Rebuttal to Sami Zaatari's article
The Qu'ran says the Bible is corrupt
By Sam Shamoun & Quennel Gale
In this article we will respond to Sami Zaatari’s response to Matt Slick dealing with “The Quran claiming the Bible to be corrupted”. This article is a combination of information already found on Answer-Islam.org and Answering-Islam.org. Mr. Zaatari’s arguments tend to be the same oft-repeated accusations used by Muslims all over the Internet. Many of these arguments have already been answered and desperate Muslim appeals to these same arguments show the inability of Islam to address the many inconsistencies within its religious sources (i.e. Quran, Hadith, Sirah literature). Zaatari starts off with:
Rebuttal to Matt Slick's article
The Qu'ran says the Bible is not corrupt
The Muslims repeatedly claim that the Bible has been corrupted and that the Qu'ran is the only trustworthy scripture in existence. This is why Muslims often attack the Bible. But this cannot be acording to the Quran. The Quran says that the books of Moses, the Psalms, and the gospel were all given by God.
The Bible is corrupted which is confirmed by the Quran, it is a Christian myth that the Quran claims the Bible is not corrupt. The Torah, the Gospel and Psalms were all given by God, no Muslim denies this, however so these books did become corrupt over time. Matt and Christians should not mis-interpret the Quranic stand point on this issue. The ORIGINAL Torah, Gospel, and Psalms no longer exist.
The Bible isn’t corrupted as Mr. Zaatari wants us to believe, nor does the Quran state which verses, books or practices are corrupted in the Bible. Zaatari has basically quoted a number of random Quranic verses and interpreted them according to his own unsound exegesis. Since Zaatari wants to argue that the original Torah, Gospel and Psalms taught something different compared to the texts currently available then he must provide the documentary evidence supporting this, and not just state it. Even the Quran claims that one must present proof for something if they are to be considered truthful:
Is not He (best) Who produceth creation, then reproduceth it, and Who provideth for you from the heaven and the earth? Is there any God beside Allah? Say: BRING YOUR PROOF, IF YE ARE TRUTHFUL! S. 27:64
In dealing with the issue of whether another god exists besides Allah, the Quran challenges to present all the proof supporting such a claim if they are truthful. Since God’s Word is directly related to him, if Zaatari believes that another version of the Bible existed then he must present his proof. Remember it is Zaatari making the claim about the Bible being corrupted and hence he needs to present evidence outside of what the Quran says as well as prove to us that the original books said something different. Here are Zaatari’s comments directed at me dealing with the issue of “Violence in the Bible and the Quran”:
So note, right after I quote the terror verses from the Bible, Quennal immediately evades the real topic at hand, and switches it solely on the Quran! This does show he was trying to save face big time, because rather than address those terror verses I showed, he simply evades them and then changes the topic to deal with the issue of women and children being killed in Islam. How convenient on his part, and how funny to see him shift his position, at the beginning of his article he said the focus is on the violence in BOTH the Quran and the Bible. When I quote the irrefutable terror verses in the Bible, he then says the focus will now be on Islam. Hilarious!!!!!!! (http://www.answering-christianity.com/sami_zaatri/quennel_gale_rebuttal_2.htm)
Notice how Zaatari has done what he’s accused me of doing:
1. He claims the Bible is corrupted but he immediately fails to show us this can be so, especially when he cannot provide the differences between the corrupted Bible with his “supposed” uncorrupted Bible.
2 He immediately evades the real topic at hand (illustrated in point 1) by switching solely to quoting the Quran in an attempt to save face, as opposed to addressing “who corrupted the Bible and what was changed”..
3. Notice how it’s convenient for him to immediately make the accusation about the Bible being corrupted while just quoting random Quranic passages.
Now let’s review the Quranic verses Zaatari believes proves Bible corruption:
Here are a couple of verses which do indeed show Bible corruption:
YUSUFALI: Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say:"This is from Allah," to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.
This is verse is reffering to the children
It’s amusing to see Zaatari try and explain the Quran. The problem with his explanation is that he ignores Surah 2:78 which says:
"Among them are unlettered folk who know the Scripture not except from hearsay. THEY BUT GUESS." S. 2:78
When you compare this verse with Surah 2:79 you find out that IT REFERS TO THE UNLETTERED FOLKS WHO ONLY KNEW THE SCRIPTURES BY HEARSAY THAT TRIED TO WRITE THE BOOKS AND SELL IT FOR A MISERABLE GAIN. Here, again, is the immediate context:
Can you (O men of faith) still earnestly desire that they (the Jews) will believe in you? And verily a party (fariq) among them hear the Word of God, then they pervert it knowingly after they have understood it. And when they meet the believers they say, ‘We believe,’ but when they meet each other in private they say, ‘Why do you tell them what God has revealed to you (in the Torah), that they may engage you in argument about it before their God? What do you not understand?’ Do they not know that God knows what they conceal and what they make public? Among them are unlettered folk who know the Scripture not except from hearsay. THEY BUT GUESS." S. 2:75-78
Once the passage is read in its proper context, we discover that it is not speaking of Jews and Christians corrupting their Holy Book, but rather unlettered Jews who were ignorant of the content of the scriptures that falsified their own revelation for gain.
