Shabir's latest work is aimed at Jehovah's Witnesses and their evangelistic tactics. Although, we do not agree with Jehovah Witness teaching most of Shabir's attacks are aimed at the authority of the Holy Bible and the credibility of the apostle Paul. It is precisely for these reasons that we felt a response was necessary. Let us proceed to Mr. Ally's arguments
Question # 1 : Is 100% of the Bible inspired by God?
They will say, "Yes! All scripture is inspired of God." They will also quote from the Bible where it says exactly that in Paul's 2nd Letter to Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16. They may then smile happily because they showed you the answer straight from the Bible.
The verse they show you is quoted without regard for its real meaning. Few people really ever think before they quote. If they find something that seems close to what they believe there is no stopping them from quoting it. Let us see now what the passage really means.
Amazingly, Shabir is guilty of the very precise thing he accuses others of doing. Often times Shabir quotes passages out of their intended context and disregards their real meaning. Hence, when Shabir finds something that seems close to what he believes there is no stopping him from quoting it.
To really understand the passage we have to know who wrote it, what he meant by it, and what he expected his first readers to understand by it.
Does Shabir really think he can understand the passage in light of his presupposition that the Holy Bible cannot be the unadulterated word of God? Does he think he can actually tell Christians what the Bible means? It is the same as if a Christian were to take a passage of the Quran and proceed to tell Shabir the real meaning of it. Would Shabir except it?
Who wrote it? Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Paul wrote that passage in a letter to his student Timothy.
What did Paul mean by `all scripture'? Did he mean `the whole Bible'? Many people assume so. But Paul did not say that. He did not say, "the entire Bible is inspired." He said "All scripture is inspired." So back to our question. What did Paul mean by "all scripture"?
Some people may say, "But `all scripture' means `all scripture,' don't you understand?" Say, "Should I understand that the Hindu Scripture, the Buddhist Scripture, the Muslim Scripture, the Christian Scripture and all other scripture is inspired by God?"
They will say, "No, because Paul would not have meant all that." But that makes us ask again, "What exactly did Paul mean?"
Shabir's logic is faulty from the start since for Paul "all scripture" meant all that the God of Israel had revealed and inspired through his prophets and messengers. The God believed by Hindus, Buddhists and even Muslims is not the God whom Paul had in view.
If at this point they say, "The whole Bible," this takes us back to the beginning of this discussion. Just say, "I feel that we are going around in a circle here. I have already shown that Paul never said, "The whole Bible."
Now you may need to help them understand that the verse they showed you was read out of context. By taking the verse in isolation, they give it a different meaning than what the author had intended. To see the proper context, let us read the verse again, this time starting with the verse that comes before it. Here are verses 15 and 16:
15 . . . from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching . . . (2 Timothy 3:15-16)
Except where noted, all Bible quotations in this study are from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures; this is the Bible used by Jehovah's Witnesses.
Explain to them that if they look at the previous verse (i.e. 2 Timothy 3:15) they will realize that Paul was speaking to his student Timothy about the scriptures which Timothy knew from his infancy. It was definitely not the whole Bible. The whole Bible was not yet complete.
The Bible is made up of basically two sections. The first is called the Old Testament, and the second is called the New Testament. Many books of the New Testament section were written after Paul's death.
Paul was not telling Timothy that Timothy knew from infancy about books which are not yet written, was he?
We really do not know who Shabir's intended audience is since his points are nothing more than red herrings, seemingly aimed at the uninformed. An informed Christian does not use 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to establish the point that Paul had the inspiration of the New Testament in mind when speaking to Timothy. Rather, 2 Timothy is used to show that Holy Scripture originates from the Spirit or breath of God, or as Paul puts it, "all scripture is theopneustos- God-breathed." Paul's point is not so much the canon, but rather the authority of Scripture and its sufficiency in equipping the man of God for the work of ministry.
To show how many books Paul was not referring to here, ask your visitors to look at the Table of Books of the Bible which is shown in their Bible towards the back. In their usual pocket edition published 1984, this appears on pages 1546 to 1547. Now look with them at page 1547 which displays a list of the Christian Greek Scriptures. In that chart the approximate dates when these books were written are shown in the 4th column. The approximate date given for the writing of 2 Timothy is the year 65 C.E. (i.e. A.D. but contemporary users prefer C.E. instead of A.D.). Now we can see that many books were written much later than that. Consider this list of Books of the New Testament together with their approximate year of authorship as given on the same chart:
Revelation 96 C.E. (A.D.)
John 98 C.E. (A.D.)
1 John 98 C.E. (A.D.)
2 John 98 C.E. (A.D.)
3 John 98 C.E. (A.D.)
Obviously, Paul was not telling Timothy to hold on to the above books which did not exist at the time.
It is only obvious if one believes that these dates are fixed. Certain scholars such as John Robinson and William F. Albright are of the opinion that all the NT books were completed between the years 40 and 70 A.D. In fact, the recent discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran have led some scholars to conclude that John was perhaps the earliest of all the Gospels seeing that much of the language he uses is similar to language used in the writings of the Qumran community.
In light of these factors, one cannot definitely say that the Johannine writings as well as the Apocalypse of John were definitely unknown to either Timothy or Paul due to their later dating.
Furthermore many other books were written too close to the year 65 C.E. for Timothy to have been familiar with them since his infancy. I leave this for you to explore with your visitors.
