Examining Some More Comments from Islamic Scholars
We continue our pattern (http://answering-islam.org/Quran/Bible/index.html) of examining what the Quran and some of Islams premiere commentators say about the authenticity of the Holy Bible. In this present article we will be looking at the commentaries of three specific exegetes of the Quran.
The following quotes are taken from the online English translation of Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn Abbâs which can be found here: www.altafsir.com
All bold, capital and underline emphasis will be ours.
(And they say) i.e. the Jews: (None entereth Paradise unless he be a Jew) unless he dies as a Jew, allegedly (or a Christian) as the Christians also claimed. (These are their own desires) what they wish from Allah even though it is not in their Books. (Say) O Muhammad, to both parties: (Bring your proofs) from your own respective Books (if ye are truthful) in your claim. (Source)
Allah then mentions the claims of the Jews and Christians that their respective religion is the true Religion, saying: (And Jews) the Jews of Medina (say Christians follow nothing) as religion from God and there is no true religion except Judaism, (and Christians) the Christians of Najran (say Jews follow nothing) as religion from God and there is no true religion except Christianity; (though both are readers of the Scripture) both parties read the Book and do not believe in it and further claim things that are not mentioned therein. (Even thus spoke those who know not) knew the Oneness of Allah through their own forefathers; and it is said this means: they knew the Book of Allah from others. (Allah will judge between them) between the Jews and Christians (on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they differed). (Source)
Allah then mentioned the believers from among the people of the Book: Abdullah Ibn Salam and his companions, Bahirah the Monk and the Negus and his followers, saying: (Those unto whom We have given the Scripture) given knowledge of the Scripture, i.e. the Torah, (who read it with the right reading) describe it AS IT IS AND DO NOT ALTER IT: expositing what is lawful and unlawful, its commands and prohibitions to whomever asks them, and they further act according to what is clear and unambiguous and believe in that which is ambiguous therein, (those believe in it) in Muhammad and the Quran. (And who disbelieveth in it) in Muhammad and the Quran, (those are they who are losers) who are duped in that they loose both this world and the world to come. (Source)
Commentary: What more evidence does a Muslim need that the Quran confirms that the previous Scriptures have not been corrupted to the point that we no longer know what they originally said?
(This) that I have told you about, O Muhammad, regarding the story of Jesus ((which) We recite unto thee) with which We send Gabriel to you (is a revelation) He says: they are revelations of the Qur'an, conveying commands and prohibitions (and a wise reminder) that enjoins what is lawful and what is unlawful; it is also said this means: it corroborates the Torah and the Gospel; and it is also said this means: it confirms that which is in the Guarded Tablet. (Source)
(And Lo! there is) of the Jews (a party of them) Ka'b and his fellow men (who distort the Scripture with their tongues) by reading the traits of the anti-Christ in their Scripture, (that ye may think) that the lowly may think (that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture. And they say: It is from Allah) in the Torah, (when it is not from Allah) in the Torah; (and they speak a lie concerning Allah knowingly) fully aware that this is not in their Scripture. (Source)
Then Allah said as regards their claim that they follow the Religion of Abraham and that Abraham commanded them to follow this Religion: (It is not (possible) for any human being) among the prophets (unto whom Allah had given the Scripture and wisdom) understanding (and the Prophethood that he should afterwards have said unto mankind: Be slaves of me instead of Allah; but (what he said was): Be you faithful servants of the Lord) men of knowledge, people of understanding as well as people who put what they learn into practice (by virtue of your constant teaching of the Scripture) from the Scripture; it is also said that this means: by virtue of your knowledge of the Scripture (and of your constant study thereof) of your reading from the Scripture. (Source)
(All food was lawful unto the Children of Israel) all food that is lawful for Muhammad and his community today was lawful for the Children of Israel, the sons of Jacob, (save that which Israel) Jacob (forbade himself) by the way of vows, ((in days) before the Torah was revealed) before the revelation of the Torah to Moses, Jacob forbade himself the meat and milk of camels. When this verse was revealed, the Prophet (pbuh) asked the Jews: "What did Jacob forbid himself of food?" They said: "he did not forbid himself any type of food, and whatever is forbidden for us today, such as the meat of camels and other things, was already forbidden on all prophets, from Adam to Moses (pbut). It is only you who make such things lawful." And they claimed those things were also forbidden in the Torah. Hence Allah said to Muhammad (pbuh): (Say) to them: (Produce the Torah and read it (unto us)) where they are made forbidden (if ye are truthful) in your claim. But they failed to produce the Torah and knew they were liars since there was nothing in the Torah to substantiate their claim. (Source)
Commentary: For the Quran to challenge the Jews to produce and read the Torah presupposes that the Torah was in existence at that time. Otherwise it makes little sense to challenge them to read a document which was no longer in existence or available in a pure form.
