Grace and Truth
This website is under construction !
This page in: -- ENGLISH -- Indonesian
Conversation with Muslims about Christ -- Booklet 3
HOW TO EXPLAIN THAT THE BIBLE HAS NOT BEEN CORRUPTED
The first main dogmatic hindrance for a Muslim in becoming a Christian is their reproach that the Bible has been corrupted. Is this really what the Koran teaches and how can you help a Muslim build trust in the Bible? These questions are addressed on the basis of the Old Testament, the New Testament, common sense, the Koran and your personal testimony.
How to Explain That The Bible Has Not Been Corrupted
1. The Testimony of the Old Testament About the Authenticity of the Torah and the Prophets
Conversation with Muslims about Christ
How to Explain That The Bible Has Not Been Corrupted
Many Muslims are sceptical and claim that the Bible has been changed and falsified. Some concede that Christians are well-organized and industrious people, and that their social rules are just. But they also regard those among them, who fear God, as being dreamers in a cloud-cuckoo-land, because such Christians consider the Torah, Psalms and gospels to be reliable books. That may have been true in the past, these Muslims say, but their present editions are all tampered with. All Christians are for them victims of a great error, believing in fairy tales.
Where does the scepticism of Muslims against the 66 books of the Bible come from? What arguments do they put forth to underline their accusations concerning the corruption of the Bible?
The attacks of the Qur'an against the Torah
The answer to these questions can be found in ten verses of the Qur'an. They constitute the basis for the scepticism of Muslims towards the Bible. An elder of the Jews in Medina was accused of having committed adultery. The Jews did not want to disclose to the Muslims the verses about the punishment for adultery in the Torah in order to save their elder from stoning. Thereupon, in several passages of his Qur'an, Muhammad made Allah challenge these Jews who did not reveal the secrets and the commandments of their Torah to the Muslims:
Do not sell off my verses at a low price. (Sura al-Baqara 2:41)
Do not clothe justice with injustice and do not hide justice, since you know it. (Sura al-Baqara 2:42)
Some of them heard the word of Allah, but then they falsified it after they had understood it, knowing (what they were doing). (Sura al-Baqara 2:75)
Woe to those who write the book with their own hands and then claim: 'This is from Allah!' selling it off at a low price. (Sura al-Baqara 2:79)
Truly, Some of them conceal the truth, although they know it. (Sura al-Baqara 2:146)
Oh people of the book! Why do you clothe justice with injustice and hide justice, knowing (what you are doing)?
(Sura Al 'Imran 3:71)
Truly, Some of them twist their tongues when (reading) the book (aloud), so that you would take (what was read) to be from the book, but it is not from the book. (Sura Al 'Imran 3:78)
Some of the Jews move letters of the words from their places (so that they make a different sense). (Sura al-Nisa 4:46)
Since they broke their covenant, we (Allah) have cursed them and hardened their hearts, so that they moved the letters from their places and forgot part of what they were made to memorize. (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:13)
Of those who say, "We are Christians (Nasara)", we have ordained their covenant. But then they forgot part of what they were made to memorize. (Sura al-Ma'ida 5,14)
If you analyse these 10 parts of Qur'anic verses in the Arabic language you can find eight historical realities:
From these Qur'anic accusations you can see that only a minority of Jews in Medina had a problem with Muhammad. The vast majority of Jews are not accused in the Qur'an with this reproach. They neither falsified nor concealed their holy book. Jews everywhere possess the genuine, original Torah until today.
In the Qur'an there is also no mention that a whole scroll of the Torah was altered from beginning to end. Muhammad claimed that only some single words were covered up, pronounced wrongly or fitted with different vowels. The integrity of the Torah as a whole is not questioned anywhere in the Qur'an!
Jews, however, as well as Christians, were not able to recite long passages from the Bible by heart, but offered their personal opinions, experiences or interpretations of Biblical texts. For Muslims learning the revealed word by heart is proof of the love of a believer for God and his revelation. They missed this kind of love in Jews and Christians. Muhammad wanted to hear the exact texts of the Revelation repeated from memory, he did not want to learn the opinion of individuals about it.
This short analysis of the Qur'anic verses mentioned above shows that Muslims suspect without reason that the Torah was completely corrupted. In addition to that, the Qur'an never mentions anywhere that the Gospel was falsified or changed, because Muhammad respected Christians and knew their reliability and love of the truth.
The Muslims' search for Muhammad's name in the Bible
After several Jews and Arabic Christians accepted Islam the idea emerged among them that Muhammad, who called himself the seal of all prophets, should have been prophesied in the words of the Bible. Muhammad let 'Isa say in the Qur'an that an envoy called Ahmad would come after him (Sura al-Saff 61:6).
