Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Muhammad and His Prophethood

Reexamining Some of the Reasons
Why He cannot be a true Prophet of God - Part 2

Sam Shamoun

We continue with our replies to Sami Zaatari’s attempt of addressing my reasons why Muhammad is a false prophet.

In this particular article we will be addressing Zaatari’s reply to my first proposition which stated that Muhammad is a false prophet since he claimed to confirm the Holy Bible while contradicting its core doctrines.

Exposing Zaatari’s Logical Fallacies

Throughout his debates and articles Zaatari’s modus operandi in either attacking the Christian view or defending his Islamic position is to engage in reasoning that is utterly fallacious, such as begging the question. His series of “rebuttals” are no different.

For instance, Zaatari quotes specific verses to show that the Quran confirms the previous Scriptures such as the Torah of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus, but then claims that these are not the same as the Scriptures which we currently possess. Zaatari goes on to say,

So therefore if Shamoun finds something from his Bible which seems to contradict Islam this is not an argument AGAINST the prophet Muhammad, because we are not going to be held ransom [sic] to a corrupt book, rather what we Muslims shall accept from the Bible are the parts which go hand in hand with the Quran…

Later on he writes,

‘Well Shamoun you have committed several errors, the Quran indeed does claim that Muhammad is consistent with the former prophets and their scriptures, yet these scriptures are not the Bible you currently hold. Number two the Quran tells us your current Bible is corrupt, and it also tells us that what agrees with Islam in your Bible is true and what contradicts Islam is false. Hence when you show contradictions between the two books you only show the corrupted parts of your Bible.'

Apart from begging the question Zaatari’s assertion simply confirms my point. Even though Muhammad claimed to follow in the footsteps of the prophets and assumed that his message was consistent with the previous Scriptures the fact of the matter is that the prophetic writings actually expose and condemn him as a false prophet. This is why Zaatari and his ilk must deny that Muhammad confirmed the authority and veracity of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and assert that the Bible we currently possess is not the inspired Book which the Quran confirms.

The problem with this “response” is that it flies in the face of the verses I had cited as well as contradicting the following Quranic passages which emphatically testify that Muhammad came to confirm the very Scriptures in the possession of the Jews and Christians of his day:

Dispute not with the People of the Book save in the fairer manner, except for those of them that do wrong; and say, 'We believe in what has been sent down to us, and what has been sent down to you; our God and your God is One, and to Him we have surrendered.' S. 29:46

Here both Muhammad and his followers were commanded to believe in the revelation sent down to the Jews and Christians. Notice that this passage doesn’t qualify its meaning, e.g. Muslims were required to only affirm the original revelation given to the Jews and Christians but not the Scriptures which they possessed at Muhammad’s time since these writings were corrupted.

In this next reference mention is made of the Torah and the Gospel that were with the Jews and Christians:

They measured not Allah with His true measure when they said, 'Allah has not sent down aught on any mortal.' Say: 'Who sent down the Book that Moses brought as a light and a guidance to men? You put it into parchments, revealing them, and hiding much; and you were taught that you knew not, you and your fathers.' Say: 'Allah.' Then leave them alone, playing their game of plunging. This is a Book We have sent down, blessed and confirming that which is between his/its hands (musaddiqu allathee bayna yadayhi), and for thee to warn the Mother of Cities and those about her; and those who believe in the world to come believe in it, and watch over their prayers. S. 6:91-92

Those who follow the Messenger, the Prophet, the Ummi whom they find written down in the Torah and the Gospel WHICH ARE WITH THEMOf the people of Moses there is a section who guide and do justice in the light of truth... We broke them up into sections on this earth. There are among them some that are the righteous, and some that are the opposite. We have tried them with both prosperity and adversity: In order that they might turn (to Us). After them succeeded an (evil) generation: They inherited the Book, but they chose (for themselves) the vanities of this world, saying (for excuse): "(Everything) will be forgiven us." (Even so), if similar vanities came their way, they would (again) seize them. Was not the covenant of the Book taken from them, that they would not ascribe to Allah anything but the truth? AND THEY STUDY WHAT IS IN THE BOOK. But best for the righteous is the Home in the Hereafter. Will ye not understand? As to those who hold fast by THE BOOK and establish regular prayer,- never shall We suffer the reward of the righteous to perish. S. 7:157, 159, 168-170

These references claim that the Jews and Christians of Muhammad’s time possessed the Torah and the Gospel, that the Jews would write down the Book of Moses on sheets, and that they held fast to and studied the Book. Yet not a single word is said about the texts of these Scriptures being corrupted!

