Preservation of Qur’an and Earlier Scriptures: Unfounded Links

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين

In this article we will be analyzing the claim that Qur’an promises to guard all revelations and therefore Tauraah (Torah) and Injeel (Gospel) and Zaboor (Psalm) along with Qur’an have also been guarded from corruption by Almighty Allah or else the Qur’an carries some serious problems.

The passage from the Qur’an under review here is as follows:

إنا نحن نزلنا الذكر وإنا له لحافظون

“Indeed, it is We who sent down the reminder and indeed, We will be its guardian.”[1]

Other translations of the Qur’an translate the word الذكر as remembrance, warning, exhortation, message etc. instead of reminder. Some have instead used the word Qur’an due to the context. If we go three verses back, we find that Allah Almighty is addressing His Messenger (ﷺ) and what has been sent to him or revealed on him is none other than the Qur’an. Before we proceed, we can agree that all of them appear to be correct and using one does not make the usage of the other incorrect.

However, pondering upon the word makes a lot of things clear. We know not just from the Qur’an that the previous revelations have been corrupted by the nations upon whom they were revealed, but also from the Bible, science and objective evidenceas well as from Christian scholars themselves.It is therefore clear that one of the purposes of the Qur’an is to guide mankind back to the straight path. Bringing them back to the true religion of the Almighty and sending the reminder to correct them due to what they have forgotten or replaced in their books is one of the purposes of the final revelation.

A question may arise here that the Qur’an on one hand declares the previous scriptures to be altered and not in their original shape as revealed but at the same time commands the believers to believe in all the revelations including the previous ones (Qur’an 2:4). To the questioner, this appears as a contradiction. However, if one understands the purposes of the Qur’an, as partially mentioned above, one gets the idea that the Qur’an has corrected the previous revelations numerous times (an example here) while at the same time remained silent on a lot of issues. Part of the wisdom behind such silence is that they are not relevant to the religion and guidance of the heart. For example, it does not matter how old a person was, how many children he had, their ages and private life details etc. We have a wonderful saying of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) that summarizes all of this for us beautifully:

عن أبي هريرة، قال: كان أهل الكتاب يقرءون التوراة بالعبرانية، ويفسرونها بالعربية لأهل الإسلام، فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «لا تصدقوا أهل الكتاب ولا تكذبوهم» وقولوا: {آمنا بالله وما أنزل إلينا} [البقرة: 136] وما أنزل إليكم الآية

Narrated by Abu Huraira: The people of the Book used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said (to the Muslims). “Do not believe the people of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, ‘We believe in Allah and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.'”[2]

The saying of the Prophet (ﷺ) ordering the believers to believe in the previous scriptures is somewhat similar to the command of the Almighty Allah in Qur’an 2:4. Pondering over the last line whatever is revealed to you deeply would not result in any questions and complications to arise. To those whom questions do arise is due to the highlighted is and they tend to get the idea that whatever is with the previously guided nations is the truth as well. However, the very next word revealed is the conclusive word. Mixing of self-made words with what is revealed does not make the inserted part from Allah. The believers only believe in what has actually been revealed; being inspired does not count.

In fact this idea is based on Qur’anic authority itself. With respect to mutual relation of Qur’an and the previous scriptures, Allah says in the Qur’an;

وأنزلنا إليك الكتاب بالحق مصدقا لما بين يديه من الكتاب ومهيمنا عليه فاحكم بينهم بما أنزل الله ولا تتبع أهواءهم عما جاءك من الحق

 “We have sent down to you the Book with truth, confirming the Book before it, and a protector for it. So, judge between them according to what Allah has sent down, and do not follow their desires against the truth that has come to you.” [Qur’an 5:48]

Commenting on the Qur’an role as protector and guardian over the previous scriptures Abdul Majid Daryabadi writes;

“That is one of the outstanding merits of the Holy Qur’an. Not only it embodies within itself all the truths of the old Scriptures, but it also stands to preserve them from corruption, and serves as a text whereby their perversions, interpolations and inaccuracies can be known and corrected. And as to the very fallible nature of the Bible, – well, it is self-confessed. The infallibility of the Bible, says one of the modern apologists, ‘consists of no absolute immunity from errors … Even the Gospels defy the harmonist in some details, misquote at least one passage from the OT, and misattribute another passage. The OT, in its cosmogony and in its history, fails again and again to satisfy an exact standard of accuracy and to consist with modern knowledge, while its statistics are not seldom inconsistent in detail. Many of its lapses are covered up by the kindly offices of textual tradition and translation, though every scholar knows them familiarly. Others have been smoothed over by the indulgent resources of an ingenious interpretation. It is now a commonplace of Biblical learning that God has been at no pains to present errors of history and knowledge and defects in the text and its transmission from finding an entrance into the sacred pages of His Written Word.’ (ERE, VII, pp.;262-263)”[3]