Shabir again makes another mistake since Paul was not limiting the inspiration of Scriptures to only those writings known by Timothy while in his infancy. Rather, Paul was including all the scriptures Timothy had been familiar with from his youth up until the time of Paul's present epistle. As we shall shortly see, the inspired writings that Timothy knew also included certain New Testament books.
That scripture Paul was telling Timothy about was the Old Testament, which Jehovah's Witnesses call the Hebrew-Aramaic Scriptures. These ancient scriptures in the oldest form in which they exist today are written in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Chaldee languages.
Actually, the scripture Paul was telling Timothy about included more than just the Hebrew Bible as the following verse from Paul's first letter to his young protégé proves:
Paul's first citation is from Deuteronomy 25:4. The second is from Luke 10:7:
Not only is Luke's writing inspired Scripture, but it is also placed on the same level of authority as Moses' writings. Furthermore, since the consensus of NT scholarship agrees that Luke and Acts were actually one volume and that Luke's gospel was the last of the synoptics to have been written, this implicitly affirms that the other gospels would have also been in circulation at that time. Presumably, Timothy would have also known these writings as scripture. So much for Shabir's arguments.
A problem, however, is that Timothy was familiar with that book not in its original languages, but in its Greek language translation (the translation of the Old Testament into the Greek language is called the Septuagint Version). That Greek translation was prepared about three hundred years before Christ to enable those who could not read Hebrew to still benefit from the scriptures. This is the version which the early Christians like Timothy were reading. And Paul was telling him to hold on to that book.
First, how does Shabir know that Timothy only knew the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures? Was he there to see what OT text Timothy had in his possession? The fact is that many of the OT passages cited in the New Testament do not stem from any one particular text-type. The quotations of the Hebrew Bible used by Jesus and others are a mixture of different text traditions with some readings stemming from a version similar to the Masoretic text, others from the Greek and still others which are similar to the text-type used in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
But is that a problem? Yes! A double problem. First, the translation disagrees with the original in many points. Which should we take as the inspired book — the original or the translation? This presents a dilemma. If the Hebrew original is inspired then the Greek translation is wrong. But if the Greek is wrong then Paul is wrong to call it inspired unless Paul thinks that a book is still inspired even if it contains mistakes.
Shabir confuses his readers by making the assertion that Paul was wrong for calling the Greek version the inspired word of God when Paul NEVER EVEN MENTIONS THE SEPTUAGINT AT ALL IN HIS WRITINGS! We challenge Shabir to show us one single place where Paul says that the Septuagint is God-breathed, or even mentions the Septuagint by name.
Furthermore, no two MSS are alike. This is true of the Quranic MSS as well, seeing that there were thousands of variant readings that existed between the different Quranic codices. For Shabir to then say that the variant readings of the Septuagint and the traditional Hebrew Text implies that the Greek contains errors is simply dishonest and unscholarly. No honest textual critic would label these variants as errors or assume that because there are variants between the Hebrew and the Greek, therefore the Greek version is wrong and is to be discarded.
Finally, Shabir fails to inform his readers that it was the Jews, both during and after the birth of Christ, who held to the authority and inspiration of both the Greek and the Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible. The following citations are taken from Glenn Miller's article:
"MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOOKS [OF THE SCRIPTURE] AND TEFILLIN AND MEZUZAHS SAVE THAT THE BOOKS MAY BE WRITTEN IN ANY LANGUAGE WHEREAS TEFILLIN AND MEZUZAHS MAY BE WRITTEN ONLY IN ASSYRIAN. R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAYS THAT BOOKS [OF THE SCRIPTURE] ALSO WERE PERMITTED [BY THE SAGES] TO BE WRITTEN ONLY IN GREEK.
'R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAYS THAT BOOKS [OF THE SCRIPTURE] ALSO ARE PERMITTED TO BE WRITTEN ONLY IN GREEK. R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Johanan: The halachah follows R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. R. Johanan further said: What is the reason of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel? Scripture says, God enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; [this means] that the words of Japheth shall be in the tents of Shem. But why not say [the words of] Gomer and Magog? - R. Hiyya b. Abba replied: The real reason is because it is written, Let God enlarge [yaft] Japheth: implying, let the chief beauty [yafyuth] of Japheth be in the tents of Shem.
"Bar-Ilan gives this explanation of this passage [HI:MIKRA:32]:
"The languages commonly written in the land of Israel were: 'Old' and 'Square' Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Nabatean, Syriac, Tadmorite and Mandaic. It was forbidden to write the Tora in any language but Hebrew in the 'Assyrian' (square) script, although there were Sages who permitted the Tora, and even tefillin and mezuzot to be written in Greek, WHICH WERE NEVERTHELESS CONSIDERED HOLY (M. Megilla 1:8; B.T. Megilla 9a)." (emphasis ours)
The article goes on to say:
"Josephus also used other Greek translations than the LXX, most notably the proto-Lucian texts [WTOT:60,n.38].
"He also praises the pagan king, who received the Greek translation of the Pentateuch (Ant 1.10-13):
"I found, therefore, that the second of the Ptolemies was a king who was extraordinarily diligent in what concerned learning and the collection of books; that he was also peculiarly ambitious to procure a translation of our law, and of the constitution of our government therein contained, into the Greek tongue. (11) Now Eleazar, the high priest, one not inferior to any other of that dignity among us, did not envy the forenamed king the participation of that advantage, which otherwise he would for certain have denied him, but that he knew the custom of our nation was, to hinder nothing of what we esteemed ourselves from being communicated to others. (12) Accordingly, I thought it became me both to imitate the generosity of our high priest, and to suppose there might even now be many lovers of learning like the king; for he did not obtain all our writings at that time; but those who were sent to Alexandria as interpreters, gave him only the books of the law, (13) while there were a vast number of other matters in our sacred books.
