There is a lot of commonality between the Qur’an and the Bible. Both Scriptures share many similar stories about the Prophets and also overlap in many areas of creed such as belief in one God, the existence of angels and the Day of Judgement. Muslims put all such similarity down to continuity in the messages of various Prophets whom were all sent by God Almighty. Some critics of the Qur’an offer a different explanation. They claim that the author of the Qur’an copied much of the content of the Bible, and so any similarity is down to plagiarism.
Although Muslims believe that the original Torah and Gospel given to Moses and Jesus respectively, peace be upon them, were divinely inspired and perfect, what we have today of these Scriptures is not the same as the original revelation. Indeed when we examine the modern Torah and Gospels in detail we find that there are numerous issues in the texts. One of the names of the Qur’an is Al Furqan, meaning “the Criterion between truth and falsehood”. So the Qur’an not only confirms the Scriptures that came before it, but also corrects the mistakes that have entered them:
“And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth…” [Chapter 5, verse 48]
In this article we are going to look at some examples of how the Qur’an corrects the Bible.
1. God did not grow weary after creating universe.
The Bible makes the claim that God Almighty rested (and was “refreshed”) after creating the heavens and the earth:
It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. [Exodus 31: 17]
The original Hebrew word used for “refreshed” is ‘naphash’, which means “to take breath, refresh oneself”.
According to the Qur’an, God does not display these human attributes of weakness and fatigue, for He is truly Omnipotent. Hence, He does not need rest or to refresh Himself. This false claim is corrected in the Qur’an:
And We did certainly create the heavens and earth and what is between them in six days, and there touched Us no weariness. [Qur’an 50:38].
Notice how the verse in the Qur’an matches, nearly word for word, the verse in the Bible. This surely must be considered a divine rebuttal.
2. Jesus is not God.
There are some ambiguous parts of the New Testament which are interpreted by Trinitarians to mean that Jesus is God:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. [Colossians 1:15-19]
When we examine the Bible holistically, we find that the attributes and personality of Jesus and God are so juxtaposed that they cannot be the same God. This is because Jesus lacks many of the attributes of God such as Omniscience and Omnipotence.
The common way that Trinitarians attempt to resolve this paradox is to say that when God took on flesh in the form of Jesus on earth, He had a human nature alongside a divine nature. So the person of Jesus had two natures such that he was both fully man and fully God at the same time. Therefore in becoming man, God was subject to the limitations of human beings because of the human nature of Jesus. Once Jesus was crucified, resurrected and ascended back to God, he took on a new glorified, spiritual body. Now that he has taken up his place on the throne at the right hand of God, he is free of all the limitations he had when he was here on earth.
Now there is a real problem with this explanation. The Bible explicitly states that God Almighty has an eternal and unchanging nature:
Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. [Psalm 93:2]
I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. [Malachi 3:6]
So as you can see, this explanation creates more problems than it attempts to solve. You can’t have an eternal and unchanging God on the one hand, and a ‘person’ of Him, Jesus according to Christians, that is changing. If Jesus took on a dual nature, that is, a limited human nature alongside his divine nature, whilst at the same time still being God, then the implication is that in becoming man, the nature of God changed. When Jesus then ascended and took on a glorified, spiritual body, whilst still being God, then the nature of God changed once again. This conflicts with the knowledge from the Bible that God is eternal and unchanging. Here is a diagram which summarises the Christian claims and why they are a problem (click on picture to enlarge):
The Qur’an resolves these paradoxes and theological problems by portraying Jesus in the correct light:
They have certainly disbelieved who say, ”Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers. [Chapter 5, verse 72]
So, the reality is that Jesus is a Messenger of God, not divine, just like the other messengers sent by God before and after him.
You can learn more about why Jesus can’t be God here.
You can learn more about Jesus in Islam here.
3. Jesus was not crucified.
All the writers of the New Testament unanimously state that Jesus was crucified. The Qur’an claims the exact opposite, Jesus was not crucified but rather God saved him from this grisly fate:
And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. [Chapter 4, verse 157]
The Qur’an states that those who believe that Jesus was crucified “differ about it” and are “in doubt”. In other words, the claims of the New Testament about these events surrounding Jesus are not reliable. It would be truly remarkable if the Qur’an’s claims about the reliability of the New Testament were proved to be correct, when not only is the Qur’an in direct opposition to multiple eyewitnesses of the Crucifixion (as the New Testament claims), but the Qur’an was also revealed much later than the New Testament.
Since the Crucifixion and Resurrection are the bedrock of the Christian faith, one would expect the information presented about these events in the New Testament to be in perfect harmony. When one analyses the various New Testament accounts of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus, we find that they are filled with irreconcilable contradictions and inconsistencies. One very famous issue is known as the “Mary Magdalene Problem”, details of which can be found here.
