This article is a supplement to my paper, The Quranic Witness to Biblical Authority. Here, I produce additional evidence from both the Quran and Hadith demonstrating that neither Muhammad nor his companions believed that the text of the Holy Bible was corrupted. On the contrary, they wholeheartedly affirmed the authenticity and preservation of the Biblical text that was available to them.
Before proceeding, I would like to clarify the two main reasons for also appealing to the Quran as a verification of the Holy Bible. First, Muslims often claim that the Holy Bible has been tampered with. It is my sincere hope that by demonstrating from the Quran itself that such a charge has no basis in the scripture which is normative for their faith, Muslims will then abandon such a claim. Second, I view the Quran as an early historical record of what the first Muslims believed. Hence, I use the Quran to document the fact that the first Muslims did not believe that the Holy Bible had been tampered with. Therefore, Muslims that claim to follow the example of Muhammad and his followers must also adopt the same view of the Holy Bible that the first Muslims had. Once it has been conclusively shown that the Quran presupposes and the early Muslim community including Muhammad himself held to the integrity of the Biblical scriptures, it will not be possible to remain a faithful Muslim while at the same time believing or propagating the charge of textual corruption of the Bible.
Furthermore, we would also like to clarify the meaning of certain terms used throughout this article. The Arabic word Tawrat or Torah first refers to the specific revelation given to Moses. The term is then also used in a broader sense to refer to certain sections of the Old Testament revelation. Zabur (singular) refers to the Psalms of David. Its plural form, Zubur, refers to the scriptures given to David and to the other messengers of God. The term Injil refers to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel, as we shall shortly document, is contained in the four Gospels found within the New Testament.
With this just said, we now proceed to the evidence.
"THAT is the Book, wherein is no doubt, a guidance to the godfearing..." A.J. Arberry
Although many Muslim scholars claim that the phrase "that book" refers to the Quran, this seems to be more of a desperate attempt of avoiding the obvious implications of this passage, namely that the Muslims were to have no doubt about the authority and inspiration of the Holy Bible available at the time of Muhammad.
Because, whenever the Quran refers to itself as a divine book from God it uses the phrase "this", not "that":
And this is a Book (the Koran) which We have sent down as a blessing; so follow it that you may receive Mercy. Lest you should say that the Book was sent to two sects (the Jews & Christians) before us, and we were unaware of what they used to study. S. 6:155-156
This Koran could not have been produced by any other than Allah; it confirms what was revealed before it (the Torah & Gospel), and explains fully the Book (Scriptures) that was revealed without any doubt by the Lord of the worlds. S. 10:37
As the authors of the True Guidance note:
The Quran says that there is no doubt in the Book, though some Muslims have cast doubt on its authenticity. The Quran orders Muhammad to ask those who read the Book from before him whenever he is in doubt concerning the Quran (Sura Yunis 10:94). Islamic commentators said that verse 2 means that there is no doubt that the Book is a guidance unto the god-fearing. But the god-fearing are not in need of guidance, because Allah has already guided them!
We believe that "that Book" refers to the Bible only, not to the Quran. Were the Quran intended, Muhammad would have said "this book" not "that Book." (True Guidance - Comments on Quranic Verses [Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria], part 5, p. 8; bold emphasis ours)
Finally, even some Muslim scholars understood S. 2:2 as referring to the Holy Bible as that book in which there is no doubt. Ibn Kathir acknowledges the fact that some viewed the phrase 'that book' as referring to the Bible:
<This is The Book in which there is no doubt> has been interpreted by some as the Torah and the Gospel, which is highly unlikely and useless elaboration on a matter about which they know nothing. The correct interpretation is that it refers to the Qur'an." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Part 1 Surah Al-Fatiah Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 1 to 141, abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa'i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 1998 Second Edition], p. 57; bold italic emphasis ours)
Mahmoud M. Ayoub states:
Most commentators have agreed that dhalika al-kitab (that is the Book) means hadha al-kitab (this is the Book). Tabari reports the view on the authority of 'Ikrimah, al-Suddi and Ibn 'Abbas that "Kitab may refer to the surahs which were sent down before Surat al-Baqarah in Mecca... Some commentators have claimed that the word kitab refers to the Torah and the Gospel and not the Qur'an (see Tabari, I, pp. 227-228).
... Other commentators have said that the word kitab refers either to the Torah and the Gospel in which the Qur'an is explained or to them both, meaning that the Qur'an included both the Torah and the Gospel ... (Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters, Volume One [State University of New York Press, Albany, 1984], pp. 62, 63; bold emphasis ours)
Sir William Muir cites Jalaludeen:
"That which hath been revealed BEFORE THEE, viz. the Pentateuch and the Gospel, &c."
ما أنزل من قبلك أي التوراة والأنجيل وغيرهما Jelalooddeen.
(Muir, The Coran: Its Composition and Teaching; And The Testimony It Bears To The Holy Scriptures, p. 135; capital emphasis ours)
In light of the preceding factors, there is nothing within the context of the Quran that would rule out that the phrase, that is the Book wherein is no doubt, is referring to the Holy Bible. That is, unless one holds to the prior assumption that the biblical text is corrupt and then proceeds to read this presupposition into the exegesis of the Quran. On the contrary, if we are free from this bias, it is the more natural understanding based on the common grammatical usage that dhalika refers to an entity outside the Quran.
Sura 2:53 and Al-Furqan
Mahmoud M. Ayoub provides the following Islamic commentaries on S. 2:53:
(53) Commentators are generally agreed that the word kitab (scriptures) is meant the Torah and that the Furqan (criterion) is that by which truth may be distinguished from falsehood. Furqan then would be an attribute of the Torah (see Tabari, pp. 70-71; see also Qurtubi, I, p. 39; and Shawkani, I, p. 86). Razi discusses several possible meanings of the word Furqan. "The Furqan [separator, or that by which things may be distinguished] could be either the Torah as a whole or in part. It may also refer to something other than the Torah, perhaps one of the miracles of Moses, such as his staff, and so forth. It may mean relief or victory, as God said concerning the Apostle, 'and what we sent down to our servant on the day of the criterion [Furqan], the day when the two parties met' [Q. 8:41]. The word Furqan may refer to the splitting [infiraq] of the sea, or as some have said, to the Qur'an, WHICH WAS ALSO SENT DOWN TO MOSES." Razi, however, rejects this last view as a false interpretation. He finally concludes, "The Furqan is that which truth may be distinguished from falsehood. Thus it may either be the Torah or something external to it"... (Ayoub, pp. 101-102; bold cap emphasis ours)
As we shall later see, other Muslim commentators believed that the term "Quran" could also be applied to previous scriptures.
