Channel: Jamal Badawi
AsSalam alaikum Peace be back for another episode of Islamic focus, we're continuing with our series dealing with the sources of Islam.
We will be talking about the authorship of the Quran and today we'll be looking at what I hope you will consider a very interesting topic and that is the Bible as a possible source of the Quran. I'm your host handle Rashid and I have joined me on the program as usual. Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's University of Jamal Assalamu alaykum Mali could not be further we get into today's interesting discussion. I wonder if I could have you perhaps just summarize the main points that we touched on in our program last week. Okay. Last week's program was part of a series of examination of the source of the Quran or its authorship. And when we began, we said that there are three basic
assumptions, possible assumptions, that the Quran was authored by Prophet Muhammad, that he learned it from some other source, or that it is a revelation from Allah. So in a number of programs, we examine the possibility that Prophet Mohammed himself would have been the author. And in several programs, it was shown that this is an totally untenable type of assumption. So last week program was simply an examination of the second assumption. Is it possible that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him learned the Quran through some other source, and we try to examine whether they could have been a possible human teacher or teachers
from whom the Prophet learned or could have learned the Quran. And we tried to analyze that in terms of the characteristics of the Prophet himself and his own character and behavior as a trusted person. The fact that the environment in which he was brought up did not really provide for this kind of knowledge or information. We discussed other aspects with respect to other
you know, Jews or Christians living somewhere in the
Arabian Peninsula, or people that he might have met in his very limited travels, that we concluded basically, that
his life was totally exposed to everyone, and everybody could see what his contacts are, and his opponents were keeping their eyes open. And if there was the slightest evidence of any human teacher, or teachers, it could have been very clearly recorded in history. And that shows again, that if there were any teachers, to the Prophet, as far as the Quran is concerned, it has none but Gabrielle, the engine of revelation as we find in the Quran. In chapter 53, verse six, he was taught by Gabrielle who communicated that Quran from unanswered any question of human source really, again, was not very fun. And I'm sure for the bulk of our viewers, most would feel that
they'll probably agree with me that we've probably provided sufficient evidence in the last three or four programs to answer the question of authorship of the Quran. But there is one very interesting area that we haven't touched on in our programs at this point. And that has to do with the question of parallels between the Quran and the Bible. Many writers that point out the similarities that exist between the Bible and the Quran, they in the Quran, and they conclude from that, that the Quran was influenced by the Bible. How would you respond? How would you react to that supposition? Well, it's interesting to notice that for centuries, there have been lots of especially in recent
decades, if you want lots of orientalists, in particular, who have been busying themselves, in trying to discover, you know, the parallels between the two books. But the main purpose behind this whole exercise really was to show the influence of the Quran or of the Judeo Christian traditions on Islam or the Quran.
But in this endeavor, they seem to have been a number of points that were either consumed or
First of all,
to assume that there is any or there was any influence of any previous scriptures on the Quran.
In fact would be another way of saying that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was perhaps one of the most notorious pleasure risers in human history, who carefully studied previous scriptures chosen specifically the things that would constitute a consistent, perfect set and came up with a kind of new ideology and again claim that it is coming from some divine source. And we have already seen in previous programs that on the basis of psychological grounds, historical logical grounds,
that this kind of assumption is certainly far from
A second point that seemed to be forgotten also in that exercise of the so called parents,
was expressed very nicely by
Dr. dubawi, in his very useful volume called as English speaking, orientalist, which was published by the Islamic Center in Geneva, Switzerland,
in which he says, as a historian and a scholar, he said, the similarity between any two compositions or books, let's say,
it was not in itself is sufficient evidence to infer that one of them copied from the others, or the later one copied from the earlier one. And it gives a very reasonable argument, which is used by historians also in some analysis of texts. Because you said that both books are both compositions could in turn, both of them be based on a third source, a common source.
So even if it were a human book, if the Quran and the Bible were human books, which we don't believe they were totally human writings, and will indicate that
even that is not sufficient evidence.
A third point
is that there are definitely certain parts of the Bible that might have remained intact, and reflects the some basis of the revelation that was given to prophets before. And we will find also the doctrine is totally, completely nothing but the Pure Word of Allah or God, that is totally divine revelation.
Allah, or God, capital G, was the source of both revelations, then that answered the question, if there is any similarity, it's simply because the source of revelation that was given to Moses, Jesus, David or other prophets, is the same source also that gave this revelation to Prophet Mohammed. So what is so strange then, that there are certain things in the Quran which are similar to the Bible, whether it relates to some basic truths to basic moral teaching, or other aspects, that doesn't mean at all that when copied from the others. In fact, some scholars even carry the point further. And they say that if you take for example, something like the 10 commandments, you
may find that in some religions that preceded both Christianity and Judaism, if you go back to old Hindu writings, for example, you might find some similar kinds of statements. Does that mean that Judeo Christian tradition will all
be copied from Hindu scriptures? Nobody really can make that unreasonable assumption.