Since then, Muslims suspect that Jews and Christians have erased the name of Muhammad or its synonym Ahmad from their holy books.
In the mean time a hectic examination of the prophesies in the Bible began, to see if they perhaps point to the coming of Muhammad. Countless speculations and writings deal with the Islamic belief that Muhammad must have been mentioned in the Bible. They often quote Deuteronomy 18:15,18. There Moses says: The Lord our God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. Listen to him! The Muslims claim enthusiastically: ”This promised prophet must be Muhammad.” But they have not noticed that this prophet must come from the people of Israel. Whoever asks them whether they would like to confess that Muhammad should be an Israeli or a Jew would hear an indignant ”No!”
From the Gospel they repeatedly quote the famous promise that Jesus made: The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things (John 14:16,17,26). Muslim researchers think that the promised counsellor should be Muhammad! They examined the Greek word parakletos (counsellor), quickly replaced its vowels and changed parakletos into perikletos, which means "the praised one" (Muhammad). When they accuse the Christians of having changed the name of Muhammad into parakletos, we can show them that they were the ones who changed the vowels! Furthermore, when you ask these promise-seekers whether they agree that Muhammad was sent by ”Christ” as his servant, you will hear a shocked denial. (In John 17:7 it is written that Jesus has sent the counsellor.) That question can disarm this Islamic claim.
An anti-biblical decision
When the Islamic scholars and commentators of the Qur'an compared the Bible with the Qur'an centuries after Muhammad's death, they found that not a single sentence matched exactly in the two books in form and content. The growing irritation coming from this realisation was refuted by a primitive, but cunning legal decision. They determined that all differences between the Bible and the Qur'an must point to the corruption of the Bible. By this method the Qur'an was made the standard of measurement and judge of the Bible. Basically Muslims believe that both books derive from the original book in heaven and were transmitted by verbal inspiration. The unbridgeable differences between the three books, however, proves in their opinion the forgery of the Torah and the Gospel. We should recognise that on the basis of this conclusion Islam proves itself to be an anti-biblical spirit that holds captive the majority of Muslims in collective bondage.
The poisonous shots of Mr Deedat
The fourth Islamic attack against the Bible comes from a team around Mr Deedat, an Indian Muslim in South Africa. He has collected a great number of non-Qur'anic arguments from European atheists, communists, materialists and liberal theologians, which seem to prove the errors of the Bible. His anti-biblical claims contradict repeatedly the statements in the Qur'an. In spite of his arguments being built on a shaky foundation, he is financially supported by several governments of Islamic oil states, because he was able to shake the confidence of countless Christians and Muslims in the Bible world-wide.
Among other accusations Mr Deedat claims that Christ did not tell the truth when he prophesied: As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in his grave (Matthew 12:40; Mark 8:11-12; Luke 11:29-32). Maliciously, Mr Deedat points to the fact that Christ was in his grave only from Friday afternoon, before sunset, until Sunday morning, before dawn. He propagates the fact that Jesus was only one and a half days and two nights in his grave, but never three full days and three full nights! From this fact he draws the conclusion that Jesus was no reliable prophet!
Many Christians do not know how to reply to such arguments of Mr Deedat's and go away with drooping heads. But in this case we can answer that, according to Jewish tradition, whatever happened at any time of a day has been done on the entire day. Since Jesus was buried on Friday, the whole Friday is the day of his death. Likewise his resurrection officially took place on the entire first day of the week.
With such tricks Mr Deedat tries to question the cross and the resurrection of Christ and his gospel. He has collected many critical statements concerning the text of the Bible, written by liberal theologians, and tries to prove with the help of such statements that not even Christian experts believe in the infallibility of the Bible. The poisonous shots of this enemy of Christ are published and distributed by the millions in Africa, Asia and other continents. His students have worked energetically for two generations in many languages with considerable influence.
The shaken confidence in the truth of the Bible We should not be surprised that not only Christians, but also Muslims have been shaken in their confidence in the Bible. Whoever tries to explain the salvation of Christ to Muhammad's followers must first find ways to establish confidence in the Bible in them, otherwise all efforts could be in vain. The following hymn by Nikolaus Ludwig, Earl of Zinzendorf (1700-1760), is true also in missionary work among Muslims:
Lord, preserve your word,
If you try to explain the truth of the Bible to a Muslim, you will find five bubbling sources full of arguments for your endeavor:
1. The Testimony of the Old Testament About the Authenticity of the Torah and the Prophets
Whoever wants to explain to a Muslim that God watches over his word should remember the following verses and share them with his Muslim friend:
● Jeremiah 1:11-12: The word of the Lord came to me: ”What do you see, Jeremiah?” – ” I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, ”You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
● In Deuteronomy 4:2 we read a word by Moses: Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.
