Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Let the Study Quran Speak! Pt. 2

Jews and Christians don’t need Muhammad:

All they need is to follow the Guidance of the Holy Bible!

Sam Shamoun

In this part of our series, we are going to reference The Study Quran’s comments on Q. 5:43-48 to see what these Muslim scholars have to say regarding the Quran’s witness to the validity and textual reliability of the Jewish-Christian Scriptures that were in existence during Muhammad’s time.

Here is the passage in question:

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 before him and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein IS guidance and light, and confirming the Torah before it, 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 sent down to thee the Book with the truth, confirming the Book that was before it, and assuring it. 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 appointed a right way and an open road. 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. Arberry

And here are the notes from The Study Quran concerning the foregoing verses:

43-44 … This verse then, along with vv. 44-47, indicates that the Torah and Gospel REMAIN VALID SOURCES of moral and legal judgment AND GUIDANCE for Jews and Christians, respectively, EVEN AFTER THE COMING OF THE PROPHET–INDEED, EVEN IN HIS PRESENCE. See also v. 68 where the People of the Book are likewise enjoined to observe their scriptures… (P. 298; bold and capital emphasis ours)


46 … In the present verse both Jesus and the Gospel he brings are separately described as confirming the Torah. Jesus is also described as confirming the Torah in 3:50 and 61:6, as is John the Baptist in 3:39. That Jesus “confirms the Torah” means that he upholds all Torah rulings not specifically abrogated by the Gospel (T); see also 3:50, where Jesus comes to make lawful unto the Israelites part of that which was forbidden to them. The Gospel here, like the Torah in v. 44, is described as containing a guidance and a light. The Quran is also described as a light in v 15; 7:157; 64:8.

47 Several commentators note that enjoining the people of the Gospel to judge by what God has sent down therein means that they should follow the rulings of the Torah in most cases, since Jesus himself lived largely according to the Torah rulings, with the exception of those that the Gospel abrogates (IK), and since the Gospel itself contains teachings and exhortations, but relatively few legal rulings (Z). This verse indicates that the Gospel REMAINS A VALID SOURCE OF GUIDANCE for the people of the Gospel, just as vv. 43-44 suggest that the Jews can continue to find guidance in the Torah. The CONTINUING VALIDITY of these two scriptures is also suggested in v. 68… Several commentators, however, argue that the exhortation here to follow the Gospel indicates only that they should have followed the Gospel prior to the coming of the Quran, which thereafter abrogated the scripture that came before it (IK, R). This reading seems implausible in light of other Quranic verses, however, since v. 43 questions why the Jews have come to the Prophet for judgment (regarding two Jewish adulterers) when they have the Torah indicating that Prophetic adjudication is not necessary (EVEN DURING HIS LIFETIME) AS LONG AS THEY FOLLOW THEIR OWN SCRIPTURE. And indeed, in issuing his ruling in that case–namely, the implementation of the penalty of stoning, the Prophet stated that his actions were intended to revive (AND THUS LEGITIMATE) the Torah ruling for the Jews (see commentary on 5:41-44). (Ibid., pp. 299-300; bold and capital emphasis ours)


48 This verse addresses the Prophet directly and describes the Book sent down to him–that is, the Quran– as confirming the Book that came before it, just as the Gospel confirms the Torah. The Quran is also described as “confirming” earlier scriptures in 2:41, 89, 91, 97, 101; 3:3, 81; 6:92; 35:31; 46:30. The Quran is further described as a protector (muhaymin) over the previous scriptures, meaning that the Quran testifies to THE VALIDITY OF THE EARLIER SCRIPTURES and serves as their trustee, keeper, and guardian (T, Z). “Protector” (al-Muhaymin) is also one of the Names of God in the Quran (59:23). The idea of the Quran as guardian and keeper of previous revelations is consistent with 5:41c and 5:45c, which report that the Prophet ordered the sentence of stoning for the two idolaters as well as retribution for killing and injury in order to reestablish the original Torah ruling on these matters. When the Prophet “judges between them”–that is, the People of the Book–this verse enjoins him to do so in accordance with what God has sent down, which most major commentators understand to mean that he should judge according to what God had revealed to him, namely the Quran (Bd, T, Z). Alternately, it could mean that he should judge the People of the Book according to what God has sent down TO THEM, namely, THEIR OWN SCRIPTURES (WHICH IS WHAT THE PROPHET EXPLICITLY DOES IN THE INCIDENT DISCUSSED IN VV. 41-43). That he should follow not their caprices means that he should not rule in accordance with their unwarranted digressions from or alterations to their own law, as discussed in vv. 41-47 (T), or that he should comply with their desire to alter or neglect what has come to the Prophet himself in the Quran (Bd). The Prophet is similarly warned against following the caprices of the People of the Book in the following verse, as well as in 2:120, 145; 42:15.

Although vv. 41-47, taken together, suggest THE VALIDITY OF JEWS AND CHRISTIANS JUDGING BY THEIR OWN SCRIPTURES, AND THUS THE CONTINUING SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE TO BE FOUND IN THOSE SCRIPTURES, this verse goes farther by asserting the providential nature of different religious communities and their distinct laws and practices. Indeed, the verse does not pertain only to Jews and Christians, but rather makes a universal statement about all religions. For each among you We have appointed a law and a way indicates that different religious communities may have different ritual and legal formulations specifically “appointed” for them by God, and that each religious community is independent of the laws of other such communities, even if the essential truths and principles of the religions are the same (IK, Q, R, T). (Ibid., pp. 300-301; bold and emphasis ours)

It is truly refreshing to finally have Muslim scholars candidly acknowledging that that their own religious scripture confirms the textual purity and abiding authority of the Holy Bible, and that Jews and Christians do not need to follow Muhammad since they have all the guidance from God they need in their respective Scriptures!

Perhaps Muslim polemicists such as Shabir Ally will learn from the example of these Islamic scholars, and stop spreading falsehoods among the people by claiming that the Quran teaches that the previous Scriptures have been corrupted. 

Lord willing, we shall have more articles in the series appearing soon.