What the Qur'an Says About the Bible
December 2004 version

The Qur'an shows a great deal of respect for the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus. Now many religions have sacred books, but when the Qur'an speaks of the "people of the book", it is referring to Jews and Christians, because the Bible, and not other religious books, are recognized as from God.

As you look up these verses, remember that in different modern printings of the Qur'an the verse numbers are slightly different.

Sura 32:23 "We did indeed aforetime give the book to Moses. Be not then in doubt of its reaching (thee): and We made it a guide to the children of Israel."

Sura 3:64 "Say: O People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah."

Sura 40:53 "We did aforetime give Moses the guidance, and we gave the book in inheritance to the children of Israel."

Sura 3:184 "Then if they reject thee, So were rejected messengers before thee, who came with clear signs, and the scriptures and the book of enlightenment." Yusuf Ali's footnote says that scriptures (zubur) may refer to all of the Bible or just Psalms.

"Behold! Allah took the covenant of the prophets, Saying 'I give you a book and wisdom: then comes to you a messenger, confirming what is with you; do ye believe in him and render, him help.' Allah said: 'Do ye agree, and take this my Covenant as binding on you?' They said: 'We agree.' He said: 'Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses.'" Sura 3.81.

Yet the following Qur'anic verse says the Bible was to be known and clear for all mankind. This is not a contradiction of the previous Qur'anic verse though, because it was initially a guide for Israel and then for all mankind.

"And remember Allah took a Covenant from the people of the book, to make it known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it; but they threw it away behind their backs, and purchased with it some miserable gain! And vile was the bargain they made!" in Sura 3:187. While this Sura criticizes some who were called people of the book, it does not in any way criticize the book God gave mankind.

"O ye People of the Book! Believe in what We have (now) revealed, confirming what was already with you, before We change the face and fame of some (of you) beyond all recognition,..." Sura 4.47.

Sura 29:46 "Dispute ye not with the people of the book, except in the best way, unless it be with those of them who do wrong but say, 'We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; our God is your God is One; and it is to Him we submit (in Islam)."

Sura 4:150-151 "Those who deny Allah and his messengers, and wish to separate between Allah and his messengers, Saying: 'We believe in some but reject others': and wish to take a course midway, (151) They are in truth unbelievers;..."

The Qur'an's Respect for Christians

"Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say 'We are Christians': because amongst these are men devoted to learning. And men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant." Sura 5:82. The footnote says this does not refer to everyone who calls himself a Christian, but sincere Christians.

Sura 2:62 says, "Those who believe (in the Qur'an). Those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), And the Sabians and the Christians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work Righteousness, - on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve."

Prophets and Servants Mentioned in Both the Bible and the Qur'an

All can agree that you cannot accept some of God's prophets and reject others; you have to accept them all. The next section mentions prophets and godly people mentioned by both the Bible and the Qur'an.

Sura 8:84-85 "We gave him [to Abraham] Isaac and Jacob, all (three) We guided; and before him we guided Noah and among his progeny David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron; Thus do we reward those who do good; And Zakariya and John [the Baptist] and Jesus and Elias [Elijah] all in the ranks of the righteous."

In addition to these, the Bible and the Qur'an both mention Adam, Noah, Lot, the brother and sister of Moses, the Queen of Sheba, the angels Gabriel and Michael, Elishah, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus' apostles.

The Qur'an Never Says the Bible was Corrupted

The Qur'an says some people of the Book were hypocrites (Sura 5:61-63) and perverted what they heard. However, it never said that God's word, given to the people of the Book, was changed. God has the power to give His word, and God has the power to guard His word in safety from corruption.

Sura 2:75 says of some people (Jews of Medina?), "Hear the Word of Allah, and perverted it knowingly after they understood it." It does not say they corrupted the Bible, only that they perverted what they understood.

While the Qur'anic commentator Yusuf Ali tries to say the Biblical Gospel today is not the Injil (Gospel) meant in the Qur'an, the Qur'anic commentator Fazlur Rahman contradicts him. Jesus was taught the Gospel according to Sura 3:48, and Christians are the people of the Gospel in Sura 5:46. Finally, 'Aisha contradicts Yusuf Ali in Bukhari vol.4:605 and Sahih Muslim vol.1:301 p.98, where she tells that Khadija took Mohammed to a Christian convert who used to read the Gospels in Arabic.

The Bible in Jesus' Day and Ours

Sura 3:48 says, "And Allah will teach him [Jesus] the book and Wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel."

