What About Islam and the Qur’an?
Presented at the 2005 Truth Magazine Lectures
By Kyle Pope
of a consideration of the authority and inspiration of the Bible concerns the
limitation of what constitutes inspired Scripture and what does not. Since the last words of the New
Testament were penned, there have been many texts which have emerged that have
been set forth by their creators as inspired. If a text is truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, believers
would be obligated to accept it together with the existing Biblical Canon. However, if it is not inspired, and yet
claims to have been, it is a false text and must be rejected by believers as
heretical. A solid test of such
works lies in analysis of the harmony or conflict which exists between the work
in question and the teachings of the Bible. Particularly when a so-called “new revelation” comes
along which claims to confirm, fulfill or harmonize with the Bible, the
existence of contradictory or conflicting claims within the text discredits any
claim to inspiration. In this
study we will attempt to perform such an analysis of the Qur’an—the
text upon which the Islamic faith is built.
writings called the Qur’an (Koran), meaning “recitation,”
came from the Arabic tribesman Muhammad.
In 610 A.D. Muhammad claimed to begin receiving revelations from God,
through the angel Gabriel. These
sayings and verses which he claimed to receive were collected throughout his
life until the time of his death in 632 A.D. By 650 A.D. they were compiled together into their present
form by Muhammad’s followers.
These writings were divided into 114 sections called Suras. Each Sura bears a name, which describes the focus of the that section of
the the text. For example, Sura 19
is called Maryam and addresses Mary the mother of
Jesus. Sura 14 is called Ibrahim
and addresses the patriarch Abraham, and so on.
I. The Qur’an’s Dependence
Upon the Bible.
first point which we will focus upon is the fact that the Qur’an does not
present itself as an independent document. Instead it claims to confirm, fulfill and build upon the
Jewish and Christian Scriptures which came before it. This is an important fact to understand in the consideration
of our topic. It is a point which
we will stress in our analysis, because it is a principle upon which the whole
of Islamic faith either rises or falls.
Qur’an teaches Muslims:
“Say ye: ‘We believe in God, 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 the Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we
bow to God (in Islam)” (Sura II.136)[*].
Qur’an claims that it was sent by God:
“…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)” (Sura III.3).
note from these two texts that Muslims are admonished to “believe
in” the revelation that was given to Biblical characters including
Abraham, Moses and Jesus. There is
to be “no difference between one and another.” What the Qur’an claims to do is
to serve as a confirmation of “what went before it.” Specifically, it claims to confirm the
“Law” and the “Gospel” which are said to have been
given as a “guide to mankind.”
claims lead to some inescapable conclusions:
If the Bible is from God then its claims must be accepted or one is
rejecting what God has revealed.
If the Bible is from God, and it conflicts with another text which
claims to be from God, then either the Bible has been corrupted, or the text
which claims to confirm it is corrupt, manmade and invalid.
If the Bible is corrupt, and another text claims to confirm it, the
validity of the dependent text must itself be brought into question.
understand these conclusions. We
believe that the Bible is from God.
The Apostle Peter declared: “…no prophecy of Scripture is of
any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but
holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21, NKJV[**]). Christians know that we must accept
what the Bible says, or we are rejecting God. The Apostle Paul praised the Thessalonians because when he
taught them the word of God they “…welcomed it not as the word of
men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in
you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Christians understand that the message of true prophets of
God must harmonize with what God has already said. Paul told the Galatians: “even if we, or an angel from
heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let
him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).
While man can twist the meaning of Scripture (2 Peter 3:16), God has
promised to preserve His word.
Jesus declared: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words
will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). That tells us that if someone says “the Bible is
corrupt” they are telling us that God hasn’t kept his word and
instead He has allowed His word to “pass away.”
believe wholeheartedly in a “new revelation” which served to
fulfill, confirm and establish an older one. Jeremiah promised: “Behold, the days are coming, says
the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the
house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31).
Christians believe that the New Testament is that very covenant that was
revealed by the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and Prophets of Jesus Christ. Yet, Jesus Himself realized that the
validity of His own message depended upon the validity of the revelation which
He claimed to fulfill. Jesus said:
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the
Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you,
till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass
from the law till all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18).
validity of the New Testament depends upon the veracity of the Old
Testament. If New Testament
writers claimed that the Gospel fulfilled the Old Testament, but then claimed
that the Old Testament text had been corrupted, it would bring the New Testament
itself into question.
Christians would reject any claim that the Bible is corrupt to begin with, the
last inescapable conclusion mentioned above, is one of the greatest challenges
to the validity of Islam. The
Qur’an does not uphold some of the basic teachings of the Bible. The Qur’an denies that Jesus is
the Son of God (Sura 9.30). The
Qur’an denies that Jesus was crucified (Sura 4.157). The Qur’an denies the Divinity of
Christ (Sura 5.19). Yet, the
Qur’an claims to confirm the Bible.
How can Islam discredit the Bible when the Qur’an claims to
is like the old puzzle of logic where someone makes the claim: “I am a
liar and I never tell the truth!”
If their statement is true, then their characterization of them self is
false because they have just made a statement which is true. So, they can not say “I never
tell the truth” because they just did. Yet, they can’t be trusted because they have just
declared, “I am a liar.”
is Islam’s great logical paradox.
