The Circular Appeal? The Qur’an and the Injil

First of all, my thanks to Paul Williams for allowing me to blog on this site. Hopefully some great Christian-Muslim dialogue can go on, and I and others can grow in our understanding. As well as posting from time to time, I plan on responding in the comments section to my fellow bloggers – so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.

I have explained the following to Paul (and indeed another Muslim present), but they weren’t sure where the problem was. So I’m going to write it here to see what the readers of this website think. I am aware that premise 1 may be quite contested – I may well discuss this elsewhere, but I ask for the sake of argument, that it be accepted here. What I want discussion on is the soundness of the argument itself.

Premise 1) The Qur’an tells Christians to judge Islam in the light of the true Injil of the historical Jesus (i.e. the real Jesus, not including the misrepresentations of Jesus in the four Gospels).

Premise 2) The true Injil can be determined by reading the Gospels in the light of the Qur’an. If something of Jesus’ preaching in the Gospels disagrees with the Qur’an, it is not the true Injil.

Conclusion) This approach assumes its conclusion. By defining the Injil as that within the Gospel which agrees with the Qur’an, of course the true Injil is going to agree with the Qur’an. Such an argument for the truth of Islam would be meaningless.

To provide an analogy, let us say I am applying for a job, and I need a character reference. I say: ‘I am a good candidate for this job, because my former employer Bob will tell you how great I am.’ If Bob does indeed say I am great, then all well and good. But imagine I say: ‘But hold on now… Bob gets some things wrong about me. All of the good stuff he says about me is true, but any bad stuff he says about me, well Bob is making that up.’ Would it be wise for the employer to accept this? No, because by this methodology, of only accepting things that support you and rejecting anything that does not, of course you will only receive a good testimony. The method itself fixes the conclusion.

Now Paul did also bring into the discussion modern New Testament scholarship, and how its conclusions allegedly concur with the Islamic view of Jesus and his message. For the sake of brevity, I will save that for another post.

I hope I have understood and represented Paul correctly – if not I will edit this post accordingly.

 

 

 



Categories: Islam

69 replies

  1. I am happy with your brief summary. As you and I discussed this subject at length yesterday I will let others make the initial comments before responding further.

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  2. “Premise 1) The Qur’an tells Christians to judge Islam in the light of the true Injil of the historical Jesus (i.e. the real Jesus, not including the misrepresentations of Jesus in the four Gospels).”

    Um..:) , I’m new here. Hi Richard. Could you tell me where exactly the Quran tells Christians to judge Islam in the light of the true Injil of the historical Jesus? Thanks

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    • Got it, I think that’s it?

      S. 5:47 SAHIH INTERNATIONAL
      And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.

      S. 5:68 SAHIH INTERNATIONAL
      Say, “O People of the Scripture, you are [standing] on nothing until you uphold [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord.” And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. So do not grieve over the disbelieving people.

      S. 7:157 SAHIH INTERNATIONAL
      Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful.

      S. 6:114 SAHIH INTERNATIONAL
      [Say], “Then is it other than Allah I should seek as judge while it is He who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?” And those to whom We [previously] gave the Scripture know that it is sent down from your Lord in truth, so never be among the doubters.

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    • Thank you for suggesting those Qur’an passages – those passages are a part of what informs premise 1. I would however point to:

      ‘I am aware that premise 1 may be quite contested – I may well discuss this elsewhere, but I ask for the sake of argument, that it be accepted here. What I want discussion on is the soundness of the argument itself.’

      I hope to post an article about premise 1 at some point soon 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I really don’t see the problem here. If the persons in question want to throw basic logic out the window then you are wasting your time trying to convince them to see sense.

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  4. “Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel,”

    Qur’an 7:157.

    I do not see how this entails your premise that “The true Injil can be determined by reading the Gospels in the light of the Qur’an. If something of Jesus’ preaching in the Gospels disagrees with the Qur’an, it is not the true Injil”.

    It is true that what disagrees with the Quran from the Bible will naturally be rejected as false by Muslims.

    But I do not see how this is telling Christians/Jews who obviously do not believe in the Quran that they need to read their own book in light of the Quran to know the true Jesus. In fact this particular passage doesn’t mention Jesus.

    It seems to just make the claim that the Torah/Gospel that they have currently (while it contains some falsehood) nonetheless fortells Muhammad (pbuh). By extension I (as well as most Jews) would also argue that there are numerous passages of the Bible we have today that point to the Trinity being false and the Messiah not being God.

    So I think this is a bit of a strawman. I have never seen a Muslim tell a Christian “If you want to know who the real Jesus was, read the Bible through the lens of the Qur’an”. Nor do i see the Quran telling Christians to do this.

    I do see Muslims telling people who are **already** believing Muslims that what is in the Bible that completely contradicts Islamic doctrine is false (an example being the allegation that David committed adultery which no Muslim will accept). But telling someone who is already Muslim and already believes in the Quran for other reasons carries no circular logic.

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    • ‘I am aware that premise 1 may be quite contested – I may well discuss this elsewhere, but I ask for the sake of argument, that it be accepted here. What I want discussion on is the soundness of the argument itself.’

      I hope to post an article on this sometime soon 🙂

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  5. The Quran at all times refers to ‘The Injil’ (singular), but when I search for ‘The Gospel’ I find that there are four of them. Which one, I wonder, is the Quran referring to? Already something dubious from the get-go?

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  6. Greeting Richard,

    When the Qur’an is referring to that people who want to believe in the Gospel that was sent to Jesus should follow the Gospel, I think what it is saying is that a sincere sustained open minded research into the gospels would show that the message was changed progressively into a higher and higher christology and that as we go backwards in chronology to even before Mark and to Gospel of Q, etc., we will find the message of Jesus (peace be upon him).

    I think the Qur’an is saying that despite the changes to the Gospel, even now in the current collection of gospels taken to represent something of the original gospel, there is even of a message to show that we should love God with all our heart, mind, soul, etc (Greatest commandment according to Jesus) and that we should be good to people.