Ayoub also discusses S. 2:75:
Others said, 'It was the Torah which they altered, rendering the sanctions in it prohibitions, and the prohibitions sanctions; the truth in it they rendered untrue, and what is false, truth. Thus if a man came to them with a valid accusation, and offered them a bribe, THEY WOULD BRING OUT THE BOOK OF GOD to judge him thereby. But if a man came to them with a false accusation and offered them a bribe, they would bring out an altered book according to which he would be judged to be truthful. If, however, a man came to them inquiring concerning a matter wherein there was neither truth nor falsehood, nor was a bribe offered, they would enjoin upon him to act truthfully" (Tabari, II, p. 246; see also Tabarsi, I, p. 317)
With regard to what was actually changed or altered, many commentators, and especially those who attributed the alteration to the Torah, said that it was the description in the Torah of the physical features, character, and prophethood of Muhammad which was altered or obscured. Razi, as usual, questions such traditional interpretations and in the end prefers to leave the matter open. He begins by observing, "Alteration [tahrif] must either refer to the actual words or to their meaning... Unbroken transmission [tawatur], however, PREVENTS ALTERATION OF THE ACTUAL WORDS. Thus, if those who altered were the seventy men at the time of Moses, they would have altered nothing relating to Muhammad, but only injunctions and prohibitions. If, on the other hand, they lived at the time of Muhammad, it is more probable that what is intended by altering are things relating to Muhammad. The literal sense of the Qur'an does not indicate what they actually altered" (Razi, III, pp. 134-135)..." (Ibid., pp. 120-121; bold cap emphasis ours)
Ayoub's comments on S. 2:97-98 are also noteworthy:
(97, 98) These two verses were sent down, as Wahidi relates, on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, when the Jews of Medina came to the Prophet saying, "We shall ask you concerning certain matters. If you answer us truthfully, we will follow you. Tell us who of the angels comes down to you, for there is no prophet but that an angel comes to him from his Lord with the [charge] of apostleship and revelation. Who is your angel?" He answered, "He is Gabriel." They said, "He is the one who comes down with strife and battle; he is our enemy. Had you said, 'Michael,' the angel who comes down with rain and mercy, we would have followed you" (Wahidi, p. 26). Wahidi further relates on the authority of al-Sha'bi that 'Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "I used to frequent the Jews in their schools WHEN THEY STUDIED THE TORAH AND MARVEL AT HOW THE TORAH CONCURS WITH THE QUR'AN AND HOW THE QUR'AN CONCURS WITH THE TORAH. They said to me, 'O 'Umar, there is no one dearer to us than you.' 'Why?' I asked. 'Because,' they said, 'you come to us and enjoy our company.' I answered, 'I come to marvel at how THE BOOKS OF GOD CONFIRM EACH OTHER.'..." (Ibid., p. 127; emphasis ours)
The preceding traditions affirm that:
In light of the preceding evidence, we can safely conclude that neither Razi nor Umar believed in the corruption of the Biblical text.
Furthermore, the following verses presume that uncorrupt copies of God's original revelation existed during the time of Muhammad:
"The Jews say, 'The Christians are not (founded) upon anything.' And the Christians say, The Jews are not (founded) upon anything.' And yet they READ the Book."
This verse states that the Jews and Christians read the book, not a corrupt version of the book.
"It is not for a man to whom is given the Book and wisdom and prophecy that he should then say to people, 'Be worshipers of me in place of God.' But rather, 'Be true teachers (Arabic-rabbaniyin), since you teach the Book and you STUDY it earnestly.'"
The People of the Book of Muhammad's time are said to be studious teachers of the Book. Again, no mention of corruption.
"All food was lawful to the Children of Israel except what Israel made unlawful for itself before the Torah was revealed. Say, 'BRING the Torah and READ it, if you are men of truth.' If any, after this, invent a lie and attribute it to God, they are indeed transgressors."
This passage clearly indicates that the Torah revealed by God was in the hands of the Jews at the time of Muhammad. Otherwise, how could the Quran command the Jews to read the revealed Torah of God if in fact they did not posses it?
"The (Qur'an) is indeed a message for you (Muhammad) and your people, (all of) you shall be brought to account, and ASK those of our apostles whom we sent before thee, 'Did We appoint any deities other than the Most Merciful whom they should worship?'"
Dr. William Campbell notes:
According to Baidawi, Jelaleddin, and Yusuf Ali, "ask those of our apostles whom we sent before thee" means enquire of their people - those learned in their writings and doctrines. Therefore those writings and doctrines were clearly available in Muhammad's time. (Campbell, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History & Science [Middle East Resources 1992, ISBN 1-881085-00-7], p. 39; bold emphasis ours)
The Quran states:
Now then, for that (reason), call (them to the Faith), and stand steadfast as thou art commanded, nor follow thou their vain desires; but say: "I believe in whatever Book Allah has sent down; and I am commanded to judge justly between you. Allah is our Lord and your Lord: for us (is the responsibility for) our deeds, and for you for your deeds. There is no contention between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is (our) final goal. S. 42:15
Here was an excellent opportunity for Muhammad to expose the tampering of the Biblical text. Instead, he professes his belief in the Holy Bible.
They are whom (Children of Israel) We gave the Scripture, the Judgment and the Prophet hood, but if those (Meccans) disbelieve them, We have entrusted them (Scripture, Judgment and Prophet hood) to a nation (Children of Israel) who do not disbelieve them; they are those whom Allah have guided, so [O Muhammad] follow their Guidance... S. 6:89-90
Muhammad is told to follow the guidance given to the Children of Israel since they are a nation entrusted with and who believe in the revelation given by God. Yet, why would Muhammad follow the guidance given to the Jews if in fact they were corrupt enough to tamper with the Biblical text? And if they had tampered with the Holy Bible how then could the Jews have known the guidance of God?
And if you [O Mohammed] are in doubt of what We have revealed to you (the Koran), ask those who read the Scriptures before you; verily the Truth has come to you from your Lord, therefore do not be one of those doubtful people. And do not be one who belies the signs of Allah, lest you shall become a loser. S. 10:94-95
Muhammad is told that if he is in doubt he should ask the People of the Book for verification of the truth that he has received.
Some try to claim that this passage is not referring to Muhammad. Rather, it is addressing the unbelievers that had doubts about Muhammad's apostleship. This explanation still does not resolve the issue. That the Quran appeals to the testimony of the Jews and Christians for verification implies that the Holy Bible is a criterion that others must use to test the message given to Muhammad.
Furthermore, that the Quran appeals to the Jews and Christians is a strong argument against Biblical corruption. After all, why would the Quran appeal to people that were dishonest enough to corrupt the Holy Bible, that is if the Muslim claim of textual corruption is true?
Others claim that the context of this passage is dealing with certain historical situations that were also known by the People of the Book since these events are also recorded within their scriptures. In light of this, the Quran is telling these unbelievers to verify the historical accounts reported within the Quran with the record possessed by the People of the Book. Again, the problem is far from resolved. The only way for the People of the Book to be called as a witness for the veracity of these historical episodes is if they had uncorrupt copies of the revelation in their possession! Otherwise, it makes absolutely no sense to appeal to documents that had been tampered with, since such documents would be completely unreliable. That the Quran does in fact appeal to the Holy Bible again affirms that Muhammad clearly believed that the Holy Bible in his possession was completely reliable.
The following traditions and citations are taken from the series of commentaries done by Ibn Kathir. Most of these commentaries have been translated into English as the Tafsir of Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Darussalam Publishers & Distributors with offices in Riyadh, Houston, New York and Lahore. The translations were done by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, unless noted otherwise. Before proceeding, we would first like to make it clear that Ibn Kathir does not believe that the previous revelations remained uncorrupt. Rather, his view was that the Biblical text had been corrupted throughout time. Our aim in citing Ibn Kathir is to show that other Muslims did not agree with him, but rather wholeheartedly acknowledged that God's Books remained intact throughout the ages.
Ibn Kathir on S. 2:101:
And when there came to them a messenger from Allah, CONFIRMING WHAT IS WITH THEM, a party of the People of the Book threw away the BOOK OF ALLAH behind their backs, as if (it had been something) they did not know!
This passage again presumes that the Jews and Christians had God's Book intact. Yet a party of them, not all, refused to follow its message. This is what is meant by the phrase they "threw away the Book of Allah behind their backs." In fact, Muhammad is said to confirm the Book. Nowhere does the Quran state that Muhammad was sent to expose corruption to the Holy Bible. Ibn Kathir notes:
Allah cursed them (author-the Jews) for breaking their covenant and for disbelieving in the Prophet. He sent to them (and to humanity in general) even though he was described TO THEM IN THEIR SCRIPTURE. In addition, they were ordered to follow him and support him... Some of them threw away the Book of Allah behind their backs with what it included of Muhammad's description. As if they knew nothing about it... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Surah Al-Fatiha Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 1 to 141, part 1, trans. Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa'i, pp. 190-191)
Again, the only way for the Jews to know of the Biblical description of Muhammad is if they had God's original uncorrupt revelation in their possession.