Some Muslims claim that S. 2:79 is referring to a different group from those mentioned in 2:78 since the group in 2:78 is said to be unlettered (ummiyuuna), implying that they couldn’t read or write. Based on this assertion it is then claimed that these unlettered folk wouldn’t be able to write anything with their hands, and hence cannot be the same folk mentioned in S. 2:79.
This interpretation is based on a gross misunderstanding of what the term unlettered actually means. A careful reading of the Quran shows that this term doesn’t necessarily refer to people who couldn’t read or write. Rather, it refers to people who were unfamiliar with the inspired Books of God. Note for instance the following passage:
He it is Who hath sent among the unlettered ones (ummiyyeena) a messenger of their own, to recite unto them His revelations and to make them grow, and to teach them the Scripture and wisdom, though heretofore they were indeed in error manifest, S. 62:2 Pickthall
Unlettered here cannot literally mean that Muhammad was sent to people who couldn’t read or write, since there were hundreds of Arabs who were reading and writing both before and during Muhammad’s time. In fact, Muslim traditions assert that Muhammad had Arab scribes who would write down the Quran for him. The meaning of unlettered becomes clear from the following passages:
If they argue with you, then say, "I have simply submitted myself to GOD; I and those who follow me." You shall proclaim to those who received the scripture, as well as those who did not (ummiyyeena), "Would you submit?" If they submit, then they have been guided, but if they turn away, your sole mission is to deliver this message. GOD is Seer of all people. S. 3:20 Khalifa
And this is a Book which We have revealed as a blessing: so follow it and be righteous, that ye may receive mercy: Lest ye should say: "The Book was sent down to two Peoples before us, and for our part, we remained unacquainted with all that they learned by assiduous study:" Or lest ye should say: "If the Book had only been sent down to us, we should have followed its guidance better than they." Now then hath come unto you a clear (sign) from your Lord, - and a guide and a mercy: then who could do more wrong than one who rejecteth Allah's signs, and turneth away therefrom? In good time shall We requite those who turn away from Our signs, with a dreadful penalty, for their turning away. S. 6:155-157
Some assert that Muhammad was called unlettered in the sense that he didn’t know how to read or write. Cf. S. 7:157-158 Again, the Quran explains in what sense Muhammad was unlettered:
And thou (O Muhammad) wast not a reader of any scripture before it, nor didst thou write it with thy right hand, for then might those have doubted, who follow falsehood. But it is clear revelations in the hearts of those who have been given knowledge, and none deny Our revelations save wrong-doers. S. 28:48-49 Pickthall
Muhammad is unlettered not in the sense that he couldn’t read or write, but that he hadn’t read or written down any revealed Scripture prior to his allegedly "receiving" the Quran. This is a view with which many Muslims wholeheartedly agree. (Cf. http://www.quran.org/ap28.htm, http://www.quran.org/gatut.html)
This is precisely what S. 2:78-79 is saying, namely that a group who were unlettered in the sense of not knowing the scriptures personally decided to concoct their own false revelation for gain.
Al-Tabari provides some support for this proposed interpretation by citing Ibn Abbas. Muslim turned atheist Ibn Warraq, while writing about the different definitions proposed by scholars regarding the meaning of ummiyyun, says:
Others believe that unlettered actually refers to the Gentiles, i.e. that Muhammad was a Gentile prophet who was supposedly sent to the Gentile communities. (Cf. http://www.mostmerciful.com/ummi.htm)
In fact, Ibn Ishaq, in his biography on Muhammad, defined ummiyyun as Arab or Gentile converts to Judaism:
... God said: ‘Do they not know that God knows what they conceal and what they proclaim, and some of them are gentiles who do not know the book but merely recite passages (310). They only think they know,’ i.e. they don't know the book and they do not know what it is in it, yet they oppose thy prophethood on mere opinion. (Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. Alfred Guillaume, p. 252)
Guillaume has a note in which he says:
I This word is generally translated ‘illiterate’. In Sura 7.157 and 158 Muhammad calls himself 'the gentile prophet'; but practically all Arab writers claim that he meant that he could not read or write (see, e.g., Pickthall's translation). Geiger, op. cit. 26 f., was, I think, the first to point out the only possible derivation of the word, and he has been followed by every subsequent European Arabist. But this passage brings to light the fact that he was preceded by these early traditionists who identified the ummiyyun as Arab proselytes who did not themselves know the scriptures. (Ibid.)
