CHAPTER - 16
CORRUPTION IN THE SCRIPTURES
AND POSITION OF THE QUR'AN
The fact that the texts of
sacred books of all religions of the world have been tampered with and suffer
from additions, deletions and changes is relevant to the study of the Qur'an.
The claim of Muslims that the text of the Qur'an is unadulterated and will
remain so is based on the guarantee given by Allah:
"We have, without
doubt, sent down the Message (the Qur'an) and We will assuredly guard it
(from corruption)”. (Qur’an 15:09)
used for corruption in Arabic is tahrif. Tahrif is to twist the
Divine word knowingly and deliberately out of its original purport and true
aim towards something else. The Qur'an considers tahrif as a grave sin
since the action conveyed by the term is deliberate. Tahrif means
change, alteration or shifting of something from its original state.
Interpolations, additions and deletions (i.e, corruption of the text) are all
covered by the word `tahrif'. Tahrif can occur in different
1. By the copyist adding a word or phrase.
2. By suppression of the text of the
3. By substitution of words.
By reading out of something not in
5. By reading out of some parts of the text
and the passing over in silence of
6. By imparting of false instruction (other
than that given in the Divine Word).
7. By the presentation of a wrong
allegorical interpretation (of hidden and obscure character).
Tahrif is derived from the root
`harafa' meaning to turn from the proper manner or to corrupt the
word. `Tahrif al Qalam' refers to giving a slant to the pen. `Tahrif
al Kalam' means posing or changing letters or words.
The eminent lexicographer, Raghib Isfahani
has provided the definition of `tahrif' in the following words:
"Tahrif is to render the text in
such a way that it may be possible to interpret it in two ways."
this definition `tahrif' refers to distorting or twisting the meaning.
The Qur'an, however, has used the word referring to corruption of text:
"Of the Jews there
are those who distort the words out of context and say (in place of the right
words): ‘we hear and do not obey . . . .” (Qur’an 4:46)
“. . . . They (the Jews)
change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the
message that was sent to them . . . .” (Qur’an 5:13)
"How do you expect
them to put their faith in you when you know that some among them heard the
word of Allah and having understood perverted it knowingly." (Qur’an
Thus it can
be concluded that any change in the text by which purport has been
necessarily changed is `tahrif'. If the text is kept in tact and if
the meaning is changed by way of misinterpretation it cannot be treated as `tahrif'.
It can be termed as distortion or misrepresentation. Presently we are,
however not concerned with it.
Al-Kitab means `the book'. As a
term, it refers to the book of Allah, the Divine writ. Scripture is not a
proper word for Al-kitab. The third article of Iman is to believe in
all the Books of Allah which He has sent down to mankind through His `Rusul'
(messengers). All the Divine messages, in essence are one and the same. There
is mention of some of the books in Qur'an viz. Book of Ibrahim, Taurat,
Zaboor (Psalms) and Injeel which
was revealed to Prophet Isa. Of the innumerable Prophets sent by Allah
in all ages and to all the people, only 25 have been mentioned in the Qur'an.
There is no mention of the names of Books sent to other Prophets mentioned in
the Qur'an or (of the Prophets) not mentioned in the Qur'an. Therefore, with
regard to other existing religious books, we are not in a position to say
with certainty, whether they were originally revealed books or not. But we
tacitly believe, that whatever books have been sent down by Allah, were all
true and Divine messages.
It has been
stated by almost all the exegetes of the Qur'an that Taurat, as
mentioned in the Qur'an is the name of the Book which was revealed to Prophet
It is strange that this bold assertion is
made without any authority. Nowhere in the Qur'an it is mentioned that Taurat
was revealed to Prophet Musa.
In fact, the
Taurat, which the Qur'an confirms, is the Old Testament wherein the
Pentateuch. (the Five Books which are traditionally ascribed to Musa), the
Books ascribed to Dawud and other books are included.