Who would dare, consciously or by error, alter God's commandments and promises, add his own ideas or eliminate prohibitions he does not like? The Lord himself commands through Moses to preserve His word intact and unaltered, to learn it by heart and to act accordingly in daily life. The Bible defends its truth itself. In Islam the word of a prophet is the direct word of Allah! There is no difference between the two. An envoy of Allah possesses great authority. Muslims often understand the Torah to be the entire Old Testament.
● In Proverbs 30:5-6 we read: Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.
As gold is purified by fire the word of the Lord has gone through the purifying force of His holiness. Therefore it is flawless, pure and eternal. The Lord offers us ”the full armour of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20) by His word. He who is not rooted in the word of the Lord has not got any spiritual power. He who presents his personal philosophy, psychology, natural science or so-called truths from other religions and cultures as revelation, will be unmasked as a liar and punished by God. The ”foolishness of the word of the Lord” is stronger than the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:18-29).
● Psalm 33:4 The word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. \\ The texts of the Bible contain authentic truth, even if Muslims and liberal Christians deny this fact. The indication of the truth of God's word lies in what God does. His word is not only true, but it will do what He says. The 333 promises in the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament, prove the truth of the Old Testament in a unique way. In the entire world there is no book that contains a self-justification of its truth, like the Bible. The Lord does what He says! The Qur'an teaches the predestination of all things. The inevitable fulfilment of the promises of the Old Testament in the New Testament is an eye-opener for many Muslims, corresponding to their understanding of determinism.
● Psalm 119:89 Your word, o Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:25). The boundlessness of the word ”eternal” communicates the consequences and the range of this promise. We all live briefly. But the word of the Lord stands firm in eternity and is unshakeable, even more so than the great boulder in the middle of the Rhine Waterfalls near Schaffhausen, Switzerland, which roar around it day and night. With the word of the Lord eternity reaches into our time. For all continents and for billions of galaxies this word of the Lord is a promise that is legally binding. His commandments, His promises and the testimonies of the experiences of the believers confirm His fidelity. Some Jews and Muslims think that the original book of God with all its revelations is in heaven. No one can shake or alter this original word of the Almighty.
● Psalm 19:7-9, contains the testimony of David, how he experienced the truth of the unchanged word of the Lord in his life:
The law of the Lord is perfect,
He who meditates on these four statements: perfect, trustworthy, right and radiant will gain trust in the authenticity of the Bible and can pass it on to Muslims.
● Isaiah 55:10-11 encourages all servants of the Lord who offer His word to Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, liberals and fanatics: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
The revelations of the Lord in the Bible are not merely true and authentic, but powerful and mighty. They will do what the Lord desires. Muslims do not imagine that the revealed word possesses such a potency. Out of the word of the Bible flow creative, healing, forgiving, comforting and renewing power. Many Jews experienced this fact and honour their Torah scrolls with great reverence. More than a few of them have paid with their lives for their belief in the authenticity and power of the books of the Old Testament.
2. Verses confirming the authenticity of the Revelation in the New Testament
● Matthew 5:17-18 offers the decisive and guiding testimony of Jesus Christ who defines His position in regard to the revelation in the Old Testament: 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until Heaven and Earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished..
By this fundamental statement the Son of God guarantees the authenticity of the Old Testament. Jesus denies that He replaces former revelations by new or better ones, such as the Qur'an, which in itself contains 240 verses that have been abrogated and are no longer valid.
Jesus Christ, however, speaks about the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets through His teaching, His life, His miracles, His death, His resurrection, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and His return. The Lord Jesus honored, deepened and lived the revelation in the Old Testament as His Bible.
Jesus guarantees the authenticity of all the books of the Old Testament until the end of the universe so that even a Muslim can be certain that not the smallest dash, nor a little dot was lost, but will be fulfilled precisely. This authoritative declaration by Jesus Christ annuls the accusation of Muhammad and his followers.
● Matthew 24:35 offers another word of Jesus Christ which guarantees the truth and eternity of His own Gospel and of all the scriptures in the New Testament: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Jesus is neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but a realist. He assures us that all the human programmes to improve the world and to preserve the creation will be in vain, because the heavens and our small earth will pass away. But since our Lord lives and His word is full of spirit and power His gospel will not pass away even when the elements crash and perish. He encourages us to believe and to hope when He says: Rejoice that your names are written in heaven! (Luke 10:20). All who have been born again by His word and received His Holy Spirit participate in everlasting life.
