Corruption of the Scriptures: Part I – Does Islam Confirm the Bible As a Scripture from God?
By Quran and Bible Blog Contributor stewjo004
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
“…The devils inspire each other so that they can argue with you and if you follow them then you will be of those who equate others with God.”
– The Quran, Surah Yunus, 10:36
A common claim missionaries make when trying to convert Muslims is that the Qur’an approves of the Bible and that Muslims are told by the Quran to seek the Truth from there. Obviously, this claim makes no sense for several reasons:
- If the Scriptures of the Christians and Jews were good, there would be no need for Islam or the Qur’an.
- The Qur’an, the Prophet and the Sahaba clearly state that the previous scriptures have been corrupted.So in this article we’re going to explore these verses and hadith that missionaries attempt to bombard Muslims with and see if their argument is valid.
“The Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and justice. There is no power that is capable of changing His Words because He is the All-Hearing and Knowing.”
The argument presented by missionaries is that the Scripture can’t change because the Qur’an says that God’s words can’t change. To begin, this is an illogical argument because one can take any religious text and add or delete a verse from it. There’s no magical force field around the text itself. The proper context of these verses has nothing to do with God’s Scriptures. They’re referring to God’s Commands which He throughout the Qur’an calls His Word because He says “Be” and then it happens. Let’s look at some examples (emphasis ours):
“It was He who created the heavens and the earth with purpose. On the Day which He says “Be” it will come to be. His Word is the ultimate Truth and on that Day in which it will be blown into the Horn, He will have all control and authority. The Knower of the seen and the unseen, He is the One to pass Judgment and the One who carries full news…”
“Those who your Lord’s Word has passed on will not believe, even if every sign comes to them, until they see the agonizing torment.”
“Your Lord’s Word was passed against the disbelievers that they would be friends of the Inferno in this way.”
“Whenever I decided to destroy a city, I compel and give complete authority to the financially elite, and as a result they create corruption throughout the land. And so My Word is passed and I annihilate that society completely.”
“But have no doubts, the Word has already been confirmed on a majority of them, therefore they won’t believe.”
The Pharaoh said: “Bring me every skilled magician.”When the magicians came, Moses said to them: “Cast whatever you have to cast.” When they did so, Moses said: “Everything you have brought is only magic, God will show it to be a lie. Rest assured that God will not set the work of those who are the sources of trouble and corruption right. He will uphold the Truth with His Words and make it a reality, no matter how much the sinning criminals hate it.…”
There are more such verses, but there’s no point in being redundant. God’s Decrees are called the Word or Words in the Qur’an. Now keeping this point in mind, let’s reread the verses that missionaries quote about being unable to change God’s Words:
“For those who have faith and are God fearing, there is good news in their worldly life and in the Next. And there is no changing God’s Words ˹because˺ that is the greatest triumph.”
“The Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and justice. There is no power that is capable of changing His Words because He is the All-Hearing and Knowing.”
As can clearly be seen by an objective reader, these verses are about God’s Decrees that He has passed on the Creation, not about His Scriptures. Now we have one verse that is the exception to this:
“Keep on reading what’s been revealed to you by your Lord. None are going to change His Words, nor will you find sanctuary in anyone but Him.”
Let’s first examine the greater context:
“They say: “There were three, and their dog made four,” while some say: “They were five, and their dog made six.” All of this is just guessing into the Beyond, as others say: “They were seven, and their dog made eight.” Say to them: “My Lord knows best how many there were.” Only a few people know them, so don’t argue. Stick with what’s clear evidence, and don’t try to ask any more about them from anyone…So the Sleepers remained in their Cave for three hundred years and they added nine more. Tell them: “God knows best how long they stayed. All the knowledge that’s hidden in the heavens and earth is His. How amazingly well He sees and hears. You won’t find any protective friend except for Him; nor anyone to share in His rule.” Keep on reading what’s been revealed to you by your Lord. None are going to change His Words, nor will you find sanctuary in anyone but Him… Don’t follow or be influenced by those whose hearts I’ve emptied of My remembrance. They follow their own desires, and go overboard in all matters. Tell them that the Truth is from your Lord, whoever wishes can believe and whoever wishes can disbelieve. Have no doubts though, I’ve set the Fire for the wrongdoers, and its walls have already engulfed them…”
In this particular verse, God is referring to the Qur’an itself. The disbelievers were making all kinds of claims so God told the Prophet (and Muslims by extension) basically that:
“Don’t let these evil people influence you, and stick to what is clear. None can change the Qur’an and I will protect you from all these lies as long as you stick to it.”
