Part 2—The Quran—Confirmatory of Previous Scripture?
THE Quran is the holy book of Islam and by the 250 to 300 million Muslims throughout the world is regarded as inspired. It makes many references to persons and incidents mentioned in the Bible, such as Adam, Noah, Moses, Jesus and the Flood. Compiled in the middle of the seventh century A.D. by the associates of Muhammad who survived him, it claims to corroborate previously given divine revelation. “And we gave [Jesus] the Evangel with its guidance and light, confirmatory of the preceding Law; a guidance and warning to those who fear God . . . And to thee we have sent down the Book of the [Koran] with truth, confirmatory of previous Scriptures, and their safeguard.”—Sura 5:50-52, Rodwell.
There can be no question about it. God is a God, not of confusion, but of reason and order. The revelations he gives to men must be consistent with each other if we are to prove God true but all men liars. (1 Cor. 14:33; Isa. 1:18; Rom. 3:4) And so we find it to be the case as regards the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Greek Scriptures. The 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures are harmonious with each other though written by more than thirty different men over a period of many, many centuries. And the 27 books of the Christian Greek Scriptures are both harmonious with one another and confirmatory of the Hebrew Scriptures.
That is why Christ Jesus could tell the religious leaders in his day: “You are searching the Scriptures, because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39, NW) And that is why the Beroeans were commended for carefully examining the Scriptures to make sure that what Paul was telling them was indeed confirmatory of previous Scriptures; and why Paul counseled Timothy to be diligent in his studies of the Scriptures.—Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15; 3:15-17.
By thus confirming and harmonizing with each other, both the Hebrew and the Christian Greek Scriptures support each other’s claim to authenticity. We should therefore expect to find the Quran, since it also claims divine inspiration, to be harmonious with and confirmatory of previous revelation. But do we? Let us see.
The name of Jehovah, peculiar to the God of the Bible, is given the place of first importance throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. (See Exodus 6:3; 2 Samuel 7:23; Psalm 83:18, etc.) Christ Jesus and his followers also highlighted the importance of that name. (John 17:4, 6; 18:37; Acts 15:14) And although that name is missing from most versions of the Christian Greek Scriptures, ancient manuscripts of the Greek Septuagint show that the early Christians used the name Jehovah.
But what about it in the Quran? Although the name of Jehovah appears 6,823 times in the Hebrew Scriptures alone, we fail to find a single reference to it in the Quran. Clearly the Quran is not confirmatory of previous Scriptures as regards the name of Jehovah. Its Allah is nameless.
Again, the Hebrew Scriptures teach that the penalty for sin is death: “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing.” “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Gen. 3:19; Eccl. 9:5, 10; Ezek. 18:4) The Christian Greek Scriptures confirm this by telling us that “the wages sin pays is death”. (Rom. 6:23, NW) Such texts as seem to indicate otherwise are found to be illustrations given by Jesus in his parables or in the book of Revelation and are not to be taken literally, no more than the surrounding context is.—See Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:14.
But the Quran, far from confirming the foregoing, strikingly disagrees with it, warning of hell-fire, eternal torment and punishment after death in 75 per cent of its suras, literally hundreds of times. “Those who reject our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, we shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the Penalty.” And those in hell will plead for destruction but will not get it. (Sura 2:206; 4:56; 25:13, 14, Ali) Says a Muslim commentator (Ali): “Anything—total annihilation—would be better than the anguish they will suffer. But no annihilation will be granted them.” Can such a god be properly described as “the Compassionate, the Merciful”, as the Quran does in every sura’s beginning (except the ninth)?
REGARDING CHRIST JESUS
The Hebrew Scriptures quote the true God as saying: “I said, Ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High. Nevertheless ye shall die like men.” And again: “Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee.” And Isaiah foretold: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Ps. 82:6, 7; 2:7; Isa. 9:6, AS) Clearly these scriptures indicate that Jehovah God has sons who are called gods, and that among these there is one who occupies a preferred position.
And the Christian Greek Scriptures time and again confirm the foregoing both by direct quotations and by identifying this particular Son of God as the Messiah, Christ Jesus. “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.”—Matt. 3:17; 17:5; John 10:34; Heb. 1:5, NW.
But in this again the Quran fails to confirm previous Scripture, for, while acknowledging that Jesus was born of a virgin, it repeatedly insists that God does not have offspring: “Sole maker of the Heavens and of the Earth! how, when He hath no consort, should He have a son? He that created everything, and He knoweth everything!” “It beseemeth not God to beget a son. Glory be to Him! when he decreeth a thing; He only saith to it, Be, and it Is.”—Sura 2:110; 6:101; 19:19-22, 36, 91-93; 72:3; 112:3, Rodwell.
Evidently the difficulty here lies in making too literal a comparison of the Fatherhood of God with that of human creatures. A man cannot have a son without a spouse with whom he has sexual relationship; that is the only way in which he can bestow life upon another. But God is not so limited. The Bible speaks of Adam as being the son of God; yet it also tells us that he made Adam out of the dust of the ground.—Luke 3:38; Gen. 2:7.
God is a God of order and he has chosen to use an organization for the carrying out of his purposes in heaven just as he has used and does use organizations of men on earth to carry out his purposes. Time and again these organizations are referred to as God’s spouse, which, of course, is in a figurative sense. By means of such an organization he brought forth spirit creatures, and since these received life from God they are properly spoken of as “sons of God”.—Isa. 54:5; Rev. 12:1; Gen. 6:4; Job 38:7.
