Refuting The Argument Regarding "Allah's Words Do Not Change"

By

Bassam Zawadi

 

Christian Argument

 

Surah 6:115 and 18:27 state that no one can change the words of Allah. The Torah and Gospel were the words of Allah. Since they couldn't have changed that means that Islam testifies to the incorruptibility of the text of the Bible.

 

My Response


Here are the verses in question:

Surah 6:115

The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfilment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all. S. 6:115

Surah 18:27

And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him. S. 18:27

It seems quite clear just from reading the context alone that what is meant by "none change His words" is that no one could stop Allah's promises from being fulfilled. Reading Surah 6:115 alone makes that very clear.

Imam Al Tabari in his commentary states:

} لا مُبَدّلَ لِكَلَماتِهِ } يقول: لا مغِّير لما أخبر في كتبه أنه كائن من وقوعه في حينه وأجله الذي أخبر الله أنه واقع فيه

"None can change His words", He is saying that there is no one who could change what He has informed in His books about anything which is bound to happen during it's time or has been postponed. It all happens as Allah says it would. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:115, Source)  

Imam Al-Qurtubi in his commentary states:

 وحكى الرّمّاني عن قتادة: لا مبدلّ لها فيما حكم به، أي إنه وإن أمكنه التغيير والتبديل في الألفاظ كما غيّر أهل الكتاب التوراةَ والإنجيل فإنه لا يعتدّ بذلك.

Al Ramaani narrated on the authority of Qataadah who said: There is no change in the judgment of God. Even if one were to change and substitute the words just as the people of the book did with the Torah and Gospel, God doesn't consider this. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:115, Source)  

This is a crucial point that is being made. Anyone could simply pick up a Qur'an and grab a pen and scribble out words and add his own, however that doesn't mean that one is refuting the idea that none can change the words of Allah. Rather, changing the words of Allah in the passage means that one cannot change what He has promised would occur.

One could easily change and distort texts by picking up a book and a pen, but they could not change the original true texts and revelations which is with Allah on al-Lawh al-Mahfudh (preserved tablet) since the speech of Allah is uncreated and no one can ever make it go lost completely. Removing the words from the books here on earth does not mean that God's words have become totally lost but lost here on earth only. 

Ibn Kathir says in his commentary of Surah 85, Verse 22:

(Nay! This is a Glorious Qur'an.) meaning, magnificent and noble.

(In Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz!) meaning, among the most high gathering, guarded from any increase, decrease, distortion, or change. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

 

Here we see that the Qur'an is also preserved in the Preserved Tablet from being corrupted and the same logic applies to the other revelations that God has sent.

 

In conclusion, these passages are not stating that the Torah and Gospel in the hands of the Jews and Christians today are not corrupt. Rather, these passages are stating that Allah's promises are always fulfilled and no one could change that.

Furthermore, corrupting the texts of holy books here on earth does not mean that one has succeeded in totally erasing off the existence of God's words since they are also preserved in the al-Lawh al-Mahfudh.

 

Appendix

 

 

Shamoun wrote a response here.

 

Shamoun said:

 

It is obvious that the Christian that Zawadi was replying to was actually me, since he quotes the very same texts which I raised in my article here.

 

Oh so Shamoun is the only Christian to put forth this argument then? So there is no one else (*,*,*,*) because Shamoun is so special, right?

 

Shamoun said:

 

Could it be that Zawadi was afraid to make this explicit since he didn't want to provide a link to my article which would serve to expose just how shallow his exegesis truly is?

 

 

How low can Shamoun get when he knows full well that I always link to his articles in my refutations to him? He's so desperate to attack me personally that he would resort to anything.

 

Shamoun said:

 

First, Zawadi's assertion in the last paragraph is interesting in that he is basically saying that the situation is the same for the Quran as it is for the Bible: God's original cannot be corrupted, but any book on earth can be changed. So, the Qur'an has no advantage over the Bible in that regard. That is quite an admission. Doesn't Zawadi's argument also nullify everything Muslims have always claimed, i.e. that the Qur'an is uniquely preserved because of the promise of Allah in the Qur'an?

 

I did not say that the Qur'an's situation is the same as the Bible in that it is possible for the Qur'an to be corrupted. I said that scribbling the ink off a book doesn't mean that one has erased and nullified the words of God completely out of existence, since the words are there in the Preserved Tablet. Allah on the other hand has made a promise that the Qur'an would be preserved for us (Surah 15:9). A unique claim not made for any other scripture.

 

Shamoun said:

Secondly, Zawadi makes it apparent that he doesn't comprehend what he reads since, if he did, he would have then seen how these explanations actually backfire against him and prove that the revealed books of God can never be changed. Notice, once again, the words of al-Tabari:

"None can change His words", He is saying that there is no one who could change what He has informed IN HIS BOOKS about anything which is bound to happen during it's time or has been postponed. It all happens as Allah says it would.