The irony in using this verse is that God is actually saying people are going to make all sorts of wild claims and guesses, so don’t let it influence you.
Let’s look at the next verse used to substantiate the Bible:
“Who follow the Messenger, the illiterate prophet they find described in the Torah that is with them, and in the Gospel…”
The argument presented by missionaries is that because the verse says “that is with them” this means the Bible is a pure and unaltered book. Now before diving into this verse, some quick things need to be explained and understood as we look into all the other verses that will be quoted.
To begin, let’s define what is revelation and Scripture. There are multiple versions of revelation a prophet can receive:
- A Scripture where God transmits His words verbatim (either through direct speech or through an intermediary such as an angel)
- An angel relaying a message from God but not necessarily a Scripture or God’s direct speech (ex. “Your Lord has ordered you to go here…”
- A Prophet’s inspired action or speech regarding a religious matter.
- A Prophet’s rulings
Now, numbers 2-6 are important and can be religiously binding on believers but they are not what we are discussing at this time. The Torah, Gospel and Quran would all be classified as number 1.
The next point of confusion is about the book called “The Bible”. This book is not being referred to in these verses. The Bible is a collection of stories containing pieces of numbers 1-6 as well as lies and then being claimed as simply #1 by itself. When God in the Qur’an is talking about the Torah and Gospel, He is quoting from what He Himself revealed as a Scripture. Here is an example: During his ministry, Jesus wasn’t going around reading 1 Timothy to the people. This is part of writing something and claiming that it’s from God. God never revealed these books and one can’t say these are the Scripture.
The Torah and Gospel are the revelations that were actually dictated by God Himself. Although books in the Bible may contain some of what these Scriptures contained, they are not what is being referred to in the Quranic verses.
Here is an example using Islam (emphasis ours):
“Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The Prophet (ﷺ) was hiding himself in Mecca and used to recite the (Qur’an) in a loud voice. When the pagans heard him they would abuse the Qur’an and the one who brought it, so God said to His Prophet: ‘Neither say your prayer aloud, nor say it in a low tone’ (17.110).”
The bolded part is Scripture in the story. This one verse that is just revealed is part of a whole chapter of the Qur’an that is 111 verses long. All 111 verses are revealed by God but in this incident, only this verse is revealed. Now imagine instead of that little part being the Qur’an, Muslims started saying the whole story is the Qur’an (i.e. the entire hadith above). That’s what the book known as the Bible is. The original revelation isn’t available now or during the time of the Prophet only a part of it is. For further understanding, let’s review the following charts. The green parts are what are being referred to in the Qur’an. What Jews and Christians are in possession of and use today are in brown. Finally the red X’s represent a transmission break (i.e we don’t know who wrote this or where they got it from):
These anonymous Frankenstein books used nowadays are not what Muslims believe in nor what God revealed to mankind.
However, just because we can no longer read these books doesn’t mean we can’t believe in them. It would be the same way we can’t see Angels but we believe in them. The Qur’an is the protector of the original (i.e. the green) Gospel and Torah along with whatever of it survives today in the Bible (i.e. the brown). Whenever Muslims quote from these texts, we are trying to show what parts may have been green or led up to the green. Hopefully that clears up Islam’s position on the previous Scriptures. Now keeping this point in mind, let’s look at the verse’s (7:158) context.