The name AlTaurat,
meaning `The Law', has been mentioned 18 times in the Qur'an. (Ayaat
03:03, 03:43, 03:50, 03:65, 03:93 (twice) 05:53, 05:44, 05:46 (twice), 05:66,
05:68, 05:110, 07:157, 09:111, 48:29,61:06, 62:05).
evident from these ayaat that AlTaurat was revealed after
Prophet Ibrahim, that it was revealed for Bani Israel, that Prophet I'sa
(Jesus) as well as the Qur'an testify the teachings of Al Taurat.
Nowhere in the above ayaat it is mentioned that Al Taurat was
exclusively revealed to Prophet Musa.
is mentioned not less than 136 times in the Qur'an. Nowhere it is mentioned
that Taurat was revealed to him.
In ayah 126
of Surah AlA’raf, ayah 75 of Surah Yunus and ayah
30 of Surah Al Mominun, the revelation made to Prophet Musa is
mentioned as ayah (Message).
In ayah 48
of Surah Al Anbiah, The Book revealed to Prophet Musa is mentioned as Al
Furqan. It may be noted that Al Furqan is not mentioned as proper
name of The Book revealed to Prophet Musa. Furqan is the quality of
making clear distinction (between right and wrong). Qur'an is also called Al
Furqan in the Qur'an (25:01). Similary the day of the Battle of Badr is
also termed as Al Furqan (Qur’an 08:41).
In most of the other places, the Book
revealed to Prophet Musa is merely mentioned as Book, Al kitab, e.g.‑
(02:53, 06:91, and 154, 11:110, 17:02, 23:49, 15:35, 28:43, 32:23, 37:117,
40:53, 41:45, 46:12 etc.,) Even when there is mention of the Book of Prophet
Musa in surah Hud the name is not given as Taurat. (Qur’an
36 of Surah Al Najm and ayah 19 of Surah Al-Aala the
name of the Book revealed to Prophet Musa is mentioned as Book of Moses "Suhaf
Musa". Nowhere the Book revealed to Prophet Musa is mentioned as Al
It is interesting to note that the Qur'an
mentions the Books earlier to Injeel as Al Taurat. The Books
which were known as Bible and which are even now termed as Old Testament
include Al Taurat mentioned in the Qur'an. The Books revealed to
Prophet Dawud and to Prophet Musa are now included in the Old Testament.
Qur'an nowhere mentions Al Taurat as the Book exclusively revealed to
further to be noted that the name Al Taurat is used by the Qur'an for
all the Books earlier to Injeel. The name of Al Taurat was not
the proper name of the Book of Musa or the book of any other Prophet.
of some of the Books of the present Bible the original Aramaic or the Hebrew
texts were not available. As such these books were translated from the
available Greek translation. Thus many contradictions, discrepancies and
errors are found in the Bible today. Muslims believe that the original Bible
is the word of Allah. They ascribe these mistakes and discrepancies to `tahrif'
and accordingly reject the present distorted text of the Bible as unreliable.
Muslims reject parts of the Pentateuch that had been added or altered by non‑prophetical
persons, as not being of Divine origin. In fact the present biblical text, is
not the text as revealed to the Prophets of Allah.
discrepancies and errors in the present text of the Bible is a proof of its
corruption and pollution of the Bible was done on such a large scale that
even the Jews and the Christians cannot but admit it. Moreover the Jews and
the Christians do not possess the original texts and have only the
translations. We find that Allah's words and those of men, have been mixed
together in these books.
The original text of Torah was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar. The Jews had
lost the original ordinances of Allah and neglected them. Allah had made them
forget the Book and had taken it from their hearts. Entire content of the
Pentateuch is said to have been re-imprinted on the heart of Ezra (Prophet
exegetes of the Qur'an are almost unanimous that Zaboor is the name of
the book which was revealed to Prophet Dawud. In fact Zaboor was not
the name of the book exclusively revealed to Prophet Dawud.
