Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Qur'an’s View of the Bible

A Study Guide

By Callum Beck


March 26, 1993
Last revised on May 10, 2010



In the Qur'an mention is made of the umm al kitab, or the Mother of the Book (3:7; 13:39; 43:4). Yusuf Ali in his commentary says this refers to "... the original foundation of all revelation, the essence of God's will and law (n. 1864) ... the preserved tablet" (n. 4606). This book is said to be with God. It is variously referred to as the "preserved tablet" (85:22), the "manifest Book" (6:59), the "Book inscribed" (17:58; 52:2-3), the "Book of Allah" (8:75; 18:27), or simply "the Book" (3:37).

From this eternal Book God sends his revelations, via angels, to his prophets. Some of these revelations are recorded, others are not, but sura 13:38 says "for each period is a book (revealed)." Of these books the Qur'an mentions five - the scrolls or suhuf of Abraham (53:36-37, 87:19),[1] the Taurat of Moses, the Psalms of David (Zabur, 4:163; 17:55; 21:105), the Injil of Jesus and the Qur'an.

In this study we are concerned only with the Taurat, the Zabur and the Injil, and what the Qur'an has to say about them. In particular we hope that the student will discover from a careful reading of these passages the glory that these books have, and that they existed in uncorrupted form during the time of Muhammad.

It is initially presumed in this study that the books which the Qur’an and early Muslims referred to as the Taurat, the Zabur and the Injil, are part of what is now commonly called the Bible. The Taurat is probably to be equated with the Old Testament and the Injil with the New, though one might argue that only the Pentateuch and the four Gospels are indicated. The question one must ask is, what would an Arabian Jew of Muhammad's time understand when he heard the term Taurat, or an Arabian Christian when he heard Injil (= evangel = gospel = good news)? The most likely answer is the Holy Books which were in the possession of their religious leaders, i.e., the Old and New Testaments. That this initial presumption is correct will be very easily confirmed by an honest study of the following passages.

Most of the references in the Qur'an are to the Taurat, then the Injil, and only a couple are to the Suhuf (I.A.6) and the Zabur (I.C.1, 3.c, 4; III.A). If a reference in sections I. A. or B. below is in plain text it means that it refers only to the Taurat, or the referent is not clearly specified; if it is bolded then it refers only to the Injil; and if it is underlined then it refers to both.[2]


A. Its Names
  1. Word of God (kalam Allah) -2:75
  2. Book of God (kitab Allah) -2:101; 3:23; 5:44; 28:49
  3. The Book (al-kitab) -2:44,53,87,213; 57:25-26; etc.[3]
  4. A portion of the Book -3:23; 4:44,51; 5:44
  5. The enlightening Book 
(al-kitab al-munir)
-3:184; 35:25
  6. Scrolls (suhuf; lit. leaves, pages) -53:36-37; 87:18-19[4]
  7. Scriptures (Zubur) -3:184; 16:44; 26:196; 35:25[5]
  8. The Criterion (al-furqan) -2:53; 3:3; 21:48
  9. The Remembrance (al-dhikr) -5:13; 5:14; 16:43; 21:7,24,48,105
  10. The Signs of God (ayat Allah) -3:112-113; 5:44; 16:44
  11. Clear Signs (al-bayyinat) -2:87,159,213; 3:183-184; 16:44; 61:6.[6]
B. Its Characteristics
  1. A guidance and/or a mercy -3:3; 5:44,46; 6:91,154; 11:17; 17:2; 23:49; 28:43; 32:23; 40:53-54; 46:12
  2. A light -5:44,46; 6:91
  3. A reminder -28:43; 40:53-54
  4. An example -11:17; 28:43
  5. A warning -17:4
  6. Complete for him who does good -6:154
  7. Same message as the Qur'an -9:111; 46:10.
C. Its Revelation
  1. The authors of the Bible, as with all the prophets, are said to possess the same inspiration (wahy) as had Muhammad - 4:163; 5:111 (referring to Christ's apostles);[7] 7:160; 16:43; 21:7,25; 42:3. They were also guided in the same way as was Muhammad - 6:83-90 (this mentions 18 biblical figures).
  2. It was sent down (tanzil) from God -2:4,913:3; 5:44,66,68; 6:91; 29:4657:25
  3. It was given (atayun) by God
    a) Whole Bible[8] -2:87; 3:84,100 & 187 ('utu); 6:89,154; 11:110; 13:36; 32:23; 45:16
    b) The Torah -23:49; 25:35; 28:43; 40:53; 41:45
    c) The Zabur -4:163; 17:55
    d) The Injil -5:46; 19:30; 57:27
  4. The Zabur is said to be written by God -21:105.
D. Its Universal Message
  1. The Taurat and the Injil are "a reminder unto all beings"   - 6:90
  2. The Taurat and the Injil were sent "as a guide to mankind"   - 3:3
  3. The Taurat is "a light and a guidance to men"   - 6:91; 28:43
  4. The People of the Book were under oath to God "to make it [i.e., the Book - 3:186] known and clear to mankind" - 3:187
  5. It is incumbent on all mankind (not just the Jews) to believe in the Taurat and Injil (see II.D.1,2 below)
  6. Compare   2:124; 19:21; 21:91.


