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Does Taurat Refer Only to the Revelation Given to Moses?

Refuting Another Muslim Canard

An oft-repeated Islamic objection is that the Taurat which the Quran repeatedly mentions is not identical to the Old Testament Scriptures, but refers to the original revelation given to Moses.

There are at least two main problems with this argument.

First, the Quran nowhere claims that the Taurat was given to Moses. This is an assumption that is being read back into the Islamic scripture, and is based on the Jewish-Christian definition of the term and/or later Muslim tradition.

This brings me to my second problem. There have been Muslim scholars of both the past and present which have candidly acknowledged that the word Taurat (Torah) can and does in fact refer to all of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, and not just to the books ascribed to Moses.

Note, for example, what Ibn Kathir writes in regards to Q. 7:157:

… Ibn Jarir recorded that Al-Muthanna said that `Ata’ bin Yasar said, “I met `Abdullah bin `Amr and asked him, `Tell me about the description of Allah’s Messenger in the Tawrah.’ He said, `Yes, by Allah! He is described in the Tawrah, just as he is described in the Qur’an …

(O Prophet! Verily, We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of glad tidings, and a warner.) [33:45] as a safe refuge for the unlettered ones. “You are My servant and Messenger. I have called you ‘Al-Mutawakkil’ (who trusts in Allah), not hard or harsh.’ Neither uttering foul speech in the markets nor returning evil deed with one in kind. Rather, he forgives and forgoes. Allah will not end his life until He straightens through him the crooked religion, so that they might proclaim, ‘There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah.’ He will open through him sealed hearts, deaf ears and blind eyes.”’’ `Ata’ then said, “I also met Ka`b and asked him the same question, and his answer did not differ from `Abdullah’s answer, even concerning one letter.” Al-Bukhari recorded it from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr. It was also recorded by Al-Bukhari [up to the word] forgoes. And he mentioned the narration of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr then he said: “It was COMMON in the speech of our Salaf that they describe the Books of the People of the Two Scriptures AS THE TAWRAH, as some Hadiths concur. Allah knows best.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged), Volume 4, (Surat Al-Ar’af to the end of Surah Yunus), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition: May 2000], p. 179 http://www.alim.org/library/quran/AlQuran-tafsir/TIK/7/157; bold and capital emphasis mine)

And here is what he states elsewhere,

And it should be recognized that many of our forebears used to apply the word “Torah” to the books of the peoples of the scriptures. These are in their view more comprehensive than those God revealed to Moses. This fact is attested from the hadith. (The Life of the Prophet Muhammad (Al-Sira al-Nabawiyya), translated by professor Trevor Le Gassick, reviewed by Dr. Ahmed Fareed [Garnet Publishing Limited, 8 Southern Court, south Street Reading RG1 4QS, UK; The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization, 1998], Volume I, p. 237; bold and underline emphasis mine)

These quotes from Ibn Kathir show that those Islamic polemicists who employ this argument are contradicting the teachings of the Salafs, and therefore are not true Sunni Muslims.

This, perhaps, explains why the following translator of the English version of Sahih al-Bukhari included the words Old Testament within parentheses next to the word Torah in the following narration, which seemingly references Isaiah 42:

Narrated Ata bin Yasar:

I met Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As and asked him, “Tell me about the description of Allah’s Apostle which is mentioned in Torah (i.e. Old Testament).” He replied, “Yes. By Allah, he is described in Torah with some of the qualities attributed to him in the Quran as follows:

‘O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness (for Allah’s True religion) and a giver of glad tidings (to the faithful believers), and a warner (to the unbelievers) and guardian of the illiterates. You are My slave and My messenger (i.e. Apostle). I have named you “Al-Mutawakkil” (who depends upon Allah). You are neither discourteous, harsh Nor a noise-maker in the markets And you do not do evil to those Who do evil to you, but you deal With them with forgiveness and kindness. Allah will not let him (the Prophet) Die till he makes straight the crooked people by making them say: “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,” with which will be opened blind eyes and deaf ears and enveloped hearts.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 34, Number 335 https://sunnah.com/bukhari/34/77)

The translator knew that in this particular context Torah could not be a reference to Moses’ book and, since he was a Salafi Muslim who knew what the Salaf taught, he could see that Abdullah was clearly using it in relation to the other prophetic writings found in the Old Testament.