To begin, in this verse God talking to Moses after the Children of Israel worshipped the Golden Calf. Moses is now going to meet with God bringing 70 men to ask for repentance:
“Moses chose from his people seventy men for their meeting with Me when a violent earthquake seized them. Moses said: “Oh Lord, if You had wanted you would’ve destroyed them way before this as well as me. Are you destroying us because of what the idiots among us did? This is nothing but Your test and through it, You mislead and You guide whomever you want! You are our Protective Friend so forgive us and show us mercy and never allow us to fall into it again because You are the best of those who can forgive! And write good for us in this life as well as the Next because we have lovingly and with full loyalty turned back to you!” I responded: “I target with My punishment whoever I wish and My Mercy extends to everything. I will give My Mercy to those who are God-fearing, purifying themselves by giving what is due in charity and truly believes in My revelations. Who follow the Messenger, the illiterate prophet they find described in the Torah that is with them, and in the Gospel. He will order them to what is good and forbid to them what is evil. And make allowed for them things that are pure, forbid to them all the things that are filthy and he will take off from them the chains and burdens around their necks that used to be on them. Those who will believe in him, obey him out of respect and help him, following the light sent down with him and they are the successful ones.…” So now tell them: “People! I am the Messenger of God for you all, sent by the One who owns the kingdom of the heavens and the earth! No one is to be worshipped or obeyed but He. He gives life and He gives death, so believe in God and His Messenger, the prophet which can neither read nor write, who believes in God and His words, and follows them closely, so that you can be considered committed to guidance.…”
So as we can see the following from the passage:
- The context of “that is with them” is not referring to modern times (or even during the time of the Prophet for that matter). It’s referring to the Children of Israel during Moses’s time.
- This verse of the Prophet is in the original revelation (i.e. the green on the chart) and not necessarily the Bible (the brown on the chart) but God knows best regarding this.
Now let’s move to the next set of verses:
“But why are they coming to you for a judgement ˹anyways˺ when they have the Torah which contains God’s judgement, and they then turn away and ignore it? It’s because they’re not really believers.”
“So let the followers of the Gospel judge by the laws that God has sent down within it, because whoever doesn’t judge by what God has sent down are rebellious and disobedient.”
And here is the accompanying hadith that missionaries will quote:
“Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar: “A group of Jews came and invited the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to Quff. So he visited them in their school. They said: Abul Qasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee…””
To begin, there’s a difference of opinion regarding this hadith’s authenticity. I personally believe this hadith is not authentic because in another authentic hadith, the Torah is brought out later, but for discussion’s sake, we’ll just assume it’s authentic as it won’t really affect anything once proper context is given. Now, let’s get some background context to these verses from Ibn Kathir’s commentary:
“…this verse was revealed about the two Jews who committed adultery. The Jews changed the law they had in their Book from God on the matter of punishment for adultery, from stoning to death, to a hundred flogs and making the offenders ride a donkey facing the back of the donkey. When this incident of adultery occurred after the Hijrah, they said to each other, “Let us go to Muhammad and seek his judgement. If he gives a ruling of flogging, then implement his decision and make it a proof for you with God. This way, one of God’s Prophets will have upheld this ruling amongst you. But if he decides that the punishment should be stoning to death, then do not accept his decision.”