Ibn Kathir on S. 3:23:
Hast thou not turned Thy vision to those who have been given a portion of the Book? They are invited to the Book of God, to settle their dispute, but a party of them Turn back and decline (The arbitration). Y. Ali
Accoring to Ibn Kathir, the book to which the people were called to settle their disputes was the Jewish and Christian scriptures:
Chastising the People of the Book for Not Referring to the Book of Allah for Judgment
Allah criticizes the Jews and Christians who claim to follow their Books, the Tawrah and the Injil, because when they are called to refer to these Books where Allah commanded them to follow Muhammad , they turn away with aversion. This censure and criticism from Allah was all because of their defiance and rejection. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Abridged Volume 2, Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, verse 147, parts 3-5, p. 137; online edition)
Ibn Ishaq adds:
The apostle entered a Jewish school where there was a number of Jews and called them to God. Al-Nu'man b. 'Amr and al-Harith b. Zayd said to him:
‘What is your religion, Muhammad?’
‘The religion of Abraham.’
‘But Abraham was a Jew.’
‘Then let the Torah judge between us.’
They refused, and so God sent down concerning them: ‘Hast thou not seen how those who have received a portion of scripture when invited to God's book that it may judge between them, a party of them turn their backs in opposition. That is because they say, The fire will not touch us except for a limited time. What they were inventing has deceived them in their religion.’ (Ishaq, The Life Of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi], p. 260)
Finally, Mahmoud M. Ayoub writes:
This verse is clear in itself. Commentators, however, have differed with regard to the occasion of its revelation. Wahidi reports three different accounts. The first, related on the authority of al-Suddi, is: "The Prophet invited the Jews [of Madina] to accept Islam, but al-Nu'man b. Awfa said to him, ‘Let us, O Muhammad, ask the rabbis to judge between you and us.’ The Messenger of God replied, ‘Rather we let the Book of God [judge among us].’ ‘No,’ they retorted, ‘we go to the rabbis!’ Thus God sent down this verse."
The second account, related on the authority of Sa'id b. Jubayr and 'Ikrimah who reported from Ibn 'Abbas, is not essentially different from the first. Ibn 'Abbas said, "The Messenger of God one day entered the Jewish house of study (bayt al-Midras) where a group of the Jews were assembled. He called them to God, but Nu'aym b. 'Amr and al-Harith b. Zayd asked him, ‘What religion do you follow, O Muhammad?’ He answered, ‘I follow the religion of Abraham.’ They said, ‘But Abraham was a Jew!’ The Messenger of God protested, ‘Bring forth the Torah and let it judge between us and you!’ They refused, and thus God sent down this verse" (Wahidi, pp. 92-93).
The third account, reported on the authority of al-Kalbi, links this verse to the story of a Jewish man and woman who had committed adultery. They were brought to the Prophet to convict them, in the hope that his sentence would be light. But the Prophet, in accordance with the Torah, ordered that they be stoned. The Jews objected to this sentence, and thus the verse was sent down. This incident will be considered more fully in connection with verse 15 of sura 5, which is its proper context (See Wahidi, p. 93). Tabari reviews the various views concerning the occasion of revelation of the verse and comments: "The most probable interpretation in my opinion is that God here mentions a group of the Jews who lived among those who immigrated with th Messenger of God, and were his contemporaries. They were men of knowledge of the Torah. Thus they were called to the Book of God, the Torah which they considered to be from God, to judge between them and the Messenger of God concerning some matter of disagreement between them. It is possible that this matter concerned Muhammad and his prophethood. It is possible that the matter of disagreement concerned Abraham, the intimate friend (khalil) of the All-Merciful, and his religion. It is possible that it was their refusal to accept Islam when they were invited to do so, or that it was the punishment [of the Jewish man and woman who committed adultery]." Tabari argues that all these points were issues of contention between the Prophet and the Jews of Madina. It could be any one of these concerning which the Prophet asked for the judgment of the Torah. But some of the Jews refused and others concealed the judgment of the Torah concerning that issue (<>Tabari<>, VI, p. 291; cf. Qurtubi, IV, pp. 50-51; Tabarsi, III, pp. 45-46). (Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters: The House of 'Imran[State University of New York Press, Albany, 1992], Volume II, pp. 72-73; underline emphasis ours)
Thus, according to these Muslim sources, the book which Allah invited the people to and which he called his Book, was the Jewish and Christian scriptures, specifcally the Torah, as they existed in Muhammad's day. This provides further evidence that the author of the Quran and the very first Muslims upheld the authenticity and preservation of the Holy Bible.
Ibn Kathir on S. 3:71-73:
O People of the Scripture! Why do you mix truth with falsehood and CONCEAL THE TRUTH WHILE YOU KNOW? And a party of the People of the Scriptures say: "Believe in the morning in that which is revealed to the believers, and reject it at the end of the day, so that they may turn back. And believe no one except the one who follows your religion." Say (O Prophet): "Verily right guidance is the guidance of Allah." (And they say): "Do not believe that anyone can receive like that which you have received, otherwise they would engage you in agreement before your Lord." Say: "All the bounty is in the Hand of Allah; He grants to whom He wills, And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Knower.
We would like to first note that the only way for the People of the Scriptures to conceal truth knowingly, IS IF THEY IN FACT HAD THE TRUTH IN THEIR POSSESSION! Ibn Kathir states:
<Say: (O Prophet) "Verily, right guidance is the guidance of Allah.">
Allah guides the hearts of the faithful to the perfect faith through the clear Ayat, plain proofs and unequivocal evidence that He has sent down to His servant and Messenger Muhammad. This occurs, O you Jews, even though you hide the description of Muhammad the unlettered Prophet whom you find IN YOUR BOOKS, THAT YOU RECEIVED FROM THE EARLIER PROPHETS... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Abridged Volume 2, Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, verse 147, parts 3-5, p. 188)
Ibn Kathir claims that the Jews in the time of Muhammad had the books of the prophets in their possession.
Ibn Kathir on S. 3:78:
Mujahid, Ash-Sha'bi, Al-Hassan, Qatadah and Ar-Rabi' bin Anas said that,
<who distort the Book with their tongues.>
means, "They alter (Allah's Words)."
Al-Bukhari reported that Ibn 'Abbas said that the Ayah means they alter and add although none among Allah's creation CAN REMOVE THE WORDS OF ALLAH FROM HIS BOOKS, THEY ALTER AND DISTORT THEIR APPARENT MEANINGS. Wahb bin Munabbih said, "The Tawrah and Injil REMAIN AS ALLAH REVEALED THEM, AND NO LETTER IN THEM WAS REMOVED. However, the people misguide others by addition and false interpretation, relying on books that they wrote themselves. Then,
<they say: "This is from Allah," but it is not from Allah;>
As for Allah's books, THEY ARE STILL PRESERVED AND CANNOT BE CHANGED." Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement. However, if Wahb meant the books that are currently in the hands of the People of the Book, then we should state that there is no doubt that they altered, distorted, added to and deleted from them. For instance, the Arabic versions of these books contain tremendous error, many additions and deletions and enormous misinterpretation. Those who rendered these translations have incorrect comprehension in most, rather, all of these translations. If Wahb meant the Books of Allah that He has with Him, then indeed, these Books are preserved and were never changed. (Ibid., Volume 2, p. 196, 2000)
Ibn Kathir disagrees with both Wahb and Abbas that the previous revelation remained intact. And on what basis does he disagree? On the basis that Arabic versions of the Holy Bible showed textual tampering in the form of additions and deletions! This is equivalent to someone today claiming that the Quran has been corrupted due to the fact that an English version made by Rashid Khalifah omits S. 9:128-129! The scholarly thing to do is to examine the original languages of the scriptures and see if the text has remained intact. Once this is done, one will discover that the Holy Bible, much like the Quran, contains variant readings. These variants do not prove wholesale corruption to the Biblical text. To claim otherwise would actually prove that the Quran, along with the Holy Bible, has been completely corrupted seeing that both books have come down to us with variations.
Interestingly, Ibn Kathir's citation of Ibn 'Abbas concurs with the following two reports:
Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitaab Al-Tawheed, Baab Qawlu Allah Ta'ala, "Bal Huwa Qur'aanun Majeed, fi lawhin Mahfooth" (i.e. in Sahih al-Bukhari, Book "The Oneness of God", the Chapter on Surat Al-Borooj (no. 85), Verses 21, 22 saying, "Nay this is a Glorious Qur'an, (Inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved.") we find in a footnote between 9.642 and 643:
"They corrupt the word" means "they alter or change its meaning." Yet no one is able to change even a single word from any Book of God. The meaning is that they interpret the word wrongly. [... and he continues to speak about how the Qur'an is preserved ...]