"And in their [the prophets'] footsteps we sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Torah that had come before him: we sent him the gospel; therein was guidance and light. And confirmation of the Torah that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah" Sura 5:46

Now this verse of the Qur'an is remarkable. If God sent Jesus to confirm the Torah (first five books of the Bible's Old Testament), then at least in Jesus' time, the Torah that people could read and Jesus could confirm was the same Torah God sent.

It goes on. Sura 5:47 goes on to say "Let the People of the Gospel Judge by what Allah hath revealed Therein...." If the People of the Gospel are to judge by what God has revealed in the Gospel, then how can the Gospel they are to judge by not be the Gospel God told them to judge by?

Sura 5:48 says, "To thee (People of the Book) We sent the scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the truth that hath come to thee...."

Since God had the power to give His word, God had the power to guard His word in safety. Do you agree?

In modern times, some Arab boys found a cave at Qumran, wherein were a great number of scrolls from the time of Christ. Among the earliest was a scroll of Isaiah from a 100 years or so before Christ. These are called the Dead Sea Scrolls, and they contain all but one of the books of the Old Testament. Thus we can read for ourselves today the Old Testament in Jesus' time.

How the Bible and Qur'an Differ

There are many similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an; it has been proven that often the Qur'an respectfully refers to the Bible. However, one key difference between the Bible and the Qur'an is the means of forgiveness. For 1,400 years God laboriously trained the Jews to understand the importance of sacrifice for forgiveness. Even before Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made sacrifices to God. Heb 9:22 says, "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness."

After over 1,400 years of preparation, imagine how the Jews felt when the prophet John the Baptist said of Jesus "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29). Hebrews 10:4 says, "because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." As Hebrews 10 points out, man's repeated animal sacrifices were a shadow of God's real sacrifice. They merely covered over the sins until forgiven, once and for all, by the sacrifice God chose. As Isaiah, Jesus, and Jesus' apostles taught, the sacrifice was Jesus Himself.

If you feel unforgiven inside, perhaps it is because you rightly realize that all of the works you could ever do, and all of the prayers you could ever pray, cannot take the place of God forgiving you for your sins toward Him. Only God can do that. God is gracious, compassionate, and merciful, but He must forgive the sins against Him in His way, and not our way. God has provided a way, and every man and women must choose whether to accept God's way or try things on their own way, apart from God. Seek the Lord.

The previous part showed how much the people who read the Qur'an should respect the Bible, commented in brief about what the Qur'an said about people mentioned in the Bible, and what the Qur'an said about the reliability of God's Word, and specifically the Torah in Jesus' time.

The following part goes into exactly what the Bible and the Qur'an say about both godly and ungodly ones mentioned in common, and what evidence we have to back up the claim (of both the Qur'an and the Bible) that God's word cannot be changed.

Sura 6:91 "No just estimate of Allah do they make when they say: 'Nothing doth Allah send down to man (by way of revelation)': say 'Who then sent down the book which Moses brought? - a light and guidance to man;..."

Sura 4:150-151 "Those who deny Allah and his messengers, and wish to separate between Allah and his messengers, Saying: 'We believe in some but reject others': and wish to take a course midway, (151) They are in truth unbelievers;..."

Many might be unfamiliar with the words God sent through His prophets. The Bible, being a longer book, has in general more details on these people. After looking up the Qur'anic verses, you might want to look up the Bible references too.

Godly Ones Cited in the Qur'an

Adam, the Fall2:33-7;3:33,59;7:19-27;19:58;20:120-1

Noah and the ark 3:33; 4:163; 7:59-64; 10:73; 11:36-48,89; 14:9; 19:58; 21:72;23:27-29;26:116-120;37:75 (950yrs) 29:14

Abraham 3:33,67; 15:57; 21:62; 37:83; 38:45; 60:4

Almost sacrificed an unnamed son37:99-111

Lut (Lot) 6:86; 21:71,74; 29:28,33;

Isaac 6:84;19:49;21:72;29:27;37:112-3; 38:45

Jacob 2:132-3; 3:84; 4:163; 6:84; 12:7-10; etc. 12:38,83; 19:49; 21:72; 29:27; 38:45

Joseph 6:84; 12:4-80; 40:34

Benjamin 12:59,69,76-77

Job 4:163; 6:84; 21:83-84; 38:41-44

Moses' parents 3:35 28:7-10

Miriam, sister of Moses 28:11-12

Moses 4:153; 7:131-155; 14:5-8; 11:96,97,110; 19:51; 20:9,25,45,61,65; 33:66; 40:53

