IN PROOF THAT
THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE NEW ARE THE WORD OF GOD (كلام الله),
AND THAT THEY HAVE BEEN NEITHER CORRUPTED NOR ABROGATED.
TESTIMONY OF THE QUR'AN TO THE BIBLE
THE learned have divided Evidence into two kinds, Intellectual (عقلي) and Authoritative (نقلي). Under the former we include both External and Internal Evidence.
Were we writing this book for the benefit of Unbelievers, Deists. (الْمُلْحِدُونَ) or Idolaters, it would be necessary in the first place to show what External Evidence we have in support of our belief that the books of the Old and of the New Testament are ancient, uncorrupted and generally reliable, and that they contain a Revelation from God Most High. We should also have to relate the history of each of these books, so far as we know it, to tell how the Canon of Holy Scripture was formed, and what external evidence we have to justify us in assigning the various books to the writers whose names they bear. We should then carefully examine the Internal Evidence afforded by the books themselves. Then we should state the result of our inquiry.
All this has already been done by Christians again and again. One reason for this is, that from very early times unbelievers have assailed our Sacred Books, and for our own satisfaction we have had to examine all the evidence for and against them. Moreover, we Christians believe that we are bound to hold such an examination because of the precept, “Prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Our Reason tells us that obedience to this precept is acceptable to God, who has given us intellect that we might use it aright to His glory. Truth is one of the Divine Attributes, and as such it can never perish, but must be eternal. Therefore the man whose hearts desire is to find the Truth and live according to God's most Holy Will has nothing to fear from an earnest and most thorough examination of the grounds of his faith. When he has made it, he is able not only to stand firm on the rock of truth himself, but also to help others tossing on the sea of doubt and uncertainty. His faith is now worthy of the name, and is no longer mere imitation (ألتّقليد) or bigotry or ignorance.
The libraries of Christian Scholars are full of books of Christian Evidences. But this is not the place to dwell upon this point, for we are writing not for unbelievers, but for our Muslim brethren, who accept the Qur'an as God's latest revelation to man, and believe all that is contained therein to be God's own Word (كلام الله). For Muslims it is most important to know what the Qur'an says about the Bible, and the more so because among the ignorant there is prevalent an entire misconception on this point. It is not too much to say that the idea which most Muslims have as to the teaching of the Qur'an on this most important subject is quite contrary to what their own Sacred Book really does teach. Every true Muslim is therefore likely to profit by joining us in the inquiry, “What testimony does the Qur'an bear to the Bible, and what may we learn about the latter from the former?”
It is evident to all that the Qur'an itself bears witness to the fact that in Muhammad's time there existed in Arabia both Christians and Jews, who differed from one another in religion. 1 These are both called in the Qur'an “The 2 People of the Book”. The Qur'an testifies to the fact that the Book from which these two religious communities received their title still existed 3 among them. As parts of this Book the Qur'an expressly mentions the Torah, the Zabur, and the Injil. 4 Moreover, the Qur'an states that these books were sent down by God Most High, 5 and that the Qur'an itself was given afterwards to confirm 6 them. It also teaches that those who reject these books will be punished in the next world, 7 and states that the books of the Old and those of the New Testament agree with each other in their general teaching. 8 Since the Qur'an says all this about the Bible, it is not necessary for us to adduce here the same degree of proof in attestation of the Bible which it would be necessary to adduce were we writing to convince an unbeliever.
It may, however, be said: “(1) You Christians cannot logically appeal to the Qur'an, for you do not accept it as from God. (2) Besides this, the Books now circulated among Christians as the Old and the New Testaments are not those to which the Qur'an refers, or at least not in their present state, for they have become corrupted, or at any rate they are annulled.”
In answer to this we grant that the first of these objections would be quite conclusive against any attempt made by Christians to rely upon the Qur'an for proof of the authenticity of the Holy Scriptures. But we do not in any way whatever rely upon the Qur'an to prove our Scriptures for us. What we are doing is quite a different thing. We are endeavouring to show Muslims that they, as believers in the Qur'an, are bound to accept what it says about the Jewish and the Christian Books. This argument is a fair one, unless the second of the above objections can be proved to be well-founded. This second objection, however, though it seems distinctly opposed to the Qur'anic statement that God's words cannot 9 be changed, will be examined, with God's help, in the other chapters of this Part of our present volume. But before undertaking this inquiry we venture to adduce, with all courtesy and respect for our Muslim brethren, a few of the leading passages of the Qur'an in which testimony is borne to the Bible. We shall also appeal to leading Muslim commentators, in order to show that we rightly understand the meaning of the verses which we quote.
It is clear from the Qur'an itself that “the Book” (ألكِتاب), that is to say, the Bible, existed among “the People of the Book” (أهلِ آلكِتاب) in Muhammad's time, and was not “a name devoid of the thing named”. This is evident from many passages, of which we content ourselves with quoting only a few.
For instance, in Surah 5 (Al Ma'idah), ver. 72, Muhammad receives a command to speak thus: “Say thou: 'O People of the Book, ye are [founded] upon nothing, until ye observe [or establish] the Torah and the Injil and that which hath been sent down unto you by your Lord.’” Regarding the occasion on which this 10 verse was revealed, the historian, Ibn Ishaq, is stated by Ibn Hisham, in the Siratu’r Rasul, to have spoken thus: “Rafi' ibn Harithah and Salam ibn Mushkim and Malik ibn Az Zaif and Rafi' ibn Harmalah came to the Apostle of God. They said, 'O Muhammad, dost thou not assert that thou art [standing] on the creed of Abraham and his religion, and believest in that which is with us of the Torah and testifiest that it is from God, truth?' He said, 'Yes; but ye have innovated, and ye deny what is therein of that covenant which was made with you, and ye have concealed of it that which ye were commanded to explain to men. Wherefore I am clear from your innovations.' They said, ‘Verily then we hold by what is in our hands, and truly we are [based] upon the truth and the Evidence, and we believe not in thee, and follow thee not.’ Accordingly God (may He be honoured and glorified) sent down concerning them” this verse. Here we see that Muhammad declared his acceptation of the Scriptures then current among the Jews, though he repudiated the “innovations” which he rightly declared they had introduced into the outward practice of their religion. In this respect Muhammad agreed with what Christ said to the Jews in His own time (Matthew 23:16-24). Both this verse of the Qur'an, however, and Ibn Ishaq's narrative show that the Jews then had the Torah and that the Christians had the Injil; for there would be no meaning in commanding them to observe (حَتّى تُقِيمُوا) the precepts contained in those books, if the books had perished or been previously corrupted. In the former case it would be impossible to obey the command: in the latter case obedience would entail their going astray.
In Surah 2 (Al Baqarah), ver. 107, we read: “And the Jews say, ‘The Christians are [founded] upon nothing,’ and the Christians say, ‘The Jews are [founded] upon nothing’: and they are reading the Book.” The tense of the latter verb (يَتْلُونَ, “they are reading aloud, reciting, or meditating”) shows that the Scriptures were then in the hands of both Jews and Christians, otherwise the Preterite might be used but not the Present, for it could not be truly said that they were then able to read them and actually were in the habit of doing so.
