Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, in which he states the following: “The Christian missionary who visited you tried to confuse you and mislead you about the Qur’an as well as the Bible. The Qur’an is the word of Allah and the word of Allah does not contradict itself. The basic argument of your missionary visitor seems to be as follows: According to the Qur’an the word of God does not change and since the Bible is the word of God (as the Qur’an also affirms) then the Bible cannot be changed and Muslims should accept the Present Bible as God’s authentic word.
All open-minded people should try to follow the truth when it becomes clear to them. Please try to share these few lines with your missionary visitor if you can get hold of him and let me know about his response also for my own knowledge and information. When we read any text, whether religious or secular, it is important that we read it fully. It is not right to take a sentence out of context or read only half of it and then give our opinion. In Surat Al-An‘am (6:115), Allah says, “The Word of your Lord does find its fulfilment in truth and in justice. None can change His words. For He is the one who hears and knows all.” It is obvious that the expression “word or words of Allah” here does not mean a text, but it means “Allah’s decisions and judgments”. No doubt, Allah’s decisions and judgments are fulfilled in truth and justice and none can change them.
The second verse in Surat Yunus (10:64) should be read along with verses 62 and 63 to understand them properly. Allah says, “Behold, verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear nor shall they grieve. Those who believe and constantly guard against evil. For them are glad tidings in the life of the present and in the hereafter. No change can there be in the words of Allah. This indeed is the supreme felicity.” The expression “the words of Allah” here means “Allah’s promises for those who do good deeds.” No one can change Allah’s promises (or Allah threats for the wrong doers). These verses are not talking about any revealed books or manuscripts, but they are talking about Allah’s judgment and promises in a general sense.
As far as the Bible is concerned, it is true that the Qur’an calls the Tawrat, Zabur and Injil as Allah’s books and messages given to prophets Moses, Dawud and Jesus, peace be upon all of them, respectively, but the Qur’an also says that these books as they exist today are not in their authentic and complete form. Allah says, “They (i.e. Jews and Christians) changed words from their contexts and forgot a good part of the message given to them, and you will continue to find them -except a few among them- bent on new deceits…” (al-Ma’idah: 13) And He further says, “O People of the Book, now has come to you Our Messenger, clarifying to you much of that you used to conceal of the Book and passing over much (that is now unnecessary).” (al-Ma’idah 5:15) So our Islamic position is that the Bible has some true and authentic words of Allah, but it is not totally authentic. Some of its passages were lost and it had many additions and alterations.
If someone told you that the Bible has not changed. You ask them, which Bible is not changed? Hebrew Bible, Greek Bible, Latin Bible, English Bible, Jewish Bible, Catholics’ Bible, Protestants’ Bible, Eastern Orthodox Church’s Bible, which Bible is he talking about? All these Bibles individually and collectively have been changed and some are still being changed. The Bible contains two main sections: the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is recognized by Jews and Christians both. Jews calls it the Hebrew Bible or TANAK. But their Bible has 24 books and some books have two parts thus a total of 39 books. Protestants also have 39 books but in a different order. The same Old Testament of Catholics has 46 books, while Eastern Orthodox Christians have 51 books in their Old Testament. Jewish version of the Bible is based on the Hebrew Masoretic text while Christians generally use the Greek (Septuagint) and Latin (Vulgate) versions as the basis of their Old Testaments. Each group also has variations in the texts of their books as well as in the number of verses.
The New testament is accepted by Christians only. It has 27 books: four Gospels and then other books and letters of various writers known as apostles. But Catholics add some verses in the Gospels that are not accepted by the Protestants. The Catholics as well as the Eastern Orthodox Christians accept some books that are not accepted by the Protestants.
As far as the ancient manuscripts of the Bible are concerned, it is known to the Biblical scholars that most of the manuscripts came from the fourth century CE down. The manuscripts that are discovered are mostly partial and their texts differ from each other considerably. M. M. Parvis in the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (vol. 4, pp. 594-595) says, “The New Testament is now known, in whole or in part, in nearly five thousand Greek manuscripts alone. Every one of these handwritten copies differ from the other one… It has been estimated that these manuscripts and quotations differ among themselves between 150,000 and 250,000 times. The actual figure is, perhaps, much higher. A study of 150 Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of Luke has revealed more than 30,000 different readings… It is safe to say that there is not one sentence in the New Testament in which the manuscripts’ tradition is wholly uniform.”
Any one can get hold of the Good News Bible and can see for oneself that in the 1300 pages of this modern English version there are almost as many footnotes pointing to phrases, sentences and passages that are omitted or added by various ancient manuscripts or versions. Many of these alterations are not unintentional scribal errors such as are expected in handwritten copies of a book. A careful study of ancient texts has convinced scholars that the variations found in them were very often intentional tampering with the texts. This tampering is still going on for various political or ideological reasons. Under the pressure of the Jewish organizations, many churches in America and Europe have begun rephrasing Jesus’ criticism of the Jews in the Gospels. Feminists groups are urging the use of unisex language in the new versions. Homosexual groups have their own versions. All these changes are taking place before our own eyes”