What is the difference between the Quran and the Torah?
Mohamad Mostafa Nassar
The Details of the Question
I had a discussion about Islam and Christianity. And was asked to look up the Torah and the Quran differences, I never read the Holy Book of other religions, but I am familiar with the Quran, please help if all possible.
The main difference is that the Qur’an was sent to the last prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) and it is the word of Allah (SWT). On the other hand Torah is sent to the prophet Moses but it was distorted later on. Since the Torah is a distorted book making a comparison will not be healthy.
First of all let us give information about distortion.
Distortion literally means changing the place of letters or changing a letter in a word, or changing the meaning of a statement. More specifically, to alter any word in Divine Scriptures intentionally.
According to the Religion of Islam, there are a few kinds of distortions:
1. To mispronounce certain letters of a word and thus to give a different meaning to it,
2. To misinterpret a hadith or Quranic verse,
3. To make changes in the texts of the Qur’an and the Hadiths knowingly and thus to make false additions to them.
Distortion, which means spoiling and altering the essence of a divine scripture, has been used in Islamic Literature to refer to the changes that The Torah and The Gospel underwent and to the impairment of their essence. The studies carried out have shown that there are few statements and passages in The Torah that can be accepted as the Word of Allah.
And words, stories, sermons and advice were added by Rabbis, ‘oracles’, and Jewish Interpreters to those limited number of statements and passages which bear the quality of being Divine Text. In this respect, it is extremely difficult to dig out the original text by removing the additions.
Prophet Moses wanted sons of Israel to obey the commandments given by him, to teach the commands and prohibitions of Allah to next generations, to make mention of them whether at home, en route, at each sitting and standing and to protect the Torah well; he thus took oath from them. However, they neither took that sincere advice of Moses seriously, nor carried out the duty to protect the Torah and to pass it on to coming generations. From the very beginning, sons of Israel paid little attention to Allah’s Word, the Torah. Seven hundred years after Prophet Moses, the Head Rabbi of the Solomon Temple in Jerusalem and the king of the time were almost oblivious of whether they were given a book named the Torah by Allah.
The greatest guilt of the Jewish religious functionaries about passing the Torah on to generations intact is that they took it in their monopoly to read that Divine Book. Therefore, the Torah could not gain the quality of being read and known by the Jewish Community and they lived detached from that Word of Allah.
Afterwards, when practices based on false innovations and ignorance emerged among the Jews, the religious functionaries set out to fight innovations and ignorance on the one hand; and on the other hand, they tried to find proofs from the Torah against those false beliefs and practices. And, they themselves inserted the points about which they could not find proofs into the Torah.
Jewish scholars and rabbis not only interpreted the Torah parallel to their own understanding in the matters they could not find certain answers, but also added the texts they approved and removed certain parts. Consequently, those additions and deletions made the real Torah unidentifiable.
A similar kind of distortion is also seen in another Divine Scripture, the Gospel. Christian priests added their own understandings of religion, their own interpretations and fancy ideas into Allah’s Word, the Gospel and thus made that divine book almost unrecognizable.
The Qur’an explains those ugly distortions by the Jewish and the Christian religious functionaries of divine scriptures this way: “O you who believe! Many among the rabbis and monks do indeed consume the wealth of people in legally invalid, wrongful ways (such as changing the Book’s commandments in return for worldly benefit, bribery, and using religion as a means of worldly gain) and bar them from God’s way.” Quran (At-Taubah, 9:34).
As is understood from that verse, certain rabbis and priests changed the verses in divine scriptures in exchange for worldly gains or interpreted them according to their own fancy. They especially distorted the verses about the prophethood of Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, and tried to destroy the verses of the Scripture which give the good news of the coming of Prophet Muhammad after Prophet Jesus, peace and blessing upon them.
Those rabbis and priests did not suffice with it; they claimed that the additions they inserted into divine scriptures were the original text. Thus, those rabbis’ and priests’ philosophy of history, explanation, interpretation, and their views in other branches of knowledge entered the Collection of the Scripture and thus became almost a part of the Word of Allah.
Studies carried out have shown that the first five books of The Old Testament are not the original Torah. A copy or chapter of the original Torah is not present anywhere. The Torah itself proves that claim, too. The Torah we have today informs us that close to his death, Prophet Moses put the Torah in a trunk and entrusted it to Joshua and that when the emperor of Babel, Buhtu’n-Nasr, destroyed Jerusalem, the Torah in the trunk was also burnt up.