So as we can see, the Jews attempted to justify another change to God’s Scripture by having a prophet rule that what they were doing was okay so that no sin occurred on them. Now some people may find this strange as to why would the Jews take a ruling from Muhammad (peace be upon him). Well the reason is some of them (and these exist even today) believed him to be a prophet for the Arabs or the gentiles but not for the Jewish people. Ibn Abbas mentions this in his commentary of Qur’an, 2:76:
“They believe that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, `But he was only sent for you (Arabs)” However, when they meet each other they say, “Do not convey the news about this Prophet to the Arabs, because you used to ask God to grant you victory over them when he came, but he was sent to them (not to you).” God then revealed, When they meet those who believe, they say: “We’ve believed!” But when they’re alone in secret, ˹they˺ say: “Are you telling them about what God has ˹revealed to us previously˺, so that they can make a case against you, with your Lord? Don’t you have any type of common sense or understanding?” (2:76)
Meaning, “If you admit to them that he is a Prophet, knowing that God took the covenant from you to follow him, they will know that Muhammad is the Prophet that we were waiting for and whose coming we find foretold of in our Book. Therefore, do not believe in him and deny him.’‘
So to sum up, what happened was that the Prophet asked them what the ruling was for adulterers, and they lied. So then he asked them to bring the Torah and read from it. The man reading tried to place his hand over the verse and a rabbi who became Muslim told him to move his hand. They saw the verse and so the Prophet ruled in favor of stoning, and then God revealed the following Qur’anic passage after the incident:
“Messenger, don’t become sad over those who race to surpass one another in disbelief. The same ones who say with their mouths: “We believe,” but who really have no faith in their hearts, or the Jews who listen eagerly to any lies. Listening to those who haven’t even met you and are twisting the meanings of words from their context saying to each other: “If you’re given this ruling, accept it, but if you’re not, then beware..” Those whom God wishes to test, you will be powerless on their behalf before God, ˹because˺ these are the same ones whose hearts God doesn’t intend to cleanse. It’s a disgrace for them in the worldly life, and then a heavy punishment in the Next. They listen eagerly to lies and eat from bribes. If they come to you for judgement, you can either judge between them, or decline. If you decline, they will not be able to hurt you in any way, but if you do judge between them, judge fairly because God loves the just. But why are they coming to you for a judgement ˹anyways˺ when they have the Torah which contains God’s judgement, and they then turn away and ignore it? It’s because they’re not really believers. I revealed the Torah with guidance and Light. The prophets, who all submitted to God, based their judgement according to it for the Jews. And so did the rabbis and the scholars in accordance with that part of God’s Scripture which they were trusted to preserve, to which they themselves were witnesses to. So don’t fear people, only fear Me. Do not sell My revelations for a small price because those who don’t judge according to what God has sent down are disbelievers. I had prescribed a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and a wound for a wound for them. However if anyone gives up this right out of charity, it will serve as atonement for their sins. Those who don’t judge according to what God has sent down are doing a serious wrong. I sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming what came before him in the Torah. I gave him the Gospel, which contained guidance and Light within it, verifying what was revealed previously in the Torah, as a guide and lesson for those who are God fearing. So let the followers of the Gospel judge by the laws that God has sent down within it, because whoever doesn’t judge by what God has sent down are rebellious and disobedient.”
Here is what Ibn Kathir stated about the Qur’anic passage:
“…Hadiths state that the Messenger of God issued a decision that conforms with the ruling in the Torah, not to honor the Jews in what they believe in, for the Jews were commanded to follow the Law of Muhammad only. Rather, the Prophet did this because God commanded him to do so. He asked them about the ruling of stoning in the Torah to make them admit to what the Torah contains and what they collaborated to hide, deny and exclude from implementing for all that time. They had to admit to what they did, although they did it while having knowledge of the correct ruling. What made them go to the Prophet for judgement in this matter was their lusts and desires, hoping that the Prophet would agree with their opinion, not that they believed in the correctness of his judgment. This is why they said,
(If you are given this,) referring to flogging, then take it, (but if you are not given this, then beware!) and do not accept or implement it…”
Ibn Kathir then quotes some very important commentary from Ibn Abbas:
“Ibn `Abbas said, “Ka`b bin Asad, Ibn Saluba, `Abdullah bin Surya and Shas bin Qays said to each other, `Let us go to Muhammad to try and misguide him from his religion.’ So they went to the Prophet and said, `O Muhammad! You know that we are the scholars, noblemen and chiefs of the Jews. If we follow you, the Jews will follow suit and will not contradict us. But, there is enmity between us and some of our people, so we will refer to you for judgement in this matter, and you should rule in our favor against them and we will believe in you.’ The Messenger of Allah refused the offer and Allah sent down these Ayat about them,
“I have sent this Book to you with a purpose and the Truth, verifying the Scriptures that came before it, and it is a witness and Safeguarder to forever dominate over them, so judge between them according to what God has sent down. Do not follow their empty whims and desires, which deviate from the Truth that has come to you. I have assigned a law and a path for you all, and if God had desired, He could’ve made you one community, but He wanted to test you through what He’s given you. So race to do good, you will all return to God and He will make it clear to you about the matters which you argued about. Do they want judgement according to the age of ignorance? Is there any judge better than God for those with firm faith? (5:48-49)
Ibn `Abbas said, “The Prophet had the choice to judge between them or to turn away from them and refer them to their own Law. Then this Ayah was revealed…and he was commanded to judge between them by our Book…””
So this incident of him making a ruling was because God commanded him to do so, not because he believed in their books. As noted by Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him), God allowed this incident for the purpose of exposing the Jews’ hypocrisy towards His commands (which is why they tried to bribe the Prophet with conversion to Islam) and give more proof against them. These verses were revealed in a very specific context and then were abrogated with Quran 5:48-49 so that missionaries could not make this argument.