(Lo! We did reveal the Torah) to Moses, (wherein is guidance) from error (and a light) the explanation of stoning, (by which) by the Torah (the Prophets who surrendered (unto Allah)) those who surrendered to Allah from the time of Moses to the time of Jesus, in the interval of which there were 1,000 prophets (judged the Jews) the forefathers who were Jews, (and the rabbis) He says: those who judged between them were the godly men of knowledge and the ascetics (and the priests) all the other men of knowledge ((judged) by such of Allah's Scripture as they were bidden to observe) by that which they acted upon and called other people to, as in the Book of Allah, (and thereunto) i.e. about the legal ruling of stoning (were they witnesses. So fear not mankind) regarding the display of the traits and description of Muhammad and the legal ruling of stoning, (but fear Me) for concealing them. (And barter not My revelations) through concealment of the traits and description of Muhammad (pbuh) and the verse of stoning (for a little gain) for a paltry portion in your means of living. (Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed) Allah says: whoever does not show that which Allah has shown in the Torah regarding the traits and description of Muhammad and the verse of stoning: (such are disbelievers) in Allah, the messenger and the Scripture. (Source)
Commentary: We now have archaeological data as a result of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 which helps us to see what Torah Jesus would have had access to during his time. The answer produced by the Dead Sea Scrolls is that Jesus would have been reading virtually the same Torah that we find in the Holy Bible of today.
(And unto the have We revealed the Scripture) We have sent you Gabriel with the Qur'an (with the Truth) to make plain the Truth and falsehood, (confirming) the statement of Allah's divine Oneness and some laws (whatever Scripture was before it) whatever Scriptures were before it, (and a watcher over it) a witness upon all the Scriptures before it; it is also said: a witness upon the ruling of stoning; and it is also said: a watcher over all previous Scriptures. (So judge between them) between the Banu Qurayzah and the Banu'l-Nadir and the people of Khaybar (by that which Allah hath revealed) by that which Allah has exposited to you in the Qur'an, (and follow not their desires) regarding the application of whipping and discarding stoning (away from the Truth which hath come unto thee) after the exposition that has come to you. (For each We have appointed a divine law) for each prophet among you We have exposited a divine law (and a traced out way) obligations and practices. (Had Allah willed He could have made you one community) He has made you follow one divine law. (But that He may try you) test you (by that which He hath given you) of Scripture, obligations and practices, such that He says: I have prescribed all this for you, so let not delusion creep into your minds. (So vie one with another in good works) so vie, O Community of Muhammad (pbuh) with other nations, in obligations, practices and righteous works; it is also said that this means: hasten, O Community of Muhammad (pbuh) to perform acts of obedience. (Unto Allah ye will all) all nations (return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ) where you contravene in relation to religion and divine laws. (Source)
Commentary: The Quran was given as a confirmation of the Scriptures before it in order to provide a witness to the veracity of these Books!
(If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel) if they had accepted what is in the Torah and the Gospel and demonstrated the traits and description of Muhammad contained therein (and that which was revealed unto them from their Lord) and had they elucidated that which their Lord had explained to them in the Torah and the Gospel; it is also said that this means: if they had believed that all the scriptures and messengers are from their Lord, (they would surely have been nourished from above them) through rain (and from beneath their feet) through vegetation and fruit. (Among them) among the people of the Book (there are people who are moderate) a group of just and upright people, i.e. 'Abdullah Ibn Salam and his followers, the monk Bahirah, the Negus and his followers, and Salman al-Farisi and his fellows, (but many of them are of evil conduct) evil is what they do in terms of concealing the traits and description of Muhammad. Among such people are Ka'b Ibn al-Ashraf, Ka'b Ibn Asad, Malik Ibn al-Sayf, Sa'id Ibn 'Amr, Abu Yasir, and Judayy Ibn Akhtab. (Source)
(Say) O Muhammad: (O People of the Scripture!) i.e. the Jews and Christians. (You have naught) of the religion of Allah (till ye observe the Torah and the Gospel) until you truly believe in what is in the Torah and the Gospel (and that which was revealed unto thee (Muhammad) from your Lord) in all Scriptures given to all messengers. (That which is revealed unto you (Muhammad) from your Lord) the Qur'an (is certain to increase the contumacy) constancy in disbelief (and disbelief) and firmness in disbelief (of many of them) of their disbelievers. (But grieve not for the disbelieving folk) do not be saddened for their destruction in their state of disbelief, if they do not believe. (Source)
Commentary: The Jews and Christians of Muhammads time were commanded to believe in all the Scriptures given to Gods messengers which presupposes that they had access to these texts. What the Jews and Christians had in their possession at that time were the very Books found in our Bibles today. Thus, the Quran is essentially affirming that the Holy Bible is Gods very own Word!
Yet this leads to a problem for the Muslim view and for Muhammads prophetic claims. If the Jews and Christians were to follow the advice of the Quran then they would be forced to reject Muhammad as a false prophet since his "revelations" stood in clear contradiction with the theology of the Biblical Books that Jews and Christians were commanded to follow.