This is the Tafseer (commentary) of Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of the Sahaba (companions) and Mohammed's cousin. His opinions (because he is a Sahabi (companion)) are held to be above the opinions and commentaries of all other Sheikhs who are not Sahaba.
Since Ibn Abbas' above reference to "They corrupt the word" quotes part of Sura 4:46, it is not only a commentary on Sura 85:22, but also on the meaning of the Quranic charge against the Jews of corrupting the scriptures.
(Source: this article)
"The Imam Muhammad Isma'il al-Bukhari (p. 1127, line 7), records that Ibn 'Abbas said that 'the word Tahrif (corruption) signifies to change a thing from its original nature; and that there is no man who could corrupt a single word of what proceeded from God, so that the Jews and Christians could corrupt only by misrepresenting the meaning of the words of God.'" (T. P. Hughes, Dictionary of Islam [Kazi Publications, Inc, 3023-27 West Belmont Avenue, Chicago Il. 60618, 1994], p. 62)
Someone might interject here and claim that Ibn Abbas actually denied the preservation of the Holy Scriptures. According to Ubaydullah bin Abdallah bin Otba, Ibn Abbas said:
O Congregation of Muslims, how can you ask questions of the People of the Book, when your book which God revealed to His prophet brings the best tidings about God: Ye read it unfalsified and God has told you that the People of the Book have altered (baddalu) what God wrote, and have falsified (ghaiyaru) the book with their hands, and said, "This is from God," in order to get some paltry reward for it. Has He not forbidden you to ask those people about what you have received in the way of knowledge? By God, we have never seen any one of them asking you about what has been revealed to you. (Bukhari, Sahih, Kitab al-Shahada, No 29, as noted in J.W. Sweetman, Islam and Christian Theology, Part One, Vol. II [Lutterworth Press, London, 1947], p. 139)
Dr. William Campbell responds:
If this were the sole reference to the previous Scriptures in the Hadith, it would certainly fortify the Muslim claim that the People of the Book corrupt their Scriptures. Yet, to the best of our present knowledge, it must be considered as a single negative reference among the many other references within the Hadith which confirm the presence of a valid Torah and Gospel in the early Muslim community.
It is true that our evidence from the Hadith on this issue may be meaningless to those Muslims who have little trust in them. Yet, regardless of anyone's opinion about the importance of the Hadith, it must be noted that the Mishkat al-Masabih does not include a single reference to corruption of the previous Scriptures. Moreover, assuming we have not missed any pertinent references, it is clear that all the Hadith, with one exception, are devoid of any reference to the corruption of previous Scriptures.
It is possible, of course, that individual Jews foolishly corrupted individual texts of their books, or in other words, that there were isolated instances of actual textual corruption. This would allow us to reconcile this single tradition with the remaining traditions which accept the genuineness of these previous Scriptures.
In summary, according to the Hadith which we have examined, Waraqa writes or translates the "Hebrew Scriptures," not corrupted Scriptures; Muhammad says that the "Jews and Christians read the Torah and the Injil," not a corrupted Torah or Injil. With a copy of the Torah at hand, Muhammad judges according to it, and on another occasion he quotes the Torah and says nothing about it being a corrupted Torah. (Dr. William Campbell, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History & Science [Middle East Resources 1992], pp. 68-69; bold emphasis ours)
Antoin MacRuaidh concurs with the above assessment:
In Islamic hermeneutics, as in Christian exegetical interpretation, the rule is that one interprets the lesser in terms of the greater, and there are far more ahadith testifying to the veracity and existence of the Torah and Injil than this one which may question such. Possibly, the reference is to Surah 4:44, where individual Medinan Jews are berated for corrupting isolated texts in their speech. However, the usual meaning of corruption is perhaps best explained by the following text:
Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As MISHKAT AL-MASABIH
Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) heard some people disputing about the Qur'an. Thereupon he said: It was because of this that those gone before you had perished. They set parts of the books against the others (whereas the fact is) that the Book of Allah has been revealed with one part confirming the others.
Therefore, do not falsify some parts with the others and speak only that which you know; that which you do not know, refer it to one who knows it well.
Transmitted by Ahmad and Ibn Majah.
Clearly, 'falsification' refers to misinterpretation of Scripture, especially if deliberate distortion, rather than the corruption of the actual text itself. Bukhari, in ar-Rad, says:
'They corrupt the word' means 'they alter or change its meaning'. Yet no-one is able to change even a single word from any Book of God. The meaning is that they interpret the word wrongly.
This confirms the fact that the accusations against Christians in the Qur'an and Hadith are simply that they misunderstood or misrepresented the doctrines of the Scriptures, not that they changed the actual text. (Source: this article; bold italic emphasis ours)
Interestingly, support for the above claim that Ibn Abbas was referring to misinterpretation of the text and to concoction of false scripture which the Jews then tried to pass off as revelation, and not to the actual corruption of the Holy Bible itself, can be seen from the very same hadith. In the above hadith, Ibn Abbas is purported to have said:
"... Ye read it unfalsified and God has told you that the People of the Book have altered (baddalu) what God wrote, and have falsified (ghaiyaru) the book with their hands, and said, "This is from God," in order to get some paltry reward for it..."
The above citation seems to refer to the following Quranic passage:
So woe to those who write the Book with their hands, and then say, 'This is from Allah,' that they may sell it for a little price. So woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for their earnings. S. 2:79
This seems to imply Biblical corruption until we look at its original context:
"Can you (O men of faith) still earnestly desire that they (the Jews) will believe in you? And verily a party (fariq) among them hear the Word of God, then they pervert it knowingly after they have understood it. And when they meet the believers they say, 'We believe,' but when they meet each other in private they say, 'Why do you tell them what God has revealed to you (in the Torah), that they may engage you in argument about it before their God? What do you not understand?' Do they not know that God knows what they conceal and what they make public? Among them are unlettered folk who know the Scripture not except from hearsay. THEY BUT GUESS." S. 2:75-78
Once the passage is read in its proper context, we discover that it is not speaking of Jews and Christians corrupting their Holy Book, but rather unlettered Jews who were ignorant of the content of scriptures and falsified their own revelation for gain.
Ibn Kathir notes:
<There are illiterate men among them> means among the people of the Scripture. An illiterate, to the Arabs, is a person who can neither read nor calculate, as the Prophet said: "We are an illiterate Ummah; we neither write nor calculate; the month is such and such..." The verse means that among the people of the Scripture were people who could not read or write. <and depend on nothing but conjecture> means except from hearsay or statements that they falsely repeat. They only say what they think rather than what is actually mentioned in the Scripture and claim that it is from the scripture. <And guesswork.> that is they lie, not knowing what is written in the Scripture and they only say what they think about your Prophethood (that is Muhammad's) through conjecture. <Woe to those who write Scripture with their own hands, and then declare, "This is from Allah," in order to sell it for a paltry price.> This is another group of Jews. They are the rabbis who call the people to misguidance, through lies, and devour the wealth of people by false means.
As-Suddi said that a group of Jews wrote a book of their own and sold it to the Arabs for a trifling price, claiming that it was Allah's word. Al-Bukhari narrated that az-Zuhri quoted Ibn 'Abbas through a number of chain of authorities as saying that the people of the Scripture altered Allah's word, and that they wrote their own version claiming that it was from Allah that they may purchase a small gain therewith. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Part 1 Surat al-Fatiha Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 1 to 141, pp. 161-162; italic emphasis ours)
Ibn Kathir acknowledges that the Jews of this passage were an illiterate group who did not know their own scripture. This affirms that these Jews could not have been perverting the text of the Holy Bible since they were ignorant of its contents, having no direct knowledge of it except from hearsay. But corrupting the text of the manuscripts does not only demand good knowledge of their content and direct access to them, but also a well developed ability of writing and forging in a way that is not easily detected which would otherwise lead to immediate discovery and rejection of the corruption.