  1. The Qur'an Says that the Bible:
    1. Was in the possession of Yahya, Mary and Jesus - 3:48; 19:12; 66:12
    2. Was with or in the possession of the Jews of Muhammad's day
      - 2:41,89,91,101,140; 3:81; 4:47; 5:43; 16:43-44; 21:7
    3. Was shown in public by them - 6:92
    4. Was heard by them - 2:75
    5. Was believed in by them - 2:85,91,121; 11:17
    6. Was read (qaraa) by them and the Christians - 10:94
    7. Was studied (darasa) by them and the Christians - 3:79; 6:156; 7:169
    8. Was recited (talawa) by them and the Christians - 2:44,113,121; 3:93,113;
      "with true recitation" - 2:121
    9. Was available to Muhammad - 3:93; 28:49
    10. Was available to anyone in Muhammad's time and could be called upon to determine truth in theological disputes - 3:23,93; 7:157; 26:196-197; 46:10; 53:36-38; and was in fact used by a Jew in comparison to the Qur'an - 46:10 (see Ibn Ishaq, pp 240-241).

  2. The Qur'an Says that Jews and Christians:
    1. Must perform and hold fast to their respective holy books - 5:66,68; 7:170; 19:12
    2. Must settle their disputes not on the basis of Qur'anic teaching but on the basis of their own books - 3:23,93; 5:43-45,47-48
    3. Will be judged on the last day not according to the Qur'an but according to their own book - 5:65-66; 45:28.

  3. The Qur'an Says that Muhammad:
    1. If he chooses to judge the Jews and Christians, he should do so on the basis of their Book - 5:48-49.[9] An example of how this judgement should be done is given in 5:43,45
    2. Is to copy the guidance the Jews and Christians received from God - 6:88-90
    3. If he has doubts about what God has revealed to him is to "ask those who have been reading the Book from before you" - 6:114; 10:94; 16:43; 21:7.

  4. The Qur'an Says that:
    1. Muslims must believe in the Bible - 2:4,136,285; 3:84,119; 4:136; 5:59; 28:49; 29:46[10]
    2. Punishment awaits those who do not believe in the Bible - 2:121,211; 3:3-4,19; 4:136; 5:44; 11:17; 40:70-72
    3. The Injil confirms the Taurat - 3:50; 5:46; 61:6
    4. The Qur'an confirms the truth of the earlier books, which are with the Jews and Christians of Muhammad's time - 2:41,89,91,97,101; 3:3,81; 4:47,136; 5:48; 6:92; 10:37; 12:111; 35:31; 46:12,30[11]
    5. The earlier books can be called upon to confirm the message of the Qur'an - 6:20; 16:43; 21:7; 26:196-197; 34:6; 43:45; 46:10
    6. God's Word is unchangeable - 6:34,115; 10:64; 18:27[12]
    7. Passages in the Qur'an have been abrogated but there is no reference to anything in the other holy books being abrogated - 2:106; 10:15; 13:39; 16:101; 87:6-7.

