Does the Bible Speak of Muhammad? (Part 2 – the Torah)

As we have seen, Muslims expect to find references to Muhammad in the Bible. They have been told that when Jesus spoke in the Injeel of a Comforter who was to come, he was referring to Jesus. When we looked at the words of Jesus, however, we see that he could not have been speaking of Muhammad, but rather he was foretelling tIhe coming of the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles.

The Torah

As for the Law of Moses, Muslims think that Deuteronomy 18:15,17-19 clearly speaks of Muhammad.

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear…” (Most translations read, “from among your brethren.”) Moses reminded the people that when they were at the foot of Mount Sinai, where the Torah, i.e. the Law, was given, they had asked not to hear the voice of God himself anymore, lest they die. “And the Lord said to me, ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.’”

Muslims see several similarities between Moses and Muhammad and draw the conclusion that Muhammad is the very prophet whose coming is predicted in this passage. For example, both Moses and Muhammad were married men with children, both emigrated after becoming targets for assassination, both led their followers to war and victory, and both gave a Law and a detailed code of conduct. On the other hand, one can easily see a number of similarities between Moses and Jesus, also. For instance, shortly after his birth, Jesus was saved by God from certain death, as was Moses. Jesus and Moses were both transfigured on a mountain in such a way that their faces shone (Exodus 34:29,30 et Matthew 17:1-5). Each of them interceded before God on behalf of guilty men. Each of them inaugurated, through sacrificial blood, a covenant between God and men.

But instead of trying to see if Muslims or Christians can come up with the longest list of similarities, let us look more closely at the criteria mentioned in the prophecy concerning the prophet who was to come. Here are the two criteria to be examined:

  1. Moses told the people of Israel that the Lord would raise up a prophet “from your midst, from your brethren;”
  2. God said that this prophet would be “like” Moses.

“From Your Brethren”

Muslim commentators like to emphasize the expression “raise up from your brethren” and suggest that the Israelites are not their own brethren, that God was surely speaking of one of Israel’s “brother peoples.” According to them, one should seek this prophet among the nations which were related to the Israelites and not among the Israelites themselves. To identify the nations that were “related” to Israel, one would go back in history to find out which nations originated with the brothers of Israel’s ancestors. For example, the father of the Israelite nation was called Israel, or Jacob, and he had a brother named Esau. The descendants of Esau were the Edomites. There is a Bible passage, Deuteronomy 2:4,8, in which the Edomites are called the “brothers” of the Israelites. If one goes back a little farther, one finds that Jacob’s father, who was named Isaac, had some half-brothers: Ishmael, Midian, Zimran, Medan, and others. According to the idea advanced by some Muslims, one could consider that the Ishmaelites (Arabs are descendants of Ishmael), the Midianites and the others would be “brothers” of the nation of Israel. Muhammad, being an Arab, would be among the brothers of the Israelites. It should be noted, however, that the Bible never uses the term “brothers” in speaking of the Ishmaelites (or Arabs), the Midianites, or the other peoples descended from Abraham.

Even if we wanted to consider these other peoples as “brother-nations” to Israel, however, that would not establish that the prophet predicted by Moses could come from one of them. First, it would be necessary to take out the first part of what Moses said: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren” (Deuteronomy 18:15). Since Moses was speaking to Israel, the words “from your midst” must necessarily refer to Israel; so the prophet would be an Israelite. But secondly, we would have to interpret the words “from your brethren” in an unusual not to say totally bizarre manner. Who among us, if we were told to call one of our “brothers” to be given an important job or position of authority, would draw the conclusion that the members of our own family were excluded and that we had to find a man whose ancestors had been, hundreds of years earlier, related to our ancestors?

As for the expression “from your brethren,” we have a parallel in the preceding chapter. In Deuteronomy 17:14,15, Moses says to Israel, “You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.” Throughout their history the Israelites never set over themselves a non-Israelite king. God chose neither an Ishmaelite, nor an Edomite, nor a Midianite, nor someone from any other nation to reign over his people. He first designated Saul, who was an Israelite from the tribe of Benjamin, and then the family of David, who was an Israelite of the tribe of Judah.

It is clear that the prophet whose coming was predicted by Moses would be an Israelite, which disqualifies Muhammad as the fulfillment of this prophecy.

That Which Set Moses Apart

Let us return to the second criterion: the prophet would be “like” Moses. We have already recognized that in many ways Muhammad was indeed like Moses; in the same way, Jesus was, in various respects, like Moses. But according to the Bible itself, what set Moses apart from the other Israelites or even from the other prophets? What would allow the people of Israel to recognize one day that they were listening to the one who was “the prophet like Moses”?

The last chapter of Deuteronomy contains these words of praise concerning Moses: “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12). These words are generally attributed to the pen of Joshua, the inspired author of the following book in the Jewish scriptures. The author does not say that such a prophet could never again appear among the people of Israel, but that at the time of his writing they had not yet seen anyone like Moses.

What we want to notice especially is this passage are the distinguishing traits of Moses:

  1. the fact that God knew Moses face to face; and
  2. the great miracles and signs performed by Moses.

In regard to the first trait, God himself drew attention to it in Numbers 12. He used to speak to other prophets through visions or dreams, or he sent angels to communicate his messages to them. In Numbers 12.7,8, however, God says, “Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord.” In this respect we cannot say that Muhammad was like Moses. Muhammad never made such a claim. Muslims generally say that it was the angel Gabriel who gave Muhammad the words of the Qur’an, on behalf of God, of course. We would say that he played the role of an intermediary, or go-between. In Surah 53:2-9 – Al-Najm), for example, Allah says, “Your companion has neither strayed nor is he misguided, nor does he speak out of his own desire. It [the Qur’an] is nothing but revelation sent down to him. He was taught by [an angel] who is mighty in power, and endowed with wisdom; who in time manifested himself; standing poised at the highest point on the horizon, then came down close until he was two bow-lengths away or even closer and revealed to God’s servant what he revealed.” As for Jesus, his way of speaking recalls much more the description of Moses that we read. Jesus told the Jews in John 8:40, “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.” Later, in John 12:49, he said, “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak… What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me” (ESV).

