Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
Reading the Bible is permissible provided that the Muslim has much knoledge about the Islamic rulings and teachings of the Quran.
In his response to your question about reading the Bible by Muslims, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade Muslims from reading the Bible at the time of revealing the Quran. The Prophet did so in order to ensure that they do not mix up the two.
The above inference can be made from the fact that the Quran itself tells the believers to ask the Jews to produce the Torah and recite it.
This definitely proves that Muslims are not banned from either reading or listening to the Bible, if a need arises.
Prophet Muhammad also instructed Zayd ibn Thabit to learn the languages of the Christian and Jewish scriptures. Zayd did s0 in order for him to understand their communications. He also made use of the experts in these scripture on various occasions.
Furthermore, it is important for us to know that as the Quran states categorically that it has been revealed to confirm the previous scriptures, including the Torah and the Gospel, and as a corrective, to preserve the pristine truths revealed to the earlier prophets.
Thus, the Quran refers to itself as a clear book, a source of light, and guidance. The Quran sheds light on many issues that the People of the Book dispute, and have fallen into dissensions.
Prophet Muhammad said, “I have brought (the religious message) as crystal clear.”
It is worth mentioning that the above description of the Quranic message has also been confirmed by the impressions of the many eminent personalities who have converted to Islam from Judaism and Christianity.
In conclusion, if you are a Muslim thoroughly grounded in the Quran, you may read the Bible. Many of our eminent scholars have done that in order to explain and compare the teachings of both scriptures.
Allah Almighty knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.