Summary: This lesson answers one of the main challenges offered by Muslims that is the foundation for their beliefs.
It is a foundational belief amongst Muslims that the Bible as we have it is wholly unreliable. The claim is that the Bible is a flawed book compared to the Qur’an which is perfect (a miracle from Allah). It is important for the Christian to be ready to answer this accusation from Muslims so we can show them the truth.
Several questions must be asked of the one who makes such claims about the Bible:
What does the Muslim mean when they say the text has been corrupted? Is this a reference to spelling and grammar errors? Or changes in doctrines? What evidence can be given that the teachings of the Bible have been altered over time? When did this alteration happen?
The fact cannot be denied that copyist errors have crept into the Bible over the centuries of copying. No one should deny this. Many errors have come into the text because the manuscripts were copied by sight or by the text being read to the copyist who was writing it on a new scroll. But it is one thing to say there are copyist errors and a whole different thing in saying that the actual doctrines have been changed, such as the Bible’s teaching that Jesus is the fullness of deity in bodily form. The fact that these errors have crept in does not mean that the errors were purposeful, or that teachings within the book were changed purposefully. No evidence can be given to show that the teachings of the Bible have been altered. For instance, no evidence has been brought forth which shows that manuscripts at any time taught that Jesus was only a prophet as the Qur’an teaches.
It is assumed by the Muslim that because Muhammad preached a gospel that contradicted the gospel of the Bible, then the Bible MUST be wrong and corrupted. If the two books contradict in any way, then it is assumed that the Bible is wrong and that the Qur’an, which is a “miracle” from God, is right. This is a prime example of begging the question. There is no attempt to prove their belief. It is just assumed from the get-go because if they are wrong in this presupposition, then they must reject Muhammad as a true prophet from God.
It is also important for the Christian to ask why God would allow the Law and the Gospel (or the Torah and the Injil in the Qur’an) to be corrupted. Was Allah not powerful enough to stop this from happening? And if He did allow this to happen, what proof can be given that He did not allow this to happen in the Qur’an? The answer normally given by the Muslim is that the Qur’an cannot be corrupted because this is what the Qur’an teaches.
18:27 – “recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge.” [i]
6:114-115 – “Then is it other than Allah I should seek as judge while it is He who has revealed to you the Book explained in detail?” And those to whom We [previously] gave the Scripture know that it is sent down from your Lord in truth, so never be among the doubters.
115 And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.
There are other passages within the Qur’an that teach this idea. The teaching is clear that Allah preserves the scriptures which He gives. When asked how far this promise extends, it is stated by the Muslim that this promise of Allah stops with the Qur’an and does not extend to the Bible. If this is the case, then I pose this question, “How is it that the unchanging, all-powerful God is able to stop one of His books to be corrupted, but not the other? The Qur’an does teach that the Law and the Gospel was given by Allah, doesn’t it?
5:44 – “Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah ] judged by it for the Jews…”
5:46 – “And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous.”
These are two interesting verses from Surah 5. Verse 44 teaches that the Torah was sent down from Allah and that it is guidance and light. Then verse 46, we are told that Jesus came and confirmed that the Torah was from God. Jesus confirmed what came before Him, which assumes that the Hebrew text had not been corrupted by the time of Jesus. Then we are told that Jesus was given the Gospel: