Several weeks ago I invited to a read along in Let’s Read About the Qur’an Together! The plan is to read together – What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James R. White.
Feel free to grab a copy of the book and join in at anytime! So far, we’ve covered:
- Introduction: Why Study the Qur’an?
- Chapter 1a: The Qur’an and Muhammad of Mecca
- Chapter 1b: The Qur’an and Muhammad of Mecca by Ken Temple
- Chapter 2: The Qur’an: A Brief Introduction
- Chapter 3: Allah: Tawhid, Shirk, the Mithaq and the Fitra
- Chapter 4: “Say Not Three”: The Qur’an and the Trinity
- Chapter 5: Jesus in the Qur’an
- Chapter 6: The Qur’an and the Cross
- Chapter 7: The Scales: Salvation in the Qur’an
Chapter 8: Did the “People of the Book” Corrupt the Gospel?
James White, in this chapter, examines what the Qur’an states about Christians. The verses he explores reference Christians as either “People of the Book” or “People of the Gospel.” This chapter is helpful in showing Islam’s inconsistent teachings about Christians and our Scriptures providing a potential way for dialogue with Muslims.
This is one of the longer chapters in the book so the following sections will not cover every aspect White covers. I will attempt to cover some of the chapter’s highlights.
The People of the Book
“People of the Book” may refer to individually to Christians, Jews, or both. White looks at several Qur’anic verses that reference People of the Book. The Qur’an connects both the Christian and Jewish Scripture with itself alleging that all came from Allah. The Qur’an also states that some people of the Book confound its message in order to mislead Muslims.
White gives more examples of inconsistencies, but I’ll leave this section with the following quote.
Anyone who reads carefully the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament, and the Qur’an with an eye to history and context, must question the claim that the Qur’an in some fashion “expounds” much of what the People of the Book are allegedly hiding. How did Muhammad’s preaching, which shows no understanding of the content of the very Book under consideration, expound on it?
(Kindle Locations 2210-2212).
Did the People of the Book Corrupt the Scriptures?
White calls this section of the chapter the “most important question we will address in this work.” This section addresses the Islamic charge that the Old and New Testaments have been corrupted. While too much to document here, White clearly shows the inconsistency of the Islamic position that the OT and NT have been corrupted. The following four questions are answered in this section.
First, what does corruption mean, as to transmission of an ancient document to the present day? What do Muslims mean?
Second, when did this allegedly take place? Does the Qur’an give any indications?
Third, we will briefly (the topic could be vastly expanded) ask, Does the Qur’an itself teach the corruption of the text of the Bible (tahrif al-nass, tahrif al-lafz) or the corruption of the meaning of the Bible (tahrif al-mana)?
Finally, we will look more closely at Surah 5: 42– 48, key to this topic.(Kindle Locations 2227-2232).
White does a fine job addressing those four areas. He does the work of providing the go to verses for said topics that the reader should be able to easily spot the inconsistencies. For example, the Qur’an states Allah will protect what he has sent down which includes the Old and New Testaments. However, if they are corrupt, how can any assurance be had that the Qur’an will also not become corrupt?
Another example of inconsistency is noted using an example from Muhammad’s life recorded in the hadith where he affirms the Torah.
A group of Jews came and called on the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) to Quff. So he visited them in their school. They said: Abu al-Qasim, a man of us has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee. (Kindle Locations 2351-2354).
A Voice From History
In this short section, White notes that the Muslim challenges to Scripture are nothing new for Christians. In fact, he cites a long paragraph from an early Christian-Muslim dialogue from AD 820 from N.A. Newman’s The Early Christian-Muslim Dialogue.
A Place for Muslims and Christians to Talk
In the final section, White provides several Qur’anic passages for Christians to use to begin dialogue with Muslims about their holy book. I’ll provide one example White walks the reader through. He quotes the following verse.
47. Let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah had revealed therein. Whoever judges not by that which Allah has revealed; such are the corrupt.
After a few paragraphs of explanation, White offers the following challenge.
We must ask our Muslim friends, “What will you do with this text?” Its words prove the gospel existed in the days of Muhammad. A person who says otherwise renders the Qur’an meaningless— how then can he go on believing in it? If it is guidance and light, it must have made sense when it was given. If the Qur’an means what it says, then we must judge by the standard it commands us to use. When we do, Muhammad fails the test of a prophet who stands in the line of revelation found in Moses and fulfilled in Christ and His apostles. Every Muslim must give serious consideration to this dilemma, one that is brought upon him or her by the very text of the Islamic holy book. (Kindle Locations 2451-2456).
Again, the above is only a briefing of the book touching on some highlights. I have not read the entire book yet so I don’t know how this chapter compares to the others. However, this chapter alone is very important for chapter – very important for understanding and dialoguing about the inaccuracies the Qur’an teaches about the Bible. Certainly a chapter worth studying on its own.
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