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Archive for the ‘Quran’ Category

Our 2013 update to our series of posts concerning evangelism and apologetics towards Muslims

The Domain for Truth

sand dunes

What originally began on July 15th, 2012 as a special one week focus on Islam here at Veritas Domain ended up being a twelve day marathon!  Among the things posted are resources available on the internet outside our blog concerning many facets of Islam: awareness of the problem that Islam poses including debates, documentary, videos and written media such as books and thesis.  We have also attempted to provide our own apologetic and evangelism resources here as well.  Concerning our written sources, I wish to provide here an index to those materials that we have written ourselves.

  1. Ramadan 2012: Tips on Christian opportunities to Witness to Muslim Friends— Practical witnessing tips for Christians this Muslim Ramadan season.
  2. WITNESSING TO MUSLIMS: THE QURANIC VIEW OF THE BIBLE— I believe what is presented here is the best for Christians to witness and engage in apologetics with Muslims, in a fashion that’s compatible…

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James White Quran

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

One of the best Christian introductory work to Islam that I read and much more academically rigorous than most. For those familiar with the author James White, he is a Christian apologist who has debated and written on many issues over the past decades. Since the mid-2000s, James White started focusing a lot on Islam, beginning with his debut debate with the foremost Islamic apologist Shabir Ally in 2006 at BIOLA university. White was led to specialize in Islam largely because of his love for the persecuted Church today, many of whom live in Islamic land. The thing that stood out to me in this work is White’s familiarity with Arabic and careful interaction with the primary sources. It’s not just the Qur’an but he is able to engage in “Hadith Science.” He does all this while also balancing his work with an awareness of the need of his readers to have explained to them definitions and concepts in Islamic theology. In my estimation, the best part of the book were chapters 4, 8, 9 and 11. I have been hesitant in the past when I hear Christian apologist say that the Qur’an and the early Islamic community has a misunderstanding of the Trinity (to include Mary in place of the Holy Spirit) but James White has done a masterful job of showing from early Islamic sources that this was what they believed in chapter four of the book. In chapter eight James White shows how the Qur’an and the early Muslim community did not believe that the Bible was corrupted textually but instead they presupposes otherwise. If you only have one work on Islam in your bookshelf, I would say this would be it. I have this on my shelf with all the highlights and notes for future references.

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sand dunes

What originally began on July 15th, 2012 as a special one week focus on Islam here at Veritas Domain ended up being a twelve day marathon!  Among the things posted are resources available on the internet outside our blog concerning many facets of Islam: awareness of the problem that Islam poses including debates, documentary, videos and written media such as books and thesis.  We have also attempted to provide our own apologetic and evangelism resources here as well.  Concerning our written sources, I wish to provide here an index to those materials that we have written ourselves.

  1. Ramadan 2012: Tips on Christian opportunities to Witness to Muslim Friends— Practical witnessing tips for Christians this Muslim Ramadan season.
  2. WITNESSING TO MUSLIMS: THE QURANIC VIEW OF THE BIBLE— I believe what is presented here is the best for Christians to witness and engage in apologetics with Muslims, in a fashion that’s compatible with Presuppositional apologetics’ stress on the importance of the Bible as self-attesting and the use of internal critique.
  3. Are there verses in the Quran that shows the Bible’s corruption? Part 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5— A Series that looks more closely at the verses from the Quran that Muslim apologists’ used to argue that the Quran teaches the Bible has been textually corrupted.  The series attempts to show that this does not follow from the verses they cite.
  4. Deep Sea Darkness as Muslim evidence for the Quran in light of the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer as a defeater— Considering one of the evidences that Muslims say proves the Divine authorship of the Quran, with the article addressing more of the problem of the reasoning presented.
  5. Muslim Writers’ Attack Against Traditional Authorship of the Gospel Part 1, 2, 3 and 4— This series takes on a more defensive nature concerning Muslims’ attempt to attack the authorship of the Gospels.
  6. Deuteronomy 18: Biblical Prophecy of Muhammad or Jesus? in which we deal with a popular Muslim argument that the Jewish Scripture predicts Muhammad.  NEW!
  7. Deuteronomy 18, Messianic Prophecy: How Jesus was like Moses–A follow up to the article “Deuteronomy 18: Biblical Prophecy of Muhammad or Jesus?”   NEW!
  8. Book review: What Every Christian Needs to Know about the Qur’an by James R. White— A book review of a Christian apologist who has extensively debated Muslims the last seven years.   NEW!
  9. Review: Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World’s Fastest-Growing Faith by Robert Spencer— A book review of Rober Spencer’s book against Islam.   NEW!

