Bible Characters in the Qur'an
Preface and Comparison with the Bible
Throughout the Qur'an, Mohammed recited stories about Biblical characters. He did it so often that this collection covers four hundred and twelve verses. Some of the stories agreed with their Biblical counterparts but most were very different. This is a problem for the Muslims because the Qur'an claims to agree with the Holy Bible. For the Christians and Jews of Mohammed’s day, they were sure that their Holy Scriptures were the inspired and authentic accounts of the ancient prophets and Christ’s apostles. The contradictions, between the Biblical version and Qur'anic version of events, were a sign to many of them that Mohammed was a false prophet.
For example, the Bible does not say that Satan was condemned for not worshiping Adam or that Solomon conversed with and commanded flocks of birds. The Bible does not say that Abraham built the Kaaba in Mecca and prayed for an Arab prophet to come with revelations. It does not say that Jesus created live birds out of clay nor does the Bible teach that Jesus predicted the coming of Mohammed. The Qur'an rejects the divinity of Jesus which is clearly a Biblical message. The Qur'an denies that Jesus gave his life on the cross. It reduces Jesus from Incarnate Savior to equality with the prophets.
In addition to this conflict, there seems to be historical problems in the Qur'an’s stories of Biblical characters. Pharaoh is said to have crucified his magicians, who converted to monotheism. This form of execution was a torture invented by the Roman Empire centuries later. The Samaritans are said to have built the golden calf during the time of Moses, yet at that time there was no place called Samaria or race called Samaritans. The Qur'an states that the Blessed Mary, mother of Jesus, was the sister of Aaron, yet the Bible reveals that Miriam was the sister of Aaron and Moses. Throughout the ages, critics of the Qur'an have believed that Mohammed confused Mary and Miriam.
All of these differences and contradictions are a serious problem for Islam. They are a problem because the Qur'an commands that Muslims testify to a strong belief in the Bible, while at the same time the Qur'an conflicts with the Bible. The only way out of this dilemma is for Muslims to claim that the Jews and Christians have changed the Bible.
Christians answer this accusation by presenting overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Such discoveries as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the thousands of ancient New Testament manuscripts comprise just part of the evidence. Comparisons between the massive amount of these hand written ancient Bibles makes it obvious that the Jews and Christians copied their Holy Books with reverence. They must have taken the final verses of the Book of Revelation very seriously which warns of terrible consequences to anyone who would attempt to change a single letter of God’s Word (Revelation 22:18-21).
The Qur'an Says ...
Satan, Adam and EveWhen the angels were told to prostrate themselves before Adam, all of them worshiped before Adam except the genie (jinn) Satan (18:50). Satan was to bow before Adam after Allah had fashioned Adam out of clay and breathed Allah’s spirit into him. Satan was proud and did not believe Allah’s message because it was illogical. Why would Allah ask the angels to worship a creature made from clay when Satan was created from fire (38:71-76)? Satan was cast out of Paradise because he would not bow to Adam. Allah gave him a reprieve till the Day of Judgment. Satan vowed to take revenge on Allah, who had led him into sin, by attacking humanity. Satan stripped the humans of their clothes to reveal their shame. He seduced Adam and Eve to eat from the tree that Allah had forbidden them to approach. Adam and Eve begged for mercy so they were allowed to live (7:11-27, 20:115-122, 38:71-85, 2:30-37).
NoahNoah urged the idolaters of his day to save themselves from the flood. When the flood came, Noah prayed that his sins would be forgiven, as well as the sins of his parents and the sins of every believer who found refuge in his house. He prayed that none of the unbelievers would be spared. He asked for the increased destruction of the wrongdoers (71:1-28, 10:71-73). Noah took a pair of every species and the believers into the ark, but his son stayed behind sure that he would find refuge on a mountain. Noah’s son died with the wicked (11:25-48). Noah lived among his people for nine hundred and fifty years before the flood came (29:14).
Good and Bad WivesRemember the example of the wives of Noah and Lot. They were married to righteous servants and they deceived them. They both entered the fire of Hell. Pharaoh’s wife, on the other hand, converted and was rescued from those who do wrong. Mary, daughter of Imran, was one who guarded her chastity. Allah breathed into Mary his Spirit and she testified to the truth (66:10-12).
LotLot condemned homosexuality as indecent and ignorant. Allah made Lot’s wife stay behind, but Lot and his tribe escaped the city before Allah rained down judgment on them (27:54-57, 26:160-175). A shower of clay stones destroyed Sodom (51:33).
JonahJonah was a messenger of Allah. He ran away aboard a heavily loaded ship. He cast lots with the sailors and was one of the losers. Then a fish swallowed him because he had done something that was wrong. If he had not been one that worshiped Allah he would have remained inside the fish till Judgment Day. Allah ejected him onto a beach. He was sick. Allah caused a gourd plant to grow over him. Jonah was then sent to one hundred thousand people or more who believed so Allah gave them pleasure for a period of time (37:139-148).
