As Salaam Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,
The assertion that the Quran vouches for the accuracy of the Bible is commonly made by Christian apologists when discussing religion with Muslims. The idea is that we Muslims cannot criticise the Bible or any of its claims because if we do we are disagreeing with the Message of the Quran and the belief of the Messenger of Allah, salallahu alayhi wa sallam.
This argument has been presented to me in a number of formats, the Christian offering his own tafsir of ayat, the curious but confused Christian and the confused and worried Muslim. Examples of this argument can be found in the comments of Top Ten Ways to Know Christainty is False.
Before we consider their assertion, I would like to point out that even if the Quran did vouch for the accuracy of the Bible it would not save the Bible from its flaws. Even if the Quran vouched for the Bible the Bible would still have defects. We are discussing whether the Quran should be condemned for asserting that a very flawed book is not flawed.
The Christian Claim
There has been some confusion by at least one person who read this post. The headings are the Christian’s premise and the ayat underneath are examples of ayat the Christian hopes support their premise.
In the response, I explain why those premises are wrong and thus their conclusions are wrong. The ayat they quote are true but their understanding of those ayat is wrong. In Sha Allah, this makes the post clearer.
The Quran says that the Word of God cannot be changed.
And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. Quran 6:115
For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present world (i.e. righteous dream seen by the person himself or shown to others), and in the Hereafter. No change can there be in the Words of Allah, this is indeed the supreme success. Quran 10:64
The Quran says the Bible is the Word of God
Quran 5:46, And in their footsteps, We sent ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), confirming the Taurat (Torah) that had come before him, and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Taurat (Torah) that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for Al-Muttaqun (the pious – see V. 2:2).
Quran 5:47, Let the people of the Injeel (Gospel) judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed (then) such (people) are the Fasiqun (the rebellious i.e. disobedient (of a lesser degree) to Allah.
Quran 5:48, And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad SAW) the Book (this Quran) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and Mohayminan (trustworthy in highness and a witness) over it (old Scriptures). So judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you. To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If Allah willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allah; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ.
Quran 5:68, Say (O Muhammad SAW) “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! You have nothing (as regards guidance) till you act according to the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to you from your Lord (the Quran).” Verily, that which has been sent down to you (Muhammad SAW) from your Lord increases in many of them their obstinate rebellion and disbelief. So be not sorrowful over the people who disbelieve.
Quran 46:12, And before this was the Scripture of Musa (Moses) as a guide and a mercy. And this is a confirming Book (the Quran) in the Arabic language, to warn those who do wrong, and as glad tidings to the Muhsinun (good-doers – see V. 2:112).
The Christian Conclusion
On the Quran’s authority, the Bible could not have been changed or corrupted. Muhammad, salallahu alayhi wa sallam, believed in an uncorrupted Bible. The corruption theory was invented by later Muslims.
Looking at the claim it is easy to see where the Christian, willingly or otherwise, went wrong. It is also easy to see why they think it’s a strong argument and why it is so often repeated.
They’ve misunderstood the Quranic message because they are using their understanding of Christian terminology to understand Quranic phrases.
The Word of God
When a Christian reads the phrase “Word of God” they understand God’s revelation. However, all of the Ayat quoted that say the Word of God cannot be changed are referring to God’s decree. If God decrees something, nothing can change His decree.
We read in Ibn Kathir’s Tafsir, regarding “None can change His Words.” (Quran 6:115), “none can avert Allah’s judgment whether in this life or the Hereafter”.
We read in Ibn Kathir’s Tafsir, regarding “No change can there be in the Words of Allah” (Quran 10:64), “this promise doesn’t change or breach or fall short. It is decreed and firm, and going to happen undoubtedly”.
No place in the Quran does Allah promise to preserve any revelation other than the Quran.
Allah says in His Quran (15:9),
Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Quran) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).
The Torah and The Gospel or The Bible?
A version of the Bible existed at the time of the Messenger of Allah, salallahu alayhi wa sallam. Yet, it is not mentioned even once in the Quran. What is mentioned are books sent to various prophets of Allah, including Isa (Injeel), alayhi sallam, Musa (Tawrah), alayhi sallam and Dawud (Zabur), alayhi sallam. While you can find writings in the Bible that are attributed in part to these great men they only cover a very small part of the actual Bible. Of the 27 New Testament books only four are counted as gospels. Of the 24, 39, 46 or 51 (depending on which version you accept) books of the Old Testament only 5 are counted as the Tawrah and 1 as the Zabur.
The Question now changes, does the Quran vouch for the accuracy of a subsection of the Bible?
If Musa Didn’t Write It, It’s Not the Tawrah
Imagine, after reading this post, you decided to copy what I’ve written and place it on your own blog. You don’t just copy and paste because you don’t want to repeat any of my grammatical/spelling errors. So you sit down and write my ideas as closely as you can from memory. You add a few things to make it more meaningful to your audience and you take away a few things that you can’t use, like this paragraph. Your happy with it, so you show it to your spouse because they usually proof your work. They don’t like the wording of a few lines and they change them. You re-read your work and find a few things you’d like to change. Then a friend looks it over and offers some additional suggestions. You’re finally satisfied and you hit publish. Could the final product be attributed to me? Would it be right to use my name as an endorsement for your post?
The writings attributed to Musa, alayhi sallam, are in far worse condition and there are many evidences that prove Musa, alayhi sallam, did not write any of the five books attributed to him in the Bible.
Could the verses Deuteronomy 34 5-8 have been written by Musa?
And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
Since the five books called the Tawrah in the Old Testament were not written by Musa, alayhi sallam, it is wrong to attribute them or their conclusions to him and they could in no way be described as The Tawrah of Musa.
The Gospel of Whom?
Since the 2nd century, they have been referred to as “The Gospel of …” or “The Gospel according to …” followed by the name of the supposed author. Whatever these admittedly early ascriptions may imply about the sources behind or the perception of these gospels, they appear to have been originally anonymous compositions (source)
These writings are not even being claimed as the Injeel of Isa, alayhi sallam. The authors, as was common in the early years of Christianity, wrote biographies of Isa, alayhi sallam, based on their own theological lean and copied external sources. They were only accepted into the Bible because they broadly shared (or could be made to) the theological lean of the compilers of the Bible. None were written with any authority. It is disingenuous to ascribe them to Isa, alayhi sallam, and disingenuous to claim the Quran is vouching for them.
Allah does not promise to preserve any of His revelations except the Quran. Allah did not preserve the Tawrah, Zabur or the Injeel. The writings labelled Tawrah, Injeel and Zabur were not written by the prophets to whom they are attributed.
Moreover, from a Christian point-of-view the whole argument is a terrible failure. The Bible is a corrupt book and nothing can save it from its ignoble condition. The Christian apologist is simply trying to confuse Muslims and honest Christians and obscure the truth.
Given that the Tawrah and Injeel are lost, why would Allah allow that to happen? Why didn’t he just preserve the Tawrah and not bother revealing the Injeel and the Quran?