(And they measure not the power of Allah its true measure) they do not glorify Allah as He should be glorified (when they say: Allah hath naught) no Scripture (revealed unto a human being) among the prophets. This verse was revealed about Malik Ibn al-Sayf, the Jew, who claimed that Allah did not reveal any Scripture to human beings. (Say) O Muhammad, to Malik: (Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light) an exposition and enlightenment (and guidance for mankind) from error, (which ye have put) written (on parchments which ye show) many things which do not contain the traits and description of the Prophet (pbuh) (but ye hide much (thereof)) you hide many portions of it which contain the traits and description of Muhammad (pbuh) (and by which ye were taught) of legal rulings, punishment, the lawful and the unlawful as well as the traits and description of Muhammad (pbuh) in the Scripture (that which ye knew not yourselves nor (did) your fathers (know it)) before the revelation of legal rulings and punishments? If they answer and say it was Allah, then fine, if they do not, (Say: Allah) revealed it. (Then leave them to their play of cavilling) let them indulge in their falsehood: quibbling and lying. (Source)
(And this) i.e. the Quran (is a blessed Scripture) contains mercy and forgiveness for him who believes in it (which We have revealed) which Gabriel brought down, (confirming that which (was revealed) before it) agreeing with the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalm and with all earlier Scriptures as regard Allahs divine Oneness and the traits and description of Muhammad (pbuh) (that thou mayst warn) by means of the Quran (the Mother of Villages) i.e. the people of Mecca; it is also said that (the Mother of Villages) means: the largest of villages; it is also said that it was called (the Mother of Villages) because the earth was levelled from beneath it (and those around her) of the rest of lands. (Those who believe in the Hereafter) those who believe in resurrection after death and in the bliss of Paradise (believe herein) believe in Muhammad and the Quran, (and they are careful of their worship) and they observe the appointed time for the five daily prayers. (Source)
Commentary: The Quran came to essentially confirm the Scriptures in the possession of the Jews (as well as the Christians) such as the Torah of Moses which they were transcribing on sheets or parchments.
(Perfected is the Word of thy Lord) the Quran, detailing the commands and prohibitions (in truth) in His speech (and justice) from Him. (There is naught that can change His words) the Quran; it is also said that this means: the Word of your Lord has prescribed that His friends shall triumph. He is truthful in His speech and just in that which shall come. Nothing can change His words about His giving help to His friend. It is also said that this means: the religion of your Lord is now manifest, people truthfully believe that it is Allahs religion. Allahs command is just and nothing will ever change His religion. (He is the Hearer) of their speech, (the Knower) of them and their works. (Source)
Comments: Although the above identifies the Quran as the words of God which cannot be changed this would also apply to all of Gods Scriptures as well. The Quran agrees that God revealed many Scriptures besides the Quran, that he sent down inspired Books which are just as much his Words as the Quran claims to be. Thus, if the previous Scriptures are also the Words of God then they too cannot be changed. The logic of the Quran goes something like this:
The foregoing basically demonstrates that Muslims are to fully embrace and uphold the veracity of the Scriptures which the inspired spokespersons of God entrusted to the Jews and Christians. This, therefore, means that a Muslim must accept the Holy Bible since it contains the very Books which the Jews and Christians received from the prophets and the apostles.
(And this Quran) which is recited to you by Muhammad (pbuh) (is not such as could ever be invented in despite of Allah; but it is a confirmation of that which was before it) it is a confirmation of the Torah, the Gospel, the Psalms and all other Scriptures in that they all call to the profession of divine Oneness and contain the traits and description of Muhammad (pbuh) (and an exposition of that which is decreed for mankind) the Quran exposits the lawful and the prohibited, the commands and prohibitions. (Therein is no doubt from the Lord of the Worlds) from the Master of all worlds. (Source)
(And if thou) O Muhammad (art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee) concerning that with which We sent Gabriel, i.e. the Quran, (then question those who read the Scripture) i.e. the Torah ((that was) before you) Abdullah Ibn Salam and his followers. The Prophet (pbuh) did not ask nor was he ever in doubt about the Quran. Rather, Allah was addressing with these words the people of the Prophet. (Verily the Truth from thy Lord) i.e. Gabriel with the Quran from your Lord, containing the events of past nations (hath come unto thee) O Muhammad. (So be not thou of the waverers) be not of the doubters. (Source)
Commentary: Both Muhammad and his contemporaries were to consult the Scriptures in the possessions of the Jews and Christians if they had any doubts regarding the nature of the Quran. This establishes at least two points: First, these Scriptures must have been available to Muhammads contemporaries in an uncorrupt form, unless one wants to assume that the Quran is appealing to corrupted Books which would defeat the purpose. After all, how can Scriptures which have been tampered with provide verification for the Quran? Second, the previous Scriptures are greater in authority than Quran, standing over it, since these Books are the standard of truth with which the Quran must agree.