If the writers of the New Testament can’t even get the details of this significant event right, then it casts doubt on their credibility as inspired writers, and therefore the reliability of the New Testament as a whole. Why should anything that they recorded about Jesus be accepted as a reliable account? Mankind should rely on the Qur’an as an accurate and reliable source of information about the life and teachings of Jesus, peace be upon him, because the Qur’an is free of contradictions.
4. Defending the honour and integrity of the Prophets.
The Old Testament paints a very noble and honourable concept of Prophethood:
“…Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” [2 Chronicles 20:20]
“Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.” [2 Chronicles 24:19]
Unfortunately the Old Testament presents the Prophets in an extremely negative light when it narrates their stories. No sin is too great for them to commit, nor is any vice beyond their lowly desires. Just one example is the allegation that David committed adultery and murder:
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”… In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”… When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. [2 Samuel 11:2-26]
This is a real problem, as it goes against the very nature and purpose of Prophethood as defined in the Bible itself.
The Qur’an defines the concept of Prophethood in very noble and honourable terms. Unlike the Bible, the Qur’an presents the Prophets in such a way that satisfies this ideal. For example, regarding David:
And We had certainly given to David and Solomon knowledge, and they said, “Praise [is due] to Allah, who has favored us over many of His believing servants.” [Chapter 27, verse 15]
And We strengthened his kingdom and gave him wisdom and discernment in speech. [Chapter 38, verse 20]
In the Qur’an there is no conflict between the purpose of Prophethood and the Prophets themselves, as they are said to be the best of mankind.
You can read more about a comparison of Prophethood in the Qur’an and Bible here.
5. Joseph’s unfulfilled dream.
Prophet Joseph had a dream about his family prostrating to him:
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” [Genesis 37:9]
It’s important to note that the moon in his dream represents his mother Rachel. The problem is that before Joseph’s dream is fulfilled, his mother passes away:
So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). [ Genesis 35:19]
His brothers do eventually prostrate to him near the end of his story:
When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. [Genesis 43:26]
Notice that Rachel is not alive to prostrate to him. The dreams of God’s Prophets represent visions of the future that will come true. So this is a prophecy of God that is unfulfilled in the Bible.
In the Qur’an, there is no such issue as his mother is alive to bow and fulfil the dream:
And he raised his parents upon the throne, and they bowed to him in prostration. And he said, “O my father, this is the explanation of my vision of before. My Lord has made it reality… [Chapter 12, verse 100]
6. The ruler of Egypt – King or Pharaoh?
The Bible uses the term “Pharaoh” to refer to the ruler of Egypt in the stories of Moses, Joseph and Abraham:
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. [Exodus 12:31]
Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. [Genesis 41:14]
So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? [Genesis 12:18]
Advances in our knowledge of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs have revealed that the word ‘Pharaoh’ is a title that originates from the Egyptian term ‘per-aa’, literally “great house”, describing the royal palace. Historically, however, “Pharaoh” only started being used as a title for the king much later in Egyptian history, during the New Kingdom period:
This means that the Bible gets it wrong historically, it is an anachronism to use the word “Pharaoh” as a title in reference to the Egyptian ruler in the stories of Joseph and Abraham, as the word only took on this meaning much later in history, at the time of Moses.
The Qur’an refers to the sovereign ruler of ancient Egypt throughout its chapters:
– With regard to the Egyptian ruler who was a contemporary of Joseph, the Qur’an uses the title “King”; he is never once labelled as Pharaoh.
– As for the Egyptian ruler during the time of Moses, the Qur’an repeatedly calls him “Pharaoh” and never calls him “King”.
So, the Qur’an’s usage of “Pharaoh” respects what we know historically about the changing meaning of the word. Amazingly, these historical facts were unknown at the time of the Qur’anic Revelation in the 7th century, as our knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphs had long been lost. Knowledge of the old Egyptian hieroglyphs had been totally forgotten until they were finally deciphered in the 19th century CE with the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, over 1,000 years after the revelation of the Qur’an.
You can learn more about hieroglyphs and the historicity of the Qur’an here.
7. The moon does not emit its own light.
The Bible describes the light of the sun and moon in the following verse:
God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. [Genesis 1:16]
What’s interesting is that the same Hebrew word, ‘ma’owr’, which means “light, luminary”, is used to describe the light of both the sun and moon. If this is interpreted literally then it is scientifically inaccurate, as it would indicate that the sun and the moon are similar when it comes to light. The reality is that the sun emits its own light whereas the moon reflects light from the sun, like a mirror. This is exactly how the Qur’an describes the sun and moon:
Blessed is He who has placed in the sky great stars and placed therein a [burning] lamp and luminous moon. [Qur’an 25:61]