"This mixture of textual elements in Josephus is noted in the ABD (s.v. "Josephus"):
"An important question centers around the issue of the biblical text that Josephus had at his disposal. It is important because the answer would help shed significant light on the state of the text in 1st-century Palestine, almost a millennium before our first extant complete Hebrew manuscript. Josephus seems to have had in his possession texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek; and he varied in his use of them from biblical book to book. In view of the fact that in Josephus' time there were a number of divergent Hebrew and Greek texts of the Bible, we cannot be sure which version he used at any given time, especially since he usually paraphrased and elaborated rather than translated. Nor must we discount the possibility that Josephus followed a tradition independent of both the MT and the LXX, as may be seen from the fact that he agrees with Pseudo-Philo in some places that diverge from both the MT and the LXX.
"The fact that Josephus was himself writing in Greek would make it seem likely that his chief textual source was the LXX, especially since he cited it as a precedent for presenting the history of the Jews to a non-Jewish audience (Ant 1. Proem 3 §10-12) and since he devoted so much space paraphrasing the account of the translation given in Let. Aris. (Ant 12.2.1-15 §11-118), hardly what one would expect in a work which is essentially a political and military rather than a cultural and religious history of the Jews. And yet, the very fact that he paraphrased the Bible in Greek would seem to indicate that he hoped to improve on that rendering, since there would hardly be much point otherwise in a new version. Hence it is not surprising that where the style of the LXX is more polished, as in the Additions to Esther or in 1 Esdras, he adheres more closely to its text. And yet, to have ignored the LXX, in view of the tremendous regard in which that version was held, would have been looked upon as an attempt to hide something. Nevertheless, even when Josephus agrees with the LXX, this is not necessarily an indication that he had the LXX text before him, since he may have incorporated an exegetical tradition which had been known earlier to the translators of the LXX. Finally, the biblical texts found at Qumran indicate that the differences between the Hebrew and the Greek texts WERE NOT SO GREAT AS HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT.
"As a result of this liberal tendency, three distinct recensions and one mixed text type emerged during this period (c. 400 B.C. to c. A.D. 70). The three text types already known from the LXX, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the text preserved by the Masoretes--the textus receptus were corroborated by the finds at Qumran. Here the Hebrew text lying behind the Greek translation, the Jewish text type adopted and adapted by the Samaritans for their sectarian purposes, and the textus receptus are all represented.
"The confusion of text types in Palestine at this time is reflected in the citations from the OT in the NT, the Apocrypha, and the rabbinic traditions. The NT shares readings with the received text, Samar., LXX, Targ. Onkelos, Sirach, Testimonia, Florilegium, and Theod.
"In addition to rabbinic traditions about the textual emendations of the scribes cited above, other rabbinic tradition tells of the need for "book correctors" in Jerusalem attached to the temple and even of divergent readings in Pentateuchal scrolls kept in the temple archives. Moreover, collations made from the Codex Severus and preserved by medieval rabbis show variants from the textus receptus in the scroll taken to Rome by Titus in A.D. 70.
"At the same time, the biblical quotations in the rabbinic literature also differ from time to time from MT, both in direct quotations and in variants underlying the derashah, 'sermon." (emphasis ours)
The argument continues...
A second problem is that the Septuagint Greek version contains seven more books than the Hebrew version. These seven books are included in the Catholic Bible but not in the Jehovah's Witnesses' Bible.
But they were included in the Scriptures which Timothy knew from childhood. And Paul said all of it is inspired.
If Paul is right here, then Jehovah's Witnesses are wrong. But if Jehovah's Witnesses are right, then Paul's words are wrong even though they are found in the Jehovah's Witnesses' Bible.
Again, how does Shabir know that the original Septuagint contained the 7 disputed books of the apocrypha seeing that no complete Greek version of the Septuagint exists from the first century or even before the birth of Christ? It is true that the Church included certain apocryphal writings in the canon of their Greek OT Bible but this was done after the first century and not all held to the authority of these writings since fathers like Jerome disputed their authenticity. It seems that Shabir needs to be more careful in his statements since he commits gross mistakes in most of his writings.
The truth is that neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament is 100% from God. But if you believe Paul, then you have to understand that Paul was saying only that the Greek Septuagint Old Testament is inspired. Paul did not say more than this, and it would be wrong to say you believe in the man and then put words into his mouth.
Many of Jehovah's Witnesses unknowingly do exactly that. They believe so much in Watchtower teachings that they assume those teachings must be found in the Bible. Unfortunately, the Bible often disagrees with Watchtower teachings. What we are discussing here is one example of this. Although the Watchtower teaches that the Bible is 100% inspired, the Bible says only that its Old Testament is inspired. The Bible does not say that its entire New Testament section is inspired. If Jehovah's Witnesses chose to believe what they believe, they must realize that it is a man-made teaching.
We only wish that Shabir practiced what he preaches since he does precisely what he accuses others of doing. Shabir puts into the mouth of the apostle Paul words that never appear in the Holy Bible and then proceeds to rebut them. This is a classic example of a straw man argument, putting words into your opponent's mouth and then proceed to tear down the imagined allegations.
