WHAT IS THE GOSPEL / INJEEL ACCORDING TO CHRISTIANS?
According to Christians the gospel is first the life of Jesus and second the message that comes from His life. Mark recorded in Mark 1:1 (KJV), “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God…” This verse lets the reader know that the gospel (or good news) is about Jesus as the Son of God. The prophecy that Mark used in the second verse drives home the point of the nature of Jesus as the Son of God- He cannot be just a mere man.
Mark quotes Malachi 3:1 & Isaiah 40:3 in Mark 1:2-3 (NIV) “2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way” — 3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
The messenger Mark is referring to in the prophecy is revealed in verse 4 to be the John the Baptist, thus Jesus is the Lord that will come to His temple (Psalm 27:4) because the full reference of Malachi 1 states, (NIV) “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.” This is clearly the Son speaking as LORD (YHWH) Almighty about His coming and who will go before Him. Likewise in Isaiah 40:3 the LORD (YHWH) states that a voice will call out to prepare the way of the LORD; thus Jesus, the Son of God is the LORD of the prophet Isaiah.
Mark then recorded Jesus’ preaching for people to “believe the gospel” in Mark 1:14-15 (KJV), “14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” It is clear that Mark believed Jesus was central to the gospel, because in the next few verses Mark recalls that Jesus called fishermen to follow Him, Mark 1:16-18 (NIV), “16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.” Therefore, Mark sees the gospel as the person of Jesus and His message.
Mark depicts Jesus as:
- The One with power to destroy the powers of Satan (Mark 1:24)
- Someone who can forgive sins (Mark 2:5)
- The Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28)
- The controller of the wind and waves (Mark 4:39)
- The Messiah who must suffer, be killed, and rise again (Mark 8:29-32, Mark 9:30-32 & Mark 10:32-34;45)
- The Son of Man who will come in His Father’s glory (Mark 8:38)
- The declared Son from the voice in the cloud that can transform into a glorious image in front of the disciples (Mark 9:2-8)
- The One that people can do miracles in His name (Mark 9:38-41)
- The Heir of God’s Kingdom (Mark 12:7)
- The Lord of David (Mark 12:35-37)
- The Son of Man who send forth His angels to gather God’s elect (Mark 13:26-27 & Mark 14:62)
- The One whose words will never pass away (Mark 13:31)
- The One whose Body and Blood is given for the covenant (Mark 14:22-24)
- The Savior crucified, buried, and raised from the dead (Mark 15:27,37-39 & 16:6-7)
Therefore, the gospel is the life of Jesus and the message He gave as noted by Mark (which includes the grand finale where His life and message culminated at the cross, burial, and resurrection). To deny these things about Jesus would be to deny to the gospel. Those who were led by God to record the gospel of Jesus known as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John do not have different gospels or different messages of Jesus but rather the same message shared in different and complimentary ways. Likewise, Paul, the author of the most New Testament books to the churches claimed he was preaching that same gospel given to him by personal revelation when he met Jesus (Galatians 1:1, 6-9, 11-12, 2:6-10).
SIX PROOFS FROM THE QURAN FOR THE RELIABILITY AND PRESERVATION OF THE CHRISTIAN GOSPEL
(1) Muslims are commanded by Allah to believe in that which has been revealed to the People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians).
(A) The Quran in Surah 29:46 commands Muslims to give a whole hearted affirmation of that which the People of Scripture/Book (which are Jews and Christians) consider to be revealed Scripture. If the Muslim tries to isolate the revelations to only the teachings of Moses and Jesus instead of the entire Old and New Testament (66 books), have them first concede that this verse (ayah) does not make any such distinctions.
Surah 29:46, Sahih International Translation: “And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.”
Surah 29:46, Muhsin Khan Translation: “And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islamic Monotheism with His Verses), except with such of them as do wrong, and say (to them): “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilah (God) and your Ilah (God) is One (i.e. Allah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims).”