If the Bible and the Qur’an are in conflict, Muslims must rely
upon the very thing which they are forced to discredit in order to defend the
Qur’an’s own validity!
Yet, the Qur’an claims to confirm the Bible. In this paradox there is an unusual
parallel between Islam and Mormonism.
Both put forth new texts which they claim are “new
revelations,” the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon. Both claim that the Bible underlies
their “new revelation.”
Yet, when the Bible contradicts the teachings of the Qur’an or the
Book of Mormon proponents of both
faiths must question the reliability of the text of the Bible! Would it not be more reasonable to
question the reliability of these “new revelations?”
Qur’an vs. Modern Islamic Apologists.
would submit that a logical conflict exists within Islam itself which unravels
the validity of the entire system of faith. This conflict is seen in the the fact that modern Islamic
apologists, in order to avoid the logical paradox described above, have drawn
conclusions which reject the very statements of the Qur’an itself. As a result, we must recognize the fact
that the Qur’an (and thus Muhammad himself) did not question the validity
of the Bible. In this there is a
clear distinction between modern Islam and the book upon which it claims to
rely. The Qur’an:
Accepts the Jewish and Christian Scriptures as they existed at the time
Claims to confirm Jewish and Christian Scriptures which came before it;
Rejects and denies certain clear teachings of the Bible.
should demonstrate that the Qur’an is not inspired, but rather a manmade
and heretical document. Yet Modern
Islamic apologists, rather than truly accepting what their own book claims, and
being forced question its validity:
Reject Jewish and Christian Scriptures as they exist now and during the
time of Muhammad as corrupt and unreliable;
Claim that the Qur’an confirms lost originals of the Jewish and
Christian Scriptures no longer in existence, and thus,
Accept the teachings of the Qur’an and reject the teachings of the
Bible where they differ with one another.
the distinction between what the Qur’an says and what modern Islamic
apologists argue does not give validity to the Qur’an, but rather it
clarifies the contradictory claims of the Qur’an, free from the logical
“gymnastics” that modern Muslims have gone through to try and
reconcile these inconsistencies.
will offer first some statements by Islamic apologists which demonstrate their
avoidance of this dilemma. After
considering some evidence which counters these statements, we will then
demonstrate the fact that the Qur’an while accepting the validity of the
Bible, contradicts it in points of fact, doctrine and claims about Jesus.
Apologists Teach That the Bible is Corrupt.
1974 a four night debate was conducted between Dr. Salah El Dareer, the
President of the Islamic Center of Birmingham and evangelist Hiram Hutto in
Birmingham, Alabama. During the
first two night, brother Hutto affirmed the proposition: “Jesus the Messiah
is the only begotten Son of God, was crucified for the sins of the world, and
the New Testament is God’s final revelation.” On the last two nights, Dr.El Dareer
affirmed the proposition: “The advent of the Prophet Mohammed is clearly
foretold in both Old and New Testaments, and the Koran is God’s final
revelation.” During the
first night, Dr. El Dareer expressed clearly the common Islamic view of the
Bible. He explained:
Are the Jewish and Christian scriptures without
foundation? Can they be said to
accurately reflect or preserve a message from the Supreme being to mortal man? When one reads the Bible today, what is
really being read, God’s word or men’s fables? Muslims believe in divine revelation,
we believe in the Law which was given to Moses and in the Gospel which was
given to Jesus, but can we find either the Law or the Gospel in today’s
Bible? I say we can find some of
the Law; and yes we can find some of the truth in the Bible (p. 25).
El Dareer’s views are not unique.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali, who in the early 20th century produced the English
translation and commentary on the Qur’an still used by the Muslim
Student’s Association of the United States and Canada, wrote an essay on
the meaning of the Arabic word Injil, translated “Gospel” in the Qur’an. Ali wrote that this
…is not the New Testament. It is not the four Gospels now received
as canonical. It is the single
Gospel, which Islam teaches, was revealed to Jesus, and which he taught. Fragments of it survive in the received
canonical Gospels and in some others, of which traces survive (e.g. the Gospel of
Childhood or the Nativity, the Gospel of St. Barnabas, etc.) (p. 287).
makes the same claims regarding the text of the Old Testament in an earlier
essay (p. 282-285).
statements reflect a glaring ignorance of the manuscript evidence which
underlies the text of both the Old and the New Testament as they exist now and
during the time of Muhammad. The
New Testament text is attested by more than 4000 handwritten manuscripts in
Greek. Of these 146 of them
predate the Qur’an itself!
The British Museum houses a near complete text of the New Testament
known as Codex Sinaiticus. This
manuscript dates to the 4th century—300 years before Muhammad. Yet, the text reads substantially the
same as the other manuscripts, as it reflected in the translations in our
might be excused for his ignorance of Old Testament textual evidence. When he wrote, the oldest Hebrew
manuscripts dated to around 900 A.D. largely because of the scribal practice of
destroying damaged manuscripts to prevent corruption. In the 1940’s however, near the Dead Sea, a treasury
of scrolls was found which predated the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70
A.D. Among these scrolls were near
complete copies of most of the Old Testament. In this case as well the text was substantially the same as
the Hebrew text which underlies the English translations used in churches every
reference to the “Gospel of St. Barnabas” is not so easily
excused. This document, written in
Italian, was found in the 1700’s.
