Does Islam Accept the Old & New Testament?
29 SEP 2017
The Quran teaches that God revealed divine truth to prophets in the Judeo-Christian tradition, including Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist and Jesus. It even indicates that Jews and Christians who believe Gods' revelation in these sacred texts will be rewarded on the day of judgment. However, Islamic teaching also raises questions about the legitimacy of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament in their current forms.
1 Muhammad and the Prophets
The foundational doctrine of the Islam is summarized in the affirmation of faith known as the shahada: "There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of God." Nonetheless, as noted in "The Muslim Perception of Other Religions," the Quran was revolutionary in its day for teaching not only that God has revealed his truth through prophets in other religions, but that God conveyed this revelation in other sacred texts. According to the Quran, biblical role models and teachers such as Noah, Moses and Jesus were indeed true prophets of God. Much like the Quran was revealed through Muhammad, the Hebrew Bible and the gospel of Christ contain truths revealed to previous prophets. [Reference 1, pages 559-561; Reference 9, page 112]
2 Tawrat and Indjil
The Quran makes multiple references to the Old and New Testaments. For example, when the Quran cites teachings from the Hebrew Scriptures, it often cites the original source as the "tawrat." As "The Encyclopaedia of the Quran" notes, this is likely an Arabic reference to the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, which are traditionally ascribed to Moses. When speaking of the teachings of Jesus, the Quran refers to the revelation contained in the "indjil," which appears to be an Arabic version of "evangel," Greek for "good news" or gospel. Furthermore, 2:62 states that Jews and Christians, also known in the Quran as "the People of the Book," who believed and obeyed God's word revealed in their respective scriptures will be rewarded by God.
3 Islam and the Hebrew Scriptures
Although Islam teaches that God revealed divine truth through ancient Hebrew and New Testament prophets, Muslim scholars do not recommend relying on the Old and New Testaments as a source for religious instruction. In contrast to the Quran, which is pure and complete, other scriptures have been both superseded and corrupted. For instance, the Hebrew Bible describes the Jews as God's chosen people and adds burdensome laws not originally commanded by God. Some Muslims also believe that Jewish editors removed or obscured references to Muhammad in the original Torah and remaining Old Testament books. As for references in the Quran to God rewarding believers in the Hebrew or Christian scriptures, Muslim commentators have concluded that this refers only to the time before the revelation of the Quran.
4 Islam and the New Testament
Similarly, Islam teaches that the New Testament has been superseded by the Quran and is not trustworthy. One aspect of the corruption of the original indjil has been the inclusion of books that were not actually inspired by God, such as the letters of the apostle Paul. Moreover, Christians have tampered with the text of the indjil in ways that commit the sin of polytheism, known in Islam as shirk. In particular, the contemporary New Testament elevates Jesus from human prophet to the divine Son of God. Likewise, the New Testament in its current form teaches the doctrine of the Trinity, according to which God is actually three persons in one, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
- 1 The Encyclopedia of Islam; Juan E. Campo, ed.
- 2 The Encyclopaedia of the Quran; Jane D. McAuliffe, ed.
- 3 The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed.; Clifford Edmund Bosworth, ed.
- 4 Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions; Jacques Waardenburg, ed.
- 5 Islam Q&A: Learning English by Studying the Bible
- 6 IslamiCity: Muhammad in the Bible
- 7 On Islam: The People of the Book and the Quran
- 8 Major Themes of the Quran; Fazlur Rahman