In my comments on Daniel Pipes’ article on Allah and God yesterday, I wrote this:
It is not actually Islamic doctrine that, as Pipes says, “Moses and Jesus introduced mistakes to the Word of God.” Their followers did that. The Qur’an, addressing Muhammad and the Muslims, says of the Jews: “Have ye any hope that they will be true to you when a party of them used to listen to the word of Allah, then used to change it, after they had understood it, knowingly?” (2:75). This verse, combined with the fact that the Old and New Testaments do not bear witness to Muhammad as he expected, have led mainstream Muslim theologians to extend the charge of willfully perverting the Scriptures to Christians as well, although the charge is not made against Christians in the Qur’an.
In response, a frequent reader of Jihad Watch wrote this to me:
I’ve never really heard a Muslim ever say that
the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament were transmitted
perfectly at first, and only later corrupted. They don’t give the
Bible even that much credit, it seems.
While this is true of many — particularly modern — Muslim commentators, it is not true across the board. Why does this matter? Because if, as Pipes says, “Moses and Jesus introduced mistakes to the Word of God,” their followers cannot be held responsible. But if it was the followers who supposedly corrupted what had been pure Scriptures, then they bear the guilt for their act. And indeed, one of the meanings in Arabic of the word dhimmi is guilty people. One of the sources of their guilt is this alleged corruption of the Scriptures — which indicates how deeply the concepts of the dhimma are embedded within Islam. (And for the thousandth time, if that is not faced it cannot be dealt with. If Muslim reformers are sincere, let them acknowledge this and work to eradicate it.)
Anyway, here is some evidence for my position. Not only have Muslims said to me personally that the Torah (Taurat) and Gospel (Injil) were transmitted perfectly at first, and only later corrupted, it is in the Qur’an:
“And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah – a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil).” (5:46)
This verse assumes an uncorrupted Injil (containing “guidance and light”) given to Jesus, confirming an uncorrupted Taurat given to Moses.
Cf. the classic Qur’an commentator Ibn Kathir on Qur’an 5:13:
“They change the words from their (right) places…) Since their comprehension became corrupt, they behaved treacherously with Allah’s Ayat, altering His Book from its apparent meanings which He sent down, and distorting its indications. They attributed to Allah what He did not say, and we seek refuge with Allah from such behavior.”
Thus Allah sent it down perfectly to Moses, and the Jews supposedly later altered it “from its apparent meanings which He sent down.”
Likewise also another classic commentary, or tafsir, that of Al-Tabari, on Qur’an 2:75:
“…God states that it was a group of those who heard God’s speech who did the altering [thereby] stressing the gravity of the lie they brought, after He had confirmed the proof and demonstration for them; and He notified His believing servants of the vanity of their hopes about the faith of their surviving descendants in the truth, light, and guidance which Muhammad brought them. Thus He said to them: ‘How can you expect these Jews to affirm your truthfulness, when you inform them by what you tell them of something invisible which they have not witnessed or seen? Some of them heard from God His command and prohibition, then changed it and altered it and denied it. Those of their surviving descendants who are among you are more likely to deny the truth you have brought them, not having heard it from God but only from you; and it is more probable that they will alter the qualities and description of your prophet, Muhammad, in their scriptures, and change them wittingly, and then deny him and give him the lie. [They are more likely to do this than their predecessors who heard the speech of God directly from God; they altered it after they had understood it and known it, intentionally altering it]…”
“They heard from God His command and prohibition” — which means they received it uncorrupted — “and then they changed it and altered it and denied it.” “They” of course obviously refers here to the Jews, not to Moses.
Here also is Ibn Kathir on Qur’an 5:46:
“…We made the Injil guidance and an admonition that prohibits committing sins and errors, for those who have Taqwa of Allah and fear His warning and torment. Allah said next, (Let the people of the Injil judge by what Allah has revealed therein.) meaning, so that He judges the people of the Injil by it in their time. Or, the Ayah means, so that they believe in all that is in it and adhere to all its commands, including the good news about the coming of Muhammad and the command to believe in and follow him when he is sent.”
If people were ever to judge by the Injil, it must in this view have existed uncorrupted at some point.
In fact, some ancient Muslim commentators insist that the Gospel was never corrupted. This doesn’t mitigate Christian guilt — these commentators see the Christian refusal to accept Muhammad as conferring guilt upon them in any case. Often they see the Christian New Testament as it stands as bearing witness to Muhammad, and charge the Christians with perversity for not acknowledging that. Here is Ibn Khazem, writing in 1064 AD:
Since the Quran must be true it must be the conflicting Gospel texts that are false. But Muhammad tells us to respect the Gospel. Therefore, the present text must have been falsified by the Christians after the time of Muhammad….The Christians lost the revealed Gospel except for a few traces which God has left intact as argument against them.
Other authorities who accepted the Injil as authentic: Al-Tabari, Amr al-Ghakhiz, Al-Bukhari, Al-Mas’udi, Abu Ali Husain Bin Sina, Al-Ghazzali, Ibn Khaldun, and more recently, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, about whom I wrote in Onward Muslim Soldiers. He wrote: “In the opinion of us Mohammedans it is not proved that corruption (tahrif-i-lafzi)…was practiced.” Likewise Fakhruddin Razi: “The Jews and early Christians were suspected of altering the text of the Taurat and Injil; but in the opinion of eminent doctors and theologians it was not practicable thus to corrupt the text, because those Scriptures were generally known and widely circulated, having been handed down from generation to generation.”
The upshot of all this is that it reinforces the idea, as Pipes puts it, that “Islam views Judaism and Christianity as flawed versions of itself, correct on essentials but wrong in important details.” No non-Muslim should enter into “inter-faith dialogue” without a clear awareness of that fact.