Aaron, Moses' brother 6:84; 7:150-153; 19:53; 20:29-36,45,92-4; 37:114

Moses' wife (Zipporah in the Bible)28:27-29

David 2:251; 5:78; 21:78-9; 34:10; 38:17-26

Solomon 2:102; 21:78-9; 27:15-44; 34:12-4;38:30-40

Queen of Sheba 27:15-44

Angels Gabriel and Michael 2:98; 66:4

Jonah 4:163;6:86;10:98;37:139-148

Elijah (Elias) 6:85; 37:123,130-132

Elisha 6:86; 38:48

Yahya (John the Baptist) 6:85;19:7,12;21:90

Zechariah, John's father 3:37,38; 6:85; 19:2,7,11; 21:89

John's mother 21:90

Virgin birth of Jesus3:47; ~4:156;~5:78; ~5:112; 19:16-33; 21:91; 66:12

Jesus 2:253; 4:157; 5:46,78,110; 6:85; 23:50;43:61

Jesus, Word of God 3:45; 4:171 Sahih Muslim 1:22

Jesus' ascending to Heaven 3:55; 4:158

Jesus' disciples 3:52-53; 5:112-113; 61:14

The only non-Jews here were Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Job, the Queen of Sheba, and (of course) the angels. Sura 32:23 says, "We did indeed aforetime give the book to Moses. Be not then in doubt of its reaching (thee): and We made it a guide to the children of Israel."

Some Godly Ones Cited in the Bible

Adam and the Fall Gen1:26-31;2:8-5:1; Lk 3:38; Rom 5:12-19; 1Cor 15:45-49; Jude14

Noah's ark1Pet3:20-21;Gen5:28-10:1;9:29(950 yrs)

Abraham Gen 12-25; Gal 3:6-9; Rom 4:1-25; Heb 11:17-19; James 2:21-23

Nearly sacrificing Isaac Gen 22

Lot Genesis 11:31; 13-14,19, 2 Peter 2:7

Isaac Gen 21;22;24;26;35:28-9; Heb11:18-20; Jms 2:21-23


Joseph Gen 37, 39-48,50; 1Chr2:1; Heb 11:22


Job Book of Job, Ezek 15:20; James 5:11

Moses' parents Ex2:1-9; 1 Chr6:3; Heb 11:23

Miriam, Moses' sister Ex2:4-8;15:21; Num12

Moses Ex-Num; Dt 34; Heb 11:23-29; Jude 9

Aaron, Moses' brother Ex 4:14-16,27-31; 17:10; Num 12:1-5; Num 17;Ex 16-19; 1 Chr 6:50

Moses' wife Zipporah Ex 2:17-22; 4:24-26

David 1 Sam 16-31; 2 Sam; 1 Kings 11:12,38; Ps 51; Luke 20:42-44; Heb 11:32


Queen of Sheba 1Ki10:1-13; 2Chr9:1-12; Mt12:42

Angels Gabriel and Michael Daniel 8:16; 10:13,21; 12:1; Luke 1:19,26; Jude 9

Jonah Book of Jonah, 2 Ki 14:25; Mt12:38-41

Elijah (Elias)1Ki17-22;2Ki1-2;10:17;Jms5:17

Elisha 2 Kings 2-9

John the BaptistLk1:11-7;3:1-20;7:18-30,33;Jn3:22-36

Zechariah, his father Lk1:5-25,39,59,62-3

Elizabeth, John's mother Lk 1:7,12

Virgin birth of JesusMt1:18-25;Lk1:27-38;2:6-21

Jesus Mt 25:31-46; Lk 10:16; 12:9; Jn 1:29; 5:16-

Jesus, the Word of God John 1:1

Jesus' ascending to Heaven Luke 24:50-53;Acts 1:1-11

Jesus' disciples Mt. 14:32-33;28:9; Luke 5:1-11; 6:12-16; Jn. 21:15-25; Eph. 2:20; 2 Peter 3:15-16

God made a special covenant with the Jews. (Sura 2:40; Exodus 24:2-8) Yet being a Jew does not guarantee heaven. Jesus told the Jewish Pharisees, "if you do not believe that I am He (Messiah), you will die in your sins." (John 8:24) God's salvation was told through Jews (John 4:27). They were entrusted with the words of God (Rom 3:1-2). Yet in Christ Galatians 3:28-29 says, "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

