Refuting the Argument That The Prophet Claimed That The Corrupted Torah Was Revealed From God

 

By

 

Bassam Zawadi

 

 

Acknowledgement: Many thanks to brothers Moumen and Ayman bin Khaled for their assistance in writing this article

 

 

Christian Argument # 1:

 

The hadith from Sunan Abu Dawud Book 38, Number 4434 shows that Muhammad respected the Torah and thus acknowledged its sanctity. This shows that Muhammad believed that the Torah at his time was not textually corrupted.

 

 

My Response to Argument # 1:

 

Following is the hadith in question:

 

Sunan Abu Dawud

 

Book 38, Number 4434

 

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:

A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school.

They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.

He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi' (No. 4431).

 

 

My response will be divided into three sections...

 

1) Is the narration authentic?

2) If it is will it prove the argument of the missionaries?

3) Conclusion

 

 

Is the narration authentic?

 

This report is considered weak because one of its reporters is Hisham ibn Sa'd whose narratives are disturbed and corrupted according to many hadith critics like Ibn Hanbal, Ibn Ma'een, Abu Hatem, al-Nisa'ee, Ibn Sa'd, Ibn 'Adii, al-Madini, al-Hakim, al-'Aqili, Ibn Habban and others.

This is the reason why Ibn Hazm notes:

 

 

As for the report in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) took the Torah and said: "I believe in thee", it is a fabricated false report that did not reach us with proper chain of transmission (Ibn Hazm, Al-Fisal fe al-Milal wa al-Ahwaa wa al-Nihal, Volume 1, p. 237)

 


It is also worthy to note that this particular hadith has been reported through multiple chains of transmission; however, no one has ever mentioned the incident of the Prophet (saws) praising the Torah except in the report of Hisham ibn Sa'd from Zaid ibn Aslam.

 

 

If it is will it prove the argument of the missionaries?

 

 

Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani said...

 

 

And so, some used this hadith as an indication to show that the Torah that the Jews presented, at that time, to the prophet was all sound and correct and not being altered. However, this argument is far from correctness because even saying: ((I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.) cannot be used as this saying refers to the original Torah (which was revelaed to Moses) [Fathul Bari, Section of rulings of Ahlul dhimma]



As a result, even if we assume the Hadith classification is authentic (depending on some scholars such as Sheikh Al Albani who credited Hisham bin Sa'd although I still believe that the majority of the hadith scholars have spoken against him and thus their case is stronger) the saying of believing in the Torah and who revealed it does not mean that the Prophet peace be upon him was referring to what the Jews presented at all. The Prophet peace be upon him was referring to the original book (Torah) itself. It does not follow that the whole of the text of the Bible is being endorsed. The Prophet peace be upon him specifically followed this particular ruling without generalization i.e., he did not intend to follow all the rulings of the Torah, but only the judgment on stoning in that particular incident when the Jews approached him requesting for a judgment to punish the adulterers. So, while this tradition leaves no doubt that the passage in the Torah that prescribes the stoning of adulterers is authentic, it cannot be used to prove the authenticity of other passages. The additional sentence would only refer to the origin and the core of the Torah, not its textual status, as Imam Ibn Hajar has noted.

 

Conclusion

 

We may summarize the above as...

 

1) The Hadith has been narrated, as was explained above, from other authentic chains of transmission. However, the authentic narrations do not have the part ((I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.)



2) The hadith which has this addition has been collected in Sunan Abu Dawud from the following chain of narrators: Ahmad Bin sa'ed Al-Hamadni - Ibn Wahb - Hisham Bin Sa'd - Zaid Bin Aslam - Ibn Umar.

3) This Hadith's classification differed because scholars of Hadith disagreed on Hisham Bin Sa'd. Therefore, the hadith is not reliable to use as evidence for there is doubt in regards to one of its narrators.

 

4) Even if the hadith was authentic it does not prove the claims of the missionary.

 

 

Christian Argument # 2:

 

Muhammad is reported to have said that he believed in the Torah in the possession of the Jews at his time.

 

Rafi b. Haritha and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila came to him [Muhammad] and said: 'Do you not allege that you follow the religion of Abraham and believe in the Torah which we have and testify that it is the truth from God?' He replied, 'certainly, but you have sinned and broken the covenant contained therein and concealed what you were ordered to make plain to men, and I dissociate myself from your sin.' They said, 'We hold by what we have. We live according to the guidance and the truth and we do not believe in you and we will not follow you.' So God sent down concerning them: 'Say, O Scripture folk, you have no standing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been sent down from your Lord. What has been sent down to thee from they Lord will assuredly increase many of them in error and unbelief. But be not sad because of the unbelieving people.' (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], p. 268)

 

This shows that Muhammad believed that the Jews of his time had the textually uncorrupted Torah.

 

My Response to Argument # 2:

 

This problem arises because Alfred Guillaume did not translate a very crucial word properly. Below is the Arabic text of the story and the proper translation...

 

 

, : , , , , : , , " ,   , , ! " : ,   ,

 

 

Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him and Rafi b. Haritha, and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila and they (the Jews) said to them: O Muhammad, do you not allege that you follow the way of Abraham and his religion, and believe in what we have from the Torah and testify that it is the truth from Allah? The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him replied: Yes, however you have innovated and broken the covenant contained therein and concealed what you were ordered to make clear to people, and I dissociate myself from your innovations. They said, 'We hold by what we have. We live according to the guidance and the truth and we do not believe in you and we will not follow you.'

 

If this story does anything now, it only serves as evidence that the Jews have corrupted their scriptures. Notice how the crucial words "innovated" and "innovations" were not properly translated by Alfred Guillaume. He simply translated the words as "sinned" and "sins".

The fact that the Prophet (peace be upon him) accused the Jews of innovating shows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) accused them of adding to the religion things that did not belong there.

Now the Christian might reply back and say that it is possible that Muhammad peace be upon him intended to mean that the Jews innovated by adding their false interpretations. With all honesty, I will admit that this is true. However, the Christian must also be honest and equally admit that it is possible that the Prophet peace be upon him intended to say that the Jews innovated by adding false verses into the text of the Torah.

Just by examining this narration alone, we can't know what the Prophet's intention was. The story is ambiguous when examined alone. Since it is ambiguous Christians have no right to use this story as a proof that the Prophet peace be upon him affirmed the textual purity of the Torah since the story allows for the possibility that the Prophet intended to say that the Jews textually corrupted their scriptures.

So the possible interpretation of the story is that when the Jews asked the Prophet if he believed that what they have in the Torah is the truth from God he said "Yes" because he believed that there was truth in it, however the Jews added their innovations to it.

As long as this interpretation is possible, Christians can't use this narration as evidence.

What we must do is look at other Islamic sources to assure ourselves that Islam does teach that the Jews corrupted their Torah. (See here)

 

Sam Shamoun replied back to this article and I replied back here.

 

 

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