Zaboor literally means scripture or book. It is a
generic term denoting any book of wisdom. Any and all of the Divine
scriptures revealed by Allah to his Prophets can be termed as zaboor.
That is why, among Bani Isra'il the book revealed to Prophet Dawud was
popularly known as Zaboor. When the Qur'an referred to the book of
Dawud, it used the word zaboor (meaning book) as a common noun. The
Dawud, We gave zaboor (Qur’an 04:163 & 17:55)
The Qur'an has not used Zaboor as a
specific name for the book of Dawud, as it has used the word Injeel for
the specific book revealed to Prophet I'sa. In the above ayaat definite
article `al' is not applied to the word zaboor. If zaboor
was used as a proper noun the definite article would certainly have been
Moreover there is no plural form of proper
nouns. Injeel and Qur'an are proper nouns for the Books revealed to
Prophet I'sa and Prophet Muhammad (S) respectively. No plural form of either Injeel
or Qur'an is anywhere used in the Qur'an:
The plural of zaboor is zubr.
This plural form is used in the Qur'an:
it is in the old Books (zubr)”. (Qur’an 26:196).
The plural form, zubr
is also used in (Qur’an 03:184, 16:44, 23:53, 35:25 54:43). Whenever the word
zaboor is used in the Qur'an, it clearly means book (as a common noun)
"And already have We
written in zaboor after the reminder (of the law) that My righteous
servants shall inherit the earth". (Qur’an 21:105)
If zaboor is taken as Book of
Dawud, the purport of the above will be that the Divine condition that
"the righteous shall inherit the earth" was not mentioned in other
earlier books. In fact the same Divine promise occurs in the Pentateuch,
(Greek term meaning the `Five Books' which are traditionally ascribed to
Musa). In one of these five Books it is mentioned:
. . . . they shall inherit in ( the land ) for ever” (Exodus 32:13(.
therefore, not correct to consider zaboor expressly as the Book of
revealed to the Prophet I'sa (Jesus) was Evangelion but later about 80
different Gospels were written in the name of Injeel. These were in
fact, reports on the life of Prophet I'sa. Out of the innumerable Gospels
only five were accepted, about 400 years after Jesus, as authentic. Out of
these five only four gospels are those which have been included in the New
2. Mark, 3. Luke, 4. John
Testament today comprises in addition to the above four Gospels, the Acts of
the Apostles, (the happenings immediately after Jesus), Epistles (21 letters
written by St. Paul and other disciples’, apocalypse i.e., the book of
revelation ascribed to St. John and containing mystic visions.
Gospel is attributed to Peter wherein the early life (childhood) of Jesus is
described in the words of Maryam (Mary).
Gospel is by Barnabas. Barnabas was a dynamic evangelist. He had been close
to Jesus. He was a prominent member of the small group of disciples in
Jerusalem who had gathered together after the disappearance of Jesus. They
observed the Law of the Prophets, with which Jesus had come, "not to destroy
but to fulfil" (Mathew 05:17)
followers of Barnabas never developed a central organization. The Gospel of
Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the churches of Alexandria
till 325 AD.
In 325 AD
the Nicene Council was held. In this council it was decided that all original
Gospels in Hebrew script should be destroyed. The Gospel of Barnabas, however
In the Gospel of Barnabas
Jesus is presented as a pious man and as an honourable Prophet of Allah. A
saying of Jesus is quoted in it:
"I am not the
Messiah, but he who would succeed me."
presumption that the Gospel of Barnabas was compiled by a Muslim is not
correct as it was rejected by the Christian clergy about 115 years before the
revelation of the Qur'an. The teachings of this Gospel are in contradiction
to the teachings of Paul.
accepted Gospels cannot be compared to the Qur’an, a divine revelation. They
can at best be compared to the ahadith with the difference that
whereas in the case of ahadith the entire chain of the narrators has
been carefully reordered, the Gospels are the narrations of the individuals,
Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, without showing the authority on which their
respective reports are based.