In Surah 10 (Yunus), ver. 94, it is stated that God said: “And if thou art in doubt regarding what We have sent down unto thee, then ask those who are reading the Book previous to thee.” Ar Razi mentions some difference of opinion as to whether Muhammad is here addressed or not: but he tells us that even those who thought he was not, explained the verse thus,—that God was here speaking to everyone who doubted Muhammad's words, and saying, “O man, if thou art in doubt regarding what We have sent down to thee of guidance by Muhammad's tongue, then ask the People of the Book, that they may prove to thee the truth of his position as a Prophet.” This brings Ar Razi to the question, How could God refer people to the Scriptures of the Jews and the Christians if these books were really corrupted (مُحَرّقَةْ) or altered (مُغَيْرَةْ)? His reply is not a very satisfactory one, for all he can say is that, if any passages still remained to bear testimony to Muhammad, their evidence would be all the clearer. Ar Razi's 11 personal opinion is that the verse was a command addressed to Muhammad himself, providing for the possibility of doubt as to his prophetic office arising in his own mind. But in any case the verse proves that the Jews and Christians were then in the habit of reading their Scriptures, and had been doing so before Muhammad's time. This was evidently Baizawi's opinion, for he thus paraphrases the latter part of the verse: “For 12 verily it is firmly believed among them, established in their books, according as We have imparted it to thee.” And he adds: “The significance is the confirmation thereof” (i.e. of the revelation made to Muhammad) and an appeal for evidence to what is in the Holy Scriptures, and that the Qur'an confirms what is in them. The two Jalals (الجلالان) paraphrase the verse thus: 13 “And if thou art in doubt, O Muhammad, as to what We have sent down to thee,—of stories, for instance,—then ask those who are reading the Torah previous to thee, for verily it is established among them: they will inform thee of its truth.”
In Surah 7 (Al A'raf), ver. 168, it is said regarding the Jews: “They have inherited the Book ....Was there not taken upon them the covenant of the Book, that they should not say concerning God anything but the truth? And they have studied what is in it.” On this passage Baizawi's 14 comment is: “They have inherited the Book, i.e. the Torah, from their predecessors: they read it, and they are aware of what is in it.”
In Surah 3 (Al 'Imran), ver. 22, it is thus written: “Hast thou not looked at those who were brought a portion of the Book? They are invited to the Book of God, that it may judge between them. Then a section of them turn back, and they prevent.” Baizawi explains “a portion of the Book” as “The Torah, 15 or the Heavenly Books in general”, and says “The inviter was Muhammad, and the Book of God the Qur'an or the Torah. For it is related that he entered their school: then said to him Na'im ibn 'Amr and Al Harith ibn Zaid, 'To what religion dost thou belong?' Then he said, 'To the Religion of Abraham.' Accordingly they both said to him, 'Verily Abraham was a Jew.' Then said he, 'Come ye to the Torah: verily it is between us and you.' Then they both declined. Accordingly the verse was sent down.” Here again we perceive that the Jews in Muhammad's time possessed the Torah, and that Muhammad appealed to it with confidence to decide whatever matter was that day in dispute between himself and them, regarding which subject of dispute there is a difference of opinion among commentators.
In Surah 3 (Al 'Imran), ver. 87, it is said: “All food was lawful to the Children of Israel, except what Israel forbade unto himself, before that the Torah was sent down. Say thou: 'Then bring ye the Torah: then read it aloud, if ye are truthful.'” Baizawi's 16 comment on the final clause is: “A command for them to defend their cause with their Book, and a reproach to them from what was in it, through the fact that what had not been [originally] forbidden had been forbidden to them because of their wrong-doing. It is related that when Muhammad said this to them, they were astonished, and did not venture to bring forth the Torah.” This remark of the commentator is an admission that they then possessed it, as indeed is clear from the whole verse.
In Surah 5 (A1 Ma'idah), ver. 47, we read: “And how shall they make thee their judge, since with them is the Torah? in it is God's judgement.” Baizawi's note on this is: “An 17 expression of surprise at their making one in whom they do not believe their judge, since the judgement is announced in the Book which is with them.”
We content ourselves with quoting these few passages from the Qur'an to prove what men of learning know for a certainty to be true; that is to say, that the Bible 18 was in existence in Muhammad's time in the hands of the “People of the Book”. This proof would of itself suffice; but we have others, one of which we now proceed to adduce.
