Refuting The Argument Regarding The Qur'an Being A Confirmation Of The Bible

by

Bassam Zawadi

 

First of all, we strongly recommend the readers to read the evidence that Islam teaches that the Christian and Jewish scriptures have been textually corrupted.

Christians often pose verses from the Qu'ran such as Surah 2:41 or Surah 4:41 that speak about the Qur'an confirming the previous scriptures and from that they conclude that the Qur'an is affirming the authenticity of these scriptures.

This issue has been addressed by brother Moiz Amjad...

It may be of interest to note that the phrase 'confirming the previous scriptures' (Arabic: "Musaddiqan limaa bayna yadaihe") has generally been used in the Qur'an as an evidence for the prophethood of Mohammed (pbuh), presented to the people of the book. However, it is obvious that merely the fact that the Qur'an confirms the divine origin of the previous scriptures is not a sufficient evidence of the prophethood of Mohammed (pbuh). In view of this fact, we are faced with the question that what exactly is the nature of the evidence for the prophethood of Mohammed (pbuh), given in the words: "confirming the previous scriptures"? Some of the commentators of the Qur'an have given an answer to this question. However, to fully understand the answer given by these commentators, it is important to note that the Qur'an has given three different kinds of evidences to prove the prophethood of Mohammad (pbuh) to its three different categories of addressees:

  1. The quality of the language and the content of the Qur'an are presented as an evidence for the Quraish and the other local Arab groups of the time of the Prophet (pbuh);

  2. The Qur'an being void of all human deficiencies -- like development and evolution in thought as well as in the presentation of that thought -- is presented as a general evidence of the Divine origin of the Qur'an; and

  3. Finally, for the Jews and the Christians of the time of the Prophet (pbuh) the Qur'an has evidenced the prophethood and the Divine origin of the Qur'an on the basis of the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) is a clear manifestation of the prophecies and predictions of the Bible regarding the final prophet.

Thus, the Qur'an has admonished the Jews and the Christians, of the time of the Prophet (pbuh), of the fact that because the Prophet (pbuh) has come according to the prophecies and predictions of their own books therefore, rejecting the Prophet (pbuh), under these circumstances, would imply rejecting their own books.

It is in this background that these commentators have interpreted the verses entailing the referred phrase. For instance, Al-Raazi, in his commentary "Al-Tafseer al-Kabeer", while explaining the referred phrase in Al-Baqarah 2: 41, writes:

There are prophecies regarding the Mohammed (pbuh) as well as the Qur'an in the Torah and the Gospel. Thus, belief in [the prophethood of] Mohammed (pbuh) and in the Qur'an, in effect, confirms belief in the Torah and the Gospel....

Ibn Katheer, in his commentary "Tafseer Ibn Katheer", explaining the referred phrase, in Al-Baqarah 2: 41 writes:

Abu Al-`aaliyah has said that in the phrase "believe in that (The Qur'an) which I have revealed, which confirms that which lies with you (The Torah) ", God says: 'O People of the Book, believe in that which I have revealed now, which confirms that which existed with you', [the Qur'an confirms the Torah and the Gospel] because of the prophecies regarding Mohammed (pbuh), which they [i.e. the people of the book] found written in the Torah and the Gospel. The same opinion is also ascribed to Mujahid, Al-Rabiy` and Qatadah.

Thus, if seen in the correct perspective, the phrase actually implies that because the Torah and the Gospel entailed prophecies of the coming of the Prophet (pbuh) and the revelation of the Qur'an, the Prophet (pbuh) and the Qur'an have, in effect, "confirmed" these prophecies of the Torah and the Gospel. It is obvious that the word "confirmation", in this connotation is by no means contradictory to "substitution" or "abrogation". (Moiz Amjad, Source)

 

He also says elsewhere in another article...

Hamiduddin Al-Farahi, while explaining the connotation of the phrase "Musaddiqan Limaa baeyna Yadaihi" writes:

It should be known that the word: "saddaqahu" (He confirmed it/him) has two meanings: Firstly, 'to testify or to witness the truthfulness of a person or a saying'; and secondly, 'to make him/it truthful in its/his expectations or trust'. A Hamaasiy poet says:

I lay down my life and all my possessions for the horsemen who proved all my expectations about them to be true.

The Qur'an says: "And indeed Iblis proved his expectations about them to be true".

Keeping the above explanation in mind, when you consider the context of the verses of the Qur'an in which this phrase has been used, you shall note that the phrase has been used in the second of the two stated implications. Because the Torah had informed about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Qur'an, therefore their (the Prophet's and the Qur'an's) appearance proved the information given by the Torah to be true. Thus, now if the People of the Book reject the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Qur'an, it would actually be a rejection of their own books. This implication [of the referred phrase] is also obvious from the fact that Mohammed and Jesus (peace be upon him) presented it as evidence of their prophethood. Had the phrase implied mere testimony of the truthfulness of the Torah, what sort of evidence would it then have entailed for their prophethood?