Analysis of the physical manuscript has dated it to the
1500’s. Internal evidence
reveals that the work itself could not have been written any earlier than the
1300’s, and was authored in the Western Mediterranean by someone ignorant
of Palestinian geography. The
reason some like Ali appeal to such a speculative text is the fact that in the
text Jesus is said to deny that he is the Messiah and to predict that Muhammad
would be (a claim which the Qur’an itself contradicts - Sura 3:45).
Qur’an throughout will refer to the “Book” of God. This “Book” is envisioned
as combining the Law the Gospel and the Qur’an. In practice, modern Muslims appeal only to the Qur’an,
because only it is held to be free of corruption. Ali writes: “I conceive that God’s
revelation as a whole throughout the ages is ‘The Book.’ The Law of Moses, and the Gospel of
Jesus were portions of the Book.
The Qur’an completes the revelation and is par excellence the Book of God” (p. 128).
rationalize this convoluted theory of Divine revelation Islam must ignore a
principle that runs throughout the Bible and even the the Qur’an
itself—the fact that God preserves His word. Isaiah wrote: “The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8). Jesus said: “Heaven and earth
will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew
24:35). The Apostle Peter spoke of
“the word of God which lives and abides forever” (I Peter
1:21). Even the Qur’an,
claims: “none of Our revelations do we abrogate or cause to be
forgotten…” (Sura II.106a).
How can it be that God’s revelations are not
“abrogated” or “forgotten” but if you ask a Muslim to
show you an uncorrupted version of the revelations of the Bible they can find
none? James A. Beverly in his
article “Muhammad Amid the Faiths”points out the absurdity of the
Muslim claim of Biblical corruption.
They argue that Muhammad and his text are correct,
but Christians and Jews corrupted their Scriptures—every single copy
(Beverley, p. 13).
Qur’an Teaches the Validity of the Bible.
spite of the claims of the apologists.
The Qur’an accepted the validity of the Bible as it existed in the
time of Muhammad. Let’s
consider a few proofs. The
Qur’an refers to Jews and Christians together with the phrase
“People of the Book.”
What “Book” is it that Christians and Jews are associated
with? The Bible. In one passage, discussing
conflicts between Jews and Christians, the Qur’an states:
“…they (profess to) study the (same) Book…” (Sura 2.113). Was this some original lost source
which they had corrupted by the time of Muhammad? Notice three statements the Qur’an makes: 1. The Qur’an is said to be “… a Book from
God, confirming what is with them…” (Sura 2.89); 2. Muhammad is called “…an Apostle, confirming what is with
you…” (Sura 3.81); and 3. The admonition is given, “O ye
People of the Book! Believe in
what we have (now) revealed, confirming what was already with
4.47). In each instance we note
that something is said to be “with” the People of the Book. Clearly what was with them was the
each of these passages the Qur’an is said to be given
“confirming” what was with the People of the Book. The word which is translated
“confirming” is the Arabic word sadaqa meaning– “to speak the truth, to prove to
be true; to approve, confirm, ratify” (Madina, p. 370), “to deem
credible, accept; sanction, certify, confirm, substantiate” (Cowans, p.
594) and “to believe, to trust; to endorse” (Qafisheh, p.
378). Students of the Old
Testament will encounter the cognate of this in the word most commonly
translated “righteous” in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word tsadiq
(BDB, p. 841). It is clear that the writer of the
Qur’an was not questioning the authority or reliability of the Bible as
it existed in his own day. Rather
he was trying to argue that the words that he was putting forth harmonized with
the Biblical text and served as an endorsement of it.
although he had limited knowledge of the Bible, does not try to challenge the
veracity of what the Jews and Christians of his day had. This is illustrated by one text where
Muhammad chastises Jews and Christians for not believing his claimed revelation. He says: “A section of the People of the Book
say: ‘Believe in the morning
what is revealed to the Believers, but reject it at the end of the
day…” (Sura 3.72). His
argument is that the “People of the Book” want to accept a
revelation from God given (figuratively) “in the morning” but not
one which has come “at the end of the day” (i.e. the
Qur’an). Muhammad in this
statement acknowledges that what they “believe in” is
“revealed to the Believers.”
What do the “People of the Book” believe in? The Bible.
another passage he claims:
“And when there came to them an Apostle from God, confirming what
was with them, a party of the People of the Book threw away the book of God
behind their backs, as if (it had been something) they did not know”
(Sura 2.101). Ali commenting on
this verse writes: “I think that by ‘Book of God’ here is
meant not the Qur’an but the Book which the People of the Book had been
given, viz. the previous Revelations.” (p.
44). This is claiming that the
People of the Book reject part of the Bible, not that it is corrupt.
text reads: “There is among
them a section of those who distort the Book with their tongues: (as they read)
you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and
they say, ‘That is from God,’ but it is not from God: It is they who tell a lie against God
and (well) they know it!” (Sura 3:78). I say amen!
There is no sound gospel preacher today that would not argue that many
in the world “distort” what the Bible says. Many say that things are from God when
there is no authority for them.