Historically, the only revelation which the Jews and Christians had, the only Torah and Gospel that these communities possessed were the Old and New Testaments respectively. This means that according to these verses Muhammad confirmed the authority and authenticity of the Old and New Testaments!

To top it off, Muhammad ordered the Jews to judge by the Torah in their possession!

Yet how will they make thee their judge seeing THEY HAVE the Torah, wherein is God's judgment, then thereafter turn their backs? They are not believers. Surely we sent down the Torah, wherein is guidance and light; thereby the Prophets who had surrendered themselves gave judgment for those of Jewry, as did the masters and the rabbis, following such portion of God's Book as they were given to keep and were witnesses to. So fear not men, but fear you me; and sell not my signs for a little price. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down - they are the unbelievers. And therein we prescribed for them: 'A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation'; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the evildoers. S. 5:43-45

Muhammad warns the Jews that if they failed to judge in accord with the Torah then they are evildoers and unbelievers. He even quotes the Torah, specifically the following OT command:

“If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” Exodus 21:22-25 – cf. Lev. 24:17-20; Deut. 19:15-21

Muhammad reasoned that if the Torah was good enough for the prophets then it should be good enough for the Jews of his time to rule by. This presupposes that these Jews possessed the very same Torah which the prophets confirmed and had access to!

Noted Muslim commentator Ibn Kathir mentions an interesting hadith in relation to Q. 5:41 which helps us to see more clearly Muhammad’s attitude towards the Torah:

“… Abu Dawud recorded that Ibn `Umar said, “Some Jews came to the Messenger of Allah and invited him to go to the Quff area. So he went to the house of Al-Midras and they said, `O Abu Al-Qasim! A man from us committed adultery with a woman, so decide on their matter.’ They arranged a pillow for the Messenger of Allah and he sat on it and said…

<<Bring the Tawrah to me.>> He was brought the Tawrah and he removed the pillow from under him and placed the Tawrah on it, saying


<<Bring me your most knowledgeable person.>> So he was brought a young man… and then he mentioned the rest of the story that Malik narrated from Nafi`… These Hadiths state that the Messenger of Allah issued a decision that conforms with the ruling in the Tawrah, not to honor the Jews in what they believe in, for the Jews were commanded to follow the Law of Muhammad only. Rather, the Prophet did this because Allah commanded him to do so. He asked them about the ruling of stoning in the Tawrah to make them admit to what the Tawrah contains and what they collaborated to hide, deny and exclude from implementing for all that time. They had to admit to what they did, although they did it while having knowledge of the correct ruling…” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 5:41; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Here was a golden opportunity for Muhammad to say that he didn’t believe that the Torah that he held was completely reliable. And yet instead of attacking the textual veracity of the Torah Muhammad claimed to fully trust it.

This wasn’t the only time that Muhammad appealed to and praised the Torah which the Jews possessed:

The apostle entered a Jewish school where there was a number of Jews and called them to God. Al-Nu'man b. 'Amr and al-Harith b. Zayd said to him:
‘What is your religion, Muhammad?’
‘The religion of Abraham.’
‘But Abraham was a Jew.’
Then let the Torah judge between us.’
They refused, and so God sent down concerning them: ‘Hast thou not seen how those who have received a portion of scripture when invited to God's book that it may judge between them, a party of them turn their backs in opposition. That is because they say, The fire will not touch us except for a limited time. What they were inventing has deceived them in their religion.’ (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], p. 260; bold emphasis ours)


Rafi b. Haritha and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila came to him [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 from your Lord. What has been sent down to thee from they Lord will assuredly increase many of them in error and unbelief. But be not sad because of the unbelieving people.’ (Ibid., p. 268; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The Quran further says that Jesus was sent with the Gospel to confirm the Torah in his possession and that the Christians of Muhammad’s time still had access to this Gospel:

And we sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Torah that is between his hands (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrat) and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein IS guidance and light, and confirming the Torah that is between his hands (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrat), as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down therein. Whosoever judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the ungodly. S. 5:46-47

This passage introduces additional problems for Zaatari. First, the manuscript evidence such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint etc., points to the fact that the Torah that Jesus confirmed is essentially the same Old Testament which we currently possess. Thus, if what the Quran says concerning Jesus is correct then the Old Testament must be the original revelation which God gave to the prophets such as Moses.