(In their history) in their events, the event of Joseph and his brothers (verily there is a lesson) a sign (for men of understanding) for people endowed with intelligence. (It is no invented story) the Quran is not an invented story (but a confirmation of the existing (Scripture)) a confirmation of the Torah, the Gospel and all the others scriptures; it confirms the profession of monotheism and other legal rulings as well as the story of Joseph (and a detailed explanation of everything) a detailed explanation of the lawful and the unlawful, (and a guidance) from error (and a mercy) preventing from chastisement (for folk who believe) in Muhammad (pbuh) and in the Quran which was revealed to you from your Lord, and Allah knows the secrets of His Book. (Source)
(And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee) O Muhammad (other than men) human beings like you (whom We inspired) with commands and prohibitions and signs. (Ask the followers of the Remembrance) the followers of the Torah and the Gospel (if ye know not!) that Allah always sent human messengers. (Source)
(And We sent not (as Our messengers) before you other than men) human beings like you (whom We inspired) to whom We sent angels just as We have sent to you. (Ask the followers of the Reminder) the people of the Torah and the Gospel (if you know not) that Allah sent only human messengers? (Source)
(And verily We have written in the Scripture) in the Psalm of David, (after the Reminder) after the Torah; it is also said that this means: and We wrote in the Psalms and the Scriptures of the prophets after writing in the Guarded Tablet: (My righteous slaves) those who profess Allahs divine oneness (will inherit the earth) the earth of Paradise; and it is said: the righteous slaves from among the Children of Israel will dwell in the Holy Land; as it is said: it is the righteous slaves of the end of time. (Source)
Commentary: The Tafsir in the above three passages identifies the Torah and the Gospel as the Reminder or Remembrance (Thikr). According to the Quran, God has sworn to preserve the Reminder/Remembrance which he revealed:
Lo! We, even We, reveal the Reminder (al-Thikra), and lo! We verily are its Guardian. S. 15:9 Pickthall
Since the Torah and the Gospel are clearly called the Reminder/Remembrance this therefore means that God would also preserve these Books from corruption. Again, note the logic behind this:
(And they say) i.e. the people of Mecca: (If only he would bring us) why does not Muhammad bring us (a miracle) a sign (from his Lord! Hath there not come unto them the proof) the exposition (of what is in the former Scriptures) what is in the Torah and the Gospel for they contained the attributes and description of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? (Source)
(And lo, it is) i.e. the description of the Quran and Muhammad (pbuh) (in the Scriptures of the men of old) is written in the Scriptures of the prophets who came before you. (Source)
(But when there came unto them the Truth) Muhammad (pbuh) with the Quran (from Our presence, they said) the disbelievers of Mecca said: (Why is he not) i.e. Muhammad (pbuh) (given the like of what was given unto Moses) i.e. the hand, the staff, the quails and honey as well as the Quran? (Did they not) i.e. the disbelievers of Mecca (disbelieve in that which was given unto Moses of old) i.e. the Torah before the coming of Muhammad (pbuh)? (They say) the disbelievers of Mecca say: (Two magics) i.e. the Quran and the Torah (that support each other; and they) the disbelievers of Mecca (say: Lo! in both we are disbelievers) we disbelieve in both the Quran and the Torah. (Source)
(Say) to them, O Muhammad: (Then bring a Scripture from the presence of Allah that giveth clearer guidance) more sound (than these two) the Quran and the Torah ((that) I may follow it) that I may act according to it, (if ye are truthful) that the Quran and Torah are two magics that support each other. (Source)
Commentary: Muhammad is commanded to defend the veracity and authority of the Torah which was available at that time, proving that the Torah existed in a uncorrupt form. Otherwise, a Muslim would have to believe that Muhammad was told to defend a corrupted book, one which provided the same kind of guidance that the Quran does!
(And we verily gave Moses the guidance) i.e. the Torah and We gave David the Psalms and Jesus the son of Mary the Gospel, (and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit the Scripture) and We revealed to the Children of Israel after them the Scripture of David and Jesus, (Source)
(Lo! This) from His saying: (He is Successful) up to here (is in the former scrolls) in the Scriptures of the people of old, (The Book of Abraham and Moses) the Scripture of Moses is the Torah and only Allah knows about the Scripture of Abraham. (Source)
This same website contains an English translation of Tafsir al-Jalalayn, which we quote from.
The Jews say, 'The Christians stand on nothing', that can be used as support [for their claims], and they rejected Jesus; and the Christians say, 'The Jews stand on nothing', that can be used as support [for their claims], and they rejected Moses; yet they, both groups, recite the Scripture, revealed to them: in the Scripture of the Jews there is the confirmation of Jesus, and in that of the Christians there is the confirmation of Moses (yatluna'l-kitaba, 'they recite the Scripture': the sentence is a circumstantial qualifier). Thus, in the way that these have said, the ignorant, from among the Arabs and others, say the like of what these say (this last phrase [mithla qawlihim, 'the like of what they say'] is the explication of dhalika, 'that [way]'): that is to say, to every person of religion they would say, 'You have no basis'; God shall decide between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding their differences, in religion and will admit the confirmer into Paradise and the falsifier into the Fire. (Source)
Commentary: This presupposes the existence of uncorrupt copies of the previous Scriptures, otherwise how would they be able to verify whether Jesus was mentioned in the writings of Moses or that Christ confirmed Moses mission?
He has revealed to you, O Muhammad (s), the Book, the Qur'an, enveloped, by the truth, with veracity, in what it announces, confirming what was before it, of Books; and He revealed the Torah and the Gospel (Source)
before, that is to say, before revealing it [the Qur'an], as guidance (hudan, a circumstantial qualifier meaning, hadiyin, 'guides from error') to people, to those who followed these two [Books] (He uses the word anzala for the revelation of these two, and nazzala for that of the Qur'an, for the latter entails repetition, whereas the two Books were revealed in one instance); and He revealed the Criterion (al-furqan), meaning the Scriptures that discriminate between truth and falsehood. He mentions this [Criterion] after He has mentioned the three Scriptures so that it encompasses all [revealed Scriptures] besides these. As for those who disbelieve in God's signs, the Qur'an or any other [revelation], for them awaits a terrible chastisement; God is Mighty, victorious in His affair, so that nothing can prevent Him from effecting His promise and His threat; Lord of Retribution, with a severe punishment for those that disobeyed Him, the like of which none can do. (Source)
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 (s) 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. (Source)
Commentary: Al-Jalalayn expressly call the Torah that was available during Muhammads time the Book of God! There are manuscripts of the Torah which were written before, during and after Muhammad that are virtually identical to what is found in the Holy Bible today. In light of this fact there can be no doubt that the Quran is confirming the inspiration and authority of the Torah/Old Testament as we have it.