    And that God is one (also taught by Jesus in the current gospel(s). And that we should believe in Jesus, who God sent…and that that people after Jesus should expect another one to guide them (another Paraclete).

    And that sins can be forgiven by the parable of the prodigal son, and so on….

    I think it is saying that a true open intellectual and ethical approach to the words attributed to Jesus in today(s) gospels would guide people to the truth.

    And the Qur’an is saying that people are missing the truth in the (original) gospel by being manipulated by other texts (such as the letters of Paul) and by the Church(es).

    I am sorry if my response is not fully addressing your concerns but that is all I can say with my time constraints.

    Peace.

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    • ‘I am sorry if my response is not fully addressing your concerns but that is all I can say with my time constraints.’

      It’s not quite addressing my concerns, but it does contain a lot of interesting thoughts, for which I am grateful 🙂

      ‘I am aware that premise 1 may be quite contested – I may well discuss this elsewhere, but I ask for the sake of argument, that it be accepted here. What I want discussion on is the soundness of the argument itself.’

      I hope to post an article on this sometime soon 🙂

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  7. Sorry, I meant to start by expressing Greetings (not Greeting).

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  8. It actually isn’t circular. It assumes a number of things that can be falsified

    A- It assumes there is common ground in the biblical scripture and the Quranic text. This is a device to show that Muhammad was aware of these texts. He could have got it wrong. The Quran is not referring to the biblical text not as proof per se but in order to show that the opposing side is inconsistent and also to start on common ground. This common ground is a proof once point B comes into play.

    B- It assumes there is a historical core in the biblical texts that is embellished by later redactions. In other words, we have a form of textual criticism. Textual criticism isn’t circular. It can be falsified. It assumes an evolutionary process (which can be falsified). It assumes that the process did not reduce legend to myth( that can be falsified ) and it assumes that particular aspect that is historical agrees with the Quran (that can be falsified). It assumes that the canonization process was even incorrect (the referral to some texts in the infancy gospels).

    In other word these claims are not futile

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    • Thank you for your response, this is very interesting.

      There might be individual underlying assumptions that are not circular. But I still suspect the core argument, i.e. appealing to another authority but only defining what can be accepted from that authority, may be circular.

      ‘It assumes there is common ground in the biblical scripture and the Quranic text. This is a device to show that Muhammad was aware of these texts. He could have got it wrong.’

      But if the extent of the common ground between the two is defined by the Qur’an itself, it is not falsifiable, unless there is literally no common ground – which is unlikely in any two religious texts. I think there is at least one exception, however, where an appeal to common ground IS falsifiable and indeed has been falsified – and that is the alleged reference in the Injil to Muhammad.

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    • How do you reply to Richard ?. Couldn’t find a point to click for a reply .

      “But I still suspect the core argument, i.e. appealing to another authority but only defining what can be accepted from that authority, may be circular.”

      Actually it isn’t. You are claiming that the Quran is using an unedited current “edition” in the time of Muhammad as an “authority”. That is obviously begging the question

      If, I, as the author, use imperatives to say to Christians that we have common ground, I am telling them (and not relying on them ) to follow that which is agreed upon. Why is this proof?

      A- It shows an awareness of texts. The opposing side may have thought the Prophet ignorant of such texts

      B-It claims that it is the over riding text and claims that which is historical and not historical in the texts. In other words, we have the Injil and Torah in the texts the themselves. I need not believe in the whole text if I refer to part of the text.

      Both these points are fruitful because they are important if we are claiming an unedited version that is come down to correct that which was before it.

      Think of it this way. You assume I am bad an maths and unaware of even the basics of the subject. I then point to texts in your recent book on general relativity and point to, what I see, are errors in your deductive reasoning (you got the Maths wrong!)

      A third party then checks to see if this information is correct and is amazed !( just allow the analogy for now ). That is not a circular argument. The Quran never claims the facile argument that it is correct because it says so. Rather the Quran asks us to verify this because had it been from other that Allah we would have found errors and inconsistency in it

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    • Ignore my first point. The reply came in sequence. Not tech savvy 🙂

      In summary, you ar right. The whole argument rests on your construction of premise one which is false.

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    • Sorry the first premise would only follow if “in light of ” meant that we are using the current texts as reference points. I could refer to a text for a number of reasons. I could point to the text to claim this bit is genuine (An imperative , and an appeal to a historical core ( I am the editor). I could refer to the text to claim that the claimants are twisting the text ( refute the argument that the Prophet is unaware and show that the opposing party are engaged in deceit )

      In fact I could think of umpteen reasons to make a point “in light of the text”

      In a nutshell, we have an equivocal fallacy of sorts

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    • Premise 1) The Qur’an tells Christians to judge Islam in the light of the true Injil of the historical Jesus (i.e. the real Jesus, not including the misrepresentations of Jesus in the four Gospels).

      Premise 2) The true Injil can be determined by reading the Gospels in the light of the Qur’an. If something of Jesus’ preaching in the Gospels disagrees with the Qur’an, it is not the true Injil.

      Sorry about this! I really have made a mishmash of this. I should have read the premises properly!

      Premise one is almost there. Yes it would seem reasonable to claim that if we have the “historical Jesus” and the Quran is claiming historical information about Jesus then we should judge in “light of this” in the strong sense.

      Premise two is the problem. The Quran is never arguing in this way! It is not claiming that the only determinate of truth is the Quran itself . That would make the whole point of pushing people to find errors and inconsistency a facade. It would also make the “linguistic miracle ” claim a facade as well. In fact It would make a significant number of verses that ask us to externally verify it a facade.

      Interestingly, this is self refuting in a way. A number of verses in the Quran appeal to the scriptures to show that the opposing side are hiding texts and twisting texts. You have to point to an external source and show that it exists in another text. That is not circular argumentation

      Forgive my rantings, I am just throwing ideas out there as well! Sometimes without reading my “opponent” well!

