- Muhammad is the last and greatest prophet
- The Qur’an is Allah’s revelation sent down to Muhammad and that this is the final and greatest revelation. It has never been changed from the time that it was given by revelation to Muhammad.
- Islam is the final religion, based on Muhammad’s life and teaching and sayings (Sunnah).
According to the classical account Muhammad was born in Mecca in around 570 (for convenience sake I am using the dates in the Gregorian calendar).
At the age of 40 he met ‘Jibril’ (the angel Gabriel) in a cave and received the ‘Meccan Revelations’ from 610 – 622, followed by the Medinan Revelations from 622-632. These revelations came from Allah through Jibril.
Muhammad was unable to read or write and memorised the revelations, which he repeated to his followers. These were later written down to become the Qur’an. Muhammad made the ‘Hijra’ (flight) from Mecca to Medina in 622, returned to Mecca in 630 and converted the people there to his new religion. He died in 632.
Since Muslims believe that Islam is the final religion, it replaces all that has gone before it, including Judaism and Christianity.
The Qur’an contains stories about Bible characters, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus. Its chapters are not arranged in historical order so it is hard to work out how all these biblical characters relate to each other from the Qur’an’s account.
The Qur’an changes the significance and the meaning of these Bible stories. The Muslim interpretation of the stories of Abraham makes Ishmael the promised son, not Isaac. This means that the line of succession goes through Ishmael to Muhammad and the Arab people, not through Isaac and Jacob to the children of Israel.
The Muslim Jesus (known as Isa) is a prophet, not the Son of God, and he did not die on the cross. Someone else took his place, while Isa was taken straight up to heaven from where he will return in the company of another figure called the Mahdi to make the world Islamic (and in the process abolish Christianity and Judaism).
Muslims explain the difference between the Bible and the Qur’an by saying that the Jews and the Christians changed their books (the Bible).
They say that they have the correct account and the Bible has been corrupted.
If this is so, then why there is nothing in the Qur’an to say that this apparent forgery has been done by the Jews and Christians? There are passages in the Qur’an which tell us that Jews and Christians have not been faithful to their scriptures, but none that say they have changed the content of them. In fact there are verses (suras) in the Qur’an, which tell Muslims to learn from the book of the Jews and Christians:
‘If thou wert in doubt as to what We have revealed unto thee then ask those who have been reading the Book [the Bible] from before thee: the Truth hath indeed come to thee from thy Lord’: Sura 10.94.
‘. Say: “O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law (Taurat / Torah) the Gospel (Injil) and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.”’ Sura 5.68
- The word Injil (Gospel) is mentioned 12 times.
- The word Zabur (Psalms) is mentioned 13 times.
- The word Torah (Law) is mentioned 18 times.
- Not once does the Qur’an associate any kind of alteration or corruption in all these many references.
When were ‘the books changed? Before Muhammad, in which case why does the Qur’an tell Muslims to learn from the Book of the Jews and Christians? Or after Muhammad in which case,
There are around 5,300 manuscripts of the whole or part of the Greek text of the New Testament pre-dating Muhammad still in existence, including the Codex Vaticanus (325-350 AD) located in the Vatican library
and the Codex Sinaiticus (350 AD) located in the British Museum.
There are also quotations in the works of early Christian writers which are ‘so extensive that the New Testament could virtually be reconstructed from them without the New Testament documents’ (Josh McDowell ‘Evidence that demands a Verdict’).
The Dead Sea Scrolls dated around 125 BC have brought to light manuscripts of the Old Testament books including the complete text of Isaiah.
The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew text into Greek in around 165 BC contains the same material as the Hebrew Bible.
Now if the Muslim account is true then Jews and Christians should abandon their faith and all convert to Islam (which is what Islamic preachers tell us we should do).
But what if the Qur’an’s account is not true? A number of scholars are now questioning the origins of Islam as believed by Muslims today, subjecting the Qur’an to the kind of source criticism which has been applied to the Bible since the 19th century.