In the four
Gospels there are verbal, interpretative and descriptive differences and
contradictions. It is well nigh impossible to determine which of the four or
which out of the innumerable rejected ones is authentic.
of the Gospel of Mark was Aramaic. The text now available is translation from
Aramaic into Greek. Mathew had prepared his Gospel by making alterations and
deletions in the Gospel of Mark. About the genealogy of Jesus itself there
are differences between the Gospels of Mathew and Luke.
Barnabas Paul's theology was based on his personal experience interpreted in
the light of contemporary Greek thought. The theory of redemption was the
child of his brain. It involved the deification of Jesus.
Of the books
mentioned in the Qur'an, the book of Ibrahim is extinct and not traceable in
the existing world literature. The
other three Books are the Bible (The Old and The New Testament). The Qur'an
informs us that people have changed and interpolated these Books. Much of the
original text of the earlier Books is also lost in the process of translation
etc. Selfish men have mixed Allah's words with texts of their own making.
As far as Injeel
is concerned, the Qur'an in unequivocal terms states that it is a Book
revealed to Prophet I'sa (Jesus) (Qur’an 5:49 and 57:27). Thus we can say
with certainty that Injeel is the name of the Book which was revealed
to Prophet I'sa.
mentioned in the Qur'an as the Book revealed to Prophet I'sa (Jesus) is not
the New Testment. It is the `Evangelion' which literally means `basharah'
or promise of happy life. This original Gospel was revealed to Jesus (Prophet
I'sa). It was subsequently lost and forgotten. This fact is mentioned in the
Qur'an: “And from those who say, `Behold, we are Christians, We have accepted
a solemn pledge; and they too, have forgotten much of what they have been told to bear in mind ‑
wherefore We have given rise to enmity and hatred (to last)until the Day of
Resurrection." (Qur'an 05:14).
the church historian Wilhelm Nestle, "Christianity is the religion
founded by Paul; it replaced Christ's gospel with a gospel about
the `Evangelion' survive in the Gospels of which four are now accepted by the
Christian Church and which form part of the New Testament.
accept only parts of the Gospels as constituting what is designated by the
Qur'anic term Injeel.
interesting to note that the Muslims believe Taurat, Zaboor and
Injeel to be the revealed scriptures; whereas the Jews and the
Christians regard them as books authored by respective prophets under Divine
inspiration. Therefore, it is incumbent on the believers to safeguard and
protect the original Books which they (the believers) accept as revelations
What is true
of the Bible (Old Testament) and Injeel, with reference to the
corruption in their respective texts, holds good in respect of other
religious books also.
Vedas are religious book of
the Hindus. The meaning of the word Ved is `knowledge'. Out of the
many Vedas only the following four have survived:
Ved (a collection of hymns. It
is the oldest)
Ved (a collection of melodies
and songs which are to be recited by the Brahmins at the time of sacrifice
and other religious ceremonies).
3. Yajr Ved (consists of methods of sacrifice and a collection of prayers,
Ved (Book of magic, sorcery
are legendary and existed in oral form. The Hindus believe that they were
self created and were conveyed to human beings through the `rishies'.
The great poet Vyas compiled the Vedas which existed during his times.
He is therefore, called Ved Vyas. Due to afflux of time and other reasons a
major portion of the Vedas became extinct.
Same was the
fate of the Upanisheds, the Puranas and the lyrical poems, Ramayana
and Mahabharatha. Srimad Bhagawad Gita is a later addition to Mahabharatha.
A beautiful poem consisting of 18 Chapters and 745 shlokas was
inserted in the Mahabharatha. It is a quintessence of the Indian
philosophy. At present Bhagawad Gita consists of 701 shlokas
only. A world‑wide search is being made for the lost original shlokas. It is
interesting to note that the lost shlokas
are found in a Persian translation of the Moghal period.
Zind Avesta is the religious book of the Zoarastrians.