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    • “Premise 2) The true Injil can be determined by reading the Gospels in the light of the Qur’an. If something of Jesus’ preaching in the Gospels disagrees with the Qur’an, it is not the true Injil”

      Should be

      Premise 2) The true Injil can be determined by reading the Gospels in the light of the Qur’an, if the Quran is not in error. If something of Jesus’ preaching in the Gospels disagrees with the Qur’an, it is not the true Injil

      In light of this conditional we do not have a circular argument. Of course the whole argument now becomes mundane once we have established this conditional. Still, the conditional is quite a strong statement!

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  9. Oops, ignore last comment.

    My thoughts:

    I think the whole point the Qur’an points to the “injil” would be because it’s a rhetorical tactic: by invoking terms such as “injil”, “kalamullah”, etc essentially the Qur’an “takes over” the meanings of the words. the term Logos is applied to Jesus, as is its equivalent arabic kalamullah, but the Qur’an uses the latter word differently – in the sense that God only had to say the word “be” to *create* Jesus (thus, he’s a “word” from God). Thus the usage is a part of a wider polemical dialogue.

    Such is also the case of this “injil”. The Qur’an edits and censors the New Testament, effectively telling the Christians that it is deficit in some way. Yet it asks them to follow “the injil” of Jesus. I think the point being made here is that many Qur’anic moral stances – but not all – can be found within the New Testament, and Christians are simply encouraged to look within their own book to follow them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And ofcourse why even include the mention of the injil in the first place? The Qur’an would do this to overshadow jewish and christian revelation. The Qur’an’s saying that “only follow parts of the gospels that agree with me” establishes it as authoritative over the new testament. The Qur’an’s calling is not merely that Christians simply stay christians, but simply accept a Qur’anic interpretation of the New Testament, but rather that they accept the Prophet Muhammad as the final Prophet and follow his laws and do all that he asks them to do – they are to become Muslims.

      In conclusion, if we stop seeing the Qur’anic claims on the Injil as an attempt to ‘prove’ somehow that Jesus’s injil is in line with the Qur’an (rather that is a given), but more of an attempt to dominate the scriptural discourse amongst its Judeo-Christian community, I think the possible problem is sidestepped entirely.

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    • I agree entirely. It is a question of an overriding text, hence B.

      Note, it is also sometimes a claim of awareness. The Prophet is aware of your inconsistent attacks on him. Is it not revealed in your text etc? In other words, I know what is in your text because my source is a divine creator so don’t “pull a fast one” on me .

      One of the key problems of this “circular” argument is its simplicity. The Quran is making multiple claims

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    • ‘In conclusion, if we stop seeing the Qur’anic claims on the Injil as an attempt to ‘prove’ somehow that Jesus’s injil is in line with the Qur’an (rather that is a given), but more of an attempt to dominate the scriptural discourse amongst its Judeo-Christian community, I think the possible problem is sidestepped entirely.’

      There are lots of interesting thoughts in these comments – but I feel that they challenge my assumed (yes it ‘is a given’ for the sake of argument in this article) premise 1.

      I hope to post an article defending premise 1, at least partially, soon 🙂 Thank you for sharing your very interesting thoughts (both Taha and Unitarian)

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  10. One could claim that this is an anachronism of sort. Surely the audience of the Prophet are not able to engaging in textual criticism!

    Actually I would claim one could. Look at the claims of the Quran. Jesus never claimed to be the son of God, God has no partners, do not say “three”, and so on…

    These at first glance run counter to the message through out the Old Testament (unless one believes in progressive revelation or assumes some of the Old Testament texts are binarian or trinitarian).

    Allah’s message does not have inconsistency and error (4:82) and even outright false historical claims about Jesus (3:55).

    The Quran is also editing previous claims (5:33-34)

    These are mechanisms involved in B

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  11. Hi Richard,

    I’m sure Paul and others this covered but let me have a humble stab. What if I took your analogy further and said: approach Bob AND his friends for a reference. Anyone that speaks good about me is telling the truth, anyone that does not is not. The truthful person will never speak truth/falsehood ie. Prophethood: hadith of Prophet (saws) nothing comes out of these lips except the truth – (applicable to other Prophets too ) .

    When I dip into the biblical scriptures and come across the many amazing passages I can be fairly confident that these are most likely Prophetic source material. The passages that speak disparingly about the Prophets or do not conform to the unitary nature of the creator I can disregard as scribal errors or perhaps something more malicious, hence why the Qur’an (with its completely unique mode of preservation not afforded to other scriptures) refers to itself as the Furqan: criteria for discerning between truth and false.

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    • Hi Imran,

      Your last paragraph seems to exemplify my premise 2 – that the true ‘Injil’, or indeed true revelation in general, can be determined by reading it through the Islamic filter/lens. Again, I think this assumes the conclusion, because if one throws away anything that doesn’t fit (as you propose in your last paragraph), of course you will only end up with material that confirms Islam – on this basis it could be said that the ‘true Injil’ or ‘true revelation’ confirms Islam.

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  12. Richard

    You said;
    To provide an analogy, let us say I am applying for a job, and I need a character reference. I say: ‘I am a good candidate for this job, because my former employer Bob will tell you how great I am.’ If Bob does indeed say I am great, then all well and good. But imagine I say: ‘But hold on now… Bob gets some things wrong about me. All of the good stuff he says about me is true, but any bad stuff he says about me, well Bob is making that up.’ Would it be wise for the employer to accept this? No, because by this methodology, of only accepting things that support you and rejecting anything that does not, of course you will only receive a good testimony. The method itself fixes the conclusion.

    I say;
    If before your interview Bob is saying “You are a very bad person” and also “You are a very good person” at the same time and people are confused which of the 2 characteristics is correct about you, then Bob has to be investigated and researched.

    Bob knows you, but it is known before your interview that he says things that are contradictory about you but no doubt that he knows you very well.

    Then, you have the right to tell your employer based on Bobs inconsistencies about you, your employer must research Bob and he will find your characteristics.

