Is There Any Evidence That Previous Scriptures Were Corrupted?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

Is there any evidence from the Quran that the Jews and Christians altered the actual text of their own scriptures or any Hadith in which Muhammad called upon Jews or Christians to reject their scriptures?

Answer:Assalam alaykum. Jazakum Allah khayr for your questions.

There are many instances where the Qur’an mentions directly or implicitly the alteration of former scriptures (tahrif), in speech and the written word, while a brief search in the hadith corpus does not show any statements of the Prophet mentioning it.

Qur’an

Among the references to tahrif in the Qur’an, we find:

‘And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath … although a group of them used to hear the word of Allah, and then, having understood it, used to distort it knowingly’ [2:65-75]

‘So, woe to those who write the Book with their hands and then say, “This is from Allah”, so that they may gain thereby a trifling price. Then, woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for what they earn.’ [2:78]

‘Among them there is indeed a group who twist their tongues while (reading) the Book, so that you may deem it to be from the Book, while it is not from the Book. They say, “It is from Allah”, while it is not from Allah; and they tell lies about Allah knowingly.’ [3:78]

‘When Allah took a pledge from those who were given the Book: “You shall make it known to people, and you shall not conceal it,” they threw it away behind their backs, and acquired a small price for it. So, evil is what they acquire.’ [3:187]

‘They change words from their context and forget a part of that whereof they were admonished. Thou wilt not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly.’ [5:12]

Hadith

In the hadith literature, we find the words of Abdullah bin `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them both) who said,

‘O the group of Muslims! How can you ask the people of the Scriptures about anything while your Book which Allah has revealed to your Prophet contains the most recent news from Allah and is pure and not distorted? Allah has told you that the people of the Scriptures have changed some of Allah’s Books and distorted it and wrote something with their own hands and said, ‘This is from Allah, so as to have a minor gain for it. Won’t the knowledge that has come to you stop you from asking them? No, by Allah, we have never seen a man from them asking you about that (the Qur’an ) which has been revealed to you.’ [al Bukhari]

Rejecting the validity of previous scriptures

In regards the Prophet ﷺ calling the People of the Book to reject previous scriptures and adopt the Qur’an, the following verses are explicit statements which affirm Islam as the final and only accepted religion for Mankind. The Qur’an invites the People of the Book to Islam by asking them to recognize the veracity of the Message which is a completion of their own texts. It does not however call to the universal validity of all faiths.
‘There are some who believe in Allah and in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down to them, and who are humble before Allah. They do not sell Allah’s Signs for a paltry price.
[3:199]

Those We gave the Book before this [the Qur’an] believe in it. And when it is recited to them they say, “We believe in it; it is the truth from our Lord. We were already Muslims before it came.’ [28:52-53]

But those of them [the Jews] who are firmly rooted in knowledge, and the believers, believe in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you. [4:162]

And whoso seeketh as religion other than the Surrender (to Allah) it will not be accepted from him, and he will be a loser in the Hereafter [3:85]

I hope the above examples have answered your questions.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

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