Many of the Prophets of Islam are the same ones you can read about in the Bible. Often their stories are similar but more often than not, their stories in Quran give details not touched upon in the Bible.
Sometimes the characteristics of the Prophets in the Quran are very different and it is as if the Biblical figures have been reimagined.
Believing in all of God’s prophets is one of the pillars of faith and thus Prophets and Messengers hold a place of special significance in Islam.
A Prophet is a person who spreads God’s good news, the message that He is One, without partners or associates.
A Messenger, on the other hand, is a Prophet who has come to a specific group of people with a specific mission usually to implement or change God’s laws.
Muslims believe that the revelations that came to the Jews and the Christians were originally God’s word but that over time they have been distorted or forgotten. On some occasions the behaviors of the Prophets have been distorted to such an extent they are almost unrecognizable to Muslims.
Prophets are people who stand out amongst the righteous. Their lives are conducted in such a way that they attract people to the message they proclaim. While they are infallible in the ways they spread God’s message, they are human and they can make minor mistakes or forget things that are connected to worldly affairs.
It is inconceivable to a Muslim that the Bible describes some of the Prophets as drunkards, and even describes one of them as conducting incestuous relationships. These stories are considered slanderous and only serve as evidence that the Biblical stories have been distorted beyond comprehension.
While Biblical traditions tell us that Noah was a virtuous man, the Quran goes further and says that he was a shining example of righteousness in a time rife with lawlessness and sin. Noah’s narrative in the Bible is remarkably consistent with his story in the Quran with two notable exceptions.
The first relates to the people who entered the ark. The flood, that the Bible says was sent to destroy all life and wickedness, is downscaled to a regional event in the Quran.
According to the Bible, the only human beings saved were Noah and his extended family, however, Quran explains that there were others who accepted God’s message and they too were saved in the ark.
The scholars of Islam differ as to their number but some say up to 80 non family members entered the ark with Noah and his family. In addition to this Quran gives us more detail by explaining that Noah’s wife did not enter the ark because she chose not to believe in her husband’s mission, in fact we are told in Quran that she acted treacherously.
The Quran’s account of the flood says Noah had four sons, not three as is mentioned in the Bible. We are told that one of them was not a true believer and chose to seek protection from the flood on a high mountain.
Although Noah pleaded for him, God refused to intervene and change the son’s mind. It is interesting to note that although the son appears to believe in the coming flood he chooses not to obey God’s instructions.
The second notable difference in the two Noah narratives is one that upsets Muslims and confirms to them that God’s revelations before the Quran have certainly been corrupted. After the flood, the Bible tells us, Noah became the first wine maker. On one occasion he became drunk and slept naked causing his sons much consternation. We are even lead to believe that the drunken Noah cursed his grandson to slavery.
The Quran and Islamic sources never give any indication that Noah was anything other than a man dedicated to the cause of God and a beacon of hope to all the people he came in contact with. The idea that he should lose his wits due to drunkenness is impossible to contemplate.
The Biblical account of Prophet Lot once again describes one of God’s chosen prophets, and relative of the patriarch Prophet Abraham, as little more than an unthinking drunkard.
The Quran however gives us a brief description of a righteous man trying consistently and urgently to convince the townsfolk to give up their sinful ways.
In Quran we learn that Abraham had expressed his concern for his nephew Lot to God and consequently two messengers (angels) were dispatched to warn Lot of the coming destruction of Sodom.
Lot’s story is not told consecutively but found across several chapters of the Quran. Both the Biblical and Islamic narratives are similar but a number of details are sufficiently different to make us think we may be talking about a different person.
In both the Bible and the Quran Lot confronts the depravity and lawlessness of his city. Astonishingly at the end of the Biblical narrative Lot is described as a drunkard engaging in sexual relations with his own daughters.
Islam says that as the messengers approached Sodom they met one of Lot’s daughters at a river and she succeeded in getting them to wait there for her father. However they would not be dissuaded from entering the town and Lot manages to get them secretly into his home.
His wife however, who was mentioned in Quran, along with Noah’s wife as a treacherous woman, was able to let the townspeople know that Lot had visitors. Soon there were mobs of people outside Lot’s home crowding in and being disorderly, demanding to see the guests.
In the Biblical story, Lot offers these men his daughters in return for them leaving his guests alone. In Quran however a distressed and overwhelmed man pleads with the crowd to look to the women of Sodom and make lawful marriages.
Islam completely rejects the idea that a Prophet of God would throw his daughters into a crowd of threatening men. In a word, it is unthinkable, a further proof that some of the stories of our righteous predecessors have been either deliberately changed or unknowingly distorted beyond recognition.
The Quran ends the story of Lot with the destruction of the town. Lot’s wife is not turned to a pillar of stone or salt; she simply does not accompany them as they leave. Lot is instructed however not to turn around, and to prevent his family from turning around as he walks at the rear of the procession.
The Bible disappointingly goes on to tell a short story about an incestuous relationship, or two, that took place in a cave with Lot featuring as a drunken man being sexually active with his own daughters. To associate behavior such as this with a Prophet is so far from the realms of possibility, it is only worth mentioning as evidence of story dangerously distorted.
If a people know and understand the Prophets only as they are depicted in the Bible, they will be refreshingly reassured by the Quranic stories that, almost without exception, fill in hitherto unknown details and depict the prophets as men of righteousness and worthy role models.
(From Discovering Islam archive)