(B) Likewise, Surah 2:87 & 2:136 state that there are many prophets other than Jesus and Moses, thus help them understand that the writings of the Old and New Testaments come from prophets that preceded Mohammed by hundreds of years and are consider what was revealed to us. After all, as “People of the Scripture,” shouldn’t we able to define for ourselves what we believe was revealed to us? The Jewish canon (identical to the Protestant Old Testament) was settled around 333 B.C. at “The Great Assembly” and the Christian New Testament canon was solidified at the Council of Carthage in A.D. 397.
(i) Surah 2:87, Sahih International Translation: “And We did certainly give Moses the Scripture [i.e., the Torah] and followed up after him with messengers. And We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs and supported him with the Pure Spirit [i.e., the angel Gabriel]. But is it [not] that every time a messenger came to you, [O Children of Israel], with what your souls did not desire, you were arrogant? And a party [of messengers] you denied and another party you killed.”
(ii) Surah 2:136, Sahih International Translation: “Say, [O believers], “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants [al-Asbāṭ]1 and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.”
(C) If a Muslim tries to exclude the biblical Prophets, aside from Moses and Jesus, who wrote Scripture in the Old and New Testaments have them concede this confusion arises because their Quran is not “clear.” Which is in direct violation of Surah 28:2, “These are verses of the clear Book.” In other words, continually announce to them that it is fault of the Quran not being clear that this confusion arises on their end. Otherwise, they should easily be able to affirm what was revealed to Jews and Christians via our prophets. It is not that we are not clear, our councils provide all the needed evidence of our recognized revelations.
(D) Likewise, there are many examples of our books predating Mohammed’s words in the 600’s. For example, the Dead Sea Scrolls 200 B.C.-100 A.D. (parts from all the Old Testament books except Esther, Hebrew), Diatessaron 160-175 A.D. (a compilation of the four gospels, Syriac or Greek), Codex Sinaiticus 330-360 A.D. (partial Old Testament & entire New Testament, Greek), Codex Vaticanus 300-325 A.D. (most of the Old & New Testament, Greek), Latin Vulgate late 300’s A.D. (all the Old & New Testament, Latin), Codex Alexandrinus 400-440 A.D. (most of the Old & New Testament, Greek), and Peshitta 200-600 A.D. (all the Old & New Testament, Syriac/Aramiac).
(E) Do not get drawn into a debate over textual criticism because Mohammed never made that argument (he actually said the opposite- he said he affirmed our revelations!), therefore, hold Muslims to the Quran and its affirmations, not the conjecture of unbelievers like Bart Ehrman (because they drop his scholarship when he affirms the death and crucifixion of Jesus). Visit, The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts to see all the work being done to insure we have preserved the original content of the New Testament. Likewise, the Muslim who wants to do textual criticism with the Bible should first be honest like Muslim scholars Yasir Qadhi and freely admit there are “holes in the narrative” about the Quran’s perfect textual preservation and openly teach it is not easy to recreate the Quran as supposedly Mohammed delivered. Therefore, stay focused on the point at hand- Mohammed via the Quran in the 600’s affirmed what Jews and Christians had as Scripture.
(2) According to the Quran Allah revealed the Torah and the Gospel, before (the Quran) as a guidance and those who disbelieve in the verses of Allah (including the Torah & Gospel) will have a severe punishment.
(A) The Quran in Surah 3:3-4 does not teach that only the verses of the Quran are to be believed in or considered guidance, rather the same respect is to be given to the Torah and the Gospel because the Quran is supposed to confirm these previous revelations- not contradict them.
Surah 3:3-4, Sahih International Translation: “3 He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. 4 Before, as guidance for the people. And He revealed the Qur’an. Indeed, those who disbelieve in the verses of Allah will have a severe punishment, and Allah is exalted in Might, the Owner of Retribution.”
Surah 3:3-4, Mushin Khan Translation: “3 It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Qur’ân) to you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) with truth, confirming what came before it. And He sent down the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), 4 Aforetime, as a guidance to mankind. And He sent down the criterion [of judgement between right and wrong (this Qur’ân)]. Truly, those who disbelieve in the Ayât (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allâh, for them there is a severe torment; and Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Able of Retribution.”
