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Summary of 10.10 "Source of the Quran IX - Borrowing from the Bible II"

The main theme of this discussion is the examination of the statement made quite frequently but is not correct that because the Quran was revealed after the Bible then the Quran must have borrowed from the Bible.  In the previous program we discussed two basic areas.  One is the conception of God in both books.  We indicated some important differences that show that the Quran could never have been based off of the Bible from the analytical point of view.  We talked about the anthropomorphism or way the Bible sometimes depicts God in super human form that He has an image, that He walks and makes sound when He walks, that He rests, that He forgets and that He doesn’t know what is going to happen which is why he regrets some of his decisions, and that he at times fears the competition of the power of humans as we find in the story about the tower of Babel.  Many times He is referred to as a tribal God like the God of Israel.  In some cases the human prevailed over Him like in the story with Jacob.  We find that while Quran emphasizing the nearness of God and His intimate relationship with the pious we still find a great deal of emphasis on the transcendence of God.  We don’t see any notions of God being physical, materialized or reincarnated in one form or the other and all of these descriptions that we find in the Bible are totally absent in the Quran.  The Quran speaks of God as the Lord of the universe.

The second main question was the question of Prophethood and we indicated that while there may be some similarities on the surface, it was clear from the various documentation and references made to the Bible that the perception of Prophets in the Bible is quite different and that many times great Prophets are accused of compromising in the matter of faith.  Like for example, Solomon and Aaron who were accused of major moral sins.  In contrast to that we have seen how the Quran emphasized a great deal, the holiness of those individuals and that while they were humans they were the best models of humans.  In both items that were discussed it was quite obvious that there was no ground to say that the Quran was influenced or borrowed from the Bible or some of these notions that we find are amply mentioned in the Bible would have crept and effected the content of the Quran.


10.11   Source of the Quran X - Borrowing from the Bible III

Host:  Can we examine sin and atonement?  Is the story of Adam and Eve nearly identical between the Bible and the Quran?

Jamal Badawi:

Some people refer to the concept of one God and say that it is basically the same but it may not be as simple as it sounds on the surface.  The only thing that is nearly identical between the Quran and the Bible is that they were the first human beings to be created, they were in the Garden and that they were allowed to eat from any tree except for one and that somehow they were succumbed and ate from that tree, then they were sent to earth where they were supposed to live.  Beyond the surface we find that there are four important differences which are not minor.  First of all in the Bible in the second book of Genesis we are told that this was a tree of knowledge but in the Quran there is no mention of a tree of knowledge.  There are many citations in the Quran which indicate that it was not a tree of knowledge because in (91:8) it shows that when Allah created the human He inspired into that human the knowledge of good and evil, the right from wrong.  According to the way the Quran presents the story of creation the symbol that humans are created from clay is but a clear indication that humans know from their instinctive nature how to distinguish between right and wrong and such they do not need a tree to provide the fruit of this kind of knowledge.

Second, is that in the Bible we find that the woman is the one who carries the burden of this mistake.  This is found in Genesis (3:12-16) we are told that it was Eve who tempted Adam and persuaded him to eat from that tree.  The same verses indicate that as a result of this God decided to multiply her sorrow through pregnancy and childbirth.  This is the same notion that was emphasized in the new testament by Paul in Second Timothy chapter 2 where he seemed to repeat the same kind of notion.  Again when we go to the Quran despite the similarity on the surface that we mentioned earlier we find that there is no single passage in the Quran that implies in any way that women carry the primary burden for that first mistake.  Indeed the Quran always speaks of both them being responsible as we find in (2:21).  In one verse it even points the finger at Adam, not that he was alone in this, which shows that there is no orientation towards a woman being blamed for it.  On the other hand if we compare Genesis three where women suffer through childbirth and pregnancy is a sort of consequence of that mistake we find that this is quite different in the Quran.  In fact pregnancy and childbirth is described in the Quran as something which is noble, praiseworthy, makes the mother entitled to love, affection, respect and compassion as we find in (29:8) and (46:15).  Many more details were given on this issue in the Social Systems in Islam in the part that deals with women as they are depicted in Judaeo Christian and Muslim scriptures.

