One of the pillars of Islam is believing in the prophets before Muhammad (SAW) including Moses (AS) and Jesus (AS). Another pillar of Islam is believing in the books revealed by God including the Torah given to Moses (AS) and the Injil given to Jesus (AS).
This, however, leads to the question of whether Muslims believe in the Bible as it is today. How much of it do they believe? Is it truly from the prophets as it is claimed by the Jews and Christians to be?
The vast majority of Muslims believe the Bible today is corrupted and does not represent the original revelations of the Torah and Injil. This is based, first of all, on the lack of evidence to believe today’s Bible is authentic, and it is based on the fact that the Bible contradicts the Quran (which Muslims believe without doubt) in many issues.
There are many Christian apologists who object to this and claim that the Quran says the Torah and Injil are perfectly preserved. They then build on top of this to say the Quran has a contradiction within itself: it claims the Torah and Injil are perfectly preserved but then contradicts what they say in many matters.
This article will deal with the first claim Christians make: that the Quran says the Torah and Injil are perfectly preserved. The second claim (that the Quran contradicts the Torah and Injil on many matters) is already agreed upon by Muslims, and it is in fact one of the evidences the first claim is false.
Distrust of Sources Is the Default
First, know that sources are distrusted by default. If someone tells me a book is from God, I will not trust them until they provide evidence to prove it. If someone claims to be a prophet of God, I will not trust them until they provide evidence.
Some people try to flip this on its head when arguing against Muslims about the Bible. They try to say: Give your evidence the Bible is corrupted. Or they say: Which verse in the Quran says the Bible is corrupted?
In reality, the default is that we do not trust the Bible. I neither need evidence nor do I need a verse in the Quran for it. Until there is evidence given the Bible is from God, why should I trust it?
Those people might say: But, the Quran says the Bible is from God!
Then, I say: If you claim that, you need to prove it. The Quran tells us that he sent down the Torah and Injil to Moses and Jesus (AS) respectively, but it tells us nothing about where that Torah or Injil are in their correct forms.
To give an example, the Quran says Moses (AS) was a prophet of God. Imagine a man named Moses comes to me and says “Believe I am a prophet of God, since the Quran says Moses is a Prophet, and I am Moses.” The fallacy of this man is obvious. I don’t need to believe his claim until he provides evidence he is the Moses the Quran talks about or that he is a prophet of God.
The objectors might respond: The Quran says the current Torah and Gospel are uncorrupted.
Then, I say: Prove it.
1. Quran confirms the Torah and Injil
He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. (3:3)
Claim: The Quran says it confirms the Torah and Injil as they existed in its time, thus they must be perfectly preserved according to it.
The issue with this claim is its great overreach. The verse only says the Quran confirms the scripture, and the claimant reaches as far as to say the Quran confirms everything in the previous scripture without exception.
Where does the assumption that it confirms literally everything come from?
We believe the Quran confirms the general message of the previous scriptures in teaching monotheism, it confirms the prophethood of those mentioned in the previous scriptures, and confirms most of the stories. We don’t believe it confirms everything in the Bible as it is today. Rather, it corrects the mistakes in it.
The Quran itself agrees with our understanding of the word “confirming.” Allah says in another verse:
And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. (5:48)
A “criterion” or مُهَيْمِن is something that corrects the wrong and agrees with the right. If confirmation was meant as agreement with the entire thing as it exists today, it wouldn’t make sense for the Quran to be described as criterion over those scriptures.
To summarize, there is no strong evidence for someone to claim that “Quran confirms the previous scriptures” means it agrees with everything in the current books being accurate.
2. There is no changer to Allah’s words
And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge. (18:27)
Claim: The Quran says there is no changer to the words of Allah. The Quran also considers the Torah and Injil words of Allah. So, there can be no changer to the Torah and Injil. It is not possible for them to be corrupted.
The first issue with this claim is its grasping onto a specific interpretation of a verse while ignoring other possible explanations that work just as fine.
There are two main interpretations of “words” in this verse.
First: “Words” means promises. Meaning, there is no changer to the promises of Allah. They will come to pass for sure. This is supported by other verses of the Quran. Allah says:
And certainly were messengers denied before you, but they were patient over [the effects of] denial, and they were harmed until Our victory came to them. And there is no changer of His words. And there has certainly come to you some information about the [previous] messengers. (6:34)
In verse 6:34, Allah uses the exact same phrase, and it refers to the fact that his promised victory will come without doubt. There are also other verses where the exact same phrase is used in reference to the promise of Allah.
This is the stronger understanding of this verse. It simply assures the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that the promised victory of Allah will come true, and no one can change that.
Second: “Words” means the Quran. Meaning, there is no change possible to the Quran. It cannot be corrupted.