(B) Likewise, Allah said in Surah 10:94 to Mohammed that if he was in doubt about his revelations (i.e., “the Quran”) he was to ask those reading the Scripture (i.e., Jews and Christians) before him. Notice again, nothing is mentioned about the previous Scriptures being corrupted or needing to be filtered with the Quran to know what is true about it. Rather, Mohammed was supposed to go Jews and Christians if he had doubt, ask them questions, and no longer doubt. Therefore, the Torah and Gospel are supposed give guidance to everyone- including Mohammed.
Surah 10:94, Sahih International Translation: “So if you are in doubt, [O Muḥammad], about that which We have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters.”
Surah 10:94, Mushin Khan Translation: “So if you (O Muhammad) are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, [i.e. that your name is written in the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)], then ask those who are reading the Book [the Taurât (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it).”
(C) This doesn’t mean that the Quran teaches everything in the Torah or that the Injeel should be followed, but in the same way Jesus “confirmed” the Torah and gave new revelation (what we as Christians would call a New Covenant), the Quran was said to “confirm” the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians, not “contradict” it.
(i) Surah 35:31, Sahih International Translation: “And that which We have revealed to you, [O Muḥammad], of the Book is the truth, confirming what was before it. Indeed Allah, of His servants, is Aware and Seeing.”
Surah 35:31, Mushin Khan Translation: “And what We have revealed to you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), of the Book (the Qur’ân), it is the (very) truth [that you (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) and your followers must act on its instructions], confirming that which was (revealed) before it. Verily! Allâh is indeed All-Aware, and All-Seer of His slaves.”
(ii) Surah 5:46, Sahih International Translation: “And We sent, following in their footsteps,1 Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous.”
Surah 5:46, Mushin Khan Translation: “And in their footsteps, We sent ‘Îsâ (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary),1 confirming the Taurât (Torah) that had come before him, and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Taurât (Torah) that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for Al-Muttaqûn.”
3. There is no changer of Allah’s words because they are a reminder [dhikr].
(A) The Quran states in many places that no one can change Allah’s words because they serve as a reminder (in Arabic, “dhikr”). That is why any attempt to say Allah’s words can change on earth (aside from the Quran) lessens Allah’s power. Likewise, if Allah, as some Muslims try to assert, only promised to protect his words in the Torah and Gospel in heaven, but not on earth, this would be ignorant (because the Quran never teaches that) and pointless (because who can change anything in heaven). Certainly, no one could change a word from Allah in heaven, why even promise that? But how could Mohammed confirm Allah’s previous revelations and use them to rid him of his doubt if they were not preserved in his time? Therefore, the Quran makes powerful promises of preservation for all of Allah’s words (without qualification and time limits)- especially for the Torah and Gospel.
(i) Surah 18:27, Sahih International Translation: “And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge.”
(ii) Surah 15:9, Sahih International Translation: “Indeed, it is We who sent down the message [dhikr] and indeed, We will be its guardian.”
(iii) Surah 21:7, Sahih International Translation: “And We sent not before you, except men to whom We revealed so ask the people of the message [dhikr] if you do not know.”
(iv) Surah 40:53-54, Sahih International Translation: “53 And We had certainly given Moses guidance, and We caused the Children of Israel to inherit the Scripture 54 as guidance and a reminder [dhikr] for those of understanding.”
(B) In this section I purposefully didn’t use the Khan translation and I removed all the brackets from the Sahih International version as well, because the brackets are not in the original Arabic, and though those interpolations can be helpful at different times to make sense of the unclear Quran, now they are dangerous to the truth because both versions insert “Quran” in some places when the word is actually “dhikr.” Or they try to hide the word “dhikr” by translating it “message” instead of “reminder” as they do when the Quran is in view (this is a double standard in their translations). However, the promise of something being preserved as a reminder doesn’t just apply to the Quran but all of Allah’s words- especially in the Torah and the Gospel. For example, read Surah 21:7 & 40:53-54 in the original and then compare with the different versions that use brackets. The truth that comes from Surah 21:7 in the original show how this bracketing method backfires when the Arabic is brought forth because Sahih International translates the last phrase, “ask the people of the message” when it literally reads in the Arabic, “ask the people of people of the dhikr/reminder.” Jews/Christians are literally called the people of the reminder!
