In my previous post I had looked at what the Qur’an says about revelation of the Taurat, Zabur & Injil of al kitab – the Bible. I noted that the Qur’an states clearly that when it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), around 600 AD, that the followers of Injil still possessed the message from Allah (so it was not corrupted by that date), and even more clearly the Qur’an affirms that the original messages in the Injil were His Words, and also that His Words can never be changed. To believe both of these statements would also mean that it would be impossible to change or corrupt the Words of the Taurat, Zabur & Injil.
I want to continue this study by noting what the Sunnah says on this topic. Consider how the following haddiths affirm the existence and use of the Torah and Injil in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) (1).
“Khadija [his wife] then accompanied him [The Prophet - PBUH] to her cousin Waraqa …, who, during the PreIslamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write.” Al-Bukhari Vol 1, Book 1, No 3
Narrated Abu Huraira: ..The people of the Scripture used to read the Torah in Hebrew and explain it to the Muslims in Arabic. Then Allah’s Apostle said, “Do not believe the people of the Scripture, and do not disbelieve them, but say, ‘We believe in Allah and whatever has been revealed…’ Al-Bukhari Vol 9, Book 93, No. 632
The Jews came to Allah’s Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse. Allah’s Apostle said to them, “What do you find in the Torah about the legal punishment of Ar-Rajm (stoning)?” They replied, “(But) we announce their crime and lash them.” Abdullah bin Salam said, “You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of Rajm.” … the Verse of Rajm was written there. They said, “Muhammad has told the truth; the Torah has the Verse of Rajm. Al-Bukhari Vol. 4, Book 56, No. 829:
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar: ..A group of Jews came and invited the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) to Quff. … They said: ‘AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them’. They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) who sat on it and said: “Bring the Torah”. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: “I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.” Sunan Abu Dawud Book 38, No. 4434:
Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Apostle of Allah (PBUH) said: The best day on which the sun has risen is Friday; on it Adam was created, …. Ka’b said: That is one day every year. So I said: It is on every Friday. Ka’b read the Torah and said: The Apostle of Allah (PBUH) has spoken the truth. Sunan Abu Dawud Book 3, No. 1041
These undisputed haddiths tell us of the attitude of Muhammad (PBUH) to the Bible as it existed in his day. The first haddith informs us that the Injil existed and was available when he first received his call. The second haddith tells us that the Jews read the Taurat in Hebrew to the early Muslim community. The Prophet (PBUH) did not dispute their text, but was indifferent (neither confirming or denying) to their Arabic explanation of it. The next two haddiths tell us that Muhammad (PBUH) used the Taurat as it existed in his day to arbitrate decisions. The last haddith shows us that the Taurat, as it existed in that day, was used to verify a statement of his about the day of creation of man (it was on a Friday). In none of these haddiths, do we see any hint that the text of the Bible is treated as corrupted or changed. It is used as is for important applications.
Earliest manuscripts of Injil (New Testament)
I own a book about the earliest New Testament documents. It starts with:
“This book provides transcriptions of 69 of the earliest New Testament manuscripts…dated from early 2nd century to beginning of the 4th (100-300AD) … containing about 2/3 of the new Testament text”(P. Comfort, “The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts”. Preface p. 17. 2001 ).
This is significant since these manuscripts come before Roman Emperor Constantine (ca 325 AD) who often is accused of altering the text of the Bible. If he had corrupted it we can know it by observing the alterations of the texts before him (since we have them) by comparing it to the texts that come after him. In addition to this we have many complete Bibles in existence still today that were made long before the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The most famous of these are the Codex Sinaiticus (ca 350 AD) and the Codex Vaticanus (ca 325 AD). These and other thousands of manuscripts from before 600 AD come from diverse parts of the world. The idea of Christians changing these texts makes no sense at all. It would not have been possible for them everywhere to agree on the changes to be made. Even if those in Arabia had made changes, the difference between their copies and those of their brothers, let us say in Syria and Europe, would have been obvious. But since the Qur’an and haddith both clearly affirm the Biblical text as it existed around 600 AD, and the Bible is based on manuscripts that pre-date this time, then the Bible of today is not corrupted. The timeline below illustrates this, showing how the text base of the Bible pre-dates 600 AD.
The earliest manuscipts copies of the Taurat and Zabur date from even earlier. Collections of scrolls, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, were found in 1948 by the Dead Sea. These scrolls make up the entire Taurat and Zabur and they date from 200-100 BC. This means that though, for example, the prophet Musa (PBUH), was given the Taurat long before that (around 1500 BC) we have copies of the Taurat that date even before the prophets Isa al Masih (PBUH) and Muhammad (PBUH). Since they both publicly used and approved the Taurat and Zabur that they had (which was the same as the Dead Sea Scrolls we have today) we have assurance that these first books of the prophets were also not corrupted. I explore what all this means about the reliability (or unchangedness) of al kitab from a scientific point-of-view in my article here.
The testimony of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) in the Sunnah, along with background knowledge of the manuscripts of the Bible, point to the same conclusion as the testimony in the Qur’an – the text of the Bible has not been corrupted or changed.