When I first read the Qur’an I was struck in various ways. First of all there were rather many explicit and direct references to the Injil (Gospel or New Testament). But also it was the specific pattern by which ‘the Injil’ was cited that really intrigued me. Below are all the ayat in the Qur’an that directly mention ‘Gospel’ (Injil). Perhaps you may notice the pattern that I noticed. (I am using the Yusuf Ali translation)
It is He Who sent down to you (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the Criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). Then those who reject faith in the Signs of Allah will suffer the severest penalty [Surat 3:3-4 (Al-Imran)]
And Allah will teach him [Jesus] the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel [Surat 3:48 (Al Imran)]
You People of the Book! Why do you dispute about Abraham, when the Law and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? [Surat 3:65 (Al Imran)]
And in their footsteps [the prophets] We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah [Surat 5:46 (Maida)]
If only they [People of the Book] had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent them from the Lord. [Surat 5:66 (Maida)]
Oh people of the Book! You have no ground to stand upon unless you stand fast by the Law, the Gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord [Surat 5:68 (Maida)]
Behold I [Allah] taught you [Jesus] the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel.. [Surat 5:110 (Maida)]
.. A promise binding on Him in Truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur’an [Surat 9:111 (Tauba)]
This is their similitude in the Taurat [Law], and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sent forth its blade, then makes it strong, it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem [Surat 48:29 (Fat-h)]
What stands out when you place all the references to the Gospel from the Qur’an together is that the ‘Gospel’ never stands alone. In every instance the term ‘the Law’ precedes it. ‘The Law’ is the books of Musa (Moses), commonly known as ‘Taurat’ amongst Muslims and ‘Torah’ amongst the Jewish people. The Injil (Gospel) is unique among the Holy Books in this regard in that it is never mentioned in isolation. For example you can find references to the Taurat (Law), and Qur’an that stand alone. Here are some examples.
We gave Moses the Book completing to those who would do right, and explained all things in detail and this is a Book which we have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that you may receive mercy [Surat 6:154-155 (Cattle)]
Do they not consider the Qur’an (with care)? Had it been from other than Allah they would surely have found within much discrepancy [Surat 4:82 (The Women)]
In other words, we find that when the Qur’an mentions the ‘Gospel’, it always mentions it along with, and just preceded by ‘the Law’. And this is unique because the Qur’an will mention itself apart from referring to the other Holy Books and it will also mention the Law (Taurat) without mentioning the other Holy Books.
The Pattern Upheld even in the one exception
There is only one exception to this pattern that I have found. Notice how the following ayah mentions ‘Gospel’
‘And we sent Noah and Abraham and established in their line Prophethood and Revelation and some of them were on right guidance but many of them became rebellious transgressors’. Then in their wake [Noah, Abraham & the prophets] we followed them up with our Messengers. We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and we ordained in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy. [Surat 57:26-27 (Hadid)]
Though this is the only instance of ‘Gospel’ (or ‘Injil’) without being preceded by a direct reference to ‘the Law’, the context of this ayah confirms the pattern. The preceding ayah (26) had explicitly mentioned Noah, Ibrahim (Abraham) and other prophets and then in this ayah it then mentions ‘Gospel’. But it is this ‘Law’ – the Taurat of Musa (Moses) – that introduces and explains Noah, Ibraham and other prophets. So, even in this exception, the pattern remains because the Law’s content, rather than just the label, precedes the mention of ‘Gospel’.
A Sign for us from the Prophets?
So is this pattern significant? Some may just dismiss it as a random occurrence or due to just a simple custom of referring to the Injil in this way. I have learned to take patterns like this in the Books very seriously. Perhaps it is an important sign for us, to help us realize a principle set up and established by Allah himself – that we can only understand the Injil through first going to the Taurat (Law). It is like the Taurat is a prerequisite before we can understand the Injil. It may be worthwhile then to first review the Taurat and see what we can learn that may help us to better understand the Injil (Gospel). The Qur’an does tell us that these early prophets were a ‘Sign’ for us. Consider what it says:
O you children of Adam! Whenever there come to you Messengers from amongst you, rehearsing my Signs to you – those who are righteous and mend their lives – on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve. But those who reject Our Signs and treat them with arrogance – they are Companions of Fire, to dwell therein forever [Surah 7:35-36 (The Heights)]
In other words these prophets had Signs on their life and message for the Children of Adam (us!), and those who are wise and prudent will attempt to understand these signs. So let us start considering the Injil by going via the Taurat (Law) – considering the first prophets from the beginning to see what Signs they have given us that can help us understand the Straight Way.
We start right at the beginning of time with the Sign of Adam.Then we continue with the Sign of Cain & Abel, Noah, Lut and the Signs of Ibrahim (I, II, III). Of course you may want to start by answering the question whether the books of Taurat, Zabur and Injil (that make up the Bible) were corrupted. What does the Holy Qur’an say about this important question? And the Sunnah? And information from the science of textual criticism? On Judgment Day it will be good to have taken the time to become informed.