4. The Torah and the Gospel are claimed by Allah to have references of Mohammed.
(A) Another example of the Quran’s dependence upon the Torah and Gospel (and its preservation) is the promise to Mohammed to be able find himself in our books. And these promises of finding Mohammed in our books do not have an expiration date. Just like with the promise of the Torah and Gospel being an unchanged reminder of Allah’s words (“dhikr”), people from all times should be able to find Mohammed’s name in our books- and how can we do that if the Gospel and Torah are changed/corrupted?
(i) Surah 7:157, Abdul Haleem Translation: “who follow the Messenger- the unlettered prophet they find described in the Torah that is with them, and in the Gospel- who commands them to do right and forbids them to do wrong, who makes good things lawful to them and bad things unlawful, and relieves them of their burdens, and the iron collars that were on them. So it is those who believe him, honour and help him, and who follow the light which has been sent down with him, who will succeed.”
(ii) Surah 10:94, Mushin Khan Translation: “So if you (O Muhammad SAW) are in doubt concerning that which We have revealed unto you, [i.e. that your name is written in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] then ask those who are reading the Book [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] before you. Verily, the truth has come to you from your Lord. So be not of those who doubt (it).”
(B) Notice that both the Jews and the Christians who have their Torah and Gospel are “reading the Book” (10:94), which proves according the Quran these revelations were written down and did not just remain in oral form as some Muslims claim. In Surah 7:157, Sahih International says, “find written,” once again showing the reason Jews and Christians were called, “People of the Book”- because they had a book.
5. The People of the Gospel are to make judgments based on what Allah revealed therein “i.e., the Gospel.”
(A) Not only is Mohammed commanded by Allah to come to the People of the Book/Scripture to ask questions in his doubts and to look for his name being mentioned; but he was commanded by Allah to tell the People of the Gospel to judge according to their book.
Surah 5:47, Sahih International Translation: “And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.”
Surah 5:47, Muhsin Khan Translation: “Let the people of the Injeel (Gospel) judge by what Allâh has revealed therein. And whosoever does not judge by what Allâh has revealed (then) such (people) are the Fâsiqûn [the rebellious i.e. disobedient (of a lesser degree)] to Allâh.”
(B) Some Muslim apologists may claim that what Surah 5:47 actually means is, “judge what is the real and original gospel given to Jesus, by first reading the Quran, because they have been corrupted.” They most likely will do this by going to the next verse (5:48) and use a translation that states the Quran is the “criterion over” the other Scriptures. However, that is not what is meant by the Arabic word, “muhaymin.” Notice how the word muhaymin is translated differently in the various translations;
Surah 5:48, Sahih International Translation: “And We have revealed to you, [O Muḥammad], the Book [i.e., the Qur’ān] in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion [Muhaymin- emphasis mine] 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. To each of you We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.
Yusuf Ali: “To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety [Muhaymin- emphasis mine]: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires…”
Pickthall: “And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it [Muhaymin- emphasis mine]. So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto thee…”
So is the Quran acting more as a “criterion” over the Torah and Injeel or is it a “guardian” and “watcher?” The way the word is translated frames the next part of the verse. First, the Arabic word generally translated as “criterion,” [furqan] is not even in the verse, it is the Arabic word, “muhaymin.” And this word does not actually mean criterion, it means “guardian.” Therefore, translations like Sahih International are exposing their bias when they use the word criterion to change the understanding of the verse.
Second, verse 5:48 is not about correcting the books of the Jews and Christians because just in the verses prior, 46-47, we are told that Jesus confirmed the Torah the Jews had with them. And that the Christians were to judge by the Gospel (without qualification or any hint of textual corruption). Therefore, 5:48 is about instructing Mohammed how to judge what law he should follow. That is why Allah said, “To each of you We prescribed a law and a method,” therefore, for the Muslim their law is found in the Quran, but for the Jew and Christian their law is found in their writings. Hence, Allah saying, “So judge between them by what Allah has revealed,” the judgment is not for Mohammed to decide what Allah has revealed or not revealed in their writings, but rather, what in their writings is considered to be law for the Muslim community.
