Reading the Torah and the Bible – their reality
Fatwa No: 20706

  • Fatwa Date:3-5-2011 - Jumaadaa Al-Oula 30, 1432
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Question

Have the Tawraah (Torah) and the Injeel (Bible) been distorted or not? Is it permissible for a Muslim to read those books?

Answer

 

All perfect praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

 

There is no doubt that the original form of the Tawrah and the Injeel were revealed from Allaah The Almighty and were His true words. However, both the Jews and the Christians distorted and altered them; by addition or deletion. They made many different versions of each book.  Each of those copies contradicts and falsifies the others. Therefore, the truth was confused with falsehood in these books. Only through our preserved Sharee'ah (Islamic law) can we differentiate between them.  Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Indeed, it is We who sent down the Quran and indeed, We will be its guardian.} [Quran 15: 9]   The Quran is sufficient for Muslims and they do not need to consult any other book of religion.  In this regard, Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {We have not neglected in the Book a thing.} [Quran 6: 38]

It was reported on the authority of Jaabir  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, became angry when he heard ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him reading excerpts from the Jewish scriptures. Furthermore, he forbade Muslims to ask the People of the Book about anything pertaining to their religion, because they had distorted their books,. For this reason, it would be impossible to know whether or not they were speaking the truth. [Ahmad] Authenticated by Al-Haafith Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him.

This Hadeeth along with others denotes that our Sharee'ah is perfect and sufficient and has been preserved from any distortion or alteration. Therefore, a Muslim should not spend time reading the books of the Jews and Christians because the truth has been confused with falsehood in many parts therein. The parts that are still in their original form, are judged according to the Quran, because the Quran confirms the scriptures that preceded it and distinguishes their falsehood from their truthfulness.

There is quite a lot of evidence concerning the distortion of the Tawrah and Injeel. Some of these are:

1-      Inconsistency and contradiction between the different parts of these books. Had they remained in their original form, there would have been no contradiction in them. In this regard Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Then do they not reflect upon the Quran? If it had been from [any] other than Allaah, they would have found within it much contradiction.} [Quran 4: 82]

2-      Allaah The Almighty Says(what means): {Among the Jews are those who distort words from their [proper] usages} [Quran 4: 46]

3-      Their books contain manifest falsehood and lies. For example, they claim that after the destruction of the people of Loot (Lot)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention he committed incest with his two daughters after they gave him wine to drink. .

4-      Ibn Hazm  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him added that the following two incidents prove the distortion of both the Tawrah and the Injeel: First, Allaah The Almighty mentioned in the Quran that the Companions of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, are described in the Tawrah, Saying (what means): {That is their description in the Tawrah, and their description in the Injeel is as a plant which produces its offshoots ….} [Quran 48: 29]  However, neither the Tawrah nor the Injeel includes this description. Second, Allaah The Almighty mentioned in the Quran that the tidings of the advent of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, are mentioned in the Tawraah and the Injeel, however, this had been deleted from their books.

Although scholars unanimously agree that both the Tawrah and the Injeel have been distorted, they are split into four different groups regarding the meaning of the distortion:

1-      Some of them are of the view that all the content of these books were distorted. Nevertheless, Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him considers this view to be weak. The reason he gives is that they include many true incidents that denote that some of their content was not distorted. For example, Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Tawraah and the Injeel,} [Quran 7: 157] Another example is the story of stoning the two Jews to death, and that they have the punishment of stoning to death in their books. This is supported by the verse in which Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Say, [O Muhammad], "So bring the Tawrah and recite it, if you should be truthful."} [Quran 3: 93]

2-      Others are of the view that most of the content of these books has been distorted.

3-      Some say that only a small part of these books have been distorted while most of their content is still intact. Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him maintains this to be the most preponderant view.

4-      Distortion and alteration only took place in the meanings, not in the words. This view is attributed to Wahb ibn Munabbih and was adopted by Al-Bukhari  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them. However, Al-Haafith Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him stated that the distortion took place in both the words and the meanings.

Through the discussion illustrated above, we come to the conclusion that is impermissible to read, publish or distribute the books of the Christians and Jews, unless the one who does this is a scholar who is firmly grounded in knowledge and faith. This is necessary so that he would be able to clarify the falsehood of these books and refute the claims of those who adopt contradictory views. Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him adopted this ruling, basing it on the fact that the early scholars continued to cite from the books of the Jews and Christians that which proved their lies. They did this to leave no excuse for the Jews for not believing in the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Finally, when Ibn Hazm  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said that the Tawrah and the Injeel did not mention the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he might have been speaking about the versions that he was aware of. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is actually mentioned in their books and we have already mentioned this. Furthermore, some researchers found hidden copies of the Bible mentioning the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and thanks to them, some monks and priests embraced Islam.

Allaah Knows best.

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