- To The Muslim Reader
I believe that there is only one God who created the universe, the earth and all that is in it. I believe that the Creator loves all people and wants them to know, love and serve only the Creator. I believe that the Creator is a spiritual being that speaks to all of us by inspiring a few chosen people to speak and record the Creator’s words for the rest of humanity. We call these people prophets. True prophets are those who truly are inspired by the Creator. But there are also false prophets – those who claim to speak the Creator’s words but who are mistaken or lying.
I also believe that the Bible is the inspired word of the Creator. The Bible is comprised of two segments. First came the Old Testament which both Jews and Christians believe is the inspired word of the Creator. Next came the New Testament which Christians believe is the word of the Creator that was given in addition to the Old Testament.
I am told that Muslims believe all of these things too. In several chapters of the Koran, Mohammad endorsed the Jewish and Christian Bible (called the Tavrat and Injeel in the Koran) as sources of good guidance for the Muslim and as books that were in agreement with the Koran. If Mohammad was truly a prophet of the Creator, his statements on this issue would have to be accurate. Therefore, it seems to me that Muslims, Christians and Jews should all be able to accept that the Bible that existed when Mohammad spoke these words was an accurate source of guidance from the one true God. Several specific examples of verses where the Bible was endorsed are found in Surah 3 (The Family of Imran) which was one of the last chapters delivered by Mohammad. As this Surah was the third-from-the-last of the Koran chapters that Mohammad delivered, there is no reason to believe that these verses were ever abrogated – that is; they were the final statement from Mohammad on the question.
Some Muslim teachers claim that the Bible that is used today has been corrupted. However, if Surah 3 was accurate and if its verses were never abrogated, can any Muslim reasonably deny that the Bible that existed in Mohammad’s day was the one referred to by Mohammad in the Koran? That is, if the Bible was already corrupted at that time, wouldn’t Mohammad have been wrong in saying that the Bible was a good source of guidance and light? If Mohammad was wrong in this, could he have truly been a prophet of the Creator? If Mohammad was not wrong when he said these things, wouldn’t that mean that any corruption that has happened to the Bible occurred after Mohammad’s time?
There is in existence today literally thousands of copies of all or significant parts of the Bible that have been scientifically dated to times well before the birth of Mohammad. Some of these documents, such as the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, are dated nearly to the time of Jesus (Isa to many Muslims). All of these ancient Biblical documents are amazingly consistent in the original languages. Admittedly, there are a few minor discrepancies, but there are no significant differences between the meaning in the various ancient texts. Nor is there any significant differences between the ancient texts and the Bible which is used currently by Jews and Christians.
Most of us are aware that different translations of documents can be worded in different ways, particularly when the translator is attempting to convey the meaning in the clearest possible way to the reader within the constraints of a language that is different from the original. Vocabulary and syntax can vary greatly between the original language and the language into which the text is translated. This means that word-by-word translation from the original language can appear like gibberish in the language into which the text is translated. This is true of both the Koran and the Bible which have both been translated into a multitude of languages. Apparent discrepancies appearing in different translations of the ancient texts are inevitable and cannot possibly be avoided. This fact explains most of the so-called discrepancies between the Bible of today and that used at Mohammad’s time. If they are honest, Muslims must admit that similar discrepancies exist between different translations of the Koran.
Another thing that is true of Islam, Judaism and Christianity is that there is a great deal of concern among the followers of each ideology to ensure that the source documents used and the translations derived from the source documents convey the original meaning of the text in the clearest possible way. Obviously, then, there is every reason to believe that the Bible used today conveys the same message as the Bible that Mohammad endorsed in the Koran and Sunnah. When we hear someone say that the Bible is corrupted, I believe it is fair to ask for specific examples that show a significant change in meaning between the ancient texts of the Bible and the text being used today.
Some Muslim scholars suggest that the words Mohammad used to describe the Bible (Tavrat and Injeel) do not refer to the Old and New Testaments. However, I have found no evidence that they can produce any commonly-accepted alternative. Some of these people claim that the Tavrat is limited to the Torah or Pentateuch and does not include many of the other Old Testament books. However, the Koran specifically mentions the Psalms and also talks about several of the Prophets mentioned in the remaining books of the Old Testament. Again, these objectors can offer no proof of their position. While I am not a serious student of the Koran, I do not find their arguments valid or even particularly lucid. In fact, they seem to me to simply be attempts to explain the inexplicable.
