Jamadi Ul Akhir 1422
Volume 15-09 No:177
Question: Is it not true that Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) has copied the Qur'an from the Bible?
Many critics allege that Prophet Muhummad (pbuh) himself was not the author of the Qur’an but he learnt it and/or plagiarised (copied or adapted) it from other human sources or from previous scriptures or revelations. Here are a few theories and their rebuttal:
1. He learnt the Qur’an from a Roman blacksmith :
Some Pagans accused the Prophet of learning the Qur’an from a Roman Blacksmith, who was a Christian staying at the outskirts of Makkah. The Prophet very often used to go and watch him do his work. A revelation of the Qur’an was sufficient to dismiss this charge - the Qur’an says in Surah An-Nahl chapter 16 verse 103:
“We know indeed that they say, ‘It is a man that teaches him,’ The tongue of him they wickedly point to is notably foreign, while this is Arabic, pure and clear.” [Al-Qur’an 16:103]
How could a person whose mother tongue was foreign and could speak little but of poor broken Arabic be the source of the Qur’an which is pure, eloquent, fine Arabic? To believe that the blacksmith taught the Prophet the Qur’an is somewhat similar to believing that a Chinese immigrant to England, who did not know proper English, taught Shakespeare.
2. He learnt from Waraqa, the relative of Khadijah(t)
Muhummad’s (pbuh) contacts with the Jewish and Christian scholars were very limited. The most prominent Christian known to him was an old blind man called Waraqa ibn-Naufal who was a relative of the Prophet’s first wife Khadijah (t). Although of Arab descent, he was a convert to Christianity and was very well versed with the New Testament. The Prophet only met him twice, first when Waraqa was worshipping at the Kaaba (before the Prophetic Mission) and he kissed the Prophet’s forehead affectionately; the second occasion was when the Prophet went to meet Waraqa after receiving the first revelation. Waraqa died three years later and the revelation continued for about 23 years. It is ridiculous to assume that Waraqa was the source of the contents of the Qur’an.
3. Prophet’s religious discussions with Jews and Christians
It is true that the Prophet did have religious discussions with the Jews and Christians but they took place in Madinah more than 13 years after the revelation of the Qur’an had started. The allegation that these Jews and Christians were the source is perverse, since in these discussions Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was performing the roles of a teacher and of a preacher while inviting them to embrace Islam and pointing out that they had deviated from their true teachings of Monotheism. Several of these Jews and Christians later embraced Islam.
4. He learnt the Quran from those Jews and Christians that he met outside Arabia.
All historical records available show that Muhummad (Pbuh) had made only three trips outside Makkah before his Prophethood
(i) At the age of six he accompanied his mother to Madinah.
(ii) Between the age of 9 and 12, he accompanied his uncle Abu-Talib on a business trip to Syria.
(iii) At the age of 25 he led Khadija’s Caravan to Syria.
It is highly imaginary to assume that the Qur’an resulted from the occasional chats and meetings with the Christians or Jews from any of the above three trips.
5. Logical ground to prove that the Prophet did not learn Quran from Jews or Christians
(i) The day-to-day life of the Prophet was an open book for all to see. In fact a revelation came asking people to give the Prophet (Pbuh) privacy in his own home. If the Prophet had been meeting people who told him what to say as a revelation from God, this would not have been hidden for very long.
(ii) The extremely prominent Quraish nobles who followed the Prophet and accepted Islam were wise and intelligent men who would have easily noticed anything suspicious about the way in which the Prophet brought the revelations to them - more so since the Prophetic mission lasted 23 years.
(iii) The enemies of the Prophet kept a close watch on him in order to find proof for their claim that he was a liar - they could not point out even a single instance when the Prophet may have had a secret rendezvous with particular Jews and Christians.
(iv) It is inconceivable that any human author of the Qur’an would have accepted a situation in which he received no credit whatsoever for originating the Qur’an.
Thus, historically and logically it cannot be established that there was a human source for the Qur’an.
6. Prophet Muhammad was Unlettered
The theory that Muhummad (Pbuh) authored the Qur’an or copied from other sources can be disproved by the single historical fact that he was unlettered.
Allah testifies Himself in the Qur’an. In Surah Al-Ankabut chapter no.29 verse 48 “And thou was not (able) to recite a Book before this (Book came), nor art thou (able) to transcribe it with thy right hand: in that case, indeed, would the talkers of vanities have doubted.”