Job Beats His WifeAfter Satan afflicted Job, Allah told him to stamp his foot on the ground and a spring of water came forth to relieve his sufferings. His relationships were restored. Allah told him to fulfill his oath using a branch. (Muslim tradition says that this refers to an oath he made to beat his wife. Translations disagree on what Job was to use for the beating; “bunch of twigs”, “green grass”, or a green branch.) (38:41-44).
Lie of Abraham the YouthAbraham, while still a youth, destroyed all of his people’s idols except the main one. He then lied and told the people that it was the main idol that destroyed the others. He challenged them to ask the idol (21:58-63).
Abraham, Ishmael, IsaacAbraham was a saint and prophet. He argued with his father concerning idolatry until his father threatened to stone him to death and told him to leave home. When Abraham rejected his people and their idols, he was given Isaac and Jacob each of whom were made prophets of great renown (19:41-50). Abraham dreamed that he sacrificed his son (unnamed). His son was told about this and encouraged his father to fulfill the dream. Abraham threw his son face down on the ground. The son was spared at the last minute and a noble sacrifice was offered to ransom him. It was a test for which Abraham was blessed. Isaac was given to Abraham. Isaac became a saintly prophet (37:83-113).
IshmaelIshmael was also a messenger, prophet and honest man. He preached that people should pray and give alms. Allah was pleased with him (19:54-55).
Ishmael and Abraham Prepare the KaabaAllah made the Kaaba and commanded that Abraham and Ishmael sanctify it as a Muslim place of worship in Mecca. It was to be made holy for those who would walk around it and pray there by kneeling and laying on their face. They prayed that Allah would send an Arab prophet who would bring the people revelations and teach the Bible (2:125-131).
Abraham’s Test of the ResurrectionAbraham asked Allah for evidence for the resurrection of the dead. Allah told him to cut up four birds and scatter their parts on different mountaintops. He was to then call them and they would fly to him (2:260).
Abraham Establishes Mecca RitualsAllah told Abraham to establish Mecca as a place of worship by circling the Kaaba, prayer and pilgrimage (22:26-29).
First TempleThe first temple or sanctuary ever appointed or built for mankind was at Mecca. It is where Abraham stood and prayed. It is a mandate from Allah that all who can afford the trip must visit this place (3:96,97).
Israel’s Reverence for the BibleThe lineage of Adam, Noah, Abraham and Israel were guided and chosen people who fell down on their faces in worship and tears when Allah revealed his signs and words to them (19:58).
JosephWhen the brothers of Joseph sold him into slavery, they told Jacob that Joseph had been killed. Jacob did not believe them. Joseph went to Egypt and became a slave of Aziz. The wife of Aziz tried to seduce Joseph. She locked the doors and tried to entice Joseph and he was miraculously kept from giving in to her advances. As he raced for the door she tore his shirt from behind which proved to the master and community that he was the one being pursued. In response to the gossip of the local ladies, the master’s wife gave a banquet for the women of the city and gave each a knife. When they saw Joseph they cut their hands because he was so handsome and proclaimed that he was not a mortal but an angel. The master’s wife announced that unless Joseph had sexual relations with her, she was going to put him in a prison among the worst criminals. When Joseph heard this he prayed that he would be protected from their seductive traps and his own youthful sexual desires. To protect him from the women and from his own lust, the Egyptians put Joseph in a jail. While in jail, Joseph predicted that one of his fellow prisoners would be executed. Pharaoh did have him executed by crucifixion. As a part of the reunion with his family, Joseph heals Jacob of blindness. This agrees with and confirms the story (of Joseph) in the Bible (12:1-111).
MosesMoses was a chosen messenger and prophet along with his brother Aaron. Allah called him from the right side of the mountain and brought him near to himself to have direct communication with him (19:51-53). He was summoned from the valley of Towa and sent to Pharaoh. He performed the great miracle but it did not alter Pharaoh’s rebellious acts, which caused Pharaoh to be punished (79:15-25). Moses prayed that the Egyptian’s hearts would be hardened till they were punished and Allah granted his request. The Israelites were led across the sea and the Egyptian troops drown which caused Pharaoh to convert to Islam. The Israelites settled in a beautiful land that was given them. They were given revelation but divided into different factions (10:75-93).
