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4.14 Books of Allah


Host:  Can you explain the belief in genuine prophets that came before Prophet Muhammad and the belief in the Holy Books?


Jamal Badawi:

If a Muslim believes in all the prophets that were sent throughout history from Adam to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad then it logically follows that a Muslim must also belief in the original Holy Scriptures or divine revelation given to those prophets.  Belief in Holy Books is a logical consequence of the belief in the prophets.  This belief is one of the duties of a Muslim and is one of the six Pillars of Faith.


The Quran indicates very clearly that the essential message of all of those prophets had been nothing but one regardless of little differences in small details here and there.  For example (21:25) in the Quran says “Not an apostle did We send before thee without this inspiration sent by Us to him: that there is no god but I; therefore worship and serve Me.”  In that sense we can say that as prophets taught the same thing the Holy Scriptures through out in their original pristine form has taught nothing but this essential call unto humanity to worship one God.  In that sense we can say that this is the same message of Islam because the word Islam means submission to the will of God.


Host:  Is there anything in the Quran which requires Muslims to believe in previous books that were revealed to previous prophets before Prophet Muhammad?


Jamal Badawi:

Yes, and that is why I mentioned that it is one of the six required pillars of faith like believing in God, the Angels of God, the Prophets, the Books of God, the Day of Judgment and Measure (qadar).  There are also some sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that address this issue like in the famous saying when Angel Gabriel came to him as a human being and asked him so many questions.  One of those questions was “What is Eman or faith?”  And he (Prophet Muhammad) said that faith was to believe in God, His books, His messengers etc.


The Quran has been very explicit with some clarifying quotations.  In (2:4) “And who believe in the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter.”  We find the Quran also ties between believing in God, believing in the messengers of God, believing in the angels of God and the books revealed by God all in (2:285).  It says “The Messenger believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His apostles. “We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles.” And they say: “We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys.”  So the belief in the Books is part and parcel to the other articles of faith.


Even more explicitly the Quran directs Muslims, as it is an obligation, to believe in the original versions of these divine revelation in (2:136) “Say ye: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and  to Abraham, Isma‘il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam).”

Host:  Does the Quran mention any Holy Books that were revealed before by name specifically?


Jamal Badawi:

There are four that have been specifically mentioned in the Quran by name.  These include first the Scrolls of Abraham in (87:19) and (53:37), the Psalms of David in (17:55) and (4:163), the Torah given to Moses and is praised as giving guidance and light in (5:47) and (6:91) and the Evangel/Gospel (Ingeal in Arabic) given to Prophet Jesus (PBUH) appears in (5:4).  These are of course in addition to the last revelation and that is the Quran.  The Quran acknowledge previous revelation as these four are particularly mentioned.


An example of the mention of a Holy Book can be found in (3:1-3) “A.L.M. Allah.  There is no god but He,-the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal.  It is He who sent down to thee (step by step), the truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).”  In the very same verse in the Quran there is mention of three of the major scriptures the Torah, the Gospel and the Quran given to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).


Host:  What about the case of scriptures other than the four that are mentioned in the Quran are they accepted and recognized or are they rejected?


Jamal Badawi:

The fact that not all Holy Books are explicitly mentioned does not necessarily mean that the ones mentioned are the only scriptures.  We get this notion by referring to the Quran in (2:213) “Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Books in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed.”  So notice here the verse uses the plural to say that messengers were sent with books.  It is implied from this verse that the Books are not only the four that are mentioned but all the Books or revelations that were given to messengers.


When we refer to the Quran (5:51) it talks about God sending Books before the Quran again in the plural without specifying the four scriptures.  The word kitab or book is not only used in the singular form but also in the plural.  Of course as we mentioned before in the series on prophethood that the Quran indicated that in every nation, everywhere in the world, in different points in times there were many messengers and so there must have been several revelations.

Host:  Are the present versions of these books accepted by Muslims as they are without reservation?


Jamal Badawi:

I used the word original with justification.  As the Prophet (PBUH) was asked once as to how the Muslims should approach the available versions of the scriptures prior to the Quran and he said that one can not accept or reject them fully.  This is a matter that one has to be fair minded but critical and honest in terms of demanding clear evidence that the scripture represents the exact word of God.  What the Quran refers to as an obligation on the Muslim to believe in the original and complete versions of the Holy Books given to previous prophets prior to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  It is very well known historically that many of the past revelations were totally lost, like the Quran mentions that the scrolls of Abraham, or partially lost as many previous prophets had been persecuted and their books were destroyed or burned and perhaps many of their followers tried to recollect as much as they could of the teachings of  these messengers.  The problem is that at times it was not quite clear what were the exact words of the prophets as divine revelation verses the particular theological or philosophical interpretations of the followers.  Even if we assume that the disciples tried to keep record of whatever they could recollect of those scriptures, human beings are not beyond error as only the prophets as we mentioned before are protected from error.  The communication of these scriptures from the prophets to their people have to be correct.  The possibility of keeping them intact without change is something that was beyond the ability of the people because of persecution and mixing of different interpretations.