If someone says to you today: "I believe in the prophets of old and I am a prophet like them", would you hold his belief in the previous prophets as evidence of his prophethood? As far as the context of the occurrence of this phrase is concerned, consider [for example, Al-Baqarah 2: 101] where God says: "And when there came to them a messenger of God, confirming [the prophesies of] what they already had to be true, a group from among those who were given the book, threw their books behind their backs [by not believing in the Prophet, who had come as a manifestation of the prophesies of their books], as if [it was something] they did not know." It implies that when Mohammed (peace be upon him) came according to what was written in their books, they turned their backs upon their books and rejected him, as if they knew him not. And immediately before this verse, the Qur'an had said: "Would it be that whenever they make a covenant, a group among them would cast it aside. In fact most of the are devoid of all faith." Thus, the Qur'an has said that after one of your groups had promised to believe in the Prophet (peace be upon him), how can you cast this promise aside and reject him. You are but faithless people. The Qur'an has mentioned this promise of the People of the Book in Surah Aal Imraan, which relates to believing in a prophet, which has been described with the qualities of Mohammed (peace be upon him). (Moiz Amjad, Source)

 

Thus we can see that the Qu'ran confirming the previous scriptures most reasonably indicates that the Qur'an is testifying to the truth of the previous revelations that spoke about the coming of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. 

Ibn Kathir stresses this in his commentary on Surah 3:3 (Source)

Imam Al Tabari stresses this in his commentary on Surah 2:101 (Source)

Imam Al Qurtubi stresses this in his commentary on Surah 46:12 (Source)

Muqaatil bin Sulaiman stresses this in his commentary on Surah 2:101 (Source)

 

Some have argued back that verses such as Surah 2:91 stress that the Qur'an is confirming the scriptures that is in the possession of the Christians and Jews at the time of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and not simply the original revelations that God sent down in the past. However, Imam az-Zamakhshari clarifies...

 

The Qur'an claims to be a confirmation, protector and touchstone of the Truth contained in the Torah and Gospel. (Az-Zamakhshari, op. cit., vol.2, p.575, cited here)

 

Notice how az-Zamakhshari states that one of the purposes of the Qur'an is to confirm and protect the Truth contained in the Torah and Gospel. Now, if Zamakhshari believed that the Torah and the Gospel were pure and uncorrupted, he would have simply stated that the Qur'an confirms the entire Torah and Gospel in the possession of the Christians and Jews. However, he wanted to clarify what is meant by the Quran's confirmation and that is that it confirms the truth in the Torah and Gospel, which indicates that the Torah and Gospel contain falsehood. Thus, az-Zamakhshari makes it clear that he believes that the Torah and Gospels were textually distorted.   

 

Ibn Kathir also reaffirms this position...

(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 quotes well known Qur'anic commentator Ibn Jarir Al Tabari as saying...

 

Ibn Jarir said, "The Qur'an is trustworthy over the Books that preceded it. Therefore, whatever in these previous Books conforms to the Qur'an is true, and whatever disagrees with the Qur'an is false.'' (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source, You can also see Al Tabari saying this himself in his commentary on Surah 2:41)


Imam al-Tabari relates from the eminent Jurist Ibn Juraij (80-150 AH/699-767 CE) that if the people of the book quote something from their Bible that disagrees with the Qur'an then we reject it but if it agrees with the Qur'an then we accept it. (Source) Imam al-Bahgawi also quotes the opinion of Ibn Juraij in his commentary. (Tafsir Al Baghawi, 1/65) Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi (d. 373 A.H.), the well known Hanafi scholar in his commentary of the Qur'an known as Bahr al-'Ulum on Surah 5, verse 48 says that the Qur'an acts as a judge over the previous scriptures. This indicates that the Qur'an judges whether something is true or false. (Source)

The Qur'an is the protector of the Gospel and Torah. But which Gospel and Torah? It is the original revelations sent to Jesus and Moses (peace be upon them both) and whatever of it survives today (e.g. prophecies of Muhammad peace be upon him to come) in the scriptures of the Christians and Jews today.

Thus, Christian missionaries who like to misinterpret what the verses are actually saying would need to do better and provide objective evidence that the verses they are posing do intend to communicate what they claim it is. If they cannot, then we must harmonize these verses with the Islamic teachings that make it clear that the previous scriptures have been textually corrupted.

 

 

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