But is that the same as saying that the Bible is corrupt? Not at all.
acceptance of the validity of the Bible is seen, ultimately in the fact that he
taught that those who follow the Bible will be saved. He wrote:
Those who believe (in the Qur’an) and those who
follow the Jewish (scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians, any who
believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their
reward with the Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve (Sura
can it be suggested that the Bible is corrupt if following it is said to lead
to salvation? Beverley observes
that “later portions of the Qur’an build a strong polemic against
both Jews and Christians” (p. 13), turning from Muhammad’s earlier
ecumenical attitude. This simply
reflects the fact that the Qur’an is a manmade document, subject to the
changing attitudes of its author.
Even so, Muhammad’s acceptance of the Jewish and Christian
Scriptures as valid creates a dependence upon the Bible that cannot be
explained away. When Islam tries
to establish its own validity by discrediting the Biblical text, it opposes the
position which the Qur’an taught and exposes the false nature of the
entire Islamic faith.
II. Contradictions Between the Bible &
We have seen that the Qur’an claims to confirm
the Bible and demonstrates a clear acceptance of its validity. We have seen further, that Muslim
apologists reject the claims of the Qur’an itself in order to rationalize
the fact that the Qur’an conflicts with the very document which it claims
to confirm. In the final stage of
our study we will examine some very specific instances in which the
Qur’an contradicts the teachings of the Bible, demonstrating conclusively
that it is not inspired of God, but a flawed, manmade composition.
in Point of Fact.
demonstrate the discrepancies between between the Bible and the Qur’an we
first address a number of instances in which the two conflict in specific
points of fact. We use the term
“point of fact” to distinguish these examples from what could be
called “issues of interpretation.” Issues of interpretation could be subject to personal
judgment, harmony with other texts or full application of all principles of
Scripture. Issues of interpretation
are more complicated and subjective.
Points of fact are not subject to such issues. Points of fact are matters over which there can be no
debate. If text one says A=B; and
text two says A=C they are in conflict over a point of fact. Many such differences in point of fact
exist between the Bible and the Qur’an. We will examine examples concerning ten subjects:
Noah. The Qur’an describes the events of the flood of
Noah. It adds, however, a fanciful
account of one of Noah’s sons who “separated himself (from the
rest)” (Sura 11.42b). Noah
warns him, “O my son! Embark
with us, and be not with the unbelievers!” (Sura 11.42c). The son refuses, and goes up on
“some mountain” (Sura 11.43a). As Noah pleads,“the waves came between them, and the
son was among those overwhelmed in the Flood” (Sura 11.43c). The Bible tells us the names of the
three sons born to Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth (Genesis 5:32; 6:10; 10:1; 1
Chron. 1:4). After the flood, the
Bible says, “Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham,
and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of
Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated” (Genesis 9:18-19). There is no mention of some part of
Noah’s family that was not saved.
Abraham. The Qur’an places great importance upon
Abraham. Muslims see themselves as
Abraham’s children through Ishmael.
Yet, the Qur’an contradicts the Bible in details concerning
Abraham’s life. When God
tests Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, the Qur’an says that
Abraham said to Isaac: “O my son!
I see in a vision that I offer thee in sacrifice” (Sura
37.102). The Bible does record a
discussion between Abraham and Isaac.
The Bible records:
But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said,
“My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” Then he
said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt
offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself
the lamb for a burnt offering.” So the two of them went together (Genesis
is clear that Isaac was submissive to Abraham, but telling him that God
“will provide for Himself the lamb” is much different that telling
him he would be the offering!
Jacob. The Qur’an conflicts with the Bible regarding
the life of Jacob with respect to his relationship to Joseph. The Bible describes the resentment that
developed between Joseph and his brothers. Much of what magnified this
resentment was two dreams which Joseph had. In the first, as he and his brothers were binding sheaves in
the field his brothers sheaves bowed down to his sheaf (Genesis 37:7). The second dream he tells to his
…Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this
time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me (Genesis 37:9).
reaction is clear. The text says:
So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his
father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have
dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to
the earth before you?” (Genesis 37:10).
Qur’an portrays this quite differently. Rather than rebuke Joseph, in the Sura called Yusuf, (Joseph), Jacob responds understandingly, “You
shall be chosen by your Lord. He
will teach you to interpret visions and will perfect His favor to you and to
the house of Jacob…” (Sura 12.6, Dawood). The only admonition which Jacob gives to Joseph is a warning
not to tell his brothers (Sura 12:5).
The Bible makes it clear that he told it “to his father and his
brothers.” It would be nice
to imagine that Jacob understood what God had planned for Joseph, but that is
not the record which the Bible gives.
The Qur’an far from “confirming” the account of
Genesis, alters and retells it as man might like it to be.
example is seen in the horrible turn of events whereby Jacob’s sons sell
their brother into slavery. The
brothers then lie to their father, bringing him Joseph’s tunic, stained
with animal blood to lead him to think that Joseph is dead (Genesis 37:31-33). Jacob, as one would expect a Father to
react, is heartbroken. The Bible
Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his
waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his
daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said,
“For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus
his father wept for him. (Genesis 37:34-35).
contrast to this, the Qur’an
again, portrays Jacob as patient and understanding. When his sons bring him the stained
clothes, he responds, “Nay, but your minds have made up a tale (that may
pass) with you!” (Sura 12.18). This is a man you sees through the
deception. Ali, in
commentary on this text seems to recognize the problem which the Qur’an
creates here. If Jacob knew Joseph
wasn’t dead why fain tears?
