Revised edition December 2016.
Anyone who reads the Koran and the Bible side by side will soon discover that the same people appear in both books, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and so on, but the stories about them are different. Muslims claim that they have the authentic record of what happened in the lives of these people and that Jews and Christians ‘changed the books’ of the Bible.
If this is the case we would expect to find some record in history of these books being changed, but there is none. Since the Christians took the whole record of the Old Testament into their own scriptures, there should have been an agreement between Jewish and Christian leaders to make these changes, but that is totally implausible since Jews and Christians had a different interpretation of the same book.
A question to ask Muslims on this issue is, ‘Did they change the books before Mohammed or after Mohammed?’
In fact they could not have been changed after Mohammed (born 570, died 632) since there are around 5,300 manuscripts of the whole or part of the Greek text of the New Testament pre-dating Mohammed still in existence, including the Codex Vaticanus (325-350 AD) located in the Vatican library and the Codex Siniaticus (350 AD) located in the British Museum. There are also quotations in the works of early Christian writers which are ‘so extensive that the New Testament could virtually be reconstructed from them without the New Testament documents’ (Josh McDowell ‘Evidence that demands a Verdict’). The Dead Sea Scrolls dated around 125 BC have bought to light manuscripts of all the Old Testament books (except Esther) including the complete text of Isaiah, on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The Septuagint translation of the Hebrew text into Greek in around 165 BC also confirms the fact that there has been no change to the text of the Old Testament since that time.
So if the books were changed they had to be changed before Mohammed. This also presents a major problem for Muslims. If the Koran really is the accurate record of events communicated by Allah to Mohammed via the Angel Gabriel, surely this vital piece of information would have been communicated to Mohammed – i.e. somewhere in the Koran it would be written that the Jews and the Christians have a false record of events but this is the true one. In fact there is nothing in the Koran saying this but there are verses saying the opposite, speaking highly of the Bible and advising Muslims to learn from Jews and Christians:
‘And if thou (Mohammed) art in doubt concerning that which we reveal unto thee, then question those who read the scripture that was before thee’ (i.e. the Bible). Sura (chapter) 10.95. ‘O ye people of the book! Ye are not grounded on anything until ye observe the Taurat (Torah) and the Injil (Gospel) and that which has been revealed unto you from your Lord.’ Sura 5.68. ‘I believe in the Book (of the People of the Book) which God has sent down.’ Surat-ush Shura (42):15. “ After those prophets ‘We sent forth Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Tawrat (Torah) already revealed, and gave him the Injil (Gospel), in which there is guidance and light, corroborating that which was revealed before it in the Tawrat, a guide and an admonition to the righteous. Therefore let the followers of the Injil judge in accordance with what Allah has revealed therein.” Quran 5:46-47.
The Quran also says that the Word of Allah cannot be changed (Sura 10.64) and since these verse call the Bible the ‘book which God has sent down’ then it must mean that the Bible cannot be changed. Jesus agrees with this when He said, ‘I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 6:18. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35.’ On this basis we believe the Bible we have today is the Word of God, basically unchanged, apart from a few variant readings which make no difference to the meaning of the text.
In fact it is the Muslims who have a problem with this issue. They claim that the Koran they have today is unchanged and has been preserved exactly as it was given to Mohammed. However in his book ‘The Bible and the Koran’ Steven Masood shows how during the reign of Caliph Uthman (650-656) there were so many variant editions of the Koran that ‘pupils and teachers ended up killing each other.’ He then appointed a committee to collate the Koran. The new official compilation of the Koran was then sent to every Muslim province with orders ‘that all other Koranic materials, whether written in fragmentary manuscripts or whole copies be burnt.’ (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol 6. P 479). The Shia sect of Islam believes that one of the companions of Mohammed, Ali Ibn Abi Talib, compiled the real Koran and that it was different from the one compiled by Uthman. Many of them believe this is now with the 12th Imam, known as the Mahdi, who they say will reappear at the end of days. Then he will reveal Ali’s copy of the Koran. Steven Masood concludes on this subject: ‘The present Koran is not entirely the same as that from the time of Muhammad nor is it a fully fledged copy of the Uthmanic recension. The Koran was further revised by Ibn Mujahid (about 250 years after Uthman) and has undergone a process of further refinement, resulting in the canon we have today.’ Page 40.