And mention, when God said, 'O Jesus, I am gathering you, seizing you, and raising you to Me, away from the world without death, and I am cleansing you of, removing you far away from, those who disbelieved, and I am setting those who follow you, those Christians and Muslims who believed in your prophethood, above those who disbelieved, in you, namely, the Jews, becoming above them through [definitive] argument and the sword, until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me shall be your return, and I will decide between you, as to what you were at variance about, as regards religion. (Source)
The two Jalals further state in reference to Sura 61:14
O you who believe, be helpers of God, of His religion (a variant reading [of ansaran li'Llahi] has the genitive annexation ansara'Llahi) just as said (kama qala to the end [of the statement] means 'just as the disciples were so', as is indicated by [what follows]) Jesus son of Mary to the disciples: 'Who will be my helpers unto God?', that is to say, who [of you] will be helpers alongside me turning to help God? The disciples said, 'We will be God's helpers!' [These] al-hawariyyun [were] the intimates of Jesus, for they were the first to believe in him. They were twelve men of pure white complexion (hawar); but it is also said that [their epithet derives from the fact that] they were bleachers (qassarun) who bleached (yuhawwiruna) clothes. So a group of the Children of Israel believed, in Jesus, saying: 'He is [indeed] the servant of God, [who has been] raised to heaven', while a group disbelieved, because they said that he was the son of God, whom He had raised unto Himself. Thus the two groups waged war against one another. Then We strengthened those who believed, of the two groups, against their enemy, the disbelieving groups, and so they became the triumphant, the victors. (Source; bold and underline emphasis ours)
Commentary: How truly ironic that al-Jalalayn could say that God granted the true believers in Jesus victory over their enemies through argumentation and the sword but claim that those who believed that Christ is the Son of God were the disbelievers when it is this latter group that actually triumphed! Thus, if the Quran is correct then those who proclaimed the Deity of Jesus must have been the true followers of Christ since they prevailed over against the disbelievers and their teachings permeated the entire known world by the time Muhammad appeared on the scene. But if this is the case then the Quran must be false since it denies the Divinity of Christ as well as his death on the cross and bodily resurrection on the third day! (1)
And there is a group, a party, of them, the People of the Scripture, like Kab b. al-Ashraf, who twist their tongues with the Book, altering it by reciting it not according to the way in which it was revealed, but according to the way in which they have distorted it, as in the case of the descriptions of the Prophet (s) and other similar matters; so that you may suppose it, such distortion, as part of the Book, that God revealed; yet it is not part of the Book; and they say, 'It is from God,' yet it is not from God, and they speak falsehood against God, while they know, that they are liars. (Source)
When the Christians of Najran claimed that Jesus had commanded them to take him as a Divinity, and some Muslims asked that they should be permitted to prostrate themselves before him, the Prophet (s), the following was revealed: It belongs not to any mortal that God should give him the Book, the Judgement, the understanding of the Divine Law, prophethood, then that he should say to men, 'Be servants to me instead of God.' Rather, he should say, 'Be masters, scholars, labouring (rabbaniyyun, 'those of the Lord', is derived from rabb, 'lord', with the extra alif and nun, as a superlative [of rabbiyyun]), by virtue of what you know (ta'lamun, also read as tu'allimun, 'you teach') of the Book and in what you study', that is, on account of the fact that you used to do this, for its benefit is that you engage in action. (Source)
When the Jews said to the Prophet, 'You claim that you follow the creed of Abraham, but Abraham did not eat camel's meat nor drink its milk', the following was revealed: All food was lawful to the Children of Israel save what Israel, Jacob, forbade for himself, namely, camels: when he was afflicted with sciatica ('irq al-nasa), he made a vow that if he were cured he would not eat of it again, and so it was forbidden him; before the Torah was revealed, which was after the time of Abraham, as it was not unlawful in his time, as they claimed. Say, to them, 'Bring the Torah now, and recite it, so that the truth of what you say may become clear, if you are truthful', in what you say; they were stupified and did not bring it [the Torah]. God, exalted be He, then said: (Source)
But if they deny you, so were denied messengers before you who came bearing clear proofs, miracles, and the Scriptures, such as the scrolls of Abraham, and the Illuminating, the lucid, Book, that is, the Torah and the Gospel (a variant reading establishes the [prefixed preposition] ba' in both [words, sc. bi'l-zubur wa-bi'l-kitab l-munir, 'with the Scriptures and with the Illuminating Book']), so be patient as they were. (Source)
And We have revealed to you, O Muhammad (s), the Book, the Qur'an, with the truth (bi'l-haqq is semantically connected to anzalna, 'We have revealed') confirming the Book that was before it and watching over it, testifying [to it] - the 'Book' means the Scriptures. So judge between them, between the People of the Scripture, if they take their cases before you, according to what God has revealed, to you, and do not follow their whims, deviating, away from the truth that has come to you. To every one of you, O communities, We have appointed a divine law and a way, a clear path in religion, for them to proceed along. If God had willed, He would have made you one community, following one Law, but, He separated you one from the other, that He may try you in what He has given to you, of the differing Laws, in order to see who among you is obedient and who is disobedient. So vie with one another in good works, strive hastily thereunto; to God you shall all return, through resurrection, and He will then inform you of that in which you differed, in the matter of religion, and requite each of you according to his deeds. (Source)