  5. The Qur'an Speaks of the Jews Corrupting the Meaning of their Book:
  6. There are passages that on first reading seem to state that the Jews corrupted their Book, but on a more careful examination these ayahs actually uphold the authenticity of the text. For they do not teach a corrupted text of the Bible, but rather that some Jews (Christians only in 5:14-15) corrupted the meaning of their Book. They "twisted words from their meanings." One in fact has to assume that the Bible in Muhammad's day was uncorrupted in order to make sense of these "difficult passages." The following is a list of most of these passages:

    2:41-44,59,72-79,85,101,140,146,159,[13]174,176,213; 3:19,24,70-71,78-79,94,187; 4:44-47; 5:13-15,41-44; 6:91; 7:162; 41:45; 62:5-6.

    It is worthwhile also to compare these ayahs with sura 15:90-91. Here it is said that the Qur'an was broken down in fragments, but it is assumed that the text remained uncorrupted. See Ernest Hahn's Integrity of the Bible According to the Qur'an, pp. 13-25, for a more thorough discussion of some of these "problem passages."


  1. Some Quotes and Allusions to the Bible in the Qur'an (not including stories of the prophets)
Qur’anic Ayat Biblical Reference
2:60 Exodus 17:6 [Moses striking rock at Horeb]
5:45 Exodus 21:23-25 [eye for an eye]
6:146 Leviticus 7:3-6,23; 11:3-6 [dietary laws]
7:40 Matthew 19:24 = Mark 10:25 = Luke 18:25
    [camel through the eye of a needle]
2:7; 7:179 Isaiah 6:9-10; Mark 8:17-18; Acts 28:26-27; etc
    [eyes see not, ears hear not]
21:105 Psalms 25:12-13; 37:11; 37:29;
    Matthew 5:5 [meek inherit]
22:47; 70:4-7        II Peter 3:8-9 [day like a 1,000 years]
42:12 Matthew 16:19 [keys of the kingdom]
48:29 Mark 4:26-29
    [kingdom like a seed that grows by itself]
57:1; 59:1,24;
61:1; 62:1
Psalms 19:1; 89:5; Isaiah 6:3; Romans 1:19-20
    [universe declares the glory of God].
  1. Some Conflicts Between Qur'anic and Biblical Teaching
    1. The death of Noah's son - 11:40-46; 66:10 (cf Genesis 6:10; 7:7; 8:18; 9:18-19)
    2. The resting place of the Ark - 11:44 (cf Genesis 8:4)
    3. The first miracle performed by Jesus - 19:29 (cf John 2:11)
    4. The crucifixion and death of the Messiah - 4:157 (cf the New Testament)
    5. That Jesus was only a prophet - 5:75 (cf Matthew 3:17; Luke 2:11; etc)
    6. That Jesus had no knowledge of his Father's heart - 5:116
      (cf Matthew 11:27; John 1:18; 7:29; 8:55; 10:15; 17:25)
    7. That God begat a Son - 19:35; 112:3 (cf Luke 1:35; John 3:16)[14]
    8. The tri-unity of God - 5:73,116 (cf Matthew 28:19, etc).



This study forces one to some very obvious conclusions.

  1. The supposition of some Muslims that the pre-Qur'anic revelations have been lost is totally untenable. That the Taurat, the Zabur and the Injil existed during the lifetime of Muhammad is the clear and consistent testimony of the Qur'an (see section II above).

  2. That the only substantive differences, Qur'anically speaking, between the earlier revelations and the Qur'an is that the latter is the final revelation to man. They have the same names and characteristics ascribed to them, they come from the same source and are equally inspired, and they all have a universal message (see section I above).