Furthermore, as we have already indicated Paul's citation on the inspiration of Scripture was not limited to the books of the OT, but also included portions of the NT as well.
The Bible does not teach that the entire New Testament is inspired. And that is a very significant part of the Bible.
Nor does the Bible teach that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament is inspired. Paul's statement quoted above only proves that the Greek Version is inspired. But Jehovah's Witnesses do not follow the Greek Version because they realize it would make no sense to disregard the original and follow a translation. So they rightly choose the Hebrew text. But this choice disagrees with what Paul says in their Bible!
Help them out of this confusion. Tell them about Islam with love.
The Qur'an says that the entire Qur'an is from Allah (see surah 3:7).
While it is true that the Holy Bible does not say that the entire canon of the NT is inspired, there is also no place in scripture where the inspiration of the 27 NT books is denied. Furthermore, there is not a single reference in the entire Quran where it states that only the present canon of 114 chapters or suras make up the revealed word of God. This is something that Shabir must take on faith alone since he has no Quranic verse to support his belief that these 114 chapters alone make up the canon of the Quran.
In fact, the evidence from the earliest Muslim writings indicate that confusion existed over whether the Quran consisted of 114, 116 or 111 chapters.
Ubayy b. Ka'b, considered the master of Quranic recitation, included two extra surahs, al-Hafd (the Haste) and al-Khal' (the Separation) (as-Suyuti, Al-Itqan, p.152-153). The narrative continues by stating that Abu Ubaid said:
Here are the two suras in their entirety:
You (alone) we worship, and to You (alone) we pray and lie prostrate, and to You (alone) we proceed and have descendants. We fear Your torture and hope for Your mercy. Truly Your torture will overtake the infidels.
O Allah, You (alone) we ask for help and forgiveness. We speak appreciatingly of Your goodness. Never do we disbelieve You. We repudiate and disbelieve anyone who follows immorality.
So we ask Shabir the following questions. Can you produce for us a single verse stating the extent of the canon of the Quran? There is nothing in S. 3:7 that even comes close to dealing with the canon of the Quran. Furthermore, why is it that men such as Ubayy ibn Ka'b included two extra chapters which both he and Ibn Abbas believed were revealed as part of the Quran? Maybe Shabir can answer these questions.
Finally, Shabir keeps putting words in the mouth of Paul by insinuating that the latter taught that the Greek OT version was the inspired word of God. The apostle never even alludes to the text-type used by either himself or Timothy, so this is nothing more than a straw man.
Question # 2 : What if I show you a verse in the Bible that claims to be not inspired?
There is no such verse.
There are many such verses. Here is an example which will become clear after you read the following two statements found in the Bible in Paul's letter to the Corinthians:
"To the married people I give instructions, yet not I but the Lord . . ." (1 Corinthians 7:10).
"But to the others I say, yes, I, not the Lord . . ." (1 Corinthians 7:12).
Notice that in the first statement Paul claims that the Lord is speaking. Jehovah's Witnesses believe Paul was telling the truth.
But how about the second statement? Here Paul is saying that the statement is his very own, and that the Lord does not say it. Would Jehovah's Witnesses please believe Paul in this statement too?
So that would mean that at least one verse of the Bible is not inspired. Then the Bible cannot be 100% inspired by God. Perhaps 99%, or 99.9% but not 100%. Agreed?
There are many other examples. Some books of the Old Testament claim only to be the words of a man, while others claim to contain words of God also.
Many New Testament passages claim to be the opinion of men. Check these out:
"I resolved also . . . to write . . ." (The Gospel According to Luke 1:1-4).
"Now concerning virgins I have no command from the Lord, but I give my opinion" (Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 7:25).
"Therefore I think . . ." (1 Corinthians 7:26).
". . . according to my opinion" (1 Corinthians 7:40).
"I certainly think . . ." (1 Corinthians 7:40).
"See! I, Paul, am telling you . . ." (Paul's Letter to the Galatians 5:2).
But some people do not want to see. Here lies the problem.
To save space, and to focus on the point we are making, I have not quoted the above verses in full. But the references are given so that you and your visitors can read them one at a time from the Bible. The same result will emerge. Many verses of the Bible claim to be from man but not from God. Do Jehovah's Witnesses believe these verses? If so, then how can they say that the Bible is 100% from God when the Bible itself says it is not?
They may say that the fact that the writers gave their opinion does not make a difference, because their teachings agree with the rest of the Bible. This is not a good argument, for that would mean that anything that agrees with the Bible is also inspired. Therefore if a Hindu writes a brief poem about the importance of charity that should be taken as inspired Word of God. Do Jehovah's Witnesses accept this?
Our point here is not that the opinions of men are good or bad. Paul and Luke quoted above may have been teaching even things which Muslims believe in. That does not make a difference. Many Muslim authors write about teachings which Muslims believe in. We do not call such writings inspired Word of God, do we?
Instead, we must stress with our visitors that if they believe Paul they must also believe him when Paul said that he was writing his own opinion; they must also believe Luke when he said that he was writing as a result of his own resolution. Luke did not claim to be inspired to write. Look again at what he said (quoted above).
Actually, what follows is a series of misquotations and fallacious assumptions on the part of Shabir.
