Muslims and Christians both believe throughout the ages God has given instructions to man concerning how he should live and how to find a way to heaven.
Christians believe that God spoke through His Holy Spirit to men, and they wrote as the Holy Spirit breathed upon them (2 Peter 1:19-21). The apostle Paul said, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). We then see that the Bible itself explains that the Scriptures were given by God to holy men who were submissive to the Holy Spirit, holy men who wrote as God’s Spirit “breathed” upon them.
On the other hand, Muhammad said that the Qur’an was given to him by the angel Gabriel and that it was given exactly as it is recorded in the “Mother of books which is on the throne of God.” Muslims say that the Qur’an (which means recitation) is the final revelation of God to man and supersedes all previous revelation. Christians say the Holy Bible, which was given centuries before the Qur’an, is the complete Word of God and is the rule of faith and practice for all men. The Holy Book itself says it is the final revelation of God to man (Revelation 22:18,19).
It is interesting to know that Muhammad firmly believed in the authenticity of the Bible as it existed in his day. There are many verses in the Qur’an which demonstrate his confidence in the Holy Books that came before him. I will quote only two: 1) “Say people of the book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless you stand fast by the law, the gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord” (Sura 5:71); and, 2) “Before Thee, also, the apostles we sent were but men, to whom we granted inspiration. If ye realize this not, ask of those who possess the message” (Sura 21:7).
Dr. Akbar Haqq, in his book Sharing Your Faith With a Muslim, says, “In view of the clear teaching of the Qur’an about the authenticity of the Bible and its freedom from corruption, it is no wonder that not only the earliest doctors of Islam but also many other Muslim scholars after them have refused to entertain a belief contrary to that. Their position is further strengthened by a crucial verse in the Qur’an: ‘The words of the Lord are perfect in truth and justice; there is none who can change His words’ (Sura 6:115). Again, we read, No change can there be in the Words of God. This is indeed the supreme felicity’ (Sura 10:64).” Christians can say “Amen” to that. (Parenthetically, please note that the author’s use of the Qur’an does not mean followers of Christ accept it as authoritative for themselves. However, as Muslims consider it authoritative, they should accept the testimony of the Qur’an as it relates to the authenticity of the Bible or of Jesus Christ.)
With this in mind, a Christian should ask his Muslim friend: If Muhammad believed in the authenticity of the Bible and if Muslim scholars did not question it, then when was the Bible corrupted? Manuscripts of both the Old and New Testaments, dating back to several hundred years before Muhammad, were placed in museums and are intact today. These original manuscripts give credence to the content of the Holy Scriptures. The Christian might want to phrase his question in this manner: When was the Holy Bible corrupted? Was it before or after Muhammad lived?
If the Muslim replies “before,” he is in a dilemma because then he accuses Muhammad of being a false teacher because, as has already been noted, the Qur’an, which Muslims say is the very Word of God, clearly refers to the Holy Scriptures as God’s Word and was to be obeyed and followed. If, on the other hand, the Muslim says “after,” he also is in a great dilemma because the Bible had already been written in many languages and distributed widely in the world.
If Muhammad believed in the authenticity of the Bible and if Muslim scholars did not question it, then when was the Bible corrupted?
The Christian could then ask another series of valid questions. Who changed it? When was it changed? How could this possibly happen? What did it say before it was changed? Does history record such an historic event, as it would certainly be if all the leaders of the Christian and Jewish communities worldwide were to come together to rewrite the Holy Scriptures? Christians love their Scriptures and would never, at any time, agree to any attempt at changing them. In fact, the Bible itself promises the severest penalty against anyone who attempts to change them.
The Jews love their Old Testament Books of the Law and would never collaborate with Christians or anyone in an attempt to change these Scriptures.
It is interesting to note that in recent years, archeological discoveries have unearthed ancient manuscripts dating back more than 2,000 years. These manuscripts include portions of every book in the Old Testament, with the exception of the book of Esther. The entire book of Isaiah was uncovered. All of these ancient manuscripts show no major changes from the Bible we have today.
But the most convincing answer to the question of the changing of God’s Word must come from God himself. We read that God said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:35). Thus the sincere question concerning who corrupted the Bible must be answered with God’s own words, “My words will never pass away.” God’s Word is eternal and He would never permit His Holy Word to be changed. How very important it is that we read and obey His Holy Scriptures and accept them as His pure Word, “which can save you” (James 1:21). “And how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).
What About Different Translations?
The original Old Testament was mostly written in Hebrew with some portions in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek. Many manuscripts of the Holy Bible still exist in these languages. As the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ spread into many countries, the Bible was translated into the languages of these countries. Some Muslims may be confused by the various translations of the Holy Bible and an explanation is in order. For example, in English, there is the King James Version which dates back to 1611 A.D. and is still widely used today. However, since then, as the language of the people has changed, revised versions have been printed to make the Holy Bible more readable. Since these translations are made from the original documents, there is no difference in meaning.
The Christian would also answer by saying that there are many versions of the Qur’an which have been translated by different scholars. These versions differ in many aspects. I have the Dawood, Yusuf Ali, Arberry, and Pickthall’s versions of the Qur’an in my library. Each translation differs, although each seeks to be true to the original meaning.
CREDIT: Excerpted from the booklet Questions Muslims Ask by Delmar Kingsriter (now in glory).