A third major difference is that in the Book of Genesis in chapter 3 we are told that Eve was tempted by the serpent.  In the Quran there is absolutely no mention of the serpent being responsible for whispering to Eve to eat from the forbidden tree.  We have discussed in the Social System in Islam that the origin of this mythology about the serpent being the symbol of evil.  In fact as opposed to that we find that the Quran in chapter 2 speaks about Satan tempting both Adam and Eve rather than a serpent tempting Eve who then tempted Adam.  It talks about Satan persuading them to disobey God with whatever promises he gave them.  A fourth difference, and perhaps the most important, is that after Adam and Eve ate from that tree there is no mention in the book of Genesis about Adam and Eve repenting to God and asking for forgiveness.  This is something that the Quran emphasis very strongly.  In the Quran Adam and Eve realized their mistake, went to pray to Allah and asked for forgiveness.  Allah knowing their weakness, because he created them and knows their weakness and noting their sincerity and being a Merciful Creator forgave them.  We find that in the Quran in (2:37) and (7:23) we fin an explanation of this whole notion which is totally ascent in the Bible.  On the basis of these four comparisons it appears to me that the story of Adam and Eve in both scriptures is not nearly as identical as some may think.


Host:  Why would you consider these differences to be major as opposed to minor?

Jamal Badawi:

These are major differences because they have major theological implications.  In other words they have impacts on what a person believes and the creed.  For example, the issue of the type of tree.  It raises the question that Adam was perfect before he ate from the tree and then as a result of eating from that tree he lost that perfection and his essential nature was changed.  In the Quran depicts that the human was created partially from clay so he has this material or human nature and is subject to temptation and because of his nature he succumbed to eating from the tree.  So eating from the tree was a result of his nature.

The second question is weather a human would have to attain perfection before he can achieve salvation, phallically on earth or in the Hereafter as a precondition for salvation or weather God knowing the weakness of the human and being a just God doesn’t require of humans anything more than they can handle.  If it is impossible, by definition, for human beings to be perfect then how could Allah expect anyone to be perfect.  As the Quran depicts it if a person makes a mistake and tries to correct that mistake, by repenting, Allah will accept him.  Allah expects us to have lapses on the way but it all depends on if we are trying or not.  This raises the Question as to weather a human inherits sin committed by his or her ancestors.  Is every child born with the stigma of the sin that was committed by Adam and Eve? Or is it that every child is born innocent and pure with no inheritance of sin as no body can carry the sin of any other person and that each person is responsible for his or her behavior?  We find ample documentation in the Quran in (17:113) and (53:38) which emphasis the question of individual responsibility for sin.

The fourth point is whether as a result of this original sin in terms of the Biblical interpretation there must be blood shed before forgiveness is given which is the whole notion of God becoming man and having to have his blood shed in order to reconcile himself to mankind or mankind reconcile themselves to Him.  According to the Islamic version of it God doesn’t need to become a man and doesn’t require bloodshed in order to forgive and that if a person really repents he will find acceptance and warm welcome.  This is mentioned in (4:47), (4:110), (11:114), (15:49-50), (20:82) and (39:33) are examples of the many numerous other citations in the Quran which emphasize that Allah is only interested in our sincerity and our attempt to correct our path.  This would appear to not be a minor difference but are major and important differences which negate any notion of the Quran being based on the Bible.


Host:  Some claim that Muslims do believe in blood sacrifice for forgiveness and they refer to the practice of sacrificing animals at the feast of sacrifice, is this analogy correct in your view?

Jamal Badawi:

The sacrifice of animals on Eid Al Adha one of the major Muslim festivals has nothing to do with the issue of forgiveness of original sin because there is no original sin to start with.  Evidence that will prove that this is not related to the idea of forgiveness in Christian theology is that first of all the sacrifice of these animals is only mandatory on people who are doing their pilgrimage and forgiveness is required for everybody.  Second, for those who are not doing the pilgrimage it is highly commendable but obviously if a person is poor he obviously doesn’t have to sacrifice an animal.  Again we know that poor and rich alike need to atone for their sins.  We can not say that one commits more sin than the other.  These are two logical reasons why this is not connected with the reason of sacrifice.