8. Corruption of the Torah.
Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto… [Chapter 5, verse 44]
And when the anger subsided in Moses, he took up the tablets; and in their inscription was guidance and mercy for those who are fearful of their Lord. [Chapter 7, verse 154]
The verses above show that the Qur’an speaks of the original revelation given to Moses, peace be upon him, in an extremely positive light. The original Torah is described as being “guidance”, “light” and a “mercy”, just as all divinely inspired Scriptures are. The Qur’an also confirms that the Israelites, who were entrusted with safeguarding the Torah, were responsible for corrupting it:
So woe to those who write the “scripture” with their own hands, then say, “This is from Allah ,” in order to exchange it for a small price. Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they earn. [Chapter 2, verse 79]
This verse of the Qur’an would have sounded like a conspiracy theory to most Jews and Christians living in the 7th century. Today there is a remarkable convergence of what the Qur’an says about the Torah and what modern scholarship says. Today we see this Qur’anic verse with its historical insight vindicated by the Dead Sea scrolls and other manuscript discoveries. Today various Biblical scholars are affirming that people wrote it with their own hands and attributed it to Moses and thus to God.
Readers are invited to learn more about the corruption of the Torah here.
It is only the Qur’an, God Almighty’s last and final revelation to mankind, that has been perfectly preserved. God has promised mankind that He will protect and preserve the Qur’an:
“Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” [Qur’an, chapter 15, verse 9]
Readers are invited to learn more about the miraculous preservation of the Qur’an here.
9. An impossible Exodus.
The Bible makes a claim about the number of Israelites that escaped Egypt with Moses (known as the “Exodus”):
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. [Exodus 12:37-38]
The Bible also states that the Israelites were important to the Egyptians because as slaves they were the workforce of Egypt:
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” [Exodus 14:5]
This would mean that at the Exodus, ancient Egypt suffered a catastrophic loss of most, if not all, of its labour workforce. According to the Bible there were 600,000 Israelite men that came out of Egypt. If you factor in women and children that figure would be closer to a few million. The problem is that there is absolutely no evidence of this historical event. There are no ancient Egyptian records of the sudden disappearance of millions of their people. There is also no physical evidence of settlements out in the desert where all these people and livestock encamped. From a purely practical point of view, how did Moses wake up and mobilise millions people in the middle of the night without being detected by the Egyptians?
The Qur’an’s account of this event is far more historically accurate and realistic as it says that it was actually only a small group of Israelites that escaped from Egypt:
And We inspired to Moses, “Travel by night with My servants; indeed, you will be pursued.” Then Pharaoh sent among the cities gatherers [And said], “Indeed, those are but a small band” [Chapter 26, verses 52-54]
This is in line with what modern historians say, if there was an exodus then it couldn’t have happened on the massive scale that the Bible claims.
10. Dealing in usury.
The Bible describes the practice of dealing in usury as one of the worst sins:
He lends at interest and takes a profit. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head. [Ezekiel 18:13]
Jews are forbidden from charging interest when lending money to other Jews:
If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. [Exodus 22:25]
How is it, then, that usury is permitted with non-Jews (referred to as “foreigners”):
You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite, so that the LORD your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.[Deuteronomy 23:20]
Surely a sin is a sin, regardless of who is sinned against? By comparison the Qur’an comprehensively condemns the practice of usury:
Allah destroys interest and gives increase for charities. And Allah does not like every sinning disbeliever. Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish prayer and give zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains [due to you] of interest, if you should be believers. And if you do not, then be informed of a war [against you] from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your principal – [thus] you do no wrong, nor are you wronged. [Chapter 2, verses 276-279]
Notice how the Qur’an not only declares unlawful all acts of usury going forward, it also commanded believers to give up what was owed to them in interest from past loans, with only the original sum of the loan being lawful and not a penny more. The Qur’an also criticises the Jews for practising usury when it had been forbidden for them in the original Torah, this seems to indicate that the verses which permit usury against non-Jews in the Torah have been falsified:
For wrongdoing on the part of the Jews, We made unlawful for them [certain] good foods which had been lawful to them, and for their averting from the way of Allah many [people], And [for] their taking of usury while they had been forbidden from it, and their consuming of the people’s wealth unjustly. And we have prepared for the disbelievers among them a painful punishment. [Chapter 4, verses 160-161]
What should be fresh in our minds is the recent turmoil in the financial markets which was caused by unscrupulous practices such as dealing in usury.
Any claims that the author of the Qur’an copied and plagiarised the Bible are completely without substance. When one copies they do so blindly, one does not copy and then make corrections and improvements. As we have seen, many of the corrections found in the Qur’an could not have been known by any human author as they required knowledge of the unseen. Were the Qur’an the product of a human mind, or tampered with by human hands, then it too would be filled with mistakes just like the Bible. From where, then, did the Qur’an originate? The Qur’an answers:
Your Companion [Muhammad] is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him. He was taught by one mighty in Power. [Chapter 53, verses 2-5]