    History tells us that Christians have problem with the Bible and there are so many sects long time like the Arians and now Unitarians and Jehovah Witness who have problem with what is written about Jesus Christ in the Bible.

    So the Quran which is analogous to Richard in this instance can say to Christians to find the truth about Jesus in their gospel and that which says Jesus is not God and many can be found in the gospels.

    Your employer must ask Bob more questions and study Bob very well before he can make a decision about you and you have your right to tell him based on Bobs inconsistencies, what Bob said about you being Good is correct and you being bad is wrong.

    It is up to your employer to study Bob very well. People read the gospel very well and research and convert to Islam i.e. Paul Williams, Gary Miller, Jefferey Laing, Dr. Jerald Dirks etc.

    There are the gospel of Thomas, infancy gospel of Thomas, gospel of Judas etc. to show there are other gospels. If the Christians do not accept them does not make them untruth. The Quran has similar stories of Jesus form one or couple of them and so when the Quran says injil it does not mean New Testament but the gospel of Jesus that can be found in with them at that ti

    Thanks.

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    • In the Quran, Jesus defended himself and said he did not say he is God. So Richard you have the right to defend yourself against Bob and it does not mean all that Bob said about you is a lie but some things said about you is a lie.

      It easy for your employer to study your characteristic and Bob’s inconsistencies to make a decision. Some employers can sign you for probation and if your characteristics much with your referee, they will take what good he said about you.

      Thanks.

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    • Hi Intellect,

      Thank you for your thoughts.

      ‘Then, you have the right to tell your employer based on Bobs inconsistencies about you, your employer must research Bob and he will find your characteristics.’

      This is fine, but this is a different approach, and not the one I laid out in my argument, which instead allows Islam, rather than independent research, to determine what is the genuine ‘Injil’. This approach is very interesting too, and Paul Williams also touched upon this in his talk – I hope to do a blog post on it one day.

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  13.  Hi Richard,

    I think you just do not construct your premise correctly to arrive at a valid conclusion. B: only apply to the believers (ie muslims) who use the Qur’an as the criterion to determine true Injil.

    For the muslims of course we already believe in the truthfulness of the Qur’an in someway or another and hence we  define the true Injil which is going to agree with the Qur’an.

    Now in order, for Christians, to judge the truth of Islam, they must use  the Torah to judge whether or not the overal theme of Qur’anic christology  or the true Injil of the historical Jesus in the Qur’an  and evaluate if it is in consistent with the most salient point of teaching of God and prophets in the Hebrew Bible.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Eric,

      Thank you for your thoughts. My premises may well be laid out incorrectly – I consider myself quite bad at constructing these arguments and at deductive reasoning!

      But actually, I am envisaging the Christian, not the Muslim, being told in premise B/2 that the Injil has to be defined in light of Islam. So I would disagree that ‘B: only apply to the believers (ie muslims)’.

      In the argument as I have constructed it, Christians are being told to use the Qur’an/Islamic understanding to interpret the Injil, not the Torah. Using the Torah may be a good approach, but that is not what I discuss here – it would be fascinating to consider that elsewhere.

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    • Hi Richard,

      I do not want to misrepresent your reasoning but how you can you envisage such that the Christian, not the Muslim, being told in premise B/2 that the Injil has to be defined in light of Islam/Qur’an?

      I do not recall anything from our sources for such understanding, rather the People of the Gospel (christians) should judge by what Allah has revealed therein meaning that they should follow the rulings of the Torah in most cases, since Jesus himself lived largely according to Torah rulings, with the exception of those that the Gospel abrogates.

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    • Hi Eric,

      I believe that Premise 2 is what I was told by Paul Williams in his recent talk. For more on this, see my independent comment at the bottom of this page.

      As for your interpretation of 5:47 – you say we should follow the Torah in so far as Jesus does. But why should we not follow what Jesus says when it comes to, say, his sacrificial/vicarious (I’m using different terms to try and broadly capture in some way Jesus’ death being on behalf of others) death, such as in Mark 10:45 and in the Last Supper narratives?

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    • Dear Richard,

      Thank you for your comment,

      To my knowledge the Qur’an nowhere claims that the disbeliever must solely rely on the Qur’an to evaluate its truth claim. Rather it invites the people of the book  to ponder through God’s signs (Aayah  آيَةً) and draws evidence from God’s creations  anything between the heavens the earth.

      خَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

      Allah created the heavens and the earth in truth. Indeed in that is a sign for the believers. [Q 29:44]

      Also the Qur’an is also very conscious of the previous revelation and establish itself as as continuous revelation with the earlier scripture.

      وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ ۚ فَالَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهِ ۖ وَمِنْ هَٰؤُلَاءِ مَن يُؤْمِنُ بِهِ ۚ وَمَا يَجْحَدُ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَّا الْكَافِرُونَ

      And thus We have sent down to you the Qur’an. And those to whom We [previously] gave the Scripture believe in it. And among these [people of Makkah] are those who believe in it. And none reject Our verses except the disbelievers. [Q 29:47]

       

      It is interesting to note that even though the Qur’an presented itself the continuation of earlier revelations and thus emphatically invite the christians accept its truth claim, there are virtually no direct quotations in the Qurʾan which are taken verbatim from present day Bible we have in our hand.

      In years of my reflection on this situation this strengthen my belief on Qur’anic truth claim because the Qur’an clearly do not talk about the Bible in writing in the possession of christians but the oral mode of transmission of actual true Injil of Jesus peace be upon him circulating among the true follower of Jesus which is certainly not the greek text of the New Testament.  (It is scholarly consensus that Jesus (p) and his disciples native language was Aramaic, the common language of Judea in the first century AD).  Thats why I believe the Qur’an establish its commonality with christianity through the oral Aramaic sphere not the lenses of  greek writers.  Unfortunately we do not have the original aramaic text of Jesus, only a few phrases in the gospel as the evidence of the existence, therefore we should not take the greek text for granted when it comes to validity of major Trinitarian doctrines such trinity and sacrificial death.  This where I believe  modern New Testament scholarship come into play to search and reconstruct the authentic Jesus and his message.