Doesn't Zawadi realize that if Tabari's explanation is correct then this proves that God's Books can never be changed?

Clearly it's Shamoun who doesn't comprehend what he reads. Here is what Al-Tabari said (with my own emphasis this time):

 

"None can change His words", He is saying that there is no one who could change what He has informed in His books about anything which is bound to happen during it's time or has been postponed. It all happens as Allah says it would. 

 

 

What is Al-Tabari saying here? Al-Tabari is saying that the promises and prophecies that Allah has made in His revelations could never be changed and they always as occur as He stated.

 

Shamoun's says:

 

Does he not see that the only way for anyone to know what God's promises are is if the Books that contained them remained uncorrupt? Can he not comprehend that if the texts of these Books have been changed then no one could know for certain whether the promises contained within them were actually made by God or lies which were falsely attributed to him?

 

What kind of argument is that? What does knowing what God's previous prophecies were have anything to do with the fact that Allah's prophecies are always fulfilled? Who says that we must know what these prophecies are? We know some of these prophecies (e.g. the coming of Prophet Muhammad) in the Qur'an and some we won't know since they aren't relevant to us (e.g. prophecies that have already been predicted and fulfilled before the revelation of the Qur'an that no longer concern us).

 

The message that this Qur'anic verse is trying to communicate to us is that things always happen the way God says that they would and no one could stop that from happening. This has absolutely nothing to do with preservation of previous revelations!

 

Shamoun said:

 

Since Zawadi was obviously too afraid to quote the comments of the Muslim scholars that disagreed with him we will post them here for all to see how some of Islam's greatest expositors interpreted these texts.

 

Let's see how Shamoun makes a fool of himself and how he should learn that only in his wildest dreams could he ever try to think of even acting like he knows Islamic sources better than I do.

 

Shamoun said:

For starters, notice how Ibn Kathir interpreted Q. 18:27:

The Command to recite the Qur'an and to patiently keep Company with the Believers

Commanding his Messenger to recite his Holy Book and convey it to mankind, Allah says,

 meaning, no one can alter them, distort them or misinterpret them. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, (Abridged) (Surat Al-Isra', verse 39 To the end of Surat Al-Mu'minun), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition, July 2000], Volume 6, p. 142, *; underline emphasis ours)

Isn't it ironic that Zawadi quoted what this scholar said in respect to Q. 85:21-22 but did not bother to mention what he wrote concerning one of the verses that Zawadi cited?

 We ask Shamoun why he didn't cite Ibn Katheer's interpretation on Surah 6:34:

 

(and none can alter the Words of Allah.) This refers to His decision that victory in this life and the Hereafter is for His believing servants. (Source)

 

We also ask Shamoun why he didn't inform his readers that Ibn Katheer in his commentary on Surah 15:9 only specified the Qur'an as being that revelation, which Allah is preserving on earth. We also ask Shamoun why he didn't inform his readers that Ibn Katheer clearly held the position that the Bible is corrupted, a position Shamoun knows fully well.

Ibn Kathir states in his commentary on Surah 5:15:

Now has come to you Our Messenger explaining to you much of that which you used to hide from the Scripture and passing over much.) So the Prophet explained where they altered, distorted, changed and lied about Allah. He also ignored much of what they changed, since it would not bring about any benefit if it was explained. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)  

Ibn Kathir also says:

(but a confirmation of that which was before it) in reference to the previously revealed Divine Books, by which this Qur'an testifies to the true parts that remain in them and denies and refutes the forged parts that were added, changed and falsified by people. The Qur'an accepts or abrogates whatever Allah wills of these Books, (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

Ibn Kathir also states the following regarding a certain aspect of the story of Adam in the Bible:

This story in the Old Testament is a falsification and deception. (Ibn Kathir, The Stories of the Prophets, Chapter on Prophet Adam, Source) 

 

Ibn Kathir also said:

 

I [Ibn Kathir] say: As for the Arabic Torah in their hands, no sane person doubts its alteration, textual corruption, change of stories and words, additions and obvious clear omissions. Glaring lies and extreme errors are so abundant in it. As regards what they recite with their tongues and write with their pens, we have no access to, but it is assumed they are dishonest liars who frequently invent forgeries against Allah, His Messengers and Books.

As for Christians, their four Gospels on authority of Marks, Luke, Matthew and John are much more divergent and different by addition and omission than the Torah. They disobeyed the rulings of the Torah and the Injil in so many things they legalized for themselves.
 (Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wa Al-Nihayah, Volume 2, pages 152-153)

 

 

All this and Shamoun had the utmost nerve to accuse me of not citing Ibn Kathir fully!

 

Shamoun said:

Moving along, the following commentary is attributed to Muhammad's first cousin, Ibn Abbas, considered to be one of Islam's greatest scholars:

(Perfected is the Word of thy Lord) the Qur'an, detailing the commands and prohibitions (in truth) in His speech (and justice) from Him.(There is naught that can change His words) the Qur'an; 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 Allah's religion. Allah's command is just and nothing will ever change His religion. (He is the Hearer) of their speech, (the Knower) of them and their works. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn 'Abbâs, Q. 6:115; bold and underline emphasis ours)

I have no idea how this commentary helps Shamoun, since it only specified the Qur'an as those whose words are not altered. I also wish to remind Shamoun that the commentary Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn 'Abbâs is not independently reliable (see here) and can only be cited if one has authentic narrations from Ibn Abbass confirming the point being made.

 

But let's assume that Ibn Abbass said this. This shows that Ibn Abbass understood this verse to be referring to the Qur'an (obviously in context with verse 114 right before it) only and not the previous revelations.

 

Shamoun then cites Al-Tabari:

And here is al-Tabari's explanation of the same verse:

The word of God meant in this verse is the Quran. This word is complete in truth and justice. Nothing can change Allah's word which he revealed in his BOOKS. The liars cannot add or delete from Allah's BOOKS. This is referring without a doubt to the Jews and Christians because they are the people of the books which were revealed to their prophets. Allah is revealing that the words they (the people of the book) are corrupting were not revealed by Allah, since Allah's word cannot be changed or substituted. (Tafsir al-Tabari, Q. 6:115; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Again, isn't it intriguing that Zawadi only quoted a part of al-Tabari's exegesis but failed to reference these comments of his, which expose Zawadi's feeble and shallow "rebuttal"?

 

Let's see whose response is feeble and shallow.

 

First of all, I already cited Al-Tabari's commentary on 6:115 and illustrated that Al-Tabari is referring to the promises that God makes in His revelations.

 

Secondly, let me cite Al-Tabari from 6:34:

 

} ولا مُبَدَّلَ لكَلِمَاتِ الله} ولا مغير لكلمات الله. وكلماته تعالى: { ما أنزل الله إلى نبيه محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم من وعده إياه النصر على من خالفه وضادّه، والظفر على من تولى عنه وأدبر

 

"and none can change His words". None can change the words of Allah. Allah's words are those which He sent down to His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) of which is His promise to him that he would attain victory over those who opposed him and grant triumph to those who pledged allegiance to him. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:34, Source)  

 

 

So again we see that Al-Tabari is speaking about the fact that none can alter God's ability to fulfill His promises.

 

Thirdly, we know that Al-Tabari did not believe that the Bible was a revelation from God as demonstrated here.

 

With all this in mind we now turn to Al-Tabari's commentary on 6:115, which Shamoun provides as below:

The word of God meant in this verse is the Quran. This word is complete in truth and justice. Nothing can change Allah's word which he revealed in his BOOKS. The liars cannot add or delete from Allah's BOOKS. This is referring without a doubt to the Jews and Christians because they are the people of the books which were revealed to their prophets. Allah is revealing that the words they (the people of the book) are corrupting were not revealed by Allah, since Allah's word cannot be changed or substituted. (Tafsir al-Tabari, Q. 6:115; bold and capital emphasis ours)

This would have to be the most deceptive cut and paste citation I have ever come across.

 

Shamoun's translation says:

 

Nothing can change Allah's word which he revealed in his BOOKS

 

But that is only the first part of the sentence! It's amazing that Shamoun accuses me of only quoting a part of Al-Tabari's commentary while he is only quoting a part of a sentence from Al-Tabari's commentary!

 

I have already provided the sentence in his complete form. Here it is again:

 

"None can change His words", He is saying that there is no one who could change what He has informed in His books about anything which is bound to happen during it's time or has been postponed. It all happens as Allah says it would. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:115, Source)  

 

Notice that Shamoun's translation leaves out the crucial part "about anything which is bound to happen during it's time or has been postponed. It all happens as Allah says it would.". It's obvious why Shamoun left this part out. He left it out because he knows that this demonstrates that Al-Tabari isn't speaking about the textual preservation of the previous revelations, but the infallibility in Allah's prophecies of future events that would occur.

 

As for Al-Tabari's statement "The liars cannot add or delete from Allah's BOOKS." Al-Tabari is not denying that textual corruption has occurred, since he goes on to say "Allah is revealing that the words they (the people of the book) are corrupting were not revealed by Allah, since Allah's word cannot be changed or substituted." Al-Tabari is claiming that the Jews and Christians corrupted their own books, but Al-Tabari is claiming that Allah is telling us that these corrupted words were not revealed by Him. Why? It's because no one could add to Allah's words or delete from Allah's words. Allah's words can only come from Allah and no one else. That is all that Al-Tabari is saying.

 

So much for Shamoun's appeal to Al-Tabari.

 

 

 

Recommended Reading

 

http://www.understanding-islam.com/articles/miscellaneous-issues/do-the-errors-in-the-bible-prove-that-the-qur-an-is-not-from-god-7

 

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