The second trait which distinguished Moses from the other prophets was the number and the power of the miracles that he did by God’s will and which clearly attested to the fact that it was the Lord who had sent him to deliver Israel and who was the author of the laws and commandments that Moses was passing on to the people. In regard to Muhammad, a reading of the Qur’an reveals that he was not doing miracles as Moses had done. At least seven times one reads that the adversaries of Muhammad asked him, “Why has no sign been sent down to him from his Lord?” In these passages various responses are given: “Say, ‘Signs are granted only by God.’ How can you tell that if a sign be given to them, they will indeed believe in it?” (Surah 6:109 – Al-An’am). “Say: ‘I but follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. This (the Qur’an) is nothing but evidences from your Lord, and a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe’” (Surah 7:203 – Al-A’araf). “Tell them, ‘God alone has knowledge of the unseen. So wait; I too will wait with you’” (Surah 10:20 – Yunus). “Say, ‘The signs are in the hands of God. I am but a plain warner’” (Surah 29:50 – Al-Ankabut). In no case does Allah give Muhammad the miraculous power to perform a sign resembling the miracles for which Moses was well known and which might have silenced his adversaries.

The contemporaries of Jesus, on the other hand, all recognized the great power that he had from God. In their preaching the apostles appealed to these signs when they called on the multitudes to believe in Jesus. In Acts 2:22 the apostle Peter described him as “Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know.” Even his enemies were unable to deny the miracles: “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him’” (John 11:47,48). In this respect, as well, we see that it is Jesus who was a prophet like Moses.

That is just the conclusion that people drew back then. In John 1:45 we see that very early in the ministry of Jesus “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’” Jesus himself recognized that Moses had spoken of him: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46). Finally, in their preaching the apostles clearly linked the prophecy in Deuteronomy to the person of Jesus Christ. Peter told the Jewish crowd, “For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you…’ All the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days… To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (Acts 3:22,24,26).

As we have seen, Muhammad was not the Comforter of whom Jesus spoke. Nor was he the prophet of whom Moses spoke. According to the Injeel, we do not need to guess of whom Moses was speaking when he referred to a prophet like himself. That prophet was Jesus of Nazareth. So let us not forget to do what Moses recommended doing in regard to this prophet whenever he came: let us listen to him.

Does the Bible Speak of Muhammad? (Part 1 – the Injeel)

According to the Qur’an, Jesus announced that another messenger would come after him. This other messenger would be called Ahmad, which means “Praised One.”

“And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Children of Israel, surely I am the messenger of Allah to you, verifying that which is before me of the Torah and giving the good news of a Messenger who will come after me, his name being Ahmad. But when he came to them with clear arguments, they said: This is clear enchantment.” (Surah 61:6 – As-Saff)

According to the hadiths (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, No. 5810), Muhammad said that his name was also Ahmad.

In another passage of the Qur’an, Allah promises His mercy to those who would follow “the illiterate Prophet” (Muhammad) who had been mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel:

“But My mercy encompasses all things. I shall prescribe it for those who do their duty, pay the zakat and who believe in Our signs. Also for those who follow the Messenger—the unlettered prophet they find described in the Torah that is with them, and in the Gospel.” (Surah 7:16,157 – Al A’raf)

Considering these facts, Muslims expect to find references to Muhammad in the Bible.

The Injeel

Regarding the New Testament, many Muslims think that the passages where Jesus speaks of the Comforter who was to come are predictions of their prophet, Muhammad (John 14:16,17; 14:26; 15:26; 16:7-13).

The most common argument is based on the Greek word, paraklétos, which has been translated Comforter (but which many recent translations render Helper). Muslim teachers claim that the Bible texts have been changed and that originally they did not contain the word parakletos, but rather the word periklutos, which means, as it happens, “praised one,” just like Ahmad in Arabic. Thus, when Jesus says in John 14:6, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper (paraklet), that He may abide with you forever” (NKJV), and in John 16:13, “But when he comes, he will guide you into all the truth,” he would be speaking of Muhammad, the last of the prophets.

Let us examine these passages to determine if this explanation is correct. It should be emphasized out that those who claim that the word parakletos is a corruption of the word periklutos do not point out any problems concerning the nature and the functions of the Comforter as Jesus describes them in the Gospel. Here are the texts in their entirety:

John 14:16,17: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

John 15:26,27: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”

John 16:7-15: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

All these passages have the same historical context. These are things Jesus said to his apostles the night before his death, after Judas had gone out to betray him. He was preparing his apostles for the ordeal which was coming (his arrest and execution) and was encouraging them in regard to the work which they would have to accomplish when he was no longer there. The promise of the Comforter’s help surely gave them confidence. After his resurrection, Jesus repeated his promise concerning the Holy Spirit (the Comforter):

“He also presented Himself alive [to his apostles] after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” (Acts 1:3-5)

The coming of the Comforter was thus to take place within a few days. Muhammad was born in 570 A.D. and proclaimed himself to be a prophet forty years later. After nearly 600 years, all the disciples to whom Jesus spoke and whom he commanded not to depart from Jerusalem had been dead for a long time when Muhammad came. If Muhammad were the promised Comforter, the promise was not fulfilled in the time frame that Jesus specified and the apostles were not able to benefit from any help he brought.

In addition, Jesus said to his apostles concerning the Comforter, “But you know Him” (John 14:17). The apostles of Jesus could not know Muhammad. Plus, it is clear from the words of Jesus that the Comforter would not be a man. Not only does he call him “Spirit,” but he says that the world cannot see him. He says to the apostles, “He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Muhammad, as a mortal man, could not “abide with [the apostles, or even with men in general] forever” (John 14:16). Someone might answer that the words of the Comforter remain with us as they are contained in the Qur’an. But Jesus did not say that the words of the Comforter would abide—he referred to the Comforter himself. Besides, the words of the Qur’an are not presented as being those of Muhammad, but rather those of Allah. The words of Muhammad are found in the hadiths.

The Comforter was to “teach all things” (John 14:26); he was to “guide into all the truth”; obviously, the Comforter is the one who has knowledge of all things. The Qur’an presents Muhammad, however, as being a messenger whose knowledge was limited. For example, Allah says to Muhammad in Surah 17:86 – Al-Isra, “And they ask you (O Muhammad) concerning the Rooh (The Spirit); Say: ‘The Rooh: it is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you have been given only a little.’” Some of those who listened to Muhammad wanted to know their destiny in the hereafter, and they questioned him about it. In Surah 46:9 – Al-Ahqaf, Allah tells Muhammad to answer them in this way: “Say: I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.” His knowledge concerning the things to come was thus limited. In another passage (10:94 – Yunus) Allah says to him, “If you are in any doubt concerning what We have sent down to you, then question those who have read the Book before you: the Truth has come to you from your Lord, so do not be one of the doubters.” So Allah told Muhammad to question the Jews and the Christians concerning the points on which he might have doubts, because they had read the Book (the Bible) and could instruct him. It would be very surprising if “the Comforter” needed to be taught instead of teaching us all things, but that would have been the case if Muhammad were the Comforter of which Jesus had spoken.