       

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    • Dear Eric,

      Thank you for your thoughts.

      True, all people (including the people of the book) are to ponder Allah’s signs in creation.

      I agree that the Qur’an presents itself as being a revelation continuous to the former scriptures.

      ‘there are virtually no direct quotations in the Qurʾan which are taken verbatim from present day Bible we have in our hand.’ – true, though it’s plausible from my perspective that the Qur’an claims to follow on from the previous scriptures, but doesn’t know what it is in them. It just assumes that there is continuity. Because Muhammad is a prophet of God, his revelation MUST fit with the former revelations. If the people of the book deny this, then they are liars, and not accurately representing their own scriptures.

      I thought the Qur’an did refer to the scriptures of the Christians, not just their passing along of a message. But I would need to look into this further. I am not aware of evidence for an Aramaic ‘injil’, similar to what Islam thinks the ‘injil’ was, floating around between 1-7th centuries – but maybe I need to look into it more.

      I gather that many conservatives and even moderates have made many arguments about how Jesus’ Aramaic preaching has been faithfully preserved in the Greek Gospels. I have read some of these arguments, and found them to be good.

      I would argue that using the tools of ‘Historical Jesus’ research, we still have a Jesus closer to Christianity than to Islam.

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  14. Greetings Richard,

    the Qur’an defines the “Injeel” as the message delivered, revealed by Jesus, as described in the narration (Gospel) by Mark

    “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

    I think it was a message people should understand. That’s the purpose of revelation.

    The question is was he preaching the message delivered about him later after his elevation to God? I would say no.

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  15. Richard,

    You and I have discussed this topic at length and I believe at the time you saw no flaw in the claim made.

    I didn’t even appeal to the Qur’an’s authority as the hermeneutical key to judge what the Injil or the Torah was at the time. So It by-passed the process you are advancing.

    Perhaps if you’re in Speaker’s Corner on Sunday, we can revisit the conversation on camera as I find that this blog will not fruitfully allow a one on one engagement without several others obscuring the discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aspiring Student – if Richard and other commentators are willing, I can ensure you both have uninterrupted one-to-one conversation on this thread.
      Just ask and I will make it so🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • ‘I didn’t even appeal to the Qur’an’s authority as the hermeneutical key to judge what the Injil or the Torah was at the time. So It by-passed the process you are advancing.’

      In which case, my argument is not addressed at you, and you have nothing here to defend 🙂 if you are the person I think you may be, perhaps I misunderstood your position, in which case, my apologies.

      Thank you Paul for the offer, but I don’t think this person is arguing what I am critiquing.

      Like

  16. Salam,
    Good question, Richard.
    Before I will get through your premises & objections, you have to know 2 facts which cannot be avoided, and it must be considered. These facts are:
    1) The language of Quran.
    2) Qur’anic terms’ definition.
    The (verse 47 form Surah 5) must be read in light of 2 facts above.

    First, Quran was revealed in Arabic language. It uses Arabic idioms and Arabic expressions to present itself as a linguistic miracle. In this case (5:47), that verse was talking about the (PAST) not the present. As an arabic person, that’s what I understand when I read that verse. You may say the verb which is used is in the present, I would say that’s correct, but Arab use the present form to tell a story in the past to give the listener / reader a sense or a real climate about their stories that they tell. Moreover, that’s been said by many classical commentators of Quran surah Al Tabari, Al Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir, and Al Razi. Also, you may check that by reading the whole context of that veres. Allah was talking about HISTORICAL TIMELINE that he gave Moses Torah which was light and guidance, then he gave Jesus the (Injeel) which was also light and guidance. Allah commanded the people of Injeel ( who were the children of Israel in time of Jesus in this case) to Judge by it. After that, vesres continue on that Allah gave the Quran so the prophet (pbuh) can judge ( between them ) right now according to it. Also, you may see how Quran talks about the past using a command in the present form in Surah 34:12-13.
    In sum, that verse is about the past when Allah commanded the people (in time of Jesus) to accept the Injeel and to judge according to it which was(i.e Injeel) by the most reaffirming what it had been taught in Torah.

    Second, Quranic terms and idioms must be considered as well. Quran is specific when it talks about what the (Injeel) is. We can see that the (Injeel) from Quranic perspective is something given/revealed to Jesus as the Torah was given to Moses. It’s not something written about Jesus nor are they letters of Paul definitely . In fact, the (Injeel) from Quranic perspective are not words of Jesus rather it’s words of Allah revealed to Jesus. Quran even gives us some idea of how that Injeel was.
    Where?
    Quran talks about the (Example /parable) of companions of the prophet in that (Injeel) in Surah 48:29. ” And their description in the Injeel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers”. So Quran has full idea of what the (Injeel ) is.
    You may ask:
    What’s about The NT?
    The NT has something true which could be words of Allah or words of Jesus ( prophetic sayings), yet it has many alterations in it. Quran, also, is aware of that so it told us about this corruption very clearly.
    How can we read something which has been corrupted?
    By lense of Quran.
    We can find this practically when Quran gives its own versions of many stories in the bible. So Quran ,in one hand,restates these stories, but it, on other hand, gives corrections on them. For example, the story of Aaron (pbuh) that he didn’t command to build the golden calf. Instead, he condemned that act from the beginning, so the story of golden calf is true,yet not by its details. Another example is the story of creation of the heavens and the earth. Quran restates that Allah created them within six days, yetit’s done with no weariness touched Allah as Exudes (20:11) refers to.
    Surah Qaf:29 translation :
    ” And We did certainly create the heavens and earth and what is between them in six days, and there touched Us no weariness ”

    ================

    Let’s neglect all what’s been said above. Let’s deal with your analogy according to the premises you gave

    ” provide an analogy, let us say I am applying for a job, and I need a character reference. I say: ‘I am a good candidate for this job, because my former employer Bob will tell you how great I am.’ If Bob does indeed say I am great, then all well and good. But imagine I say: ‘But hold on now… Bob gets some things wrong about me. All of the good stuff he says about me is true, but any bad stuff he says about me, well Bob is making that up.’ Would it be wise for the employer to accept this? No, because by this methodology, of only accepting things that support you and rejecting anything that does not, of course you will only receive a good testimony. The method itself fixes the conclusion.”