Secondly, Q. 5:46-47 commands the Christians at the time of Muhammad to judge by the Gospel which was given to Jesus and if any failed to do so then they were the ungodly. This presupposes that the Christians still had access to and were actually reading the uncorrupt Gospel which God revealed to Christ. Otherwise, how could the Quran instruct Christians to judge by a Gospel which no longer existed?

In light of this one must inquire as to the Gospel which the Christians at that time were reading. The answer to this question is not hard to discover since long before Muhammad’s birth the Christian Church started referring to the four canonical Gospels as THE Gospel (singular). The Church didn’t view them as four separate Gospels but as four distinct witnesses to the one Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the late NT scholar F. F. Bruce explained:

“At a very early date it appears that the four Gospels were united in one collection. They must have been brought together very soon after the writing of the Gospel according to John. This fourfold collection was known originally as ‘The Gospel’ singular, not ‘The Gospels’ in the plural; there was only one Gospel, narrated in four records, distinguished as ‘according to Matthew’, ‘according to Mark’, and so on. About A.D. 115 Ignatius, bishop, of Antioch, refers to ‘The Gospel’ as an authoritative writing, and as he knew more than one of the four ‘Gospels’ it may well be that by ‘The Gospel’ sans phrase he means the fourfold collection which went by that name.” (Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? [Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove Il.; Sixth edition, 1981], Chapter 3. The Canon of the New Testament, p. 18; bold emphasis ours)

Bruce further wrote that:

“By the time of Irenaeus, who, though a native of Asia Minor, was bishop of Lyons in Gaul about AD 180, the idea of a fourfold Gospel had become so axiomatic in the Church at large that he can refer to it as an established and recognized fact as obvious as the four cardinal points or the four winds:

‘For as there are four quarters of the world in which we live, and four universal winds, and as the Church is dispersed over all the earth, and the gospel is the pillar and base of the Church and the breath of life, so it is natural that it should have four pillars, breathing immortality from every quarter and kindling the life of men anew. Whence it is manifest that the Word, the architect of all things, who sits upon the cherubim and holds all things together, having been made manifested to men, have given us the gospel in fourfold form, but held together by one Spirit.’5

5. Adv. Haer. iii.11, 8 (Ibid., p. 19; bold emphasis ours)

In light of the preceding factors it is obvious that Muhammad’s Christian contemporaries would have assumed that the Quran must be referring to the canonical Gospels whenever it mentioned the Gospel of Jesus. And since there is nothing in the Quran to suggest otherwise they would have been correct.

In fact, one of Islam’s earliest biographers identifies the Gospel of John as the written record of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

“Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted FROM WHAT JOHN THE APOSTLE SET DOWN FOR THEM WHEN HE WROTE THE GOSPEL FOR THEM FROM THE TESTAMENT OF JESUS SON OF MARY: 'He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, 'They hated me without a cause' (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord's presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord's presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.

“The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete.” (Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad, pp. 103-104; bold emphasis ours)

Hence, this provides further substantiation that the Gospel which the Quran mentions is that which the Christians have always possessed, namely the Gospels of the NT.

There is some additional evidence that the early Muslims used the word Gospel in respect to the entire NT writings in the same way that they employed the term Torah for all the Scriptures in the possession of the Jews:

There is some evidence that the term Gospel was also sometimes used in the early Islamic period to indicate the whole New Testament, in the same way that the name of the Torah was used not only for the Pentateuch, but for all the books of the Jewish scriptures… (Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, Volume 2. E-I, Gospel, p. 343)

The following Muslim writing provides further corroboration that the term Gospel was in fact used for the entire NT collection:

“Remarks about the GOSPEL of the Christians, the Names of Their Books, Their Scholars, and Their Authors