  3. That, whereas many Muslims make a distinction between the pure original forms of the pre-Qur'anic Books and the corrupted versions of these that at some unknown point of time came into being, the Qur'an itself never makes this distinction. Rather, it consistently assumes that the Books which are in the possession of the Jewish and Christian contemporaries of Muhammad are the true Taurat and Injil (see sections II.A.9,10; II.B,C,E; II.D.1,2,4,5,6 above).

  4. The Qur'an never charges the whole of Jewry or the whole of Christendom with corrupting all the copies of all their scriptures in all the many languages that they had been translated into. At most it accuses some Arabian Jews of twisting words from their meanings, or hiding what they know is in their Book, or refusing to obey and follow it (see section II.E above).[15] Certainly many Jews, Christians and even Muslims have similarly twisted their scriptures before and since then, to their own destruction no doubt, but the Book itself remains unchanged, for God's word is unchangeable (section II.D.6). Is it possible that many Muslims are even now unwittingly twisting the Qur'anic words from their meanings, in their sincere but misguided effort to prove the Bible corrupt?

All this leaves the Muslim on the horns of a dilemma. It is part of his faith to believe in the Taurat and Injil, and not just some ephemeral, pure original, but the Books that were physically brought before Muhammad (see # 3 above). Now if he assumes these were corrupted then he must conclude that God is asking him to believe in a corrupted text – a totally unacceptable proposition. If he, however, assumes them to be faithful copies of the original revelations (as the Qur'an in fact does), then how can he any longer refuse to read them for spiritual nurture or to obey their dictates (where these, of course, have not been superseded by the final revelation)?

The last recourse of the Muslim, to whom neither one of these horns is palatable, is to assert again that all he is asked to believe in is the pure originals. Though many Muslims take this tack it seems to me to be totally un-Islamic, for the following reasons:

  1. The Qur'an never distinguishes between pure originals and the Taurat and Injil which existed in Muhammad's time (see # 3 above).

  2. If this distinction underlines Qur'anic teaching but is never explicitly mentioned, then it is a cruel joke. For Jews and Christians are then being taught to hold fast to and live by Books which are corrupted. Moreover, they are going to be judged on how they followed these corrupt Books (see section II.B.3).

  3. It contradicts a foundational principle of Islam, that God has sent Messengers to mankind so that man would be without excuse before Allah (4:165, etc). For, if the Taurat and Injil are corrupted, then the Jews and Christians will have a plea against God on the judgement day. For when God asks ‘why did you not believe?’ they will reply: ‘we did believe, we did hold fast to our Taurat and Injil as you directed us to, but alas our Books were corrupted and we did not know.’

  4. It means God is asking Muslims to believe in Books which none of them have ever or could ever see or read. It is a belief without content. The bottom line is, what spiritual value is there in believing in holy Books that are deemed either to be lost or corrupted?

In light of the facts that: (a) the Qur'an teaches the uncorrupted existence of the Taurat and the Injil in Muhammad's time; and (b) the Bible is the only book, before or after this time, that the “people of the Book” have ever called by these names. Is it not reasonable to assume that Muslims are commanded to believe in the Bible, and that believing it they should read and obey it, while still holding to the Qur'an as the final revelation?

One final remark. How would a Muslim respond if he heard a Baha’i or a Mormon or some such person saying the following to him? I believe in the Qur'an, I greatly honor your holy Book. Now I have never read it and my religion forbids me from following its teachings, in fact I am not even sure if it exists, and if it does I am quite certain you Muslims have tampered with it. But I want you to know I believe in it, it is an article of faith with me!? A Muslim would of course accuse the man of being what he is, a hypocrite. Perhaps this can help the Muslim understand why Christians and Jews would prefer to see the Muslim reading and obeying their Books, rather than blandly asserting an empty belief in them, especially when his own holy Book seems to guide him in this same direction.


Qur'anic Quotations are taken from either Arberry's or Yusuf Ali's translations. The versification system followed, however, is always the one used by Yusuf Ali.

Hahn, Ernest & Ghiyathuddin Adelphi. The Integrity of the Bible According to the Qur'an and the Hadith. Hyderabad, India: Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies, 1977.