    I would say who Bob is that you refer to? Bob himself that I know or his mates, for example? What if Bob,and just matter of the fact has alzheimer as we know who Bob is?
    Could we consider his sayings after he got alzheimer?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your discussion of the Arabic tenses is very interesting, and something I hope to look into in the future. But for the sake of this argument I asked the reader to assume premise 1.

      ‘How can we read something which has been corrupted?
      By lense of Quran.’ – This fits nicely with my premise 2.

      To your further credit, you do distinguish your response into two seconds, the latter of which more explicitly deals with that which I requested (though your earlier thoughts were very interesting).

      Bob here is the modern New Testament Gospel, which contains the true Injil (the good things Bob says), but also corruptions (the bad things Bob says). ‘Could we consider his sayings after he got alzheimer’ – if we want to use that analogy, then yes we can, according to my premise 1. According to my premise 2, anything that agrees with Islam is the true Injil, and anything bad he says can be rejected as errors due to Alzheimers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • For Richard,
      ” Bob here is the New Tastement” , then we don’t agree if who Bob is according to that verse in Quran ( this is fact) .
      =====================
      If we want talk hypothetically,
      I’d say if we acknowledge the fact that Bob got alzahimer, and many of his mates put words on his mouth later, then what would the problem be if I said anything Bob said about me, it would be good definitely for I knew him very well.
      And anything bad, that would be not his authentic sayings for the facts that we acknowledged already about him before? Especially, that no one even dare to deny my statements when I declared this.

      Like

    • For Richard,
      Where can we ask you ? ( I mean if I wanna ask you about Christianity and its doctrines) ?

      Liked by 1 person

    • The difficulty then becomes, if Bob has Alzheimers, how do I know that only the good stuff he says is correct, and not the bad stuff? Especially if the bad stuff is more weighty than the good, such that based on his testimony I am justified in not thinking well of the person Bob is giving a reference about.

      I will be creating an email account soon whereby you can send me a private message, and I would be happy to talk further about Christianity. I will let you know when this is set up.

      Like

    • ” if Bob has Alzheimers, how do I know that only the good stuff he says is correct”
      Good! That means we proceed a furthermore step, and you acknowledge tha Bob has got sever alzhemier , so the task now (we need to construct his sayings again). At this point, is there any thing circular ?
      For me, I’m so confident because I know Bob very well before he got that disease, and no one of his mates ( who put words on his mouth) could ever deny my claim at that time.
      Moreover, many experts ( in this case NT scholars) affirm that Bob before he got Alzheimer, said many good things ( in this case that Jesus didn’t claim to be god).

      Like

    • I’m only conceding Bob has alzheimers acorrding to this Islamic understanding of Bob – I would say that Bob in reality does not have alzheimers.

      But I still think it’s circular to accept only what you want from Bob, and call that genuine, and reject whatever you don’t like.

      You claim to have known Bob well before his Alzheimers – but you are trying to prove this to the employer, who does not necessarily trust you as the arbiter as to what Bob should have said if he did not have alzheimers – otherwise you could represent Bob as supporting whatever you want him to say.

      If you’re bringing in NT experts, that is a very interesting approach, but it suffers from its own problems, as I might highlight in a seperate post.

      I may not reply anymore to this particular comment chain, due to time constraints. I have realised that rather than me setting up an email address, it might be easier for you to add me on facebook – my name is evident from my username on this blog.

      Like

    • thanks for your stimulating post Richard. I look forward to future articles from you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • ” according to this Islamic understanding of Bob – I would say that Bob in reality does not have alzheimer.
      But I still think it’s circular to accept only what you want from Bob, and call that genuine, and reject whatever you don’t like.”

      Nothing circular when I command you to check my claims about Bob since that BobI knew even if you don’t trust me.
      Moreover, last time the experts whom you trust check Bob, they discovered many falsely sayings attributed to him.
      Thank you anyway, Richard. I appreciate your time.
      =========================

      Since you can read my comment here, then this is my question about christianity for you.
      ( You may answer on FB age).

      We have noticed as muslims and many others who are not muslims (i.e jews and agnostic ones) that christianity, indeed, doesn’t rely on solid logic/ rational argument rather it relies on (emotional) argument. Even Dr William Lane Craig have used this emotional argument to confront Islam and Dr Qureshi as well in his last book. They keep arguing that Christianity is true since it presents God as “All loving God”, and
      love is essence of God from eternity (as Nabeel likes to say it).

      Based on that, I’m wondering…. !
      I mean that all loving God kept teaching his the most beloved people that he’s not a man nor son of man in such that they wouldn’t even imagine that their God is a man ,yet he punished them severely because they didn’t believe he is a man dying!

      Also,the problem proceeds even further when we know that all loving God kept teaching his the most beloved people to keep the commandments to be holy/saved, and he would punish them severely if they didn’t ( and that happened many times to israelites )while that all loving God had already known the no one can be holy/saved by keeping the commandments except by his death on the cross!
      It seems for me, that “all loving god” had shackled his the most beloved people for more than 1500 years, while he commanded them to swim via vas ocean ,and If they failed, he would punish them severely.
      Therefore I’m wondering what kind of love is that ?

      Like

    • Hi Abdullah,

      Sorry this took me so long to reply to.

      I would strongly disagree – I would say that Christianity and my own Christian belief has a rational foundation. This is not to say there isn’t a (perceived) spiritual element as well, but I believe there are good rational reasons to be a Christian. Craig & Qureshi would also use reasons and evidence to argue for Christianity.