“I asked Yunus the priest, who was an excellent man, about the books translated into the Arabic language which they expound and according to which they act. He replied, "Among them is the book Al-Surah (The Form) which is divided into two parts, the ‘Old Form’ and the ‘New Form.’" He also said that the "Old [Form]" was the ancient basis for the Jewish sect and the "New [Form]" for the sect of the Christians. He also said that the "Old [Form]" depends upon a number of books, the first of which is the Torah, WHICH IS FIVE SACRED WRITINGS. [Then follows] a compilation comprising a number of books, among which are:

“Joshua, the Son of Nun; The Tribes, which is the book of Judges; Samuel and the Judgment of David; Traditions of the Children of Israel; Ecclesiastes [Qoheleth]; The Song of Songs; The Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach [Ecclesiasticus]. The Prophets, composed of four books; Isaiah the prophet, for whom be peace; Jeremiah the prophet, for whom be peace; The Twelve Prophets, for whom be peace; Ezekiel. The New Form which is comprised of four Gospels: The Gospel of Matthew; The Gospel of Mark; The Gospel of Luke; The Gospel of John, The Disciples, known as Fraksis [Acts]; PAUL THE APOSTLE, twenty four epistles. (Abu'l-Faraj Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Nadim, The Fihrist - A 10th Century AD Survey of Islamic Culture, edited and translated by Bayard Dodge [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Columbia University Press, 1970], p. 45; bold and capital emphasis ours)

This particular citation demonstrates that Muhammad’s Christian contemporaries would have clearly understood from the Quran’s repeated appeal to the Gospel that Muhammad was referring to their NT writings, especially their canonical Gospels. There is simply no way around this fact.

And lest Zaatari misses the point or tries to distort it we will state this in another way so as to help him see more clearly the dilemma that Muhammad placed his followers in.

  1. Muhammad emphatically confirmed the veracity of the Scriptures in the possession of the Jews and Christians of his day.
  2. The manuscript tradition proves beyond any reasonable doubt that these writings would have been the same as what we find in the Old and New Testaments of today.
  3. Muhammad, therefore, confirmed the very Holy Bible which Jews and Christians currently possess.

In light of this does Zaatari really expect us to believe that Muhammad wasn’t referring to the Holy Bible? Does he somehow think that he knows more than his own prophet did when it comes to the Torah and Gospel that the Quran mentions? It seems so.

However, Zaatari does quote the following verses to “prove” that the Quran acknowledges that the Scriptures in our possession are not the original revelations: 2:79; 3:78; 4:46, 157; 5:13.

The problem with Zaatari’s list is that none of these verses suggest that the Judeo-Christian Scriptures have been corrupted. The most that these passages prove is that a specific group of Jews living in a certain area during a specific time had tampered with their Scriptures.

However, the same Quran testifies that there were other Jews, as well as Christians, who did not and would not allow their Scriptures to be falsified:

Yet they are not all alike; some of the People of the Book are a nation upstanding, that recite God's verses/signs in the watches of the night, bowing themselves, believing in God and in the Last Day, bidding to honour and forbidding dishonour, vying one with the other in good works; those are of the righteous. S. 3:113-114

And some there are of the People of the Book who believe in God, and what has been sent down unto you, and what has been sent down unto them, men humble to God, not selling the verses/signs of God for a small price; those -- their wage is with their Lord; God is swift at the reckoning. S. 3:199

Moreover, one of the references accuses a party (not all) of believers of distorting the Book WITH THEIR TONGUES:

And verily, among them is a party who distort the Book WITH THEIR TONGUES (as they read), so that you may think it is from the Book, but it is not from the Book, and they say: “This is from Allah,” but it is not from Allah; and they speak a lie against Allah while they know it. S. 3:78 Hilali-Khan

It is clear that this is referring to the misinterpretation of specific passages as opposed to the corruption of the text itself. This is similar to the hadiths that Zaatari cited to prove that Muhammad didn’t trust the Scriptures of the Jews:

The Apostle of Allah said: Whatever the people of the Book [Jews and Christians] tell you, do not verify them, nor falsify them, but say: We believe in Allah and His Apostle. If it is false, do not confirm it, and if it is right, do not falsify it. (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Knowledge (Kitab Al-Ilm), Book 25, Number 3637)

Narrated 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 Apostle 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.’" (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Holding Fast to the Qur'an and Sunnah, Volume 9, Book 92, Number 460)

It is evident from the context that Muhammad wasn’t rejecting the Torah or questioning its authority. Muhammad was merely cautioning his followers from accepting the explanation or interpretation of the Jews since what they said in Arabic may not have accurately reflected what was actually written in the Hebrew text of the Torah.

