One will find specific Muslim scholars and/or apologists arguing that the Muslim scripture never mentions either the Bible or the Canonical Gospels. Rather, what the Quran confirms is the original Torah given to Moses and the Gospel sent down upon Jesus, not the Old or New Testaments in the possession of the Jews and Christians (or so the argument goes).
These objections overlook the fact that the term Bible comes from a Latin term Biblia, and simply means Book. Therefore, instead of expecting to find the Arabic Quran using a Latin word to denote the Scriptures which the Jews and Christians possessed we would rather expect that it would use the Arabic equivalent of Biblia, namely the term Kitab, which is exactly what we find:
The Jews say, “The Christians are not (founded) upon anything.” And the Christians say, “The Jews are not (founded) upon anything.” And yet they READ the Book (al-Kitab). S. 2:113
Thus, whenever the Quran speaks of the Kitab or the Book which the Jews and Christians were reading during Muhammad’s time it can only be referring to the Holy Bible since this is the only Book which they possessed.
This brings me to my next point. One of the functions of the Quran is to confirm the veracity and reliability of the sacred Scriptures which were circulating among the Jews and Christians at Muhammad’s time:
He has delivered to you Al-Kitab, in original, confirming as true what is in between its two hands (i.e., already there [musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi]) and He delivered At-Taurat and Al-Injeel. S. 3:3 (Dr. Kamal Omar https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/3/st48.htm)
And We descended to you The Book with the truth, confirming to WHAT (IS) BETWEEN HIS HANDS from The Book (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi), and guarding/protecting on it, so judge/rule between them with what God descended and do not follow their self attractions for desires about what came to you from the truth, to each from you We made/put God’s decreed way of life/method/law and order, and a clear/easy/plain way, and if God wanted/willed, He would have made you one nation/generation, and but to test you in what He gave you, so race/surpass (to) the goodnesses/generosity (good deeds), to God (is) your return altogether, so He informs you with what you were in it differing/disagreeing (P). (Muhammad Ahmed – Samira S. 5:48 https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/5/st19.htm)
These versions are the most accurate rendering of the Arabic since this is the literal meaning of ma bayna yadayhi (“between his/its hands”). Here is another translation of Q. 5:48:
“To you We revealed the Book with the Truth, confirming previous Scripture and witnessing to their veracity…” (The Qur’an – A New Translation, by Tarif Khalidi [Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., First American Edition 2008], p. 89; bold emphasis mine)
Hence, the Islamic scripture testifies that Muhammad was sent to confirm that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures which were available to him were the uncorrupt revelations of God.
The late Muslim scholar and Quranic translator Muhammad Asad admitted that this is the basic meaning of the idiomatic expression, ma bayna yadayhi, even though he tried his best to explain away the implications that this expression has on Muhammad’s view of the authenticity and reliability of the Holy Bible. Notice what he wrote in respect to Q. 3:3:
3 Most of the commentators are of the opinion that ma bayna yadayhi – lit., “that which is between its hands” – denotes here “the revelations which came before it”, i.e., before the Qur’an. This interpretation is not, however, entirely convincing. Although there is not the least doubt that in this context the pronominal ma refers to earlier revelations, AND PARTICULARLY THE BIBLE (as is evident from the parallel use of the above expression in other Qur’anic passages), the idiomatic phrase ma bayna yadayhi does not, in itself, mean “that which came before it” – i.e., in time – but, rather (as pointed out by me in surah 2, note 247), “THAT WHICH LIES OPEN BEFORE IT”. Since, however, the pronoun “it” relates here to the Qur’an, the metaphorical expression “between its hands” or “before it” cannot possibly refer to “knowledge” (as it does in 2:255), but must obviously refer to an objective reality with which the Qur’an is “confronted”: that is, something that was COEXISTENT IN TIME with the revelation of the Qur’an. Now this, taken together (a) with the fact – frequently stressed in the Qur’an and since established by objective scholarship – that in the course of the millennia the Bible has been subjected to considerable and often arbitrary alteration, and (b) with the fact that many of the laws enunciated in the Qur’an differ from the laws of the Bible, brings us forcibly to the conclusion that the “confirmation” of the latter by the Qur’an can refer only to the basic truths still discernible in the Bible, and not to its time-bound legislation or to its present text – in other words, a confirmation of whatever was extant of its basic teachings at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an: and it is this that the phrase ma bayna yadayhi expresses in this context as well as in 5:46 and 48 or in 61:6 (where it refers to Jesus’ confirming the truth of “whatever there still remained [i.e., in his lifetime] of the Torah”). (Asad, The Message of the Qur’an [Dar Al-Andaulus, Gibraltar, rpt. 1994]; bold and capital emphasis mine)
Since the only Scriptures which these communities had at Muhammad’s time were the books of the Old and New Testaments respectively, this means that part of Muhammad’s mission was to bear witness that these are the revelations which God has sent down and preserved. As such, the Quran most assuredly does mention and confirm the Holy Bible which Jews and Christians have always possessed.