● Luke 1:1-4 shows us how careful and exact the evangelists were in handing down the words and deeds of Jesus Christ. The Greek physician Luke describes how he composed his gospel: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eye-witnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
The gospels did not fall down from heaven as complete books, as some Muslims imagine the Qur'an to have been revealed. Doctor Luke, the Greek physician, who was in Christ, asked many eye-witnesses and responsible people who were appointed by the apostles to collect and write down the words of Jesus. They were called servants of the word.
Luke, the physician, wanted to know how the Virgin Mary could have a child without a husband! So he respectfully asked her about the events. It was probably Mary who told him how the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and announced the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-24). She told him about the appearance of the archangel with her in Nazareth (Luke 1:25-56) and told him the details of the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-21). She also informed him about the presentation of Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:22-40) and about the visit of the twelve-year-old Jesus to the temple (Luke 2:41-52).
This Greek physician collected several parables and reports of Jesus which the other gospels do not mention: The lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) and the report of the ten healed of leprosy (Luke 17:11-19). Luke listened to the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), he took notes of Jesus visiting Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and of the tears of the Lord over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44). Luke also included the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), handed down the names of the female disciples following Jesus (Luke 8:1-3), and probably learned from them the three unique words Jesus spoke on the cross (Luke 23:34,43,46).
Luke asked for details about the meeting of the risen Jesus with the two disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and other details about the risen Jesus who taught His shocked disciples from the scriptures of the Old Testament (Luke 24: 44-49). He alone reported the ascension of Jesus (Luke 24: 50-52; Acts 1:1-14) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-47).
Without Luke, the physician, we would not know many key texts of the gospel. He wrote his two books for one individual, Theophilus, a Roman governor who had become a Christian in Antioch. The risen Lord, through His Holy Spirit, guided Luke the ”foreigner” to collect historical facts carefully and write them down in an orderly way with responsibility. His gospel was supported, written and sealed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself never wrote a book although he could read and write Hebrew. But His eye-witnesses gave strong and faithful testimony to what they had seen and heard.
● John 1:14 gives us unique help when we talk to Muslims: The Word became flesh and lived among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John understood that Jesus not only preached the word of the Lord, but He Himself was the Word! There was no difference between His words and His works. Thus, He remained without sin. The word of the Lord creates, heals, forgives, comforts and renews believers. In Jesus the will of God and His power became visible. The incarnation of the word of the Lord in Jesus sums up all the words of God in His person. All promises are Yes and Amen in Him. We do not believe in a ”religion”, but in a ”person”! We not only trust in the printed word of the Lord, but first of all in Jesus, a person. He does not change. A book can be falsified and destroyed. But Jesus lives forever. He is the Word of the Lord. The Qur'an testifies to this fact five times. We ought to recognize this open door to the Muslims, go through it and preach Jesus as the Word of the Lord incarnate.
● John 16:13 contains an exciting sentence: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. When a former Muslim in Kashmir read this text, he asked excitedly, ”Do you have the Spirit of truth?” He continued in his thoughts and said, ”If you have received the Spirit of truth, you cannot lie. And if you lied hastily, the Spirit of truth will press you to confess your lie. This Spirit does not tolerate dishonesty.” The man from Kashmir did not wait for an answer to his questions and went on, ”If the Spirit of truth dwells in Christians they can never falsify the Bible! This truthful Spirit would not allow that.”
That is the core of the problem! Muslims suspect Jews and Christians of forging the Bible, because there is no Spirit of truth in Islam. In Islam, lies are legally allowed in four circumstances: in the Holy War, in reconciling two Muslims, when a husband communicates with his wives, and when a wife speaks to her husband. Even an oath spoken in haste can be broken (Sura al-Tahrim 66:1-2). In Islam Allah calls himself the best of all deceitful plotters (Sura Al 'Imran 3:54; al-Nisa 4:132; al-Anfal 8:30). Who would then be surprised to find his Muslims suspecting others of being as cunning as their spirit in the Qur'an? If you try to explain to a Muslim the authenticity of the Bible you should pray first, that the Spirit of truth will hover over them as well as over yourself. Otherwise truth, faithfulness and reliability will remain foreign vocabulary.