Furthermore, even if it were speaking of Bible corruption, this still wouldn’t prove the Muslim claim. The text says that only a party of them wrote false revelation and sold it for gain. The Quran says that there were others who would not allow the revelation to be tampered with for the sake of monetary profit:
"And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in God, and that which has been revealed to you, in that which has been revealed to them, bowing in humility to God. They will not sell the signs of God for miserable gain. For them is a reward with their Lord, and God is swift in account." S. 3:199
The Tafsir of Ibn Kathir comments on Surah 2:79:
There are illiterate men among them> means among the people of the Scripture. An illiterate, to the Arabs, is a person who can neither read nor calculate, as the Prophet said: "We are an illiterate Ummah; we neither write nor calculate; the month is such and such..." The verse means that among the people of the Scripture were people who could not read or write. <and depend on nothing but conjecture> means except from hearsay or statements that they falsely repeat. They only say what they think rather than what is actually mentioned in the Scripture and claim that it is from the scripture. <And guesswork.> that is they lie, not knowing what is written in the Scripture and they only say what they think about your Prophethood (that is Muhammad's) through conjecture. <Woe to those who write Scripture with their own hands, and then declare, "This is from Allah," in order to sell it for a paltry price.> This is another group of Jews. They are the rabbis who call the people to misguidance, through lies, and devour the wealth of people by false means.
As-Suddi said that a group of Jews wrote a book of their own and sold it to the Arabs for a trifling price, claiming that it was Allah's word. Al-Bukhari narrated that az-Zuhri quoted Ibn 'Abbas through a number of chain of authorities as saying that the people of the Scripture altered Allah's word, and that they wrote their own version claiming that it was from Allah that they may purchase a small gain therewith. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Part 1 Surat al-Fatiha Surah Al-Baqarah, ayat 1 to 141, pp. 161-162; italic emphasis ours)
Ibn Kathir acknowledges that the Jews of this passage were an illiterate group who did not know their own scripture. This affirms that these Jews could not have been perverting the text of the Holy Bible since they were ignorant of its contents, having no direct knowledge of it except from hearsay. Yet corrupting the text of the manuscripts does not only demand good knowledge of their content and direct access to them, but also a well developed ability of writing and forging in a way that is not easily detected which would otherwise lead to immediate discovery and rejection of the corruption.
Finally, S. 2:75-78 seems to assert that the Jews were also falsifying the Quran when it claims that "verily a party (fariq) among them hear the Word of God, then they pervert it knowingly after they have understood it." This is supported by the following passage:
"Seest thou not those unto whom a portion of the Scripture hath been given, how they purchase error, and seek to make you (Muslims) err from the right way? Allah knoweth best (who are) your enemies. Allah is sufficient as a Guardian, and Allah is sufficient as a Supporter. Some of those who are Jews change words from their context and say: 'We hear and disobey; hear thou as one who heareth not' and 'Listen to us!' distorting with their tongues and slandering religion. If they had said: 'We hear and we obey: hear thou, and look at us' it had been better for them, and more upright. But Allah hath cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, save a few. O ye unto whom the Scripture hath been given! Believe in what We have revealed confirming that which ye possess, before We destroy countenances so as to confound them, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-breakers (of old time). The commandment of Allah is always executed." S. 4:44-47
Yusuf Ali comments on S. 4:44-47:
"... A trick of the Jews was to twist words and expressions, so as to ridicule the most solemn teachings of the Faith. Where they should have said, 'We hear and we obey,' they said aloud, 'We hear,' and whispered, 'We disobey.' Where they should have said respectfully, 'We hear,' they added in a whisper, 'What is not heard,' by way of ridicule. Where they claimed the attention of the Teacher, they used an ambiguous word apparently harmless, but their intention disrespectful." (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 194, f. 565)
"... 'Ra'ina' if used respectfully in the Arabic way, would have meant 'Please attend to us.' With the twist of their tongue, they suggested an insulting meaning, such as 'O thou that takest us to pasture!', or in Hebrew, 'Our bad one!'" (Ibid, f. 566)
Using Muslim logic here we would have to conclude that the Jewish perversion of the Quran by their tongues meant that they corrupted the text of the Quran as well. It is obvious that the authors of answering-Christianity, especially Zaatari, do not have much knowledge about Islam. To receive the correct interpretation of Islam, one must consort the Islamic historical texts themselves and not unlearned neophyte Internet propagandists like Sami Zaatari. Zaatari claims:
YUSUFALI: That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Here is another explicit verse speaking of Bible corruption, the Quran states that if anyone believes that Jesus died and was crucified they then follow nuthing but CONJECTURE which is corruption. Which book today tells us that Jesus died and was crucified? The Bible, so hence the Quran here does call the Bible corrupt. So it cant get anymore clear than that.
