Is the Injeel a lost document?
In Islam, as well as many religions around the world, claims are made regarding the Bible, Jews, and Christians. Islam, through the agency of the Quran, claims to be a restoration of the true faith of Abraham of the Old Testament; thus, the restoration of the true faith prescribed by God. In doing this, the Quran makes claims regarding the major writings of Judaism and Christianity: the Torah and Injeel (Law and Gospels). Yet, what may be surprising to many Muslims, is that the claims of the Quran, as Mohammed gave them, stand contrary to current Islamic beliefs about these documents. This is a major problem for Islam, and a serious source of contention with Christians and Jews. Current Islamic belief follows this line of reasoning:
- God gave Moses and Jesus the Torah and Injeel respectively
- The Jews and Christians corrupted their religions
- The Jews and Christians corrupted their Scriptures, thus, the true Torah and Injeel have been lost forever. However, the documents we now think of as the Torah and Injeel may contain some parts of the Word of God
- The guide for finding these sections of truth is the Quran
- If a saying from the Torah or a Injeel disagrees with the Quran, then it is corrupted and not the Word of God
There is a fundamental problem with this belief: The Quran disagrees.
The Torah and the Injeel according to the Quran
It is said that Mohammed knew nothing of the early Jewish and Christian writings from the first six centuries; yet he revealed stories about Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Job, and other biblical personalities. It is said that God was the one who revealed these things to him since he was an “unlettered” prophet; that is, one who could not read, or had no formal education. However, Mohammed may have already been familiar with Gospel stories as well as early Christian writings (Apocrypha), and myths (Pseudepigrapha).
For the many years prior to his marriage and subsequent religious work, Mohammed often traveled trade routes from Arabia to Syria, which was predominantly Christian in his day. No doubt as a successful trader, Mohammed had many opportunities for intercourse with the local Christians in Syria, as well as those along the trade routes he must have come into contact with. Regardless, the Quran makes specific claims about the Torah and Injeel which should be noted. The following analysis has proven insightful.
The Quran, Mohammed claimed, confirms, and stands as guardian over the Torah and Gospels previously revealed. Note the following quotes from varying Quranic Surah:
“It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step) in truth the Book confirming what went before it; and He sent down Law (Of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this as a guide to mankind and He sent down the Criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).” (3:3 Yusuf Ali translation)
“Those who believe (in the Quran) those who follow the Jewish (Scriptures) and the Sabians and the Christians any who believe in God and the Last Day and work righteousness on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.” (5:69 Ali translation)
“And remember Jesus the son of Mary said: “O Children of Israel! I am the apostle of God (sent) to you confirming the Law (which came) before me and giving glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me whose name shall be Ahmad.” But when he came to them with Clear Signs they said “This is evident sorcery!” (61:6 Ali translation) There are many such passages as those listed above. Today’s Muslims make the assertion that the writings referred to in the passages above no longer exist, having been lost centuries before. If that is the case, then the question should be asked, did the Torah and Injeel exist in Mohammed’s day?
What does the cornerstone of Islam, the Quran, have to say about this issue? According to the Quran, the Torah and Injeel existed during Mohammed’s lifetime. Readings of all Quranic Sura regarding the Torah and Injeel show that in every instance, without fail, these Jewish and Christian writings are always referred to in the present tense. So much so in fact, that Mohammed goes further in his language to say that Jews and Christians have the Torah and Injeel with them, ready to be referred to if necessary. Note the following verses from the Quran:
“Let the people of the Gospel judge by that which God hath revealed therein. Whoso judgeth not by what God hath revealed; such are evil-livers. (5:47 Pickthall translation)
“How come they come unto thee for judgment when they have the Torah, wherein God hath delivered judgment for them?” (5:43)
“Say: “O People of the Book! ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law the Gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.” (5:68 Ali translation)
“If you doubt what We have revealed to you, ask those who have read the Scriptures before you. The truth has come to you from your Lord; therefore, do not doubt it.” (10:94 Dawood translation)
Note that in each instance the previous Scriptures are referred to as if they exist and are available at the time of the prophet’s speaking. The point then is begged, was Mohammed referring to the Torah and Gospels as we have now, or was he referring to something else?
What Is The Injeel?