And had they observed the Torah and the Gospel, by implementing what is in them, including believing in the Prophet (s), and what was revealed to them, of scriptures, from their Lord, they would surely have received nourishment from above them and from beneath their feet, by their being given provision in abundance, with it pouring forth from every place. Some of them, a group [among them], are a just community, implementing it [the Torah], and they are the ones who believed in the Prophet (s), the likes of 'Abd Allah b. Salam and his companions; but many of them - evil is that, thing, which they do. (Source)
And this Qur'an is not such as could ever be produced, that is, [it could not be] a fabrication, [by anyone] besides God; but it is, revealed [as], a confirmation of what is before it, of Scriptures, and a detailing of the Book, a exposition of the rulings and other matters which God has prescribed - wherein is no doubt, no uncertainty - from the Lord of the Worlds (min rabbi'l-'alamin is semantically connected to tasdiqa, 'a confirmation', or to an omitted unzila, 'revealed'; a variant reading [for accusative tasdiqa] has the nominative tasdiqu and nominative tafsilu, 'a detailing', [for the accusative tafsila] by [reading] an implied huwa, 'it is'). (Source)
So, if you, O Muhammad (s), are in doubt concerning what We have revealed to you, of stories - hypothetically speaking - then question those who read the Scripture, the Torah, before you, for it is confirmed [therein] with them and they can inform you of its truth. The Prophet (s) said, 'I have no doubt, nor will I question'. Verily the Truth from your Lord has come to you; so do not be of the waverers, [of] those who have doubts about it. (Source)
And We did not send before you anything other than men, to whom We revealed, and [sent] not angels: 'So ask the followers of the Remembrance, those knowledgeable in the Torah and the GOSPELS; if you do not know', that, then they know it, and you are more likely to believe them than the believers are to believe Muhammad (s), (Source)
And We sent none before you other than men to whom We revealed (read nuhi or yuha, '[to whom] it is revealed') and [We sent] not any angels. Ask the People of the Remembrance, those with knowledge of the Torah and the Gospel, if you do not know, this; for they will know it. Since you are more likely to believe them than the believers are to believing Muhammad (s). (Source)
And verily We gave Moses and Aaron the Criterion, the Torah that discriminates between truth and falsehood, and [between] what is lawful and unlawful, and an illumination, by it, and remembrance, an admonition therein, for those who are wary of God, (Source)
And truly it, the allusion to the Qur'an [that would be] revealed to Muhammad (s), is in the Scriptures, the Books, of the ancients, such as the Torah and the Gospel. (Source)
But when the truth, namely, Muhammad (s), came to them from Us, they said, 'Why has he not been given the like of what Moses was given?', in the way of signs, such as the glowing hand, the staff and others, or [by having] the Book revealed all at once. God, exalted be He, says: And did they not disbelieve in what was given to Moses before?; [before] when, they said, regarding him and Muhammad (s), 'Two sorcerers (sahiran; a variant reading has sihran, 'two sorceries', namely [what they said regarding] the Qur'an and the Torah) abetting each other.' And they said, 'We indeed disbelieve in both', the two prophets and the two Scriptures [of Moses and Muhammad]. (Source)
Say, to them: 'Then bring some Scripture from God that is better in guidance than these two, Scriptures, that I may follow it, if you are truthful', in what you say. (Source)
And We gave him, after Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob, after Isaac; and We ordained among his descendants prophethood, thus all prophets after Abraham are descended from him, and the Scripture, meaning, the [Holy] Books, the Torah, THE GOSPELS, the Psalms and the Criterion (al-furqan). And We gave him his reward in this world, which is fair praise [of him] by members of all the [Abrahamic] religions. And in the Hereafter he shall truly be among the righteous, for whom there shall be the highest degrees [of reward]. (Source)
And if they, that is, the people of Meccans, deny you, those before them also denied: their messengers brought them manifest signs, miracles, and with scriptures, such as the scrolls of Abraham, and with the illuminating Book, namely, the Torah and the Gospel, so endure [patiently] as they endured. (Source)
Truly this, the success of those who purify themselves, and the Hereafter being better, is in the former scrolls, the ones revealed before the Qur'an, (Source)
the scrolls of Abraham and Moses, the ten scrolls of Abraham and the Torah of Moses. (Source)
Summary Analysis of the Tafsirs
The commentaries of Ibn Abbas and the two Jalals provide further evidence that the Quran confirms the veracity and authenticity of the previous Scriptures, the Holy Bible. These men were forced by the Quran to speak favorably of the Books that were in the possession of the Jews and Christians, both before and during the time of Muhammad. They had to concede the fact that the Quran expressly testifies that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures available at Muhammads time were the very revealed Words of God. Since we know what those Books were, seeing that we have manuscripts of the Biblical books written before, during and after Muhammads time, this means that the Quran is basically testifying that the Holy Bible which Jews and Christians possess today is the very preserved Word of God. This conclusion is based on the fact that the Holy Bible we have now is virtually identical to what Muhammads contemporaries had in their possession.
The Tafsirs On Sura 2:75-79
In light of the fact that Muslims often appeal to Sura 2:75-79 to prove that the Quran teaches that the previous Biblical books have been corrupted, we have decided to address these citations by addressing what both Ibn Abbas and the two Jalals wrote about them.
