Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Danger of Following Modern Muslim Apologists

By Cornelius

Dear Muslim Friends,

It is very important for you to carefully check out the views of modern Muslim apologists before adopting them because you think they may be useful in your dialogue with Christians. Some of them have adopted positions that according to the Quran will bring down a curse upon themselves. In particular, consider how Muslim apologists have said the Scriptures of the Christians and the Jews were originally flawless but have now been corrupted. They often go on to say the Christian and Jewish scriptures contain parts that are true and parts that are not true. While this answer may appear to explain how the Quran can appeal to the Torah and the Injil as authoritative while apparently contradicting them in other places, it is not a suitable response for any Muslim who fears Allah and believes the Quran. To see this consider the following passage from the Quran: (Note I have emphasized parts of the references by changing the font to bold.)

And (remember) when We made a covenant with the Children of Israel, (saying): Worship none save Allah (only), and be good to parents and to kindred and to orphans and the needy, and speak kindly to mankind; and establish worship and pay the poor-due. Then, after that, you slid back, save a few of you, being averse. And when We made with you a covenant (saying): Shed not the blood of your people nor turn (a party of) your people out of your dwellings. Then you ratified (Our covenant) and you were witnesses (thereto). Yet you it is who slay each other and drive out a party of your people from their homes, supporting one another against them by sin and transgression? - and if they came to you as captives you would ransom them, whereas their expulsion was itself unlawful for you - Believe you in part of the Scripture and disbelieve you in part thereof? And what is the reward of those who do so save ignominy in the life of the world, and on the Day of Resurrection they will be consigned to the most grievous doom. For Allah is not unaware of what you do. (Surah 2:83-85 Pickthall)

Notice the following things:

  1. An appeal is made to the Jews at the time of Muhammad; it was based upon a reminder of previous covenants and commands.
  2. The reward of those who believe part of the Jewish scripture and reject the other part is ignominy in the life of the world and the most grievous doom on the Day of Resurrection.

It was recognized by leading Muslim commentators such as Ibn Kathir that the warning against believing only parts of the Jewish Scriptures was given to Jews at the time of Muhammad. The quotations from Ibn Kathir are from his commentary on the previously referenced passage.

Allah criticized the Jews who lived in Al-Madinah during the time of the Messenger of Allah. They used to suffer, because of the armed conflicts between the tribes of Al-Madinah, Aws and Khazraj. Before Islam, the Aws and Khazraj worshipped idols, and many battles took place between them. There were three Jewish tribes in Al-Madinah at that time, Banu Qaynuqa` and Banu An-Nadir, the allies of the Khazraj, and Banu Qurayzah, who used to be the allies of the Aws. When war erupted between Aws and Khazraj, their Jewish allies would assist them. The Jew would kill his Arab enemy, and sometimes they also killed Jews who were the allies of the other Arab tribe, although the Jews were prohibited from killing each other according to clear religious texts in their Books. They would also drive each other from their homes and loot whatever furniture and money they could. When the war ended, the victorious Jews would release the prisoners from the defeated party, according to the rulings of the Tawrah. This is why Allah said,


(Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest) Allah said,


(And (remember) when We took your covenant (saying): Shed not the blood of your (people), nor turn out your own people from their dwellings.) meaning, "Do not kill each other, nor expel one another from their homes, nor participate in fighting against them.'' (Source)

Ibn Kathir goes on to say

“(Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest) This Ayah means, ‘Do you ransom them according to the rulings of the Tawrah, yet kill them while the Tawrah forbade you from killing them and from expelling them from their homes. The Tawrah also commanded that you should not aid the polytheists and those who associate with Allah in the worship against your brethren. You do all this to acquire the life of this world.’ I was informed that the behavior of the Jews regarding the Aws and Khazraj was the reason behind revealing these Ayat.”

These noble Ayat criticized the Jews for implementing the Tawrah sometimes and defying it at other times, although they believed in the Tawrah and knew what they were doing was wrong. This is why they should not be trusted to preserve or convey the Tawrah. Further, they should not be believed when it comes to the description of the Messenger of Allah, his coming, his expulsion from his land, and his Hijrah, and the rest of the information that the previous Prophets informed them about him, all of which they hid. The Jews, may they suffer the curse of Allah, hid all of these facts among themselves, and this is why Allah said,


(Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world), because they defied Allah's Law and commandments,


(And on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment) as punishment for defying the Book of Allah that they had.

Ibn Kathir acknowledges that

  1. the Jews of Arabia during Muhammad’s day were cursed for not following all their scripture.
  2. The Jews of Arabia during Muhammad’s day would be “consigned to the most grievous torment) as punishment for defying the Book of Allah that they had.”
  3. Logically, if these Jews were condemned for believing only a part of the scriptures they had with them at the time of Muhammad, there are only two possibilities:
    1. The scriptures they had at the time of Muhammad could be completely trusted.
    2. Allah condemned people for not completely believing in untrustworthy books, and will likewise condemn modern Muslim apologists and their followers for not believing in untrustworthy books.
  4. Since we have copies of the Jewish scriptures dating back hundreds of years before Muhammad, we can go back and check these. They should be uncorrupted since it was the Jews of Arabia during Muhammad’s day that were accused of hiding information that they knew very well.
  5. Ibn Kathir claims they are doomed for defying the Book of Allah that they had. In the context, this would be their scriptures not the Quran! Otherwise, the phrase “the recompense of those who do so among you” would have to refer to something outside the text. Such a method of interpretation if allowed could be used to render almost any meaning to any book.
  6. Ibn Kathir’s argument that the Jews are somehow “genetically untrustworthy” in regard to preserving scripture is ridiculous because the Quran affirms that the Jews of Arabia in Muhammad’s day had a copy of the scriptures of which they were required to believe the whole. It was Jews who preserved this scripture up until that time. Even if the Jews in Arabia during Muhammad’s day and after were unreliable, we do not have to depend upon them since we have copies of the scriptures dating back before the time of Muhammad.

Since the modern day Christians and Jews use texts predating Muhammad by hundreds of years, we do not have to concern ourselves with any changes “a party” of the Jews of Arabia during Muhammad’s day may have made to the scriptures, or any verbal omissions in their discussions with Muslims of the 6th or 7th centuries. So-called Muslim apologists who believe only in part of the Scriptures will suffer a painful doom, why follow them to Hell?