But, how is it possible for “words” to refer to the Quran and not refer to the Torah and Injil when all of them are the words of God?
To give an example, let us say I am at a school and say, “The teachers are in the meeting room.” Does this mean every teacher in the world is in that meeting room? Or does it only include the teachers of that school because of the context the statement was said in?
In the exact same way, when the context is “recite [O Muhammad] what has been revealed to you,” why do you find it difficult to believe “words” refers to the Quran rather than other things that could be words of Allah?
General statements can be limited by context, and it seems like the claimant does not understand this.
3. What they have of the Torah and Injil
Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel. […] (7:157)
Claim 1: The Quran says the People of the Book have the Torah and Injil. This means it must be preserved.
This is repelled by simply reading what the verse says clearly. It just says the mention of the Messenger is written in what they have of the Torah and Injil. It doesn’t say they have the full Torah and Injil anywhere.
Claim 2: The verse says the Torah and Injil mention Muhammad (SAW), and we do not find Muhammad mentioned in the Torah and Injil today.
When Allah says “written in the Torah and Injil,” that can be of multiple levels.
- The qualities of the prophets are written, and Muhammad (SAW) matches the criteria of being a prophet. This is similar to how Allah says in another verse, “they recognize him as they recognize their own sons” (2:146) because his character and signs are evident.
- There are prophecies written in them that refer to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) without his name.
- There is reference to him by name.
The first is undeniable in today’s books even if Christians try to dispute it, the second is something many Muslim apologists have argued over, and the third probably does not exist.
Some people try to take ahold of the third level to claim the Quran is mistaken. However, it is clear that nowhere in the verse is such a claim made explicitly. Allah doesn’t say the previous scriptures as they exist mention Muhammad (SAW) by name.
Others try to take ahold of the second level to claim the Quran is mistaken because none of their prophecies refer to Muhammad (SAW). This is a matter that is hotly contested. Unless they bring definitive evidence, a topic debated between Christians and Muslims and Jews will not particularly help decide whether the Quran is correct or wrong.
You will find similarly that the Christian Gospels claim Jesus’s crucifixion for the sins of humanity was prophesied in the Torah. Jews obviously disagree with that entirely. Would that be a good evidence against Christianity? Not really, because it is a debated matter that isn’t definitive enough to disprove a whole religion.
4. Let the people of the Injil judge by what Allah revealed in it
And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient. (5:47)
Claim: The Quran tells Christians to judge by the Injil. If the Injil didn’t exist undistorted, it would not be possible to judge by it. This shows that the Quran thinks the Injil exists undistorted.
The issue with this is overreach like the first claim.
Is this verse a command to people in the present? There is difference of opinion.
First: No, this is a command at the time of Jesus (AS). Look at the context. Allah says:
And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous.
And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient. (5:46-47)
The previous verse reveals that this verse is in the context of Jesus (AS)’s time. Basically, the verses say: We sent Jesus as a messenger, gave him the Injil, and commanded the people of the Injil to judge by what Allah revealed in it.
It doesn’t say anything about judging with the Injil in current times after the Quran has already been revealed.
Some people might object by saying there is no “we said” or “we commanded” to indicate this was a past command. Those people evidently don’t have much experience with the Quran as dropping the “say” when it is obvious from the context is a common literary choice in it for the sake of brevity.
This is by far the most correct opinion and most supported by the context.
Second: Yes, this is a command that applies right now.
Even if this opinion was adopted, it does not necessitate the Injil is uncorrupted for two reasons.
Firstly, a corrupted source is better than an entirely fabricated one. So, it is not impossible for God to command Christians to at least judge by the Injil if the alternative is human judgement.
Secondly, notwithstanding the first reason, the most a person could claim is that the laws of the Injil are intact since the verse is about judgement. Even if the laws were intact, that says nothing about theology or stories.
So, a command to judge by the Injil doesn’t particularly prove it is uncorrupted.
5. While they have the Torah in which is the judgement of Allah
But how is it that they come to you for judgement while they have the Torah, in which is the judgement of Allah? Then they turn away, [even] after that; but those are not [in fact] believers. (5:43)
Claim: The Quran says they have the Torah with the judgement of Allah in it. This means the Torah must be uncorrupted.
This portrays improper research.
Almost any exegesis of this verse would mention the context of this verse’s revelation. It was revealed when some Jews came to the Prophet (SAW) to judge a case because they wanted to use it as an excuse to leave the ruling in the Torah. It was a case of adultery, and they did not want to stone the culprits. Islam agrees with the ruling in the Torah as it often does.
That is why Allah criticizes them for trying to seek the Prophet’s judgement i.e. trying to see if they could get him to give a judgement they wanted instead of following the law of God they already knew and Islam confirmed.
To stretch from this and say the Torah is entirely uncorrupted is baseless.
And Allah knows best.