Rebuttal to TurretinFan's Article "Mohamed Did Not Believe that the Old Testament was Corrupt"

 

By

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

TurretinFan's article could be located here.

 

 

TurretinFan said:

 

Today, many Islamic apologists like to claim that the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is corrupt. They feel the need to claim this, because they are aware of the fact that the Bible is inconsistent with Islam.

 

My Response:

 

That is not true. We claim this because all of our major sources of Islamic authority say so as I have documented over here http://www.call-to-monotheism.com/evidence_that_islam_teaches_that_there_was_textual_corruption_of_the_christian_and_jewish_scriptures

 

TurretinFan said:

 

Surah 62:5 The similitude of those who were charged with the (obligations of the) Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is that of a donkey which carries huge tomes (but understands them not). Evil is the similitude of people who falsify the Signs of Allah: and Allah guides not people who do wrong.

Notice that the Surah compares the Jews to Donkeys carrying "huge tomes" that they do not understand. Notice that the Surah alleges that the Jews "falsify the Signs of Allah," but the most natural reading of the Surah (at least in this translation) is that they falsify not through destroying the text, but through misunderstanding or misinterpreting the text.

Notice that is says "huge tomes" not "no tomes" or "tattered tomes."

And, in another translation, we see the same concept:

62.5 The likeness of those who were charged with the Taurat, then they did not observe it, is as the likeness of the ass bearing books, evil is the likeness of the people who reject the communications of Allah; and Allah does not guide the unjust people.



Notice how the text parallels "books" and "communications of Allah."

 

My Response:

 

We are not quite sure why TurretinFan brought up this verse. He only argues:

 

but the most natural reading of the Surah (at least in this translation) is that they falsify not through destroying the text, but through misunderstanding or misinterpreting the text.

 

However, this is not evidence that the Qur'an doesn't teach that the Torah has been textually corrupted. This would only prove that this verse in specific does not teach this.

 

Let us educate TurretinFan a little bit more on this issue.

 

Muslims believe that the Gospel and Torah have been corrupted in more than one way. We believe that they were not only corrupted textually, but hermeneutically as well.

 

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi clarifies: 

  { يُحَرّفُونَ ٱلْكَلِمَ عَن مَّوٰضِعِهِ } معناه: أنهم يذكرون التأويلات الفاسدة لتلك النصوص، وليس فيه بيان أنهم يخرجون تلك اللفظة من الكتاب. وأما الآية المذكورة في سورة المائدة، فهي دالة على أنهم جمعوا بين الأمرين، فكانوا يذكرون التأويلات الفاسدة، وكانوا يخرجون اللفظ أيضا من الكتاب، فقوله: { يُحَرّفُونَ ٱلْكَلِمَ } إشارة إلى التأويل الباطل وقوله: { مِن بَعْدِ مَوٰضِعِهِ } إشارة إلى إخراجه عن الكتاب

In regards to Allah's statement "They pervert the words from their proper places" (Surah 4:46), it means that they mention the corrupted interpretations for those verses, and there is no proof that they take the actual statements out of the book.

 

And as for the verse in Surah 5:41, this is evidence that they have combined between the two (textual corruption and misinterpreting the text), they used to mention their corrupted interpretations, and they also used to remove the statements from the book. Allah's statement "They pervert words" indicates misinterpreting the text and Allah's statement "after their being put in their right places" indicates that the statements were removed from the book. (Fakhar ad-Din ar-Razi, Tafsir Al Kabir, Commentary on Surah 4:46, Source)

 

Here Imam Razi clarifies that some verses of the Qur'an speak about the hermeneutical corruption of the previous scriptures and not textual corruption of the previous scriptures. While some other verses speak about the textual corruption of the previous scriptures without mentioning the hermeneutical corruption of the previous scriptures.

 

What TurretinFan is doing is appealing to verses that only speak about the hermeneutical corruption and tries to give his readers the false impression that this is the only kind of corruption that the Qur'an alludes to.

 

TurretinFan said:

 

Notice also that in this translation they are described as rejecting them - presumably because like donkeys they don't understand what is in them - perhaps simply because "Allah does not guide" them.

 

My Response:

 

Allah only misguides those who are worthy of being misguided. See here.

 

TurretinFan said:

 

And it is not the only place in the Koran that such an idea can be found. Recall that it is recorded:

[2.285] The apostle believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in Allah and His angels and His books and His apostles; We make no difference between any of His apostles; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course.



And in another translation:

Surah 2:285 The Apostle believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His apostles. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles." And they say: "We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys."