If Joseph was still alive why not go look for him. Ali, actually dismisses the Quranic
passage and inserts in his notes Biblical wording, portraying Jacob as
distraught. This in not what the
Qur’an describes. Iraqi
scholar N.J. Dawood translates this, “‘No!’ he cried.
‘Your souls have tempted you to evil.” The Qur’an is trying to portray Jacob as precognizant
of the fact that Joseph is alive, just as it tried to portray that he
understood Joseph’s boyhood dream.
This is a blatantly deliberate alteration of the clear teaching of the
Joseph. This same “doctoring” of the Biblical
narrative continues in the Yusuf Sura. When Joseph is in Egypt, the Bible records that he served in
the house of Potiphar, the captain of the guard (Genesis 39:1). Joseph is trustworthy and attains
respect and trust in the house (Genesis 39:4). All is well until Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce
him. Joseph resists and flees,
leaving his garment in her hand (Genesis 39:13). The text says clearly: “So she kept his garment with
her until his master came home” (Genesis 39:16). The author of the Qur’an, either
missed this little detail, or deliberately attempted to retell the story. The Qur’an claims:
So they both raced each other to the door, and she
tore his shirt from the back: they
both found her lord near the door… (Sura 12.25).
prosecuting attorney would point out fittingly, Potiphar could not be away from
home, so that she must wait “until his master came home” and
yet “near the door” as he fled! The Qur’an even tries paint Potiphar in a more
favorable light. When Joseph and
Potiphar’s wife exchange accusations, Potiphar, like a master detective,
looks to see if the shirt is torn from the back or the front (Sura
12.26-27). When he sees that it is
torn from the back, he realizes Joseph’s innocence and cries out,
“It is a snare of you woman!”
(Sura 12.28). The Bible, as
one might expect portrays a master who believes his own wife, with no record of
Joseph being questioned at all.
The text says, “his anger was aroused” (Genesis 39:19) and
Joseph is imprisoned.
final alteration in the Yusuf Sura,
concerns Joseph’s interpretation of Pharoah’s dream of seven
plentiful years and seven years of famine. In the Biblical text, the cupbearer who had been imprisoned
with Joseph remembers his ability to explain dreams and brings him to the
Pharoah. Joseph is brought to
Pharoah and explains the dream to Pharoah himself (Genesis 41:15). In the Qur’an, the cupbearer
tells Pharoah what Joseph said and he is brought to Pharoah afterwards (Sura
12.43-49). This may be a minor
detail, but given the fact that the cupbearer had already forgotten his word to
Joseph, it would seem much more reasonable that Joseph, having interpreted the
dream in Pharoah’s presence, would be given such a high office. The cupbearer could have taken credit
for the interpretation if he related it.
Regardless, this is yet another conflict in point of fact and another
clear indication of the Qur’an’s flawed, human origin.
The old saying “the devil is in the
details” aptly describes how the manmade character of the Qur’an is
seen in the alterations, deletions or blatant errors which the author of the
Qur’an commits in his treatment of the Biblical narratives which he
claims to “confirm.”
Let’s consider three such errors in the life of Moses. Any child in Bible class knows of the
marvelous account of Moses being saved from death by the daughter of Pharaoh,
who finds him in an ark of bulrushes (Exodus 2:1-10). Muhammad apparently didn’t spend enough time in Bible
class. The Qur’an says,
“The wife of Pharaoh said: (Here is) a joy of the eye, for me and for
thee: slay him not…” (Sura 28.9). Muhammad makes Pharoah’s wife, not his daughter the
one who saved Moses.
also has a problem with numbers in the life of Moses. When Moses flees from Egypt, he encounters Jethro, the
priest of Midian. The Bible says:
Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And
they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their
father’s flock. (Exodus 2:16).
ignores (or denies) five of these daughters and claims:
And when he arrived at the watering (place) in
Madyan, he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and besides them
he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks)…(Sura 28.23).
is nothing that demands that two texts which talk about the same event must
include all of the same details to be valid. In the healing of the Gaderene demoniac, Matthew will
mention two men (Matthew 8:28) while Mark and Luke will address only the one
who spoke to Jesus (Mark 5:2; Luke 8:27).
However, given the fact that both the Qur’an and the Bible
describe the narrative which leads to Moses marrying one of the daughters of
Jethro, the priest of Midian, there is no clear reason why five would be left
out. Was Muhammad, like Mark and
Luke, just mentioning the two who interacted most with Moses? Or was he simply ignorant of the
final example in the life of Moses, demonstrates a clear conflict between Bible
chronology and the garbled history within the Qur’an. The Qur’an adds to the encounter
with Jethro a “Jacob and Laban-like” agreement, in which Moses
agrees to serve Jethro ten years (Sura 28.27-28). According to the Qur’an, at the end of this ten year
term, God speaks to Moses from the burning bush (Sura 28:29). The Bible claims that this took place,
“when forty years had passed” (Acts 7:30). Was Muhammad ignorant of what the Lord
had revealed through New Testament writers about this event? Or was he deliberately altering the
story? Either way one
doesn’t “confirm” forty by substituting ten.