Jesus said more than once that the Comforter would come in his name (the name of Jesus), that he would come as an answer to the prayer of Jesus, that he would take what belonged to Jesus and declare it to men, and that his role would be to glorify Jesus. Although Muhammad may have said some good things about Jesus as a prophet, Muhammad never said that he came in Jesus’ name or that he had been sent by Jesus or at the request of Jesus. Muhammad did not glorify Jesus—he did not elevate him above himself or the other prophets. The description that Jesus gives of what the Comforter would do does not correspond to what Muhammad did in his ministry.

According to the Gospel, the Holy Spirit is the Comforter promised by Jesus to his apostles. In the hadiths Muhammad never identifies himself as being Spirit. Nor does he use the title “Comforter” to speak of himself. The Qur’an does, however, recognize the existence of the Holy Spirit. Allah says in Surah 2:253 – Al-Baqarah, “And We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit which had, according to Allah, confirmed Jesus would come to help the apostles of Jesus.

It is important to point out that thousands of manuscripts (handwritten copies) of the texts of the New Testament are available, manuscripts which date from before the lifetime of Muhammad. None of these manuscripts contain the word periklutos in any verse at all.

Muhammad himself did not say that this word in the Bible had been changed. To the contrary, the Qur’an affirms several times that the word of Allah cannot be altered:

Surah 6:34 – Al-Anam: “And there is none to change the words of Allah.”

Surah 10:64 – Yunus: “There is no changing the words of Allah.”

Surah 18:27 – Al-Kahf: “And recite that which has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord. There is none who can alter His words.”

In the Gospel, Jesus makes a similar declaration: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

Allah told Muhammad to strongly recommend to Christians and to Jews that they trust the Book which had been given to them and that they obey it:

“Say: O People of the Book, you follow no good till you observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which is revealed to you from your Lord.” (Surah 5:68 – Al-Ma’idah)

Or again:

“Say: We believe in Allah and (in) that which has been revealed to us, and (in) that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and (in) that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and (in) that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them and to Him do we submit.” (Surah 2:136 – Al-Baqarah)

It seems clear that Allah would not have allowed men to change the words which he had given to Jesus. Muhammad never suggested that such a thing had taken place. The real reason we find so many problems in the idea that Muhammad is the person of whom Jesus was speaking in John 14:16 is simply that Jesus was not talking about Muhammad, and the New Testament texts have not been changed, after all.

The Gospel of Barnabas

Have you ever heard of the Gospel of Barnabas? Some people say it is the only true Gospel, the one that has been hidden by the Christians. These people claim that the Gospels contained in the Bible are corrupted versions of what God gave to Jesus. Unlike the four books that Christians recognize, the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, this book, which claims to have been written by Barnabas, explicitly cites the name of Muhammad. In speaking of the first man, it says in chapter 39, “Adam, having sprung up upon his feet, saw in the air a writing that shone like the sun, which said: ‘There is only one God, and Mohammed is the messenger of God.’” According to Barnabas, Jesus reproached the apostle Peter for having attributed to him the title of Son of God, and he wept because of this expression. He said in chapter 112:

“Know, O Barnabas, that for this I must have great persecution, and shall be sold by one of my disciples for thirty pieces of money. Whereupon I am sure that he who shall sell me shall be slain in my name, for that God shall take me up from the earth, and shall change the appearance of the traitor so that every one shall believe him to be me; nevertheless, when he dieth an evil death, I shall abide in that dishonour for a long time in the world. But when Mohammed shall come, the sacred messenger of God, that infamy shall be taken away.”

These are ideas that are in complete harmony with the beliefs of a good many Muslims. Before accepting this document as authentic, however, it would be best to examine it more closely.

It Contradicts the Qur’an and the Bible

Those who espouse the idea that the document known as the Gospel of Barnabas is the true Gospel have probably never read it. Just like those who accept, without verification, the idea that the Bible has been corrupted, these individuals have surely made the mistake of accepting, without verification, the idea that the Gospel of Barnabas is a true account of the life and the words of Jesus. Yes, this book is in conflict with the Bible, but it is in conflict with the Qur’an, also.

For example, it says in chapter 3, “While Joseph abode there the days were fulfilled for Mary to bring forth. The virgin was surrounded by a light exceeding bright, and brought forth her son without pain.” The Qur’an, however, clearly says about Mary in Surah 19:23 – Maryam, “The pains of labour drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She said, ‘Oh, if only I had died before this and passed into oblivion!’”

Another conflict concerns the title of Messiah. According to the Gospel of Barnabas, chapter 42, “Jesus confessed, and said the truth: ‘I am not the Messiah.’” He supposedly said, to the contrary, that it was Muhammad who was the Messiah. We read in chapter 43, “If the messenger of God whom ye call Messiah were son of David, how should David call him lord? Believe me, for verily I say to you, that the promise was made in Ishmael, not in Isaac.” The Qur’an says just the opposite, systematically attributing to Jesus alone the title of Messiah, al-Masih. For example, in Surah 4:171 – An-Nisa’, it speaks of “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary.” Neither the Qur’an nor the Hadiths ever call Muhammad the Messiah.

The Qur’an, in Surah 2:29 – Al-Baqarah, says that Allah “turned towards heaven and fashioned it into the seven heavens. He has knowledge of all things.” According to the Gospel of Barnabas, there are nine heavens: “Jesus answered: ‘Paradise is so great that no man can measure it. Truly I say to you that the heavens are nine… But stop you at the measuring of the first heaven, which is by so much greater than the whole earth as the whole earth is greater than a grain of sand. So also the second heaven is greater than the first, and the third than the second, and so on, up to the last heaven” (Chapter 178).

The Qur’an authorizes polygamy; the Gospel of Barnabas, in chapter 115, forbids it.

Every Christian who reads the Gospel of Barnabas immediately sees that it contradicts the Bible on numerous points. If the Bible is the Word of God, the Gospel of Barnabas cannot be. The Muslim, for his part, should understand that the so-called Gospel of Barnabas is not in harmony with the Qur’an. If it contradicts both the Bible and the Qur’an, it is clearly not inspired by God. Muhammad said that God gave the Injeel to Jesus. The book we are talking about here could not possibly be the Injeel of which Muhammad spoke.

It Comes from Neither the First Century Nor from Palestine

The real Barnabas was a first century Jew. The disciples of Jesus followed their teacher throughout the Palestinian provinces such as Galilee and Judea. It is obvious that the author of the Gospel of Barnabas did not know the geography of Palestine. In chapter 20 he says that Jesus got in a boat and sailed to Nazareth. Having arrived in Nazareth, the seamen spread through the city, telling about a miracle that Jesus had done. Nazareth, however, is not located near the Sea of Galilee. It is in the hills a good distance from the sea. According to Barnabas, Jesus left Nazareth and “went up” to Capernaum. There again he is mistaken, for Capernaum actually is located on the Galilee seashore and one cannot “go up” to get there, certainly not from Nazareth.

