Tawrat, sometimes spelled Taurat, is the Arabic word for Torah, which refers to the revelation by God to Moses, or Musa, on Mount Sinai. It comprises the first five books of the Old Testament, or Pentateuch. These books include Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The tawrat is referenced 18 times directly, and many more times obliquely, in statements in the Quran.
The Torah, or Tawrat
Muslims consider the Tawrat to be a holy book of Islam. But on the basis of its many translations, they allege that it is no longer available in its original form. They also note that many writers contributed to its writing, meaning that the original message communicated to Musa by Allah has been lost. On this basis, Muslims believe that the Tawrat has been corrupted, and that God revealed the Quran to Muhammad partly to correct the mistakes. This is why Muslims believe they are not required to follow all Jewish laws.
Islam and the Tawrat
Muslims worship the God of Abraham, or Ibrahim, revealed in the Torah, Psalms and Christian Gospels. They believe that Muhammad was God's final prophet, and his final message to humanity is revealed in the Quran. Abraham is considered the Patriarch of all three monotheistic faiths. Early Muslims often exhibited profound respect for Jewish people on the basis of the shared foundational beliefs. In medieval Spain, Jews testifying in Islamic courts were permitted to swear oaths on the tawrat. The Masoretic text of the Torah, considered the traditional Hebrew version with proper pronunciation marks, was finalized by rabbis under Islamic rule in areas now part of Iraq and Palestine.
Muhammad Foretold in the Tawrat
Muslims believe that the coming of the Prophet Muhammad is foretold in the Tawrat. One of the most commonly cited verses is Deuteronomy 18:18; the King James Version reads, "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." Though Christians argue that this prophet was Jesus, Muslims cite Deuteronomy 34:12 to suggest that the Tawrt ruled out a Jewish man like Jesus: "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face."
People of the Book
The creation of the modern state of Israel has provoked some enmity between Muslims and Jews that belies the history of peaceful coexistence between these religions. Because of their shared beliefs, Muslims call Jews and Christians fellow "people of the book." Though they felt the Tawrat had been corrupted, early Muslim empires generally pursued peaceful relations with members of these faiths out of respect.
- A Concise Encyclopedia of Islam; Gordon Newby
- Oxford Islamic Studies Online: Qur'an
- Oxford Islamic Studies Online: Torah
- Oxford Islamic Studies Online: Judaism and Islam
- Oxford Islamic Studies Online: Bible
- Islamic Learning Materials: Books of Allah
- E.J. Brill's First Encyclopedia of Islam: 1913-1936; E.J. Brill
- Encyclopedia of Islam; Juan E. Campo
- Canonical Texts: Bible Quran, Veda, Tipitaka; Rein Fernhout, Henry Jansen
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images