Ibn Ishaq. The Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah). Translated by A. Guillame. New York: Oxford University Press, 1955. Pp 247-277.


"The Testimony of Ibn Ishaq on the Existence and Integrity
of the Bible in the Lifetime of Muhammad"

Ibn Ishaq was the earliest biographer of Muhammad. On pp 247-270 of his Life of Muhammad he does a running commentary on many verses related to the issue of this paper, focussing especially on the occasions of their revelations. Below are a few of these comments, with the Qur'anic references and the page references in Ibn Ishaq in brackets. Key thoughts in each reference are bolded.

... [The Jews] disbelieve that thou [Muhammad] art mentioned (in the books) they have ... They disbelieve in what has come to thee and in what they have already which others brought to them ... (2:4-6, p 248).

... do not conceal the knowledge which you have about my apostle and what he has brought you when you will find it with you in what you know of the books which are in your hands .... would you forbid men to disbelieve in the prophecy you have ... you contradict what you know to be in My book (2:43-44, p 250).

[Ibn Ishaq says sura 2:75] "who listen to the word of God ... the Torah" [refers to an incident in Jewish history when some of the Jewish leaders told Moses they wanted to hear God when He spoke to him (cf sura 2:55). So Moses took them up on to the mountain and they heard and understood God's voice]. Then he went back with them to the Children of Israel and when he came to them a party of them changed the commandments they had been given; and when Moses said to the Children of Israel, ‘God has ordered you to do so and so,’ they contradicted him and said God had ordered something else. It is they to whom God refers. [The closest Biblical parallel to this story I can think of is Exodus 24:1-11, though there are many discrepancies in the two accounts. Ibn Ishaq seems to understand (perhaps rightly so) v. 2:75 as the conclusion to the thought begun in v. 2:55, harking back especially to the phrase in 2:59 that the Jews "changed the word from that which had been given them."] (P 251)

Thus God blamed them for what they were doing, He having in the Torah prohibited them from shedding each other's blood and charged them to redeem their prisoners ... they [two Jewish tribes] shed each other's blood while the Torah was in their hands by which they knew what was allowed and what was forbidden them ... When the war came to an end they ransomed their prisoners in accordance with the Torah ... God said in blaming them for that: ‘Will you believe in a part of the scripture and disbelieve in another part?’ [2:85] i.e. would you redeem him in accordance with the Torah and kill him when the Torah forbids you to do so ... (2:83-86, p 253).

The apostle wrote to the Jews of Khaybar ...: ‘In the name of God the compassionate the merciful from Muhammad the apostle of God friend and brother of Moses who confirms what Moses brought. God says to you, O scripture folk, and you will find it in your scripture "Muhammad is the apostle of God; and those with him are severe against the unbelievers, merciful among themselves. Thou seest them bowing, falling prostrate seeking bounty and acceptance from God. The mark of their prostrations is on their foreheads. That is their likeness in the Torah and in the Gospel like a seed which sends forth its shoot and strengthens it and it becomes thick and rises straight upon its stalk delighting the sowers that He might anger the unbelievers with them. God has promised those who believe and do well forgiveness and a great reward" [48:29]. I adjure you by God, and by what He has sent down to you, by manna and quails He gave as food to your tribes before you, and by his drying up the sea for your fathers when He delivered them from Pharaoh and his works, that you tell me, Do you find in what he has sent down to you that you should believe in Muhammad? If you do not find that in your scripture then there is no compulsion upon you. "The right path has become plainly distinguished from error" [2:256] so I call you to God and His prophet’ (p 256).

[Some Jews and Christians disputed before Muhammad, accusing each other of having no standing before God. The Jews denied Jesus and the Gospel, while the Christians denied Moses and the Torah.] So God sent down concerning them [sura 2:113], i.e. each one reads in his book the confirmation of what he denies, so that the Jews deny Jesus though they have the Torah in which God required them by the word of Moses to hold Jesus true; while in the Gospel is what Jesus brought in confirmation of Moses and the Torah he brought from God: so each one denies what is in the hand of the other (p 258).