The Qur'an itself contains certain passages which it actually quotes from the Old and the New Testament. That is to say, certain verses are taken from the Bible into the Qur'an, and the Qur'an states that these verses are to be found in the Bible.
For instance, in Surah 5 (Al Ma'idah), ver. 49, it is said: “And We wrote concerning them in it” (that is, in the Torah, as verses 47 and 48 state), that “Life for life, and eye for eye, and nose for nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth.” This is a quotation from Exodus 21:23-25.
Again in Surah 21 (Al Anbiya), ver. 105 we read: “And We have written in the Psalms after the Reminder that ‘As for the earth, My servants the righteous shall inherit it'.” This is a quotation from Psalms 37:29. Baizawi explains “the Psalms” (ألزَبُور) as “the book of David”. 19
In Surah 7 (Al A'raf), ver. 38, it is written: “Verily those that have declared Our signs to be lies, and have been too proud for them, unto them the gates of heaven shall not be opened, nor shall they enter Paradise, until the camel shall pass in at the eye of the needle.” Here there is a quotation from the Gospel, for the mention of the difficulty of a camel passing through the eye of a needle is found in Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25; and Luke 18:25.
These three passages, one from the Torah, the second from the Zabur, and the third from the Injil, clearly show that the Sacred Scriptures then in the hands of the Jews and Christians were those which we now possess and call by the very same names. All men of understanding will clearly perceive this. For, just as every learned man who in years to come recognizes the pieces of poetry which we have quoted in the Introduction to this Treatise as taken from such books as the Mathnavi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi, the Diwan of 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, the poems of Sa'di, or some other well-known writer, will at once conclude that these works as a whole were in existence in the present century, so every attentive reader of the Qur'an would recognize that the passages above quoted from the Bible proved the existence of the Bible in Muhammad's time. The proof is still further strengthened by the fact that the Qur'an in two of the cases actually mentions the name of the book from which it is quoting.
Besides this, many of the narratives in the Qur'an, for example that of Joseph in Surah 12 (Yusuf), are clearly those in the Bible, though sometimes told somewhat more in accord with the later traditions (يوقئون) of the Jews than with the text of the Bible, as has been shown in the book styled The Original Sources of the Qur'an (تنوير آلافهام في مصادر الأسلام). So also the Qur'an contains many other references to the Bible, of which it is unnecessary to mention any except that referred to in Surah 3 (Al 'Imran), ver. 87, above, where it is impossible to understand what is said in the verse unless we turn to Genesis 32:22-32, where we are told how Jacob got the name Israel given him by God, and how after that the children of Jacob held it unlawful to eat “the sinew of the hip which is upon the hollow of the thigh” (ver. 32).
Besides all this, in the Traditions (احاديث) there are a few passages in which Muhammad is said to have used language which is really a quotation from the Bible. Of this we give only one specimen, but it is the most remarkable of all. In the Mishkat (مشكوَة آلمصابيح), p. 487, of the edition of A.H. 1297, in the first chapter of the Book on “The Description of Paradise and Its People”, we find the following Tradition from Abu Hurairah: “The 20 Apostle of God said: 'God Most High hath said, I have prepared for My servants the righteous what eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it occurred to the heart of humanity.’” There can be no doubt that this is a distinct quotation from 1 Corinthians 2:9. It is important to notice this, because Muhammad here states that this verse is a direct utterance of God Most High Himself, whereas many Muslim writers, learned men (and not only ignorant people), deny that Paul was an apostle and that his Epistles are inspired.