Regarding the hadith where the Jews bring out the Torah and the Prophet says: “I believe in you and Him who sent you” and placing the book on the pillow, there is nothing in the text to indicate that he believed the Torah not to be distorted. This is called a “reading between the lines fallacy” which is defined as:
“Fallacy of language: Considering what is implied rather than what is stated in a text, including unwarranted personal associations.”
He was simply honoring the book because some of God’s Words (the green in the chart) were still in there. Furthermore, there is no indication anyway that the book that was brought out was the modern Bible.
The context of the verses is referring to God’s law in Scripture not the Scripture’s theology. God is basically saying if you’re going to claim to follow God’s law then follow it. More importantly, what is meant here by the Gospel and Torah is the original revealed Scripture (again the green part in the chart). The polemic in this passage, especially the last verse revealed, is there’s no way to judge by the green in the chart except to ask the new Scripture revealed by God which is their protector to what was in them. These verses from the Qur’an mean that Jews and Christians must judge by the Qur’an since this is the only way to judge what was truly in the Torah and Gospel given to Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them both).
The next verse which is frequently used by missionaries is the following:
I didn’t send anyone before you except men whom I inspired. So go ask the people of the Reminder, if you don’t know…”
Like before, we need a little bit of background context for proper understanding. One thing that has to be remembered about the Qur’an is that it was originally a speech given in response to a situation. So sometimes without seeing the situation misunderstandings can occur. This chapter was revealed in the 10th year of Muhammad’s prophethood. Many take it for granted because Judaism, Christianity and Islam’s stories are so well known nowadays, but the pagans who didn’t have a Scripture or know about prophets had never heard of any of them. So they did two things:
- They argued that if God was going to send a message to everybody he would have sent an angel which is why we have Quran verses such as:
“The only thing that’s really stopped people from believing, when guidance came to them, was that they said: “How could God have sent a human being as a Messenger to guide us?” Tell them had the earth been filled with angels walking around casually then I would’ve sent an angel from heaven as a Messenger.”
“They say: “What sort of ‘Messenger’ is this? He eats food and walks around in the marketplaces! Why has no angel been sent down to help him with his ‘warnings’? Why hasn’t he been given treasure or a magical garden to supply his food?” Those doing evil say: “The man you follow is simply a victim of some sort of magic.””
“They ask: “Why hasn’t an angel been sent down with him?” Had I sent down an angel, this matter would’ve been decided immediately and no letup would be given. And if I had made him an angel, I would’ve still sent him in the form of a man, and what’s confusing them now would’ve confused them even more then.”