[Some Muslims] asked some Jewish rabbis about something in the Torah and they concealed it from them and refused to tell them anything about it. So God sent down about them [sura 2:159]. (P 259)

The apostle entered a Jewish school ... and called them to God. [He was asked], "What is your religion Muhammad?" "The religion of Abraham." [They rejoined] "But Abraham was a Jew." [Muhammad said]

"Then let the Torah judge between us." They refused and so God sent down concerning them [sura 3:23-24]. (P 260)

Abu Bakr called on [a Jewish rabbi, Finhas] to ... become a Muslim because he knew that Muhammad was the apostle of God ... and that they would find it written in the Torah and the Gospel (p 263).

[A Jewish couple were caught in adultery. Some rabbis sent them and other Jews to Muhammad saying, if he prescribes tajbih (a lesser form of punishment) he is a king and follow him, but if he prescribes stoning he is a prophet. The apostle then went to the rabbis and asked them to bring out their learned men. He then asked] Abdullah b. Suriya, ... the most learned man living in the Torah ... as to whether the Torah did not prescribe stoning for adulterers. "Yes," he said, .... Then he [Muhammad] said: "They change words from their places, saying, If this be given to you receive it, and if it is not given to you, i.e. the stoning, beware of it, ..."

When the apostle gave judgement about them he asked for a Torah. A rabbi sat there reading it having put his hand over the verse of stoning. `Abdullah b. Salam struck the rabbi's hand, saying, "This, O prophet of God, is the verse of stoning which he refuses to read to you." The apostle said, "Woe to you Jews! What has induced you to abandon the judgement of God which you hold in your hands?" They answered: "The sentence used to be carried out until a man of royal birth and noble origin committed adultery and the King refused to allow him to be stoned. Later another man committed adultery and the king wanted him to be stoned but they said No, not until you stone so-and-so. And when they said that to him they agreed to arrange the matter by tajbih and they did away with all mention of stoning." The apostle said: "I am the first to revive the order of God and His book and to practise it." They were duly stoned ... (5:41, p 266-267).

[Four Jews came to Muhammad and said]: "Do you not allege that you follow the religion of Abraham and believe in the Torah which we have and testify that it is the truth from God?" He replied, "Certainly, but you have sinned and broken the covenant contained therein and concealed what you were ordered to make plain to men, and I dissociate myself from your sin." They said, "We hold by what we have. We live according to the guidance and the truth and we do not believe in you and we will not follow you." So God sent down concerning them: "Say, O scripture folk, you have no standing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been sent down to you from your Lord ...." (5:68, p 268).

[Some Jews argued the Qur'an was not truth from God for it was not arranged like the Torah. Muhammad answered]: "You know quite well that it is from God; you will find it written in the Torah which you have ..." [They then accused him of getting the Qur'an from jinn or men]. "You know well that it is from God and that I am the apostle of God. You will find it written in the Torah you have" (17:88, p 269-270).

"And He will teach him the Book and the wisdom and the Torah" which had been with them from the time of Moses before him "and the Gospel" another book which God initiated and gave to him; ... (3:48, 275-276).


[1] Ibn Ishaq (p 265) relates a story about the occasion of the revealing of sura 4:51-54. Some Jewish rabbis were brought before the pagan Quraish and introduced as "the folks who possessed the first Book." Does "first" here suggest that Abraham in fact received no book, and that perhaps the Suhuf refers only to Genesis? Note that sura 4:54 speaks of the Book given to the people of Abraham but not actually to Abraham himself. The two references to the Suhuf (53:36-37, 87:19), however, seem to leave no doubt that Abraham did receive a book, though even here the scrolls of Abraham are indissolubly connected with those of Moses.