We learn directly from the verses in the Gospel that, about 250 years after that conquest and destruction, Ezra collected the Torah again with the help of religious scholars and rabbis and with divine inspiration. Apart from those events, various others caused the Scripture to be extensively distorted and lost.
As a result of the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Greek translated the Torah into Greek together with other cultural works. Eventually, the Jews, who were affected by the Greek culture, began to use the Greek translation of the Torah instead of its Hebrew text. In this respect, it is difficult to say that today’s Torah, which is passed on to us from Greek translations, is the Torah revealed to Prophet Moses. Nevertheless, it should not be concluded that the Torah underwent complete distortion. It is possible to understand from its truthful passages which do not contradict the Qur’an that the Torah was not wholly distorted.
Indeed, Prof. M. Hamidullah, too, states that The Scripture is not wholly distorted, that because of certain Divine statements present in it, due respect should be paid to it as is shown toward the Qur’an (Conferences, Erzurum 1975, p.17).
However, in today’s Scripture, besides Allah’s Word, explanations and interpretations of Jewish religious scholars, the history of the Jews, the interpreted decrees of Israelite scholars of jurisprudence are all together intertwined. They are so intermingled that it is a really tough job to differentiate between them saying this is Allah’s Word, that is explanation or interpretation of it, etc. (Mawdudi, Tevhid Mücadelesi, (trans. into Turkish: A. Asrar) Istanbul, 1983, I, 530).
There were distortions on the religious decrees of the Torah, too. As is known, the Jews of Khyber came to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) so that he would judge a case of adultery between a married man and a married woman; the Prophet judged that the criminals be stoned and said that it is commanded in Torah (Deuteronomy, XXII, 23-24).
Although the Jews knew about it, they applied that commandment to the poor and the desolate, but the wealthy and the high-ranking people were punished only with lashes or by mounting on donkeys backwards and walking them among the public this way. Thus, those Jews turned their backs against Allah’s Book, and by taking from it whatever suited their desires, they distorted Allah’s Law.
Similarly, the Prophet explained in his hadiths that the Jews and the Christians “distorted their books by interpreting them” (Darim, Muqaddima, 56), “After Jesus, the kings changed the Torah.” (Nasai, Qudat, 12), “They both distorted their books and made additions to them.” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 34/3).
Another proof of the distortions in the Scripture is the contradictions seen in the Torah and the Gospel. In order to pinpoint some of the contradictions in the Torah, it is enough to compare these verses:
Genesis I:27 and Genesis II:17; Genesis XXII:14 and Exodus VI:2-3; 1. Samuel XVI:10 and 1. Chronicles II:13-15. Similarly, to specify some of the contradictions in the Gospel, comparing these verses is enough to give an idea: John IV:3 and Matthew XIII:54-58; Matthew X:9-10 and Mark VI:8-10; Luke III:23 and Matthew I:16; Luke III:31 and Matthew I:6.
The Chapter ‘Song of Songs’ in the Torah attributed to Prophet Solomon is full of distortions from beginning to end. In this part, there are words which are impossible to be uttered by a prophet. Similarly, in the Kings I and Kings II, parts of the Torah which are attributed to Solomon again, it is stated that “he took all his power from spells” and thus the miracles Allah bestowed on prophets are tried to be overshadowed.
Some ill-intentioned people interpreted horrifically the Qur’anic verse: “Say: “(God gives you hope): ‘O My servants who have been wasteful (of their God-given opportunities and faculties) against (the good of) their own souls! Do not despair of God’s Mercy. Surely God forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, the All-Compassionate.’ ” (the Qur’an, Az-Zumar, 39:53) and wanted to make distortions.
According to them, Allah commanded the Prophet to call people “O my servants”. In other words, people are counted -God forbid- as the Prophet’s servants/slaves. It is by no means any interpretation; it is a clear attempt to distort the Qur’an. Some ignorants may be attracted by such people. Accepting such an interpretation is accepting that the Qur’an is contradictory as a whole.
This is because from the beginning till end, the Qur’an makes mention of being servant to Allah alone, and especially emphasizes that Muhammad (PBUH) is not the Lord but a servant himself. (Mawdudi, Tafhim, (Trans. into Turkish), V, 114)
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