Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Does Islam Reject the Need for Vicarious Sacrifices? Pt. 2

By Sam Shamoun

We continue from where we previously left off.

The second problem with this assertion is that both the Quran and the supposedly authentic narrations attributed to Muhammad confirm the textual incorruptibility and availability of the previously revealed Scriptures, specifically the Torah of Moses.

Note, for instance, the following verses which repeatedly assert that the Quran was sent down to affirm the divine authority and reliability of the Scriptures that the Jews and Christians possessed during Muhammad’s time:

And believe in the Book I have now sent down; as it confirms the Scriptures you already possess, be not the first to reject it; barter not away My Revelations for paltry worldly gain, and guard yourselves against My wrath… How is it that you enjoin others to follow the Right Way, but forget it yourselves, though you read the Scriptures? Have you no sense at all? S. 2:41, 44 Maududi

“And how are they behaving now towards a Book which has come to them from Allah? Inspite of the fact that it confirms the Scriptures which they already possessed…” S. 2:89 Maududi

When it is said to them, "Believe in that which Allah has sent down," they say, "We believe only in that which has been sent to us", and reject everything else, though it is the Truth and confirms what is with them. Well, ask them, "If you sincerely believed in what was sent down to you, why did you kill the Messengers of Allah (who were sent to you from amongst yourselves)? S. 2:91 Maududi

Say to them, "Whoever is enemy to Gabriel, should understand that he has, by Allah´s command, revealed to your heart the Qur´an which confirms what was revealed before it, and brings Guidance and glad tidings to the Believers. S. 2:97 Maududi

And whenever a Messenger came to them from Allah, confirming that Scripture which they already possessed, some from among the people of the Book threw the Book of Allah behind their backs as though they knew nothing about it. S. 2:101 Maududi

He sent down to you the Book with the truth, authenticating what is between his hands; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel. From before as a guidance for the people, and He sent down the Criterion. Those who rejected the revelations of God, they will have a severe retribution, and God is Noble, exacting in Revenge. S. 3:3-4 The Monotheist Group (2013 Edition)

O you who have been granted the Book! Do believe in what We have (now) revealed, which confirms the revelation which you already possess. Do this before We alter countenances, turning them backwards, or lay a curse upon them as We cursed the Sabbath-men. Bear in mind that Allah´s command is done. S. 4:47 Maududi

They said: "Our people, We have heard a Scripture revealed after Moses, verifying the Scriptures revealed before it; it guides to the Truth and to the Straight Way. S. 46:30 Maududi

This Qur'an could not have been produced without God; it is to authenticate what is between his hands, and to give details of the Book in which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds. S. 10:37 The Monotheist Group

Certainly in the stories of the bygone people there is a lesson for people of understanding. What is being narrated in the Qur´an is no fabrication; it is rather confirmation of the Books that preceded it, and a detailed exposition of everything, and a guidance and mercy for people of faith. S.12:111 Maududi

(O Prophet), the Book We have revealed to you is the Truth, confirming the Books that came before it. Verily Allah is well aware of His servants and sees everything. S. 35:31 Maududi

The Quran even claims to be a confirmation of Moses’ book in the Arabic tongue for the Arabic-speaking peoples:

They did not form any proper estimate of Allah when they said: ´Allah has not revealed anything to any man.´ Ask them: ´The Book which Moses brought as a light and guidance for men and which you keep in bits and scraps, some of which you disclose while the rest you conceal, even though through it you were taught that which neither you nor your forefathers knew -who was it who revealed it?´ Say: ´Allah!´- and then leave them to sport with their argumentation. (Like that Book) this too is a Book which We have revealed; full of blessing, confirming what was revealed before it so that you might warn the people of the Mother of Cities (Makka) and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and are evermindful of their Prayers. S. 6:91-92 Maududi

Then We gave to Moses the Book, completing the benediction of Allah upon the one who acts righteously, spelling out everything clearly, a guidance and a mercy; so that they may believe in their meeting with their And likewise We revealed this (Book) - a blessed one. Follow it, then, and become God-fearing; you may be shown mercy. (You may no longer) say now that the Book was revealed only to two groups of people before Us and that we had indeed been unaware of what they read. Nor may you claim that: ´Had the Book been revealed to us, we would have been better guided than they.´ Surely clear evidence has come to you from your Lord, which is both a guidance and a mercy. Who, then, is more unjust than he who gave the lie to the signs of Allah and turned away from them? And We shall soon requite those who turn away from Our signs with a severe chastisement for having turned away. S. 6:154-157 Maududi

