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3.4. In time past, as guidance for the people; and He has sent down the Criterion to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and the knowledge, and power of judgment to put it into effect. Those who disbelieve in the Revelations of God, for them is a severe punishment. God is All-Glorious with irresistible might, Ever-Able to Requite. Print E-mail

مِن قَبْلُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَأَنزَلَ الْفُرْقَانَ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَاللّهُ عَزِيزٌ ذُو انتِقَامٍ

4. In time past, as guidance for the people; and He has sent down the Criterion to distinguish between truth and falsehood, and the knowledge, and power of judgment to put it into effect.1 Those who disbelieve in the Revelations of God, for them is a severe punishment. God is All-Glorious with irresistible might, Ever-Able to Requite.


1. For the Criterion, refer to 2: 53, note 61.

As for the Torah and the Gospel, which are confirmed by the Qur'ān: the Torah, in the Qur'ānic usage, signifies the Revelations made to the Prophet Moses, upon him be peace, from the time he was appointed as a Messenger until his death. These also include the Ten Commandments, which were handed over to him inscribed on tablets. Moses, upon him be peace, took down the rest of the revealed injunctions and handed over one copy to each of the tribes, and one copy to the Levites for safe-keeping. It is this book which was known as the Torah, and it existed until the first destruction of Jerusalem. The copy entrusted to the Levites was put beside the Ark (of the Covenant) along with the tablets of Commandments, and the Israelites knew this as the Torah. The Jews, however, neglected the Book: during the reign of Josiah, the king of Judah, the Temple of Solomon was under repair and the high priest, Hilkiah, chanced to find the Book lying in the construction area. He gave it to the King's secretary, Staphan, who in turn took it to the King; they acted as if this were a strange object to find (see: II Kings, 22: 8–13).

Hence, when the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Jerusalem and razed it and the Temple of Solomon to the ground, the Israelites lost forever the few original copies of the Torah which they had possessed. At the time of Ezra, some Israelites returned from captivity in Babylon, and when Jerusalem was rebuilt, the entire history of Israel, which comprises the first 14 books of the Old Testament, was recorded by Ezra with the assistance of some other elders of the community. Four of these books, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, consist of a biographical narrative of Moses, upon him be peace. In this biography, those verses of the Torah available to Ezra and the other elders were also recorded, along with the contexts in which they were revealed. The present Torah, therefore, comprises fragments of the original book interspersed throughout with a biography of Moses (composed in the manner described above).

In locating these fragments of the original Torah, there are certain expressions which help us. These are interspersed between the different pieces of biographical narrative and usually open with words such as: “Then the Lord said to Moses,” and “Moses said, the Lord your God commands you.” These expressions, then, are most probably fragments of the original Torah. When the biographical narration re-commences, however, we can be sure that the fragments of the true Torah cease. Wherever authors and editors of the Bible have added anything of their own accord, by way of their elaboration or elucidation, it becomes very difficult for an ordinary reader to distinguish the original from the explanatory additions. Those with insight into Divine Scripture, however, do have the capacity to distinguish between the original revealed fragments and the later human interpolations.

It is the original Book revealed to Moses, some of the verses of which are to be found in the Bible, which the Qur'ān terms as the Torah, and it is this which it confirms. When these fragments are compared with the Qur'ān, there is no difference between the two as regards the fundamental teachings. Whatever differences do exist relate to legal matters and are of secondary importance. Even today, a careful reader can appreciate that the Torah and the Qur'ān have sprung from the same Divine source.

Likewise, the Injīl signifies the inspired orations and utterances of Jesus (upon him be peace), which he delivered during the last three years of his life in his capacity as a Messenger. There are no certain means by which we can definitely establish whether or not his statements were recorded during his lifetime. It is possible that some people took notes of them and that some followers committed them to memory. After a period of time, however, several treatises on the life of Jesus were written. The authors of these treatises recorded, in connection with the biographical account, those sayings of his which they had received from the previous generation of co-religionists, in the form of either oral traditions or written notes about events in his life. As a result, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, whose authors belonged to the second or third generation after Jesus, and which were chosen from among more than 300 other similar versions and accepted by the Church as the Canonical Gospels, are not identical with the Injīl . Rather, the Injīl consists of those statements by Jesus which form part of these Gospels. Unfortunately, we have no means of distinguishing the fragments of the original Injīl from the pieces written by the authors themselves. All we can say is that only those sections explicitly attributed to Jesus, for example, statements such as: “And Jesus said” and “And Jesus taught,” most probably constitute the true Injīl . It is the totality of such fragments which is designated as the Injīl by the Qur'ān, and it is the teachings contained in these fragments that the Qur'ān confirms. If these fragments are put together and compared with the teachings of the Qur'ān, one notices very few discrepancies between the two, and any discrepancies that are found can be resolved easily by unbiased reflection. (Largely quoted from al-Mawdūdī, 1: 233–234.)


 
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