More importantly, here is what Ibn Kathir wrote concerning Q. 3:78:

Mujahid, Ash-Sha'bi, Al-Hassan, Qatadah and Ar-Rabi' bin Anas said that …

<who distort the Book with their tongues.>

means, “They alter (Allah's Words).”

Al-Bukhari reported that Ibn 'Abbas said that the Ayah means they alter and add although none among Allah's creation CAN REMOVE THE WORDS OF ALLAH FROM HIS BOOKS, THEY ALTER AND DISTORT THEIR APPARENT MEANINGS. Wahb bin Munabbih said, “The Tawrah and Injil REMAIN AS ALLAH REVEALED THEM, AND NO LETTER IN THEM WAS REMOVED. However, the people misguide others by addition and false interpretation, relying on books that they wrote themselves.” Then …

<they say: "This is from Allah," but it is not from Allah;>

As for Allah's books, THEY ARE STILL PRESERVED AND CANNOT BE CHANGED.” … Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this statement ... (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 3:78; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Hence, both Ibn Abbas and Wahb bin Munabbih believed that none of the Books of God could be corrupted and that the Torah and the Gospel remain as God revealed them. What makes this rather ironic is that Zaatari quotes a hadith where Ibn Abbas supposedly calls into question the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians! (We say supposedly since a careful analysis of the narrative in light of some of the other reported statements of Ibn Abbas proves otherwise. For the details please read the following article.)

Nor was Ibn Kathir the only scholar who quoted this report from al-Bukhari. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, in his Ighathat Al Lahfan, Volume 2, p. 351, refers to this same tradition along with the narrative from Abu Dawud where Muhammad praised the Torah which the Jews possessed at that time:

On the other side, another party of hadith and fiqh scholars said: these changes took place during its interpretation and not during the process of its revelation. This is the view of Abi Abdullah Muhammad bin Ishmael Al-Bukhari who said in his hadith collection:

“No one can corrupt the text by removing any of Allah’s words from his Books, but they corrupted it by misinterpreting it.”

Al-Razi also agrees with this opinion. In his commentary he said:

There is a difference of opinions regarding this matter among some of the respectable scholars. Some of these scholars said: the manuscript copies of the Torah were distributed everywhere and no one knows the exact number of these copies except Allah. It is impossible to have a conspiracy to change or alter the word of God in all of these copies without missing any copy. Such a conspiracy will not be logical or possible. And when Allah told his messenger (Muhammad) to ask the Jews to bring their Torah and read it concerning the stoning command they were not able to change this command from their copies, that is why they covered up the stoning verse while they were reading it to the prophet. It was then when Abdullah Ibn Salam requested that they remove their hand so that the verse became clear. If they have changed or altered the Torah then this verse would have been one of the important verses to be altered by the Jews.

Also, whenever the prophet would ask them (the Jews) concerning the prophecies about him in the Torah they were not able to remove them either, and they would respond by stating that they are not about him and they are still waiting for the prophet in their Torah.

Abu Dawood narrated in his collection that Ibn Umar said:

A group of Jewish people invited the messenger of Allah to a house. When he came, they asked him: O Abu Qassim, one of our men committed adultery with a woman, what is your judgment against him? So they placed a pillow and asked the messenger of Allah to set on it. Then the messenger of Allah proceeded to say: bring me the Torah. When they brought it, he removed the pillow from underneath him and placed the Torah on it and said: I BELIEVE IN YOU AND IN THE ONE WHO REVEALED YOU, then said: bring me one of you who have the most knowledge. So they brought him a young man who told him the story of the stoning.

The scholars said: if the Torah was corrupted he would not have placed it on the pillow and he would not have said: I believe in you and in the one who revealed you. This group of scholars also said: Allah said:

"And the word of your Lord has been accomplished truly and justly; there is none who can change His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing."

And the Torah is Allah’s word. (Bold and capital emphasis ours)

It is interesting that Muslim scholars cited Q. 6:115 to prove that the Torah could not be corrupted since this verse equally applies to all of the inspired Scriptures. Notice what it says:

And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.