Yet before this the Book was revealed to Moses as a guide and a mercy. This Book, which confirms it, is in the Arabic tongue to warn the wrong-doers and to give good tidings to those who do good. S. 46:12 Maududi

Muhammad wasn’t the only one “sent” to testify to the authority and textual purity of the Jewish-Christian Scriptures. The Muslim scripture states that both Jesus and his blessed mother also bore witness that the sacred writings, which the Jews possessed during their time, were indeed the uncorrupt revelations of God:

"And authenticating what is between my hands of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was made unlawful to you; and I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so be aware of God and obey me." S. 3:50 The Monotheist Group

And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: "O children of Israel, I am a messenger of God to you, authenticating what is between my hands of the Torah and bringing good news of a messenger to come after me whose name will be 'most acclaimed.'" But when he showed them the clear proofs, they said: "This is clearly magic" S. 61:6 The Monotheist Group

And Mary, daughter of Imran, who maintained the chastity of her private part, so We blew into it from Our Spirit, and she believed in the words of her Lord and His Books; and she was of those who were dutiful. S. 66:12 The Monotheist Group

Note how the following commentary interprets the above passage:

(And Mary, daughter of Imran, whose body was chaste, therefore We breathed therein something of Our Spirit) and so Gabriel breathed inside her garment and she became pregnant with Jesus. (And she put faith in the words of her Lord) she believed in what Gabriel told her that he was the Messenger of Allah entrusted with giving her a holy son (and His Scriptures) and she also BELIEVED in His Scriptures: the Torah, the Gospel and all other Scriptures; it is also said this means: she believed in the words of her Lord that Jesus the son of Mary will come into being by Allah saying "Be!" and he became a human being, and she also BELIEVED in His Scripture: the Gospel, (and was of the obedient) in times of hardship and comfort; and it is also said that this means: and she was obedient to He Who is far transcendent and majestic'. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold emphasis ours)

This next passage wonderfully sums up the Muslim scripture’s attitude and relationship to the Holy Bible:

And how can they make you their judge when they HAVE the Torah, in which there is the judgment of God; then they turn away after that. Those are not believers. We have sent down the Torah, in it IS a guidance and a light; the prophets who have submitted judged with it for those who are Jewish, and the Devotees, and the Priests, for what they were entrusted of the Book of God, and they were witness over. So do not be concerned with the people but be concerned with Me; and do not purchase with My revelations a cheap price. And whoever does not judge with what God has sent down, then these are the rejecters. And We have decreed for them in it that a life for a life, and an eye for an eye, and a nose for a nose, and an ear for an ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and wounds to be similar; and whoever remits anything of it, then it will cancel sins for him. And whoever does not judge with what God has sent down, then these are the wicked. And We sent in their footsteps Jesus, son of Mary, authenticating what was present with him of the Torah. And We gave him the Gospel, in it IS a guidance and a light, and authenticating what was present with him of the Torah, and a guidance and a lesson for the righteous. And let the people of the Gospel judge with what God has sent down in it. And whoever does not judge with what God has sent down, then these are the wicked. And We have sent down to you the Book with the truth, authenticating what is between your hands of the Book and superseding it. So judge between them by what God has sent down, and do not follow their desires from what has come to you of the truth. For each of you We have made laws, and a structure; and if God had willed, He would have made you all one nation, but He tests you with what He has given you; so strive to do good. To God you will return all of you, and He will inform you regarding that in which you dispute. S. 5:43-48 The Monotheist Group

Jews, Christians and Muslims are to judge by and live up to the guidance and light contained within their own respective holy books. In the case of Christians, they are to interpret the Torah in the light of the Gospel in order to see how much of the former legislation is still binding upon them as followers of Christ. Muslims, on the other hand, are to use the Quran to do the same, e.g., the Islamic scripture informs Muhammad and his followers which aspects of the previous legislations are still valid, and which of the former commandments and ceremonies have been abrogated.

What makes this passage rather remarkable is that it presupposes the textual purity and abiding validity of the Torah and Gospel, which the Jews and Christians possessed at the time of Muhammad. This explains why Jews and Christians are told that they don’t need Muhammad since they have all the necessary guidance from God in their own respective Scriptures! As the following scholarly source explains:

43-44 … This verse then, along with vv. 44-47, indicates that the Torah and Gospel REMAIN VALID SOURCES of moral and legal judgment AND GUIDANCE for Jews and Christians, respectively, EVEN AFTER THE COMING OF THE PROPHET–INDEED, EVEN IN HIS PRESENCE. See also v. 68 where the People of the Book are likewise enjoined to observe their scriptures… (The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary, Seyyed Hossein Nasr (editor-in-chief) [Harper One, November 2015], p. 298; bold and capital emphasis ours)


46 … In the present verse both Jesus and the Gospel he brings are separately described as confirming the Torah. Jesus is also described as confirming the Torah in 3:50 and 61:6, as is John the Baptist in 3:39. That Jesus “confirms the Torah” means that he upholds all Torah rulings not specifically abrogated by the Gospel (T); see also 3:50, where Jesus comes to make lawful unto the Israelites part of that which was forbidden to them. The Gospel here, like the Torah in v. 44, is described as containing a guidance and a light. The Quran is also described as a light in v 15; 7:157; 64:8.