The Tafsir attributed to Ibn Abbas says in reference to Sura 2:75 that:
(Have ye any hope that they will be true to you) do you hope, O Muhammad, that the Jews will believe in you (when a party of them) the 70 men who were with Moses (used to listen to the Word of Allah) used to listen to Moses reciting the Word of Allah, (then used to change it) alter it, (after they had understood it) after knowing it and fully understanding it (knowingly?) while knowing that they were altering it? (Source)
The two Jalals note:
Are you then so eager, O believers, that they, the Jews, should believe you, seeing there is a party of them, a group of their rabbis, that heard God's word, in the Torah, and then tampered with it, changing it, and that, after they had comprehended it, [after] they had understood it, knowingly?, [knowing fully well] that they were indulging in mendacity (the hamza [at the beginning of the verb a-fa-tatma'un] is [an interrogative] for rejection, in other words, 'Do not be so eager, for they have disbelieved before'). (Source)
Regarding Sura 2:78 here is what Ibn Abbas wrote:
(Among them are unlettered folk who know not the scripture) they do not know how to read or write it (except from hearsay) except the unfounded things they hear. (They but guess) their talk is all surmise based on what they heard from their leaders. (Source)
Al-Jalalayn also assert:
And there are some of them, the Jews, that are illiterate, uninstructed, not knowing the Scripture, the Torah, but only desires, lies which were handed down to them by their leaders and which they relied upon; and, in their rejection of the prophethood of the Prophet and fabrications of other matters, they have, mere conjectures, and no firm knowledge. (Source)
Ibn Abbas Tafsir interprets Sura 2:79 in this way:
(Therefore woe) severe punishment, and it is said this means: a valley in Hell (be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands) change the description and traits of Muhammad (pbuh) in the Book (and then say, "This is) in the Book that has come (from Allah," that they may purchase) through changing and altering it (a small gain therewith) a small gain in terms of means of subsistence and surplus of property. (Woe unto them) theirs is a severe punishment (for what their hands have written) have altered (and woe unto them) and theirs is a severe punishment (for what they earn thereby) of unlawful earnings and bribes. (Source)
The two Jalals say something similar:
So woe, a severe chastisement, to those who write the Scripture with their hands, that is, fabricating it themselves, then say, 'This is from God' that they may sell it for a small price, of this world: these are the Jews, the ones that altered the description of the Prophet in the Torah, as well as the 'stoning' verse, and other details, and rewrote them in a way different from that in which they were revealed. So woe to them for what their hands have written, of fabrications, and woe to them for their earnings, by way of bribery (rishan, plural of rishwa). (Source)
Before we begin addressing the above assertions it is important that we first summarize what these scholars are saying regarding these Quranic passages.
With the foregoing in mind we can now proceed with our response. As far as point 2 is concerned, Ibn Abbas clearly did not mean that the Jews of Moses time corrupted the text of the Torah since Moses was still around to correct any such textual modifications. His point must have been that the Jews corrupted the meaning of the words of the Torah by either adding their own explanations, reciting only parts of the verses, or by misinterpreting them.
The third point has no relevance to the textual purity of the Torah since these Jews are said to have been illiterate about its contents. Thus, they could not have modified a text that they had no access to or could not even read.
Now in regard to point 1 this still doesnt prove the Muslim position regarding the textual corruption of the Holy Bible for the following reasons. First, this argument presupposes the availability and knowledge of the original contents of the previous Revelations. In order to know that the Scriptures were corrupted one must first know what the original Books contained, otherwise how could one know that corruptions had taken place?
Second, all three commentators apply these passages to the Jews, not to the Christians, that the Jews supposedly corrupted their Scriptures. Yet the Christians were also copying the Torah and had copies of it in their possession. This means that even if the Jews corrupted their copies there were still uncorrupt texts available with the Christians.
Third, the passages say that a group of Jews tampered with the Word of God, not that all of them did this. In fact, the Quran itself testifies that there was a group from among the Jews and Christians who would not corrupt their Scriptures:
Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous. S. 3:113-114 Y. Ali
This means that these righteous Jews and Christians would have preserved their Scriptures and exposed those among them that were tampering with their sacred texts.
Finally, neither Ibn Abbas nor al-Jalalayn took this to mean that the previous Scriptures were no longer available in a pure form. The reason why we know that they didnt believe this is because of some other statements they made regarding the Torah still containing descriptions of Muhammad as well as the command to stone adulterers. Notice, for instance, Ibn Abbas explanation of Sura 3:70-71:
(O People of the Scripture! Why disbelieve you in the revelations of Allah) Muhammad and the Qur'an, (when you (yourselves) bear witness (to the Truth)?) you know from your Scripture that Muhammad is a prophet sent by Allah. (Source)
(O People of the Scripture! Why confound ye truth with falsehood) you confound the traits of the anti-Christ with those of Muhammad (and knowingly conceal the Truth?) the traits and description of Muhammad which you find in your Scripture. (Source)
How could the Jews find and know of the descriptions of Muhammad in their Scriptures if they had corrupted their texts so as to omit such statements? Here, also, is what Ibn Abbas said of Sura 3:187:
Then Allah mentioned His covenant with the people of the Book in the Scripture, which required them to exposit the traits and description of His Prophet, saying: (And (remember) when Allah laid a charge on those who had received the Scripture) i.e. the Torah and the Gospel ((He said): Ye are to expound it) the trait and description of Muhammad (to mankind and not to hide it) not to hide these traits and description of Muhammad in their Scripture. (But they flung it behind their backs) and did not act upon it (and bought thereby a little gain) a paltry acquisition in their means of living by hiding the traits and description of Muhammad in their Scripture. (Verily evil is that which they have gained thereby) evil is that which they have chosen for themselves: Judaism and the concealment of the traits and description of Muhammad. (Source)
Again, the only way that the Jews could hide Muhammads description in their Torah, and for Ibn Abbas to know that this is what they did, is if the original Torah was still in existence at that time which contained such descriptions.