● John 17:17 reveals a secret in the vicarious high priestly prayer of Jesus. There he pronounced the clearest definition of the authenticity of the Bible in its shortest possible form: Your word is truth! This sentence goes far beyond doctrinal teaching, sermon, or testimonies. Rather, Jesus describes the reality and truth of the word of God in His prayer-dialogue with his father in heaven. Whatever critics of the Bible, liberal theologians, anti-Christian Muslims or materialistic communists bring forth against the Bible will be shattered before this divine reality. Whatever they may offer as proof, falsification or implication will be disarmed by the testimony of the Son to His Father: Your word is truth!
In Semitic languages truth also means "law and right"! Therefore this sentence means: The word of the Lord contains all His laws, regulations and even the principles of judgment, as well as all grace, atonement and substitutionary sacrifice for us. He who lives outside or against biblical law is a rebel. But he who keeps and believes the word of Jesus will be justified and renewed. His word is our life, our strength and our hope. Every servant of the Lord possesses a foundation for his services unknown to philosophies, party programs or mystical dreams: The unchanging solid truth of the word of the Lord; Christ is the truth and the word of His Father personified.
● Revelation 22:18-19 gives a stern warning that fits the Muslim mind: I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Muslims can comprehend what this warning means: If you add anything to the word of God, God will add severe plagues to your punishment in eternity. If you take away or withhold words or meanings from the content of the word of God, God will lessen or take away his blessing prepared for you in heaven. The consequences of this divine threat are plain: Who would be such a fool as to falsify the word of God if eternal punishments and disadvantages would result? It is unthinkable that a god-fearing Jew could falsify the Torah nor a true Christian the Gospel. If he does not believe or lives an ungodly life, he is no longer a real Jew or a faithful Christian, but a son of the father of all lies (John 8:37-45).
In the Old and in the New Testament you can find more verses which prove the truth and the genuineness of the Bible. We should not read our Bible with Christian eyes only, but also learn to understand how these verses can speak to Muslims. The Bible defends and justifies itself. We should practise listening to its voice, in order to be able to offer the truth to the Muslims with love.
3. Arguments from human logic and the Qumran scrolls to the authenticity of the Bible
A growing number of Muslims today believe in science. They are leaving the thought patterns of the Qur'anic age. Sometimes it is possible to talk with them objectively and to encourage them to critical thinking. The so-called ”W-questions” could be of help here. The first question would be:
Who falsified the Bible? The Jews or the Christians? Mostly they answer: The Jews! We can reply: Do you think the Christians would keep quiet if the Jews had changed the Torah and the prophets? The fact that the two different religious communities exist makes it impossible for either of them to tamper secretly or openly with any books from the Old Testament. In case Christians were accused of having changed the Torah, you can answer that orthodox Jews would start a fierce worldwide crusade against these heretics. Pious Jews would be ready to fight even against liberal Jews in order to preserve the status of the word of their Lord.
When was the Torah falsified? If they answer ”before” Muhammad you can ask why Muhammad mentioned Moses by name 136 times in the Qur'an, Abraham 69 times, Satan 68 times (Shaitan), Israel 47 times, Solomon 17 times and David 16 times. The Qur'an confirms directly and indirectly the reports of the Torah and their inspiration by Allah. In the first 15 years of his religious service Muhammad considered the Torah to be divine truth without question. However he could not read Hebrew and relied on oral interpreters who had to translate the text into Arabic for him. They did not convey to him the original text of the Bible but mainly stories and laws from the Mishna and the Talmud.
If a Muslim maintains that the Torah was falsified only during the last few years of Muhammad in Medina, you can answer that the Bible by then had already been translated into several languages: Greek, Latin, Armenian, Syrian, Chaldean, Coptic, Abyssinian and other languages. In these languages there existed hundreds, if not thousands, of handwritten manuscripts. Who would collect all those Bibles in all those translations in order to change some words on certain pages? As the Bible was so widely spread in Muhammad's time it was utterly impossible to falsify the texts!
What and which chapters in the Bible were falsified? No Muslim knows a satisfactory answer to that question! Most of them do not know the contents of the Torah. Therefore we can show them that we still possess a copy of the original Bible and would be ready to carefully examine any newly-found manuscripts with the Muslims. Until then, however, we have the right to insist that our Bible is authentic. It is not for us, the accused, to prove its truth and its validity, no, it is for the accuser, the Muslims to prove the opposite – which they cannot do. Until they can bring a better original Bible, we can offer them a copy of the best preserved original text.
Mr. Deedat tries to disparage the Bible with the help of destructive arguments provided by European atheists from the 19th century. But most of his arguments are out-dated by science. Nevertheless it is necessary for missionaries among Muslims to read Deedat's books and the answers of his Christian counterpart, Mr Gilchrist, a lawyer in South Africa, to be able to give suitable and helpful answers.