In chapter 3 “Barnabas” says that Jesus was born while Pontius Pilate was governor. In fact, Herod the Great was the king over all of Palestine at the time of Christ’s birth. Pontius Pilate was not sent to govern Judea until 26 A.D.

The author of Barnabas does not know that “Christ” and “Messiah” mean the same thing, for he always speaks of “Jesus Christ” but has Jesus say: “I am not the Messiah.” In reality, Christ comes from the Greek word, christos, and Messiah comes from the Hebrew, mashiach. Both words mean exactly the same thing: the one who is anointed.

The Gospel of Barnabas is filled with what are called anachronisms. An anachronism is when a speaker or writer places a fact, a custom, a person, etc. in a time other than the one to which it really belongs. It is usually done by mistake or out of ignorance. Here are a few examples.

In chapter 92 it is said that “at this time we with Jesus, by the word of the holy angel, were gone to Mount Sinai. And there Jesus with his disciples kept the Forty day (Lent).” The problem is that at that time, Judaism had no forty-day period set aside for fasting or any other purpose; neither the Law nor the Jewish traditions speak of such an observance. The practice of abstinence for a period of forty days is unknown prior to the 4th century. It is a Catholic tradition that did not exist in the time of Jesus and his disciples.

Every time the Gospel of Barnabas quotes the Jewish scriptures, it uses the Latin translation of the Bible, called the Vulgate. This translation did not even exist until several centuries after the death of the real Barnabas.

In chapter 152 we find this interesting sentence: “Whereupon straightway the soldiers were rolled out of the Temple as one rolls casks of wood when they are washed to refill them with wine; insomuch that now their head and now their feet struck the ground, and that without any one touching them.” The author, who wants to pass for a first-century Jew, does not realize that wine was not kept in wooden casks, or barrels, in the first century, especially not in Palestine, where wine was kept in wineskins, sewn from the skin of animals, or else in clay jars (amphorae). Casks for wine were practically unknown in the Roman Empire before 300 A.D.

Many other examples of this kind could be given, but it is clear that the book contains numerous errors, and the kind of error one makes when speaking of a time or a country that one does not know personally. The author of this book was no associate of Jesus, nor even of one of the early disciples of Jesus. He lived centuries later and in another country.

Long passages of the Gospel of Barnabas even provide proof of plagiarism. For example, in chapter 135 we read, “Know ye, therefore, that hell is one, yet hath seven centres one below another. Hence, even as sin is of seven kinds, for as seven gates of hell hath Satan generated it.” These words and many others are taken directly from a literary work called The Divine Comedy, composed by the Italian writer, Dante Alighieri, in 1314 A.D.

The Problem of the Manuscripts

Finally, let us deal with manuscripts. There are thousands of manuscripts of the Bible, handwritten copies, many of which date back to the second and third centuries A.D. The New Testament was not written very long after the events it describes. The various Gospels contained in the New Testament, those of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are frequently mentioned by Christian authors in the oldest historical documents. It is simply not possible that these books could be late inventions, especially not after the time of Muhammad.

On the other hand, we do not find, prior to 1634, any mention of the Gospel of Barnabas that could correspond to the book we are discussing. The reference in 1634 comes from a Tunisian author named Ibrahim al-Taybili. As for manuscripts, only two manuscripts of the Gospel of Barnabas are known, one in Italian and the other in Spanish; both date from the 16th century. The Spanish manuscript has been lost, but a copy of it had been made in the 18th century before its disappearance. No other manuscript of the book has ever been discovered. No proof exists to suggest that this book may have existed during the first 1300 years after the life of Jesus. Those who are best informed suggest that the Gospel of Barnabas was written by an unknown author sometime between the 14th and the 16th centuries after Christ, and that this author was not Jewish, as the real Barnabas was.

[A few years ago, rumors were spreading on the Internet: “An ancient manuscript… found with bandits… by the Turkish police… secrets… hidden for 1500 years… the Vatican is afraid…” This manuscript was reputed to be written in Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. Couldn’t this be the lost Gospel, the one by Barnabas? As a matter of fact, no. The manuscript is not that old. On the one hand, it is not in Palestinian Aramaic, the language spoken in the time of Jesus, but rather in Syriac, a version of Aramaic spoken near Turkey. The way the words are written is not the classical script but a more modern script. Finally, the manuscript itself says that it was produced in Nineveh in 1500 A.D. So it was produced in the year 1500 of our era, and not 1500 years ago, as media reports mistakenly claimed. As for its contents: a man named Tatian produced in the second century a synthesis of the four Biblical Gospels to make of them a single continuous account, called the Diatessaron. The manuscript being discussed on the Internet is apparently a Syriac translation of the Diatessaron which was made from the Greek version. This translation, of which other manuscripts exist, is known by the name “Peschitta”.]


The so-called Gospel of Barnabas is obviously a counterfeit, a lie; but that should not surprise us: we have already seen that it contradicts both the Bible and the Qur’an. It is not the Word of God. It is not an eye-witness account of the life of Jesus. It cannot cast doubt on the authenticity of the New Testament. On the contrary, a comparison of the true Gospel and this false one only strengthens our confidence in the trustworthiness of the Gospel that we possess. So get yourself a copy of the Bible, and read it!

Why Did God Send Several Revelations?

A Muslim friend asked me this question: “Why did God send many prophets and give them other books, such as the Zabur (Psalms), the Injeel (Gospel), and the Qur’an, when he had already given the Torah to Moses? Why would we need the rest of the Bible in addition to the Torah, not to mention the Qur’an?” Here is the answer my friend gave me to his own question: “When the Jewish rabbis deformed the book that God had given previously, God sent another messenger with another divine book to remind people of what had been beforehand.”

Not a Simple Repetition of What Was Already Revealed

As we have already seen, my friend’s answer is not valid for several reasons.

Since I do not accept the idea that the word of God could be changed by men, who would have thus prevented Him from accomplishing what He wanted, what answer can I give to the question raised by my friend: Why did God send many prophets and give them other books, even though He had already given the Torah to Moses?

The first thing to understand is that the different books of the Bible do not claim, as the Qur’an does, to merely repeat what had been revealed before. In Surah 41:43 – Fussilat, Allah says to Muhammad, “Nothing is said to you (O Muhammad) except what was said to the Messengers before you.” Each book in the Bible, on the other hand, plays a role in making known God’s work, His will and His unfolding plan.