47 Several commentators note that enjoining the people of the Gospel to judge by what God has sent down therein means that they should follow the rulings of the Torah in most cases, since Jesus himself lived largely according to the Torah rulings, with the exception of those that the Gospel abrogates (IK), and since the Gospel itself contains teachings and exhortations, but relatively few legal rulings (Z). This verse indicates that the Gospel REMAINS A VALID SOURCE OF GUIDANCE for the people of the Gospel, just as vv. 43-44 suggest that the Jews can continue to find guidance in the Torah. The CONTINUING VALIDITY of these two scriptures is also suggested in v. 68… Several commentators, however, argue that the exhortation here to follow the Gospel indicates only that they should have followed the Gospel prior to the coming of the Quran, which thereafter abrogated the scripture that came before it (IK, R). This reading seems implausible in light of other Quranic verses, however, since v. 43 questions why the Jews have come to the Prophet for judgment (regarding two Jewish adulterers) when they have the Torah indicating that Prophetic adjudication is not necessary (EVEN DURING HIS LIFETIME) AS LONG AS THEY FOLLOW THEIR OWN SCRIPTURE. And indeed, in issuing his ruling in that case–namely, the implementation of the penalty of stoning, the Prophet stated that his actions were intended to revive (AND THUS LEGITIMATE) the Torah ruling for the Jews (see commentary on 5:41-44). (Ibid., pp. 299-300; bold and capital emphasis ours)


48 This verse addresses the Prophet directly and describes the Book sent down to him–that is, the Quran– as confirming the Book that came before it, just as the Gospel confirms the Torah. The Quran is also described as “confirming” earlier scriptures in 2:41, 89, 91, 97, 101; 3:3, 81; 6:92; 35:31; 46:30. The Quran is further described as a protector (muhaymin) over the previous scriptures, meaning that the Quran testifies to THE VALIDITY OF THE EARLIER SCRIPTURES and serves as their trustee, keeper, and guardian (T, Z). “Protector” (al-Muhaymin) is also one of the Names of God in the Quran (59:23). The idea of the Quran as guardian and keeper of previous revelations is consistent with 5:41c and 5:45c, which report that the Prophet ordered the sentence of stoning for the two idolaters as well as retribution for killing and injury in order to reestablish the original Torah ruling on these matters. When the Prophet “judges between them”–that is, the People of the Book–this verse enjoins him to do so in accordance with what God has sent down, which most major commentators understand to mean that he should judge according to what God had revealed to him, namely the Quran (Bd, T Z). Alternately, it could mean that he should judge the People of the Book according to what God has sent down TO THEM, namely, THEIR OWN SCRIPTURES (WHICH IS WHAT THE PROPHET EXPLICITLY DOES IN THE INCIDENT DISCUSSED IN VV. 41-43). That he should follow not their caprices means that he should not rule in accordance with their unwarranted digressions from or alterations to their own law, as discussed in vv. 41-47 (T), or that he should comply with their desire to alter or neglect what has come to the Prophet himself in the Quran (Bd). The Prophet is similarly warned against following the caprices of the People of the Book in the following verse, as well as in 2:120, 145; 42:15.

Although vv. 41-47, taken together, suggest THE VALIDITY OF JEWS AND CHRISTIANS JUDGING BY THEIR OWN SCRIPTURES, AND THUS THE CONTINUING SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE TO BE FOUND IN THOSE SCRIPTURES, this verse goes farther by asserting the providential nature of different religious communities and their distinct laws and practices. Indeed, the verse does not pertain only to Jews and Christians, but rather makes a universal statement about all religions. For each among you We have appointed a law and a way indicates that different religious communities may have different ritual and legal formulations specifically “appointed” for them by God, and that each religious community is independent of the laws of other such communities, even if the essential truths and principles of the religions are the same (IK, Q, R, T). (Ibid., pp. 300-301; bold and emphasis ours)

We will have more to say about Muhammad’s witness to the authority and reliability of the Holy Bible in the next part of our analysis.

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