Shabir conveniently cuts out the verses in mid sentence where Paul goes on to clarify what he actually meant. Here are the verses in their entirety and in their immediate context:
In light of 7:26, Paul's statements in 1 Corinthians 7:12 and 25 are not a denial of inspiration. Rather, they constitute an acknowledgment that the Lord, while on earth, has given no commands to the disciples in regards to these particular issues. Therefore, Paul gave "judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy."
Being guided by the Holy Spirit, Paul could speak authoritatively and infallibly on matters not addressed by Christ while on earth. This is precisely what Paul goes on to say at the conclusion of his discussion:
Paul specifically states that his decisions were not simply fallible human ones, but commands given by the Spirit. His statement here is not a doubt on his part that he had the Spirit, but is equivalent to someone today saying, "I think I know what I'm talking about."
Hence, Paul knows that what he says is true since it is the Spirit who is speaking through him. This point becomes more apparent in the following verses from the very same book of 1 Corinthians:
"If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that WHAT I AM WRITING TO YOU IS THE LORD'S COMMAND. If he ignores it he himself will be ignored." 1 Cor. 14:37
Furthermore, nothing in Luke's prologue denies inspiration. Christians do not believe that inspiration entails that the writers do not carefully research matters. Rather, we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the writers to infallibly record and include material that has been carefully investigated, protecting them from including errors of fact. In fact, Paul cites Luke's gospel as being both inspired scripture as well as having the same level of authority as that of Moses' writings. (see above)
The point we do make here is that human writings, no matter how good and how accurate, must not be attributed to God. Let us keep the Words of God separate and distinct from the words of Man. Ask your visitors to read the following verses in their Bible:
Please, let us not confuse the thoughts of men for the Words of God.
Shabir cites Isaiah 55:8-9 without mentioning the fact that God used the prophet Isaiah to communicate the very precise words Ally cites to deny the inspiration of Paul and Luke! Hence, God was speaking against the opinions of uninspired men. God was not referring to prophets that he himself spoke through and inspired, men like Paul who both knew and claimed that they were inspired by God.
Notice also that the letters which Paul wrote to various churches and individuals are part of the Bible. Help your visitors to realize that the letters which the prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace, and blessings of Allah) dictated to various kings and leaders do not appear in the Qur'an. The Qur'an is the Word of God. It does not contain any human writings, not even the inspired teachings of Muhammad (pbuh) himself. The inspired teachings of Muhammad (pbuh) are found in separate books called hadith.
Shabir assumes what he has yet to prove, namely that the Quran is not Muhammad's words but God's. He also assumes that the hadith contain inspired sayings of Muhammad. The claim of inspiration in and of itself does not prove inspiration. Nor does the fact that an inspired author of scripture that never explicitly claimed inspiration deny that he was speaking God's words to man.
Furthermore, it is not true that the Quran contains nothing but the words of God since there are several places where it is clearly not God who is speaking:
The question begs to be asked if God is speaking who then is the Lord that he serves? If it is the angels or Muhammad speaking, then the Quran cannot be considered 100% the word of God.
Another example would be:
Would Shabir now say that the Quran cannot be 100% the word of God just because it contains statements of men and angels? He must if he is to be consistent in the methodology he uses against the Holy Bible.
Question # 3 : Was Paul inspired when he said that all scripture is inspired?
But how do they know? If you ask how they know that the Bible is inspired they say, "Because Paul said so." Now if you ask how can we trust Paul on this they say "Because Paul's words are in the inspired Bible and therefore Paul's words are inspired too." This is circular reasoning. It is like a witness who defends his countryman by saying, "All men from my country are honest." Then, when you ask why you should believe the witness, the witness replies, "Because I am a man from my country." Obviously, this circular reasoning will not convince a thinking individual. On the contrary, we have already seen in the previous question that Paul said many things as his own opinion. When he said that all scriptures are inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) he may have been right. But how can you say so for sure?
It is only circular if you create a straw man argument like Shabir does. First, Paul is addressing someone who had already been supernaturally convinced that what Paul said or wrote was revelation from God. Hence, there was no need for Paul to try and prove in this letter to Timothy that he was an inspired spokesperson of Christ. Paul, elswhere, lists the evidence demonstrating his divine authority:
"For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience--by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God--so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;" Romans 15:18-19 ESV
"Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 9:1-2 ESV
"The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works." 2 Corinthians 12:12 ESV
"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith--" Galatians 3:1-5 ESV
Furthermore, it isn't just Paul who affirmed inspiration but his contemporaries did so as well. For instance, Peter viewed Paul's writings as inspired scripture. The apostle Peter says of Paul:
Peter affirms that Paul wrote with the wisdom that God had given him, also placing his writings on the same level of other inspired writings. In fact, Peter had just stated earlier:
Seeing that Peter just classified Paul's letters as scripture, affirming that the latter spoke by the wisdom God had given him, bears testimony to the fact that the writings of the latter did not originate from his own desires, but from the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, Shabir himself must use circular argumentation in order to prove that the Quran was revealed from God. How does Shabir know that the Quran is from God? Because Muhammad claimed it was? Yet, how do we know that Muhammad was a prophet? Because an illiterate man like Muhammad could not produce something like the Quran? Hence, we prove the Quran by Muhammad and Muhammad by the Quran. Talk about circular.
Question # 4 : Did Paul know that his letters are part of the Word of God?
Well, y-yes (actually, not sure).
Most people have not considered this question. The letters of Paul were collected and later made part of the Bible without consulting Paul (Paul was, of course long dead by this time).
