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How the Quran Differs From the Bible

How the Quran Differs From the Bible

It is a common allegation by Christians that the Quran is a mere copy of the Bible; that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) simply plagiarized “his” book from the pages of the Bible.

It is true that Prophet Muhammad received the Quran AFTER the Bible came into existence; and it is also true that the books of the Bible and the Quran cover much common ground. But the conclusion of the Christian critics that the Prophet had studied the Bible with a view to copying its verses in order to somehow fabricate the Quran is absurd and untenable for the reasons discussed below.

Arabic Bible

First, there was no Arabic translation of the Bible available during the Prophet’s time, as Ernst Würthwein informs us in his book, The Text of the Old Testament:

With the victory of Islam the use of Arabic spread widely and for Jews and Christians in the conquered lands it became the language of daily life. This gave rise to the need of Arabic versions of the Bible, which need was met by a number of versions mainly independent and concerned primarily for interpretation. (Würthwein 104)

Thus, the first translations of the Hebrew Bible in Arabic appeared after the advent of Islam. In fact, the oldest dated manuscript of the Old Testament in Arabic dates from the first half of the ninth century.

What about the New Testament?

Sidney H. Griffith, who has done extensive research on the appearance of Arabic and the New Testament says that

The oldest dated manuscript containing the Gospels in Arabic is Sinai Arabic MS 72. Here the text of the four canonical Gospels is marked off according to the lessons of the temporal cycle of the Greek liturgical calendar of the Jerusalem Church. A colophon informs us that the MS was written by Stephen of Ramleh in the year 284 of the Arabs, i.e., 897 AD. (Griffith 131–132)

And Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had died in the first half of the seventh century, to be specific, in 632 CE.

Unlettered Prophet

Second, it would be ironic if the unlettered Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) could have studied and assimilated all the sources—Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Hanif, and ancient Arab beliefs—before he compiled the Quran. Indeed his illiteracy was acknowledged even by the enemies of Islam 1,400 years ago. And there is no record of the pagan Arabs in Makkah accusing Muhammad of pretending to be illiterate while actually being literate.

Allah the Almighty also answered this in the Quran:

{And thou wast not [able] to recite a Book before this [Book came] nor art thou [able] to transcribe it with thy right hand: in that case indeed would the talkers of vanities have doubted. Nay here are signs self-evident in the hearts of those endowed with knowledge: and none but the unjust reject Our signs.} (Al-`Ankabut 29:48–49).

About Professor Shahul Hameed

Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.

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