This explains why the following Muslim rendered the words Torah as Old Testament and Injil as New Testament/Bible:
He descended on you The Book with the truth, confirming to what (is) BETWEEN HIS HANDS (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi), 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)
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 (musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrati), 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 (wa musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi mina al-tawrati), 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
“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)
Muhammad Asad himself translated the word Kitab as Bible and Torah as Old Testament:
“And, behold, there are indeed some among them who distort THE BIBLE with their tongues, so as to make you think that [what they say] is from THE BIBLE, the while it is not from THE BIBLE…” S. 3:78 (Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’an https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/3/st20.htm)
“O followers OF THE BIBLE!… O followers OF THE BIBLE!…” S. 5:15, 19 (Asad https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/5/st20.htm)
“… And so We have cast enmity and hatred among the followers OF THE BIBLE… If the followers OF THE BIBLE would but attain to [true] faith and God-consciousness, we should indeed efface their [previous] bad deeds, and indeed bring them into gardens of bliss; S. 5:64-65
Say: “O followers OF THE BIBLE! You have no valid ground for your beliefs unless you [truly] observe the Torah and the Gospel, and all that has been bestowed on you by your Sustainer!” S. 5:68
“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 (Asad https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/4/st20.htm)
The following Muslim translators did the same thing:
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 (al-Taurat), and as guidance and a lesson for those who do their duty. S. 5:46 (T.B. Irving http://almubin.tripod.com/irving.htm)
“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 (al-Taurat), the Gospel and the Quran. Who is more Trustworthy with His word than God?…” S. 9:111 Irving
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 (al-Taurat) 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
Those who are laden with the Old Testament (al-Taurat), yet do not carry it out may be compared to a donkey who is carrying scriptures. S. 62:5 Irving
“Those to whom We have given the Book (BIBLE)…” S. 2:146 (Muhammad Sarwar http://almubin.tripod.com/mdsarwar.htm)
“Believers, have faith in God and His Messenger, the Book which is revealed to him, and THE BIBLE which has been revealed before. Whoever refuses to believe in God, His angels, Books, Messengers and the Day of Judgment, has gone far away from the right path. S. 4:136 Sarwar
“… who have no relation with you and who distort certain words of THE BIBLE…” S. 5:41 Sarwar
“… Those to whom We have given THE BIBLE know that the Quran has been revealed to you from your Lord in all Truth…” S. 6:114 Sarwar
“… This confirms the existing Book (THE BIBLE) and explains itself…” S. 10:37 Sarwar
“(Some of) the followers of THE Bible believe in the Quran.” S. 28:52 Sarwar
“The unbelievers have said, ‘We shall never believe in this Quran nor in THE BIBLE…’” S. 34:31 Sarwar
“… so that they will not be like the followers of THE BIBLE who lived before them…” S. 57:16 Sarwar
“… so that the followers of THE BIBLE will know that they can receive no reward from God…” S. 57:29 Sarwar
The foregoing also puts to rest the Muslim claim that the Gospel which the Quran has in mind is not the same as the four canonical Gospels. After all, since the Quran itself says that it was “sent down” to testify to the reliability and inspiration of those Scriptures that the Jews and Christians possessed at that very time this, therefore, proves that it cannot be referring to a lost Gospel, but must have in mind the very Gospels that are found in the New Testament.
In fact, one of the earliest sources on the life of Muhammad even goes so far as to identify John’s Gospel as the written record of the very Gospel which God gave Jesus to pass on to his followers!