That is why in Surah 5:68 the People of the Scripture are told to uphold what has been revealed to them.
Surah 5:68, Sahih International Translation: “Say, “O People of the Scripture, you are [standing] on nothing until you uphold [the law of] the Torah, the Gospel, and what has been revealed to you from your Lord.” And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will surely increase many of them in transgression and disbelief. So do not grieve over the disbelieving people.”
Surah 5:68, Muhsin Khan Translation: “Say (O Muhammad SAW) “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! You have nothing (as regards guidance) till you act according to the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to you from your Lord (the Quran).” Verily, that which has been sent down to you (Muhammad SAW) from your Lord increases in many of them their obstinate rebellion and disbelief. So be not sorrowful over the people who disbelieve.”
(C) Note the following studies from the following Islamic scholars that confirm muhaymin refers to the Quran being a guardian and protector, not a criterion or corrector of previous Scriptures:
(i) Al-Tabari on 5:48: Narrated by Al-Mathny, narrated by Abu Huthaifa, narrated by Shibl, narrated by Ibn Abu Nujaih, narrated by Mujahid who stated that “muhaimin” over it refers to Muhammad who was entrusted with the Quran. Narrated by Muhammad Ibn Umar, narrated by Abu Asim, narrated by Isa, narrated by Ibn Abu Nujaih, narrated by Mujahid who said that “muhaimin” over it means that Muhammad was entrusted with the Quran. [and] “Regarding “muhaimin” Allah says that He brought down the book (Quran) to you O Muhammad, believing in the books that came before it AND A WITNESS TO THEM (the previous scriptures) THAT THEY ARE TRUTH FROM ALLAH, FAITHFUL TO THEM AND A PROTECTOR TO THEM. The root of “Haymana” means TO PROTECT and WATCH OVER, that is why it is said when a man watches over something and protects it he has “haymana” over it. The present form of the verb is “yu-haymen” and the noun is “haymana”. Based on what we have mentioned, the people of interpretation HAVE DIFFERED in their explanation of this word; for some said that it means to be A WITNESS.”
(ii) Tafsir al-Jalalayn on 5:48: “And We have revealed to you O Muhammad (s) the Book the Qur’ān with the truth bi’l-haqq is semantically connected to anzalnā ‘We have revealed’ confirming the Book that was before it and watching over it testifying to it — the ‘Book’ means the Scriptures. So judge between them between the People of the Scripture if they take their cases before you according to what God has revealed to you and do not follow their whims deviating away from the truth that has come to you. To every one of you O communities We have appointed a divine law and a way a clear path in religion for them to proceed along. If God had willed He would have made you one community following one Law but He separated you one from the other that He may try you in what He has given to you of the differing Laws in order to see who among you is obedient and who is disobedient. So vie with one another in good works strive hastily thereunto; to God you shall all return through resurrection and He will then inform you of that in which you differed in the matter of religion and requite each of you according to his deeds.
(iii) Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs on 5:48: “(And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture) We have sent you Gabriel with the Qur’an (with the Truth) to make plain the Truth and falsehood, (confirming) the statement of Allah’s divine Oneness and some laws (whatever Scripture was before it) whatever Scriptures were before it, (and a watcher over it) a witness upon all the Scriptures before it; it is also said: a witness upon the ruling of stoning; and it is also said: a watcher over all previous Scriptures. (So judge between them) between the Banu Qurayzah and the Banu’l-Nadir and the people of Khaybar (by that which Allah hath revealed) by that which Allah has exposited to you in the Qur’an, (and follow not their desires) regarding the application of whipping and discarding stoning (away from the Truth which hath come unto thee) after the exposition that has come to you. (For each We have appointed a divine law) for each prophet among you We have exposited a divine law (and a traced out way) obligations and practices. (Had Allah willed He could have made you one community) He has made you follow one divine law. (But that He may try you) test you (by that which He hath given you) of Scripture, obligations and practices, such that He says: I have prescribed all this for you, so let not delusion creep into your minds. (So vie one with another in good works) so vie, O Community of Muhammad (pbuh) with other nations, in obligations, practices and righteous works; it is also said that this means: hasten, O Community of Muhammad (pbuh) to perform acts of obedience. (Unto Allah ye will all) all nations (return, and He will then inform you of that wherein ye differ) where you contravene in relation to religion and divine laws.”