This is perhaps the most amazing thing Shabir has thus far said. The reason being is that the Quran itself was never compiled in the form that we have it today during Muhammad's lifetime. This was done only after Muhammad's death:
"It is reported ... from Ali who said: "May the mercy of Allah be upon Abu Bakr, the foremost of men to be rewarded with the collection of the manuscripts, for he was the first to collect (the text) between (two) covers'." (Ibn Abi Dawud, Kitab al-Masahif, p.5).
It is reported ... from Ibn Buraidah who said: "The first of those to collect the Qur'an into a mushaf (codex) was Salim, the freed slave of Abu Hudhaifah". (as-Suyuti, Al-Itqan fii Ulum al-Qur'an, p.135).
The first collection of the Quran between two covers was done only after Muhammad's death. Hence, in the words of Ally: "the suras recited by Muhammad were collected and later made into the Quran as we know it now without consulting Muhammad (Muhammad was, of course long dead by that time)."
But Paul himself was quite conscious that he often wrote his own opinions (see question 2). In one case, Paul was even aware that he made an error in one of his letters which is now part of the Bible.
Read the following passage:
It should be clear in the above passage that Paul made a mistake and then a correction. But the mistake and the correction both remain in the Bible, Obviously, we do not object to the correction, but what about the mistake? Is that the Word of God too? If you look at the passage again, you will notice that Paul made the following three statements:
(a) I baptized no one else but Crispus and Gaius.
(b) Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas.
(c) I do not know whether I baptized anybody else.
The mistake Paul made is his first statement that he baptized no one else except two persons named Crispus and Gaius. Then he recalled that he had also baptized the household of Stephanas, so he made this slight correction in his next statement. But the mistaken statement is still there. Is this inspired?
Paul's third statement shows that he is not sure of the facts:
You see, Paul is not sure who else he baptized. He cannot remember. He knows he needs to correct his statement further by adding more names, but he cannot remember who to mention. So the first statement was a mistake. The second statement is a slight correction to the first. The third statement is an admission that the correction is not complete. All three remain in the Bible. Are these Words of God?
This is the second time Shabir adds to Paul's words and then proceed to claim an error when none exist. Where does Paul claim that he made a mistake? Shabir must break the sentence apart in order to make the inference that Paul was in error. The sentence runs as one continuous thread with Paul completing the point just made previously. Nowhere does he say, "Oops I've made a mistake guys, I'm sorry. I also baptized so and so."
Again, the Christian understanding of inspiration does not deny that God's word will be communicated through the normal method of human speech, a method that includes hyperbole, allegory, metaphor etc. It is only when you have a mechanical view of revelation in which the author's personality is totally canceled out that such literary devices are not to be expected. This is the Muslim view of the Quran, that Muhammad's personality was not involved in the revelation since the words were directly from God and were recited precisely as revealed.
Yet, it is precisely this view of inspiration that leaves Muslims with a problem. Compare the following verse:
According to Yusuf Ali the Arabic word for "a few years," Bidh'un, signifies a period of three to nine years. It amazes us that a prophecy from God would not specify the exact time of the victory, seeing that God is all-knowing and all-wise, declaring the end from the beginning. For God to guess that the Romans would win in "a few years" as opposed to specifying the exact year, is inconsistent with the belief in an Omniscient, Omnipotent Being.
Perhaps Shabir can explain why God would speak as if he were a man and use the vague expression, "a few years", when signifying the period of time it would take the Romans to be victorious over their enemies. Was God unable to pinpoint precisely when the victory would take place? And how does Shabir reconcile such usage with his view of revelation where the personality of the prophet is not used to convey God's words, something foreign to the Holy Bible.
Show them the Qur'an:
Since the Quran claims to have no discrepancies, Shabir might be able to explain the following passages and harmonize them to our satisfaction. Hopefully, he will not simply retort the typical Muslim response that a translation is not the Quran, or that we do not know Arabic and therefore fail to appreciate its beauty:
To forgive or not to forgive?
According to Sura 4:48, 116, God will not forgive shirk (i.e., worshipping others beside God):
"Allah forgiveth not (the sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgiveth whom He pleaseth other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, hath strayed far, far away (from the right)."
Yet, in the very same Surah, v.153, God does forgive shirk:
To those who might suggest that shirk was not applicable at the time of Moses, and was forgivable, let them be reminded of S. 6:88 where after speaking of Abraham (v.83), Isaac and Jacob (v.84), Moses, Job, Jesus, Joseph, Noah, David, Solomon etc. God states that, "Had they served other gods besides Him, their labours would have been vain indeed."
What is the length of a Day in God's sight?
"... a Day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years." S. 70:4
Which is it, 50,000 or 1,000 years? This is an error of 49,000 years! Or are we to simply assume that God does not know how many number of years does his day equal according to our reckoning?
How many days of Creation?
According to S. 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, and 25:59 the heavens and earth were created in six days. Yet, in S. 41:9-12 the length of time is listed as eight days:
He sat on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in Four Days in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (sustenance).
Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience."
So He completed them as seven firmaments in Two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. (Ali)
Hence, according to this passage we arrive at this calculation: 2 + 4 + 2 = 8.
Yusuf Ali indicates in his footnote that, "this is a difficult passage..." and tries to reconcile the difficulties by inferring that the four days of filling the earth includes the two days of creating it in the previous verse (9).
The only difficulty with this interpretation is the fact that v.10 mentions formation of mountains and its nourishment taking place concurrently within four days, an impossibility had the earth's structure not been created beforehand.