Aaron. It has often been observed how dispassionate the
Biblical text is in describing the sins of important and less significant
characters alike. David’s
sin with Bethsheba is not glossed over.
Abraham’s lie to Pharoah is not rationalized away. I would argue that this is a reflection
of Divine inspiration because human beings, on their own accord would choose to
ignore or justify the errors of important Biblical characters. This very tendency is seen time and time
again in the Qur’an. The
tendency to explain away, rationalize or justify the sins of important
religious characters, betrays the human origin of the text.
the life of Aaron this is seen clearly. The Bible tells us that Aaron, the
first High Priest of Israel, the father of all future priests, and the brother
of Moses, assisted the people in their idolatry with the golden calf at Sinai
(Exodus 32:2,24). This is
difficult for us to understand.
How could this man do such a thing? The Qur’an, does what we might wish we could
do—it gives us a reason to excuse Aaron of this sin. The Qur’an claims that when the
people wanted to engage in idolatry, Aaron tried to discourage the people. It claims:
Aaron had already, before this said to them: “O
my people! Ye are being tested in
this: for verily your Lord is (God) Most Gracious: so follow me and obey my
command” (Sura 20.9).
Bible does indicate that the Lord judged something different in Aaron’s
involvement with the golden calf than that of the people in the fact that he
was not killed with the others.
Yet, to try and suggest that Aaron, was really trying to discourage the
people from idolatry when he was the one who collected the metals and formed
the calf to begin with, is to pervert the text to suit our own wishes.
Israelites. Followers of Islam have from the earliest stages been
a very warlike people. This tribal
warring spirit is seen in the Qur’an in instances of historical
revisionism. The Bible tells us
that at the end of the period of the Judges, the Israelites became dissatisfied
with allowing God to be their only king and came to Samuel and pleaded,
“now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1
Samuel 8:5). The Qur’an,
paints the Israelites of the time of the Judges as dedicated “holy
warriors” desiring a king to advance the cause of God. It claims that they pleaded,
“Appoint for us a King, that we may fight in the cause of God”
(Sura 2.246). It is true that
Israel wanted a king so that he would, “go out before us and fight our
battles” (1 Samuel 8:20), but this was not motivated by religious zeal as
much as by a desire to be like the nations around them. Why else would God describe this as a
rejection of Himself (1 Samuel 8:7)?
Zacharias. Numbers again become problematic in the Qur’an’s
treatment of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist. The Bible records that, while serving
in the temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and declared to him that
his wife Elizabeth would bear a child in their old age (Luke 1:5-17). When Zacharias questions this, Gabriel
…I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of
God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. But behold,
you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time
is unable to speak when he comes out of the temple (Luke 1:22), Elizabeth
conceives and Zacharias voice returns to him only after the child is born (Luke
1:64). The Qur’an ignores
the fact that this was a type of punishment of Zacharias for his unbelief. It claims:
(Zakariya) said: “O my Lord! Give me a Sign.” “Thy sign,” was the answer,
“Shall be that thou shalt speak to no man for three nights, although thou
art not dumb” (Sura 19.10).
is a big difference between three days and nine months. But, in addition to that, the
Qur’an denies that Zacharias was “dumb” during those three
days. That is a complete rejection
and denial of the what Gabriel says to Zacharias and what takes place in the
Mary. In the Sura called Maryam, the Qur’an gives an account of Mary’s
conception and child-bearing of Jesus.
Interestingly enough, the Qur’an does not try to deny the virgin
birth (Sura 19.20-21). Yet, in a
two of what are the some of the most well-known details of Jesus’ birth,
the Qur’an either deliberately alters the account, or betrays its
ignorance of the Biblical text which it claims to confirm. Even unbelievers can relate the fact
that the Bible says Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a manger because there was
no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn (Luke 2:4-7). Yet, the Qur’an claims:
So she conceived him and she retired with him to a
remote place. And the pains of
childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree… (Sura 19.22-23).
text goes on to describe Mary longing for death because of the pain, until a
voice from God offers her fruit from the tree. She refuses, having vowed to fast and remain silent. Then at last Jesus is born (so it
seems) at the palm-tree (Sura 19.23-27).
In this instance the author of the Qur’an has taken something
universally recognizable in connection with the birth of Jesus and discarded
it. Who has altered God’s
10. Jesus. As we shall see
below, the position which the Qur’an takes regarding Jesus not only
contradicts the Bible but is in fact self-defeating. That is to say, it echoes enough of what the Bible says
about the birth, life and names of Jesus, so as to destroy its own credibility
regarding the things which it denies about Him. Before considering this, we offer two instances in
which the Qur’an contradicts points of fact claimed in the Bible.
as we mentioned above, the
Qur’an denies that Jesus is the Son of God. Muhammad claims:
…the Christians call Christ the Son of
God. That is a saying from their
mouth; (in this) they imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. God’s curse be on them: how they
are deluded away from the truth! (Sura 9.30).