Allah (swt) knew that many would doubt the authenticity of the Qur’an and would ascribe it to Prophet Muhummad (Pbuh). Therefore Allah in His Divine Wisdom chose the last and final Messenger to be an ‘Ummi’, i.e. unlettered, so that the talkers of vanity would not then have the slightest justification to doubt the Prophet. The accusation of his enemies that he had copied the Qur’an from other sources and rehashed it all in a beautiful language might have carried some weight, but even this flimsy pretence has been deprived to the unbeliever and the cynic.
Allah reconfirms in the Qur’an in Surah Al A’raf chapter 7 verse 157: “Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures) in the Law and the Gospel” [Al-Qur’an 29:48]
The prophecy of coming of the unlettered Prophet (Pbuh) is also mentioned in the Bible in the book of Isaiah chapter 29 verse 12. “And the book is delivered to him that is not learned.” [Isaiah 29:12]
The Qur’an testifies in no less than four different places that the Prophet (Pbuh) was unlettered. It is also mentioned in Surah A’raf chapter 7 verse 158 and in Surah Al-Jumu’a chapter 62 verse 2.
7. Arabic version of the Bible was not present
The Arabic version of the Bible was not present at the time of Prophet Muhummad. The earliest Arabic version of the Old Testament is that of R. Saadias Gaon of 900 C.E. - more than 250 years after the death of our beloved Prophet. The oldest Arabic version of the new Testament was published by Erpenius in 1616 C.E. - about a thousand years after the demise of our Prophet.
8. Similarities in the Quran and the Bible due to common Source
Similarities between the Qur’an and the Bible does not necessarily mean that the former has been copied from the latter. In fact it gives evidence that both of them are based on a common third source; all divine revelations came from the same source - the one universal God. No matter what human changes were introduced into some of these Judeo-Christian and other older religious scriptures that had distorted their originality, there are some areas that have remained free from distortion and thus are common to many religions.
It is true that there are some similar parallels between the Qur’an and the Bible but this is not sufficient to accuse the Prophet of compiling or copying from the Bible. The same logic would then also be applicable to teachings of Christianity and Judaism and thus one could wrongly claim that Jesus (Pbuh) was not a genuine Prophet (God forbid) and that he simply copied from the Old Testament.
The similarities between the two signify a common source that is one true God and the continuation of the basic message of monotheism and not that the later prophets have plagiarised from the previous prophets.
If someone copies during an examination he will surely not write in the answer sheet that he has copied from his neighbour or Mr. XYZ. Prophet Muhummad (Pbuh) gave due respect and credit to all the previous Prophets (Pbuh). The Qur’an also mentions the various revelations given by Almighty God to different prophets.
9. Muslims believe in the Taurah, Zaboor, Injeel and Quran
Four revelations of Allah (swt) are mentioned by name in the Qur’an: the Taurah, the Zaboor, the Injeel and the Qur’an. They were given to Moses (Pbuh), Dawood (Pbuh), Jesus (Pbuh) and the final messenger Muhammad (Pbuh).
It is an article of faith for every Muslim to believe in all the Prophets of God and all revelations of God. However, the present day Bible has the first five books of the Old Testament attributed to Moses and the Psalms attributed to David. Moreover the New Testament or the four Gospels of the New Testament are not the Taurah, the Zaboor or the Injeel, which the Qur’an refers to. These books of the present day Bible may partly contain the word of God but these books are certainly not the exact, accurate and complete revelations given to the prophets.
The Qur’an presents all the different prophets of Allah as belonging to one single brotherhood; all had a similar prophetic mission and the same basic message. Because of this, the fundamental teachings of the major faiths cannot be contradictory, even if there has been a considerable passage of time between the different prophetic missions, because the source of these missions was one: Almighty God, Allah. This is why the Qur’an says that the differences which exist between various religions are not the responsibility of the prophets, but of the followers of these prophets who forgot part of what they had been taught, and furthermore, misinterpreted and changed the scriptures. The Qur’an cannot therefore be seen as a scripture which competes with the teachings of Moses, Jesus and the other prophets. On the contrary, it confirms, completes and perfects the messages that they brought to their people.
Another name for the Qur’an is the ‘The Furqan’ which means the criteria to judge the right from the wrong, and it is on the basis of the Qur’an that we can decipher which part of the previous scriptures can be considered to be the word of God.
(Pbuh- Peace be upon him)