The other point that should be added here is that
in the in this kind of discussion, there seem to be an implicit assumption that a scripture or book because it is more recent, has more validity or more important, sorry, scripture, which is old that has more validity than that than one that is more recent. And that's not necessarily true. Now, that's an interesting point, you don't think this is necessary? So it's not automatic that older scripture is necessarily more dependable than the latter one? No, I don't think so. Could you perhaps
Okay, suppose even assume that two scriptures or revelations were equally preserved in intact and their purity.
And that would be a different story altogether.
But the situation here is rather different. Let me at least touch on two basic areas here.
if there were sufficient historical evidence, historical, logical or otherwise, that the latest revelation
in fact was revealed.
But intention of superseding the prior revelation, yes, then it becomes even more important and it's recency or relative recency becomes a plus rather than a minus. In other words, if God has revealed his will, in different ways throughout human history, and kept in mind in His revelation, the evolution of the human race. And then came the final revelation, the last, I don't want to say addition, because it might make it similar to him and he authored books. But let's say the last form of Revelation, being more recent and being lost, in fact, is an advantage doesn't make all the scriptures more valid, because it's supposed to supersede it actually makes a reference to that
particular characteristic of the Quran in chapter five, in Isaiah 48.
to compare scriptures also, one has to keep in mind the question of authenticity, and how far each of them remain fully intact. And there is an ample evidence, of course, that only in the case of the Quran, and no other scriptures, that was the field before the Quran, do we find clear evidence and clear proof that it was not subjected to being mixed with human interpretations or additions at later time that it has been recorded in the lifetime of its profit under his supervision in the same original language? So again, one cannot compare just the old diversity there isn't. But one has to look very carefully also into the relative authenticity and how each of them actually
glitched our hands today.
When you say that the Quran supersedes the previous scriptures, we to infer from that or does that mean that there should be no comparisons or any attempt to compare the Bible in the Koran, what there might be some people actually who may hold that view and say that you're really comparing two documents, which are really quite different. You're comparing one document, which is a combination of revelation plus other commentary by followers of these prophets. That's the case of the Bible, versus something which is totally and exclusively the word of Allah or revelation, without any human agency being part of the content of the Quran, or selling any part of the Quran.
But in my humble understanding,
I don't see much problem in making comparisons whether this comparison is made by a Muslim scholar or non Muslim scholar, if the intention behind it is to analyze issues and try to develop better understanding of some of the common problems, provided, of course, that the basic differences between the Bible and the Quran should be kept in mind before we jump to any particular comparison. Could you shed some light on what you perceive these differences to be between the Quran and the Bible just mean fundamental ones fundamental difference? Well, first of all, when we speak about the Bible, you're not really speaking of one book as such, we're actually talking about a composite of
66 different books, at least in the Protestant version, in the Catholic version, there are a few more books
which were written by so many different authors through different periods of human history. You compare that with with the Quran, you find it's quite different as a scripture, because the Quran is just one book, one cohesive, consistent book, there is no question of more than one author at all. It all came as a revelation or direct revelation from Allah to his last prophet Muhammad. There is no problem with the time of writing, it was all written
during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and more specifically, even during his mission, you know, from the age of 40, to roughly 63. Secondly,
again, when you talk about the Bible, you're really talking, as indicated earlier about a composite or mixture of both certain injunctions and teachings, which may have had some origin in terms of divine revelation that was given to earlier prophets. But alongside with that, there are also interpretations and commentary made by later followers. In the case of the Quran, being regarded as the pure revelation, Pure Word of Allah, it doesn't have this commentary, so you're not really talking about the same thing. Notice here but as we indicated in the first program in this series, that even the words of Prophet Mohammed himself
when he was not receiving the Quran specifically are kept totally separate from what he uttered under the state of revelation when the Quran
was dictated to him word for word. His other sayings are known as Hadees, and are found in totally separate volumes. So the there's a big difference here as to the nature of the Scripture. The third comparison here is that in the case of the Bible,
we find that in both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, that there is some element of biography about the prophets, not what the prophets actually received, by way of Revelation. For example, the book of Deuteronomy speaks about Moses, peace be upon him, Prophet Moses, and what he did. And so it talks about him not simply what you taught also. And obviously, of course, in the New Testament, in the four gospels, speak about Jesus. So they are basically like four different biographies about the life and in deeds of Prophet Jesus peace be upon him written by his followers. In the Quran, however, we find that it's not simply a biography about Prophet Mohammed written by
his followers, there is no human interference in terms of what the court really contains. Yes.
