Stories of Prophets in the Quran & Previous Scriptures

24 August, 2020
Q Assalamu'alaikum, dear brother/sister. As we know, Allah told Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) about the stories of the previous messengers. My question is: Before Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came, did the messengers know each other's stories truthfully? For example, the Jews have distorted the actual events of what happened in the stories. They accused Harun (pbuh) for making the calf that Samiri made. They accused Lut (pbuh) for committing incest. They accused Nuh (pbuh) for getting drunk and exposing his awrah. They accused Dawud (pbuh) for committing adultery, and many other accusations. At the time of Zakariyya, Yahya, and 'Isa (pbut), did they know about these false accusations toward previous apostles of Allah? If they did, they would've known that the Torah was already corrupted, and they would've said something and clarified the stories. If they didn't, then they didn't realize that the Torah was already corrupted. If, however, the authentic Torah was still preserved in the time of 'Isa (pbuh), then does that mean the Torah we have today (in the Bible's Old Testament) was corrupted during the course of 600+ years between 'Isa and Muhammad (pbut)? And at what point in time was the original Torah lost and today's Torah came about? Of course, my knowledge in this field is limited, so I might not get all the facts correctly. Will you shed light on this matter? Thank you.

Answer

Short Answer:

  • Muslims believe that each Prophet was given a book to support him in conveying the message to his people.
  • The original divine revelations were preserved during the lifetime of Prophets. Later and after the death of the prophets, the followers of each prophet started to distort the original revelation.
  • So, it is safe to conclude that all the original copies of the gospels are lost. What we have today are just handwritten copies based on replications taken from the original revelation.
  • Therefore, it is not acceptable that a prophet remains silent while seeing his book being distorted or corrupted.

………….

Salam dear questioner,


Thank you for your question.


Belief in Prophets and Messengers: An Article of the Muslim Faith


Muslims believe that belief in the prophets and messengers is one of the six articles of the Islamic faith. Allah sent messengers and prophets to guide people. Allah sent messengers to every nation and they came one after the other. We read in the Quran:


{Then We sent Our messengers in succession. Every time there came to a nation its messenger, they denied him, so We made them follow one another [to destruction], and We made them narrations. So away with a people who do not believe.} (Quran 23:44)


{Indeed, We have sent you with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And there was no nation but that there had passed within it a warner.} (Quran 35:24)


{And We have already sent messengers before you. Among them are those [whose stories] We have related to you, and among them are those [whose stories] We have not related to you. And it was not for any messenger to bring a sign [or verse] except by permission of Allah. So when the command of Allah comes, it will be concluded in truth, and the falsifiers will thereupon lose [all].}(Quran 40:78)

Names of Messengers in the Quran


Allah the Almighty named twenty-five of those Messengers and told us the stories of some of them. We read in the Quran:


{Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Descendants, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the book [of Psalms]. And [We sent] messengers about whom We have related [their stories] to you before and messengers about whom We have not related to you. And Allah spoke to Moses with [direct] speech. [We sent] messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have no argument against Allah after the messengers. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.} (Quran 4:163-165)

These are the names of the messengers mentioned in the Quran:

Adam, Idris, Nuh, Hud, Salih, Ibrahim, Lut, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqub, Yusuf, Ayyub, Shuayb, Musa, Harun, Yunus, Dawud, Sulayman, Ilyas, Al-Yasa‘, Zakariya, Yahya,Isa, Dhul-Kifl and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

The messengers about whom we have not related to you’ mean there are other messengers who are not mentioned in the Quran and their stories are not recorded in the Quran.


Muslims’ Duties towards the Prophets and Messengers


As we mentioned above, Muslims have to believe in all prophets and messengers sent by Allah to guide people to His path. Muslims should not discriminate between any of them. We read in
the Quran:


{The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.”} (Quran 2:285)

All prophets and messengers conveyed the message of tawhid (Oneness of Allah). The message
taught by Adam is the same message taught by Nuh, Hud, Lut, Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Idris, Musa,Isa and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).


Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made it clear that his did not come with a new message or invented a new religion. Allah says:


{Say, “I am not something original among the messengers, nor do I know what will be done
with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear
warner.”} (Quran 46:9)


The common message of all prophets is: ‘Worship Allah alone and do not associate others with him.’


Stories of the Prophets in the Quran


Muslims believe that the Quran is not a book of history. The stories of the Prophets in the Quran are not detailed biographies of their lives. The Quran mentions the key points of the lives of the messengers. The stories of the messengers are like guidance for Muslims. We read in the Quran:


{There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur’an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.} (Quran 12:111)

The Quran describes the stories of the Prophets as the best of stories.


{We relate to you, [O Muhammad], the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur’an although you were, before it, among the unaware.} (Quran 12:3)


The stories of the Prophets were not known in Arabia and they were matters of the unseen for
the people of Arabia. Even the Prophet himself did not know about them. We read in the Quran:


{That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal, [O Muhammad], to you. And you were not with them when they put together their plan while they conspired.} (Quran 12:102)


It is not acceptable that the Prophet knew these stories from the Jews for the simple reason that many of these stories were revealed in Makkan chapters and the Jews lived in Madinah. Also, the Prophet did not have any contact with the Jews before his migration to Madinah.


Structure of the Prophet’s Stories


Upon reading the Quran, we can figure out that the stories of the Prophets are narrated in small pieces and over several chapters. The only exception to this rule is the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) which occupies one chapter (see Chapter 12).


Stores of Prophets in Previous Scriptures


Muslims believe that the stories of the prophets and messengers in the previous scriptures are fake stories. The narration of the prophets in the Quran is different from that of the Torah and the Gospel. The Bible, for example, describes some of the Prophets as drunkards and as conducting illicit relationships. Muslims reject these stories and consider them slanderous. These stories are clear evidence that the Biblical stories have been distorted beyond comprehension.


Muslims believe only in the original revelation of the Jews and the Christians. With the passage of time, these revelations were distorted. Muslims believe that the hands of historians and translators have touched these books. Many things were added or deleted to these books according to the beliefs of each historian or translator. The Quran confirms the corruption of these books at the hands of its followers.


{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.} (Quran 2:79)


Were the Previous Scriptures Corrupted during the Lifetime of Prophets?


Muslims believe that each Prophet was given a book to support him in conveying the message to his people. The original divine revelations were preserved during the lifetime of Prophets. Later and after the death of the prophets, the followers of each prophet started to distort the original revelation.

Take the example of the Bible. Muslims believe that the Bible does not exist in the language it was revealed. The existing Bible is a collection of writings written at different periods of history and by different writers. Therefore, there has been human interference in the text.


Many gospels were written in the first and second century of the Common Era. Only four gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John) were included in the official canon during the 4th century of the Common Era and are found today in every version of the Bible.


So, it is safe to conclude that all the original copies of the gospels are lost. What we have today are just handwritten copies based on replications taken from the original revelation.


Therefore, it is not acceptable that a prophet remains silent while seeing his book being distorted or corrupted.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

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About Dr. Mohsen Haredy
Dr. Mohsen Haredy holds a PhD in Hadith literature from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is the former Executive Manager and Editor-in-Chief of E-Da`wah Committee in Kuwait, and a contributing writer and counselor of Reading Islam. He graduated from Al-Azhar University and earned his MA in Hadith literature from Leiden University.