Another possibility that the Muslims use is the notion that the initial creation of the earth in its pre-biotic state took place at the same time that the heavens were formed, since both constituted one gaseous mass, making the two days of vv. 9 and 12, parallel times. This is inferred from the Arabic word, thumma, "moreover." According to modern Muslim exegetes the word can either refer to sequential time or to parallel action. Hence, it is presumed that thumma here refers to a parallel act, where both the heavens and earth were created simultaneously.
If the passage is speaking of a parallel action the verse should have indicated this by saying, "Then He turned to the heavens and the earth, when they were only smoke," since both were part of that smoke. Yet, the verse indicates that the earth was formed already when the heavens were still smoke, a clear error.
Furthermore, it might be true that the word thumma came to have more then one meaning, but this does not explain to us what the word meant to Muhammad or those closest to the revelation. For the meaning, we must go to the earliest Islamic sources.
The following traditions are taken entirely from The History of al-Tabari, Volume 1- General Introduction and from the Creation to the Flood (trans. Franz Rosenthal, State University of New York Press, Albany 1989), pp. 187-193:
"According to al-Muthanna- al-Hajjaj- Hammad- `Ata' b. al-Sa'ib- `Ikrimah: The Jews asked the Prophet: What about Sunday? The Messenger of God replied: On it, God created the earth and spread it out. They asked about Monday, and he replied: On it, He created Adam. They asked about Tuesday, and he replied: On it, He created the mountains, water, and so on. They asked about Wednesday, and he replied: Food. They asked about Thursday, and he replied: He created the heavens. They asked about Friday, and he replied: God created night and day. Then, when they asked about Saturday and mentioned God's rest (ing on it), he exclaimed: God be praised! God then revealed: `We have created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days, and fatigue did not touch Us.'"
"The two reports transmitted by us from the Messenger of God have made it clear that the sun and the moon were created after God had created many things of His creation. That is because the hadith of Ibn Abbas on the authority of the Messenger of God indicates that God created the sun and the moon on Friday. If this is so, earth and heaven and what was in them, except the angles and Adam, had been created before God created the sun and the moon. All this (thus) existed while there was no light and no day, since night and day are but nouns designating hours known through the traversal by the sun and the moon of the course of the sphere. Now, if it is correct that the earth and the heaven and the what was between them, except what we have mentioned, were in existence when there was no sun and no moon, the conclusion is that all existed when there was no night or day. The same (conclusion results from) the following hadith of Abu Hurayrah reported on the authority of the Messenger of God: God created light on Wednesday- meaning by `light' the sun, if God wills."
These traditions clearly affirm that the earliest Muslims, Muhammad included, believed that the heavens and the constellations were created after the earth. This is a gross error of science! Perhaps Shabir can explain.
Question # 5 : What happened to Paul's first letter to the Corinthians?
What do you mean? We have it right here in the Bible. Look!
They don't have it. What they show you is not the first letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians. In this very letter, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he had already written to them a letter before this one. Read verses 9 and 11 in the following passage from Paul's so-called first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5:
Obviously, in verse 9 above, Paul is referring to what he had written in a previous letter. In verse 11, Paul is making a change to his previous instruction. Compare below the following two instructions from Paul's previous letter and his so-called first letter:
Paul's previous instruction on this side:
Paul's new instruction on this side:
What we are discussing here is not the change in instruction issued by Paul. I have spelled out the matter in detail only to equip you to deal with anyone who tries to say that even in verse 9 Paul is referring to his current letter. Some people will try to convince you that there was no previous letter. But now you know how to demonstrate this truth to such a person.
So, now, where is that previous letter? Obviously, it is lost.
This is actually a difficulty since we are not aware whether Paul was referring to a previous letter that is lost, or a letter that was written to another group that had also been circulating amongst the Corinthians. For example, in Colossians 4:16, Paul states:
Evidence suggests that the letter from Laodicea, not to the Laodicea, refers to the letter to the Ephesians. This letter was a cyclical letter sent throughout Asia Minor and would have circulated throughout Laodicea and eventually to Corinth. Hence, Paul's statement in 1 Cor. 5:9 could be referring to an epistle that was written with all Christians in mind and that had been received by the church in Corinth.
It is also quite possible that the letter referred to by Paul was material that was eventually added to 2 Corinthians. Noted Christian writers Norm Geisler and Thomas Howe state:
Another possibility is that Paul was actually speaking of 1 Corinthians itself:
No matter from what angle we look at it, 1 Corinthians 5:9 remains a difficult passage. Yet, it is no more difficult then the following examples taken from Islamic sources:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam from al-Qaqa ibn Hakim that Abu Yunus, the mawla of A'isha, umm al-muminin said, "A'isha ordered me to write out a Qur'an for her. She said, 'When you reach this ayat, let me know, "Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and stand obedient to Allah."' When I reached it I told her, and she dictated to me, 'Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and the asr prayer and stand obedient to Allah.' A'isha said, 'I heard it from the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.'"
Malik's Muwatta, Book 8, Number 8.8.27:
Yahya related to me from Malik from Zayd ibn Aslam that Amr ibn Rafi said, "I was writing a Qur'an for Hafsa, umm al-muminin, and she said, 'When you reach this ayat, let me know, "Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and stand obedient to Allah."' When I reached it I told her and she dictated to me, 'Guard the prayers carefully and the middle prayer and the asr prayer and stand obedient to Allah.'"