Furthermore, the Quran clearly speaks of learned Jews and Christians who knew scripture and would not sell it for gain:
"And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in God, and that which has been revealed to you, in that which has been revealed to them, bowing in humility to God. They will not sell the signs of God for miserable gain. For them is a reward with their Lord, and God is swift in account." S. 3:199
"NOT ALL OF THEM ARE ALIKE. Some of the People of the Book are an upright people. They recite the signs (or verses) of God in the night season and they bow down worshipping. They believe in God and the last day. They command what is just, and forbid what is wrong and they hasten in good works, and they are of the righteous." S. 3:113-114
Finally, S. 2:75-78 seems to assert that the Jews were also falsifying the Quran when it claims that "verily a party (fariq) among them hear the Word of God, then they pervert it knowingly after they have understood it." This is supported by the following passage:
"Seest thou not those unto whom a portion of the Scripture hath been given, how they purchase error, and seek to make you (Muslims) err from the right way? Allah knoweth best (who are) your enemies. Allah is sufficient as a Guardian, and Allah is sufficient as a Supporter. Some of those who are Jews change words from their context and say: 'We hear and disobey; hear thou as one who heareth not' and 'Listen to us!' distorting with their tongues and slandering religion. If they had said: 'We hear and we obey: hear thou, and look at us' it had been better for them, and more upright. But Allah hath cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, save a few. O ye unto whom the Scripture hath been given! Believe in what We have revealed confirming that which ye possess, before We destroy countenances so as to confound them, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-breakers (of old time). The commandment of Allah is always executed." S. 4:44-47
Yusuf Ali comments on S. 4:44-47:
"... A trick of the Jews was to twist words and expressions, so as to ridicule the most solemn teachings of the Faith. Where they should have said, 'We hear and we obey,' they said aloud, 'We hear,' and whispered, 'We disobey.' Where they should have said respectfully, 'We hear,' they added in a whisper, 'What is not heard,' by way of ridicule. Where they claimed the attention of the Teacher, they used an ambiguous word apparently harmless, but their intention disrespectful." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 194, f. 565)
"... 'Ra'ina' if used respectfully in the Arabic way, would have meant 'Please attend to us.' With the twist of their tongue, they suggested an insulting meaning, such as 'O thou that takest us to pasture!', or in Hebrew, 'Our bad one!'" (Ibid, f. 566)
Using Muslim logic here we would have to conclude that the Jewish perversion of the Quran by their tongues meant that they corrupted the text of the Quran as well.
In fact, the Quran claims that there were individuals who were dividing the Quran into parts:
(Of just such wrath) as We sent down on those who divided (Scripture into arbitrary parts),- (So also on such) as have made Qurán into shreds (as they please). Therefore, by thy Lord, We will, of a surety, call them to account, For all their deeds. S. 15:90-03
Other translations read:
PICKTHALL: Those who break the Qur'an into parts.
SHAKIR: Those who made the Quran into shreds.
HILLALI-KHAN: Who have made the Qur'ân into parts. (i.e. believed in a part and disbelieved in the other).
KHALIFAH: They accept the Quran only partially.
SHAKIR: Those who made the Quran into shreds.
T.B. IRVING: who have torn the Quran apart.
Khalifah and Hillali-Khan understand the verse to be claiming that believing in only part of the Quran is equivalent to tearing the Quran into shreds. If this is so, one can therefore legitimately argue for a similar understanding in reference to the Bible being torn apart or falsified. The Quran is claiming that the Jews and Christians believed only in part of the Holy Bible and misinterpreted the rest of the scriptures that did not agree with their theological presuppositions. The Quran no more asserts that the Biblical text has been tampered with than the above verse proves that the Quran itself has been corrupted.
It is also possible that Ibn Abbas might not have been referring to S. 2:79, but rather to the following verses:
There is among them a section who distort the Book WITH THEIR TONGUES: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, "That is from Allah," but it is not from Allah. It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it! S. 3:78
Ibn Kathir notes:
The Jews Alter Allah's Words
Allah states that some Jews, may Allah's curses descend on them, distort Allah's words WITH THEIR TONGUES, change them from their appropriate places, and alter THEIR INTENDED MEANINGS. They do this to deceive the ignorant people by making it appear that their words are in the Book of Allah. They attribute their own lies to Allah, even though they know that they have lied and invented falsehood... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Volume 2, pp. 195-196; italic emphasis ours)
Interestingly this section appears right before the following citation quoted earlier:
Mujahid. Ash-Sha'bi, Al-Hassan, Qatadah and Ar-Rabi' bin Anas said that,
<who distort the Book with their tongues.>
means, "They alter (Allah's Words)."
Al-Bukhari reported that Ibn 'Abbas said that the Ayah means they alter and add although none among Allah's creation CAN REMOVE THE WORDS OF ALLAH FROM HIS BOOKS, THEY ALTER AND DISTORT THEIR APPARENT MEANINGS. Wahb bin Munabbih said, "The Tawrah and Injil REMAIN AS ALLAH REVEALED THEM, AND NO LETTER IN THEM WAS REMOVED. However, the people misguide others by addition and false interpretation, relying on books that they wrote themselves. Then,
<they say: "This is from Allah," but it is not from Allah;>
As for Allah's books, THEY ARE STILL PRESERVED AND CANNOT BE CHANGED." Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement. However, if Wahb meant the books that are currently in the hands of the People of the Book, then we should state that there is no doubt that they altered, distorted, added to and deleted from them. For instance, the Arabic versions of these books contain tremendous error, many additions and deletions and enormous misinterpretation. Those who rendered these translations have incorrect comprehension in most, rather, all of these translations. If Wahb meant the Books of Allah that He has with Him, then indeed, these Books are preserved and were never changed. (Ibid., p. 196)
Therefore, these citations serve to reinforce our earlier assessment that the Quran only claims some of the People of the Book perverted scripture with their tongues, i.e. through misinterpretation and some were writing books unrelated to the Biblical text and claiming those to be revelation. Neither of the two has anything to do with the charge of textual corruption of the Holy Bible.
In either case, the preceding evidence and Ibn Abbas' positive assertion on the preservation and incorruptibility of God's Books explicitly affirms that the last thing Ibn Abbas had in mind was to attack the purity of the Biblical text.
Ibn Kathir states that the term "Quran" was used by Muhammad to refer to previous revelation:
"... We should state here that it is possible to call other Divine Books, Qur'an, since this Qur'an is based on all of them. Imam Ahmad recorded Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,
Reciting was made easy for (Prophet) Dawud (David) in that he used to order his animal be prepared for him to ride and in the meantime he would read the entire Qur'an. He used to eat only from what his hand made.
Al-Bukhari collected this Hadith. The Qur'an mentioned here is [sic] refers to the Zabur..." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 5, p. 282; bold emphasis ours)
Here is Sahih al-Bukhari:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "The recitation of the Quran was made light and easy for David that he used to have his riding animal be saddled while he would finish the recitation of the Quran before the servant had saddled it." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 237)
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "The reciting of the Zabur (i.e. Psalms) was made easy for David. He used to order that his riding animals be saddled, and would finish reciting the Zabur before they were saddled. And he would never eat except from the earnings of his manual work." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 628)
The above hadiths call the revelation given to David both the Quran and the Psalms.
Ibn Kathir's statement that previous revelation is called the Quran due to the Quran being based on all of them seems to echo the following statement::
And indeed it is a revelation of the Lord of the worlds - brought down by the trustworthy spirit – upon your heart, so that you be one of the warners – [revealed] in a clear Arabic dialect - and indeed it IS [also] IN the scriptures (Arabic- Zubur) of old. Is it no evidence for them that the scholars of the Israelites know him [to be a true prophet]? 26:192-197
Ibn Kathir claims:
The Qur'an was mentioned in the Previous Scriptures
Allah says: this Qur'an was mentioned and referred to in the previous Scriptures that were left behind by their Prophets who foretold it in ancient times and more recently. Allah took a covenant from them that they would follow it, and the last of them stood and addressed his people with the good news of Ahmad...