For a book, which claims to be a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds, we are shocked to find this contradictory fairytale in the Quran. Not only do Muslims misinterpret the Quran, as we’ll later discuss, they also utilize major logical fallacies in ascribing to the theory of “the crucifixion never happened” and “it appeared to be Jesus”. The first of these fallacies is obviously "Begging the Question" which is assuming a conclusion by the premises. Now here is an example of how this fallacy operates:
Begging the Question Examples:
I'm not lying, it follows that I'm telling the truth.
(ii) We know that Jesus was never crucified, since the Quran says that Jesus was never crucified.
What the Quran says must be true, since God wrote it and God never lies.
(Here, we must believe that Jesus was never crucified in order to believe that God wrote the Quran.)
The way to easily disprove this bogus theory is by showing that “in order to believe the premises are true we must already agree that the conclusion is true”. In this case we must agree the Quran is true in order to assume that the crucifixion never happened. This is the equivalent of putting the horse before the cart or trying to buy gas before buying a car. Zaatari automatically assumes the Quran to be correct and therefore assumes what the Quran says must be true. However, Zaatari won’t allow Christians to think the same way about the Bible. He wouldn’t care if you say that, "the Bible is God's word because it says so,” even though he has no problem applying this same manner of thought to the Quran. This is hypocrisy at its best!! This argument falls into the fallacy of "untestability".
More importantly, we need to remind Zaatari about what he said when dealing with Muhammad and his marriage to Aisha:
There was no sin, and no crime on the prophet for marrying Aisha, none of his enemies even attacked him for it.
If you read Zaatari’s comments carefully, he is basically saying that “because none of Muhammad’s enemies attacked him” for his marriage to Aisha it would prove that his marriage was acceptable and fine. Along this line we must ask Zaatari:
If there was no crucifixion of Jesus Christ, why is it then that none f his enemies claimed that he didn’t die on the cross?
Appealing to the Quran doesn’t present any shred of evidence against the crucifixion since it is not a contemporary eyewitness document from the time of Christ. Zaatari is assuming that the Quran is true and that the earliest contemporary evidence supporting the crucifixion is false. In other words, Zaatari's disbelief in the crucifixion stems from the circular nature of assuming that the Quran is reliable enough to disprove Jesus' crucifixion, which leads him into the dilemma of having to reject all the overwhelming data proving the contrary!
Next the Quran claims that those who disagree with its position are in doubt and they have no knowledge except for conjecture. Yet the problem with this quick conclusion is the fact that Allah in the Quran has presented nothing but conjecture, which logically would produce more conjecture. Also anybody can see that this "no knowledge" stems from the fact that neither Allah nor Muhammad in their infinite (or should I say idiotic?) wisdom explained to us what happened to Jesus or how it was made to appear that Christ was crucified. Hence, we run into more problems and theories from a book that claims to be clear proof from the lord of the worlds!!
Moreover, Muhammad and Allah also failed to inform us what exactly were Christians disagreeing over? Was it over whether Jesus was actually crucified, or was it the fact that the Jews didn't kill him, or was it over the identity of Jesus' substitute? They failed to provide sufficient data by which we can adequately answer these important questions. Strange isn't it that this is the best that Muhammad and his god can do in trying to address what exactly happened to Jesus in his final moments on earth?
What makes the Muslim argument about the crucifixion so astonishing and fallacious is that some Muslims had to resort to the position that those who tesified that Christ was crucified must have experienced some type of hallucination, or appeal to heretical second and third century sects:
661 (3) that they boasted of having killed Jesus when they were victims of THEIR OWN SELF-HALLUCINATIONS (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 235 footnote 661)
663- The end of the life of Jesus on earth is as much involved in mystery as his birth, and indeed the greater part of his private life, except the three main years of his ministry. It is not profitable to discuss the many doubts and conjectures AMONG THE EARLY CHRISTIAN SECTS AND AMONG MUSLIM THEOLOGIANS. The Orthodox Christian Churches make it a cardinal point of their doctrine that his life was taken on the Cross, that he died and was buried, that on the third day he rose in the body and his wounds intact, and walked about and conversed, and ate with his disciples, and was afterwards taken up bodily to heaven. This is necessary for the theological doctrine of blood sacrifice and vicarious atonement for sins, WHICH IS REJECTED BY ISLAM. BUT SOME OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN SECTS DID NOT BELIEVE THAT CHRIST WAS KILLED ON THE CROSS. THE BASILIDANS believed that SOMEONE ELSE WAS SUBSTITUTED FOR HIM. THE DOCETAE held that Christ never had a real physical or natural body, but only an apparent or phantom body, and that HIS CRUCIFIXION WAS ONLY APPARENT, NOT REAL. The Marcionite Gospel (about A.C. 138) denied that Jesus was born, and merely said that he appeared in human form. The Gospel of St. Barnabas SUPPORTED THE THEORY OF SUBSTITUTION on the Cross. The Quranic teaching is that Christ was not crucified nor killed by the Jews, notwithstanding certain apparent circumstances which produced that illusion in the minds of some of his enemies; that disputations doubts and conjectures on such matters are vain, and that he was taken up to Allah. (Ali, The Holy Qur'an, p. 236, footnote. 663)
If Muslims such as Yusif Ali hold to the theory that Christ was never
crucified and that a substitution occurred on the basis that this is what the
language of the Quranic phrase “or it was made to
appear that he did” implies, they only end up proving that the Quran borrowed such claims from heretical Christian
sects!!! Muslims who prescribe to this theory actually expose their Quran as a fraud due to the fact that they prove that
Muhammad was influenced by heretical Christian groups found only in
We find it truly amusing that Muhammad would include such tales in the
Quran without even knowing that these were fables!! This exposes that
Muhammad's inspiration came not from the true God but from what he learned from
heretical groups in
However two Quranic and Arabic experts, Abu Samad and Nayeem Akhtar M.D., reject this position of "JESUS NEVER BEING CRUCIFIED OR SUBSTITUTED". Here is what they have to say:
For ages Muslims propounded two theories: one, that Jesus was never ever nailed on the cross; two, Jesus was nailed on the cross but he did not die on the cross. The purpose here is to investigate both the theories and ascertain if the second possibility have any validity in itself. ( Was Jesus Substituted on the Cross Abu Samad, Nayeem Akhtar M.D.)
Here they introduce us to the popular theories prescribed by Muslims in trying to interpret S. 4:157. They continue by saying:
VERSE ON CRUCIFIXION Only one verse in the Quran references crucifixion of Prophet Jesus. The verse is from Surah An-Nisa' number 157...some deviation from the original Arabic words and syntax COULD INTERJECT ALTERNATE POSSIBILITIES...(IBID)
They point out that incorrect translation of the verse can lead to false theories and unQuranic propagation. Since Most Muslims aren't Arab speaking, we see that this fact does hold to be true. For those who are Arab speaking and prescribe to Jesus being substituted, they are intentionally being deceitful.
The correct translation of the verse, adapted word for word is:
And (because of) their saying: "Surely we have killed the Massih, - son of Maryam" the messenger of Allah, AND THEY COULD NOT KILL HIM NOR CRUCIFY HIM, …….
WAS JESUS CRUCIFIED
BASED ON THE FIRST PART OF THE VERSE 4:157, MUSLIMS IN GENERAL BELIEVE THAT JESUS WAS NOT CRUCIFIED. The key words "maa salabuhu" was translated by many as "he was not crucified"; some others translated it as "not put on the cross". General observation is that only Qadiani Ahmadiyyaa sects hold that Jesus was put on the cross. Other Muslims flatly refuse the contention BASED ON THE STATEMENT IN THE VERSE "MAA SALABUHU". This necessitates a critical analysis from the viewpoint of a bystander.
HAD ALLAH CLOSED THE SENTENCE HERE AND TOLD NOTHING MORE, then it would have meant that Jesus was not crucified. HOWEVER, THE SENTENCE DOES NOT END HERE, it continues to the most critical part where Allah says something about "resemblance" or "similitude".
4:157 And (because of) their saying: "Surely we have killed the Massih, - son of Maryam" the messenger of Allah, and they could not kill him nor could they crucify him, even though a likeness of that was made for them. …….(IBID)
Here the authors expose where Muslims have intentionally cut off the sentence to arrive at the fact that Jesus wasn't crucified or substituted.
WHAT WAS SHOWN AS
All Muslims agree that on the fateful day SOMEONE WAS RAISED ON THE CROSS. That someone was also killed on the cross. Question is was that 'someone': Jesus or another person? Irrespective of whether it was Jesus or not, the word similitude here refers to showing the likeness of death. Since the question here is of the death of Jesus, by all means, the likeness of death of Jesus was shown.
If a different person's appearance was changed to become like Jesus, then the APPEARANCE was mimicked or simulated and not death... If the substituted person was really killed, then the death could not have been mimicked - rather it did happen.
THE VERSE 4:157 DOES NOT REFER TO SIMULATION OF APPEARANCE OF A DIFFERENT PERSON. If any of the fairly correct translation is considered, than the word similitude refers to the key words DEATH or CRUCIFIXION: …. they could not kill him nor could they crucify him, event though a likeness of THAT was made to them…..(ibid)
The words in S. 4:157 clearly mean death or crucifixion and not all of these strange theories proposed by modern Muslim apologists.
WHAT IS CRUCIFIXION?