- They also began secretly asking Jewish and Christian tribes what questions they should ask Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Here is an example from Ibn Kathir’s tafsir:
“Ibn `Abbas said: “The Quraysh sent An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and `Uqbah bin Abi Mu`it to the Jewish rabbis in Al-Madinah, and told them: `Ask them (the rabbis) about Muhammad, and describe him to them, and tell them what he is saying. They are the people of the first Book, and they have more knowledge of the Prophets than we do.’ So they set out and when they reached Al-Madinah, they asked the Jewish rabbis about the Messenger of Allah …””
So God revealed the following:
“Ever closer and closer to people draws their reckoning, while they continue to be careless and ignore it. Never does a renewed message come to them from their Lord, without them listening to it as a joke, while their hearts are distracted. Those who do evil whisper in secret: “Is this man anything except a human being like yourselves? Are you going to fall under his spell while your eyes are wide open and you can see it happening?” He said to them: “My Lord knows whatever is said throughout the heaven and the earth because He is All Hearing and Knowing…”Some say: “Jumbled dreams,” others: “He just made it all up,” yet others say: “He’s just a poet, let him show us a ‘sign’ like those who were previously sent.” No city I destroyed before them believed, so will they believe? I didn’t send anyone before you except men whom I inspired. So go ask the people of the Reminder, if you don’t know… I didn’t give prophets bodies that didn’t need to eat food, nor were they immortal. I fulfilled the Promise for them and I saved them along with those I wished to save. And I destroyed those who went past all limits.”
In this passage, God employs a literary technique of talking to the Prophet while indirectly talking about the pagan Arabs. To emulate what’s happening, imagine a teacher is talking to the only student in class who passed a test and said:
“Jimmy, don’t you think the test was easy? I don’t know how anybody could fail it.”
The students who failed know the sarcasm is directed at them. In the same way, while God is refuting the argument that prophets are angels, He takes a jab at the pagans asking the Christian and Jewish tribes by basically saying:
“Yeah, prophets aren’t divine beings. Since you all don’t know what you’re talking about and like asking so many questions, go ask the Christians and Jews about that.”
Further proof of this can be seen in the original Arabic. The ‘you’ in the “if you don’t know…” part of the verse is in the multiple form. It is impossible for this to be a command to the Prophet (as he is only one person) and the context doesn’t support Muslims going and asking the Christians and Jews about Islam.
Now for the final verse that missionaries use:
“If you are in any doubt about what I have sent down to you, ask those who have been reading the Scriptures before you. The Truth has come to you from your Lord, so do not become among those who fell into doubts. And do not lie against God’s signs because then you will become one those who have lost.”
Again, we need a very brief overview of this Surah and it’s themes:
Verses 1- 70. The pagan Arabs find it strange that God gives revelation to a man. God begins His refutation and reasoning with them. He then speaks of His signs throughout the universe and that those who deny them will be the ones who lose in the next life and those who believe in them will be in Heaven.
Verses 71- 92. God relays part of the stories of Noah and Moses and the Pharaoh to the pagan Arabs to show what happened to previous nations that denied God’s Messengers and the signs they came with. Now we move into the verses in question with God finishing up Moses’s story:
“I settled the Children of Israel in a proper place to live, as well as provided them with pure and good things. It was only after knowledge had come to them that they began to argue among themselves. But your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection regarding their disagreement. If you are in any doubt about what I have sent down to you, ask those who have been reading the Scriptures before you. The Truth has come to you from your Lord, so do not become among those who fell into doubts. And do not lie against God’s signs because then you will become of those who have lost.”
There is a difference of opinion as to who is being addressed in the verse. There are two major views concerning and one minority position. The (“Oh Muhammad”) one finds in most translations is not actually in the verse and that is simply the translator’s interpretation. So let’s look at the different opinions:
1.Talking to the pagans (my preferred view as well as Imam Ar-Razi’s)
Imam Razi (rh) commenting on this verse stated:
“The commentators differed as to who the person being addressed in the verse was. Some said it was the Prophet(saw) while some have stated it was others…”
He then quotes his evidence that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not being referred to in the verse:
“What indicates the validity of the position I have mentioned is that in the last verses of this chapter (it says):
“Tell them: “People! If you are still in doubt about my religion…” (10:104)
The people first mentioned (in the hypothetical question of verse 94) are now mentioned in this verse. Secondly, (from a common sense perspective) if the Prophet (saw) was in doubt of his own prophethood what was to stop others from having more reason to doubt his prophethood and this requires (all) laws of the Sharia to be voided. Thirdly, if he is in doubt about his prophethood why would asking (the Christians and Jews) remove that doubt when they are disbelievers, and it was declared what remains with them of the Torah and Gospel (is corrupt)?”