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GO TO PART 4

This is the last installment in this series (unless another pressing passage needs to be addressed).  Surah 4:157 is probably the strangest passage Muslims try to use to prove that the Quran teaches that the Bible has been textually corrupted.  Instead of establishing that the Bible has been corrupted, Surah 4:157 is an excellent example of how the Quran has the problem of conflicting and contradicting the teaching of the Bible while suffering from the problem that the Quran as a whole upholds the Bible as authoritative and having been faithfully transmitted.  Thus, any contradiction that the Quran has with the Bible poses a problem that is internal to the Islamic religion/worldview.

Below are three English translations of this passage, though afterwards all citation of the Quran will be from Yusuf Ali’s translation:

Sahih International

And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.

Yusuf Ali

That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-

Shakir

And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the messenger of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure.

From this verse, a Muslim apologist proceeds with the following reason:

Here is another explicit verse speaking of Bible corruption, the Quran states that if anyone believes that Jesus died and was crucified they then follow nuthing but CONJECTURE which is corruption. Which book today tells us that Jesus died and was crucified? The Bible, so hence the Quran here does call the Bible corrupt. So it cant get anymore clear than that.

But does this verse really teaches that the Bible has been corrupted?  Let’s take a closer look at the Quran itself and this Muslim apologist’s argument.

Establishing the Context:  Surah 4 is titled “The Women.”  It is a long chapter in the Quran that addresses many social issues such as sex, marriage, inheritance, etc.  Verse 157 is situated in a section beginning at verse 153 through 176 which focuses on the subject of the unbelief of the people of the Book (Jews and Christians).

Exegesis

(1) It is rather strange that anyone can say of Surah 4:157 that this “is another explicit verse speaking of Bible corruption” when nowhere within this verse or the surrounding context does it have anything to do with Scripture nor the Bible.  Furthermore, there are not any verbs for  “writing,”  hence this verse cannot be the basis for proving that the written transmission of Scripture has been textually corrupted since it does not even address the topic of writing, let alone the Scriptures of the Jews or Christians!

(2) Again, this verse cannot be “another explicit verse speaking of Bible corruption.”  Our Muslim apologist wrongfully thinks that following conjecture is the same thing as textually corrupting the text of Scripture when he states: “Quran states that if anyone believes that Jesus died and was crucified they then follow nuthing but CONJECTURE which is corruption.”  Again, looking at Surah 4:157, following conjecture is not the same thing as corrupting the transmission of God’s revelation in the Old or the New Testament!

(3) Closer examination of Surah 4:157 further refutes our Muslim assumption that following conjecture is equal with textual corruption of the Bible from what it originally says.  The Muslim apologist asked rhetorically, “Which book today tells us that Jesus died and was crucified? The Bible, so hence the Quran here does call the Bible corrupt.”  Of course, it’s the Christian portion of the Bible (the New Testament) that teaches “Jesus died and was crucified.”  However, Surah 4:157 was not talking about Christians and the followers of Christ when it describes those who had “only conjecture to follow.”  The beginning of the verse shows clearly that the subjects are those that “said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.’” Surah 4:157 is talking about the Jewish religious leaders who were against Jesus and had Him put to death, not Christians and their Scriptures!  If conjecture is the same thing as changing the transmission of Scripture as this Muslim assumes, and in light of his other assumption that the corrupt change done to the Scripture (Old Testament) was to teach “Jesus died and was crucified” (I’m not talking about Messianic prophecies but that “Jesus” was the name and referent of the one who died and was crucified) then how come there are no textual evidence of Old Testament manuscripts mentioning “Jesus died and was crucified?”  It is a puzzling quagmire the Muslim apologist has gotten himself into when he tries to force Surah 4:157 to talk about the Scriptures, when it’s not talking about it at all.