Some learned Muslims point to the various footnotes in the Greek New Testament, which show the differences between the original manuscripts. They sneeringly use these differences to underscore their accusations. But exactly those numerous footnotes demonstrate the truth, fidelity and the diligence of generations of researchers, theologians and linguists who did not formulate a standardised original text, but, for the sake of the truth, continued to preserve even the differences. No other book in the world has been verified as completely as the New Testament with more than 1500 manuscripts extant. With the Qur'an the situation is the exact opposite! When Muhammad died there existed about a dozen different original manuscripts of the Qur'an which showed unbridgeable differences, so that arguments and quarrels started in the armies of the caliphs. Caliph Uthman therefore commanded Zaid b. Thabit to edit a standard Qur'an and to have all existing originals burnt!! The Muslims of today no longer possess a copy of Muhammad's Qur'an, only copies of Uthman's edited Qur'an. The Shiites repeatedly claimed - and some of them do so up till today - that the Qur'an of Uthman has been falsified and corrupted.
The Isaiah scroll of Qumran
After the discovery of the Isaiah scroll at Qumran it became suddenly possible to test whether mistakes had crept in by chance during the 1000 years of copying, or whether conscious forgery had been attempted. The period in question includes even the life of Muhammad and the genesis of Islam, so that their accusations of forgery can be answered conclusively.
The scribe made several mistakes when copying the scroll of Isaiah. Each mistake was marked in the scroll by three dots under the particular letter. The correct letter was written above it. There was no erasing in the text. Everything appears for all eyes to see. At the end of the correction all the letters of the entire scroll in the original and in the copy were counted as often as necessary until any divergence was eliminated! The Isaiah scroll from the caves at Qumran can embarrass any Muslim who loves the truth.
In all discussions about the authenticity of the Bible it is necessary not to forget that the Qur'an nowhere claims that the Gospel was falsified. Muhammad honoured the Christians and knew that they did not lie or play tricks on him. However, this argument should only be put forth tactfully, perhaps as a question, so as not to shame the Muslims.
4. How does the Qur'an testify to the authenticity of the Bible?
In the beginning, Muhammad showed high respect to the Jews and Christians because they possessed holy books. He accepted their oral testimonies, which had been translated into the Arabic language, and were included in his Qur'an. The founder of Islam never had the chance to read the Torah and the Gospel in his mother tongue, because these books had not yet been translated into Arabic. Only after Muhammad had formed his religious state in Medina and expected acknowledgement, agreement and submission from Jews and Christians, did he begin his verbal attacks against them, because they wanted to stay apart. Since they did not recognise him as a prophet, he fought them, chased them away and killed the Jews. The Christians were treated more gently in the beginning because the Abyssinians had given asylum to the Muslims during their persecution.
From the period when Muhammad tried to win the Jews and Christians for Islam, there are numerous positive verses in the Qur'an, which can be used to show Muslims that Muhammad himself confirmed the infallibility of the Bible.
● We find several of these verses in Sura al-Ma'ida. The Jews of Medina tempted Muhammad, the mayor and supreme judge of the town, to judge a difficult adultery case in their community. But Muhammad, who could not read the Torah himself, sensed a trap that could make him look ridiculous or ignorant and expose him to the revenge of the particular clan (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:42). So he referred back the case to the Jewish leaders, with interesting and essential reasons (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:43-45):
43 How can they ask you to judge their case if they possess the Torah in which is the judgement of Allah? And (if you would judge them) they would nevertheless turn their backs on you afterwards. These people do not belong to the (real) believers.
44 We have made the Torah descend (from heaven). In it there is guidance and light. The Prophets who have submitted (to Allah) pass judgement by it for those who are Jews; and the Rabbis and Scribes (do likewise) by what they were entrusted with from the book of Allah. They were witnesses thereof. Do not dread people and dread me! Do not sell off my sings (= verses) for a small amount. Whoever does not judge by what Allah has made to descend (from heaven), those are the non-believers.
45 In it we prescribed for them as a penalty that the soul (must be killed) for the soul, and the eye (destroyed) for the eye, and the nose for the nose, and the ear for the ear, and the tooth for the tooth, and the wounds (likewise). But whoever donates instead of it (i.e. instead of this retaliatory penalty) then it is an expiation for him. Whoever does not judge by what Allah has made to descend (from heaven) those are the offenders.
