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AUTHENTICITY OF BIBLE AND QURAN EXAMINED

AUTHENTICITY OF BIBLE AND QURAN EXAMINED (Zikrullah T. Ayyuba) A study of the Bible reveals that it does not contain the exact words revealed and spoken by the Prophets such as Moses and Jesus. It was committed to writing by numerous writers during a period of many centuries during which time it also underwent changes. Dr. Stanley Cook writes: “Human fallibility being what it is, the Bible is not free from contradictions and errors, and is by no means of equal religious value throughout.” (pg. 193 An Introduction to the Bible) Again the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica states under the title Bible: “…it is beyond dispute that a large number of corruptions were introduced into the Hebrew text.” We learn from the history of Israel that during the time of Nebuchchadnezzar the books of Israel were burnt and destroyed. Later they were re-written by the Prophet Ezra: “It was forgotten but Ezra restored it.” (p. 322, Vol. V, Jewish Encyclopaedia) It is further written on the same page: “He showed his doubts concerning the correctness of some words of the text by placing dots over them. Should Elihah, said he, approve the text, the points will be disregarded. Should he disapprove, the doubtful words will be removed from the text.” This needs no further comment of mine. It is clear that the general text of the Old Testament could no longer be regarded as the Word of God preserved in its pristine purity. Such is the state of the Old Testament. REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 13 The New Testament is in much the same condition. There is no assurance as to exactly when it was written. We learn that in the early days after Jesus’s departure they were awaiting for his return. While those who had lived with Jesus were passing away and at the same time there was no sign of his return, a need was felt that the Gospel should be written down for the benefit of those who could not hear from those people who had lived with him. A noted Oxford scholar has written: “The first important point to bear in mind here is that none of the Gospels could have been written until many, many years after Jesus. The Gospel according to Mark is by common consent recognised as the earliest. The date usually assigned to its composition is about A.D.65. The crucifixion is generally assumed to have taken place in the year A.D. 29 or 30. The Gospel is, therefore about thirty five years later than the story it records. The other Gospels were written subsequently … During the early years that succeeded the death of Jesus no written records appear to have been made of his life and teachings. A few of his most striking sayings were perhaps embodied in some simple liturgy. As, however, the years passed by and memories grew dim, the need was felt for committing his words into writing … These early writings must have been based upon the reminiscences of the disciples who had lived with Jesus and hear his words, and it is upon the reminiscences and traditions that our existing Gospels are built. When it is realised how impossible it is for a story to pass from mouth to mouth, even a short time after the occurence of an incident, without undergoing some modification, it is inevitable that narratives and sayings which had been passed from mouth to mouth over a period of thirty years should become transformed in process. Moreover, we must remember that in ancient times it was the common practice for even the most conscientious chroniclers and historians to put into the mouths of the characters, of whom they wrote words which they considered appropriate to the occasion without any intention of implying that they were the exact words used, nor did an ancient chronicler scruple on occasion, to modify his record in such a way as to bring out the particular point of view which he was anxious to stress in his writing. There is no doubt that the Gospels, which were written not only for the purpose, of record 14 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS but also for dedication have been affected by this attitude of mind. We have, therefore, no security that the narratives and sayings as given in the Gospels necessarily represent what acutally happened and what was actually said.” (The Story Behind the Gospel by Bernard M.Allen) Thomas Paine writes in his book ‘The Age of Reason’: “The councils of Nicea and Laodicea were held about 350 years after Christ and the books which now make the New Testament were then voted for by yeas and nays as we vote for a law. A great many that were offered had a majority of nays and were rejected. This is the way in which the New Testament came into being … Be this as it may, they decided by vote which of the books out of the collection they had made should be considered as the word of God and which should not. They rejected several, they voted others to be doubtful such as the books called Apocrypha; and those books which had majority of votes were voted to be the word of God. Had they voted otherwise, all the people, since calling themselves Christians, would have believed otherwise, for the belief of one comes from the vote of another.” We read in Peakes Commentary on the Bible: “We have no final and unquestionable text of Holy scriptures to which we can turn to as the original version. The original have long since perished.”(p.4) “If the claim of the New Testament is true that all scriptures is given by the inspiration of God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) then why did the Church have to decide by votes which books were revealed and which were not. It is asserted by our Christian friends that the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses under divine inspiration. But how could it be when it is written in the last chapter of the last of the five books: “So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord … but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.” (Deuteronomy 34:5,6) It is obvious that Moses was not the inspired writer of the books or, for that matter even the writer, as he could not write about his own REVIEW .OF RELIGIONS 15 death. In fact, so much time had elapsed before they were written that no one any longer knew the whereabouts • of his grave! Similarly the the next book could not have been written by Joshua as it is written at the end: “And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died being a hundred and ten years old.” (Joshua 24:29) If Muslims are fond of comparing their scripture with those of other religions it is due to the authenticity of the Holy Quran to be the Word of God in which God states: “This is a perfect Book; there is no doubt in it; it is a guidance for the righteous.” (2:3) “Verily We O’urself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian.” (15:10) “Those who disbelieve in the Reminder when it comes to them are the losers. And, truly, it is a mighty Book. Falsehood cannot approach it either from front or behind. It is a revelation from the Wise, the Praiseworthy.” (41-42-43) These verses speak for themselves and clearly promise divine protection for the Holy Quran. This promise and prophecy has been literally fulfilled throughout the centuries as it exists in its pure original Arabic text. The Holy Quran was not written by Muhammad (peace be on him) or anyone else. It was, as it claims, revealed by God to the Prophet: “He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book.” (3:8) “All praise belongs to Allah who has sent down the Book to His servant and has not put therein any crookedness.” (18:2) These passages from the Holy Quran show clearly that it claims to be the Word of God as it truly is. Furthermore the language and style of the Holy Quran is such that it can be easily committed to memory. 