[2] For those who would rather read these verses in their context and in consecutive Qur'anic order, the following are the major pericopes of the verses referred to in this study:

2:4, 41-159, 174-176, 211-213, 285;
3:3-4, 7, 19-25, 48-50, 64-84, 93-94, 110-113, 119, 181-189;
4:44-54, 136, 162-165;
5:12-20, 41-50, 57-77, 110-111;
6:20-21, 33-34, 83-93, 114-115, 154-157;
10:15, 37, 64, 94-95;
11:17,110; 12:111; 13:36-39; 15:90-9; 16:43-44,101; 17:2-4,55; 18:27; 19:12,30;
21:7,24-25,48,105; 23:49; 25:35; 26:196-197; 28:43,48-53; 29:46;
32:23; 35:24-25,31-32;
40:53-54,70; 41:45; 42:3,13-14; 43:45; 45:16; 46:10-12,30;
52:2-3; 53:36-38; 57:25-29;
61:6; 62:5-6; 66:12;
87:6-7, 18-19.

[3] See also 3:19-20,78-79,186-187; 4:54,136; 5:48,110; 6:89,91,154,156-157; 7:169; 10:94; 11:110; 13:36; 17:2,4; 19:12,30; 23:49; 25:35; 28:43,52; 32:23; 40:53; 42:14. Also note the many references to the "people of the Book."

[4] Both the books of Abraham and Moses are called suhuf in these passages, and in the second one are also called "the ancient scrolls" (al suhufi al 'ulay).

[5] Zubur is the plural form of zabuur (Psalms). Yusuf Ali translates it as scriptures, and thinks it might refer to the Jewish prophetic writings and possibly also the Psalms (footnote 490). Arberry translates it as Psalms. Compare the note on the Psalms in the second paragraph of the Introduction.

[6] Does ‘clear signs’ refer to the revelation given to Moses and Jesus or to the miraculous powers God gave them, or to both? More study is needed on this.

[7] The Qur'an says that God "appointed the Prophecy and the Book to be among their [i.e., Noah and Abraham's] seed" (29:27; 57:26; 4:54). It is not surprising then to see the Qur'an refer to so many Jewish Prophets and Revelations. While the whole Bible is given by God, mention is also made of specific parts of the Bible. The Law of Moses, the Psalms of David and the Gospels are clearly referred to, but there also seem to be allusions to other parts of the Bible.

Sura 3:84 would imply that some books were given to other prophets in Israel along with those given to Moses and Jesus (cf 3:79; 6:89; 29:27; 45:16; 57:26 & I.C.1). Likewise 3:81 seems to imply that God gave the prophets of Israel not only wisdom but also "a book."

It may also be possible that the giving of the Wisdom (al-hukm) in suras 3:79, 6:89, and 45:16 alludes to the Old Testament Wisdom literature (Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes). Sura 6:89 says "these were the men to whom we gave the Book, and the Wisdom and the prophethood." The men here harkens back to a previous list of 18 prophets (vv 83-86), among whom are included the authors of the Wisdom literature, Job and Solomon. It can probably be successfully argued, however, that when the Qur'an talks about God giving Wisdom it never has a book in mind. For example, "the Wisdom" was also given to John the Baptist (i.e., Yahya, 19:12), and all agree that he never received a book. Even so there is nothing in sura 6:83-90 that would of necessity preclude Job and Solomon as being recipients of a portion of the Book.

If these passages do allude to the Jewish books of Prophecy and Wisdom, then the Qur'an makes reference to every part of the Bible, except the historical books of both Testaments and the letters of the New. Is it possible, however, that the former are included under the rubric of "what was revealed to ... the tribes" (2:136; 3:84), there being no other obvious referent in the Qur'an to which this phrase refers. And even the latter may be covered in the statement that the authors of these letters (Jesus' disciples) are considered inspired, to have wahy (5:111). This wahy though seems not to refer to any revelation they were given but to God's gift of faith to them.

[8] I.e., the scriptures given to Moses and Jesus and their followers, which one can only presume is the Bible (see Introduction, paragraph 4).