These important verses are the reason why Jews must not be compelled to become Muslims in an Islamic state! They are allowed to judge their own affairs according to their divine law. An important reason for this legal principle is found in the testimony of Muhammad, who acknowledged in this Qur'anic passage that at his time the law of the Old Testament in the Torah was fully existent. He also confirms that there are legal guidance and divine light in the Torah, and also judgment which encompasses law and wisdom, guidance and mercy. These Qur'anic verses mean that Allah guides the Jews rightly and does not lead them astray. They are privileged and enjoy the positive election of Allah, since they possess the book inspired by God. Why then do Muslims dare claim that the Torah was falsified?
● A similar exemption from submission to Islam is legally accorded to the Christians:
46 And we caused to follow upon their (i.e. the prophets') footsteps 'Isa the son of Mary, consenting to what (was) between his hands of the Torah. And we caused the Injil (the gospel) to come to him. In it there is guidance and light - and consenting to what (was) between his hands of the Torah - and guidance and a sermon for the pious.
47 And let the People of the Injil (the Christians) judge (their problems) by what Allah has made to descend (from heaven) in it (i.e. in the Gospels). And those who do not judge by what Allah has made to desend (from heaven) in it, those are the unclean offenders (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:46-47).
Christians who live in Islamic countries should learn these two verses by heart, for they contain their right to remain Christians. No one of them is legally compelled to become a Muslim.
The basis for this exceptional right is that Allah sent ´Isa to confirm the authenticity of the Torah as his most important responsibility (Matthew 5:17-18). This verse also reveals that in the Qur'an the gospel is considered to be a divine, verbal inspiration that contains guidance and light. In addition, we read that the Gospel which Christ taught also confirms the Torah in itself. This twofold confirmation of the integrity of the Torah through Jesus and his Gospel was fully recognised at the time of Muhammad and still is! Therefore these elements of a speech by Allah in the Qur'an can silence the Muslims who accuse Christians of having falsified their gospel.
Muhammad let Allah point to a special guidance and sermon which Christ offered to his followers. Perhaps he was referring to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), which Muhammad was not able to read, because it had not been translated into Arabic. In addition, Muhammad was illiterate at the beginning of his religious activity (Sura al-A'raf 7:158-159).
From these facts and from this supposed sermon of Allah Muhammad drew a legal consequence and let Allah strictly command that everyone who owns a Gospel should live according to this book. Every Christian who does not live according to the Gospel is considered a criminal.
Christians in this unique Qur'anic verse are called the people of the Gospel because they often quoted and spoke from the Gospel to Muhammad and the Muslims, and tried to practise it. This title of honour appears only in this Sura and thus describes Christians as "walking gospels".
● In the same Sura (5:48) Muhammad let Allah reveal a special verse to him:
48 We have sent down to you the book (the Qur'an) with the right (Law), to confirm what he (Muhammad) has in his hands of the (original) book, and (he, i.e. Allah, is) watching over it. ....
Muslims believe there is an original book in heaven, the mother of all divine books, from which each prophet has received some pages. With this verse Muhammad let Allah say that the Qur'an confirms the Torah and the Gospel at Muhammad's time, and that he, Allah himself, is watching over his word that nobody can falsify it. Should Allah have slept when the Jews and the Christians falsified the Bible, as some Muslims claim? Allah proves everyone a liar who passes on these suspicions.
● In that same Sura (5:68) Muhammad almost appears to be an "evangelist". He was angry when he saw that the Jews and Christians did not believe him and that some of them did not live according to the commandments of their books:
68 Say: O people of the book, you are nothing (you know nothing and are unable to do anything good) until you establish the Torah and the Gospel and what your Lord has made to descend to you.
In this verse Muhammad challenged the Jews and the Christians to study the Torah and the Gospel and to live accordingly, to plan and to judge exactly in accordance with it. Muhammad at that time still believed that all heavenly books originated from the same source and supplemented one another. He did not think that the Torah or the Gospel had been falsified; rather, he ordered people of the book to carry them out in their daily lives.
An Arabic evangelist in Jordan used this verse, took the Bible in his raised right hand and called, walking up and down between the trains packed with pilgrims for Mecca on the platform of Ma´an, ”You are nothing until you establish the Torah and the Gospel!” The evangelist omitted the opening words and the last sentence and invited all Muslims to buy Bibles from him. Nobody attacked him because he was repeating a divine verse from the Qur'an!
● In the Qur'an there are two further helpful verses, but these should not be used often. In Sura Yunis 10:94 Allah commands Muhammad:
94 When you are in doubt about what we have revealed to you, then ask those who recite the book (since a time) before you.