“Among the things which have reached me about what Jesus the Son of Mary stated in the Gospel which he received from God for the followers of the Gospel, in applying a term to describe the apostle of God, is the following. It is extracted FROM WHAT JOHN THE APOSTLE SET DOWN FOR THEM WHEN HE WROTE THE GOSPEL FOR THEM FROM THE TESTAMENT OF JESUS SON OF MARY: ‘He that hateth me hateth the Lord. And if I had not done in their presence works which none other before me did, they had not sin: but from now they are puffed up with pride and think that they will overcome me and also the Lord. But the word that is in the law must be fulfilled, “They hated me without a cause” (i.e. without reason). But when the Comforter has come whom God will send to you from the Lord’s presence, and the spirit of truth which will have gone forth from the Lord’s presence he (shall bear) witness of me and ye also, because ye have been with me from the beginning. I have spoken unto you about this that ye should not be in doubt.’
“The Munahhemana (God bless and preserve him!) in Syriac is Muhammad; in Greek he is the paraclete. (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], pp. 103-104; bold and capital emphasis mine)
The above Muslim biographer quotes John 15:23-16:1 and says that it is taken from the Gospel of Christ which John wrote down for Jesus’ followers! And do notice that he never once states that this particular Gospel is corrupt or unreliable.
What makes this rather ironic is that this is the very Gospel which Muslim polemicists are constantly attacking, even going so far as to cite liberal bible critics and misquote conservative scholars in order cause people to doubt this Gospel’s historical credibility!
The Quran even alludes to a parable of Christ that is found only in the Gospel of Mark:
… And their description in the Gospel is like unto a seed-produce that sends forth its sprout, then makes it strong; it then becomes stout, and stands firm on its stem, delighting the sowers – That HE may cause the disbelievers to boil with rage at the sight of them… S. 48:29 Sher Ali
Now compare this with what Mark wrote:
“He said, ‘The kingdom of God is like a man who scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he does not know how. For the earth bears fruit by itself: first the blade, then the head, then the full seed in the head. But when the grain is ripe, immediately he applies the sickle because the harvest has come.’” Mark 4:26-29
The following Muslim translators had no problem admitting that the Quran is actually referring to the foregoing Markan passage:
The similitude in the Gospel is about how the good seed is sown and grown gradually, even beyond the expectation of the sower: “the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how; for the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the earth”; MARK, iv 27-28 … (Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an – Meaning and Translation, p. 1400, n. 4917; bold and capital emphasis mine)
This parable is found in a sermon of the Prophet Jesus that has been reported in the New Testament, thus:
“And he said, So is the kingdom of God as if a man should east [sic] seed into the ground: And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come [Cf. Mark 4:26-29]. And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it [Cf. from Mark 4:30-32].”
The last portion of this sermon is also found in Matthew, 13:31-32. (S. Abul A’la Maududi, Meaning of the Qur’an, Volume V, English rendering by A.A. Kamal, M.A. [Islamic Publications (Pvt.) Limited, 13-E, Shahalam Market, Lahore-8 Pakistan], p. 67, fn. 56; underlined emphasis and comments within brackets mine)
We, thus, have additional confirmation that the Quran does in fact acknowledge the canonical Gospels as the inscripturation of the very Gospel that God revealed through the Lord Jesus!
And there is a very good explanation as to why the Quran refers to the Gospel, singular, as opposed to the Gospels, plural:
“At a very early date it appears that the four Gospels were united in one collection. They must have been brought together very soon after the writing of the Gospel according to John. This fourfold collection was known originally as ‘The Gospel’ singular, not ‘The Gospels’ in the plural; there was only one Gospel, narrated in four records, distinguished as ‘according to Matthew’, ‘according to Mark’, and so on. About A.D. 115 Ignatius, bishop, of Antioch, refers to ‘The Gospel’ as an authoritative writing, and as he knew more than one of the four ‘Gospels’ it may well be that by ‘The Gospel’ sans phrase he means the fourfold collection which went by that name.” (Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? [Intervarsity Press; Downers Grove Il., rpt. 1992], CHAPTER III – THE CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, p. 23; bold emphasis mine)
Therefore, if Muslims are going to be honest to their own religious text and to history they must accept that the Gospel which Allah revealed to Jesus, the Gospel which Muhammad had access to and confirmed as true, is none other than the inspired writings of the NT, especially the four canonical Gospels. There is simply no way of denying this on historical grounds (unless, of course, one is willing to ignore history, which Muslim polemicists are prone to do).
In conclusion, contrary to the assertions of certain Muslim apologists the Quran does mention the Bible and does indeed confirm the canonical Gospels as the very revelations that God sent down to the Jews and Christians respectively.