(iv) The Study Quran, pgs. 300-301, “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 (Ṭ, 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 rulings 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 has revealed to him, namely, the Quran (Bḍ, Ṭ, 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 (Ṭ), or that he should not comply with their desire to alter or neglect what has come to the Prophet himself in the Quran (Bḍ). 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, Ṭ). Law here translates shirʿah, from the same root as sharīʿah, the technical term for religious law, and Islamic Law in particular; way (minhāj) denotes a path that is smooth and clear (Ṭ, Z). For some commentators, these different “laws” and “ways” are not valid simultaneously; rather, God ordains a particular “law” and “way” for each era (Bḍ, Z). A minority opinion attributed to the early commentator Mujāhid understands a law and a way as a reference to one law and one way, namely, Islam (Ṭ). Ibn Kathīr argues that in for each among you We have appointed a law and a way, the word “Quran” was elided, but meant to be understood, so that the phrase would read, “for each among you We have appointed [the Quran] as a law and a way,” indicating the universality of Quranic rulings. These more exclusivist readings, however, seem inconsistent with the verse’s clear implication that it is the Divine Will that there be multiple religious communities, as expressed in the next line of this verse, had God willed, He would have made you one community (Ṭ). Grammatically, this is a counterfactual conditional statement indicating that human beings do not exist as one (religious) community, because God has not willed it as such. See also 2:213; 10:19; 11:118; 16:93; 42:8, where the reality of multiple human religious communities is also mentioned.
(v) More sources
(D) Therefore, if a Muslim brings up other tasfirs such as Ibn-Kathir (from the 1300’s) and try to use their understanding of the verse to mean the Quran is a criterion or corrector of previous Scriptures, show them once again the Quran is so unclear that even among the scholars (like Al-Tabari from the 900’s) there is disagreement and that the word itself in the context of 5:48 doesn’t talk about correcting texts, but rather deciding on what law each group should judge by. And this is even confirmed by popular and modern commentary found in, The Study Quran.
(E) Lastly, the context of the Surah 5:43-48, starts with 43 and Allah asking Mohammed why are the Jews coming to him and asking him for his judgement about adultery when they have their own Torah to judge by. Hence the following Hadith being revealed in Sunan Abi Dawud 4449:
“Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar:
A group of Jews came and invited the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to Quff. So he visited them in their school.
They said: AbulQasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.
He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi'(No. 4431).”
Notice the great respect Mohammed has for the Torah, “I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee.” No mention of textual corruption.
6. Allah Promised that the True Followers of Jesus Would Be Superior to the Non-Believers.
(A) Allah promised two times in the Quran that the true followers of Jesus would prevail over their enemies and those who disbelieve. However, the only records we have of the followers of Jesus who became uppermost are those who affirm the gospel as it is in the hands of the Christians today.
(i) Surah 3:55, Sahih International Translation: “[Mention] when Allah said, “O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify [i.e., free] you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.”
(ii) Surah 61:14, Sahih International Translation: “Believers, become Allah’s helpers, as Jesus, son of Mary, said to the disciples: “Who is my helper in (calling people) to Allah?” The disciples had responded by saying: “We are Allah’s helpers.” Then a section of the Children of Israel believed and a section rejected the call. Thereafter We aided the believers against their enemies, and they prevailed.
(B) To say the followers of Jesus became uppermost and then were defeated before the time of Mohammed (or have since been defeated) is to make Allah out to be a liar because 3:55 clearly states that the true followers of Jesus would be around “until the Day of Resurrection.” Allah stated in Surah 2:113 that both Jews and Christians recite from the Scripture/Book.
Surah 2:113, Sahih International Translation: “The Jews say, “The Christians have nothing [true] to stand on,” and the Christians say, “The Jews have nothing to stand on,” although they [both] recite the Scripture. Thus do those who know not [i.e., the polytheists] speak the same as their words. But Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ.”
