The difference between the Quran and the Bible
by M. Amir Ali, Ph.D.
The Muslims and non-Muslims consider the Qur’an and the Bible to be their respective books of guidance without realizing the vast differences between the two. Firstly, the Bible is a scripture and many Muslims erroneously consider the Qur’an to be a scripture. In the Qur’an, Allah describes the Qur’an as “Al-Kitab“, meaning “the Book”, which is the right name for it. The Bible is called a scripture and if asked about the authorship, Christians tell you that there were forty-some persons, rarely a prophet or a messenger among them, who wrote the Bible under divine inspiration. The concept of divine inspiration is an assumption without verification. Whereas, the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (henceforth denoted as S) who dictated to his scribes, the most honorable companions. In the sense of authorship the Bible is a scripture whereas the Qur’an is not a scripture but a revealed book.
The Qur’an talks about the TAURAT, ZUBOOR and INJEEL which were the books revealed by Allah to the Prophets Musa, Dawood and ‘Isa ‘alaihumus-salaam, respectively, which are not the same books as the Bible. Due to the similarity of some contents of TAURAT, ZUBOOR and INJEEL, some people equate them with the Torah and Psalms of David and the Gospels respectively, which is an error. This has given an excuse to the Christian missionaries to present the Bible in the native languages of the Muslim countries as the TAURAT, ZUBOOR and INJEEL of the QUR’AN and confuse and confound naive Muslims. The revealed Taurat, Zuboor and Injeel were revealed books which are extinct, whereas, the Bible may contain some parts of Taurat, Zuboor and Injeel in modern-day language translation in corrupt form. A translation of a revealed book cannot be the word of God because in the process of translation the word of God is transformed into the word of man. In the language of revelation (Arabic or Aramaic or Hebrew) only one manuscript or codex could be the word of God, whereas, there can be an infinite number of translations by man. It is, therefore, agreed by Muslim scholars that any translation of the Qur’an is not the word of God and does not qualify to be called the Qur’an. Non-Arabic speaking people should be able to benefit from translations but no one should depend upon a single translation because no translation is free of errors. A translation represents the understanding or lack of it by the translator himself. If any one desires to become a scholar of the Qur’an there is no choice but to learn the Arabic language of the Qur’an and gain expertise in it.
One of the major sources of corruption of the Bible is translation and translations of translations. With regards to the Gospels of the Christians, there is no record of even writing down any document when Jesus received revelations. It is believed by the Christians that the first records of the teachings of Jesus (A) and his life were made decades after his disappearance and it was in the Greek language. The earliest manuscript available is from the fourth century after Jesus. In the case of the Old Testament, it was written in Hebrew and its dialects, but was destroyed at least twice by the enemies of Judaism in ancient times without leaving a single copy and was rewritten from memory, one of the sources of corruption. The Qur’an was recorded in writing as well as in the memory of many people in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and was compiled in book form according to his directions by his companions shortly after his death. It is, therefore, suggested that Muslims should not apply the term “scripture” to the Qur’an. “Al-Kitab“, when used in the Qur’an, should be translated simply as “the Book”.