Notice that it is says "books," not "book." What's even more interesting is that we are told that the Surahs were themselves orally proclaimed at first - which would suggest that the "books" do not even include the Koran. There is no need, however, to go that far. The fact that the plural form is used is enough to establish the fact that Mohamed did not hold to the idea that the books were corrupted, for if they were corrupted why would he teach that he believes in them?

 

My Response:

 

The essential question that TurretinFan is asking is:

 

for if they were corrupted why would he teach that he believes in them?

 

The author's line of argument is as follows:

 

Premise 1: In order for the Muslim to believe in the previous books that Allah revealed, these books must be present with us today in an uncorrupted manuscript form.

 

Premise 2: The Muslim must obey the injunction of Surah 2:285, which requires him to believe in the books that Allah has revealed.

 

Conclusion: The Muslim must believe that the previous scriptures are with us today in an uncorrupted manuscript form.

 

The logical flow of this argument is valid; however it could be proven false if one of the premises is shown to be false. I have no problem with premise 2, but I sure do have a problem with premise 1.

 

Let us read what Surah 2:285 says again:

 

The Apostle believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in God, His angels, His books, and His apostles. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles." And they say: "We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys."

 

Notice that the verse says that we must believe in

 

1)      Allah

2)      His Angels

3)      His Books

4)      His Apostles

 

My question to everyone is: do we say that we can see the angels around us? The answer is no.

 

Another question to everyone is: are all the previous apostles alive with us today? The answer is no.

 

Now the angels and apostles are not alive with us today and we can't see them, yet we are still to believe in them. Is that possible? Well I don't see why not. I believe in God's angels by believing that they exist. Similarly, I believe in Allah's apostles by believing and acknowledging that whoever He declared to be His apostle in the past is indeed His apostle.

 

Similarly, I believe in Allah's books by acknowledging and believing that there were indeed revelations sent to the Messengers in the past (Surah 2:136-137). I believe in Allah's books by believing that there was a true Gospel and true Torah sent to Prophets Jesus and Moses (peace be upon them both) respectively. It is not necessary for these two books to be in my presence in order for me to believe in them, any more than it is necessary for the previous apostles who have all died to be in my presence in order for me to believe in them.

 

There is a second potential response to this argument. That response is that all the true revelations of God are preserved in their uncorrupted forms in The Preserved Tablet, for Allah has written all things in The Preserved Tablet. (See Ibn Kathir's commentary on Surah 85:22 and Surah 3:78) Hence, Muslims believe in the uncorrupted previous scriptures safeguarded in The Preserved Tablet.

 

 

Thus, we have seen that Premise 2 is not necessarily true. Since Premise 2 is not necessarily true then this weakens the entire argument. In conclusion, this argument fails.

 

 

TurretinFan said:

 

And we need not rest on only those two places, for there is at least one more:

[20.133] And they say: Why does he not bring to us a sign from his Lord? Has not there come to them a clear evidence of what is in the previous books?



And again, in another translation:

Surah 20:133 They say: "Why does he not bring us a sign from his Lord?" Has not a Clear Sign come to them of all that was in the former Books of revelation?



Note how Mohamed here actually states that there is "clear evidence" or a "clear sign" as to what the content of the "former books" or "previous books." These are not books hopelessly lost in obscurity in the mind of the author of this Surah.

 

My Response:

 

Because the author does not know Arabic and has to rely on English translations, he would definitely be vulnerable to these kinds of mistakes. The verse in Arabic does not say that the content of the previous books are clear signs. It is saying that there is a clear sign for Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) prophethood in the previous scriptures (i.e. namely its prophesizing of him).

 

Thus, this doesn't prove that the entire content of the previous books are uncorrupted. It only shows that it contains some truth. For more on this issue please go here.

 

TurretinFan said:

 

If you are a Muslim, doesn't this sort of thing cause you a bit of concern? Aren't you bothered by the fact that your prophet accepted the books and "believed in them," while you must not?

 

My Response:

 

The only thing that concerns me is how you missionaries continue to grossly distort our scriptures. We kindly ask you to please stop and to start learning from the experts.

 

Appendix

 

TurretinFan responded to my rebuttal over here.

 

TurretinFan states:

 

Second, while other sources of Islamic authority do say so, our assertion as that these sources say so because it was discovered that the Bible does not agree with the Koran.

