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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.

Are Muslim People Misguided by Believing That They Won’t Stay in Hell Forever?

Answered by SeekersHub Answers Service

Question: Assalam ‘alaikum,

How can we reconcile the fact that some jews are blamed in the Qur’an for claiming that they will stay in hell only for a limited number of days and the fact that muslim people are taught that they won’t stay in hell eternally?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.

Imam Laqani penned in his poem The Precious Pearl in Divine Oneness (jawharat al-tawhid), “Whoever dies and did not repent for his sin, his affair is consigned to his Lord. It is necessary that some of those who committed major sins be punished, yet they will not remain in Hell forever.”

Bajuri comments, “The upshot is that people are of two categories: believers and non-believers. The non-believer [who rejected the message of guidance when it reached them] will remain in Hell forever, by consensus. However, believers are of two types: obedient and sinful. The obedient believer will be in Paradise, by consensus. As for the disobedient believer, he is of two types: the one who repented and the one who did not. The one who repented is in Paradise, by consensus, and the one who did not repent is left to the decree of Allah– even if we assume he is to be punished, he will not remain in Hell.” [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid `ala Jawharat al-Tawhid]

Please see: Is There Hope of Forgiveness for a Muslim Who Has Never Prayed?

It is worth mentioning though that the Ashar’i position is that one is not punished for disbelief if one never received the message of Islam, and according to Imam Ghazali, people who receive a distorted version of the message are in that same category. [Faysal al-Tafriqa]

Accountability is predicated upon receiving a clear undistorted presentation of Islam. From the perspective of punishment, Allah is the only Judge as to who is a disbeliever.

Please see: Do Good Non-Muslims and Bad Muslims Both Go to Hell?

Please see also: Truth, Other Religions, and Mysticism – Shaykh Nuh Keller

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,

SeekersHub Answers Service

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Does the Qur’an Affirm the Validity of Practicing Judaism and Christianity?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: I have been told since childhood that the only religion that is accepted is Islam and I did some research online and I saw the verse “And whoever seeks religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. (3:85).”

So I would like to understand the below verse properly and not be confused. Could you please help me understand this matter the right way.

Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians (Sabi’in), whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. [Baqarah]

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

I pray you are well.

The basis when it comes to understanding such verses is to do so in a reconcilable manner and not a contradictory one.

There are numerous verses and prophetic narrations that clearly establish that the only religion acceptable with Allah is Islam. One such verse is the one mentioned in the question, namely, “Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam will never have it accepted from him, and shall be of those who have truly failed in the next life.” (3:85) Another verse states, “Indeed the true religion with Allah is Islam.” (3:19)

This meaning is reaffirmed by the statement of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), “By Him in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, any person of this Community, any Jew, or any Christian who hears of me and dies without believing in what I have been sent with will be an inhabitant of hell.” [Muslim]

Based on the above and similar proof-texts, the consensus of Islamic scholarship is that the concept of the universal validity of religions is a heterodox belief that has little proof in the primary texts of this tradition.

The Verse of Surah Baqarah

The verse cited in the question regarding Jews, Christians, and Sabians who believe in Allah, the last day, and perform righteous deeds being rewarded in the next life does not contradict the above consensus. Nor was this verse ever seen by the scholars of the Islamic religion as entertaining the possibility that these other religions shared the validity and acceptance assigned by Allah to the Islamic faith.

Rather, this verse refers to:

a. Those Jews, Christians, and Sabians who followed their religion in their pure, unadulterated forms before the advent of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

b. Those Jews, Christians, and Sabians who enter into Islam and correct belief as the verse can be +understood as having a conditional clause in the phrase “those who believe (man amana)…” for which the subsequent statement of “shall have their reward” is conditioned upon. In other words, “if and when they believe… they shall have their reward.”

Both these meanings are also supported by the context of the verse, which comes after a lengthy narrating of the misdeeds of certain of the Children of Israel (banu israil). After enumerating some of these misdeeds, Allah reassures the reader through the verse in question that those among the previous faiths who had faith will not go unrewarded, and such people should have hope that they will be saved if they accept the true religion.

[`Alusi, Ruh al-Ma`ani; Ibn Ashur, tahrir al-Tanwir]

Other Religions & Salvation

While we deem Islam to be the only true religion, it needs to be kept in mind that divine amnesty may apply to even those who were not on the Islamic faith. This is not because such faiths are valid, but because of Allah’s mercy encompasses those who were ignorant of the Islamic message.

This is conveyed in the statement of the Qur’an, “We do not punish until We send a Messenger.” (17:15) For more details on this, you should refer to Shaykh Nuh Kellers article on the issues, which can be found here:

On the validity of all religions in the thought of ibn Al-‘Arabi and Emir ‘Abd al-Qadir: a letter to `Abd al-Matin

Lastly, as Muslims, it is our duty to look at non-Muslims with mercy, kindness, and desiring for them the best of both this world and the next in terms of salvation and the attainment of God’s pleasure. The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, “None of you truly believe until he loves for his brother what he loves himself.” [Bukhari, Muslim] This was interpreted by Imam Nawawi and others as referring to the brotherhood all humans share on account of being the progeny of Adam.

People of other faiths are part and parcel of the societies we live in. They are neighbors, work colleagues, and relatives. We do not look down on them and nor do we make the belief that Islam is the true path an excuse to shun them. Rather, we aspire to implement the prophetic statement that religion is nothing but sincere counsel and seeking to spread the good.

Salman