The substitution theory was propounded to justify that Jesus was not crucified. Those Muslims who say that Allah clearly mentioned that Jesus was not crucified have a point there. The verse is sufficiently clear and bear precise meaning that they neither could kill him nor crucify him. However, little more digging is needed to go beyond the meaning of of the word crucify. The purpose of crucifixion is to put someone to death by nailing. The Jews would not put a person on the cross and later let him walk away. For centuries, the Jews killed thousands of people on the cross and never they let anyone walk away. It was a form of capital punishment. It is a long event starting from raising on the cross, nailing or binding the hands and feet and letting the person to die through a slow painful process of death, often taking hours and sometimes days. If the person is nailed, then due to bleeding, death occurs far quickly - maybe in hours. On the contrary, if a person is tied on the cross; then death is prolonged. Either way, if a person cannot be put to death by the process of crucifixion, then it is true that the person was not crucified - because, the purpose of crucifixion was defeated!
The Jews wanted to kill Jesus by crucifixion. When Allah refuted their contention of crucifixion, it is still possible that the Jews nailed him on the cross, but failed to ensure the completion of the entire process of KILLING BY CRUCFIXION. If that is so, the statement in the verse 4:157 is still valid and there is no need to invent a story of substitution. If the Jews failed to ascertain Jesus' death, then by all reasoning, they failed to crucify him. This is because the very purpose of nailing Jesus on the cross was defeated.
SIMILITUDE MADE SIMPLE
The meaning of 'showing a similitude' becomes easy to follow once the readers are ready to go beyond the flat meaning of crucifixion. The Jews thought they killed Jesus and Allah truly made them to think that they did, but in reality they failed to kill him because THEY FAIL TO VERIFY AND ASCERTAIN WHETHER HE WAS ACTUALLY DEAD OR NOT. Question is did Allah plan to put another man to Capital Punishment for the crime (?) committed by Jesus? Is Allah's mode of judgment so ridiculous?
Several possibilities can be investigated BASED ON AUTHENTIC HISTORY, DESCRIPTIONS AVAILABLE IN THE BIBLE and to some extent Hadith. In this regard, descriptions given in the Bible should be carefully investigated because it is contemporary to that period. Hadith was compiled 800 years after the event of crucifixion. One possibility is that Jesus fainted on the cross, other possibility is that Jesus was sent to a comatose state, yet another possibility is that the Jews brought him down from the cross far too early thinking that he died. Any or all of these possibilities go hand in hand with Allah's statement that a similitude or likeness of it/that/which (subbiha) was shown to the Jews. Once again, it/that/which here refers to death of Jesus.(IBID)
According to these scholars the correct way to interpret the Quran is the fact that Jesus was put on the cross and hanged to be crucified but yet he didn't die since the Jews didn't verify his death. Hence they couldn't crucify him. They offer more explanations and rebuttals to the substitution theory, however this still would leave us with a contradiction in the Quran since in other places it claims that Jesus did die while Sura 4:157 claims that he didn't. In fact, one can make a case that Sura 4:157 does not deny Jesus' crucifixion, but is only denying that it was the Jews who were responsible for the crucifixion. This interpretation is consistent with the Quran itself, as the following passage demonstrates:
"Ye (Muslims) SLEW THEM NOT, but Allah slew them. And thou (Muhammad) THREWEST NOT WHEN THOU DIST THROW, but Allah threw, that He might test the believers by a fair test from Him. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Knower." S. 8:17
"And because of their (the Jews) saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger- THEY SLEW HIM NOT NOR CRUCIFIED HIM, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise." S. 4:157
If we apply the common Muslim exegesis of Sura 4:157 to Sura 8:17 should we therefore assume that neither Muhammad nor the Muslims threw or slew the unbelievers? If we hold to Muslim understanding of Sura 4:157 this would be what we would have to conclude! So if Muhammad wasn't throwing does this mean that it was Allah throwing as Muhammad now? Was Muhammad Allah or was Allah the Muslims since he was the one who actually threw not them? Or should it it be the other way around, i.e. should we interpret Sura 4:157 in light of what Sura 8:17 says and conclude that Jesus was crucified in the Quran but that it wasn't really the Jews who did it. It was God's divine purpose that drove Jesus to the cross. In other words, it wasn't the Jews who decided to crucify Christ but God's set purpose which allowed Christ to be crucified at their hands. This is precisely what the Bible teaches:
"this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." Acts 2:23-24 RSV
"But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled." Acts 3:18 RSV
"for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place." Acts 4:27-28 RSV
"but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake." 1 Peter 1:19-20 RSV
"... whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Revelation 13:8 NKJV
If this view is correct, then Muslims should have no objections to Jesus' death and resurrection. One Muslim even concedes that this is the possible meaning of Sura 4:157:
"The mere saving of Jesus from being killed would not make Allah the best of planners, for any person could save Jesus from being killed... In keeping with His being the best of planners, a resurrection is what Allah planned. Plainly then, the Jews accomplished their plan and killed Jesus, but Allah accomplished His best plan by raising Jesus to life again and unto Himself. (A.H. Obaray, Op. Cit., p. 39)
But wait, there is more since there are more problems with Sura 4:157. Note that the context is referring to Jews boasting that they had killed the Messiah, the Messenger of Allah. Yet why would the Jews "boast" that they killed their Messiah?