There are four possibilities here for examination:
- Mohammed was referring to the Torah and Injeel as we have them
- Mohammed was referring to a lost document
- Mohammed was referring to the Torah and Gospels, but since his time they have been corrupted beyond reconstruction
- Mohammed was referring to other documents, neither the Torah or Gospels, though similar
Of the four possibilities listed, based upon the available evidence, the first and the last are most reasonable. Briefly, Mohammed is not referring to a lost document. He speaks of the Injeel and Torah as being in existence during his lifetime, and does not refer to any kind of textual corruption. In fact, nowhere in the Quran does Mohammed say that the actual text itself has been corrupted only the interpretation or meaning. If the text were corrupted, why would Mohammed tell his hearers to go to the previous revelations and examine them?
There are over 5,000 manuscripts and partials of New Testament documents dated from antiquity. It is this same text that the majority of the church recognized as inspired 300 years before Mohammed was born. Documentary comparison of these codexes, even with those of Mohammed’s day, reveals remarkable accuracy in transference of text and message. The error rate in copies is less than 1 percent. For hand copied documents over a period of centuries, that rate is nothing less than remarkable. Similar works of antiquity suffer greatly from high error transmission. These are the same documents (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that the early church used, including during Mohammed’s lifetime. Specifically, the Syrians, with whom Mohammed had regular contact, regarded these books as inspired. All of this is said to point out that not a single copy, or even a portion of a “lost” manuscript has ever been recovered in 2000 years. If the “Injeel” as Muslims refer to it today were a “lost” document that existed up until Mohammed’s day; and one that Christians referred to, then for 600 years such an “Injeel” would have been a great prize, equal to, if not surpassing the value and weight of the Gospels we do have. The church fathers would have referred to it often. In reality, they do not refer to any such “Injeel.”
It is also hard to believe that if such a document existed that it would have virtually disappeared within less than 100 years from the entire face of the Earth whereas other documents of such importance, and lesser importance, continue to exist, numbering in the thousands from antiquity with current printed copies numbering in the millions.
The third possibility, that the Torah and Injeel are corrupted beyond reconstruction is also unreasonable. If as a Muslim you read the Quran at face value then these documents had to be corrupted sometime after Mohammed’s death in 632 CE. This is because throughout the Quran, the Torah and Injeel are not said to be corrupt, only the meaning disregarded by Jews and Christians. Thus, corruption would had to have taken place afterwards. Such corruption would be easily discernable and disregarded for the simple fact that literally thousands of manuscripts and quotes remain in existence from the 600 years prior to Mohammed’s lifetime. In this manner, scholars would have protected the text from such dramatic changes, having the ability to compare the corrupted with the earlier copies. In addition, biblical manuscripts were, by 600 A.D. copied and available from Western Europe to the East and parts of Africa. Notwithstanding, every major English Bible translation that has been written since the 1950’s is based upon these ancient manuscripts dated long before Mohammed’s time.
It can be said with certainty that Mohammed was familiar with the information from two sets of documents (whether he could read or not, he certainly could have heard teaching from them): the Injeel, and the class of writings known as the Pseudepigrapha. There are several lengthy Quranic passages that are remarkably similar in both content and language to that of early Jewish and Christian writings of this class, specifically, Gospels written under assumed names, forgeries, and fictitious works. Some of these documents were still in circulation during Mohammed’s day, though most churches not longer referred to them by 200 CE.
Mohammed Clearly Made Reference to the Injeel
Christians of Mohammed’s day used Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as inspired writings
The Christians Mohammed was familiar with in Syria and Arabia did not regard the other writings as inspired, rather, they only regarded the Four Gospels as inspired
Mohammed read, or was familiar with one or more of the Gospels.
In light of these historical facts, there are some questions we should consider:
If Mohammed was referring to the Torah and Injeel as we have them (thus making them God’s word), why does the Quran disagree with those documents?
If Mohammed was referring to lost documents, why does he refer to them in the present tense as if they are not lost?
f Mohammed was referring to corrupted documents, why doesn’t he say they were corrupted instead of referring Jews and Christians to them as if they were God’s uncorrupted word?
Why did Mohammed appeal to the previous documents for his own authority (61:6) if they were lost, corrupted, or in existence, but in disagreement with his teaching? (10:94)
Why do most of Mohammed’s stories about Isa come straight from the Christian folklore of the previous 4 centuries?
The Quran argues that it is its own proof. It presents its own text as the evidence that it is from God. Yet it is rife with the contradiction that seeks to support itself based upon its own merits while at the same time denying the authority of the previous revelations that it agrees are intact and valid. Does this seem confusing? Your confusion can be relieved when you discover what the Injeel, protected by God for nearly 2000 years, has to say.
My Muslim friend, what is your response to these startling facts? Would you like to know more about God’s truth, but free from error? You can know more about God’s love for you, and how you can have a personal relationship with the One True God.