The first book of the Torah is called Genesis, which means “beginning.” It tells of the beginning (or creation) of the universe and of human beings, of the entrance of sin into the world, of the origin of the people of Israel, and of other “beginnings.” The next four books in the Torah contain laws which God gave to His people, Israel, and tell the rest of the story of this people during the lifetime of Moses. The twelve books which come next in the Old Testament give us the story of God’s relations with the people of Israel over the course of the thousand years between the death of Moses and the ministry of the prophet Malachi. During these ten centuries, God sent various prophets, not to change the laws given to Moses, but to call the people to obey these laws with love and faithfulness and to return to God when they had strayed from the right way. The messages that these prophets gave from God are found in seventeen other books of the Old Testament, called the major prophets and the minor prophets (“major” for the longer books, and “minor” for the shorter ones). There are five other books, including the Psalms of David, the Zabur. They contain a lot of practical wisdom for everyday life and inspired words of praise and supplication addressed to God. The law given to Moses is at the heart of all the other books of the Old Testament; in fact, the whole thing is sometimes referred to as “the Law.” It is also called the old covenant.

A Change Is Announced

It is important to know that the Old Testament looked forward to something else. Moses had spoken to the people of a prophet like himself whom God would raise up and to whom everyone would need to listen. (I know that Muslims believe that he was talking about Muhammad and that Christians believe he was speaking of Jesus. We will deal with that question elsewhere.) What I want to emphasize is that already in the time of Moses, God was telling the people to expect someone great whom He would send in the future. Later, God told David that he would raise up one of David’s descendants to rule over a kingdom that would have no end. Other prophets provided additional details concerning this descendant, known as the anointed one, the Messiah. One of the prophets who preached to the people before the fall of the Kingdom of Judah, six hundred years before Christ, spoke a message in which the Lord said, “’Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke’” (Jeremiah 31:31,32).

To Fulfill, Not to Abolish

When Jesus came and began to preach, he made a statement that many people, including Christians, have misunderstood even to our time. He said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17,18). Here is a passage which, according to some people, supports the idea that the Law is eternal. But what does Jesus mean when He said that he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them? Jesus promising, in a way, to allow the Law to play the role for which it had been given. He is not simply going to remove it.

Suppose that I sign an IOU (“I, John Smith, promise to pay James Green the amount of $200 on March 31”) to attest to the fact that I owe my neighbor $200. If, on the day when he presents the paper that I signed, I grab the paper away from him and throw it in the fire, without repaying the money that I borrowed, I have abolished the document, but I have not fulfilled what was written. It is true that my neighbor can no longer use this paper to demand that I pay his money back. It has been destroyed. But I did not respect it. If, on the other hand, I pay him the money I owed and he writes on the paper that I have paid the amount in full, my neighbor cannot use the paper again to demand more money. But in that case, I respected the IOU that I had signed. In neither case can the paper be used again to require anything of me, but in the first scenario the paper was simply “abolished”; in the second scenario what was written was actually fulfilled. The words of Jesus do not mean that the Law was supposed to remain in effect forever, but that Jesus was going to respect the purpose for which the Law had been given.

Jesus said that the smallest part of the Law would not disappear until everything had been accomplished. By saying that, Jesus actually affirmed that the Law would disappear. Indeed, throughout the Gospel it is said that this event or that took place “to fulfill what was written by the prophets.” In John 19:30 we see the last words of Jesus before dying on the cross: “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” When Jesus came back to life, he tried to make his disciples understand the necessity of his sufferings and death. “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled’” (Luke 24:44). Nothing was to disappear from the Law until all had been fulfilled. With the death of Christ, everything was fulfilled.

The Gospel teaches us a deep respect for the Law and the Prophets that preceded it, for we find many spiritual lessons there. But it also teaches us that the Law of Moses is no longer in effect. It has served the purpose for which God gave it. This purpose, as a matter of fact, was to lead us faith in Christ: “But before faith [the Gospel] came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith [the Gospel] which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor” (Galatians 3:23-25). Second Corinthians 3:6-11 teaches that the Law, although it was glorious, was temporary; the Gospel, which is permanent, surpasses it in glory. And this Gospel, this faith, according to Jude 3, “was once for all handed down to the saints.” God preserved His word and does not need to deliver it to mankind again.

We see then that the various books of the Bible were not revealed to rectify that which had been changed in the preceding revelations, as if men constantly managed to frustrate the Almighty and force Him to redo what He had already done. No. All of these revelations were steps in the plan of the Omniscient One, He who sees the end from the beginning. Each of these revelations played its role in this plan and brought it closer to its final objective. They form a harmonious whole, but we can see that only when we recognize that they lead us to Jesus, the Savior.

How Did God Preserve the Bible?

The first Muslims believed that God had watched over the revelations that He had given prior to the time of Muhammad; God continues to protect and preserve His Word. But how does He do it, and what proofs can we furnish to show that the Bible has survived intact?

A Little History

To better understand the preservation of the Bible, and especially of the New Testament, it would be useful to remind ourselves of the history of the first centuries of Christianity.

The books which make up the New Testament were written by the apostles and other God-inspired men in the years following the death of Jesus. These men were either eyewitnesses of the ministry of Jesus, or men who had a lot of contact with the eyewitnesses. They finished writing these books before the end of the first century, during the lifetime of those who had known Jesus personally, his enemies as well as his friends. This is important when we consider that these books were circulating just about everywhere in the world at the time when it would have been easy to point out errors, lies or exaggerations. The writers of the Bible could not have allowed themselves to invent miracles that Jesus did not do or teachings that he never gave. We should point out that typically a great deal of time passes between the lives of great men of history and the writing of the first biographies telling their stories. For example, the principle biographies describing for us the life of Alexander the Great, the Greek emperor who conquered the world from Greece all the way to India, were written around 400 years after his death. Ibn Ishaq, the author of Sira Rasul, the first biography of Muhammad, was born more than 70 years after the death of the prophet. He was not a witness of the events that he described and would barely have been able to speak with an eyewitness of even the latest events in Muhammad’s career. Besides, we no longer even have his book, but only an abridged version produced by Ibn Hisham, who died 60 years after Ibn Ishaq. So the nearness of the Gospel writers to the events they describe gives us confidence that these are reliable accounts.

Let us consider then the matter of how these writings were preserved in such a way that they did not undergo changes.