It was originally written on 12000 skins of cows. It consisted of 27 volumes
and 346000 phrases.
has played a very great part in the development of moral thought in the
world; so much so that within a short time it had succeeded in the fifth
century B.C, in giving a high moral tone to its followers, as was hardly
noticeable in the life of that period in Greece or Rome.
It was in
the fourth century B.C. that the decline of religion of Zoaraster began. This
was due partly to the impact thereon of foreign influences. When Alexander
swept across Iran, a great tragedy overtook Zoarastrianism. The original copy
of Zind Avesta was destroyed by Alexander. Five centuries thereafter the
Sassanids came into power. The faith of Zoaraster received the touch of
Magism during the days of the Sassanid Kings. Ardsher Bab Kan had a copy of Avesta
prepared afresh. By this time the original teachings of Zoaraster had
undergone serious mutilation with the result, that the new version of Avesta
prepared in the time of the Sassanids was an amalgam of Magism,
Zoroastrianism and the cult of Greece, the entire fabric of it bearing the
overall stamp of Magism.
Of all the
religious books which are found today none is intact. These books contain
narratives, ideologies, injunctions customs and rituals of different people
etc., which are mostly unreliable. They do contain some historical incidents,
teachings of values and knowledge about the Almighty. Such information which
is the remnant of Divine message is adulterated with selfish or ignorant
human interpolations. Because of such corruption the value or these books is
is the last of the Divine books sent by Allah. In other words, the succession
of Divine messages culminated in the revelation of the Qur'an. The text of
the Qur'an is intact and there is no change in it whatsoever. The Qur'an is the inspired word of Allah and there
is no mixture of words of any human being in it. In the Qur'an, there is
abundant evidence that it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (S). The Qur'an is
in Arabic language which is a living language. The Qur'an is not for one
nation or one race but it is for the entire humanity.
message of the Qur'an which is the last of the revelations, and offers the
final and perfect way of the spiritual fulfillment, appears to be somewhat
different from the earlier Divine revelations, obviously due to the following
three reasons among others.
earlier Divine revelations were changed by way of deletions, interpolations,
and corruption of the text.
age had revelation, suited to the particular needs of the time and the people
concerned and it was revealed in the language of the people.
The Qur'an, being Al Furqan,
pointed out the falsehood (batil) that had crept in the earlier
revelations. Such of the ayaat which pointed out and corrected the
corruption in the earlier revelations, were therefore, not found in the
It is to be
examined whether and if so to what extent the scriptures have been corrupted
and as to what is the attitude of the Qur'an in this regard.
It is not
only alleged by the Qur'an but it is a fact which cannot be denied even by
the Biblical scholars that in the process of translations over the centuries
and because of the selfish motives of some members of the clergy there has
been `tahrif' in the original text of the Bible. What is true of the
Bible is also true of the other religious books.
When the Prophet migrated to
Medina Jews, Christians, Sabi'een, Zoarastrians all were living there.
Each claimed that they were in possession of Al-Kitab i.e., the
scripture. It is true that they were having the Divine scriptures but the
same were not in their original form. It was difficult for the Muslims as to
which part of a scripture was original and which was corrupted.
The Qur'an described the situation in the
"But woe to them who
fake the scriptures and say: This is from Allah’ so that they might earn some
profit thereby and woe to them for what they fake and woe to them for what
they earn from it."(Qur’an 2:79)
place the Qur'an has depicted
"Among them is a
section which distorts in reading the scriptures in a way that though it
sounds like the scripture, in fact it is not; yet they say it is from Allah,
when they know it is not; and they lie about Allah and knowingly."