Zubur here refers to Books; Zubur is the plural of Az-Zabur, which is also the name used to refer to the Book given to Dawud...
<Is it not a sign to them that the learned scholars of the Children of Israel knew it?>
meaning, is it not a sufficient witness to the truth for them that the scholars of the Children of Israel found this Qur'an mentioned in the Scriptures which THEY STUDY? The meaning is: the fair-minded among them admitted that the attributes of Muhammad and his mission and his Ummah were mentioned in their Books, as was stated by those among them who believed, such as 'Abdullah bin Salam, Salman Al-Farisi and others who met the Prophet. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 7, pp. 276-277; bold italic emphasis ours)
According to Ibn Kathir, the scriptures of old containing the description of Muhammad and the Quran was available during the time of Muhammad. If this is the case, then on what basis can Ibn Kathir claim that the previous revelation has been tampered with seeing that this verse clearly states that the previous Scriptures were still available at the time of Muhammad? The fact that the Scripture remained intact during the time of Muhammad is reinforced by the following passage:
Those to whom We have given the Book STUDY IT AS IT SHOULD BE STUDIED: They are the ones that believe therein: Those who reject faith therein,- the loss is their own. S. 2:121
Mahmoud M. Ayoub states:
(121) Wahidi relates on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, "This verse was sent down concerning the people of the ship who came [to Medina] with Ja'far ibn Abi Talib from Abyssinia. They were forty men, thirty-two from Abyssinia and eight of the monks of Syria. The monk Bahirah was said to be among them." In another tradition related on the authority of al-Dahhak, we are told, "The verse was sent down concerning those among the Jews who accepted faith [such as 'Abdallah ibn Sallam and others]." Still another tradition related on the authority of Qatdah and 'Ikrimah states, "It was sent down concerning the Companions of Muhammad" (Wahidi, p. 37; see also Ibn Kathir, I, pp. 286-287; Qurtubi, II, p. 95; Tabarsi, I, p. 448; and Shawkani, I, pp. 135-136)
Zamakhshari interprets the verse as follows: "'They to whom we have given the scriptures' are the faithful among the people of the Book who recite the scriptures in their true recitation, neither altering nor changing what they contain of the description of the Apostle of God. Those who have faith in their scriptures are contrasted with 'whosoever rejects faith in it [the scriptures],' that is, alterers. 'These shall be the losers' because they exchange guidance for error." (Zamakhshari, I, p. 308) (Ayoub, The Qur'an and its Interpreters, Vol. 1, pp. 149-150)
Hence, according to Zamakhshari there were those Jews and Christians who did not alter the scriptures but preserved and recited it as God intended. Therefore, how can one study the Book if the Book did not remain intact?
We are also told in the Quran:
They say: "O thou [Muhammad] to whom the Message (Dhikru) is being revealed! Truly thou art mad (or possessed)!..." We have, without doubt sent down THE MESSAGE (Dhikra); And We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). S. 15:6, 9
In light of the previous citations, we would like to ask the following question. Seeing that the Quran claims to be IN the previous revelation, seeing that certain Muslims used the term "Quran" for previous revelation, and seeing also that Allah claimed that he would preserve the Quran, does it not logically follow that Allah would also preserve the previous revelation that contained the Quran? This can be easily seen in that S. 26:192-197 states that the Quran IS IN the scriptures of old, meaning that the previous revelation still remained intact during Muhammad's time. This point is strengthened further by the fact that the Quran calls the previous revelation the Reminder-Dhikr:
"And before thee We sent none but men, to whom We granted inspiration: If ye realise this not, ask of those who possess THE MESSAGE (Dhikri)." S. 16:43
"Before thee, also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if ye know this not, ask of those who POSSESS THE MESSAGE (Dhikri)." S. 21:7
Or have they taken for worship (other) gods besides Him? Say, "Bring your convincing proof: this is the Reminder (Dhikru) of those with me and the Reminder (Dhikru) OF THOSE BEFORE ME." But most of them know not the Truth, and so turn away. S. 21:24
"In the past We granted to Moses and Aaron the Criterion (al-Furqana) (for judgment), And a Light and a Message (Dhikra) for those who would do right." S. 21:48
"Before this, We wrote in the Psalms, after THE REMINDER (Dhikri): 'My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth.'" S. 21:105
It is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them; they still will not believe. You will only warn someone who follows THE REMINDER (Dhikra) and dreads the Mercy-giving even though He is Unseen. S. 36:10-11 T.B. Irving
Sa'd, by the Koran, which portrays the Reminder (A.J. Arberry - containing the Remembrance/ Saaad Wal-Qur'aani Dhith-Dhikr). S. 38:1
"We did aforetime give Moses the Guidance, and We gave the Book in inheritance to the Children of Israel - A Guide and A REMINDER (Dhikraa) to men of understanding." S. 40:53-54
These passages establish that the revelation given to Moses and the Book which the Jews and Christians possessed at the time of Muhammad was also part of the "Reminder" that God had sent down. Hence, seeing that God said he would protect the Reminder, and seeing that the Reminder includes both the Holy Bible and the Quran, and seeing that the Quran supposedly IS IN the previous revelation serves to debunk Muslim claims of Bible corruption.
Another Quranic passage supporting Biblical preservation includes the following:
"Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, WHOM THEY FIND MENTIONED IN THEIR OWN (SCRIPTURES),- IN THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor him, help him, and follow the Light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper."... Of the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth... We broke them up into sections on this earth. There are among them some that are the righteous, and some that are the opposite. We have tried them with both prosperity and adversity: In order that they might turn (to Us). After them succeeded an (evil) generation: They inherited the Book, but they chose (for themselves) the vanities of this world, saying (for excuse): "(Everything) will be forgiven us." (Even so), if similar vanities came their way, they would (again) seize them. Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them, that they would not ascribe to Allah anything but the truth? AND THEY STUDY WHAT IS IN THE BOOK. But best for the righteous is the Home in the Hereafter. Will ye not understand? As to those who hold fast by THE BOOK and establish regular prayer,- never shall We suffer the reward of the righteous to perish. S. 7:157, 159, 168-170
This passage tells the people of Muhammad's time that they will find the latter mentioned in the Law and the Gospel. Again, for this to be so there had to have been uncorrupt copies of both the Law and the Gospel available at the time. The passage also admonishes the Jews to study the Book, which presumes that the Jews had an uncorrupt copy of God's revelation in their possession.
Ibn Kathir concurs. Here is his comment on S. 7:157:
This is a description of the Prophet Muhammad in the Books of the Prophets. They delivered the good news of his advent to their nations and commanded them to follow him. His descriptions were still apparent in their Books, as the rabbis and priests well KNOW. Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sakhr Al-'Uqayli said that a bedouin man said to him, "I brought a milk-producing camel to Al-Madinah during the life time of Allah's Messenger. After I sold it, I said to myself, 'I will meet that man (Muhammad) and hear from him.' So I passed by him while he was walking between Abu Bakr and 'Umar, and I followed them until they went by a Jewish man, WHO WAS READING FROM AN OPEN COPY OF THE TAWRAH. He was mourning a son of his who was dying and who was one of the most handsome boys. The Messenger of Allah asked him (the father),
<I ask you by He Who has sent down the Tawrah, do you not find the description of me and my advent in your Book?>
He nodded his head in the negative. His son said, 'Rather, yes, by He Who has sent down the Tawrah! We find the description of you and your advent in OUR BOOK. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah.' The Prophet said (to the Companions),
<Stop the Jew (the father) from (taking care of) your brother (in Islam).>
The Prophet then personally took care of the son's funeral and led the funeral prayer on him. This Hadith is sound and is supported by a similar Hadith in the Sahih narrated from Anas.