This same translator, in the comments to Q. 7:157 found in the English version that he and another Salafi scholar produced, states that,

(1) (V. 7:157) There is in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel), even after the original text has been distorted, clear prophecies indicating the coming of Prophet Muhammad, e.g. Deut. 18:18, 21:21; Psl. 118:22-23; Isa. 42:1-13; Hab. 3:3-4; Matt. 21:42-43; Jn. 14:12-17, 26-28, 16:7-14. (Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language From Surah 6 to 9 [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Lahore, Houston and New York], Part 2, p. 221)

Thus, not only do these two Salafi scholars equate the Taurat with the Psalms, Isaiah and Habakkuk they even identify Matthew and John as the Gospel!

Another hadith translator concurs with this broader use of the term Torah:

(4a) Chapter: Belief in the Divine Decree – Section 1

Abu Huraira reported that God’s messenger told of Adam and Moses holding a disputation in their Lord’s presence and of Adam getting the better of Moses in argument. Moses said, “You are Adam whom God created with His hand, into whom He breathed of His spirit, to whom He made the angels do obeisance, and whom He caused to dwell in His garden; then because of your sin you caused mankind to come down to the earth.” Adam replied, “And you are Moses whom God chose to deliver His messages and to address, to whom He gave the tablets on which everything was explained, and whom He brought near as a confidant. How long before I was created did you find that God has written the Torah?” 1 Moses said, “Forty years.” Adam asked, “Did you find in it, ‘And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred’?” 2 On being told that he did, he said, “Do you then blame me for doing a deed which God had decreed that I should do forty years before He created me?” God’s messenger said, “So Adam got the better of Moses in argument.”

Muslim transmitted it.

1 At-Taurat, a general name for the first five books of the Old Testament.

2 These words are in Quran, xx, 121.

Grade: Sahīh (Zubair `Aliza’i)

Reference: Mishkat al-Masabih 81

In-book reference: Book 1, Hadith 75 (sunnah.com https://sunnah.com/mishkat/1/75; underline emphasis mine)

And here are some other Quranic translators who were/are honest to admit that the Taurat could refer to all of OT prophetic writings, some of whom even identify the Injil as the New Testament/Bible!

*5:44 The Torah is a collection OF ALL THE SCRIPTURES revealed through all the prophets of Israel prior to Jesus Christ, i.e., TODAY’S OLD TESTAMENT. NOWHERE in the Quran do we find THAT THE TORAH WAS GIVEN TO MOSES. (Rashad Khalifa, Quran: The Final Testament https://www.masjidtucson.org/quran/frames/ch5fn.html#44; capital emphasis mine)

005:044 The Torah is known as the name of the book given to Moses. However, this common knowledge might be wrong. The Quran nowhere mentions that the Torah was given to Moses. The word Torah occurs 18 times in the Quran and it refers to the collection of books given to Jewish prophets excluding the Injeel delivered by Jesus. Though the name of the book(s) given to Moses is not mentioned, it is described with various adjectives such as Furqan (the distinguisher), Emam (the leader), Rahma (mercy), Noor (light) and Huda (guidance).