Original Texts and First Copies

The books which make up the New Testament were written in the Greek language, which at that time was the lingua franca, the international language which was used every day by people in all the countries of the Roman Empire. The authors wrote on papyrus, a kind of paper made from a type of reed that grew in Egypt. These accounts of the life of Jesus and letters addressed to churches and individual disciples were sent to various cities of the world. Those to whom they were addressed carefully made copies of them in order to share them with others. These handwritten copies are called manuscripts. Each local congregation made sure to acquire them in order to teach its members. These manuscripts did not all come from a single place or from one central organization. Christians in every city, region and country applied themselves to the task of lovingly recopying these texts so that as many people as possible might have access to them. This is why they began very early on to translate the Gospel into different languages. Just as today there are people in English-speaking countries who do not speak English and people in French-speaking countries who do not understand French, there were some people at that time who did not know Greek. Translations of the Bible were made for them in their own languages, just as translations of the Bible and the Qur’an exist in various languages today.

(It seems worthwhile to point out parenthetically that some people are confused by the word “version,” which is often used in the place of “translation.” These people think that the different “versions” of the Bible are different Bibles, books with very different contents and meanings. This is not at all the case. These are translations made from the same Greek text in order to make it understood by those who do not know the Greek language. We can have several translations in the same language because languages evolve over time and because not everyone has the same level of instruction or the same vocabulary. I personally own four different translations of the Qur’an in English and two in French. Even though they do not use exactly the same words, the ideas are the same. These translations are very useful, given the fact that it is estimated that 80% of Muslims around the world do not speak Arabic.)

Back to the subject of manuscripts. Copies were made not only because of the growing number of Christians and local churches, but also because papyrus, the paper of that day, was not very durable. The manuscripts were used constantly, and with time they wore out. It was necessary to make new copies both for the new congregations and to replace those that were no longer in good condition.

As you can certainly see, we do not have the original manuscripts, written by the hands of the apostles; but that should not alarm you. You see, we don’t have the original manuscript of the Qur’an either, the one produced by Zaid ibn Thabit on the orders of the Caliph Abu Bakr. Contrary to popular opinion, we no longer possess the copies made from this first manuscript, copies which were made later at the command of the Caliph Uthman. In this we are in much the same situation whether we speak of the Bible or of the Qur’an: the originals are not available today.

Thousands of Manuscripts

On the other hand, we possess thousands of ancient manuscripts of the Bible, and here is where we see the hand of God protecting His word. To be more specific, we have at least four kinds of manuscripts which allow us to confirm that the Bible we possess today is the same word of God that was given to begin with.

Archeologists have discovered thousands of partial manuscripts which date back to the time from 100 A.D. to 325 A.D. These are manuscripts containing parts of the New Testament. They are in complete agreement with the manuscripts of the entire New Testament produced later on in the form of books (codex) rather than scrolls. Furthermore, when we compare these partial or complete manuscripts to one another, we see that they are derived from the same original sources.

As for the complete manuscripts, there are several of them. One of the oldest is the Codex Sinaiticus. It dates from 325 A.D. and is kept in the British Library in London. Other complete manuscripts are the Codex Vaticanus, which dates from 350 A.D. and the Codex Alexandrinus, which dates back to 400 A.D. All modern translations of the Bible are made on the basis of these manuscripts. It is very, very significant that Muhammad was born in 570 A.D. The Injeel could not have been corrupted after the lifetime of Muhammad. The manuscripts of the Injeel which we possess today go back centuries before his ministry. In recommending that people read the Scriptures of the people of the Book, Muhammad explicitly gave his approval to the very texts that Christian and Jews read today.

There are people who do not understand the value of having so many thousands of manuscripts. Consider this: suppose that someone, a non-inspired man, had gathered together all the copies of the Injeel, that he had made his own manuscript, and that he had burned all the other copies. From that point on, all future copies of the Injeel would have come from that single copy made by this person. There would no longer be any means of verification to prove that this man had not omitted certain parts or added things or changed the words that had been used originally. If, in looking at the copies that had been sent to him, he saw any variants, he could have chosen only the versions of the text that suited him and his supporters. After all, if the copies that had been sent to him had not differed here and there from the manuscript that he produced, there would have been no reason to burn them after finishing his work. Destroying all “unofficial” copies would only be useful if one wanted to hide something or silence all other points of view. The multitude of New Testament manuscripts that we have today gives us reason, not to doubt, but to have complete confidence that God has preserved His word.

Three Ways to Confirm the Manuscripts

In addition to the number of manuscripts of which we have been speaking, we have three other tools to confirm the authenticity of the Bible.

1) One source of confirmation that the current text of the Bible is identical to that of the early centuries of Christianity is the body of writings produced by those who are sometimes called the Church Fathers. These were leaders and theologians among the Christians during the first two centuries after the death of the apostles. They wrote letters to churches and even to unbelievers they wanted to persuade concerning the truth of the Injeel. These writings, produced by over 200 authors, contain so many direct quotations from the copies of the New Testament that was available to them, that we could use them to verify the totality of the text that we have today. These quotations agree perfectly with the manuscripts of which we have spoken.

2) A second kind of document which confirms the text of the New Testament is something we call a lectionary. These books contained the designated Bible readings for public gatherings of the church throughout the year. More than 3,000 ancient lectionaries have been discovered and are available for study.

3) Finally, we can speak of the different translations of the Gospel made by the early Christians in the various languages of the day, such as Latin, Syriac, Copt, Armenian, Ethiopian, Nubian Arabic, Slavic and Persian. More than 6,000 manuscripts of ancient translations in many languages have been found. One can retranslate these texts into Greek and then compare them to the Greek manuscripts that we have. The result confirms once again that the Bible we have today is the same as that of the early Christians. It has not been changed.

Proof to the Contrary?

It is easy to gratuitously claim that the Bible has been corrupted; it is something else to actually provide details and proof. For example, how and when were these changes made? Since manuscripts were scattered throughout the world, there would have been no way to change them all, especially in light of the fact that for centuries no centralized power or worldwide hierarchy existed among Christians. If the changes had been made before the time of Muhammad, it must be explained why, instead of warning that the Torah and the Gospel had been corrupted and were no longer trustworthy, he instead strongly recommended listening to them, following them and using them to confirm the message that he was receiving. On the other hand, the Bible cannot have been changed since the time of Muhammad, because the texts from which our modern translations are made go back centuries before the time of Muhammad.

We do not have space to describe all the efforts that enemies of the Faith have made over the centuries to destroy all Christian scriptures, to tear up or burn every copy of the Bible. As we have already demonstrated, these efforts were all in vain. No, it is very clear: “No change can there be in the Words of Allah, this is indeed the supreme success” (Qur’an 10:64).

Has the Bible Been Corrupted?