Here is how another renowned Muslim expositor interpreted this text:

The word of God meant in this verse is the Quran. This word is complete in truth and justice. Nothing can change Allah’s word which he revealed in his BOOKS. The liars cannot add or delete from Allah’s BOOKS. This is referring without a doubt to the Jews and Christians because they are the people of the books which were revealed to their prophets. Allah is revealing that the words they (the people of the book) are corrupting were not revealed by Allah, but Allah’s word cannot be changed or substituted. (Tafsir al-Tabari, Q. 6:115; bold and capital emphasis ours)

This isn’t the only place where the Quran says this:

Recite what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord; no man can change His words. Apart from Him, thou wilt find no refuge. S. 18:27

Thus, the logic of the Quran goes something like this:

  1. None can change the words of Allah.
  2. The Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel are the words of Allah.
  3. Therefore, no one is able to change the Torah, the Psalms or the Gospel.

How much more clearer must the Quran be that Muhammad did not think that the previous Scriptures were corrupted but that they had been preserved by God and were in the possession of the Jews and Christians of his time?

Finally, in his haste to prove that the Muslim scripture accuses the Jews and Christians of corrupting their Books Zaatari cited Q. 4:46 without realizing how this text actually backfires against him.

According to the immediate context this passage refers to a party of the Jews distorting the words of Muhammad!

Seest thou not those unto whom a portion of the Scripture hath been given, how they purchase error, and seek to make you (Muslims) err from the right way? Allah knoweth best (who are) your enemies. Allah is sufficient as a Guardian, and Allah is sufficient as a Supporter. Some of those who are Jews change words from their context and say: ‘We hear and disobey; hear thou as one who heareth not’ and ‘Listen to us!’ distorting with their tongues and slandering religion. If they had said: ‘We hear and we obey: hear thou, and look at us’ it had been better for them, and more upright. But Allah hath cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, save a few. S. 4:44-46

The late Abdullah Yusuf Ali helps us understand the historical context of this particular citation:

“… A trick of the Jews was to twist words and expressions, so as to ridicule the most solemn teachings of the Faith. Where they should have said, 'We hear and we obey,' they said aloud, ‘We hear,’ and whispered, ‘We disobey.’ Where they should have said respectfully, 'We hear,' they added in a whisper, ‘What is not heard,’ by way of ridicule. Where they claimed the attention of the Teacher, they used an ambiguous word apparently harmless, but their intention disrespectful.” (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 194, fn. 565; bold emphasis ours)


“… ‘Ra'ina' if used respectfully in the Arabic way, would have meant ‘Please attend to us.’ With the twist of their tongue, they suggested an insulting meaning, such as ‘O thou that takest us to pasture!', or in Hebrew, 'Our bad one!'” (Ibid, fn. 566; bold emphasis ours)

In light of this Zaatari must apply his own method of exegesis consistently and conclude that the Jews corrupted the text of the Quran according to Q. 4:46 since they changed Muhammad’s words around. After all, it was Zaatari who quoted Q. 4:46 to prove that the Jews and Christians corrupted their inspired Books. He must therefore remain consistent and accept the fact that this verse actually establishes that the Jews corrupted the Muslim scripture as well!

Zaatari will obvious reject such an explanation and rightly conclude that this passage refers to the Jews distorting the words of Muhammad by their tongues, not that they actually changed the text of his scripture. By the same token why doesn’t Zaatari see that the Quran doesn’t accuse the Jews (or even the Christians for that matter) of changing the text of their Scriptures but of misinterpreting or concealing what their inspired writings teach? The answer is obvious.

What makes this all the more ironic is that the verse immediately right after Q. 4:46 actually testifies that Muhammad came to confirm the very Scriptures that the Jews possessed!

O ye unto whom the Scripture hath been given! Believe in what We have revealed confirming that WHICH YE POSSESS, before We destroy countenances so as to confound them, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-breakers (of old time). The commandment of Allah is always executed. S. 4:47

Note that this verse does not say “confirming that which ye once possessed” in the past tense as if it is now lost, but “confirming that which ye possess” in the present tense.

Did Zaatari not bother reading this text which serves to refute his gross distortion of what his own scripture says regarding the authenticity and authority of the previously revealed Books? Apparently not!