So the entire chapter up to this point is talking to the pagans of Mecca and appealing to their reason. God narrates signs in creation, then the stories of Noah and Moses, then addresses the pagans at the end of the passage to ask the Christians and Jews about the stories of Noah and Moses and the Pharaoh so that they don’t end up with the same fate, hence the end of the verse:
“…The Truth has come to you from your Lord, so do not become like those who fell into doubts, and do not lie against God’s signs because then you will become one those who have lost.”
This interpretation in my opinion makes the most sense because when finishing the story of the Pharaoh and Moses and just before He transitions to this question, God mentions His conversation with the Pharaoh before He drowns Him and says:
“I took the Children of Israel across the sea, and the Pharaoh along with his troops pursued them in arrogance and aggression. But as he was drowning he cried: “I believe in the same One the Children of Israel believe in and I have surrendered to Him!” (I said) “Now? When before you had refused to obey, and caused so much corruption? Today, I will preserve your corpse and project you with your small shield on the mound, so that you can be a sign for those who come after you. But many people fail to heed My signs…”
So God is basically saying:
“If you doubt what I’m telling you about these men (whom you don’t believe receive revelation from God) named Noah and Moses, who were men like Muhammad, in this Scripture, go ask the Christians and Jews about them who received Scripture before you: (i.e. “Do you know these stories, did God drown Noah’s people and the Pharaoh because they denied God’s signs that came from these men, etc.”)
Now some might object and say the verse says “if you’re in doubt about what has been sent down” so it has to address Muhammad. The answer is not really, because there are many Quranic verses where God says He has sent the Qur’an down on the audience.
Even though this position is enough to refute the point, I’ll quote the other positions for learning purposes.
- This verse is referring to the Prophet to ask specific persons and not a general statement. Imam Tabari (rh) and Imam Suyuti (rh) held this position.
The evidence they quote for this position is that in other passages of the Qur’an, it states that there was someone who testified to it’s truth at the time of the Prophet (ﷺ):
“Tell them: “I am not something new among God’s Messengers, nor do I know what will be done with you or I. I only follow what’s revealed to me, ˹and˺ My duty is only to clearly warn you.” Ask them: “Have you thought about this? What if the Qur’an was from God, and you reject it, even though a witness from among the Children of Israel has already testified to something similar, and believed while you were too arrogant?” God doesn’t guide the people that do evil.”
“This is revelation coming gradually from the Lord of the realms. Which the trustworthy Spirit has brought down, onto your heart, so that you can be a warner, in clear Arabic speech. It is in the scrolls of the past. Isn’t it enough proof for them that the learned men of the Children of Israel have recognized it?”
Therefore, these verses are telling the Prophet to ask people like Abdullah ibn Salam (ra), Zaid bin Sanah (ra) or Salman Al Farsi (ra), etc., who were scholars of Judaism or Christianity before they became Muslim, about their splitting into sects, the truth of Islam and the Prophet. Further proof of this position can be established because it is agreed they are being referred to in these verses:
“However they are not all the same; there are some among the People of the Scripture who are upstanding, reciting God’s verses during the night hours and bowing in prayer. They believe in God and the Last Day, encourage what is right, stop what is wrong and hurry to do good. And they are in the ranks of the righteous. Whatever good they do will never be rejected from them. God knows full well those who are truly God fearing.”
Imam Tabari, commenting on this verse, says:
“God says to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that if you are in doubt about the truthfulness of what We told you in Revelations – that the children of Israel had not differed concerning your prophethood before you were sent by God as an Apostle to His people, for they found you prophesied in their scripture, and they knew you from the description of you given in the Torah and Gospel– you must confer with those who read the sacred book before you, that is, the people of the Torah and the people of the Gospel, such as Abdullah Ibn Salam and those who, like him, who were honest and had faith in you: do not ask those who are dishonest or are unbelievers.”