In addition to this we find evidence not only historically but in the text of previous scriptures which give clear evidence that the word of God is mixed with the interpretation of man.  For example it has been widely known that the first five books in The Old Testament in The Bible are called The Books of Moses constituting the Torah (The Book of Genesis, The Book of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and The Book of Deuteronomy.  To the Muslim the Torah could have been slightly different from these five books because according to Muslims and to some statements in the Bible the Torah was given to Moses on Mount Sinai during his life time.  In The Book of Deuteronomy in (34:5) it says Moses died in such and such land.  Now we can not say that this particular verse was part of the original Torah given to Moses on Mount Sinai because it talks about his death!  Not only this verse but most of the 34th chapter in The Book of Deuteronomy, actually four of these books excluding Genesis talk about Moses.  This is clear evidence that these five books are not the Torah that the Quran talks about but possibly parts of the Torah, some of the instructions or teachings or codes of law along side with the interpretation of people and biography of the life of Prophet Moses.

Host:  Is there explicit evidence from the Quran to the effect that revelations that proceeded the Quran have been altered?


Jamal Badawi:

There are several references to this in the Quran that say that some of the revelations were totally lost, there are so many prophets perhaps even prior to Abraham such as Noah that we have no trace of any scriptures given to him, some were forgotten by followers especially in cases where people depended on memory or when the revelation is written many years after the death of the prophet.  There is also mention in the Quran that in some cases there were certain portions of the scriptures that were concealed and some that were altered whether with good or bad intention which may have mixed the clear truth of God with human interpretation.  The reference to this in the Quran is in (2:75), (4:46), (5:14) and in (6:91).  One clear example is in (5:15) “O people of the Book!  There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that ye used to hide in the Book, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary).  There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book.”


To tie this with the previous series about Muhammad in the Bible where we indicated that even in the present version of the Bible there are so many clear signs of the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).  We notice that the Quran asserts that there were more clear prophesies mentioning him by name and we quoted in (61:6) that Prophet Jesus mentioned Prophet Muhammad by name.  The Quran also asserts that the people of The Old Testament knew the advent of that prophet that was not John the Baptist.  So from the Muslim point of view there might have been some portions that might have been some portions that may have not stayed intact.  But as Prophet Muhammad taught there is no justification for Muslims to say I reject previous Holy Books in total.  The Quran provides a solution by being the last revelation of God which is scrupulously preserved in its original form which is not even mixed with the words of Muhammad.  The Quran is taken by Muslims as the criterion as it is the latest most up to date, most correct and preserved scripture of God.  It is the criterion that distinguishes between right or wrong, original revelation and people own interpretation which might have been erroneous.  A crucial verse in the Quran to justify that appears in (5:48) “To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety.”  There are phrases crucial words here “confirming past scriptures” and “guarding it in safety.”  Confirming in a sense of accepting previous scriptures from the Bible or other scriptures which is consistent with the Quran.  For example if a Muslim reads in The Old Testament that our Lord is one God and reads the same thing in the words of Jesus (PBUH) and then the Quran confirms the same statement, then there is no reason for the Muslim to reject this.  Also it says very clearly that the Quran is guarded which corrects any misinterpretation that people could fall into by being influenced by philosophy or contemporary thought so that the pure revelation of God can be distinguished from additions.


There is one statement in the Quran that indicates that Quran was sent with the purpose of resolving conflict.  In (16:64) it says “And We sent down the Book to thee for the express purpose, that thou shouldst make clear to them those things which they differ, ”

And that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe.”  One can not accept or reject in total but rather take the Quran as the final criteria and word of God to distinguish between the original revelation and other revelations.


Host:  How do we know that the Quran has remained intact and is exactly the book that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad?


Jamal Badawi:

In the Quran we find both internal and external evidence.  Internal evidence in (15:9) “We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).”  In (41:41-42) there is a statement that has a similar effect.  This however is not enough as anyone can produce similar statements from any scriptures.  In the case of the Quran we find plenty of historical and rational external evidence that show that the Quran was preserved.  First of all, the Quran was written down directly from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in full and in its original language during the lifetime of the Prophet.  In fact until today there are places in the world like in Tushcon a museum in Istanbul Turkey that have copies of the Quran that date back to a few years after the death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and these were copied from the original manuscript that were written under the supervision of the Prophet.



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