      The passage that says God is not a man nor the son of a man (Numbers 23:19) – I consider this to be irrelevant to Christian belief of the incarnation of Christ. (1) When it was spoken, the incarnation had not happened (2) no one is saying that God is naturally a man. This is instead something the Son chose to become – not what he was from eternity, and (3) the point of this passage (read it all) is that God is not like sinful, lying men. The point is about honesty, not whether God could enter a human body. I might write a blog post on this.

      I and many Christians would say that God has always wanted faith – for those in the OT, who didn’t know about Jesus but who trusted in God, God would save them. Check out Romans 3:25-26.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I find your answer is not convincing at all.
      Notice that I’m not asking about a specific belief in the OT.
      My question was why God didn’t appear in that such of love in light of ( all loving god) argument!
      Why did he carve in mind of his the most beloved people that he is not a man nor son of man if he’s going to be a man eventually !
      Why did he command them to be holy by keeping the commandments while he had already known that no one can be holy by keeping them! We are talking about more 1500 years of that teaching !
      Imagine that you describe a father as ” all loving ” and make that man be your role model while in the same time you know that he kept teaching his paralyzed boy to climb a mountain , and if he couldn’t – of course he couldn’t – tha man would punish him severely , and that happned for that boy.

      It seems Israelites got punished severly for breaking so perfect law which cannot be kept in the first place.
      They got firmly that their god is not a man dying nor can he be seen, yet they got pnished for believing the opposite!
      So , I’m not gonna ask where that ” all loving god” is , rather where is the minimum amount of love for his ” eye’s apple !”?

      Like

  17. Hi, Richard. I feel both premises need to be reformulated with more precision and substantiation.

    The terms you use in your line of reasoning are not synonymous; for example, true Injeel is not the same as the teachings of Jesus. More than the teachings of Jesus, the true Injeel may have contained for instance detailed stories of prophets that could not be determined as true or false if they’re not narrated in the Qur’an. You also assume the true Injeel even if edited is within the Gospels.

    I believe these points and others found in comments above mine need to be taken into consideration if you are to present or tackle a sound syllogistic argument.

    Like

    • As for precision, quite possibly – yes I’m afraid I’m not very good at formulating premises, I am no philosopher.

      As for substantiation – I would only need to do this if I were trying to persuade you outright of the falsehood of Islam. I am not trying to do this. I was merely asking readers to assume my premises and see if the conclusion followed.

      ‘More than the teachings of Jesus, the true Injeel may have contained for instance detailed stories of prophets that could not be determined as true or false if they’re not narrated in the Qur’an.’ – Sorry if I wasn’t clear – let me instead speak of the message of Jesus, which would include such stories, as well as Jesus’ ethical and religious precepts.

      If it’s not narrated in the Qur’an, then sure, we can’t know what the full Injil is. But the fact still remains, according to the argument, that what the Qur’an does say can be used to regulate much of what the modern four NT Gospels do say.

      ‘You also assume the true Injeel even if edited is within the Gospels.’ – I do indeed assume this (I ask my readers to assume premise 1), but also, Paul Williams argues this (or at least that some of the true Injil is within the Gospels, even if not the whole thing). Paul Williams is the primary person I wrote this article in response to. Different Muslims have presented different understandings of the Injil to me.

      ‘I believe these points and others found in comments above mine need to be taken into consideration if you are to present or tackle a sound syllogistic argument.’ – I am no philosopher, and I didn’t have the time or energy to formulate the syllogism as tightly as perhaps I could have – but I thought I was sufficiently clear to get my point across.

      Like

    • Thanks for answering.

      Semantics and possible approximations in the premises aside, the argument is sound in my opinion.

      Looking forward to seeing it presented in more detail, as I don’t think the Qur’an makes it.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Hi everyone,

    Thank you for all your thoughts – even if I didn’t address all your points due to the limited scope of this blog post, I found your comments very interesting 🙂 thank you.

    My most common response above was that I did ask initially that premise 1 be assumed – this is both because I am not 100% certain of premise 1, because it would take too long and be too long to defend it in the same post, and also because I am happy discussing hypotheticals.

    Premise 1 partly inspired by my reading on the matter, both primary and secondary material.

    But it was also inspired by the approach of Paul Williams’ in his recent talk on ‘Giving daw’ah to Christians’, which can be read here – https://bloggingtheology.net/2016/09/07/giving-dawah-to-christians/ . He seems to be appealing to Christians to find the true Injil in the current NT Gospels, and uses this as evidence for the truth of Islam. I am not sure whether he thinks this is a Qur’anic methodology – perhaps I should rephrase my premise 1 to be ‘The Qur’an and/or Paul Williams’ methodology…’

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Hi Richard, just a quick metaphorical ‘pat on the back’ for initiating and steering such an intellectual and thought provoking thread! Christian apologists should learn from you how to further Muslim/Christian dialogue. Both sides can strongly disagree without turning it into a mud slinging match.
    sam shomoun, david wood and co, please take note! This is how debates are conducted!
    And well done Paul for encouraging diversity in the articles published on your blog😀👏👏

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Greetings Richard,

    Thanks for the well-articulated post.

    I would like to make 2 points in response to your post:
    1. Another approach to Premise 2.
    2. Bob is one individual but NT has many sources

    Point 1: Another approach to Premise 2:
    —————————————————-
    Many Christians during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad and even after him, saw that his message was a restoration of the pure monotheism of all the Prophets before him. They felt that the community he established and the successful spread of his mission across the lands was the fulfilment of prophetic passages in their scriptures. Thus from their perspective (as well as the perspective of Jews that recognized his mission), it was not circular reasoning. From their perspective, by witnessing fulfilment of prophecies with them, they recognized the truth of his mission.

    Point 2: Bob is one individual but NT has many sources:
    ———————————————————————–
    I feel the analogy with Bob and the NT is inaccurate. In your example, Bob is clearly one individual. But the NT has multiple authors. And even the authors have multiple sources. For example, in the first verse of the Gospel of Luke, we are told that many have already written about this subject:

    “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us…” [Luke 1:1]

    Since the NT has many authors and the authors have different sources it is not a collection of one narrative but multiple narratives.So some of the narratives can actually go back to Jesus while others may not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d like to add one more bit of information.