The earlier scriptures were
originally Divine but Allah had not taken the responsibility of safeguarding
their text, as He has taken in respect of the Qur'an. In respect of the
earlier scriptures the Qur'an says:
"We sent down the Torah
which contains guidance and light, in accordance with which the Prophets
who had submitted (to Allah) gave instructions to the Jews, as did the rabbis
and priests, for they were the custodians and witnesses of Allah's writ. So,
therefore, do not fear men, fear Me, and barter not My messages away for a
paltry gain. Those who do not judge by Allah's revelations are infidels
indeed." (Qur’an 5:44)
provided to the scriptures by the rabbis and the priests was
imperfect. They gave first preference to personal gain which resulted in
corruption in all earlier scriptures. The Divine injunctions were mixed with
the human interpolations. Some were altogether deleted. The result was that
the scriptures did not remain a source of guidance, any more.
The attitude of the Qur'an
towards the earlier scriptures is very special and realistic. The Qur'an
stresses that it was revealed to confirm the previous revealed scriptures and
not to deny them and calls upon their followers to believe in the Qur'an
" Nothing is said to
you that was not said to the messengers before you; Surely your Lord has at
His command (all) forgiveness as well as a most grievous chastisement."
At the same time the Qur'an
did not endorse all their contents. It has declared in clear terms that its
messages (ayaat) are similar to messages of earlier revelations. The
Qur'an while showing the actual position of the earlier scriptures cautioned
the believers so that they may not start following the earlier scriptures;
" It is He who sent
down to you (step by step), in truth, the Books, confirming what went before
it; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel (of Jesus)."
"Before this, as a
guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right
and wrong)." (Qur’an 3:4)
Thus on the
basis of similarity the scriptures have been divided into two distinct
1. The Qur'an, the message of which are
similar to those of the earlier scriptures.
2. The earlier scriptures which have been
termed as those to which the messages of it (the Qur’an) are similar (matashabih
The Qur'an says that Allah's messengers
have come in every nation and in every age:
by declaring that; "Of some apostles We have told you before this. Of
other apostles We have not told you " (Qur’an 4:163), has further
widened the canvas of the Prophets and their scriptures.
The Qur'an observes:
" Say: We believe in
Allah and in that which has been revealed to us, and to Ibrahim and Ismail,
Ishaaq, Yaqub, and his progeny and the (revelation) given to Musa and I'sa
that which was given to all prophets from their Lord; we do not differentiate
(discount) any of them and we bow to Allah". (Qur’an 2:136)
expression: `We do not differentiate' does not fully convey the exact
meaning. The underlying idea is: ‘We regard all of them as true messengers of
One of the
crucial doctrinal principles of the Qur'an is to recognize the founders of
all religions and to endorse all the earlier scriptures, which at the basis
contained but one and the same truth. "The Qur'an has repeatedly
pronounced that discrimination between Prophets is a denial of Din of
God Himself who recognizes them without distinction. There are therefore,
only but two ways open for man. There is no third. One is the way of
recognition of them all: the other is that of rejection. The rejection of
even one Prophet amounts to rejection of every other as well.”
of similarity of the Qur'an with earlier scriptures is one criterion by which
the earlier scripture can be identified.
criterion is that they contain `bashara' i.e., good tidings. Bashara
is of two kinds.
tidings for those who have performed good deeds that would be fully
2) Good tidings of the advent of the last
Prophet who would complete the task of the earlier apostles.
The Qur'an confirmed some of the
statements of the earlier books, which were found to be correct and also
appropriate. Regarding the other statements the Qur'an either kept silent or
specifically contradicted them.
It is to be
noted that by the time the Qur'an was revealed, the earlier books had been
corrupted. Today of all the scriptures, the Qur'an alone has a unique position
that its text is absolutely free of corruption.
In spite of
the clear injunctions of the Qur'an, some Muslims taking a narrow view
hesitate to accept those books as Divine revelations which are not mentioned
in the Qur'an by name. It is to be noted that the Muslims cannot specifically
deny that a particular religious book is not a Divine revelation.
While accepting, in principle, all the
earlier scriptures without an exception the Qur'an says:
"Only those who have
a particular inclination (or leaning) follow `matashabih minhu’ i.e.,
the earlier scriptures." (Qur’an
people of the Book were warned against assuming the attitude and orientation
to follow the earlier books.