Ibn Jarir recorded that Al-Muthanna said that 'Ata bin Yasar said, 'I met 'Abdullah bin 'Amr and asked him, 'Tell me about the description of Allah's Messenger IN THE TAWRAH.' He said, 'Yes, by Allah! He is described IN THE TAWRAH, just as he is described in the Qur'an,
<O Prophet! Verily, We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of glad tidings, and a warner.> [33:45]
as a safe refuge for the unlettered ones. [author's note- what follows is a paraphrase of Isaiah 42:1-7] 'You are My servant and Messenger. I have called you 'Al-Mutawakkil' (who trusts in Allah), not hard or harsh.' Neither uttering foul speech in the markets nor returning evil deed with one in kind. Rather, he forgives and forgoes. Allah will not end his life until He straightens through him the crooked religion, so that they might proclaim, 'There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.' He will open through him sealed hearts, deaf ears and blind eyes.'" 'Ata then said, 'I also met Ka'b and asked him the same question, and his answer did not differ from 'Abdullah's answer, even concerning one letter." Al-Bukhari recorded from 'Abdullah bin 'Amr. It was also recorded by Al-Bukhari [up to the word] forgoes. And he mentioned the narration of 'Abdullah bin 'Amr then he said: "It was common in the speech of our Salaf that they describe the Books of the People of the Scriptures AS THE TAWRAH, as some Hadiths concur. Allah knows best." (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Volume 4, Surat Al-A'raf to the end of Surah Yunus, pp. 178-179; bold emphasis ours)
This story presumes that Muhammad believed that the Torah available in his time was that which God had sent down to Moses. Otherwise it would have been foolish for Muhammad to ask the Jews if whether their book contained a prophecy about him and his advent if in fact they had corrupted their scriptures. Furthermore, that Ata bin Yasar asked both Abdullah bin Amr and Ka'b al-Ahbar whether a description of Muhammad exists in the Torah presumes that they both had uncorrupt Torahs in their possessions.
One modern Muslim translator, while commenting on the above hadith from Abdullah ibn 'Amr, writes:
[This indicates that there was a copy of the Torah during the time in which Abdullah ibn 'Amr read this statement. This 'Hadith is certainly authentic and true. Otherwise, the Jews of his time, who were then as they are now, sworn enemies of Islam and its Prophets, would have contradicted him. Further, this indicates that the process of changing, altering, corrupting, amending and rewriting the so-called divine books is a tradition that the present day Jews and Christians inherited from their forefathers.] (Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah, Zad-ul Ma'ad fi Hadyi Khairi-l 'Ibad [Provisions for the Hereafter, From the Gudiance of Allah's Best Worshipper], translated by Jalal Abualrub, edited by Alaa Mencke & Shaheed M. Ali [Madinah Publishers & Distributors, Orlando Florida; First edition, December 2000], Volume 1, p. 128, fn. 1; bold emphasis ours)
The author's claim that the Bible has been corrupted is directly contradicted by his own candid admission that a genuine Torah was available during Muhammad's time! His assertion affirms the authenticity of the Scriptures since we have copies of the Bible written before, during, and after Muhammad's time that are virtually identical. The author's comments only show that the Muslim claim of biblical corruption does not stem from any evidence, but from an a priori belief that since the Bible contradicts the Quran the Bible must therefore be wrong.
Finally, this story also presumes that Isaiah 42:1-7, cited above, formed part of the Torah sent down by God to Israel. In fact, Bukhari claims that the term Torah was used in a broader sense to refer to the entire collection of divine writings possessed by the Judeo-Christian communities.
The following citations are taken from Muslim historians and scholars that implicitly attest to the authority and preservation of the Biblical text.
For instance Al-Tabari cites Matthew's Gospel, more specifically Matthew 2:1-15, as an accurate depiction of historical events that transpired in Jesus' life:
"Some historians mentioned that Jesus was born forty-two years after Augustus had become emperor. Augustus continued to live on, and his reign lasted fifty-six years; some add a few days. The Jews assaulted Christ. The sovereign in Jerusalem at the time was Caesar, and it was on his behalf that Herod the Great reigned in Jerusalem. Messengers of the king of Persia came to him. Sent to Christ, they came to Herod by mistake. They informed Herod that the king of Persia had sent them to offer Christ the gifts they carried, gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense. They told him that they had observed that Christ's star had risen - they had learned this from computation. They offered him the gifts at Bethlehem in Palestine. When Herod learned about them, he plotted against Christ, and looked for him in order to slay him. God commanded an angel to tell Joseph, who was with Mary at the sanctuary, that Herod intended to slay the child, and to instruct him to flee to Egypt with the child and its mother.
"When Herod died the angel told Joseph, who was in Egypt, that Herod was dead and that his son Archelaus reigned instead - the man who sought to slay the child was no longer alive. Joseph took the child to Nazareth in Palestine, to FULFILL the word of Isaiah the prophet, 'I called you out of Egypt'..." (Tabari, The History of al-Tabari Volume IV - The Ancient Kingdom, Moshe Perlman trans. [The State University of New York Press; Albany, 1987], pp. 124-125)
The footnote reads:
"The reference ascribed here to Isaiah is in Hosea 11:1." (Ibid, p. 125)
Ibn Ishaq quotes the Gospel of John as the very same gospel given to Jesus:
"Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted FROM WHAT JOHN THE APOSTLE SET DOWN FOR THEM WHEN HE WROTE THE GOSPEL FOR THEM FROM THE TESTAMENT OF JESUS SON OF MARY: 'He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, 'They hated me without a cause' (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord's presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord's presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.
"The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete." (Ishaq, Life Of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume, pp. 103-104)
The preceding Gospel citation is taken from John 15:23-16:1. Ishaq never once hints that this particular Gospel is inauthentic or corrupt.
Additionally, we find a NT verse inscribed in the Kaba. On p. 86 of Ishaq's The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasulallah), we read:
"Layth Abu Sulaym alleged that they found a stone in the Kaba forty years before the prophet's mission, if what they say is true, containing the inscription 'He that soweth good shall reap joy; he that soweth evil shall reap sorrow; can you do evil and be rewarded with good? Nay, as grapes cannot be gathered from thorns'"
Hence, we even have Matthew 7:16 inscribed on a stone in the Kaba itself!
"Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other. Thou wilt see them bow and prostrate themselves (in prayer), seeking Grace from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. On their faces are their marks, (being) the traces of their prostration. This is their similitude IN THE TAURAT; and their similitude IN THE GOSPEL IS: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight. As a result, it fills the Unbelievers with rage at them. Allah has promised those among them who believe and do righteous deeds forgiveness, and a great Reward." S. 48:29
According to this passage, the description of Muslims in prayer IS IN the Torah and Gospel, meaning that both books were available during the time of Muhammad. Interestingly, Yusuf Ali claims that the description of Muslims in the Torah and the Gospel is an allusion to Numbers 16:22 and Mark 4:27-28:
"... In the Book of Moses, which is now found in a corrupt form in the Pentateuch, the posture of humility in prayer is indicated by prostration: e.g. Moses and Aaron 'fell upon their faces', Num. xvi. 22." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an - Meaning and Translation, p. 1400, n. 4916)
Ali claims that the Pentateuch only contains portions from the Book of Moses, but is not the actual revelation given to Moses. Yet, the verse itself claims that Moses' Torah WAS AVAILABLE during the time of Muhammad. There is absolutely no warrant for the claim that today's Torah, which is virtually identical to that available in Muhammad's time, only contains part of the original revelation. Aside from his claim on the Pentateuch, Ali indirectly affirms that the book of Numbers formed part of the Torah alluded to by the Quran!
... The similitude in the Gospel is about how the good seed is sown and grown gradually, even beyond the expectation of the sower: "the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how; for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the earth"; Mark, iv 27-28... (Ibid., n. 4917)
This again presumes that the Gospel of Mark formed part of the Gospel that the Quran claims was sent down to Jesus.
The following tradition is found in Mishkat al-Masabih, translated by James Robson, Ashraf, Lahore, 1963,
Book II, ch. I, pp. 62,63:
Ziyad b. Labid said: The Prophet mentioned a matter, saying, "that will be at the time when knowledge departs." I asked, "How can knowledge depart when we recite the Qur'an and teach it to our children and they will teach it to their children up till the Day of Resurrection?" He replied, "I am astonished at you, Ziyad. I thought you were the most learned man in Medina. Do not these Jews and Christians READ THE TORAH AND THE INJIL without knowing a thing about their contents?" Ahmad and Ibn Majah transmitted it, Tirmidhi transmitted something similar from him, as did Darimi from Abu Umama.
