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August 12, 2015

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I recently read a book, I think it was called "A Wind in the house of Islam" or something like that. It provided details of new conversions within Islam, the likes of which have never been seen before. Several of the case studies involved people who became "Christians" by reading the Quran. I put Christians in quotes because they still consider themselves Muslim. But a Muslim who follows Jesus, not Mohamed.

If that book is true, we are at the beginning of a very exciting time in Christian missions.

I read your message. I would like to say one thing. Read the quran properly and fully. I hope you will understand more.

"when the words of the Quran were being written down, Mohammed was communicating that the New Testament and the Old Testament are reliable ... So up until that time in history, “the Gospel” and “the Law” that Mohammed was working from were not corrupted".
That's a poor understanding.

Did you read the entire Qur'an?

I read the whole Quran and it sounded to me like Mohammed believed the the New Testament and Old Testament were reliable (saying so) and he quotes directly from them continually. Although I did read it in English with an official English translation so I guess you could claim I didn't read it properly.

[5:46] And in their footsteps We sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and conformation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah. [5:47] Let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah has revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.

So, is there something wrong with the translation? Mohammed just said that the people of the gospel (Christians) should judge by what Allah has revealed in it. As far as I know, he is telling them to judge by the contents of the gospel.

If that's a poor understanding then explain to us what a proper understanding is.

I believe it tells "a story" of Jesus in the Quran where Jesus take some mud and makes it into a bird, then Breath Life into it. No where in the Quran will it say Mohammed breathed life into anything.

Okay sure:
First of all, unless I've misunderstood your words, there is a mistake in the name of the Sura (chapter). In the article it says that the Sura is titled "The Gospel of Jesus: Guidance and Light".
The name of the Sura in Arabic is
المائدة
which can be literally translated as "The Table" (it's easy to guess why when you look at the verses towards the end of that Sura), and there are possibly other names but "The Gospel of Jesus" is not among them as far as I know. I am not sure where you got that name from, but if you copied that from a book / website, maybe you can let me know and I'll see how that happened.
But that's a minor thing really, that does not affect the content and the misunderstanding, I assume. I'm just pointing it out.

One thing that also should also be mentioned (as it could have contributed to the misunderstanding) is that Christians and Muslims refer to two different things when they speak of what has been revealed to prophet Mousa (Moses) and prophet Eisa (Jesus). By describing him as a prophet I do not mean to offend you (if I did); I'm just explaining things from an Islamic standpoint now. In the verses you've quoted, the term "the Gospel" is used as translation for the term
الإنجيل
al-injeel. A paragraph after it, you say "referring to what we call the New Testament". This is not the case; the two groups treat those books very differently. A Muslim referring to the gospel is very literally referring to instructions sent to prophet Jesus from Allah, in an unchanged form (again, Islamic standpoint). You seem to have an idea of the Islamic standpoint on this given your paragraph that starts with "What does the Muslim say to this?", but I am just reinforcing a distinction between "gospel" (or gospel as revealed to Jesus, let's put it this way), and the gospels according to other people (I've seen different Christians define the gospels differently, some as inspired text some as history biographies, so I won't be picky on choosing one definition; all I've seen is not compatible with what a Muslim means when he or she say al-injeel). When I hold the current bible(s) in my hand, I do not use the term al-injeel.

But this is all secondary.
The primary issue is in the paragraph that starts with "However, when the words of the Quran". It seems to be that you've understood that (a) on one hand, the author of the Qur'an is saying that al-injeel is reliable, (b) yet on the other hand, there is clearly a conflict between the content of al-injeel and that of the Qur'an.
The problem as far as I can see it is that point "a" is inaccurate (it has some truth but it's not fully accurate). I'll explain (without references to make things easier, but you can let me know if references are needed).
From an Islamic standpoint, the context during that time is that ahl al-ketaab (people of Scripture, i.e. Jews and Christians) that lived in Arabia dealt with their scripture differently. Some of them had access to what seems to be unaltered scripture (unaltered scripture = it implies that it's a scripture that testifies that there is no god except Allah, and that the upcoming final messenger will be prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, and obviously that Jesus is a human prophet without anything divine / semi-divine, of course from an Islamic perspective), and while that is mentioned in verses of the Qur'an (which presumably you've come across, but if you need to find them let me know), we also know of specific examples of people and their names from authentic hadiths. Perhaps search for Waraqa ibn Nawfal and the story of Sulayman Al-Farsy. Here are the names in Arabic,
ورقة بن نوفل و سليمان الفارسى.

That's one group of people (people that had access to what seems to be unaltered scripture).
But the Qur'an also speaks of people that altered scripture as well as people that have inherited altered (i.e. infiltrated) scripture.
When you read through the verses in question and through the hadiths, you get the feeling of how the context was like. Assume that Islam is true for a few minutes just to understand the rest of the paragraph: prophet Muhammad peace be upon him received revelation from Allah. As for those surrounding him that had access to scripture (presumably a small number of religious leaders, since I assume not everyone in the Arabian peninsula could read Jewish or Christian text), some of them knew that prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was coming (as it was mentioned in scripture), some of them knew but hid it or fought against it so as not to lose whatever they had (followers for example), and some of them inherited previously-corrupted scripture.

Point is: from an Islamic standpoint, at the time of prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, some people had access to what-Islam-regards-as unaltered scripture either in written format somehow or through some other means (such as being told by whoever that came before them i.e. previous generations, and inheriting the information somehow).

Now it becomes easier to understand the two verses in question. The author of the Qur'an is telling people to use unaltered scripture, not altered scripture (as both uncorrupted and corrupted knowledge existed during that time). So, the claim that the corruption must have taken place after the Qur'an was revealed does not necessarily hold, the claim that prophet Muhammad is communicating that all scripture at his time was reliable does not necessarily hold, and viewing a contradiction between any claims of corruption in some books / with some Jewish/Christian religious leaders and the author of the Qur'an telling them to follow what's in the injeel that has been revealed by Allah does not necessarily hold. Prophet Muhammad is not instructing all Christians to follow al-injeel. It clearly says "follow what Allah has revealed in it" (which automatically disqualifies anything that has been altered from an Islamic standpoint).

Put aside history, I am not appealing to history as that would be a very different discussion where the different books of the Gospels, the Qur'an, hadiths, and others play a role (I do not mean to undermine history's importance though).
I'm just showing that you can view the Qur'an as a text in a coherent manner that does not contradict itself. The title and different parts of the article imply that you can look solely at the Qur'an and find the Qur'an demonstrating that it's false, but that's not the case.

And while I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to history of that time, I do get a sense from the Qur'an and various hadiths that back then in Arabia there were different groups of people (different groups of Jews and different groups of Christians), so it's not necessary to assume that they all had the same exact thing. It's not like nowadays where, if a group of people want to make a change in scripture, they can all make it at once.

You can also guess that prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and the surrounding community that believed his words wouldn't make such a blatant contradiction in two consecutive verses anyway; it would have been to easy to spot.
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So, regarding your reply, when you read what you said, "Mohammed believed the the New Testament and Old Testament", you can now mentally draw the distinction between what Allah has revealed (again, from an Islamic standpoint), and what could have been written in books.

One more thing: from an Islamic standpoint, prophet Muhammad peace be upon him does not quote anything from the books.

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