Muhammad investigated biblical truths from Jews and Christians, kept their oral messages in his memory, translated them into good Arabic and revealed them some time later during his epileptic attacks. Sometimes he revealed what he had heard but could no longer remember the exact meaning of the words and sentences involved. He found no other way than to let Allah command him to ask those who had told him these Bible verses, what the revelation that he had uttered actually meant. How can the Muslims claim that the Bible was forged, if Allah in the Qur'an ordered Muhammad to go back to the Jews and Christians that they may explain the Qur'an to him, because they had recited the book before him? We should not explain the content of this verse to the Muslims ourselves, but ask them for its meaning until they recognize and confess what the real inference is.
● In Sura al-Nahl 16:43 a similar sentence is suggested to all Muslims. Allah is supposed to have dictated to Muhammad:
43 Before you we have not sent anybody except men to whom we had inspired (revelations). Therefore (O Muslims) ask the people of remembrance when you do not know (the meaning of some verses in the Qur'an).
Muhammad encouraged Muslims to go to Jews and Christians when they were in doubt about Qur'anic passages, in order to ask them about Allah and his orders. But Muhammad sent them not to any Christian or Jew, but only to those who could quote the text of the revelation in the Torah and in the Gospel word for word and by heart.
Anyone who wants to work among Muslims as a servant of the Lord should learn essential passages of the Bible in their language by heart, including the numbers of the chapters and the verses. Muhammad himself sent Muslims only to those who can recite the word of God without a book in their hands.
● There are more verses in the Qur'an which confirm the content of the Bible. We want to quote just one further of Allah's revelations in the Qur'an:
27 Then, in their footsteps we sent our meesngers and finally we sent ´Isa, the son of Mary, and we made the Injil (the Gospel) to come to him, and we lay in the hearts of those who followed him loving-kindness and mercy (Sura al-Hadid 57:27).
Muhammad testified several times that Christians are the friendliest of the opponents of Muslims, because they have sympathy and mercy for them. That experience of Muhammad goes back to the time when he was severely persecuted in Mecca. He urged 83 Muslims to flee to Ethiopia in order to seek asylum. They were not made slaves there but received help and freedom. Muhammad asked himself how this was possible. He found that Allah had inspired ´Isa with the Gospel and put mercy, love and pity out of this Gospel into the hearts of those who followed Christ faithfully.
Muhammad recognised something unusual in Christians, but could not understand which factor changed them into devotedly loving people and helpful servants even of their enemies. The answer is written in Romans 5:5b, where Paul said: God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, given to us. Muhammad did not know the reality of the Holy Spirit, but he saw its fruit in the followers of Jesus Christ.
This verse points out the best way to explain to Muslims that the Bible is not corrupt. The most effective method is nothing other than love and mercy even for the enemies of the cross. With our lives, prayers, testimonies and services we can become the spur for the Muslims to recognise that the Bible is authentic and powerful. Each of us carries a great responsibility.
5. The testimony of Christian experience!
● Peter confessed: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God (John 6:69; Matthew 16:16). Later, Peter reinforced this testimony in his first letter: You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God (1 Peter 1:23; John 1:13; 3:5).
● James, the brother of Jesus, confirmed this experience, writing: He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created (James 1:18).
● John, the youngest of the disciples, testifies: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the word of life... We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3).
● Paul cuts out all uncertainties by saying: I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
● The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews tells us: The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
From 2000 years of church history we read countless testimonies of men and women who recognised that the words of Jesus are spirit and life, full of power, truth and wisdom. Pastor Wilhelm Busch from Essen in Germany urged believers in his church during the nights of the bombing in the Second World War: ”When the sirens wail and you run into the air-raid shelters the most important thing is not to take along with you your money or cheque-book, but the Bible”, for man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4).
The treasure of evangelical hymns and revival songs is the response of believers to God, when He speaks to them. They praise Him as their Father, confess their sins to Him, receive forgiveness from Him and the power of His Spirit, which generates mercy and love in their lives. They also hear the call to bring the living word of God to all nations, for the Gospel must be preached to all men before Jesus can come again.
Martin Luther sang:
Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word,
The church in Leipzig sang in 1597:
Thy word is true and shall endure,
Q U I Z
If you have studied this booklet carefully, you can easily answer the following questions. Whoever answers 90% of all questions in the eight booklets of this series correctly, can obtain a certificate from our center on
Advanced Studies in helpful ways for conducting conversations with Muslims about Jesus Christ
as an encouragement for his/her future services for Christ.
1. What is the paralysing attitude in most Muslims towards the truth of the Bible? Why does this view hinder many of them to trust any text in the Torah and the Gospel?
Yours in His service,
Abd al-Masih and his brothers in the Lord
Send your replies to:
GRACE AND TRUTH