To make matters worse Zaatari proceeds to quote Q. 5:48 and erroneously concludes that,

So the Quran allows us to establish what is false and true in the Bible, that which is in line with Islam we take as truth, and that which contradicts Islam is the corrupted part.

Once again Zaatari has to misread the text by ignoring the very context in which it is found. Here is the immediate context in order to help the reader see the point Muhammad was making:

Yet how will they make thee their judge seeing they have the Torah, wherein is God's judgment, then thereafter turn their backs? They are not believers. Surely We sent down the Torah, wherein IS GUIDANCE AND LIGHT; thereby the Prophets who had surrendered themselves gave judgment for those of Jewry, as did the masters and the rabbis, following such portion of God's Book as they were given to keep and were witnesses to. So fear not men, but fear you Me; and sell not My signs for a little price. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down - they are the unbelievers. And therein We prescribed for them: 'A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and for wounds retaliation'; but whosoever forgoes it as a freewill offering, that shall be for him an expiation. Whoso judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the evildoers. And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus son of Mary, confirming the Torah that is between his hands (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrati) and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah that is between his hands (wa-musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrati), as a guidance and an admonition unto the godfearing. So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down THEREIN. Whosoever judges not according to what God has sent down -- they are the ungodly. And we have revealed unto you the Book confirming the Book that is between his hands, and assuring it (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-kitabi wa-muhayminan alayhi). So judge between them according to what God has sent down, and do not follow their caprices, to forsake the truth that has come to thee. To every one of you We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If God had willed, He would have made you one nation; but that He may try you in what has come to you. So be you forward in good works; unto God shall you return, all together; and He will tell you of that whereon you were at variance. S. 5:43-48

Compare this with how the following Muslim translates Q. 5:48:

To you We revealed the Book with the Truth, confirming previous Scripture AND WITNESSING TO THEIR VERACITY. So judge between them as God revealed and do not follow their whims, to turn you away from the truth revealed to you. For every community We decreed a law and a way of life. Had God willed, He could have made you a single community – but in order to test you in what He revealed to you. So vie with one another in virtue. To God is your homecoming, all of you, and He will then acquaint you with that over which you differed. S. 5:48 (The Qur’an – A New Translation, by Tarif Khalidi [Viking Adult Publishers, October 16, 2008], p. 89; bold, capital and italic emphasis ours)

In context Muhammad had just finished explaining to the Jews and Christians that they must judge in accord with their Scriptures since they are fully reliable and authoritative, and further asserted that his very own book was “sent down” to testify to their veracity.

In light of this Muhammad’s point wasn’t that the previous Scriptures are corrupt, but that he was commanded to judge according to the dictates of the Quran. And in the Quran Muhammad was ordered to inform the Jews and Christians that they were expected, in fact required, to judge by the Torah and Gospel respectively.

In other words, the Quran told Muhammad not to judge the Jews and Christians according to his law or sharia but in respect to the commandments found in their own Scriptures. Muslims, on the other hand, were to be judged according to the dictates of the Quran. That is all that the passage is saying.

Now why in the world would Allah command Jews and Christian to judge by Scriptures that had been changed and were therefore unreliable? Why not order them to abandon their corrupted Books and follow Muhammad’s laws? The answer is obvious to any honest seeker of truth. Muhammad did not think that the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians were unreliable. He actually believed that they were the true revelations that God had given them through his prophets and messengers.

This means that my first proposition has been fully established and my argument against Muhammad’s prophethood therefore remains uncontested. Muhammad confirmed that the Holy Bible which the Jews and Christians of his time possessed was the uncorrupt revelation which God sent down through his prophets and messengers. Muhammad believed that his scripture was in perfect agreement with those inspired Books. However, he was grossly mistaken since his teachings contradict(ed) the essential doctrines that were/are taught within the Holy Bible. As such Muhammad is one of those false prophets and antichrists that the Holy Bible warned against (cf. Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Matthew 7:15-20; 24:23-25; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4, 13-15; 1 John 2:18, 22-23).

For more information on what the early Islamic sources actually teach concerning the preservation of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and to read our rebuttals to Muslims who deny that their scripture affirms the authority of the Holy Bible please consult all of the materials which can be found here.

With that said we have arrived at the conclusion of this part of our rebuttal. Continue with Part 3.