(4) Furthermore, in the greater context of Surah 4, Surah 4:157 could not possibly teach that the Bible has been textually corrupted unless Muslims want to say that this verse contradicts with what the rest of the Surah’s view of the Bible: namely, that the Bible is still authoritative and without textual corruption.  Readers should consult part 2 of this series to see how Surah 4:46 at first glance might seem to deny the Bible’s faith textual transmission ends up affirming instead, along with the discussion of Surah 4:47 as further support.

(5) Everything stated earlier is not to say that Surah 4:157 does not conflict with the New Testament’s teaching that Jesus Christ the Son of Mary was killed and crucified.  Of course it does, but Surah 4:157 does not say that the Bible has been corrupted from it’s original content.

(6) Can the Muslim apologist reason that since Surah 4:157 contradicts what the Bible teaches, and that the Quran and the Bible ought not to contradict then therefore it’s the Bible that has been textually corrupted?  The Muslim cannot resolve this difficulty with this conclusion since the door to this conclusion is closed by the context of Surah 4 and the whole of the Quran when it affirms  the Bible’s authority and accurate transmission.  Instead, this allows the Christian apologist to make the case that in light of Surah 4:157 contradicting with the Bible’s Matthew 27-28, 1 Corinthians 15, etc., in light of the Quran’s own bibliology, it’s the Quran’s that’s in trouble when it conflicts with the Bible’s teaching.  And that’s the dilemma for the Muslim: Why does Surah 4:157 not submit to the authority of God’s revelation in the Bible but conflict against it?  If the Muslim affirm what the Quran teaches, that the Bible is authoritative and has not been lost nor forgotten, then they ought to reject what the Quran teaches in Surah 4:157.  However, if the Muslim instead affirm Surah 4:157 as true while rejecting the New Testament teachings, inherently they still reject what the Quran teaches, concerning the Bible’s authority and faithful transmission.  Either way, the rational dilemma is there: Muslims will have to deny the Quran themselves sooner or later.

Instead, hear the Words of the New Testament and it’s organic unity with the Old Testament:

For I delivered to you [b]as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

(1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

As verse 3 makes it clear, Christ did die–and he died “for our sins.”  That’s what the Bible teaches.  I pray that those Words go deep and God will use it to bring about faith in anyone reading this who have not yet trusted in the Person and Works of Jesus Christ through His death and resurrection to make righteous those who realize their sins and need to be reckoned right with God.

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GO TO PART 3

Among the proof text Muslims use to claim that the Quran teaches that the Bible has been textually corrupted, Surah 2:79 seems to be their strongest case.  Yet this is not without problem.  Below are three English translations of this passage, though afterwards all citation of the Quran will be from Yusuf Ali’s translation:

Sahih International

So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah ,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.

Yusuf Ali

Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say:”This is from Allah,” to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.

Shakir

Woe, then, to those who write the book with their hands and then say: This is from Allah, so that they may take for it a small price; therefore woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn.

(Accessed: http://quran.com/2/73-85)

Note what one Muslim apologist extrapolate from the text,

So basically this means they made copies and added their own ideas and desires and said this is from God, and when you do this over a long period of time the original book gets lost and is gone and that is what happened. So they wrote books with their own hands and claimed it is from God i.e. the Torah.

But does this verse really teaches that the Jewish Scripture has been lost due to textual corruption?  Let’s take a closer look.

Establishing the Context:  Surah 2 is titled “The Cow.”  It is the longest chapter in the Quran, coming in at 286 verses, and addresses a variety of issues.  Some have seen this Surah as the summary of the Quran.  Verse 79 is situated in the section beginning in verse 40 through 86 that focuses on the Children of Israel.  Thus, verse 79 is specifically referring to the Jewish Scripture (the Old Testament).

Exegesis

(1) One things to keep in mind for the rest of the observation that follows is that while this verse states that they “write the Book with their own hand,” it does not state that the “Book,” that is the Scriptures, have been “lost and is gone” as our Muslim apologists claim the verse teaches.  Such verbs are not present in the text and readers should be cautious with going too far beyond what Surah 2:79 actually states.