While it can no longer be denied that Mohammad repeatedly endorsed the Bible in the Koran verses he delivered, I can find no place in the Koran where Mohammad suggested that the Bible was corrupted. It seems to me that this suggestion comes from Islamic spokesmen that lived long after Mohammad died – again attempting to explain the inexplicable. Mohammad did say in several places in the Koran that many Jews and Christians fail to meet the standards of behaviour advocated in the Bible. He also suggested that some Jews and Christians misrepresented the content of the Bible. I suggest that most Jewish and Christian leaders would heartily agree with both these allegations. Again similar things can be said of large numbers of Muslims. But I cannot see where Mohammad did anything but support the truth and accuracy of the Bible as it existed in his day and (as I have shown above) as it exists today.
Because of the facts stated above, I am confronted with many significant differences between the stories about prominent figures in the Bible and the Koran. A hugely-significant example is the issue of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus; which Mohammad denies in the Koran and which the New Testament (Injeel to many Muslims) reports in all four Gospels. The Koran also specifically denies that Jesus was God Incarnate, which is the central Christian belief about Jesus; a claim that is made in multiple places in the New Testament. On the other hand, the Koran agrees with the Bible that Jesus was born to the virgin Mary (Miriam to many Muslims); that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah; and that Jesus performed many miracles including healing lepers, and raising the dead.
There are many other discrepancies between the Bible and the Koran. I will only give a few examples. In the Bible, Mary, the mother of Jesus was recorded as a descendant of Judah through David. In the Koran she is depicted as a descendant of Levi, Judah’s brother, through Amram (Imran to many Muslims). The Koran depicts Mary as a wife or close relative of Zechariah (another Levite) while the Bible calls her the wife of Joseph and the daughter of Heli (who was of the Davidic line of Judah). Mary was also recorded in the Bible as a relative of Elizabeth who was the only wife of the only Zechariah mentioned in the Biblical story relating to Mary and the conception and birth of Jesus. The exact relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is not defined in the Bible but Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist (Yahya to many Muslims). There was also a prophet named Zachariah mentioned in the Bible but he lived several hundred years before Mary.
Mohammad claimed that the New Testament (Injeel) was given to Jesus (Isa). Yet there is nothing in the New Testament that was written or recited by Jesus (although there are a large number of quotations and paraphrases of his words). Nor is there any mention in any document outside the Koran of a book that was given to Jesus or provided by Jesus to his followers. It is totally unreasonable to suggest or even to think that the only book provided to Christians by their acknowledged Messiah and Savior could have been completely lost and totally forgotten by his followers. Likewise, if Jesus was truly a prophet of Islam, would the Islamic god Allah have allowed his book to be lost? Of course not!
Mohammad reported that Jesus spoke while still in the cradle although he didn’t say in the Koran what Jesus said. The Bible makes no mention of this.
In Surah 3:55 Mohammad said that Jesus’ followers (Christians) will be above disbelievers (in Jesus) on the day of resurrection yet elsewhere in the Koran and Hadith he repeatedly commands Muslims to dominate and humiliate Christians.
Both the Bible and the Koran tell us that the Creator gave the land of Israel in perpetuity to the Israelites (who are called Jews today) yet in the Koran and hadith Mohammad calls for the destruction of the Jews. Is this not contrary to the will of the Creator?
The Bible provides 4 tests of a prophet. Three are mentioned in the Old Testament and the fourth is mentioned in the New Testament. First, the Old Testament said that a true prophet will not contradict the prophecies of those prophets that have gone before. I have given several examples where the Koran contradicts many of the statements in the Bible that existed at Mohammad’s time and many more examples are available.
Second, we are to know prophets by their lifestyles. All of the Biblical prophets were human and therefore none of them were perfect. While some of the Prophets failed to perfectly live up to the standard of the Jewish Law, all of them repented when they sinned and all of them came much closer to that standard than ordinary people. Most, if not all of them, also provided proof of their endorsement by the Creator by performing miracles that were impossible by human standards. I should explain here that there is no Biblical record of any failure or sin in the life of Jesus but that I do not include Jesus in my list of prophets because I believe He was much more than a prophet.
