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18. Bible and Qur'an Series
BOOKLET 3 - The Textual History of The Qur'an and the Bible
(A reply to Amad Deedat's Booklet: Is the Bible God's Word?)
A Study of the Qur'an and the Bible

2. The “Multiple Bible Versions”

Deedat begins his third chapter by denying that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures constituting the Holy Bible are those honored by the Qur'an as the Taurat and Injil respectively (the Law and the Gospel - i.e., the Old and New Testaments). Instead he suggests that the real Taurat and Injil were different books entirely which were allegedly revealed to Moses and Jesus respectively.

This attempt to distinguish between the books of the Holy Bible and those referred to in the Qur'an is, to say the least, very difficult to consider with any seriousness. No matter how widely this view may be held in the Muslim world, there is no evidence of any nature whatsoever to support it.

At no time in history has there ever been any proof that books as such were “revealed” to Moses and Jesus, or that any other Taurat (Law) or Injil (Gospel) other than the books of the Old and New Testaments ever existed. Furthermore, as we shall show, the Qur'an itself does not distinguish these books from the Holy Scriptures of the Jews and the Christians but, on the contrary, openly admits that they are those books which the Jews and Christians themselves hold to be the Word of God.

Significantly, in trying to establish his theory that the Taurat and Injil were books other than those found in the Bible, Deedat has to resort inevitably to pure subjectivism. He bleats “We Muslims believe ... we believe ... we sincerely believe ...”, but is incapable of producing even the slightest degree of evidence in favor of these beliefs. Surprisingly he proves to be guilty of the very “mulish mentality” he wrongly attributes to Christians in his booklet (see page 3).

All we can say in response to these stated beliefs is that all the evidence of history weighs irreversibly against them and that they are accordingly purely speculative and devoid of any foundation whatsoever.

In passing, however, we must comment that, in the light of Deedat's claim that the Qur'an has been “perfectly preserved and protected from human tampering” by God himself for fourteen centuries (Is the Bible God's Word?, page 7), it is rather astonishing to discover that the same God proved singularly incapable of preserving even a record of the fact that such a Taurat or an Injil ever even existed - let alone preserve the books themselves! We find such a paradox fundamentally impossible to believe - for the Eternal Ruler of the universe will surely act consistently at all times. You cannot expect us to believe that God has miraculously preserved one of his books perfectly for centuries and yet proved absolutely powerless to preserve independently in human history even so much as a record that other such books ever existed. We find this too hard to swallow.

In any event, as we have seen already, the Qur'an itself unambiguously confirms that the Taurat of the Jews was the book regarded as such by them at the time of Muhammad and that the Injil likewise was the book in the possession of the Christians at that time which they themselves considered to be the Word of God. At no time in history have Jews and Christians ever regarded any books as the sacred Word of God other than those constituting the Old and New Testaments as we know them today.

At the time of Muhammad the Jews universally knew only one Taurat - the books of the Old Testament precisely as they are today. So at the same time the Christians knew only one Injil - the books of the New Testament exactly as they are found today. Useful Qur'anic texts proving the point are:

How come they unto thee for judgment when they have the Torah wherein Allah hath revealed judgment? (Surah al-Ma'ida 5:43)
Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. (Surah al-Ma'ida 5:47)

It is impossible to consider how the Christians of Muhammad's time could ever judge by the Gospel (Injil) if they were not in posession of it. In Surah al-A'raf 7:157 the Qur'an again admits that the Taurat and Injil were in possession of the Jews and Christians at the time of Muhammad and that they were those books which these two groups themselves accepted as the Law and the Gospel respectively. No one can honestly say that these two books were other than those of the Old and New Testaments as they are found in the Bible today.

Furthermore it is most significant to note that distinguished commentators like Baidawi and Zamakshari openly admit that Injil is not an original Arabic word but is borrowed from the Syriac word used by the Christians themselves to describe the Gospel. Indeed, whereas some early Qur'anic scholars tried to find an Arabic origin for it, these two men of authority rejected the theory with undisguised contempt (Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, page 71). This substantiates all the more the conclusion that the Injil was not a phantom book revealed as such to Jesus, all trace of which has strangely disappeared, but rather the New Testament itself precisely as we know it today. The same can be said for the Taurat as the word is obviously of Hebrew origin and is the title which the Jews themselves have always given to the books of the Old Testament as we know it today.

Therefore the Qur'an unreservedly admits that the Bible itself is the true Word of God. Deedat knows this for a fact and therefore tries to circumvent the implications by suggesting that there are “multiple” Bible versions in circulation today. This is a very artful misrepresentation of the truth.

He fails to inform his readers that he is really referring to different English translations of the Bible which are widely distributed in the world today. He speaks of the King James Version (KJV), Revised Version (RV), and Revised Standard Version (RSV) but, in the name of honesty, he should have made it clear that these are not differing editions of the Bible itself but simply different English translations of it. All three are based on the original Hebrew and Greek texts of the Old and New Testaments respectively, which have been preserved intact by the Christian Church since centuries before the time of Muhammad. We shall presently consider the differences between them but it will be useful to refer here to a furor, which raged among the Muslim leaders of South Africa in 1978 over the distribution of an English translation of the Qur'an by Muhammad Asad. (As with the Bible, there are numerous different translations of the Qur'an in English as well.)

Reaction against Asad's translation was so vehement that the Islamic Council of South Africa, in a public statement, openly discouraged distribution of this book among the Muslims of South Africa. At no time has any English translation of the Bible ever been treated so drastically. Therefore readers must not be duped by Deedat's suggestion that “multiple” versions of the Bible exist and should appreciate immediately that he is pulling the wool over his readers' eyes when he suggests that the Christian Church does not have just one Bible.

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