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The Textual History of the Koran and the Bible


Most Muslims do not believe that it is becoming of a true Muslim to condemn another man's religion. Certain exceptions to this rule exist, however, one of whom is Ahmed Deedat who regularly attacks Christians and their religion in a spirit reminiscent of the Crusades of old. One of his recent efforts to condemn Christianity is his booklet entitled Is the Bible God's Word? which was first published by his Islamic Propagation Centre in Durban in 1980.

In this publication Deedat endeavours to prove that the Bible cannot be the Word of God. To the ignorant and unlearned his treatise may appear to be impressive, if not convincing, but those who have any real knowledge of the texts and textual history of the Qur'an and the Bible will see through his efforts immediately.

It seems that Deedat is well aware of the inherent weakness of his case and, to cover it up, has resorted to bold and challenging statements to give the impression that a convincing and unanswerable dissertation is before the reader's eyes. In a report on a symposium in which Deedat was once involved A.S.K. Joommal said: Even if one's case is weak and untenable, it is possible for one's oratorical prowess to carry one through and sway the multitudes in one's favour.

We know Joommal has relied on this very method in his book The Bible: Word of God or Word of Man? (referred to by Deedat on pp. 44 and 51), and it certainly appears that Deedat himself has resorted to this same tactic in his booklet against the Bible. Both of them are obviously aware of the "untenable" nature of their supposed case against our Holy Scriptures.

Deedat suggests, on page 14 of his booklet, that if a Muslim should ever hand his publication to a missionary or Jehovah's Witness and request a written reply, he will never see them again - let alone ever get a reply.

We Christians are somewhat tired of the efforts this man has made over the years to discredit our faith but, to dispel the fond illusion that his booklet will chase any missionary back to his home for good, we have decided to formulate the reply he has requested. We have replied to other publications he has produced in the past and note with interest that, whereas we are always able to refute his assaults, he invariably proves incapable of saying anything further in reply to us. This proves a point.


Deedat begins his booklet with quotes from two Christian authors, Scroggie and Cragg, to the effect that there is a positive human element in the Bible. He then concludes:

Both these doctors of religion are telling us in the clearest language humanly possible that the Bible is the handiwork of man (Deedat, Is the Bible God's Word? p.2).

What he subtly omits to do, however, is to inform his readers, firstly, that the Christian Church has always held that the Word of God was written by men under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21), and, secondly, that these authors were not "letting the cat out of the bag" (as Deedat imagines) but were setting out to show how God has in fact revealed his Word.

Deedat's quote from Cragg's The Call of the Minaret is very astutely wrenched from its context. Cragg speaks of the human element in the Bible to demonstrate a decisive advantage that the Bible enjoys over the Qur'an. Whereas the Qur'an is alleged to be free of any human element, in the Bible God has deliberately chosen to reveal his Word through the writings of his inspired prophets and apostles so that his Word may not only be conveyed to man but may be communicated to his powers of comprehension as well. The apostle not only receives the Word of God but is able himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to convey its meaning to his readers. This the Qur'an cannot do if it has no human element as is generally alleged.

Deedat then divides the Bible into three different kinds of witnessing (Is the Bible God's Word? p.4), namely the Word of God, Words of a Prophet of God and Words of an Historian. He then quotes passages where God speaks, others where Jesus speaks, and lastly where things are said of Jesus, suggesting that Muslims are careful to separate these three. He states that the Qur'an alone has the Word of God, the Hadith has the Words of the Prophet, and other books have the writings of historians. He concludes:

The Muslim keeps the above three types of evidence jealously apart, in their proper gradations of authority. He never equates them (Deedat, Is the Bible God's Word? p.6).

We find it most astonishing that a man who poses as a scholar of Islam should make such a claim. Firstly the Qur'an contains many passages which record the words of the prophets of God. For example, we read that Zakariya, the prophet said:

How can I have a son when age hath overtaken me already and my wife is barren? (Sura Al Imran 3:40)

If, as Deedat suggests, the Qur'an only contains the Word of God while the words of prophets are only found in the Hadith, it is extremely difficult to see how these words can ever be attributed to God! Secondly there is a passage in the Qur'an which clearly contains the words of angels to Muhammad and not the Word of God to him as is alleged:

We come not down save by commandment of thy Lord. Unto him belongeth all that is before us and all that is behind us and all that is between these two, and thy Lord was never forgetful. (Sura Maryam 19:64)

There is no hint in the Qur'an as to who is speaking but these words are clearly addressed to Muhammad directly by their authors. From the text itself it is quite clear that these are the words of angels and not of God.

Furthermore we find in the Hadith many words which are not the words of any prophet but obviously of God himself. These sayings are known as Hadith-i-Qudsi (divine sayings) and here is an example:

Abu Huraira reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: I have prepared for my pious servants which eye has seen not, and the ear has heard not and no human heart has perceived such bounties leaving aside those about which Allah has informed you (Sahih Muslim, Vol. 4, p.1476).

The Hadith are full of such sayings. Furthermore, much of the Qur'an and Hadith read like the passages in the Bible which are alleged to be the words of an historian. The passage in the Qur'an which relates the birth of Jesus from his mother Mary reads precisely like the "third type" quoted in Deedat's booklet:

And she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place. And the pangs of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of a palm tree. (Sura Maryam 19:22-23)

What the Qur'an says here of Mary is no different in narrative form to what Mark 11:13 says of Jesus. Nevertheless Deedat, using this verse in Mark as an example, says such narratives are not found in the Qur'an!

Deedat's effort to distinguish between the Qur'an and the Bible is founded on totally false premises. The Qur'an has the words of prophets and historical narratives throughout its pages and no one can honestly say that it contains the alleged words of God alone. Furthermore the Hadith also contain alleged sayings of God as well as those of prophets. When Deedat says that these three types of evidence - words of God, prophets and historians - are kept "jealously apart" by the Muslims, he makes a blatantly false statement.

It is apparent right from the outset that Deedat's arguments against the Bible are unjustified and the trend continues right through his booklet.

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