 

Wow, isn't that amazing? TurretinFan has basically admitted that Islamic religious sources of authority do teach that the Bible is corrupted, but claims that it was due to the Muslims discovering that the Bible does not agree with the Qur'an. It appears that TurretinFan is confusing two issues 1) The issue of whether the Islamic claim that the Bible is corrupt is true and 2) The issue of whether Islam makes the claim that the Bible is corrupt. We are debating issue no. 2 here and not issue no. 1 and TurretinFan has basically conceded his loss.

 

TurretinFan states:

 

Surah 62:5 uses the analogy of a donkey carrying huge books. In this simile, the donkey has the books, but doesn't understand them. The argument we hear from some Muslims today is that, in essence, we don't even have the books. Those are conflicting claims.

 

Yes, but Muslims believe that there exist some truth in the Bible so why isn't it possible that the Qur'an is referring to the Jews not being able to benefit from what is true in their books?

 

TurretinFan then says:

 

Corruption via hermeneutic is corruption via misinterpretation. You cannot misinterpret a text that you don't have. Since I don't believe Mohamed was a prophet of God, I don't have a problem with the idea that Mohamed might have taught two contradictory things. Surely, however, Zawadi does not think that Mohamed contradicted himself. What Zawadi would seem to need to explain is this. How can Jews and Christians misinterpret books that don't exist?

 

Turretin Fan continues to attack strawman, for Muslims don't believe that the entire Bible is corrupted, but contains some truth and we believe that those truthful verses are misinterpreted.

 

Turretin Fan said:

 

But I think a reasonable person will agree that the verse in question is not merely stating that Mohamed ("the Apostle") believed that God, the angels, books, and apostles existed. Instead, it is saying that Mohamed believed what God, the angels, the books, and the apostles said.

 

TurretinFan said "it is saying that Mohamed believed what God, the angels, the books, and the apostles said", but where does the Qur'an say that? The Qur'an says:

 

The Apostle believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in God, His angels, His books, and His apostles. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles."

 

Notice that the Qur'an says there must be belief in "what hath been revealed to him from his Lord". This is part is specifically speaking about the Qur'an since it says "to him" and "him" is Muhammad (peace be upon him). Hence, here we would agree with TurretinFan that the Qur'an is possibly and most likely saying that we must believe in the content of the Qur'an. However, the Qur'an goes on to say "believeth in God, His angels, His books, and His apostles". Notice that it only says "His books". This could be interpreted in various ways: 1) Belief in the existence of these books 2) Belief in the content of these books 3) Belief that whatever these books might have said are revealed from Allah.

 

TurretinFan insists on interpretation no. 2, but on what basis? He says that it is "reasonable", but "reasonable" according to whom? This is subjective reasoning and not a very sound way of exegesis. The Qur'an says that we must believe in the revelations sent to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and Jacob's children (Surah 2:136), yet the author of the Qur'an clearly knew that all these books weren't available during the time of the revealing of this verse. This makes it clear that the author's intention is not to command believers to believe in the content of these books. If it was then we would have observed narrations from the Prophet's companions asking the Prophet (peace be upon him) how to believe in the content of such unavailable books, yet we don't observe that, which suggests that this is not what they understood the verse to be saying.

 

TurretinFan says:

 

Zawadi's belief then is not in "what has been revealed to him," but in what has not been revealed to him - a reversal of the verse.

 

Yeah but "what has been revealed to him," in the verse is specifically speaking about the Qu'ran and you have no evidence to interpret the verse as saying that we must believe in the other books in the exact way we are able to believe in the Qur'an. Furthermore, we are able to believe in some content of the Bible because the Qur'an confirms what is true and false from the Bible, hence we believe in what is true.

 

TurretinFan said:

 

In order for anyone to believe the books that Allah gave, one must know what they say. If someone claims to believe that Mohamed is a prophet, but imagines that Mohamed taught that men should eat pork as often as possible, we would all agree (I think) that the person does not believe what Mohamed taught or follow the teachings of Mohamed.

 

Notice how TurretinFan said: "believe the books" which necessarily requires one to know the content of the books instead of saying "believe IN the books", which doesn't.

 

TurretinFan said:

 

How is it helpful to my point? Even if the point of the verse is to say that these people who are asking for a sign of Mohamed's prophethood already have the sign in the previous books, it demonstrates that they had those previous books that include the sign. The value of appealing to a supposed sign in the previous books is that those books are trustworthy. If the books were not trustworthy, what good is their testimony for Mohamed's prophethood?

 

No it does not demonstrate that they have the previous books that contain the sign. The verse only says that they have the sign. Hence, the sign could still exist in their corrupted book, since we believe some truth still exists in the Bible.

 

In conclusion, TurretinFan has not proven his case.

 

 

 

 

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