𝐈𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐚𝐧 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐜𝐨𝐩𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐓𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐡? 𝐈𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐓𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐡 𝐛𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐝?
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
The Details of the Question
Is it true that there exists an undistorted copy of the Torah? If it is not distorted, how can the signs about the Prophet in the Torah be explained?
It is known that the original Torah is lost. However, there are many differences among the translations of the Torah. For instance, there are some clear differences between the Greek translation and the Hebrew version.
The Torah, which was first written in Hebrew, was started to be distorted when it was translated into Aramaic and Greek. (For more information, see M. Ziyau’r-Rahman al-Azami, al-Yahudiyya wa’l-Masihiyya, p.175-181)
There are also differences among the translations in Chaldean, Latin, Hebeshi, Ghawti, Armenian and Arabic (ibid). This is also valid for the Bibles whose original copies are not present.
– The distortion of the Torah is regarded in two ways: The first one: The distortion of the words of the verses and the addition of some words. The second one: The distortion of the meaning. There are examples like “hittatun/hintatun” for the first kind of distortion.
Besides, the fact that there are statements contrary to modern science and that there are invented stories about prophets like Lot and David that do not befit prophets indicate that the distortion took place in terms of both interpretation and words.
The second issue of distortion always took place; one of the most important duties of the prophets that came after Moses – including Zacharias and John – was to correct those wrong interpretations and spiritual distortions. However, this illness of distortion of Jews always relapsed.
That the Torah and the Gospel were distorted does not mean that they contain no truth. As a matter of fact, Husayn Jisri extracted hundreds of pieces of information from the Torah and the Gospel implying the Prophet Muhammad and quoted them in his book called Risala al-Hamidiyya.
As a matter of fact, it is clearly stated in the Quran, hadiths, history and siyar books that Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) challenged the scholars of the People of the Book and said to them that they had concealed the truths in the books (they distorted them with their interpretations) and that the Prophet silenced them. Some examples regarding the issue:
a. “All food was lawful to the Children of Israel, except what Israel made unlawful for itself before the Torah was revealed. Say: “Bring ye the Torah and study it if ye be men of truth.” If any, after this, invent a lie and attribute it to Allah, they are indeed unjust wrong-doers.” Quran (Al- Imran, 3/93-94).
Two reasons are given for the revelation of the verses above:
– The Jews objected to the Prophet (pbuh) about abrogation and said that there could be nothing like that in the religion. The verse was sent down in response to their objection. The verses challenged the Jews by stating, “All food was lawful to the Children of Israel, except what Israel made unlawful for itself before the Torah was revealed. Let alone denying abrogation, the Torah practiced abrogation by rendering haram some things that were halal for the Children of Israel.”
– According to another narration, the Jews said to Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh), “You say you belong to the nation of Abraham but you render halal the meat and milk of the camel that were haram in his religion.”
Through that verse, it was emphasized that the prohibition was not imposed during the time of Abraham but that it was rendered haram by Jacob, his grandson. According to a narration, Jacob vowed that he would not eat the flesh of the camel and he would not drink the milk of the camel, the food and drink that he liked the best if he overcame the illness of sciatica.
No matter what the reason of revelation is, there is something clear: Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) insisted that certain information that the Jews claimed to be absent in the Torah existed and challenged the Jews by saying, “Bring the Torah and read it if you tell the truth”; the Jews avoided it.
(See Tabari, Qurtubi, Razi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Ashur, Nasafi, Alusi, the interpretation of the relevant verse)
b. “If anyone disputes in this matter with thee now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: “Come! let us gather together―our sons, and your sons our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!”” Quran (Al-Imran, 3/61).
– The verse challenged a delegate from the Christians of Najran that came to Madinah and that claimed Jesus was the son of God. They could not dare to do “mutual damnation” in accordance with the view of Aqib Abdul-Masih, the leader of this delegate. (See Tabari, Qurtubi, Razi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Ashur, Nasafi, the interpretation of the relevant verse)
c. “The people of the Book know this as they know their own sons; but some of them conceal the truth which they themselves know” (al-Baqara, 2/146).
– In this verse, it is stated that they recognized Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) as they recognized their own children due to his attributes in the Gospel and the Torah. According to a narration,
Hazrat Umar asked Abdullah b. Salam, a Jewish scholar, “Did you really know Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) –based on your book – as you knew your children?” He said, “We knew him better than our own children. (See Tabari, Qurtubi, Razi, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Ashur, Nasafi, the interpretation of the relevant verse).
– Another important point regarding the issue is this: If the issues that Hazrat Muhammad insistently mentioned and that he insistently said were present in the Torah had not been true, the people who believed in him, like Abdullah b. Salam, the Jewish scholar, before others, would have exited Islam and converted to their previous religions at once. It is also valid for the Christian scholars. The loyalty they showed to the religion of Islam throughout their lives indicates the trueness of this verse and Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) clearly.
Allah knows Best.