There might be certain incidents with the word of Allah Himself. That's the Quran mentioned something that happened in the lifetime of the Prophet by way of providing commandments and directives. But the Quran is not simply a biography, or even partly a biography of the Prophet written by others, this is known actually, as Sera, s, e, r, h, or lifetime of the prophets, which is again kept totally separate from the crown, and separate from, from Hades or the prophetic, saintly. And maybe if I may add one more, let's say basic point of comparison also,
is that in the case of the Bible, we find that there are several books, which were written down many years after the death of these prophets, or the end of their mission here on Earth.
That is why we find that biblical scholars indicate that there are a number of difficulties or problems because of this kind of method of preservation. There are some issues about the authorship of some books, who actually was the writer of this book, or that book in the Bible.
For example, the book of Hebrews, in the New Testament, there are still some biblical scholar who wonder whether it was written by corn or someone else. It's a disputed issue. There are others like Titus, for example, where there are some question again, whether it was actually Paul, who wrote it, or was it attributed to him?
Because these books also are many of them were not written or available to us in the same origin and language in which these prophets spoke, we find that there are questions also about the identity of the translators, who was the translator or translators of any particular book? When was it translated, when the original writing was made where and these are issues biblical scholars deal with that, for example, if you refer to FC grant, the book called The gospels, their origin and their growth, you find some discussion of these issues.
For example, in the 1960, edition of Encyclopedia Britannica,
we find that it indicates that the four gospels might have gained currency or prestige simply because it's one or the other was adopted by one of the major churches of the time. An interesting citation, for example, from Encyclopedia Americana, in the 1959 edition, volume three, and more specifically in Pages 651, through 653
indicates that they're quite disparate, we have no such knowledge as to how or where the four four gospels canon came to be formed. So even the fundamental gospels themselves are
it is known also, as you know, in history that the four gospels were not the only one. In the case of the Quran.
The problem doesn't arise at all because the entire Quran was written down directly from the mouth of the Prophet memorized by multitudes around him in his lifetime, in the original language in which the Quran was revealed that is the Arabic language there is no difficulty with the question of translation. And if you have any doubt, you can go to the same original.
So in that sense, you can say that there was no human judgment involved really, in what is to be contained in the Quran. So this is this are some of the fundamental difference one has to keep in mind. If any comparison is made. Or could you explain for us what is meant by
The second there was no human judgment that was involved. And how does that relate to the question of comparison? Well, let me give an illustration, for example from the Bible, because that would make the point. I hope, that clearer here, for example, in the New Testament,
and more particularly the Gospels, the four gospels, we are told by the church historians, that the four canonized gospels, which you find now in the available copies of the Bible, were not really the only accounts of the life of Prophet Jesus peace be upon him. And there were so many other gospels, plenty of them, and that these four were actually selected only in the conference of nice church meeting in the year 325. So that was, so many decades after Jesus peace be upon him.
We are not discussing here again on what this is the this were selected and what this is, others will reject it. But again, we're really not talking about something which is uniformly agreed to our own narratives about the life of Prophet Jesus.
For example, as you know, some historians refer to the Gospel of St. Barnabas, which is not accepted as a canonized gospel and has some fundamental differences from the four other gospels with respect to the question of divinity of Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him. But in other words, there were other gospels too.
But we are also taught by church historians themselves that in the various subsequent conferences, or synod's meetings of the church, leaders, and clergy, sometimes some books would be accepted in a later time they will be rejected or the reverse. So it was not something like you say, like the Bible, the 66 books or whatever, are exactly the same throughout history, and they were all regarded as part of the Bible. And anything else is outside the question of what is inside the Bible and what's outside the Bible has been a matter of dispute and subject of what I call actually human judgment, that human beings were sitting in conferences to determine which part is revelation, and
authentic and which part is not revelation.
So the the main issue here is that the there is no such pattern at all in the Quran. We've never heard in Islamic history of someone who will say, for example, let's hold the meeting among the Muslim religious scholars, in order to determine what sutras or portions of the Quran should be in or what should be out and then change that at a later time. Nobody had the right to do that, because nobody has the right to supersede the world of mastering. There's no such problem that has risen in the case of the preservation in the Quran. Of course, this does not mean I should say that a Muslim
really should say that I don't believe a word from the Bible from the A to Z, that probably would be again, an overstatement. What I'm saying basically, is that when comparisons are studies made, one has to keep in mind this fundamental questions
is what I'm studying, from what you've just said from your last statement that Muslims do, except there's some portions of the Bible despite the difficulties that we've just been discussing.
in fact, this is basically true, I would say and in fact, in some earlier statements in this program or previous programs, it was indicated that it is part and parcel of the Muslim belief. One of the fundamentals of faith, if you will, is to believe in the
original scriptures or original revelations or holy books in their original form that were given to her previous prophets in the past. Now, this kind of statement or position of the Muslim does not change in fact, or should not change because of the difficulties involved in recording or keeping the Bible itself, or questions related to authenticity.