Many Muslims do not respect the Bible because they believe it has been changed by Jews or Christians, that it has been corrupted and that one can no longer trust it. Some say that God did indeed give the Tawrat (the Torah) of Moses, but the Tawrat was corrupted. Then he gave the Zabur (the Psalms) to David, but the Zabur was corrupted. Next he sent the Injeel (the Gospel) to Jesus, son of Mary, but the Injeel was corrupted. Finally, Allah was forced to give the Qur’an to Muhammad. Are they right? Has the true Bible been either changed or taken away altogether?

“There Is No One Who Can Change the Words of Allah”

One believer in Christ says that when someone claims that the Bible has been corrupted, he answers, Astaghfir ‘allah! In other words he immediately asks Allah to forgive this person for having blasphemed. A servant of Allah must not lightly say that mere mortal men could do such a thing. After all, we all know that God is All-Powerful. Is He not capable of protecting His own word? Of course He is able! If human beings managed to corrupt the Word of God, then they would be stronger or smarter than God, and we know that is impossible. No, it is unthinkable that God would allow His word to be changed.

Besides, both the Bible and the Qur’an affirm this truth. Jesus said in Mark 13:31, “The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” The prophet Isaiah said, “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8). The Qur’an clearly affirms the same thing. Surah 10:64 – Yunus: “No change can there be in the Words of Allah, this is indeed the supreme success.” According to Surah 6:34 – Al-An’am, “There is no one who can change the words of God”. Other passages in the Qur’an teach the same truth.

The Qur’an never says it was given because other scriptures from Allah had been changed. It rather suggests that His revelation had not yet reached the Arabic-speaking people in their own language and that for this reason Allah chose Muhammad and entrusted to him the same revelation for his people, but in a way that they could understand. In Surah 41:43,44 – Fusillat, Allah says to the prophet, “Nothing is said to you but what was said indeed to the messengers before you; surely your Lord is the Lord of forgiveness but also the Lord of painful retribution. Had We sent this as a Quran [in a language] other than Arabic, they would have said, ‘Why are its verses not clearly explained? What! An Arab Prophet, and a scripture in a foreign tongue?’” Again, in Surah 42:7 – As-Sura: “Thus We revealed to you, this Arabic Quran so that you may warn the mother of cities [Makkah] and those around it, and warn them of the Day of Gathering which is sure to come.”

It is clear that the giving of the Qur’an to Muhammad had nothing to do with a so-called corruption of the previous revelations.

Two Kinds of Corruption

In this discussion the Arabic word “Tahrif” is sometimes used; it means that the thing spoken of has been deformed, falsified, or changed from its original state. It is sometimes translated by the word “corrupt.” People do not always realize that there are two kinds of “tahrif”: there is tahrif-il lafzi which refers to changing a written text, that is, the text itself. There is also tahrif-i ma’nawi, which refers to changing the meaning, or giving false explanations of a text.

In reading the passages of the Qur’an that some people quote to support the idea that the Bible has been corrupted, it can be seen that nearly all of these texts are talking about the second kind of Tahrif and do not cast any doubt at all on the authenticity of the text of the Bible as we have it. For example, in Surah 3:78 – Al-Imran, we read, “There are some among them who distort the Book by the way they speak to make you think that what they say is from the Book, whereas it is not. They say it is from God whereas it is not. Thus they tell a lie about God and they know it.” Iman Fakhar al-Din Razi in his commentary on this verse explicitly says that the Jews only committed “Tahrif-I-Manwai” and that the passage does not mean that they altered the sacred text.

People also quote Surah 2:75,77 – Al-Baqarah:

“Do you then hope that they will believe in you when some of them have already heard the word of God and then, after having understood it, they knowingly perverted it?… Do they not know that God knows all that they conceal and all that they disclose? There are among them unlettered people who have no real knowledge of the Scriptures.”

Notice that these passages only refer to the Jewish scriptures and not to the Gospel. In addition, they do not speak of changing what was written, but rather of twisting the meaning when one was reading the text aloud or of omitting certain parts and not pronouncing them.

A Worldwide Plot? Really?

There is, on the other hand, a text in the Qur’an which speaks of a sin committed by certain Jews that involved writing. “Woe to those who write the scripture with their own hands, and then declare, ‘This is from God,’ in order to sell it for a paltry price. Woe to them because of what their own hands have written, and woe to them for what they have earned” (Surah 2:79 – Al-Buqarah). But do these accusations mean that the Jews were taking an authentic text and altering it permanently? Let us suppose that a corruption of manuscripts did take place: are we to believe that all the Jews in the world followed those to whom Muhammad spoke in this verse? And if, strangely, the Jews in every other country for some reason accepted the changes made by the group mentioned in this passage of the Qur’an, it is impossible to believe that all Christians around the world accepted these same changes to their sacred texts. Do not forget that Christians also possess the Torah. They, also, have cherished and conserved the books of Moses and of the other prophets for the past two thousand years. One can hardly deduce from this text, which refers to an act committed in the midst of a small Jewish community in a remote place, that this act resulted in the corruption of the Torah, of which the entire Jewish population around the world as well as the Christian population, several times larger, possessed copies. It is simply not a rational conclusion. In addition, as we have already said, none of these Koranic passages speak of a corruption of the Injeel, the New Testament of the Christians.

It is important to know that before the 12th century, that is five hundred years after the time of Muhammad, no Muslim scholar ever suggested that the texts of the Bible had been corrupted. Neither Muhammad nor those referred to as “the rightly guided” put forth such an idea. The ancient Muslim commentators, such as Ibn Mazar and Abu Hatim, quoted ibn Muniyah to affirm explicitly that the Torah and the Injeel are still in the same state of purity as when they were brought down from heaven, and that no modification has been made to them. The Jews just had the habit of deceiving the people by unfounded arguments and in twisting the meaning of Scripture.

Can a Corrupt Book Confirm a Revelation from God?

Surah 2:40,41 – Al-Baqarah says, “Children of Israel, remember my blessing wherewith I blessed you… And believe in that I have sent down, confirming that which is with you, and be not the first to disbelieve in it.” (Translation of A. J. Arberry).

Surah 5:68,69 – Al-Ma’idah says:

“Say, ‘People of the Book, you have no ground to stand on until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what is revealed to you from your Lord’… Believers, Jews, Sabaeans and Christians—whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right—shall have nothing to fear nor shall they grieve.”

The reader cannot help but draw the conclusion that, according to the Qur’an, the revelations granted to the people of the Book were still available to them. There is no indication that these Scriptures had been taken away or annulled by God, or corrupted by men. To the contrary, the existence of the Scriptures is plainly confirmed.

The second of these two passages warns the people of the Book that if they do not observe the Torah and the Injeel, they are disbelievers (kifirun). If the authentic texts had not been available, why would the Qur’an tell the people of the Book to observe them and obey them?