Bible is emphatic in it identification of Jesus as God’s Son. When Jesus is baptized by John, the
voice of God which speaks from heaven declares, “This is My beloved Son,
in who I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Peter confesses that Jesus is, “the Christ, the Son of
the living God” (Matthew 16:16), a claim which Jesus says was revealed to
Peter by “My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).
the Qur’an denies that Jesus was crucified (Sura 4.157). Muhammad claims, “…they
said (in boast), ‘We kill killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the
Apostle of God’; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it
was made to appear to them…” (Sura 4.157). Ali in his commentary on this passage
appeals to Gnostic writings and again the Gospel of St. Barnabas (mentioned
above) which offers stories of Jesus’ body being substituted on the
cross, or only being made to appear to be crucified. Ali writes:
The Quranic teaching is that Christ was not crucified
nor killed by the Jews, not withstanding certain apparent circumstances which
produced the illusion in the minds of some of his enemies…(p. 230).
obviously conflicts with Biblical teaching. Luke wrote, “And when they had come to the place
called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right
hand and the other on the left” (Luke 23:33). Beyond this, however, the Qur’an sets itself against
historical witnesses which were unfriendly to the cause of Christ. The Romans historian Tacitus, referring
to Christians, claims:
Their originator, Christ, had been executed in
Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate (Annals of
Imperial Rome 15:44).
Jewish historian Josephus, who at first fought against Rome, then was
patronized by her, in his work Antiquities of the Jews, writes:
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise
man…Pilate at the suggestion of the principle men among us, had him
condemned to the cross… (Antiquities 18.33).
the second century satirist Lucian, writes mockingly of Christians and
describes Jesus as, “the man who was crucified in Palestine because he
introduced this new cult into the world…” (Passing Periginus). Are
all of these sources lying? Who
are we to believe the claims of the Bible and historical sources dispassionate
of the issue or Muhammad, who writes 600 years after the fact?
We could examine many different doctrines in which
the Qur’an presents a different message from that of the Bible. For our purposes let’s examine
one doctrine which is independent of elements of worship, the nature of the
godhead or salvation, but rather something which concerns a universal principle
concerning the husband and wife relationship. This is the first relationship that God created. One would think that there would be
harmony between the Bible and the Qur’an on this issue. Quite the contrary. The Qur’an conflicts with both
the Old Testament and the New Testament in its teaching on divorce and
remarriage. The Qur’an
So if a husband divorces his wife (irrevocably), he
cannot after that, re-marry her until after she has married another husband and
he has divorced her… (Sura 2.230).
Old Testament taught restrictions on reconciliation. Yet, unlike the Qur’an, if a man took back a woman
after she had married another man, it was considered “an
abomination” because she had been defiled (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). The Qur’an is actually teaching
that a remarriage and divorce must take place before he can take her back!
Law of Christ brought marriage law back closer to its original design. Jesus taught that fornication is the
only allowable cause for an innocent party to divorce a mate (Matthew 19:9). Islam, tries to suggest that it is a
restoration of a type of faith practiced at the time of the Patriarchs. We might imagine then, that the
Qur’an’s teachings on marriage would echo the original model of
marriage, put forth in Genesis 2:24.
Quite the contrary. The
Qur’an allows divorce and remarriage simply for incompatibility (Sura
2.229). It claims, “there is
no blame on either of them” (ibid.)
How can the same God claim through Jesus that something is “adultery”
then through Muhammad, that “there is no blame on either of
them”? He would not, does
not and has not done so. This is,
as Paul warned, and example of men acting, “according to their own
desires, because they have itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3).
Claims About Jesus.
Qur’an demonstrates the fact that Muhammad had a very limited knowledge
of the Bible. He blends anecdotal
and apocryphal folktales with the inspired record of the New Testament, and
alters, adds and colors the stories of Jesus’ life as he chooses. An example of this is seen in his
reference to an incident not recorded in the New Testament, but contained in
apocryphal so-called “infancy gospels” which record fanciful
stories about Jesus’ childhood.
Sura 3.49 says of Jesus: “…I make for you out of clay, as it
were, the figure of a bird and breath into it and it becomes a
bird…” An apocryphal
work known as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, claims that Jesus at the age of twelve, “having
made soft clay, he fashioned thereof twelve sparrows” (Greek Text A 2.2,
James,p. 49). The Bible, speaking
of the changing of water to wine in Cana of Galilee says, “This beginning
of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His
disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11). The healing of the nobleman’s son is later called
“the second sign” (John 4:54). Muhammad accepts a “cute” fable, and ignores the
details of Jesus’ life. That
is not the way a writer inspired by the Holy Spirit would act.
the Qur’an echoes from the New Testament is just enough to destroy its
own credibility. Ahmed Deedat in
his work Christ in Islam goes to
great lengths to emphasize the honored status that Jesus holds in Islam. Deedat points out that Muslims are
taught to say eesa alai-hiss-salaam
meaning “Jesus, peace be upon him” whenever the name of Jesus is
spoken (p. 4). The
real issue that divides Christians and Muslims is not whether Jesus deserves
respect but whether He deserves worship.
Is Jesus the son of God or simply one of many prophets? Consider some major points about who
Jesus was with which the Qur’an is in agreement (or near agreement) with
Jesus was born of a virgin:
“She said, ‘How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has
touched me, and I am not unchaste?’