Sahih Muslim, Book 8, Number 3421:
It had been revealed in the Qur'an that ten clear sucklings make the marriage unlawful, then it was abrogated (and substituted) by five sucklings and Allah's Apostle (peace_be_upon_him) died and it was before that time (found) in the Qur'an (and recited by the Muslims).
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 816:
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
'Umar said, "I am afraid that after a long time has passed, people may say, "We do not find the Verses of the Rajam (stoning to death) in the Holy Book," and consequently they may go astray by leaving an obligation that Allah has revealed. Lo! I confirm that the penalty of Rajam be inflicted on him who commits illegal sexual intercourse, if he is already married and the crime is proved by witnesses or pregnancy or confession." Sufyan added, "I have memorized this narration in this way." 'Umar added, "Surely Allah's Apostle carried out the penalty of Rajam, and so did we after him." (See also: Vol. 8, No. 817 and Vol. 9, No. 424)
We must ask Shabir where are these verses alluded to by these Islamic sources? Why are they not in the Quran? And what ramifications does this have on Allah guarding his word intact?
In summary, we must reiterate that we believe that the Holy Bible contains only those books that God in his sovereignty wanted as part of his infallible canon. This is something that we take solely on faith since we cannot "prove" that the entire canon of the Bible is exactly what God intended his infallible rule of faith to consist of. This is precisely the case with the Quran, since Muslims have no definitive proof that the present Quranic text is exactly what Allah wanted for Muslims.
Now, if someone believes that Paul's letters are the words of God, he or she has to also believe that some of the Words of God are lost forever. But will Jehovah's Witnesses believe this? Ask them to read this Bible verse.
How does this reconcile with the fact that one letter of Paul has disappeared?
Before attacking the Holy Bible, Shabir should worry about reconciling the loss of certain verses and chapters of the Quran with the following verses:
If there is no changing the words of Allah how is it that we find omissions, deletions and verbal variants to the Quranic text which Shabir believes to be God's word? How do we reconcile these verses with the fact that the Quran says that Allah does change his words?
As we have indicated, we believe all that God has chosen to form his written word has not disappeared, but has been preserved till now. Any so-called "lost" books are not the word of God, since had they been God in his sovereignty would have preserved them.
Muslims understand that God can reveal a message and then allow it to be forgotten. But a Jehovah's Witness does not accept that belief. They think once revealed, always preserved. So they have to deal with this question. The loss of Paul's letter is a good indication that the recipients of Paul's letter did not take it as the Word of God. If they did, wouldn't they try to preserve it? Why did they let the Word of God disappear like that? Now someone may say that the rest of Paul's letter were preserved, and this proves that the people who preserved them regarded them as the Word of God. Let us not stretch things so far.
Firstly, no one knows how many other letters of Paul are really lost, and we still have no satisfactory answer for that problem. We have just stumbled upon evidence of one letter being lost. What other evidence will yet turn up? Secondly, people keep letters and other writings for all kinds of reasons. Perhaps people thought the letters of Paul contain important things. Others may have kept such letters with a view to refute the teachings they contain. We have not enough details to settle this mater, but we can safely conclude that just because someone kept some letters of Paul does not mean they took the letters as coming from God. They knew the letters were from Paul.
Actually, Shabir does not know how much of the Quran is missing in light of the following traditions:
We ask Shabir where are those verses that Umar claimed was part of what Ubayy recited. If he claims that they were abrogated he is still left with a problem since the present Quranic text contains both the abrogated and the abrogating verses. Or where are the verses which had only been known to those reciters slain at the battle of Yamama?
None of Paul's inspired writings have been lost since all God-breathed scriptures have been preserved. The fact that certain writings of Paul have possibly been lost, implies that God in his sovereignty did not inspire them or chose to include them into his infallible written text.
Show them the Qur'an:
Gently explain to them that God protects the Qur'an so that none of it will ever be lost.
In actuality, S. 15:9 does not limit preservation only to the Quran since the term itself does not appear in the verse. Rather, the verse affirms that Allah would preserve the Reminder which he had sent down to man. This Reminder includes the Holy Bible that was available in Muhammad's day:
That this includes the Holy Bible is made clear in the following citations:
These passages establish that the revelation given to Moses, David and the Book which Jews and Christians possessed at the time of Muhammad is also part of that Reminder which God sent down and promised to preserve. Hence, for Shabir to assert that the Bible is corrupt basically means that God failed to guard his message from corruption, breaking his promise of insuring its preservation.
In fact, Ibn Abbas, Islam's premiere commentator, affirms that none of God's book have been corrupted. In Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitaab Al-Tawheed, Baab Qawlu Allah Ta'ala, "Bal Huwa Qur'aanun Majeed, fi lawhin Mahfooth" (i.e. in Sahih al-Bukhari, Book "The Oneness of God", the Chapter on Surat Al-Borooj (no. 85), Verses 21, 22 saying, "Nay this is a Glorious Qur'an, (Inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved.") we find in a footnote between 9.642 and 643:
This is the commentary of Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of Muhammad's cousins and companions. His opinions are held to be above the opinions and commentaries of all other Sheikhs who are not Sahaba.
A careful examination of Ally's five points leaves much to be desired. Shabir applies a methodology that can easily be used against Islam and the Quran. Shabir is guilty of misquotation as well as gross misinterpretation of biblical passages. His writings leave a lot to be desired.
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