The Bible is generally divided into two volumes: the Old Testament, which contains the sacred books of the Jewish Canon, composed in Hebrew, with the exception of a few chapters which are in Aramaic; and the New Testament, composed in Greek. The Jews refuse to accept the New Testament, but we Christians accept both. Hence Baizawi in his commentary 21 on Surah 29 (Al 'Anqabut), ver. 46, speaks of us as “the people of the two books” (أهْلُ آلْكِتَابَيْنِ). But in the Qur'an the Bible is generally referred to as “The Book” (الكتاب), though three of its principal parts are also mentioned by name. These are the Torah, the Zabur, and the Injil. The Jews divide the Old Testament itself into three parts, the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, as we see in Luke 24:44. This division can be traced back to about B.C. 130. 22 At the present time the Jews term the third part “the Books” (ألصٌحُف). But as it begins with the Psalms, it is so styled in the Gospel and in the Qur'an (ألزْبُور) alike. The Qur'an calls the first part the Torah (التُورات), which is only the Arabic form of its Hebrew name Torah. Sometimes the whole of the Old Testament is named by Muslims the Torah, because this part begins the whole volume. The Qur'an often refers also to the Prophets of the Old Testament, as, for example, in Surah 2 (Al Baqarah), ver. 130: “Say ye, 'We have believed in God, and in what hath been sent down unto us, and what hath been sent down unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes, and what Moses was given and Jesus, and what the Prophets were given from their Lord.’” The same words are repeated in Surah 3 (Al 'Imran), ver. 78. Hence it is clear that the Qur'an agrees with the New Testament in naming as inspired each and all of the three great divisions of the Old Testament.
Christians often apply the title of “the Gospel” to the whole of the New Testament, as apparently the Qur'an does. One reason for this is that the New Testament begins with the Four Gospels. But a still better reason is that the word “Gospel” or “good news” (الانجيل أي البشارة) expresses the main purport of the whole book. This is clear from Mark 13:10, and very many other passages.
As it is admitted that the whole of the New Testament was in Muhammad's time circulated very widely among Christians, and since not only does the Qur'an quote a passage found in three Gospels (Surah 7:38: compare Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25), but Muhammad himself, as we have seen, quotes a verse from another part of the New Testament, therefore it is evident to all who are men of understanding and free from prejudice that the Qur'an refers to the Bible as it then existed among the Jews and Christians as containing a Divine Revelation. But besides this the Qur'an always speaks of the Bible with great reverence, and gives it the very highest titles, styling it “the Word of God” (كلام الله: Surah 2:70), the Furqan (Surah's 2:50; 21:49), “a light and a Reminder” (ذكر), “the Book of God” (Surah 2:95: thus Baizawi and the two Jalals explain the verse: compare Surah 3:22, and Surah 5:48), and other high titles.
Moreover, the Qur'an states that the inspiration bestowed on Muhammad was the same as that given to the former prophets, as we learn from such passages as the following:—(1) Surah 3 (Al 'Imran), ver. 66: “Say thou: 'Verily the guidance is God's guidance, that anyone should be given like to what ye have been given.'” (2) Surah 4 (An Nisa'), ver. 161: “Verily We have inspired thee as We inspired Noah and the Prophets after him,” &c. (3) Surah 42 (Ash Shura'), ver. 1: “Thus doth God the Glorious, the Wise, inspire thee and those who were before thee.” The word which is used to describe the “descent” of the Qur'an (أُنْزِل) is also used of the earlier books. Hence, since things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other, it follows that the Qur'an teaches us that the Old and New Testament are as truly “sent down” by God and as truly “inspired” (وحي) as the Qur'an itself claims to be. Therefore it is that the Qur'an commands Muslims to profess as firm belief in all the previous Scriptures as in the Qur'an (Surahs 2:130; 3:78). They are also informed that the Qur'an was sent down for the purpose of confirming the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians, as, for instance, we read in Surah 3 (Al 'Imran), ver. 2: “He hath 23 sent down upon thee the Book, confirming what was before it, and He sent down the Torah and the Injil before as a guidance unto men: and He hath sent down the Distinction (فُرْقان).” It is said, moreover, that those who reject the Book will be punished by God for doing so, for in Surah 40 (Al Mu'min), vers. 72, 73, it is written: “Those who hold the Book and that wherewith We have sent Our apostles to be a lie, they therefore shall know, when the collars and the chains are on their necks: they shall be dragged into the hot water, then into the fire shall they be dragged.” Baizawi in commenting 24 upon these verses gives several different explanations of what is meant by “the Book”. He says, “the Qur'an, or the Heavenly Books in general,” and explains “that wherewith We have sent Our apostles” as meaning “the rest of the Books, or Inspiration and the Religious Laws”. Even if, therefore, we deny that in these verses “the Book” is that from which “the People of the Book” derive this title, yet the other words quite clearly denote the Old and the New Testament.