The Bible tells us that a person who witnesses about himself cannot be believed without question. We all instinctively know this and the third Biblical test of a prophet speaks to this issue. Do we go to “Honest John’s Used Car Sales” with complete confidence that John is honest? Of course not! But we are much more likely to believe in the honesty of a person if many other people tell us (witness to us) that they were treated honestly by that person. If a person claims to have done a miracle, will we believe him? Probably not! Even when many other people tell us that they saw the person perform some miraculous action we may be somewhat sceptical because we know that the Creator must allow any miracle to happen. We instinctively know that a person who truly performs miracles is either acting within the will of the Creator or, in the case of Jesus, is the Creator. No wise person will rely on another person’s claim to performing a miracle on that person’s word alone. Unlike what many believe, the role of a prophet was normally not to foretell the future or to do miracles but to convince people in the present to come closer to the Creator’s will. Prophesies of future events and miracles were given to the prophets to provide them with supernatural “credentials” that prove to people that the prophet is actually from the Creator. The third Biblical test of a prophet is that the prophet’s prophesies of future events came true or that the recorded miracles actually happened (and were documented recorded by others). They provided the prophet with undeniable and independent “credentials”. There is no independent or contemporary record of either miracles or prophesies of future events by Mohammad.
The fourth Biblical test of a prophet is found in the New Testament and is used by Christians but not by most Jews (because Jews deny that Jesus was their Messiah). This test is that any prophet must acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah of the Creator and that He was God-Made-Man. The Koran specifically denies this fact.
All of these discrepancies lead me to conclude that Mohammad was not a prophet of the Creator God who inspired the words of the Bible. I question how any Muslim can reconcile Mohammad’s endorsement of the Bible with the discrepancies between the Bible and the Koran and I urge any Muslims who have read this message to investigate the issue more fully for themselves.
The Koran had only Mohammad as its earthly source. In contrast, the Old and New Testaments (Tavrat and Injeel) were written by a number of different people who (Jews and Christians agree) were inspired by the Spirit of God to write the words as they did. The approximately 40 authors of the Bible wrote it in three different original languages over a span of many centuries yet there is amazing consistency and continuity in their message. Later works do not contradict earlier works but rather they build on the works of the prophets who went before. Many of the authors of the Old Testament were acknowledged by Mohammad to be prophets. However, their messages were all in agreement with the other books of the Old Testament and, interestingly, they did not mention or forecast anything about Islam or Mohammad.
The principle of abrogation is unique to Islam. Because all the books of the bible build on earlier revelation, abrogation is not needed in the Bible. But my understanding of abrogation is that it explains how later Koranic texts that Mohammad delivered can contradict earlier texts. It also specifies that the latest text is the most applicable one. The Creator does not make mistakes and a true prophet of the Creator would not be allowed to make mistakes in their revelations. But all humans are subject to error if they are not inspired by the Creator. For all of the above reasons I conclude that the Bible is truly the word of God but I deny that the Koran comes from the Creator God.
Despite Mohammad’s strong endorsement of the Bible, many Muslims today have little knowledge or understanding of the Bible. There are many significant misconceptions that should be clarified in the mind of any person who truly wants to be in the will of the Creator. I will mention seven.
First, the proper name of the God of Christians and Jews is not “God”. It was actually written in the Old Testament as JHWH. There were no vowels in the Hebrew language when these verses were written. There is disagreement about how the word was pronounced and it has been translated as either Jehovah or Jahweh. Both names refer to the same God. I prefer Jahweh. Certainly, most Christians will only think of Jahweh when they hear talk about “God” but “God” is not His proper name. In contrast, the proper name of the god of Islam is Allah.
Second, the Bible tells us about the nature of the Creator. It tells us that the Creator loves all people and wishes only well for them. It shows that mankind has been given the right of free will and, for example, that the Creator will not force humans to do only good and acceptable things. Humans are not forcefully prevented from doing evil things. Nor are they forced to worship only the Creator. We can choose to do evil or good. However, the Bible also tells us that the Creator is sovereign. The Creator shows us the difference between evil and good. We are told what will happen if we choose evil actions over good deeds. We are told what will happen if we fail to worship only the one true God. In the Bible we are not given the responsibility as individuals to enforce our perception of the will of the Creator on other people. The Bible gives us principles to follow to tell us what is right and what is wrong but it does not mandate our every action.
Third, the Bible says that Abraham and his descendants (Israel) were “chosen”, that the Creator loves Israel and that He will bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel. But it does not say that Israel is better than other nations or that Jews are better or worse than other people. The Creator loves Israel because he chose Israel to be the nation through which He will bless the rest of the world with His Word (the Bible) and His Messiah (Jesus). Those who love the Creator must also love Israel!