(2) There are further complications to the view that this verse teaches the original Jewish Scripture has been “lost and is gone,” when one realizes that Surah 2:79 is not referring to all the Jews in their treatment of Scripture, but only some particular subset of the Jews.  This point is important because if some of the Jews were wicked to tamper and attempted to corrupt the text of Scriptures, there are the other subset of Jews that were not doing so.  Thus, there cannot be a global textual corruption of the Bible where the original would be thoroughly “lost and gone.”  Verse 78 establishes whom “those who write the ‘scripture’ with their own hands” in verse 79 were.  Note that verse 78 refers to the antecedent subjects as a subgroup of the Jews rather than all the Jews when it stated, “there are among them illiterates” rather than “all among them illiterates.”  In light of the fact that they were called illiterates makes this very likely to be a minority group since Jews are historically typically literate.  Again, this verse is only discussing about some among the Jews which makes it improbable that there would be a global textual corruption of the Scriptures to the extent that the original has been forever lost and forgotten.

(3) Further support that verse 79 refers to only a subset of the Jews can be found in the beginning of verse 80 which states, “And they say, “Never will the Fire touch us, except for a few days.”  These subset of Jews don’t believe in the eternal torment of the wicked, and given that the Hebrew manuscripts we possess today does not deny eternal punishment (but rather affirm it), it seems that whatever minority of Jews that wrote down “Scripture” contrary to it has not been able to manage to corrupt the Bible lost and forgotten forever.

(4) The context of the rest of Surah 2 does not support the view that the Quran teaches the Bible’s corruption.  For instance, Surah 2:62 affirm that the content of the Bible is still God’s salvific Word: “Those who believe (in the Qur’an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.“  Rather than affirm the Bible’s corruption, the rest of the context of Surah 2 affirms the contrary, that the Bible is still God’s Word.

GO TO PART 5

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GO TO PART 2

Continuing with our series, Surah 5:13 is another proof text Muslims use to try to establish that the Quran teaches the Bible has been textually corrupted.  Here I provide three English translation of this passage, though afterwards all citation of the Quran will be from Yusuf Ali’s translation:

Sahih International

So for their breaking of the covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort words from their [proper] usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.

Yusuf Ali
But because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard; they change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the message that was sent them, nor wilt thou cease to find them- barring a few – ever bent on (new) deceits: but forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds): for Allah loveth those who are kind.
Shakir
But on account of their breaking their covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard; they altered the words from their places and they neglected a portion of what they were reminded of; and you shall always discover treachery in them excepting a few of them; so pardon them and turn away; surely Allah loves those who do good (to others).

But does this verse really teaches that the Jewish Scripture has been corrupted textually?  Let’s take a closer look.

Establishing the Context:  Surah 5 is titled “The Table.”  It is a chapter that’s 120 verses in length, and primarily addresses the question of Jews and Christians who are not Muslims.  Verse 13 is situated in a section beginning at verse 12 which discusses about Allah withdrawing from unbelieving people of the Book, with verse 12 indicating that verses 12-13 refers to the Jews since verse 12 explicitly refers to “Children of Israel.”  It is clear that the Jewish Scriptures are in view here.

Exegesis

At a superficial glance, two phrase in Surah 5:13 might seem to suggests that the written text of Scripture has been corrupted: “they change the words from their (right) places ” and they “forget a good part of the message that was sent them.

(1) It is difficult to establish that this verse teaches the corruption of the written manuscripts of the Bible when the verse itself does not even mention writing whatsoever.  Don’t forget that it does not necessarily follow that just because the verse says words were changed and forgotten that it must mean it refers ONLY to the activity of written transmission of the Scripture, since one may forget the content when reciting it audibly, practically in daily living, etc.  Thus right off the bat, this verse cannot be serve as proof that the written transmission of Scripture has been textually corrupted since it does not even address the topic of writing.

(2) Concerning “they change the words from their (right) places ,” one must remember that Surah 4:46 said the same thing with the similar phrase that the Jews “displace words from their (right) places.”  As Part 2 of this series already established, the phrase referring to changing or displacing “words from their (right) places” cannot be referring to the corruption of the written Scriptures, since in that same verse it also affirm the faithful transmission of the Jewish Scripture!  In fact, “displace words from their (right) places” seems to be more idiomatic than literal, and whatever this idiomatic phrase means, it cannot be referring to the corruption of the written record of Scripture.  In fact, Sahih Translation takes this phrase to mean “they distort words from their [proper] usages,” a reference to misinterpretation rather than textual corruption of the Scriptures.