Think about it for a minute. The Jewish followers of Jesus did not kill him. In fact, they were horrified when he was put to death. The Jewish enemies of Jesus were certainly happy to have him out of their way, but they would never have called him the Messiah or a "Messenger" of God since they viewed him as a liar and a blasphemer! Again this is another situation not explained by Allah, the greatest of devisors and deceivers, as to how the Jews could boast that they had done such things to Jesus if they really believed that he was their long awaited Messiah.
What the foregoing shows is that the Quran brings more problems than solutions in its stance regarding Jesus' crucifixion. If it truly was a book of such clear proofs then it wouldn't incorporate heretical and apocryphal material devoid of any real historical value, nor would it leave it to Muslim scholars to come up with such strange and crazy theories. This is a book that Zaatari wants to use to try and refute the historical Gospels of the New Testament!
What makes this even more hilarious is that the Quran wastes so much time on insignificant issues for mankind such as devoting entire Suras to Muhammad's problems and grievances, i.e. whom he should marry, Abu Lahab cursing him, the fact of Muhammad wrapping himself in cloaks!! Let us look at some of these useless Suras:
The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish. His wealth and gains will not exempt him. He will be plunged in flaming Fire, And his wife, the wood-carrier, Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre. S. 111:1-5
Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephant? Did He not make their treacherous plan go astray? And He sent against them Flights of Birds, Striking them with stones of baked clay. Then did He make them like an empty field of stalks and straw, (of which the corn) has been eaten up. S. 105:1-5
Why is there more information dealing with the companions of elephants or with Muhammad's uncle rather than with Jesus' crucifixion? It seems that the Quran cares more about Muhammad's time and his personal issues than it does about the faith and destiny millions of people who believe tat Jesus was crucified!!! How exactly do these two above Surahs benefit mankind? So when we need guidance and help are we supposed to go and read about Muhammad's uncle or elephants? Amazing!!!
Finally, and more importantly, Zaatari assumes that because the Quran denies the crucifixion this somehow proves that the Bible must be corrupted. In point of fact this only proves that the Quran is false since it affirms that the Holy Bible is God's uncorrupt Word while contradicting one of its core, essential teachings. Zaatari has it the other way around. For more on this issue please read the following: http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/preserved-crucifixion.htm
YUSUFALI: But because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard; they change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the message that was sent them, nor wilt thou cease to find them- barring a few - ever bent on (new) deceits: but forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds): for Allah loveth those who are kind.
Another verse showing Bible corruption, this is reffering to the Jews. They changed the words from their right places, this could be mis-interpret mis-quote or change the words and put them in different places than they originally were.
Let’s investigate Zaatari's use of Surah 5:13 to see what it is actually saying. He claims that it proves that the Bible was corrupted and yet by carefully reading the passage we discover that it is claming the exact opposite:
12. Allah did aforetime take a
covenant from the Children of
13. But because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them, and made their hearts grow hard: they change the words from their (right) places and forget a good part of the message that was sent them, nor wilt thou cease to find them - barring a few - ever bent on (new) deceits: but forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds): for Allah loveth those who are kind.
14. From those, too, who call themselves Christians, We did take a covenant, but they forgot a good part of the message that was sent them: so We stirred up enmity and hatred between the one and the other, to the Day of Judgment. And soon will Allah show them what it is they have done. O people of the Book! There hath come to you our Messenger, revealing to you much that YE USED TO HIDE IN THE BOOK, and passing over much (that is now unnecessary): There hath come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book,- S. 5:12-15
This reference, in context, shows that the Jews were cursed because they forgot God's covenant with them, for changing words from their places which we will see refers to misinterpretation, for forgetting the message WHICH WAS ALREADY WITH THEM, and for hiding stuff from the Book. Notice how Allah claimed that Muhammad came to reveal to them WHAT THEY WERE HIDING IN THE BOOK.
Why would Allah use this type of language IF THE BOOK WAS CORRUPTED? In fact, this would have been a good place for Allah to have stated that the Bible was corrupt, instead of saying that Muhammad comes to reveal what they were hiding from the Book. Allah should have basically said WHAT THEY CHANGED IN THE BOOK, not what they hid from it. After all, hiding something in a book presupposes that the contents are still there, that it is still intact. Yet when you change something from a the book then you change its contents.