Muhammad claims that the Jews and Christians of his day were actually reading the Torah and the Injil. This again presumes that uncorrupt copies of the Torah and Gospel were available at that time. Otherwise it would not have been possible for the Jews and Christians to be reading something they did not possess.
Mishkat al-Masabih, Book I, ch. VI, p. 49 states:
Jabir told how 'Umar b. al-Khattab brought God's messenger A COPY OF THE TORAH saying, "Messenger of God, THIS IS A COPY OF THE TORAH." When he received no reply he began to read to the obvious displeasure of God's messenger, so Abu Bakr said, "Confound you, do you not see how God's messenger is looking?" So 'Umar looked at God's messenger's face and said, "I seek refuge in God from the anger of God and His messenger. We are satisfied with God as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as Prophet." Then God's messenger said, "By Him in whose hand Muhammad's soul is, were Moses to appear to you and you were to follow him and abandon me, you would err from the right way. Were he alive and came in touch with my prophetic mission he would follow me." Darimi transmitted it.
According to this tradition Umar had an uncorrupt copy of the Torah in his possession. Muhammad's complaint is not that the text of the Torah had been tampered with. Rather, his complaint centered around the fact that the Torah was not binding upon the Muslims since Muhammad's guidance has replaced the revelation given to Moses.
Again, from Mishkat, Book XX, ch. I, p. 892:
Salman said HE READ IN THE TORAH that the blessing of food consists in ablution after it, and when he mentioned that to the Prophet he said, "The blessing of food consists in ablution before it and ablution after if." Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud transmitted it.
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: The best day on which the sun has risen is Friday; on it Adam was created, on it he was expelled (from Paradise), on it his contrition was accepted, on it he died, and on it the Last Hour will take place. On Friday every beast is on the lookout from dawn to sunrise in fear of the Last Hour, but not jinn and men, and it contains a time at which no Muslim prays and asks anything from Allah but He will give it to him. Ka'b said: That is one day every year. So I said: It is on every Friday. Ka'b READ THE TORAH and said: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) has spoken the truth. AbuHurayrah said: I met Abdullah ibn Salam and told him of my meeting with Ka'b. Abdullah ibn Salam said: I know what time it is. AbuHurayrah said: I asked him to tell me about it. Abdullah ibn Salam said: It is at the very end of Friday. I asked: How can it be when the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) has said: "No Muslim finds it while he is praying...." and this is the moment when no prayer is offered. Abdullah ibn Salam said: Has the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) not said: "If anyone is seated waiting for the prayer, he is engaged in the prayer until he observes it." I said: Yes, it is so. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 3, Number 1041)
Yahya related to me from Malik from Yazid ibn Abdullah ibn al-Had from Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Harith at-Taymi from Abu Salama ibn Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf that Abu Hurayra said, "I went out to at-Tur (Mount Sinai) and met Kab al Ahbar and sat with him. He related to me things from the Tawrah and I related to him things from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Among the things I related to him was that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'The best of days on which the sun rises is the day of jumua. In it Adam was created, and in it he fell from the Garden. In it he was forgiven, and in it he died. In it the Hour occurs, and every moving thing listens from morning till sunset in apprehension of the Hour except jinn and men. In it is a time when Allah gives toa muslim slave standing in prayer whatever he asks for.' Kab said, 'That is one day in every year.' I said, 'No, in every jumua.' Then Kab RECITED THE TAWRAH and said, 'The Messenger of Allah has spoken the truth.'" ... Abu Hurayra continued, "Then I met Abdullah ibn Salam and I told him that I had sat with Kabal-Ahbar, and I mentioned what I had related to him about the day of jumua, and told him that Kab had said, 'That is one day in every year.' Abdullah ibn Salam said, 'Kab lied,' and I added, 'Kab then RECITED THE TAWRAH and said, "No, it is in every jumua.'' ' Abdullah ibn Salam said, 'Kab spoke the truth. 'Then Abdullah ibn Salam said, 'I know what time that is.'" (Malik's Muwatta, Book 5, Number 5.7.17)
That both Salman and Kab were reading from and reciting the Torah presumes that uncorrupt copies of the Torah were available during that time.
In light of the preceding evidence, it is no wonder that the Quran gives the following warning to those that deny the revelation given to the messengers that preceded Muhammad:
"Those who deny the Book, and that with which We sent Our Messengers they will come to know. When iron collars will be rounded over their necks, and the chains, they shall be dragged along. In the boiling water, then they will be burned in the Fire." S. 40:70-72
Yet, problems still remain for the Muslims. By accepting the Holy Bible one must reject Muhammad since Muhammad contradicted the message given in the previous revelation. But to reject the Holy Bible is to reject both the message of the Quran and the Sunnah since the latter sources both presume the preservation and reliability of the Holy Bible.
Shiites and The Gospel of Jesus
The following quotes are taken from an online Shiite document titled, Words of the Word of God: Jesus Christ ('a) Speaks through Shi'i Narrations.
Several of the sayings are actually quotations from the Canonical Gospels. For the most part, the narrations are introduced as words from the Gospel (singular), not the Gospels (plural).
After each narration, we will provide the accompanying footnote right afterwards since they help identify the source from which these sayings were taken.
28. Al-Sayyid ibn Tawus, may Allah have mercy on him, said: I read in the Gospel that Jesus ('a) said: "I tell you, do not worry about what you will eat or what you will drink or with what you will clothe your bodies. Is not the soul more excellent than food, and the body more excellent than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor store away, yet your heavenly Lord provides for them. Are you not more excellent than they'? Who among you by worrying can add a single measure to his stature'? Then why do you worry about your clothes?'' (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 317) 
 Cf Matt 6.25-34:
64. Al-Sayyid ibn Tawus, may God have mercy on him, said: "I read in the Gospel that Jesus ('a) said: 'Who among you gives his son a stone when he asks for bread? Or who hands out a snake when asked for a cloak? If despite the fact that your evil is well-known you give good gifts to your sons, then it is more fitting that your Lord should give good things to one who asks." (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 318; Sa'd al-su'ud, 56) 
 The corresponding verses of the Bible are Matt 7:9-11, which in the New international Version (NIV) are translated as follows:
9 Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
65. Jesus ('a) said: "You heard what was said to the people of yore, 'Do not commit adultery,' but I tell you, he who looks at a woman and desires her has committed adultery in his heart. If your right eye betrays you, then take it out and cast it away, for it is better for you that you destroy one of your organs than cast your entire body into the fire of hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it away, for it is better for you to destroy one of your organs than that your entire body should go to hell. (Bihar al-anwar, xiv, 3l7) 
 The corresponding verses of the Bible are Matt. 5:27-30, translated in the King James Version (KJV) as:
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shall not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
73. Al-Sayyid ibn Tawus, may God have mercy on him, said: "I read in the Gospel that Jesus ('a) boarded a ship and his disciples were with him, when suddenly there was a great confusion in the sea, so that the ship came near to being covered by the waves. And it was as though [Jesus ('a)] was asleep. Then his disciples came to him and awakened him and said: 'O master! Save us so that we do not perish.' He said to them: 'O you of little faith! What has frightened you?' Then he stood up and drove away the winds, and there was a great stillness. The people marveled, and said: 'How is this? Verily the winds and the sea obey him.' "  (Bihar al-anwar xiv, 266)
 Cf. Matt 8:23-27 (KJV):
95 It is reported from the Gospel: "Beware of liars who come to you in sheep's clothing while in reality they are ravenous wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. It is not possible for a good tree to bear vicious fruit, nor for a vicious tree to bear good fruit." ('Uddat al-da'i, l52). 
 Cf. Matt 7:15-16, 18 (KJV):
Taking these statements at face value, we can safely presume that these scholars had no problem equating the words from the canonical Gospels as the Gospel of God given to Christ.
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