Jesus in the Bible and the Koran.
So if the Bible has not been changed, what explains the differences between the Bible and the Koran?
When one reads the Bible and the Koran side by side it is clear that both cannot be true since they contradict each other on vital issues concerning the faith. On a superficial level there are some similarities in the portrait of Jesus in the Koran and the New Testament – both say he was born to a virgin, lived a sinless life, performed miracles. Muslims also believe that Jesus will come again to the earth. But on close examination it is clear that the Koran is speaking of ‘another Jesus’ who in essence is entirely different from the Lord Jesus revealed in the New Testament.
The Islamic Jesus is a created being: ‘The similitude of Jesus before Allah is that of Adam: he created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be’: and he was.’ Koran: Sura 3:59. In the Bible Jesus is revealed as an eternal being who said of himself, ‘Before Abraham was I am’ (John 8.58). He is the creator not a created being: ‘All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made’. John 1:3.
The Islamic Jesus was never crucified and therefore did not rise from the dead: ‘And because of their saying (in boast), ‘We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ — but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not: But Allah raised him up unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is ever all powerful, all wise’ (al-Nisaa’ 4:157-158).
This rips out the very heart of the message of the Gospel and contradicts everything that the New Testament teaches about Jesus. ‘For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ (Messiah) died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried and that he rose again on the third day according to the scriptures. … And if Messiah is not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain’. I Corinthians 15:3-4,14.
The Islamic Jesus is not God in the flesh, in fact anyone who believes that God is three in one will be thrown into hell according to the Koran. ‘Surely, disbelievers are those who said: ‘Allah is the third of the three (in a Trinity).’ But there is no AIlah (god) but One AIlah. And if they cease not from what they say, verily, a painful torment will befall on the disbelievers among them’. [al-Maa’idah 5:73]. Other verses in the Koran – Maryam 19.34-38 and 88-93 – speak of judgement coming on those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Yet the Bible clearly reveals Jesus as the Son of God in whose name we have eternal salvation and life: ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth’. John 1;14 ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’. John 3:16
The Islamic Jesus is simply another prophet: ‘Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them’: Surah 2.136, 2.84. The New Testament teaches that Jesus is entirely different from the prophets and is above them all: ‘Therefore God has highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’ Philippians 2.9-11
Muslims have a number of beliefs about the second coming of Jesus based on the Hadith (traditions) rather than the Koran. They believe he will come back as ‘a man of medium height, reddish hair, wearing two light yellow garments’ (Sunan Abu Dawud Book 37, Number 4310); that he will land on the minaret of the mosque in Damascus when he will invite the whole world, including Jews and Christians, to become Muslims (Hadith 814). He will then destroy the Dajjal (Antichrist) and ‘kill all pigs and break all crosses’, confirming Islam as the only true religion. He will then live for 40 years, marry and have children and perform the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. Then he will die and be buried beside the grave of Mohammed.
All of this entirely contradicts what the Bible tells us about the second coming of Jesus, when he returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords with all the power of God at his disposal to the Mount of Olives outside Jerusalem in order to set up his 1000 year reign of peace and justice on the earth prior to the eternal state in which he is glorified and worshipped for eternity (see Zechariah 12-14, Revelation 19-21).
Where did Mohammed get his inspiration from?
All of the differences pointed to above show that behind the Koran is a spirit which denies the identity of the Lord Jesus as revealed in the New Testament. Within the New Testament this spirit is defined for us as the spirit of antichrist. In 1 John 2.19 we read concerning the spirit of antichrist: ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.’ Islam did not continue in the teachings of the Apostles and therefore created an antichristian religion.
1 John 2.22-23 says: ‘Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah)? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.’ So denial of the Son means you do not have the Father either.
It is interesting to note that in the Koran there are references which suggest that Mohammed had contact with corrupted forms of Christianity. In Sura Al-Maida 116-117 Allah questions Jesus, saying, ‘Did you say unto men, Take me and my mother as gods apart from God?’ Of course nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus or any of the Apostles say that Mary should be taken as a goddess or worshipped as the ‘mother of God’, but by the time of Mohammed corrupted Christianity had done just that. The Koran also contains the story of Jesus as a child making clay birds and imparting life to them. This is nowhere in the New Testament, but it is in the ‘Infancy Gospel of Thomas’. This is one of many writings rejected by the early church, but believed by a number of heretical Gnostic groups. The fact that this story is contained in the Koran suggests Mohammed had contact with such groups.