Moreover, this same Sura says that the Jews did something similar to the Quran:
O Messenger! let not those grieve thee, who race each other into unbelief: (whether it be) among those who say "We believe" with their lips but whose hearts have no faith; or it be among the Jews,- men who will listen to any lie,- will listen even to others who have never so much as come to thee. They change the words from their (right) places: they say, "If ye are given this, take it, but if not, beware!" If any one's trial is intended by Allah, thou hast no authority in the least for him against Allah. For such - it is not Allah's will to purify their hearts. For them there is disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a heavy punishment. S. 5:41
Muhammad used to recite the Quran and the Jews would change his words into something derogatory. Using Zaatari's logic we must conclude that the Jews altered the Quran as well.
The following references from the same Sura provide additional from the Quran that refutes the idea that the Bible has been changed::
If only the People of the Book had believed and been righteous, We should indeed have blotted out their iniquities and admitted them to Gardens of Bliss. If only they had stood fast by the Torah, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have (enjoyed) eating both from above them and from below their feet. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil. S 5:65-66
Do you see Allah telling us that the people of the book disbelieved because they changed the Torah or Gospel? No! Instead we Allah commanding that the people of the book hold fast to the Torah, the Gospel and all the rest of the revelation given to them.
Zaatari assumed that "changing words from their context" in Surah 5:13,15 meant that the previous scriptures have been tampered with. However, when we consult the earliest Muslim interpretation of this reference we soon discover that the Jews were accused of changing words by misinterpreting the text. In the words of early Muslim exegete Ibn Kathir:
Then Allah informs us of the punishment He inflicted upon them when they violated His Covenant. Allah says, <because of their breach of their covenant, We have cursed them>, that is, because they broke their pact, Allah expelled them from His Guidance. And <made their hearts grow hard> so they will not accept their guilt.
The verse, <they change the words from their context> means THAT THEY MISINTERPRETED THE VERSES OF ALLAH, according to their own desires, and fabricated lies against Him. We ask Allah to save us from that ...
Allah informs us that He has sent His messenger Muhammad with the guidance and the religion of truth for all the people of the earth; Arabs and non-Arabs, illiterate and literate ... the Prophet has come to explain that which they have altered, misinterpreted and distorted and to ignore most of their unnecessary alterations. Al-Hakim reported in his Mustadrak, on the authority of Ibn Abbas, "Whoever disbelieves in stoning to death (Rajm) in Islam has indeed disbelieved the Qur’an and has no appreciation of Allah’s verse, <O people of the Scripture! Now has our Messenger come to you, expounding to you much of that which you used to hide in the Scripture>; therefore, stoning to death is that which the People of the Scripture concealed." Al-Hakim said that the Isnad of this Hadith is Good. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Part 6 Surat An-Nisa’, ayat 148 to 176 Surah Al-Ma’idah, ayat 1 to 181, abridged by Sheikh Muhammad Nasib Ar-Rafa'i [Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000 first edition], p. 128, 130-131; capital and underline emphasis ours)
Commenting on the same expression in 5:41, Ibn Kathir repeats:
<They change the words from their places> that is, THEY MISINTERPRET THE WORDS AND ALTER THEM KNOWINGLY… (Ibid., p. 167; capital emphasis ours)
It is obvious that when one does an in depth study of Islam, it clearly shows that “changing the words from their context” refers to misinterpretation. Zaatari obviously has not done his homework and only uses the Tafsirs of Islam when it suits his purpose. Even if the Quran stated that the Holy Bible has been corrupted, this still wouldn't mean that it was tampered with.
Moreover, if the Biblical text has been tampered then Muhammad and Allah would need to tell us:
1. What verses were corrupted.
2. What did the verses originally say so as to compare them with the corrupted verses.
3. When were the original passages tampered with.
4. Who corrupted the verses.
5. How did they corrupt them.
Zaatari can’t hide behind the claim of “the Quran doesn’t have to tell us what actually happen” since he demands that Christians prove in reference to Muhammad that:
There was no sin, and no crime on the prophet for marrying Aisha, none of his enemies even attacked him for it.
Hence, if the Quran never attacks the Bible for being corrupted then according to Zaatari’s own statements, there is no problem associated with the text like he wishes to say about Muhammad marrying Aisha. This concludes part one of this two part series. So far Mr. Zaatari has done nothing to prove that the Bible has been corrupted other than his own misinterpretations of the Quranic passages in question. Islamic history and traditions show that no biblical corruption has or can take place whatsoever. The assertion that the text of the Holy Bible has been corrupted to the extent that it can longer be reproduced or known is nothing more than a desperate attempt to cover up the many inconsistencies found in Zaatari’s Quran and his whole man-made religion. End part 1. Part 2 to follow shortly.