Refuting The Argument That Surah 2 Verse 121 Affirms That The Bible Was Not Textually Corrupted

 

By

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

 

 

Christian Argument

 

The Qur'an says in Surah 2, verse 121 that there were Jews and Christians at the time of Muhammad who were reciting their scriptures correctly. This proves that the correct text of the Christian and Jewish scriptures existed at the time of Muhammad.

 

 

My Response

 

Here is the verse in question...

 

 

Surah 2:121

 

They to whom we have given the Book, and who read it as it ought to be read, - these believe therein: but whoso believeth not therein, shall meet with perdition.

 

 

Imam Tabari reports that Ibn Abbas said regarding the part of the verse "read it as it ought to be read"...

 

 

 

 

They follow it the way it should be followed. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an,  Commentary on Surah 2:121, Source)

 

 

Imam Tabari explains this himself by saying...

 

 

                                                                                  

 

This is stressing the characteristic of those who follow the Book and abide by it. 

 

 

, , , ,

, ,

 

 

They follow my book that I have sent down to My messenger Moses (may the praises of Allah be upon him), they believe in them, and they recognize what is in it from your traits and characteristics (speaking to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him). That they believe you're My messenger and that it is compulsory on them to obey Me by having faith in you and that they believe in that which you have brought to them from Me, and they work by what has been made permissible for them and stay away from what has been made forbidden for them. (Ibid.)

 

 

Ibn Kathir says in his commentary...

 

 

Abu Al-`Aliyah said that Ibn Mas`ud said, "By He in Whose Hand is my soul! The right Tilawah is allowing what it makes lawful, prohibiting what it makes unlawful, reciting it as it was revealed by Allah, not changing the words from their places, and not interpreting it with other than its actual interpretation.'' As-Suddi reported from Abu Malik from Ibn `Abbas who said about this Ayah (2:121): "They make lawful what it allows and they prohibit what it makes unlawful, and they do not alter its wordings.'' `Umar bin Al-Khattab said, "They are those who when they recite an Ayah that mentions mercy, they ask Allah for it, and when they recite an Ayah that mentions torment, they seek refuge with Allah from it.'' This meaning was attributed to the Prophet , for when he used to recite an Ayah of mercy, he invoked Allah for mercy, and when he recited an Ayah of torment, he sought refuge from it with Allah.

Allah's statement,

[ ]

(they are the ones who believe therein)

explains the Ayah,

[ ]

 

 

(Those to whom We gave the Book. Yatlunahu Haqqa Tilawatihi).

These Ayat mean, "Those among the People of the Book who perfectly adhered to the Books that were revealed to the previous Prophets, will believe in what I have sent you with, O Muhammad!'' Allah said in another Ayah,

[ ]

(And if only they had acted according to the Tawrah, the Injil, and what has (now) been sent down to them from their Lord (the Qur'an), they would surely, have gotten provision from above them and from underneath their feet.) (5:66). The Ayah,

[ ]

(Say (O Muhammad ) "O People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! You have nothing (as regards guidance) till you act according to the Tawrah, the Injil, and what has (now) been sent down to you from your Lord (the Qur'an).'') means, "If you adhere to the Torah and the Gospel in the correct manner, believe in them as you should, and believe in the news they carry about Muhammad's prophethood, his description and the command to follow, aid and support him, then this will direct you to adhere to truth and righteousness in this life and the Hereafter.'' In another Ayah, Allah said,

[ ]

(Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write (i.e. Muhammad ) whom they find written with them in the Tawrah and the Injil.) (7:157) and,

[ - ]

(Say (O Muhammad to them): "Believe in it (the Qur'an) or do not believe (in it). Verily, those who were given knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration. And they say: "Glory be to our Lord! Truly, the promise of our Lord must be fulfilled.'') (17:107-108). (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

 

 

 

Imam Tabari quotes Ibn Zayd who says regarding the part of the verse "these believe therein"...

 

 

, , , : { }                                            

 

 

Who believed in the Messenger peace be upon him from Bani Israel, and in the Torah, and the disbeliever in Muhammad peace be upon him is the disbeliever that is the loser, just as Allah says "but whoso believeth not therein, shall meet with perdition."

 

 

 

 

Someone might argue that Abdullah ibn Mas'ud said...

 

 

reciting it as it was revealed by Allah,

 

 

However, what Abdullah ibn Mas'ud is trying to say here is that this means that one recites it with the correct interpretation and intended meaning of the verses. It's clear that he is trying to say this since he goes on to say...

 

 

not changing the words from their places, and not interpreting it with other than its actual interpretation.

 

So Abdullah ibn Mas'ud is not trying to say that the Jews and Christians are actually reciting the correct text of the scripture (even if he was, Muslims still believe that some correct text still exists in the Bible today) but that they recite it the way it should be with the correct meaning.

 

It seems pretty clear right now what the verse is trying to commune. It is saying that those who recite the Book the correct way are those who follow its commands and teachings the way God has revealed them (e.g. correctly understanding that the prophecies in the scriptures are pointing to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him). This is the correct way to understand this verse in light of the evidence that clearly shows that Islam teaches the idea that the Jews and Christians textually corrupted their scriptures (see here)

 

 

 

 

 

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