Some Ungodly People in the Qur'an

Adam's son killing his brother 5:27-31

Those drowned in Noah's flood 23:27; 29:14

Lot's lewd neighbors and his wife 29:28,33

Pharaoh, cruel to God's people 2:49-50; 7:103-137; 20:56.60,78-79; 28:4,8-9; 29:39;44:17-33

Pharaoh's magicians 10:79-81; 20:62-70

the non-Jew Moses killed 28:15

Aziz (Potiphar?) 12:30, 51

Potiphar's wife 12:23-26,51

Qarun (Korah) Sura 28:76,79; 29:39; 40:24

Cupbearer in Joseph's prison 12:39-41

Madyan (Midianites) 7:85-93; 11:84-95; 22:44; 26:176-190; 28:22; 29:36-37; 38:13

Goliath, slain by David 2:249-251

100,000 Jonah preached to after being swallowed by a big fish 37:142-147

Gog and Magog 18:94-95; 21:96-7

Ungodly People in the Bible

Cain killing Abel his brother Gen 4

Drowned in Noah's flood. Gen 6-7; Mt 24:37

Lot's lewd neighbors & Lot's wife Gen18-19

Pharaoh, cruel to God's people Exodus 1,5-14; Romans 9:16-17

Pharaoh's magicians Ex7:11-12; 8:7,19; 9:11

Egyptian killed by Moses.Ex2:11-5;Ac7:23-8

Potiphar Genesis 39:1-6,19-20

Potiphar's wife Genesis 39:6-20

Korah Numbers 16:31-35

Cupbearer in Joseph's prison Gen 41:9-13


Goliath, slain by David 1 Sam 17

100,000 Jonah preached to after being swallowed by a big fish. Jonah, Mt 12:41


Early Copies of the New Testament

The Bible was given by God and written down by Jews and Christians. It was written down over a long span of time, from approximately 1400 B.C. to about 90 A.D.. All agree that the Bible was written before the Qur'an. However, many people might be unaware that we still have very early copies of the Bible in museums today.

The John Rylands manuscript, which is a fragment of the Gospel of John was written about 117-138 A.D.., and a fragment from Luke (p6) is 100 A.D. The Bodmer II papyrii contain most of the John, and it is dated from about 125-175 A.D. The Chester Beatty Papyrii (p45), copied down around 100-150 A.D., contains most of the New Testament. After this, there are over 10,000 additional Greek manuscripts that are useful to crosscheck each other for any copying mistakes. In addition to this, there are 14,000 other manuscripts into Syriac, Ethiopian, Latin, and other languages.

We also have the witness of the early Christians. Early writers referred to a great many verses in the New Testament. For more information on the accuracy and reliability of the New Testament, read The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F.F. Bruce.

How the Bible and the Qur'an Differ

One could briefly scan the list of people mentioned in both books and falsely think there are no contradictions between the two. Either what is written in Qur'an is right and the Bible must be wrong, or what is written in the Bible is right and the Qur'an must be wrong.

Who exactly is Jesus? The Bible and the Qur'an completely agree on the following:

· Jesus was fully human

· Born of Mary - with no sexual relationship

· Jesus was a Jew, but His words were for all

· Jesus was the prophesied Messiah

· Jesus lived a sinlessly perfect life

· Jesus performed many great miracles

· Jesus was a type of Adam (See Sura 3:59)

· Jesus disciples were men of God, excepting Judas. (See Sura 3:52-53; 61:14)

· Jesus ascended to heaven (Sura 3:55; 4:158)

Yet the Bible alone affirms these things:

· Jesus is the Son of God - non-sexually

· Jesus is fully God - but not a separate God

· Jesus was the ransom sacrifice for our sins

· Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us

· Jesus physically rose from the dead

Muslims often misunderstand what is meant by Jesus being the Son of God, and perhaps this illustration can help. Shi'ite Muslims say that 'Ali is the finger of God. Now Muslims do not believe that Allah has fingers. Rather, the term "finger of God" is not meant physically, but as an expression.

Other illustrations could be brought up, but Muslims can easily explain these by quoting Sura 2:26, "Allah disdains not to use the similitude of things,..." even of a gnat as well as anything above it. Those who believe know that it is the truth from their Lord; But those who reject Faith say: What Means Allah by this similitude?"

Likewise, Christians likewise use the term "Son of God" in a way different from a human, physical, sexual sense. Some Muslims might be surprised to find that Christians completely agree with them that God did not have sex with Mary (or anyone else for that matter). Rather, saying Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God is an expression of great meaning.

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