He said: ‘So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, ‘That is easy for
Me…” (Sura 19:20,21).
Jesus was given the Holy Spirit:
“Then will God say: O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount my favour to thee and to thy
mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy
spirit…” (Sura 5:113).
Jesus did miracles:
“…And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken
the dead, by God’s leave…” (Sura 3:49).
Jesus was righteous:
“And Zakariya and John and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of
the righteous.” (Sura 6:85).
Jesus was an apostle of God:
“And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: ‘O Children of Israel! I am the apostle of God (sent) to you
confirming the Law (which came) before me…” (Sura 61:6).
Jesus was a prophet:
“He said: ‘I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me
a prophet.” (Sura 19:30).
Jesus was the word of God: “…Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no
more than) an apostle of God, and his Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a
Spirit proceeding from Him…”
Jesus was a sign to mankind:
“…And (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a
Mercy from Us”: It is a
matter so decreed.” (Sura 19:21).
Jesus brought the gospel:
“And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming
that had come before him: We sent
him the Gospel: therein was
guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a
guidance and an admonition to those who fear God.”(Sura 5:49).
Jesus was the Christ (Messiah):
“Behold! the angels
said: ‘O Mary! God giveth
thee Glad tidings of a Word from Him:
His name will be called Christ Jesus ,the son of Mary, held in honour in
this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those Nearest to
God.” (Sura 3:45).
is interesting that the Qur’an acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah. However, Muslims do not understand the
term “Messiah” in the same special and peculiar sense that Jews and
Christians do. Drawing upon its
basic meaning “anointed one” they suggest - “Not only were
prophets and priests and kings anointed (christos-ed), but horns, and cherubs
and lamp-posts also” (Deedat, p. 13). In the Bible, there is clearly one who was promised that
would possess a status greater than simply a prophet. This is where the problems come. Islam fails to recognize that it cannot except certain
claims about Jesus without being forced to accept others. For example, while the Qur’an
accepts that Jesus was born of a virgin, it denies that Jesus was God’s
son and that He was God in the flesh.
The Qur’an declares:
They do blaspheme who say: ‘God is Christ the son of Mary… They do
blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a trinity: for there is no other God
except One God…” (Sura
If Jesus was born of a virgin, then He was God with
man. Isaiah 7:14 declares:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name
This name “Immanuel” is particularly
important because it means “God with us.” This is explained in the New Testament, where Isaiah is
quoted: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they
shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with
us’” (Matthew 1:23).
In another text in Isaiah, this fact is brought out even more
distinctly. Speaking of the nature
of the promised Messiah, it declares:
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and
peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To
order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward,
even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7).
If the Messiah was not to be God in the flesh, it
would be blasphemous to call Him “Mighty God!” It is clear in the Bible that the claim
that Jesus was the Christ (or Messiah) carried with it this special identification
of Christ’s deity. This is
seen in the confession that Peter makes - “You are the Christ, the Son of
the living God.” (Matthew 16:16).
other claims that both the Bible and the Qur’an share are equally
distinctive. As noted above the
Qur’an claims that Jesus was the “word of God.” If Jesus was the “word of
God” then according to the Bible, He was divine. The Gospel of John begins with a
discussion of this very fact. It
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. He was
in the beginning with God. All
things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was
made. (John 1:3).
We notice here that the one identified as “the
Word” is said to have been responsible for creation, to have existed in
the beginning and the powerful claim “the Word was God.” Lest there should be any confusion
about the identity of the one identified as “the Word” the text
explains: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld
His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and
truth” (John 1:14). The rest of the Gospel of John goes on
to tell about the life and teachings of this one who was “the Word”
which became flesh.
for the Qur’an to admit that Jesus brought the gospel, concedes that in
Jesus there is the way to salvation.
Romans 1:16,17 explains the power of the gospel in this way:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it
is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first
and also for the Greek. For in it
the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,
“The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16,17).
Islam must either deny that Jesus brought the gospel,
or deny that it has the power which the Bible attributes to it. The Qur’an claims that the Bible
is from God, but it denies Jesus holds the way to salvation. Which claim will we accept?
[*] All Quranic quotations, unless otherwise noted, are
taken from the Glorious Qur’an, Translation & Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Muslim Students
[**] All Biblical quotations are taken from the New King James Version, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1982.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali, trans. Glorious Qur’an. Translation & Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali,
USA: The Muslim Students Association. 1975.
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A. Briggs (BDB). A
Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon
Cowans, J. Milton. ed. Hans Wehr Arabic-English
Dictionary. 4th ed.
Ithaca, New York: Spoken Language Services, Inc. 1994.
Dawood, N.J. trans. The Koran. New York:Viking
Penguin Inc. 1987.
Deedat, Ahmed. Christ in Islam.
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Hutto, Hiram. The Hutto-el Dareer Debate. Erlanger,
Kentucky: Faith & Facts
James, Montague Rhodes. The Apocryphal New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Josephus, Flavius. The Complete Works of Josephus. William Whiston trans.
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications. 1981.
Madina, Maan Z. Arabic-English Dictionary. New
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