We have already quoted Surah 4:136: “Believers, believe in God and His Messenger and in the Scripture He sent down to His Messenger, as well as what He sent down before. He who denies God, His angels, His Scriptures, His messengers and the Last Day has surely gone far astray.” Given that the Qur’an commands the faithful to believe in all the books (that is, to learn, to understand and to follow what is in them), their contents must not have been corrupted or annulled.

Finally, even Muhammad, in case of doubt, was supposed to refer to the Scriptures entrusted to the Jews and the Christians. Allah said to him in Surah 10:94 – Yunus, “If you are in any doubt concerning what We have sent down to you, then question those who have read the Book before you: the Truth has come to you from your Lord, so do not be one of the doubters.” Does it not seem strange to you that certain Muslims claim that the Bible was annulled, taken away to heaven, or corrupted so that it is no longer a trustworthy guide? Obviously, one could not use a corrupted book to evaluate or confirm the Qur’an.

Does the Muslim have the right to read the Bible?

Would you agree that we should reject neither Christianity nor Islam based on the words and actions of bad Christians and bad Muslims, those who do not know or do not follow the true teachings of Christianity and Islam? It would be fairer to examine the life and teachings of Jesus or the life and teachings of Muhammad in order to decide whether or not each one of them was sent by God.

The Religion of Our Fathers

Too many people never question the beliefs they have inherited from their parents: they are Christians because their parents were Christians, or they are Muslims because their parents were Muslims. And yet, both Christians and Muslims ask Pagans to reject their idols, their false gods, in spite of the fact that these Pagans inherited them from their parents. If we ask others to examine the religion in which they were born, shouldn’t each of us examine the religion into which he or she was born to determine whether or not it is the true one? And shouldn’t we take the trouble to go to the source before evaluating the religion of others?

It is always best to avoid basing our conclusions on hearsay. A believer in Christ named Fouad Masri was speaking to his Muslim friend, Kamal. Fouad asked him:

“‘Kamal, have you read the Injeel?’ He scoffed, ‘No, it’s been changed.’ Fouad countered, ‘Well, if you haven’t read it, how do you know it’s been changed?’ He replied, ‘Well, my dad told me it was.’ Fouad asked him, ‘Did your dad read the Injeel?’ ‘No,’ Kamal responded. ‘So how does he know it’s been changed?’ his friend urged. ‘Well,’ said Kamal, ‘Grandpa told him it was.’ Fouad couldn’t help but ask, ‘Did Grandpa read the Injeel?’ And of course, Kamal replied that his grandfather hadn’t read the Injeel.” (Connecting With Muslims).

Misinformation is passed on in this way from generation to generation, without anyone verifying what he is told. Isn’t this dangerous? In spite of the love and respect we have for our parents, we recognize that, like all men, they can be ignorant of certain truths. And so we discover and take advantage of new ways to treat various diseases, to raise crops, to travel from one place to another, to communicate with those who live far away, or to do many other things. Keeping an open mind does not mean we are being disrespectful to our parents or our heritage. By doing so, we may be able to bring a blessing to both ourselves and our families.

Two hundred years ago, the pagan people living on certain islands in the Pacific Ocean were torn by war and violence. One day two men who were traveling by canoe were taken off course by a great storm and ended up far from their destination. After many days they landed on an island called Rarotonga. The chief of the island asked them for news of the island from which they had come. The two men began to explain that great changes were taking place on their home island: all the people were burning their idols. They had all begun worshipping the God of Heaven and Earth instead of their old gods. The chief was astounded. He asked them, “Just what has this ‘God of Heaven and Earth’ given you to cause you to abandon the gods of your fathers?” The travelers answered very simply, “Peace. This God has given us peace.” At this, the chief of Rarotonga ordered his people to pray to the God of Heaven and Earth so that He might send a messenger to them, as well, so that they could worship this God and have peace. In spite of the fact that his ancestors had not known this God, the chief recognized that he and his people needed Him very badly.

Is the Bible Forbidden to Muslims?

Muslims sometimes have the mistaken idea that it is forbidden for them to read or to own a copy of the Bible. If one of their children acquires a Bible, they may beat the child and take away the Bible. If one of their friends is discovered reading a Bible, they treat him as if he is guilty of something terrible or shameful.

They forget that according to one of the Hadith, “The prophet said, Tell the stories of bani-Israel, for it is not a sin to do so.” More importantly, nowhere does the Qur’an itself forbid the reading of the Bible. To the contrary:

The Qur’an says in Surah 2 – Al-Baqarah, aya 136, “Say, ‘We believe in God and what was revealed to us; and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants, and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the [other] prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them. It is to Him that we surrender ourselves.’” Instead of forbidding the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians, this verse clearly says that the Muslim must grant them the same respect that he gives to the Qur’an. All of these writings would be from the same source and would deserve the same esteem.

The Qur’an says in Surah 4:136 – An-Nisa, “Believers, believe in God and His Messenger and in the Scripture He sent down to His Messenger, as well as what He sent down before. He who denies God, His angels, His Scriptures, His messengers and the Last Day has surely gone far astray.” It is inconceivable that a faithful Muslim would treat the Bible with contempt, when, according to his own Qur’an, it came down from Allah Himself and all believers are to accept it.

Other passages in the Qur’an speak in the same way:

“Believers, argue only in the best way with the People of the Book, [but contend not at all] with such of them as are unjust. Say, ‘We believe in what has been revealed to us, and what has been revealed to you; our God and your God are one; and to Him we submit.’” (Surah 29:46 – Al-Ankabut)

Allah says to Muhammad in Surah 2:4,5 – Al-Baqarah:

“Those who believe in the revelation sent down to you and in what was sent before you, and firmly believe in the life to come—they are the people who are rightly following their Lord and it is they who shall be successful.”

And again:

“Say, ‘People of the Book! Do you resent us only because we believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and to others before, and because most of you are disobedient?’” (Surah 5:59 – Al-Ma’idah)

How can one claim to believe in what was given by God to Moses and to Jesus, and say at the same time that it is forbidden to read what was revealed them? How can one say, as some claim, that the Qur’an replaces the Bible and makes it useless and unimportant, when the Qur’an itself recommends many times to read both the Qur’an AND the Bible?

Muslims sometimes ask Christians, “Why do you not accept our prophet and our holy book, whereas we recognize not only Muhammad, but also Jesus, Moses and all the prophets of God, as well as what God revealed to them?” The Christian wonders in just what sense the Muslim claims to believe in Jesus, Moses and the other prophets when he refuses to read these revelations, nor does he recognize the right of others to read them.