(3) Concerning, the phrase “and forget a good part of the message that was sent them,” note that in order for one to forget something they must at least had that thing at one time to begin with.

(4) Concerning the previous point, one might say that the Scriptures were actually forgotten long ago before the Quran was written.  However, considerations of the larger context of the rest of Surah 5 makes this improbable since within Surah 5 itself it would go on to appeal to the Jews and Christians to affirm their own Scriptures!  One must reckon with Surah 5:65-69 which talks about the People of the Book (Jews and Christians, explicitly both mentioned in the passage as well) and their Scriptures.  Note verse 66 affirmation of the Law (Jewish) and the Gospel (Christian): “If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil.”  Apparently from verse 65, both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures were “sent to them from their Lord.”  Verse 68 then goes on to affirm the present ongoing reality of the Bible (both Jewish and Christian Scripture) as God’s revelation: “Say: “O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.” It is the revelation that cometh to thee from thy Lord, that increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. But sorrow thou not over (these) people without Faith.”  Note the affirmation in verse 68 was stated in two ways:  (a) First as foundational: “ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord,” and (b) secondly, note the present tense “is” in “t is the revelation that cometh to thee from thy Lord.”  Apparently, Surah 5:68 presupposes the Jewish and Christian Scripture to still be God’s Word (rather than the corruption of God’s Word).  Finally, Surah 5:69 affirm that the content of the Bible is still God’s salvific Word: “Those who believe (in the Qur’an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness,- on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”  Rather than affirm the Bible’s corruption, the rest of the context of Surah 5 affirms the contrary, that the Bible is still God’s Word.

(5) Adding more weight against the current Muslim interpretation is the fact that historically, Muslims did not interpreted Surah 5:13 to mean that the Bible has been corrupted.  From the Tafsir, we noted that Muslim commentators commenting on this verse accused the Jews of altering the punishment of adultery (which brings death):

(What do find of the ruling about stoning in the Tawrah) They said, `We only find that they should be exposed and flogged.’ `Abdullah bin Salam said, `You lie. The Tawrah mentions stoning, so bring the Tawrah.’ They brought the Tawrah and opened it but one of them hid the verse about stoning with his hand and recited what is before and after that verse. `Abdullah bin Salam said to him, `Remove your hand,’ and he removed it, thus uncovering the verse about stoning. So they said, He (`Abdullah bin Salam) has said the truth, O Muhammad! It is the verse about stoning.’ The Messenger of Allah decided that the adulterers be stoned to death and his command was carried out. I saw that man shading the woman from the stones with his body.” Al-Bukhari and Muslim also collected this Hadith and this is the wording collected by Al-Bukhari.

(Accessed: http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=776&Itemid=60)

Note the following observation from this citation:

(a) Muslims still went to the Torah to prove their point, with the assumption that it was not corrupted: “They brought the Tawrah…”

(b) The Jews according to the Muslim account, still had an uncorrupted Bible because they had to try to hide it with their hands: “but one of them hid the verse about stoning with his hand”

(c) The Jews according to the Muslim account, still had an uncorrupted Bible because they had to avoid reading it: “and recited what is before and after that verse.”

(d) Readers of the Bible will note that the text has not been corrupted since it still record accurately that the penalty for adultery in the Old Testament is stated to be stoning.

(e) Nowhere in the Bible today do one find that the penalty in the Old Testament for adultery was only that they should be exposed and flogged.

Conclusion

After a closer inspection of Surah 5:13 itself, with idiomatic consideration in light of Surah 4:46, alongside consideration of the larger context of Surah 5 and looking into the Tafsir of the Quran for Surah 5 as a historical witness, we must conclude that Surah 5:13 is insufficient to prove the thesis by contemporary Muslims that the Quran teaches the Bible has been textually corrupted.

GO TO PART 4

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To see the rest of the series from the 10 part course, please see this link:

Muslim Brotherhood: Course in 10 Parts

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