16 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Not only did the companions of the Holy Prophet commit it to memory but even today there are hundreds and thousands of Muslims who have done so and recite it regularly to keep it fresh in their minds. A characteristic of the Holy Quran is that it refutes every objection brought against it by its opponents who, for instance, asserted that the Holy Prophet had forged it. God challenges them in the Holy Quran: “If you are in doubt as to what We sent down to our servant then produce a chapter like it, and call upon your helpers besides Allah, if you are truthful.” (2:24) “Do they say he has forged it? Say, ‘Bring then a chapter like unto it, and call for help on all you can if you are truthful.’ (10:39) This challenge has never been taken up. No doubt many critics have endeavoured to refute the claims of Islam but no one has met this particular challenge even insofar as to produce a single verse better than the standard of Arabic in the Holy Quran. How could they when God Himself has ordained: “Say, ‘If mankind and the Jinn gathered together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof, even though they should help one another.’ (17:89) Not only has the text of the Holy Quran been well guarded and preserved but also its spirit and meanings for in every century God has been raising a spiritual reformer from among the Muslims who attains direct communion with God and revives the faith of Islam through perfect obedience to the Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be on him) thereby showing a clear sign of the existence of God and His Living Word. This is a unique feature of Islam. No wonder, therefore, that the Holy Quran is a living Book which manifests a Living God. In our time God has raised Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam to explain the truth and excellences of the Holy Quran. He said: “The real perfect parts of salvation have been opened only by the Holy Quran, all others were only its shadows. Therefore you REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 17 should study the Holy Scriptures with utmost attention and deepest thoughts and you should love it as you have never loved anything else.” Another characteristic of the Holy Quran is prophecy. It abounds with prophecies the fulfillment of which puts at rest the minds of its followers. Some of the marvellous prophecies have been fulfilled while others still await to be fulfilled. In the Holy Quran God says about the corpse of Pharaoh: “So this day We will save thee in thy body alone that thou mayest be a sign for those who come after thee. And surely many of mankind are heedless of our signs.” (10:93) This verse refers to the proud Pharaoh who had drowned with his hosts after wrongfully and aggressively pursuing Moses and the Israelites. When the calamity of drowning overtook him he acknowledged and declared his belief in the God of Moses. But it was too late. Even so God showed mercy on him and promised to save his body as a sign for those who came after him. It is a remarkable fact that of all religious scriptures it is only the Holy Quran which mentions this fact. The Bible nor any book of history mentions it. In a wonderful manner the Holy Quran, the Word of God, has proved true. After the lapse of more than 3000 years the body of the same Pharaoh was discovered in Egypt about the turn of the 20th century. It now lies in a preserved state in the Cairo museum. His name was Menaptah. Again it has been prophesied in the Holy Quran that the Persians would be defeated by the Romans and the latter would be defeated by the Muslims: “The Romans have been defeated, in the land nearby, and they, after their defeat will be victorious in a few years – Allah’s is the command before and after that – and on that day the believers will’rejoice.” (30: 2-5) The Persians had almost over run the Roman Empire and by 615 they had reached the gates of Constantinople. They had already conquered Palestine, Syria and Egypt. The Romans were in disarray having suffered defeat after defeat. They seemed to be doomed. Yet in 624 the Romans struck back and crushed the Persians who were also 18 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS later conquered by the Muslims. There is also grand prophecy in the Holy Quran regarding the joining of two bodies of water: “He has made the two bodies of water flow. They will one day meet. Between them there is at present a barrier; They cannot encroach one upon the other.” (55:20-21) This prophecy has been literally fulfilled by the construction of the Suez and Panama canals linking the Mediteranean and Red sea and Atlantic and Pacific ocean respectively. There are also prophecies of the enormous progress in the science of astronomy (81:12), and of great development in the science of geology and minerology, and interplanetary communication. The Holy Quran also makes mention of those who shall acquire great material power so much so that they would conquer every elevation they come across. God says in the Holy Quran: “It shall be so even when Gog and Magog are let loose and they shall hasten forth from the top of every wave.” (21:97) Gog and Magog refer to the great powers comprising Russia and America in particular. We read in the Holy Quran: “Soon shall We attend to you, O ye two big groups.” (55:32) What a graphic picture these verses have drawn of the Western nations today who by virtue of their achievements and political strategies have on the eve of the promised time, acquired the same attributes. FRUITS OF HOLY ASPIRATIONS Spiritual achievements are the consumation of holy aspirations. He who lives constantly in the conception of noble and lofty thoughts, who dwells upon all that is pure and noble and unselfish, will, as surely as the sun reaches its zenith and the moon its full, become wise and noble in character, and rise into a position of influence and blessedness. (James Allen)