Rudolph Boshoff

3 Things Every Christian Should Know About the Qur’an

Rudolph Boshoff | 17 August 2020 | 7 min read

The Qur’an is the Holy Scripture of the Muslim People, with a vast influence, communicating a quality of Allah (sifa), expressing His will. The Prophet Muhammad is said to be the sole guide through whom Allah delivered this holy book via the angel Jibreel (جبريل, “Gabriel”). Christians should note that this book supersedes the Christian Scriptures in the estimation of every Muslim, and that it is the “furqān” (الفرقان‎, “The Criterion”) to these people. To know the Qur’an is to notice its people (Ummah) and to communicate effectively with them, we need to know about their book.

The Qur’an is an Indispensable Book

Muslims claim that the previous Scriptures were corrupted and misguided people to follow another intended path of idolatry (شرك,‎ “shirk”) and innovation (بدعة, “bidʻah”‎). The Qur’an states;

And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth… (Al-Ma’idah 5, 48)

In the Muslims estimation, the Qur’an is the correction of the preceding revelations, espousing, and affirming the will of Allah as the “furqān” (الفرقان‎, “The Criterion”). The obvious problem is that the Qur’an does not confirm the previous Scriptures but contradicts them. Further, the very Qur’an makes it clear that no one can alter the words of Allah (al-An’am 6, 115 & 154), which contains guidance and mercy. It is also essential to show that Christians are called to judge by their own revelation, which immediately renders the Qur’an invalid.

The Qur’an has a History

As we have noted before, the Prophet Muhammad is said to be the sole guide through whom Allah delivered this holy book via the angel Jibreel (جبريل, “Gabriel”) by means of dictation (waḫy), not inspiration, over a period of 23 years. Some Muslims hold a very romantic idea about the revelation of the Qur’an, but historian and anthropologist, Mondher Sfar notes that;

the first generation of Muslims did not possess the Koranic text of reference, since one had never existed… the idea of gathering these scattered texts into a single compendium (after the Prophets death) was a rather late innovation, unknown to Muhammad and foreign to the Spirit of the Koran.[1]

The impeccability of the Qur’an is simply a Muslim myth. Muhammad gave the revelation, but never penned it or collated it himself. We therefore find numerous readings, differences in the earliest recitation, and primary sources speak of passages being lost[2], eaten by goats[3], and even forgotten[4] by Muhammad himself.[5] Further, we see that the earliest collection of the Qur’an, with and attempt to standardize the text, was not without controversy[6] in its attempt to make clear what the Prophet had said.[7] One has to wonder why there is a criticism of the Biblical text that was seemingly attested by more than one author, revealed over a period of 1400 years and which contains the promise of its preservation.[8]

The Qur’an Affirms the Bible

The Qur’an does not just lean on the previous Scriptures to make sense of its content; it speaks very positively of the Scriptures preceding the Qur’an. Muslim Scholar Mahmoud Ayoub writes:

Contrary to the general Islamic view, the Qur’an does not accuse Jews and Christians of altering the text of their scriptures, but rather of altering the truth which those scriptures contain.[9]

The Qur’an speaks positively about the previous Scriptures, especially the teachings of Jesus (Sura 3:48 & 5:46), Moses, and David (Sura 32:23, 3:64, 40:53 & 3:184) and nowhere explicitly indicates the corruption of the previous Judeo-Christian Scriptures but speaks of some hypocrites (5:61-63) and those who have changed its meaning in their teaching (Sura 2:75). Gordon Nickel writes that;

None of the verses in the Qur’an that explicitly mention the names Tawrãt, Injíl or Zabúr makes a negative statement about these earliest Scriptures. There is no hint in any of these verses that the earlier Scriptures exist in a corrupt or falsified state-which is the accusation of Muslim polemicists against the Bible.[10]

Conclusion

It is imperative, in our witness to Muslims, to show a keen interest in truth as well as a consistent didactic when we look at each other’s religious books. We can recognize that the Qur’an affirms the authority of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Muslims should also recognize the difficulties with their religious text and its history. 

Suggested Readings

Geisler, Norman L., & Salleb, Abdul. Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002.

Janosik, Daniel. The Guide to Answering Islam: What Every Christian Needs to Know About Islam and the Rise of Radical Islam. Cambridge: Christian Publishing House, 2019.

White, James R. What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2013.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the employees and members of Ratio Christi South Africa.


[1] Mondher Sfar, In Search of the Original Koran: The True History of the Revealed Text, Trans. Emilia Lanier (Prometheus), 10-11.

[2] Sahih al- Bukhari, 4986

[3] Sunan ibn Majah, 1944

[4] Abu Ubaid, Kitab Fada’il-al-Qur’an

[5] Sahih al- Bukhari: volume 6, book 61, number 556, Sahih al- Bukhari: volume 6, book 61, number 557, Sahih al- Muslim: book 4, number 1720, Sahih al-Muslim: book 4, number 1721, Abu Dawud: book 3, number 1018, Abu Dawud: book 3, number 1034, Abu Dawud: book 3, number 1015, Sahih al-Bukhari: volume 1, book 8, number 394.

[6] Sahih al- Bukhari, 4987

[7] Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, Vol. 2, p. 444

[8] “Muhammad’s Perfect Memory?” by Simon Green, availalbe at https://www.answering-islam.org/Green/forgot.htm accessed August 17, 2020.

[9] William M. Brinner & Stephen D. Ricks, “Uzayr in the Qur’an and Muslim tradition,” In Studies in Islamic and Judaic traditions. William M. Brinner & Stephen D. Ricks ed. (Brown Judaic Studies), 5.

[10] Gordon Nickel, The Gentle Answer to the Muslim Accusation of Biblical Falsification, (Calgary: Bruton Gate), 23.

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