The Qur'an also states that the Old Testament and the New agree with one another in their general teaching, for in several passages we find statements similar to the following from Surah 5 (Al Ma'idah), ver. 50: “And We caused Jesus, Son of Mary, to follow in their” [the Prophets'] “footsteps, confirming what was before Him of the Torah, and We brought Him the Injil, in it is guidance and light, confirming what was before it of the Torah, and a guidance and a warning to the pious.”
From what has been said in this chapter we conclude: (1) that in Muhammad's time the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament, containing the Torah, the Zabur, the Prophets' books, the Injil, and the Epistles of the Apostles (besides a few other tractates) were in existence among the Jews and Christians: (2) that the Qur'an states positively that these were given by Divine Inspiration; (3) that the Qur'an, claiming for itself the highest style of Inspiration and the highest titles, states that the Bible is due to the very same Inspiration as itself; (4) that the Qur'an gives to the Bible the titles of Book of God, Word of God (كلام الله), Furqan, Zikr, Light, Guidance, Mercy, &c., being the very same which it claims for itself; (5) that the Qur'an teaches that Muhammad was Divinely directed to appeal to the Bible and to bid the Jews and Christians take it as their guide: (6) that he did refer the Jews to it as authoritative; (7) that Muslims are in the Qur'an commanded to profess to believe in the Bible just as they do in the Qur'an: (8) and that very terrible punishments in the next world are threatened to those who reject either the Bible or the Qur'an.
1. Vide Surah 2:107, and Baizawi's note.
2. Surahs 3:68, 109, 198; 4:157; 29:45, & c., &c.
3. Surahs 2:107; 3:22, 87; 5:47, 72; 7:168; 10:94.
4. [The Law, The Psalms, The Gospel.]
5. (a) The Law: Surahs 3:2; 6:91, 154; 11:20, 112; (b) The Gospel: Surahs 5:50; 57:27; (c) The Psalms: Surahs: 17:57; 21:105.
6. Surah 35:28.
7. Surah 40:72, 73.
8. Surah 5:50.
9. Surahs 6:34, 115; 10:65; 18:26.
10. [The Arabic is quoted in Sir W. Muir's Testimony of the Coran, S. P. C. K., 1896, pp. 209, 210.]
11. Ar Razi, vol. v, pp. 28, 29.
12. Baizawi, edition printed at Leipzig in A.D. 1846, p. 424.
13. Jalalan, Part i, p. 205.
14. Vol i, p. 350.
15. Vol. i, pp. 151, 152.
16. Vol. i, p. 166.
17. Vol. i, p. 259.
18. الكتاب المقدّس
19. Vol. i, p. 625. He also gives another explanation, which he does not accept, according to which the Zabur denotes the inspired books in general and “the Reminder” the “Preserved Tablet”. He himself says “the Reminder” is the Torah.
20. قال رسول الله صلعم ـ قال الله تعالىَ ـ اُعددتُ لعبادي آلصّالحين ما لا عين رأت ولا أُذن سمعت ولا خطر علىَ قلبِ بشرِ
21. Vol. ii, p. 99.
22. Vide Joshua Ben Sirach's grandson's Preface to his grandfather's Proverbs.
23. Many similar verses occur in the Qur'an: e.g. Surahs 2:38, 83, 85, 91, 95; 5:52; 6:92; 35:28; 46:11.
24. Vol. ii, p. 216.