A second aspect is that according to the Quran the story of Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael represented an excellent example and lesson in obedience to God and submission and the willingness to sacrifice anything upon the command of God.  As the Quran presented Prophet Abraham received the revelation or directive from God to sacrifice his only son Ishmael.  I would like to emphasize that it was Ishmael, because not only is this implied from chapter 57 in the Quran which speaks about the story of sacrifice but after that it says that in reward to Abraham he was given the glad tiding of another son, Isaac, who would be born to him.  This is very essential because this is sometimes puzzling when one reads the book of Genesis when it says that God ordained Abraham to take his only son Isaac.  Isaac was never the only son, the one who was the only son for 14 years was Ishmael before Isaac was ever born.  According to the Quran it was Ishmael.  Logically it was Ishmael even if we take it form the Biblical narrative.

The whole notion is that Abraham took Ishmael to sacrifice him and in the last minute God, out of His mercy, having already tested the faith of Abraham and since both Abraham and his son Ismael showed this submission and willingness to sacrifice the angel stopped them and brought a ram to be sacrificed in place of Ishmael.  This celebration of Muslims is basically a commemoration of that act but which has nothing to do with the forgiveness of sin.  No where in the Quran do we find the implication that God or Allah is interested in any blood whether it be the blood of animals or humans.  In fact it is said beautifully in (22:37) “It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah, it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that ye may glorify Allah for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right.”  Another element which is reflected in (22:34) is that the sacrifice of animals has another symbolic meaning which is the idea of giving thanks for whatever animal He made available to them.  There is an addition to this which is mentioned in (22:28) “then eat ye thereof and feed the distressed one in want.”  It is a multi dimensional thing non of which has any connotation with the notion of blood sacrifice as a precondition for forgiveness of sins the way it was understood by Jews or Christians theology.


Host:  Are there other aspects of belief that relate to the question of the Quran borrowing from the Bible?

Jamal Badawi:

We started with the question of God, Prophethood and the concept of sin and atonement as these are pillars of any faith.  In addition there are numerous other points.  Take the question of belief in the Hereafter which both Jews, Christians and Muslims believe in.  This does not necessarily deal with substantial differences: for example that deal with verses in the Bible both Old and New Testament that the wage of sin as Paul put it is death.  As such the punishment of those who have infractions is that they will not have this eternal life.  The Quran indicates clearly that whether the person is good or bad, or saved or not everybody will be resurrected on the day of judgement and everybody would be subjected to judgement and everybody would be placed in Paradise or Hell Fire.  Death is not the end regardless of what a person is exposed to.

While there is belief in afterlife, the description that I interpret from the Christian point of view is mainly spiritual.  In the Quran we find that it is both spiritual as well as physical.  It is not the exact physical body we have on earth but it is not totally spiritual.  The Prophet has warned us not to take some of the descriptions in the Quran superficially but literally especially when he said that in Paradise there are things that no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever thought and no thought could have occurred to the mind of any person.  It is something that we do not know but is both spiritual and physical.  The Question of salvation as we discussed and the absence of any notion of original sin, the absence of inheritance of that sin, the absence of the necessity of blood sacrifice is closely related to another important concept in Islam which is the lack of an intermediary.  The belief in Islam is that the relationship between the human the Creator are primarily direct.  The question of having and intermediate in order to reach God or to Pray in the name of someone else, no matter how great the person may be, Prophet or otherwise is absent in Islam.

I have never seen a Muslim who says that they pray to God in the name of Muhammad or someone else.  This relates to the notion of the concept of Church and as we know in Christian theology when Jesus said that Peter was the rock on which he was going to build the Church.  This has been interpreted to mean that he was the successor or someone to mediate between the human and God.  A Church is basically a constitution that one has to go through.  In other words one has to belong and be a member of a church in order to reach God.  The idea of priesthood before the Protestant reformation still carries a great deal of weight and this sense of intermediate does not exist in Islam and there is no such thing as a Church, an exclusive institution with an ordination type of procedure that anyone without the training can not speak about or teach religion.  Ideally every Muslim is a priest to himself and others.  Christianity might have been influenced by Islam, because as we know the Protestant movement came hundreds of years after Islam was already well spread all over the world and the ideas of direct human divine relationship was emphasized.  A final point is the orientation towards life in general.  While there may be some legal aspects involved in the Bible, especially in the Torah we find that the Quran is much more comprehensive and the approach of life is an integrated whole which not only deals with the moral and spiritual aspect of life and acts of worship but also with social, political and economic aspects of life.  Any fair person who examines both scriptures would not conclude that the Quran borrowed from the Bible or any other scripture for that matter.

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