Many missionaries quote the following Qur’anic verse to make a claim of theirs:

وتمت كلمة ربك صدقا وعدلا لا مبدل لكلماته وهو السميع العليم

 “The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfillment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all.”[4]

Anti-Islamic missionaries deduce from this verse that since the Torah and Gospel were also the words of Allah, they cannot be changed and hence these books are uncorrupted. The quoted verse however, has a different interpretation as explained by Imam Qurtubi on the authority of al-Qatada:

لا مبدل لها فيما حكم به، أي إنه وإن أمكنه التغيير والتبديل في الألفاظ كما غير أهل الكتاب التوراة والإنجيل فإنه لا يعتد بذلك

“There is no change in the judgment of God. Even if one were to change and substitute the words just as the people of the book did with the Torah and Gospel, God doesn’t consider this.”[5]

Some orientalists come up with the argument that since the previous revelations are also the word of Allah along with the Qur’an, therefore the corruption of previous revelations would mean that some of Allah’s revelations can be corrupted. It would therefore be correct to say, as per them, that since Qur’an is also a revelation of Allah, some of Qur’an can also be corrupted and hence Qur’an is corruptible.

Missionaries who have come up with this argument have also claimed the same vice versa that since some of the revelation has been preserved and the Torah, Psalms and the Gospel are also revelations and hence these books can be preserved by Allah.

Even though this may seem humorous to the reader but one such person has indeed raised such a point. Perhaps with a lot of role models of his coming up with loads of new attacks against Islam every now and then, such people feel the need to live up to their mark. Pretending intellectualism while delivering absurdities is nothing less than dishonesty to themselves. This argument is like putting own words into someone else’s mouth. If Allah has clearly stated that the previous scriptures have been altered and corrupted and that the Qur’an will be protected by Him, then we find no room for such assumptions.

Even if we consider the possibility of such an argument and try to apply it in practice, we get loads of problems. The Qur’an mentions that Injeel (Gospel) was revealed by Allah upon Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (عليه السلام) (Qur’an 5:46) whereas the Gospels available to us today are not claimed to be the word of God; Christians claims that they were written by human beings who were inspired by God. We are looking for the Gospel of God provided to Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (عليه السلام) and not that of Mark or Luke or any other human being and that too written much after Prophet Eisa (Jesus) (عليه السلام) had left the earth. If we can find them, then we can argue whether they have been altered and corrupted or not. Corruption of some other totally unrelated books does not matter at all. The ancient scriptures have been altered and corrupted here on earth but they are preserved in the ‘Preserved Tablet’ (Al Lauw Al Mahfooz); however the promise of Allah of safeguarding the Qur’an is also for this world which has been fulfilled and will continue to be till the End. The same is valid for the Torah; it speaks in the name of men whereas we seek the original spoken word of God Almighty. Allah sends messengers to bring mankind back to the straight path. When the followers of Torah had altered their books, Allah guided them that they have altered their book (Jeremiah 8:8). They were guided to mend their ways but Allah’s law was different for them while He has promised to keep the Qur’an in its original shape and form. This He has done to perfect and complete the revelation:

اليوم أكملت لكم دينكم وأتممت عليكم نعمتي ورضيت لكم الإسلام دينا

“This day I have perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as your religion.”[6]

This way if anyone had doubts that Allah is either unable to do some things or He is unjust, will surely vanish. There is still enough guidance still present in previous scriptures indicating towards the truth of Islam while mentioning that the old books are corrupt. There are numerous evidences even in the rejected books. If Allah were to judge the followers of these books on their own books, they would fail there as well. Therefore, the followers of previous scriptures should take what is in their books and open the final revelation being pointed towards from their own books and accept it wholeheartedly.

Indeed, Allah knows best.


[1] Qur’an 15:9

[2] Sahih Bukhari, Book 92, Hadith 460

[3] Tafsir-ul-Quran- Translation and Commentary of the Holy Qur’an by Abdul Majid Daryabadi, Academy of Islamic Research and Publications, Lucknow, 2007 vol.1 p.434 n.414

[4] Qur’an 6:115

[5] al-Jami al-Ahkam al-Qur’an. Dar al-Kutab al-Misriyah, Cairo, 1964 vol.7 p.71

[6] Qur’an 5:3.

 

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