[9] Literally, "by what Allah has revealed." Does this refer to the previous scriptures, to the Qur'an, or to both? Linguistically the antecedent could be either, but the context of sura 5:41-50 forces us to interpret ‘what Allah has revealed’ as being the Torah and Injil.

The issue dealt with in sura 5:41-50 is what should Muhammad's response be to some Jews who are tempting him to give them a partial judgement (regarding a case of adultery, according to Ibn Ishaq - see the Appendix). He is instructed to judge them in equity (v 42), and not to follow their partial and vain desires (v 48). To ensure that this is accomplished he is to judge them by their own book, or at least insist that they judge themselves by it (vv 42-45). In like manner it is pointed out that the Christians have the revelation given in the Injil to judge their actions by (46-47). The point of verses 48-49 is to confirm in Muhammad's mind that it is all right for him to use the books of the Jews and Christians in making a judicial decision, for his book (the Qur'an) confirms that the message of the Torah and Injil is true. He can, therefore, confidently base judgement of the Jews and Christians on their books, for they agree with the book given to him. Thus, Ibn Ishaq tells us, that Muhammad was delighted that he abided by the Torah in making his decision when the Jews did not: "I am the first to revive the order of God and His Book and to practice it" (p 267).

It would be absurd to expect Muhammad to judge the Jews and the Christians by the Qur'an, when neither group accepts its authority. It makes perfect sense to judge them by the revelation they each received and accept, especially when the Qur'an confirms their truthfulness and guards them in safety (48). It is true that if he follows their vain desires he will stray from Qur'anic teaching, but if he judges them by their books he can be certain that he will not be diverted from the message given to him, for all three laws (shariah, v 48) were given by and guarded by the same God. Muhammad is to be very careful that their treacherous desire for a partial judgement, "a judgement of the (days of) ignorance," (v 50) does not lead him into compromising the revelation given to him. His safeguard against this is to refer them back to their own book, as it is their authority and it is in perfect agreement with the Qur'an.

[10] Are we to assume here that the Qur'an is telling Muslims to believe in corrupted books or in books no longer extant? Rather, is it not calling them to believe in books still faithful to their original message and very much accessible in the time of Muhammad? Furthermore, is it directing them to believe in these books but to not read them, or to believe in them but not to obey them? Can we not ask what is the spiritual value of believing in a holy book that is either lost or corrupted, and which either cannot or should not be read and obeyed? Does this not amount, in actuality, to believing in nothing at all?

[11] Note sura 2:88-91. The Jews boast that they can preserve the Taurat, but God says that is impossible for their hearts are wicked. Therefore, it is God and the Qur'an which are responsible for preserving and confirming the truth of the earlier revelations.

[12] A careful examination of the context of each of these passages shows that kalimat (= words) here is to be taken literally and not in the sense of decree, as kalimat is sometimes used.

Sura 9:115 says that Allah will not mislead a people after He has guided them. All would agree that Allah had guided the people of Israel. If He, however, allowed their Books to become hopelessly corrupted would they not then become a misled people when they follow the advice of the Qur'an and Muhammad to judge according to their own scriptures (5:43-45)?

Hahn quotes the following tradition of Bukhari, passed on by Ibn Abbas: "‘They corrupt the word’ means ‘they alter or change its meaning.’ Yet no one is able to change even a single word form any Book of God. The meaning is that they interpret the word wrongly" (p 39).

[13] Sura 2 up to verse 152 seems to concern itself with the unbelief of the Jews. From verse 153 onward, however, the unbelief of the Arab polytheists seems to be in the background. This would mean the Book referred to in verses 159, 174 & 176 is the Qur'an. Ibn Ishaq (p 259), however, says that verse 159 was revealed in relation to the Jews.

[14] It is probably fair to say that this contradiction is likely more apparent than real, for the word "beget" seems to carry a different meaning in each of the respective books.

[15] With this point the testimony of Ibn Ishaq (pp 247-270, particularly pp 251 & 267) as to the circumstances surrounding the revelation of many of the "problem passages" is in total agreement. See the Appendix for a sample of this testimony.