There is ample scholarly work indicating that current books of the Old Testament were extensively tampered with and written by Ezra and other rabbis. See 2:59; 2:79; 9:30-31. Also, see the Old Testament, Jeremiah 8:8. (Quran: A Reformist Translation, Translated and Annotated by Edip Yuksel, Layth Saleh al-Shaiban Martha Schulte-Nafeh [Brainbrow Press, 2007], p. 121 http://www.studyquran.org/resources/Quran_Reformist_Translation.pdf; underline emphasis mine)

We had Jesus, the son of Mary, follow in their footsteps in order to confirm what had come before him from the Torah and We gave him the Gospel which contains guidance and Light, to confirm what he already had in the Old Testament, and as guidance and a lesson for those who do their duty. S. 5:46 (T. B. Irving https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/5/st47.htm; bold emphasis mine)

God has bought up their persons and their property from believers, so they may have the Garden [instead). They fight for God’s sake; they kill and are killed as a rightful promise from Him [to be found] in the Old Testament, the Gospel and the Quran. Who is more Trustworthy with His word than God? … S. 9:111 (Irving https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/9/st47.htm; bold emphasis mine)

So Jesus the son of Mary said: “Children of Israel, I am God’s messenger to you, confirming whatever came before me in the Testament and announcing a messenger coming after me whose name will be Ahmad.” Yet when he brought them explanations, they said: “This is sheer magic!” S. 61:6 (Irving https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/61/st47.htm; bold emphasis mine)

Those who are laden with the Old Testament, yet do not carry it out may be compared to a donkey who is carrying scriptures. S. 62:5 (Irving https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/62/st47.htm; bold emphasis mine emphasis mine)

He descended on you The Book with the truth, confirming to what (is) BETWEEN HIS HANDS, and He descended the Torah and the New Testament/Bible. From before guidance to the people, and He descended the Separator of Right and Wrong/Koran, that those who disbelieved with God’s verses, for them (is) a strong (severe) torture, and God (is) glorious/mighty, (owner) of a revenge/punishment. S. 3:3-4 (Muhammad Ahmed – Samira https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/3/st19.htm; bold emphasis mine)

And how (do) they ask you to judge/rule, and at them (is) the Torah/OLD TESTAMENT, in it (is) God’s judgment/rule, then they turn away from after that, and those are not with the believing. That We descended the Torah/OLD TESTAMENT, in it (is) guidance and light, the prophets those who submitted/surrendered, judge/rule with it, to those who guided/Jews, and the knowledgeable Lord worshippers, and the religious scholars with what they memorized/safe kept (learned) from God’s Book, and they were not on it witnessing/present; so do not fear the people and fear Me, and do not buy/volunteer with My signs/verses a small price, and who does not judge/rule with what God descended, so those, they are the disbelievers. And We wrote/decreed on them in it, that the self (is) with the self, and the eye (is) with the eye, and the nose (is) with the nose, and the ear (is) with the ear, and the tooth (is) with the tooth, and the wounds/cuts (are) equal revenge/punishment equal to crime, so who gave charity (forgave) with it, so it is cover/substitution for him, and who does not judge/rule with what God descended, so those, those are the unjust/oppressors. And We sent after (following) on their tracks with Jesus, Mary’s son confirming for what (is) BETWEEN HIS HANDS from the Torah/OLD TESTAMENT, and We gave him the NEW TESTAMENT/BIBLE in it (is) guidance and light, and confirming to what (is) BETWEEN HIS HANDS from the Torah/OLD TESTAMENT, and guidance and a sermon/advice/warning to the fearing and obeying. And the NEW TESTAMENT’S/BIBLE’S people should judge/rule with what God descended in it, and who does not judge/rule with what God descended, so those, they are the debauchers. S. 5:43-47 (Ahmed – Samira https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/5/st19.htm; bold emphasis mine)

“Those who follow the messenger, the prophet the illiterate/belonging to a nation, whom they find him written at them in the Torah/OLD TESTAMENT, and the NEW TESTAMENT/BIBLE…” S. 7:157 (Ahmed – Samira https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/7/st19.htm; bold emphasis mine)

“THE FOLLOWERS of THE OLD TESTAMENT demand of thee [O Prophet] that thou cause a revelation to be sent down to from heaven…” S. 4:153 (Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Quran https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/4/st20.htm; bold emphasis mine)

This should put to rest this oft-repeated Muslim canard.

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