It is the
collective responsibility of the Muslim Ummah.
1. To prove that the Qur'an is absolutely
free from corruption.
2. To identify the religious books although
not mentioned in the Qur'an which can be considered as scriptures.
3. To find out the passages in the books of
other religions which are similar to the passages of Qur'an.
4. To expose that the text of these
scriptures have been corrupted.
Nag Hammadi Scrolls
In the year
1945 there was an accidental discovery of biblical scrolls. These scrolls
were the earliest found manuscripts, of Bible.
scrolls were found on west bank of the Nile in upper Egypt in 1945. This is a
collection of 13 codices of Gnostic scriptures written in the 2nd and 3rd
century and the codices are 4th century copies.
texts in Aramaic and Hebrew languages were written about sixteen hundred
years ago on scrolls. As soon as they were discovered the biblical scholars
realized how dangerous they can be to the present reliability of the Bible
both from the point of view of the Jews and the Christians. By 1948, they had
all been purchased by the Cairo Coptic Museum. There was initially, an
attempt by the French Catholic Scholars to establish a monopoly over the
material. As a result, work on them was retarded until 1966. In 1966 the
scrolls were turned over to an international team of scholars for translation
and publication. The head of the team of scholars was James M. Robinson of
California. He and his team moved with rapidity and within three years a
number of draft transcriptions and translations were being made available to
scholars. By 1973 the entire Nag Hammadi library was in draft English
translation and was being circulated freely amongst interested scholars. In
1977, the whole body of Nag Hammadi codices was published, in facsimile ‑
a total of 46 books plus some unidentified fragments was brought out in
Hammadi Scrolls contain unauthorised works such as the Gospel of Thomas and
other works not in the approved New Testament. It was written closer to
Jesus’, so called, crucifixion than the Gospel of Mark which is officially
considered as the earliest. After this discovery it was found that 82% of the
parables, aphorism etc., put into Jesus' mouth by the New Testament scribes
were never uttered by him. These Scrolls potentially shed new light on the
views and beliefs of Jews and Christians of that period.
based on to this fresh evidence the divinity of Jesus is now being
challenged. The idea that Jesus was
just a man poses various doctrinal problems for the Christianity. The Jesus
of Islam as depicted in the Qur'an was just a man and a messenger of Allah.
Dead Sea Scrolls
In 1947 a Bedouin Shepherd in the Judaean
dessert near the Dead Sea by accident found a vast library of over 800 texts.
The texts were in the shape of scrolls of leather wrapped in linen and hidden
in earthen jars in a series of caves in Qumran. Qumran is a village at the
north‑western end of the Dead Sea, 16 Kilometers east of Jerusalem.
More Scrolls were discovered in 1956.
are more than 2000 years old. They were written in Aramaic and Hebrew between
approximately 250 B.C. and 100 A.D. by members of a hitherto less known
Jewish brotherhood, Essenes. The Dead Sea Scrolls can be divided into two
distinct groups: biblical texts and non‑biblical texts. Between 20 and
25 percent of the documents can be classified as biblical. The biblical texts
can be regarded as the oldest known copies of the Old Testament as well as
long lost originals of several books of the Apocrypha. These texts are 1000
years older than the oldest known traditional Hebrew text of Taurat
which is the basis of the English translation of the Old Testament. Every
book of the Hebrew Bible is represented except the Book of Esther. Two of the
oldest known copies of the Book of Isaiah are also found. Now that the
Aramaic and the Hebrew texts are available the present text of the
Bible needed correction. This is a disturbing factor for both the Jews and
the Christians who again have differences among themselves.
take everything in the present Bible literally and consider it as most
authentic. They regard it as one of the fundamentals of faith. After the
discovery of the earliest and therefore, more reliable text the very
reliability of the present Bible is questioned. In view of this there may be
a vast number of Christians who will no longer adhere to the fabrication
introduced by Paul. The same applies
to the Jews.