Fourth, the Bible contains a history of creation and of the people of Israel. But it is not a scientific treatise nor is it a book about the glorious history of that nation. If anything, it is much the opposite. It explains the will of the Creator and it contains a record of the consistent failure of Israel and of its leaders to fully live up to the will of the Creator. For example, when David set up Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba to be killed in battle, or when he took multiple wives, he was in conflict with the will of the Creator as it is presented in the Bible. The creator punished him but also forgave him because he repented of his sin. We can not always take the actions of people in the bible as good examples. We should never say that we are allowed to do a certain thing simply because a prominent person in the Bible did something similar. There are very few examples of Biblical personalities against whom no sins were recorded. There is only one who was reported to be completely without sin – Jesus the Messiah.
Fifth, the bible has one central focus which is evident in every one of its 66 books. That focus is the Messiah. From the first chapter of Genesis till the end of the Old Testament, it is looking toward the Messiah who was expected to deliver Israel from the power of evil. The New Testament tells of the works of the Messiah and of the establishment of the Christian faith which is based on acceptance of the Messiah. It shows that Jesus was the Messiah; the Emanuel (which means “God with us”); the Savior of Mankind; the first to rise from the dead into eternal life. Interestingly, Mohammad, in the Koran acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah.
Sixth, the Bible tells us that the Creator is sovereign. As created beings we have no right or ability to impose limits on the Creator’s decisions or even to judge them. Moses, Joshua and the people of Israel massacred many people during the time that they were possessing the Promised Land. In subsequent battles in the history of the two Jewish kingdoms, there are stories of major massacres of the enemies of Israel, some of which were carried out at the hands of the Israelites and others were carried out by Jahweh in a manner that was miraculous. Many people, including myself, find these events hard to understand in light of the fact that Jahweh claims to be a God that loves all mankind. The only solution I can find to explain these events is that Jahweh is sovereign and has the sovereign right to carry out His will. I certainly have no right or power to judge or condemn the God that had the power to create and sustain the universe. I’m pretty sure no other human being has that right or power either!
Finally, the Bible, in the Torah, establishes the principle that God will accept a sacrifice in expiation of a sin debt (but only on His terms). For the Israelites, this sacrifice might be in the form of animal sacrifice or sacrifice of produce and it could be made for individuals or for the entire Israelite nation. The Creator never demanded human sacrifice in the Biblical record. The concept of one person killing another human to gain favor from God is completely foreign to the teachings of either Judaism or Christianity. Any sacrifice given in expiation of sin must be a personal sacrifice of the sinner or on behalf of the sinner.
Christians believe that the Creator came to earth as Jesus and offered himself as a voluntary sacrifice to allow any person who would acknowledge Jesus as Lord to be forgiven of their sin and to gain entrance into eternal life. While sinners do not have to die to pay for their sins, they must make a personal covenant with Jesus; accepting His sacrifice as their own and allowing the Spirit of God to enter into them and to guide their future actions. Christ’s sacrifice is the action of a truly merciful God in the face of humanities inability to live sinless lives.
Contrary to the understanding and teaching of Mohammad, true Christians do not believe in three gods but in only one. Christians believe that the words of Genesis in the Torah are accurate and that mankind is made in the image of the Creator. I believe that mankind is composed of three parts: body, soul and spirit as the Creator is three-in-one in a much more profound and inexplicable way. Contrary to what Mohammad taught the Christian God is Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit, not Father, Son and Mary.
Given the many discrepancies between the Bible and the Koran I have come to the conclusion that Mohammad was not a prophet of Jahweh nor was the Koran the work of the Creator. I ask any Muslim that is earnestly seeking the true God of Abraham to consider what I have written above and to research the facts. I believe that a sincere and open-minded search into all the available documentary evidence will convince you that Islam is not the true faith of the God of Abraham. I’d also ask you to pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for clarity and revelation. I am told that many Muslims who have earnestly directed their prayers to the Creator (rather than to Allah) have received dreams and visions of Jesus and have been shown them that Islam is a false religion.
May the one true God bless you and keep you and cause his face to shine upon you! May He save you from error and reveal his true nature to you. May we meet some day in heaven as brothers and sisters! Amen.