The Hebrew Scriptures also foretold that the Messiah would come, would suffer, would be nailed to the torture stake and would die for the sins of others. “The assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; . . . But he was wounded for our transgressions, . . . he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people.”—Ps. 22:1-21; Isaiah chapter 53, AS.
And the Christian Scriptures confirm all this also, from beginning to end, telling not only that Jesus suffered but that he also died on the stake and that for the sins of man. “For I handed on to you, among the first things, that which I also accepted, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, yes, that he has been raised up the third day according to the Scriptures.”—Matt. 27:31-36; John 1:29; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4; Gal. 3:13, NW.
But far from confirming previous Scripture in these matters the Quran states: “They said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus’ . . . But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them . . . for of a surety they killed him not.” (Sura 4:157, Ali) A footnote to the foregoing states (n. 663): “The Orthodox Christian Churches make it a cardinal point of their doctrine that his life was taken on the Cross, that he died and was buried. . . . This is necessary for the theological doctrine of blood sacrifice and vicarious atonement for sins, which is rejected by Islam.”
By rejecting the doctrine of the atonement for sin the Quran further denies its claim to be confirmatory of previous Scripture. From Genesis through Revelation the Bible unequivocally states that the penalty for sin is death (as we have already seen) and that only a sacrifice can expunge the guilt. The need of a sacrifice for sins was emphasized in the many sin and trespass offerings and particularly by the offerings made on the day of atonement, all of which were a vital part of the Mosaic law arrangement. (Leviticus, chapters 4-7, 16) All of these established the principle that “unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place”, and they had their fulfillment in the sacrifice of Christ Jesus.—Hebrews, chapters 9, 10, NW.
Then again, according to Genesis 7:13; 10:1 it is apparent that Noah and his sons, all of them, as well as their wives, were spared. This is confirmed by 2 Peter 2:5, which tells that Noah and seven others passed through the flood. But according to the Quran, one of Noah’s sons was destroyed in the flood.—Sura 11:36-47, Ali.
And in considering the relative positions of angels and man the Christian Greek Scriptures confirm the Hebrew Scriptures that man was created a little lower than the angels; but according to the Quran, the angels are inferior to man.—Ps. 8:5; Heb. 2:7, 9; Sura 2:30-34, Ali.
More instances could be given but the foregoing should suffice to show that the Quran does not live up to its claim to be confirmatory of preceding Scriptures.
THE BIBLE CORRUPTED?
In endeavoring to explain such discrepancies as have been noted in the foregoing, Muslim writers contend that the Quran does confirm previous Scriptures as they were originally given, but that it could not be expected to confirm the corrupted versions extant today. But since when? Surely, in view of the many ancient manuscripts at hand today it cannot be argued that the Scriptures were corrupted since Muhammad’s day. If they were corrupted at all such must have been done before his time. But this poses another problem: Why hold out the Quran as confirmatory of previous Scriptures when there were no particular Scriptures extant at the time by which this claim could be proved?
The fact is that not even the Quran teaches that the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures had been corrupted in Muhammad’s day. It implies just the opposite, for it accuses Jews and Christians of being false to their Scriptures, either by misquoting them, ‘displacing words’ or by failing to quote them completely, ‘throwing them behind their backs,’ as it were.
“And some truly are there among them who torture the Scriptures with their tongues, in order that you may suppose it to be from Scripture, yet it is not from the Scripture.” “O children of Israel, . . . clothe not the truth with falsehood, and hide not the truth when ye know it.” How could they be accused of torturing the Scriptures with their tongues, if what they had were not indeed the Scriptures? And how could they be accused of knowingly clothing the truth with falsehood and of hiding it, if their Scriptures were already corrupted?—See Sura 2:38, 39, 70-73; 3:63, 64, 72; 4:50, 135; 5:16, 47, 50-52, 70, 72; 10:94, Rodwell.
In view of all the foregoing it is not at all surprising to learn that Muslim commentators themselves fail to agree that the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are corrupted. Arguing against such corruption is none other than Râzî himself, one of their foremost Imams, or religious leaders. According to him: ‘tampering with the Tourat [the Law, Pentateuch or Book of Moses] and the Evangel [the gospel of Christ Jesus] was impossible, as both were handed down in an unbroken and widespread succession.’
Yes, in spite of the contentions of Muslim scribes and modern “Christian” higher critics to the contrary, the facts of history all argue against the Bible’s having been corrupted. Wherever contemporary historians touch on incidents recorded in the Bible they corroborate them, such as the anti-Christian writers of the first and second centuries A.D.; even as countless archaeological discoveries and geological findings have done. According to one Albright, foremost American archaeologist, ‘nothing has been discovered by archaeology to shake the faith of the Christian in the Bible in the slightest.’
In this connection note also the words of the noted scholar, Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, of England: “The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may now be regarded as firmly established. General integrity, however, is one thing, and certainty as to details is another.”—The Bible and Archaeology (published 1940), pp. 288, 289.
And the evidence is piling up that the same is true regarding the Hebrew Scriptures. A striking case in point being the recently discovered Dead Sea scroll of Isaiah, which though some seven centuries older than any other copy of Isaiah, revealed no striking changes so as to indicate a corruption of text.
The facts are clear. The Christian Greek Scriptures do confirm the previous revelation, the Hebrew Scriptures; but the Quran, although claiming to do so, does not, confirming neither. And the blame for its not being “confirmatory of previous scripture” cannot be shifted to a supposed corruption of the Biblical text, but lies with the Quran itself.