Interestingly the Koran also contains material relating to the Old Testament which is not found in the Bible, but which is found in the Jewish Talmud, including the story that the Golden Calf made a roaring sound when it was completed and that Solomon knew the language of birds. This suggests that he had contact with Jewish groups who familiarised him with parts of the Talmud.
Of course Muslims deny that there was any human influence on the writing of the Koran and that it came entirely by revelation of the Angel Gabriel to a man who could neither read nor write. If this is so they have a problem because Gabriel revealed things which are clearly wrong. For example in Sura 19.28-29 Mary the mother of Jesus is designated as ‘sister of Aaron’ and in Sura 66.12 as ‘daughter of Imran’. Imran is an Arabic form of the Hebrew Amram, who was the father of ‘Aaron, Moses and Miriam’ (Numbers 26.59). The title sister of Aaron is given to Miriam in Exodus 15.20. Therefore not only was the mother of Jesus a virgin, she was also about 1500 years old! Some Muslim writers have attempted to explain this by saying that Miriam was miraculously preserved alive, purposely to become the mother of Jesus, quoting a Jewish tradition that the angel of death did not have power over Miriam (sister of Moses and Aaron). A more likely explanation is that Mohammed simply confused the identity of these two women whose names in Hebrew (Miriam) and Arabic (Maryam) are the same. If so this puts into question the divine inspiration of his writing.
Concerning the inspiration of the Koran and Mohammed’s supposed encounter with the Angel Gabriel, there is an interesting record in the Koran itself of how the people of Mecca responded to Mohammed before they believed in him. This is a quotation from a booklet entitled ‘The Occult in Islam’ by Abd al-Masih (Light of Life, PO Box 13, A-9503 Villach, Austria):
‘They considered him to be a disturbed man and called him ‘madjnun’ (‘a possessed one’) who behaved very unnaturally when he received his revelations (Suras ‘The Rangers 37.35, Smoke 44.13, The Mount 52.29, The Pen 68.2, The Darkening 81.22). Some of his neighbours feared him and whispered that he was a ‘sahir’ (magician) dealing with witchcraft and influencing people to follow him by his fascinating lies (Suras Jonah 10.2, El-Hijr 15.16, Sad 38.3).’
‘Ibn Hisham one of the early biographers of Mohammed confirms in his book that these accusations were continually used by the people of Mecca before they surrendered to Islam when forced to do so. Mohammed, when asked by his followers about his meetings with the Angel Gabriel, answered several times: ‘When he approaches me, I hear the sound of a ringing bell or banging metal. Then I step quickly down from my horse or camel and cover my head. He then presses so hard on me that I think I will die. When he speaks I can never forget his words which I reveal unto you.’ During the revelations his followers witnessed that his face became pale or red, his lips moved silently and he sometimes became unconscious.’
This testimony from within Islam itself puts into question the source of Mohammed’s inspiration. While there are accusations of madness made by the opposition against Jesus and against Paul in the New Testament (Mark 3.21, John 10.20, Acts 26.24) in each case this is because of the claims they made, not because of strange or unnatural behaviour. In 2 Timothy 1.7 we read, ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind’.
The conclusion which the writer of the pamphlet ‘The Occult in Islam’ comes to is this: ‘Even though Muslims insist that Mohammed received revelations from God, we must state that the voices which Mohammed claimed to have heard were not real inspiration. The Father of our Lord Jesus would never have sent the Angel Gabriel to Mohammed in Mecca 600 years after the birth of Christ to prove to him that he, God has no Son. It is written in the Koran more than twenty times that God has no Son. As long as Muslims claim that these verses were divinely inspired we must say, ‘No!’ These voices did not come from the true God, but originated from an evil spirit who misused the Arabic name of God. As long as Muslims insist that Jesus was not crucified and did not really die on the cross, we must again affirm that it was not God who revealed these verses to Mohammed.’
The true God loves all human beings including Muslims and is calling us all to repent and believe the Gospel, that Jesus is the Messiah, God manifested in the flesh, who died for our sins and rose again from the dead and is coming again in power and glory to judge the whole world according to our response to his message.