October 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
Of the many challenges for Islam, here are three that I think effectively show the incoherency of the Muslim doctrines of the corruption of Biblical text, of salvation, and of forgiveness.
1. Integrity of the Scriptures
This challenge is similar to one that Paul Bramsen presents in his book One God, One Message (pg. 29-31). The Qur’an speaks of the Gospel of Jesus (Injil) as a true revelation from God sent for “guidance and light” (Sura 5:46), and so was the Torah (Tawret, Sura 5:48). The scriptures were “granted inspiration”, and the people who possess them can attest to it (Sura 21:7). It’s actually eternal judgment that anyone who will “reject the Book” faces as the Qur’an warns in 40:70-72. Also, Sura 10:94 bids us to “ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you” to confirm God’s revelation, and Sura 3:93 names the Torah as the book that “truthful,” or “men of truth,” study.
Islam teaches that the Torah, Psalms of David, and the Gospel were true in their original form but have been corrupted, at least where they contradict the Qur’an. But when and how were these scriptures supposedly corrupted? The Qur’an was “revealed” between 610 and 632 A.D. Since the Qur’an regards the Torah, Psalms and Gospels as true, they obviously weren’t corrupted BEFORE the Qur’an was written. The Scriptures could not have been corrupted AFTER the Qur’an either, since by 600 A.D., hundreds of thousands of copies were in circulation in Europe, Asia, Africa in many languages—Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and others. The Bible we use now is translated from these early manuscripts, of which we have whole and portions of scripture numbering over 24,000, all of which agree more than 99.5%. How could ALL these manuscripts circulating by 600 A.D. have been CONSISTENTLY altered so they reflect the same corruption that Muslims claim must have occurred?
There simply is no opportunity for the Biblical scriptures to have been corrupted. The Qur’an is correct in its claim that the Bible is the true revelation of God, the same Bible we have today.
[You can see how this argument works practically in a debate I posted on the topic: Quran:Read the Bible…]
2. Sincere Repentance (Really Sincere)
The Qur’an requires, in addition to righteous deeds, “sincere repentance” for the forgiveness of your sins (Sura 25:72 and 66:8). Ibn Hajar maintains that the most important definitions of sincere repentance (al-tawba al-nasuh) according to al-Qurtubi in his tafsir (exegesis), include “to sin and then never return to it (Umar)”, to hate sin and seek forgiveness for it every time it occurs to one (Hasan al-Basri), “to be genuine and true in one’s repentance (Qatada)” and to have sincerity in one’s repentance, all of which seem to affirm what the Qur’an says.
How do you know your repentance is sincere enough to earn forgiveness? What if we sin and return to it? What if we repent but don’t truly hate the sin? Or we miss a sin? And when we rely on our own sincerity in repentence, how do we repent of the sin of pride that comes from relying on our own sincerity to merit forgiveness, especially when the sincerity of the repentance is what is supposed to grant Allah’s forgiveness? We are then stuck in a never-ending circle of needing to repent of the sin we committed during repentance.
3. Forgive Me Maybe
What’s more, Sura 66:8 says “O you who have believed, repent to Allah with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remove from you your misdeeds…”. Allah doesn’t actually promise to forgive, but “perhaps” he will. Sura 2:105 says, “But Allah selects for His mercy whom He wills…”, so he doesn’t promise he will apply his grace fully to all who repent, assuming he wills that you are one whom he will forgive, and further assuming that they meet the undefined standard of “enough” in their level of sincerity.
On the “righteous deeds” that the Qur’an requires in addition to sincere repentance (Sura 2:277, 5:9, 8:29, 25:70,71, 28:67, 42:26, etc.), how do you know your deeds are righteous enough in Allah’s sight? Sura 23:102-103 seems clear: “Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy, they will be successful. But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls; in hell will they abide…” How “heavy” must our balance of good deeds be? If “Allah will choose for his special mercy whom he will,” how can any Muslim know if his deeds, his adherence to the six pillars, etc. have warranted God’s mercy, even if the good deeds meet the target “weight” required by Allah?
In these ways, Islam is internally inconsistent. The Muslim’s reasons to reject the Bible are unfounded and contrary to the evidence, the Qur’an’s requirements for reconciliation with God are insufficient, and Allah’s capacity to forgive seems hopelessly limited.
Before a holy and righteous God, we are all in trouble. When God sent His Son Jesus to die in our place, it was the only perfect sacrifice that could be made for the sin of ALL mankind. “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) comes from the hope and promise of God that “by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8,9) Sinful man will always come up short before a holy and perfect God, but Christ’s payment is enough.
There is no rational basis for rejecting the Gospel of Christ—for Muslims, or anyone of us.