But the acceptance of the Muslim of the previous scriptures that are relations is actually qualified, qualified by its consistency with the Quran. Since the Quran is the last revelation, the last word or final word of the Creator. And anything that is consistent with the Quran, there is no problem with the Muslim accepting that at all.
But you should keep in mind also, that when the Quran speaks, about legitimate revelations or holy books are given to previous prophets in the past, like the Torah to Moses or in jail to Jesus or Zabar's to David.
It does not mean that these are synonymous with what we call today. The Bible and
This is a very common error, I find error actually, in the minds of some non Muslims as well as some Muslims themselves do not really understand this basic difference, they're not synonymous. Now, if this is a common error, it may be useful to explain why, you know, before we begin any kind of substantive comparison between the Bible and the ground? Well, first of all, before I even get into the answer to that question, I'd like to indicate that some of the points that I might mention here may sound elementary to, let's say, a Jewish or Christian viewer. But I want to seek that indulgence because I wanted to communicate also to Muslim viewers who might not have that much familiarity with
the Bible, so that there would be more mutual understanding. So everybody knows exactly especially when Muslims discuss with their Christian or Jewish friends, that it should be some clarity of what the terms actually mean.
To start with, as indicated earlier, the Quran speaks about previous scriptures, or holy books given to previous prophets, more specifically, there is talk about the source of our lives given to Abraham, as aboard, given to Prophet David, whether it's the same as the Psalms of David or not, we cannot really say for sure, Torah, or a Torah, to Moses and ngl. to Prophet Jesus peace be upon him. These are ones that are mentioned, clearly and specifically in the Quran. And as I said earlier, a Muslim who rejects any of these books in their original form, it is such evidence that they are in the original intact form. He's rejecting Islam, because part of the belief of the Muslims to believe
in the prophet and what has been given to these prophets, I think we've documented that in several programs before.
But the point here is that the term Bible is actually in just refers to, as we indicated earlier, to, let's say, a collection of 66 books if we take the Protestant version.
We're talking here about two basic sections really, in the Bible, the Old Testament, and the New Testament, the Old Testament or the writings that was before the coming of Jesus peace be upon him New Testament is the new era or after he came. In the Old Testament, we have a total of 69 books. In the New Testament, we have the 27 books, again, taking the Protestant version as an example in question. Let's take the New Testament, sorry, the Old Testament, the Old Testament is composed of 39 books, and only the first five of them
are referred to as the law or tend to talk.
I hope I pronounced that right, sometimes also referred to in English as Torah, of Moses, in the book of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
It is quite significant here to realize that when the Quran speaks about the Torah given to Moses, he does not speak about the Bible does not speak about the Old Testament, the 59 books. And I would say even it does not speak even of the five books that are known as the Torah, among the Jews and Christians today are the law. The reason being is that
the Quran speaks about the Torah given to Prophet Moses as a revelation.
But when you examine these five books, you will find that, for example, in the book of Genesis, there are certain historical aspects that preceded the coming of Moses. And you don't know exactly whether this were part of the revelation given on Mount Sinai or something based on previous writings. Secondly, in the book of Exodus, almost half of the book of Exodus speaks about the story of that skylights and their deliverance from Egypt. And that was before Moses even received the Torah on Sunday.
The fifth book of the law of Torah as known to the west,
includes the book of Deuteronomy includes addresses and teachings of Prophet Moses, not necessarily what God told him to preach to be his own also interpretation.
It includes even certain portions that apparently were written down after Moses. So it cannot be the Torah received by Moses, for example, the towards the end of chapter 34, on the book of Deuteronomy, from verses, for example, five to 12. It speaks about Moses dying in such and such land and being buried. So it talks about something after even Moses after the lifetime of Moses, how could it be that already seen, for example, on Mount Sinai similarly, if you take the New Testament, we find again that the Quran speaks about Jesus being given a revelation, a book called LMG. That is not the same as the New Testament, which include more than the Gospels. It is not
equivalent to any or all of the four gospels either because these are, as we indicated earlier biographies about the life of Jesus but not necessarily what the Quran refers to as specific instructions, Revelation or scripture given to Prophet Jesus peace be upon him. But with this points not withstanding this reservation. Personally, I don't feel much problem really of making comparisons if we are aware, at least of those
differences. But I think we'll conclude for today, we want to invite you back when next week we will examine some key doctrines between that are carried in both the Quran and the Bible. Thank you for watching. That's our program today. Assalamu alaikum peace be unto you