So if one holds to this position, the verse is referring to the righteous Companions of the Prophet who before they became Muslims were scholars of Judaism and Christianity. And this would be a means to strengthen his conviction like when Abraham asked God to show him how He brings the dead back to life. The verse is meant to be rhetorical like the verse:
“Ask the Messengers I sent before you if I’ve ever put as gods anyone other than the Most Merciful to be worshipped.”
Obviously God never placed other gods besides Him to be worshipped.
- Muslims are to ask the righteous Sahaba who were Christian and Jewish before becoming Muslims about the truth of Islam. (A minority position)
The third position is that the Muslims (being referred to in the indirect way) are to ask those like Abdullah ibn Salam(ra) and Salman al Farsi(ra) to the truth they’ve heard so far. This position has similar evidence as the above. The only add on is this is to strengthen their faith instead of the Prophet’s. Even though I believe position 1 is the strongest, the point is there is no scholar who favors the interpretation of asking Pastor Rick about Islam!
It has been demonstrated that all the verses quoted by missionaries are a clear distortion of the Quranic text and the interpretation posited by these missionaries can only be applied to these verses in isolation. Now because I know there will still be naysayers quoting random things they found online, in the next article God willing, we will explore what is the attitude of the Qur’an and early Muslims towards the previous Scriptures.
 Surah Al-Anaam, 6:115.
 Surah Al-Anaam, 6:73.
 Surah Yunus, 10:96-97.
 Surah Ghafir, 40:6.
 Surah Al-Isra, 17:16.
 Surah Ya-Sin, 36:7.
 Surah Yunus, 10:79-82.
 Surah Yunus, 10:63-64.
 Surah Al-Anaam, 6:115.
 Surah Al-Kahf, 18:27.
 Surah Al-Kahf, 18:22-29.
 Surah Al-Araf, 7:158.
 Surah Al-Araf, 7:148-154.
 Surah Al-Araf, 7:155-158.
 Surah Al-Maeda, 5:43.
 Surah Al-Maeda, 5:47.
 Surah Al-Maeda, 5:41-47.
 Surah Al-Anbiya, 21:7.
 Surah Al-Isra, 17:94-95.
 Surah Al-Furqan, 25:7-8.
 Surah Al-Anaam, 6:8-9.
This hadith on Surah Kahf’s revelation is weak however. It appears Ibn Kathir made a mistake as in Sahih Bukhari, the surah was revealed in Medina.
“Narrated `Abdullah: While I was going with the Prophet (ﷺ) through the ruins of Medina and he was reclining on a date-palm leaf stalk, some Jews passed by. Some of them said to the others: Ask him (the Prophet) about the spirit. Some of them said that they should not ask him that question as he might give a reply which would displease them. But some of them insisted on asking, and so one of them stood up and asked, “O Abul-Qasim ! What is the spirit?” The Prophet (ﷺ) remained quiet. I thought he was being inspired Divinely. So I stayed till that state of the Prophet (while being inspired) was over. The Prophet (ﷺ) then said, “And they ask you (O Muhammad) concerning the spirit –Say: The spirit — its knowledge is with my Lord. And of knowledge you (mankind) have been given only a little)” (17.85)” (https://sunnah.com/bukhari/3)
 Surah Al-Anbiya, 21:1-9.
 Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda goes more into this in his tafseer of Surah Anbiya (starts at 24:25):
 Surah Yunus, 10:94.
 Surah Yunus, 10:93-95.
 Surah Yunus, 10:94-95.
 Surah Yunus, 10:92.
 Surah Az-Sumar, 39:55; Surah At-Talaq, 65:5; Surah An-Nur, 24:34; Surah Al-Maeda, 5:59.
 Surah Al-Ahqaf, 46:9-10.
 Surah As-Shuara, 26:192-197.
 Surah Al-Imran, 3:113-115.
 For fear of length, I would invite listeners to go on Youtube and hear their stories.
 Surah Az-Zukhruf, 43:45.