Surah 2:113, Mufti Taqi Usmani Translation: “The Jews say: “The Christians have nothing to stand on” and the Christians say “The Jews have nothing to stand on” while they both read the Book! Similarly, those who do not know have said like they (the Jews and the Christians) say. So, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection in what they used to dispute.”
OBJECTION 1: The original Injeel has been lost according to scholars like Bart Ehrman, therefore, no one can know what the original Injeel was.
FALSE: Erhman stated that there would be “very few points of disagreement” to what he believed the original New Testament was in comparison to his conservative Christian mentor, Bruce Metzger. Likewise, he believes Jesus’ death on the cross is “one of the most secure facts” about the historical Jesus. And that belief in Jesus’ divinity is attested by the earliest of church fathers. Those facts alone disprove Islam.
The renowned scholar Bart Erhman said in his book, Misquoting Jesus, concerning what he and his mentor Bruce Metzger would consider the New Testament, “Though we may disagree on important religious questions- he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not- we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement- maybe one or two dozen out of the many thousands. The position I argue in Misquoting Jesus doesn’t not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by the textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.” (p. 252, extended edition, “Plus” section)
When Erhman was asked on his blog if he thought Jesus was crucified he answered, “The crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans is one of the most secure facts we have about his life. Whenever anyone writes a book about the historical Jesus, it is really (really, really) important to see if what they say about his public ministry can make sense of his death. If not, then you have a problem.” And he went on to state, “If a scholar tries to explain Jesus life in a way that really doesn’t make much sense of his death, then that should be the first clue that something is amiss.”
Likewise, Ehrman, in How Jesus Became God, freely professes that Jesus did in fact claim to be God in the gospel of John, he writes, “It is true that Jesus claims to be divine in the last of our canonical Gospels to be written, the Gospel of John.” And, “Jesus is not claiming to be God the Father here, obviously (since when he’s praying, he is not talking to himself). So he is not saying that he is identical with God. But he is saying that he is equal with God and has been that way from before the world was created. These are amazingly exalted claims.” (Kindle location, 1843)
He goes on to write that he believes the belief in Jesus’ divinity arose from the first disciples of Jesus having visions of Him in a resurrected state, he writes, “IT IS INDISPUTABLE THAT some of the followers of Jesus came to think that he had been raised from the dead, and something had to have happened to make them think so. Our earliest records are consistent on this point, and I think they provide us with historically reliable information in one key respect: the disciples’ belief in the resurrection was based on visionary experiences.” (emphasis from source, Kindle location, 2698). Erhman explains later by what he meant by visions, “I am not using the term vision in any particularly technical sense. By “vision” I simply mean something that is “seen,” whether it is really there or not. In other words, I am not taking a stand on the question of whether there was some kind of external reality behind what the disciples saw.” (Kindle location, 2751)
Likewise, Ehrman also devotes an entire chapter (9) to the attestation of the earliest known Christians affirming the deity of Jesus (in one way or another):
- Justin Martyr (140 AD): “There are two principal ways that Justin understands Christ as a divine being, both of which harken back to earlier views we have already explored. Justin develops these views in more sophisticated ways than seen in the New Testament itself. He saw Christ both as the preincarnate Angel of the Lord and as the Logos (Word) of God made flesh.” (Kindle location, 4864)
- Novatian (210 AD): “Novatian’s most famous work is a treatise on the Trinity, in which he foreshadows ideas that theologians after his time developed; he still has not worked out the implications of a Trinitarian view with the nuance that later thinkers would. He, like Justin before him, still understands Christ to be a divine being subordinate to God the Father.” (Kindle location, 4921)
- Dionysius of Rome (260 AD): “Three beings make up a “Divine Triad.” But they are so harmonious that they can be seen as a “unity,” and this unity is itself the “God of the universe.” This unity, for Dionysius of Rome, signifies that the Son of God is not a creature made or begotten by God, but that he is eternal with God and that he shares all the attributes of God the Father, as his Word, and Wisdom, and Power. For Dionysius of Rome the logic for this is compelling: “for if the Son came into being there was [a time] when these attributes were not; therefore there was a time when God was without them; which is most absurd.” (Kindle location, 4981)
In summary, though we as Christians do not agree with Erhman overall, we find it disturbing that certain Muslim apologists selectively pick and choose from Ehrman’s work what they already believe is true. Instead of trusting their own Scriptures and making valid arguments for or against the Gospel according to the Quran, they choose to base their rejection of the Gospel on scholars like Ehrman (who really don’t support their position to begin with).