The Qumran brotherhood i.e.,
the Essenes lived at the same time and in the same region as John the
Baptist, who was himself a harbinger of subsequent Christian ideas. The
scrolls provide a background to the missions of John the Baptist and Jesus.
There are also secular documents, including military dispatches and legal
writs in several languages including Arabic.
The scrolls have
a significant message for us. There is a deep rooted desire among human
beings to leave clues to their way of living and thinking for the posterity.
The pyramids which are `crypt of civilization' are the best examples of this
human tendency. Another `crypt of civilization', the Ajanta caves, famous for
their wall paintings by Buddhist priests were completed during a slightly
later period than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
religious people when, they are thoroughly disappointed with their
contemporary society, are afraid of the enemy and have faith in the coming
generations, hide their religious literature and their relics. The ‘Stupas’
of the Buddhists can be cited as another example. The Nag Hammadi and the
Dead Sea Scrolls can therefore, be regarded as a message from our ancestors
that highly deserved our reverence and devoted sincere efforts to decipher
them. The `scrolls' can also be regarded as `ayaat' of Allah which
invite our full and devoted attention.
all this the `scrolls' are of special interest for the believers, who claim
that they are the true heirs to all world religions. They accept all the
prophets of Allah, mentioned and not mentioned in the Qur'an. They accept all
the Books of Allah to be of Divine origin. They claim that there is tahrif
(corruption) in all the religious books except the Qur'an. The scrolls are
very useful tool in the hand of the believers to establish the claim of the
There are many similarities between the
thought and diction of the `Scrolls' and Christianity. Yet the `scrolls'
offer no parallels to the Christian doctrines of trinity incarnation (i.e.,
God existed in human form in the person of Jesus;) atonement (i.e. expiation
of sin through the suffering and death of Jesus Christ on behalf of the sinners)
and redemption through the cross.
It is obvious that these very doctrines
are later fabrications introduced by Paul. The Qur'an has, declared that the
Christians have introduced these beliefs which Jesus will disown on the day
When such is
the situation, it is the foremost responsibility of the believers to correct
the Bible which is the Book of Allah and to point out the `tahrif'
therein whenever it is possible. This duty the believers alone can perform
since they have the Furqan which differentiates between the right and
Now a 2000
year old manuscript of the Book of Allah is available. The present so called
custodians of the Book, both the Jews and the Christians are uneasy that the `tahrif'
is going to be exposed soon. At the same time, both of them have their own
differences. We Muslims far from taking due advantage of the situation are
ignorant of the entire issue. The most important `ayaat mubeen' of the
century have, unfortunately, no significance for us.
and not less important aspect is to use the `scrolls' in our defense. The
`scrolls' confront us with a challenge. We Muslims regard the Jews and the
Christians as the people of the Book and we have profound respect and regard
for their Books and their prophets whom we regard as our own prophets. But
unfortunately ‑‑‑‑ unfortunately both for them and
for us ‑‑‑ the Jews and the Christians are inimical towards
Islam and the Muslims. The oriental scholars in the name of scholarship and
critical studies try to prove that the Qur'an has borrowed `themes' and
`diction' from the Bible.
Now that the
earlier biblical texts are available they will take parallel themes in those
texts and the Qur'an. Similarly they will show words which are used in those
texts and also in the Qur'an and will extend their theory further and say
that the Qur'an has borrowed the `themes' and the `diction' from the Bible.
If we are alert of the situation, now that the authenticity of the present
Bible itself is being questioned we can disprove their motivated contentions.
require today is a team of young scholars who should learn Aramaic and Hebrew
languages and study the scrolls. On the one hand we can show how and where
the `tahrif' has occurred in the text of the Bible. On the other hand
we can defend ourselves that although the Qur'an has used words from Aramaic
and Hebrew languages yet it has maintained its own terminology which is
superior to the concepts found in the Aramaic or Hebrew texts of the present
Bible or in the texts now discovered.