Different Burning Bush Accounts(There are somewhat conflicting stories of Moses in 28:1-43, 27:7-14, 26:9-56, 20:9-97, 7:103-156 which are listed here in the approximate order in which they were recited by Mohammed. One example of this deals with Moses’ encounter with the burning bush.) 1. Allah called to Moses from a bush on the right side of the valley and said, “O Musa, surely I am Allah, the Lord of the worlds. Cast down your staff” (28:30-31). 2. When Moses approached the burning bush he heard a voice say, “Blessed is whoever is in the fire and whatever is around it and glorified be Allah, the Lord of the worlds. O Moses! Lo! It is I, Allah, the mighty, the wise. Throw down your staff” (27:7-10). 3. The voice said, “Moses, I, even I, am your Lord so take off your shoes, for lo, you are in the holy valley of Tuwa. Listen to me because you are chosen. There is no other god but Allah so serve me, worship and pray regularly. Judgment Day is coming so believers must not follow their evil desires or they will be destroyed. What do you have in your hand? Moses replied that he had a rod that he uses to rest on, prepare food for the sheep and other purposes. Allah said, toss it Moses” (20:11,19).
Teacher of MosesMoses decided to travel for years to where the two seas come together. After he and his attendant had journeyed far they stopped for a meal but the attendant grieved that at their former stop the fish had miraculously escaped into the sea. On their return trip they met a teacher who told Moses that he could follow him if he asked no questions. Moses agreed. Yet, when the teacher drilled a hole in their boat, Moses forgot and complained. Then, the teacher killed a young man. Moses questioned the killing of an innocent boy. The teacher fixed a wall for a town that refused them hospitality, and when the teacher did not ask for a fee, Moses forgot again and questioned him. Finally, the teacher explained that he sank the boat to protect its owners from a king who attacked all sailors. The teacher had killed the boy because his parents were people of faith and the teacher feared that the boy would have saddened his parents with rebellion and ingratitude. The teacher desired that a better son replace the first one. The wall belonged to orphans who would some day find a treasure buried beneath the wall (18:60-82).
Conversions of Pharaoh’s Magicians(One version of the story) Moses started the contest. He challenged the magicians to throw their ropes and staffs down. The magicians were sure they would win but when Moses threw his staff it devoured their deceptive items. In response, the magicians fell face down in worship and said, “We believe in the Lord of the worlds, the Lord of Moses and Aaron. Then Pharaoh threatened to cut off their hands and feet on opposite sides and execute them on a cross” (26:43-49). (Another version) The magicians started the contest by asking Moses if he wanted to go first. Moses replied, “No, you go first!” So they did and their magic frightened Moses. Allah spoke to him a message of encouragement. (The implication is that Moses won.) After the contest the magicians said, “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses,” so Pharaoh threatened to cut off their hands and feet on alternate sides and crucify them on palm trees (20:65-71).
Samaritans Build the Golden CalfWhen Moses met with his Lord on the mountain, Moses was in a rush because the Jews were trying to follow him. Moses was told that Allah had put the Jews to the test while he was away, so he hurried back to find that they had made a golden image of a calf which made a mooing sound. When Moses scolded them they reported that they were innocent. They were only doing what the Samaritans ordered. The Samaritans are the ones who built the idol. Moses punished them severely (20:83-97).
DavidDavid repented of his sin of lust after two men asked him to judge their dispute about one who had ninety-nine sheep and the other who had one. The first took the one sheep of the other. David realized that this was a test for him and repented of his sin of lust (the specifics are not given). He was forgiven (38:17-26).
Ark Carried by AngelsDuring Saul’s reign as King, a prophet announced the coming of the ark. In it were relics from the house of Moses and Aaron. Angels carried it. Shortly afterwards David killed Goliath. (2:247-253)
SolomonSolomon could communicate with animals. He gathered an army of genies, men and birds and dressed them for battle. They came to the Valley of the Ants where an ant told her sister to go underground for safety. Solomon overheard her and smiled and thanked Allah for blessing him. He inspected his troops of birds and found one species missing (the lapwing) and exclaimed his fierce anger. He threatened them with death but they arrived with news. The birds told Solomon about a wonderful woman from Sheba who worshiped the sun. Solomon sent a message back, with the birds, to the Queen of Sheba (that started with the Muslim proclamation) stating, “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.” In the message Solomon demanded that the Queen visit him. She sent a gift of gold instead and Solomon told the Queen’s ambassadors to return to Sheba with the news that his forces would attack them and exile all their people in complete humiliation. In response, the Queen began her journey to visit Solomon. While she was on her way a person, very knowledgeable in the Holy Bible, miraculously brought her throne to Solomon’s court. It was altered in appearance to see if she was wise enough to recognize it. When she stepped into the court she lifted her skirts thinking the shiny floor was water. She grieved that she had committed a terrible sin in exposing her ankle, which caused her to convert to belief in Allah (27:15-44).
Solomon Kills His HorsesSolomon realized one evening that his love for his well-trained horses was interfering with his prayers. He repented and went among his fine steeds slashing their legs and necks (38:30-33).
Solomon Replaced by a Dead BodyAllah put a dead body on Solomon’s throne and it remained there till he repented (38:34-35).
Solomon Commands the Wind and GeniesSolomon was allowed to command the wind to blow in whatever direction he chose to send it. He also had command over genies including those who could build and dive. Some of them were in chains (38:36-40, 21:82).
Solomon and GeniesAllah gave Solomon a fountain of molten brass and genies who slaved in front of him to make anything Solomon wanted. They made statues, shrines, and giant basins. If they turned away to rest, they faced a punishment from Allah of blazing fire. Even after Solomon died, the genies kept serving him. The fact that their servitude was over was hidden from them because his corpse did not fall. They discovered the fact when a worm ate away at the staff causing Solomon’s body to collapse (34:12-14).
Mary and ZachariasMary’s mother, the wife of Imran, dedicated her daughter to Allah while she was still in the womb. After Mary was born she lived in the temple under the care of Zacharias. Every day, when Zacharias visited her in the shrine, he discovered that Mary had food to eat. He wondered where it came from. Mary told him that it was from Allah (3:36,37).
Zacharias – Father of John the BaptistZacharias pleaded in prayer for a son in his old age. An answer came concerning his prayer that he would have a son and he was to give him a name that no man had ever been given before, “John.” Because he questioned the answer, he was without speech for three days and three nights. He immediately went out and encouraged everyone to worship day and night (19:1-15, 3:38-41).
John the BaptistJohn was commanded to love and observe the Holy Scriptures (Old Testament). He was given wisdom, compassion and purity even as a child. He grew up a righteous and humble man who was dutiful to his father and mother (19:12-15).
First Story of Mary(Translations disagree concerning how Mary secluded herself from others.) Mary either put up a veil or traveled to a lonely place in the east. In this solitary place, a spirit appeared to her as a man in every respect. Mary was afraid, but he claimed to be a messenger with news that she would have a Holy Son. She wondered how it would be possible since she was a virgin. He went on to say that the son would be a revelation for mankind and mercy from Allah. To conceive the child, she went to a far away place. When labor began she laid down under a palm tree. The pain was so terrible that Mary exclaimed that she wished she had died before this and become a nonexistent and forgotten thing. Then a voice comforted her with the news that a river would flow past her for drink and dates would fall upon her if she shook the trunk of the palm tree. She was instructed to avoid any conversation by telling others, “I am fasting and can not speak.” When she took the baby to her hometown, the people exclaimed, “Sister of Aaron, your father did not sleep with prostitutes and your mother was not a harlot.” They suspected that she gave birth to an illegitimate child. In her defense, Mary pointed to the baby who miraculously spoke from the cradle to announce that he was a prophet of Allah. This is the story of the birth of Jesus the son of Mary. He was not Allah’s son since Allah does not have offspring. Allah just willed Mary to have a son and she conceived (19:16-35).
Second Story of MaryThe angel appeared to Mary. He proclaimed that she was chosen as superior to all the women of the world. He said that she must worship. The angel predicted several things about her child (Jesus). He would speak to the Jews in his childhood and as an adult. Her child would be righteous. He would be a Word from Allah and his name would be Christ (Messiah) Jesus, son of Mary. He would be revered in this age and for eternity. Jesus would be one of those nearest to Allah in Paradise. He would be taught the Bible, Torah and Gospel. He would be an apostle to the Jews with miracles done by the permission of Allah; to create a live bird from clay, heal those born blind and the lepers, and to raise the dead. He would proclaim the Torah and permit the Jews to do some things that were formerly unlawful (3:42-50).
Jesus like AdamJesus is like Adam who was created from dust and Allah commanded him to “be” and he lived (3:59).
Men Contest for Mary’s CareYou, Mohammed, were not there when the men took pens (or arrows) and used them to decide which of them would take charge of Mary. You were also not there when they argued about the outcome of the contest (3:44).
Jesus Preached from the CradleOn the Judgment Day, Allah will question Jesus who will be among the other apostles. Allah will ask Jesus if he remembered how he was strengthened by the Holy Spirit and was made to preach to men in his cradle and as a man (5:110).
Jesus Made a Live Bird from ClayOn the Judgment Day, Allah will question Jesus who will be among the other apostles. He will be asked if he remembered how he was instructed by Allah in the Bible and wisdom and how, by Allah’s permission, he fashioned a bird from clay and breathed life into it (5:110).
Jesus Provided a Table From HeavenOn the Judgment Day, Allah will question Jesus. He will be among the other apostles. He will be asked if he remembered how, by Allah’s permission, he healed the person born blind, cleansed the leper and raised the dead? The story of how Jesus was allowed to call down a table set with food for his followers will be recounted as well (5:110-115).
Jesus Denies an Abnormal TrinityOn the Judgment Day, Allah will question Jesus who will be among the other apostles. Jesus will be asked if he told mankind to worship him and his mother as two gods besides Allah. Jesus will strongly deny it (5:115-117).