The two Jalals basically say the same thing since this is what they wrote about Sura 2:76:
And when they, the hypocrites from among the Jews, meet those who believe, they say, 'We believe', that Muhammad (s) is a prophet and that he is the one of whom we have been given good tidings in our Book; but when they go privily one to another, they, their leaders the ones not involved in the hypocrisy, say, to those hypocrites: 'Do you speak to them, the believers, of what God has disclosed to you, that is, what He has made known to you of Muhammad's (s) description in the Torah, so that they may thereby dispute (the lam of li-yuhajjukum, 'that they may dispute with you', is the lam of 'becoming') with you before your Lord?, in the Hereafter and hold the proof against you for not following him [Muhammad (s)], despite your knowledge of his sincerity? Have you no understanding?' of the fact that they will contend with you if you speak to them in this way? So beware. (Source)
They also say regarding Sura 2:146:
Those to whom We have given the Scripture, they recognise him, Muhammad (s), as they recognise their sons, because of the descriptions of him in their Scripture: ['Abd Allah] Ibn Salam said, 'I recognised him the moment I saw him, as I would my own son; but my recognition of Muhammad (s) was more intense'; even though there is a party of them that conceal the truth, that is, his description, while they know, this [truth] which you [Muhammad (s)] follow. (Source)
For the Jews to be able to recognize Muhammad from the description given of him in the Torah assumes that they had an uncorrupt Torah in their possession!
And here are their comments to Sura 2:159:
The following was revealed concerning the Jews: Those who conceal, from people, the clear proofs and the guidance that We have revealed, such as the 'stoning' verse and the description of Muhammad (s), after We have shown them clearly in the Scripture, the Torah - they shall be cursed by God, that is, He will move them far away from His mercy, and by the cursers, the angels, believers, or by every single thing, when they supplicate that they be cursed. (Source)
Again, the Jews could not conceal statements and verses that were no longer part of the Torah which was in their hands.
Now there is obviously a problem with the above assertions. The Bible that existed during Muhammads time, which is virtually the same as what we have in our possessions, did not and does not contain any descriptions or prophecies of him; Muhammad erroneously thought that it did and that is why he appealed to it. Yet by appealing to the Holy Bible to confirm his prophetic aspirations Muhammad ended up making the Jewish and Christian Scriptures the standard by which to authenticate or discredit his message. Unfortunately for him and his followers, the Holy Scriptures provide absolutely no verification for his claims since their message contradicts what Muhammad taught in the Quran, thereby exposing him as false prophet.
(1) Even more astonishing is the following commentary of Sura 61:14 which is attributed to Ibn Abbas:
(O ye who believe) in Muhammad (pbuh) and the Quran! (Be Allahs helpers) be helpers to Muhammad (pbuh) against his enemies; it is also said this means: be Allahs helpers against His enemies, (even as Jesus son of Mary said unto the disciples: Who are my helpers for Allah) who are my helpers, along with Allah, against His enemies? (They said) his disciples said: (We are Allahs helpers) we are your helpers, along with Allah, against His enemies. They were 12 male disciples, the first to believe in him and help him against his enemies. All of these men were. (And a party of the Children of Israel believed) in Jesus the son of Mary, (while a party disbelieved) in Jesus son of Mary. This is the party that was led astray by Paul and did not believe in him. (Then We strengthened) We helped and fortified (those who believed) in Jesus the son of Mary and did not oppose his religion (against their foe) those who opposed the religion of Jesus, (and they became the uppermost) in argument against their foes because of their prayer to Allah, and it is also said because they were among those who glorified Allah. (Source)
After admitting that Jesus twelve male disciples were the true believers who triumphed against the disbelievers, this source then claims that Paul was the head of the party which disbelieved. Now this either means that Paul had been one of those who initially opposed Christs followers, which would be correct, or that he was one who perverted the truth of the Gospel. The problem with this latter view is that all of our early records agree that Paul was fully embraced by Jesus twelve male disciples after his conversion and was actually used by God to cause Christs teachings to triumph till this very day. Thus, if the Quran is correct regarding the fate of Jesus true followers then so-called "Pauline" Christianity must be the true message of Christ since this is the brand of Christianity which God caused to prevail.
Yet it seems that the commentator has erroneously assumed that Paul had actually met Christ face to face since the Quranic text is speaking of those among Jesus contemporaries who rejected him. In other words, the commentator mistakenly thinks that Paul happened to be one of disbelievers who opposed Jesus directly, and that God then gave Jesus followers the power to prevail over Paul and the rest of the unbelievers. Needless to say, this would be a distortion of history since Paul did not meet the earthly Jesus but the resurrected Lord.
For more on the early Muslim view of Paul please read the following:
The Qur'an About the Bible
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page