OBJECTION 2: Since each of the four-fold gospel in the New Testament are anonymous, they cannot be trusted.
FALSE: Irenaeus, a church father from the 150’s, gives a historical chain of authorship of the four-fold gospel.
“We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed perfect knowledge, as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God.
Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. 2. These have all declared to us that there is one God, Creator of heaven and earth, announced by the law and the prophets; and one Christ the Son of God. If any one do not agree to these truths, he despises the companions of the Lord; nay more, he despises Christ Himself the Lord; yea, he despises the Father also, and stands self-condemned, resisting and opposing his own salvation, as is the case with all heretics.” (emphasis mine)
(Note: if textual dates are brought up concerning Irenaeus’ earliest complete manuscripts being around with 200-400’s in Latin, with Greek pieces from around 200 AD (around 170 years from the time of Jesus); remind the Muslim that earliest manuscripts for Sahih Al-Bukhari are from the 800’s, over 200 years from Mohammed.)
OBJECTION 3: Neither Mohammed or his earliest followers affirmed any of the Christian’s Four-Fold Gospel.
FALSE: Ibn Ishaq, in the earliest biography written about Mohammed in mid the 700’s stated, “John the Apostle set down for them when he wrote the Gospel for them from the Testament of Jesus Son of Mary.” And Mohammed in Surah 48:29 called a reference found in Mark the gospel.
(A) See the copied section from Ibn Ishaq’s book where he writes, “what John the Apostle set down… when he wrote the Gospel… from the Testament of Jesus.”
(The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 103-104)
(B) Also, consider what Mohammed said in Surah 48:29, where he quotes a section from Mark 4:26-29.
Surah 48:29, Abdul Haleem Translation: “Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Those who follow him are harsh towards the disbelievers and compassionate towards each other. You see them kneeling and prostrating, seeking God’s bounty and His good pleasure: on their faces they bear the marks of their prostrations. This is how they are pictured in the Torah and the Gospel: like a seed that puts forth its shoot, becomes strong, grows thick, and rises on its stem to the delight of its sowers. So God infuriates the disbelievers through them; God promises forgiveness and a great reward to those who believe and do righteous deeds.”
(C) Note all the similarities found by Muslim scholar, Dr. Emran Iqbal El-Badawi in his book, The Quran and the Aramaic Gospel Traditions:
OBJECTION 4: Since there were non-canonical gospels in the area of Mohammed, he could have been referring to any of them, not the gospel in the Christian’s New Testament.
FALSE: Mohammed stated in Surah 3:55 that Jesus’ true followers would be, “superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection,” therefore, the superior followers of Jesus even unto this day agree upon Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the four-fold gospel of Jesus (see the Council of Carthage in A.D. 397).
Likewise, Dr. Brent Nongbri in his book, God’s Library: The Archaeology of the Earliest Christian Manuscripts, gives the following number of manuscripts found in Oxyrhynchus (Egypt) dating from the 3rd to 6th century (all before Mohammed’s birth) on page 256. Which breakdowns as follows:
- Canonical Gospels: 32 (76%)
- Non-Canonical Gospels: 10 (24%)
OBJECTION 5: All major scholars and schools of Islam have believed in the corruption of the Gospel.
FALSE: According to Dr. Ali Ataie in his work submitted to Zaytuna College, Authenticating the New Testament Gospels from a Sunnite Perspective, such scholars as the “Muslim Hebraist,” Ibn Umar al-Biqai (d. 885/1480) believed in the preservation of the gospel.
Note the relative section below from this work (and foonotes).