is often responsible for hasty charges of ‘corruption’ made against that book. Thus the author of the book Raddi Christian, mentioned above, (and of course his many copyists) quotes St. Mark 2:26 to the effect that David entered the house of God and ate the shewbread ‘in the time of Abiathar the High-priest’. This is wrong, say the critics, because we learn from 1 Samuel 21:1-2 that Ahimelech was then High-priest.
Now this objection, like many others of the class of writer referred to, is based upon a false assumption, namely that there could only be one Jewish High priest at the same time. A reference to the Gospel of Luke, however, would have taught them that there were sometimes two High priests. The words of the Gospel are, ‘In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberias Caesar . . . Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John.’ Similarly, a further reference to 1 Samuel 23:6-9 would have shown them that Abiathar, as stated by St. Mark, was also a High-priest at the time referred to. Thus we read, ‘And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him; and he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring hither the ephod”.’ This Abiathar was High-priest until David's death, when the latter's son, Solomon, deposed him for his misdeeds. Thus we read, ‘And unto Abiathar the priest said the king, “Get thee to Anathoth, unto thine own fields, for thou art worthy of death; but I will not at this time put thee to death, because thou barest the ark of the Lord God before David my father, and because thou hast been afflicted in all wherein my father was afflicted.” So Solomon thrust out Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord, that he might fulfil the word of the Lord which he spake concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.’ 37
In the book Raddi Christian another ‘corruption’ of the Bible is thus proved. In St. Matthew's Gospel it is said that Jesus, ‘walking by the sea of Galilee,’ called his first disciples, and said, ‘Follow me, and I will make you to become fishers of men,’ 38 whereas in St. Luke's Gospel it is said that this call took place on the shores of the ‘Lake of Genesareth’. This constitutes one of the famous ‘contradictions’, of the Bible, so eagerly seized upon by the writer.
That men of such colossal ignorance should sit down to criticize the Bible almost passes belief; for every schoolboy knows that the body of water in question was respectively called the Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberias and the Sea, or Lake, of Genesareth. Even in the Qur’an the chief city of Arabia is in one place called Bakka and in another Makka, but who would condemn the Qur'an on that account?
Yet another passage of the Bible 39 excites the derision of these intellectuals. It is there written, ‘At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungered, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat.’ This innocent looking passage affords a basis for charges of trespass and theft committed with the knowledge and consent of Jesus, and as such a presumption conflicts with the Muslim theory of the sinlessness of the Prophets, the passage is forthwith pronounced an interpolation.
This objection, again, is due solely to the ignorance of the objector, for a reference to the Law of Moses makes it perfectly clear that in thus plucking the ears of corn the disciples of Jesus were acting in strict conformity with that law and the well-established custom of the Jews based upon it. This will be seen from the following quotation from the Torah: ‘When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.' 40
Strangely enough this teaching of the Bible, which is so strongly objected to by ignorant Muslims, is matched by exactly similar teaching in Islam itself! Thus we find Muhammad, when asked for a ruling with regard to fruit hanging on the trees, replying as follows:
مَنْ أَصَابَ مِنْه مِنْ ذِي حَاجَةٍ غَيْرَ مُتَّخِذٍ خُبْنَةً فَلَا شَيْءَ عَلَيْهِ وَمَنْ خَرَجَ بِشَيْءٍ مِنْهُ فَعَلَيْهِ غَرَامَةُ مِثْلَيْهِ وَالْعُقُوبَةُ
‘He who approaches it out of need (that is, hunger) without taking away what he can carry, is free from blame; but he who takes away some of it is under obligation to pay double its price, and is liable to punishment.’ 41
In the same way the Prophet allowed any one to milk a cow, the property of another, in order to quench his thirst; but he forbade carrying away the milk under such circumstances. Thus it is seen that the very procedure so strongly objected to by some Muslims is allowed both by the Law of Moses and by Muhammad himself. Further comment is needless.
The ignorance of the Muslim critics referred to is seen in nothing more clearly than in their attempts to criticise the genealogies of Jesus Christ as given in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. We have no space here to deal with these in detail, but as an illustration of their ignorance of ancient Jewish customs we quote one of the many 'discrepancies' discovered by them in their reading of those genealogies.
In St. Matthew 1:16 it is stated that the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, was named Jacob, whilst in St. Luke 3:22 it is stated that the father of Joseph was named Heli. There are other differences in the two lists of names which suggest that one was giving the legal and the other the natural line of descent. To make our point clear it is necessary to remind the reader of the Jewish law by which, if a man died childless, his brother was required to marry his widow and raise up seed to him in order to maintain the succession. The seed thus raised up would, in the eyes of the law, be counted as the sons of the deceased, though, in the line of natural descent, they would, of course, be counted as the sons of their real father, the deceased's brother. The law referred to is laid down in the Torah thus, ‘If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger; her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her. And it shall be that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.’ 42 Now if Heli died childless, and Jacobs his brother, or half-brother, married Heli's widow in accordance with the law laid down by Moses, then the offspring, Joseph, would be the legal son of Heli, but the natural son of Jacob; so that what, at first sight, appears a serious discrepancy, would be no discrepancy at all.
In this connexion we would advise the critics to turn their attention to their own Qur'an, where they will find Abraham described as the father of both Isaac and Jacob, though it is well known that Jacob was the son of Isaac. In the passage referred to 43 we read, ‘And we gave him (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob.’ To show that we have not misread the passage, we give here the comment of a Muslim exegete, Muhammad Naimu'd-Din, who on p. 115 of his Qur'an commentary says, ‘That is, God is saying, O Muhammad, I gave Abraham two sons, Isaac and Jacob, and I guided them both.’
The fact is that all attempts to prove the deliberate falsification of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, whether from the Qur'an or from the Bible itself, are bound to fail. As to various readings and verbal discrepancies, they are matched by exactly similar conditions in the Qur'an itself, and do not affect the general trustworthiness of the whole. If our Muslim brethren would spend as much time in studying the testimony of their Prophet to the integrity and trustworthiness of the Bible as they spend in trying to prove its corruption, very different results would follow.
27. Itqan. p. 84.
28. Qur’an Ash-Shu'ara' 26:82.
29. Qur’an Al-Qasas 28:15-16.
30. Qur’an Saad 38:32, 34, 35.
31. Matthew 27:37
32. Mark 15:26
33. Luke 23:38
34. John 19:19
35. The Mohomedan Commentary of the Holy Bible, vol. 2, p. 32.
36. Qur’an Ta-Ha 20 and Qur’an Ash-Shu'ara' 26.
37. 1 Kings 2:26-27.
38. St. Matthew 4:18-22.
39. St. Matthew 12:1.
40. Deuteronomy xxiii. 24-25.
42. Deuteronomy 25:5-6.
43. Qur’an Al-An'am 6:84.