      In the epistle of Jude there is a quote attributed to Enoch. This quote may be from the apocryphal Book of Enoch(BOE) or Jewish oral tradition(JOT)

      Thus J which is considered canon quotes BOE/JOT which is not canon.

      Christians accept J as completely true and inerrant. But they see BOE/JOT as only true partially but has many falsehoods.

      From this, Christian commentators have seen that there can be sources such as BOE/JOT that have genuine prophetic content (such as the segment quoted in J) while still containing falsehoods.

      Like

    • I agree. The analogy with Bob and the NT is inaccurate. The 4 Gospels in NT are not ex-employer.
      Probably more like 4 job-descriptions by other people, not the employer. While you (Qur’an) claim to have an authentic employer’s reference. Then the new employer has to decide. Bob cannot be interviewed. Bob is dead.

      Like

  21. Taha you made an interesting point but not entirely accurate.
    In Surah 7:157 and 61:6 th Quran explicitly states that Muhammad can be found in the Torah and Injil of the Jews and Christians, however unlike the New Testament quoting directly from the Hebrew Bible to support the role of Jesus, the Quran makes no quotes or suggestions as to where exactly in these scriptures Muhammad can be found.

    On top of that, there are other references such as in Surah 5 where Jews and Christians are asked to maintain what is found in their scriptures. There is no indication anywhere in the Quran that it came to supersede the previous scriptures, if anything the Quran is asking people to believe in all the scriptures and to continue following them. From the Quranic perspective there was no contradiction between what it was saying and what the Bible says. My guess is because Muhammad simply didn’t read the Bible so assumed that everything would be in line and clear cut anyway. That’s not necessarily a problem, the problem is with the Muslim scholars who came after Muhammad and injected their own ways of thinking into the Quran and Islamic thought in general, in a similar way as to how the Trinity came to invade Christian thought in general.

    One example of this is something someone mentioned above about Muslims rejecting David’s adultery. Just because you can’t handle such a story it doesn’t make it false. I can imagine that when the Bible was finally translated for Muslim scholars to read they were surprised to hear stories about such great prophets so just rejected it simply because they didn’t like what they heard. That is no basis to reject a story. I don’t see any reason why Jews would make up such a story about David and the sins of other prophets, because in Judaism David is held in such a high regard as the greatest King of Israel despite his adultery issue. David like all the other prophets was a human being who was susceptible to sin when he turned his thoughts away from God. The Quran itself is completely silent on this issue and I have never seen anywhere the Quran criticising Jews or Christians for mocking the prophets in their scriptures. In fact it seems to me that the Quran acknowledges that the prophets including Muhammad were capable or did sin at some point. For example Muhammad is told to ask for forgiveness on a few occasions in the Quran. The only exception to this would be Jesus Christ who is said by the Quran to have been born a pure boy, and in a Hadith where Muhammad said that everyone is touched by Satan when they are born except for Jesus and his mother.

    The Quran encourages Jews and Christians to look at their own texts to affirm its own truth, or it at least assumes that they will believe in it anyway, for example
    Surah 3:113 – They are not [all] the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer].

    3:199 – And indeed, among the People of the Scripture are those who believe in Allah and what was revealed to you and what was revealed to them, [being] humbly submissive to Allah . They do not exchange the verses of Allah for a small price. Those will have their reward with their Lord. Indeed, Allah is swift in account.

    28:52-53 – Those to whom We gave the Scripture before it – they are believers in it. And when it is recited to them, they say, “We have believed in it; indeed, it is the truth from our Lord. Indeed we were, [even] before it, Muslims [submitting to Allah ].” (Notice that is says “we were Muslims before it”, i.e the Jews and Christians were Muslims before the Quran was revealed. They already did and still do submit to the will of God)

    4:162 – But those firm in knowledge among them and the believers believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you…

    Whether Surah 3:113 is talking about the Quranic recitation or Biblical recitation I don’t know, but whichever one it is stills supports my statement that either the Quran assumes people of the book will already believe in it when they hear it or read it or that they can believe in all the texts in the same way, without saying that one replaces another.

    Regardless though, the Quran says on multiple occasions (such as what I quoted above but also Surah 2:62, 5:69 and more) that righteous Jews and Christians who believe in God have nothing to fear. If their texts were really that bad I cannot imagine the Quran even supporting it or saying such good things about it, or even mentioning that Muhammad can be found in what is still with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You mentioned “I have never seen anywhere the Quran criticising Jews or Christians for mocking the prophets in their scriptures.”

      The Quran explicitly and emphatically exonerates King Solomon from the charge of committing acts of Kufr. While in the Bible he is accused of idolatry.

      Also, when the Quran speaks of righteous individuals from the People of the Book, this does not mean that all the scriptures in their presence are intact and absolutely pure and free from errors. Think of it this way, before the Prophet received revelation, there were Jews and Christians who believed in the One God, worshipped Him alone and did not associate partners with Him. These people cannot be held accountable for the sins of others who distorted the scriptures. These people tried to follow God’s guidance as best they could and would be rewarded for that. As for those among them who lived long enough to see Islam or to who received the message of Islam, ended up accepting it because they saw Islam as the culmination of the truth that was with them.

      This would include people like Abdullah b Salam, Salman Farsi, Najashi and others.

      Like

    • Hi Thinkwell,

      I haven’t had the time to defend the points you make in detail, but I (at least broadly, I haven’t read all of the details) agree with them, and I thank you for posting.

      Like

  22. Hi everyone,

    I’m really sorry I haven’t responded to everyone’s comments above, but I have read through them, and I just wanted to thank you all for the very fruitful dialogue. Life is very busy at the moment, but I hope to come back to this thread in the future and consider these comments in more detail 🙂

    Blessings

    Liked by 1 person

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