Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Point Still Remains –

The Quran Affirms That God’s Revealed Words Cannot Be Changed!

Sam Shamoun

Bassam Zawadi has produced a short article where he seeks to deny that passages such as Q. 6:115 and 18:27 prove that the revealed books of God such as the Torah and the Gospel cannot be corrupted. In this so-called reply, Zawadi comes up with some other explanations of these verses in order to avoid having to deal with the implications of the plain reading of these texts.

It is obvious that the Christian that Zawadi was replying to was actually me, since he quotes the very same texts which I raised in my article here. Could it be that Zawadi was afraid to make this explicit since he didn’t want to provide a link to my article which would serve to expose just how shallow his exegesis truly is?

Be that as it may, I have decided to respond to Zawadi’s attempt of refuting the assertion that the Quran testifies to the incorruptibility of the revealed words of God such as the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel.

Zawadi argues that these texts actually mean that no one can stop the promises of Allah that are found in these books from being fulfilled. He then selectively quotes a few scholars to prove his position.

Imam Al Tabari in his commentary states:

"None can change His words", He is saying that there is no one who could change what He has informed in His books about anything which is bound to happen during it's time or has been postponed. It all happens as Allah says it would. (Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Jami' al-bayan fi ta'wil al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:115, Source)

Imam Al-Qurtubi in his commentary states:

Al Ramaani narrated on the authority of Qataadah who said: There is no change in the judgment of God. Even if one were to change and substitute the words just as the people of the book did with the Torah and Gospel, God doesn't consider this. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir [sic] al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 6:115, Source)

This is a crucial point that is being made. Anyone could simply pick up a Qur'an and grab a pen and scribble out words and add his own, however that doesn't mean that one is refuting the idea that none can change the words of Allah. Rather, changing the words of Allah in the passage means that one cannot change what He has promised would occur.

One could easily change and distort texts by picking up a book and a pen, but they could not change the original true texts and revelations which is with Allah on al-Lawh al-Mahfudh (preserved tablet) since the speech of Allah is uncreated and no one can ever make it go lost completely. Removing the words from the books here on earth does not mean that God's words have become totally lost but lost here on earth only.

Ibn Kathir says in his commentary of Surah 85, Verse 22...

(Nay! This is a Glorious Qur'an.) meaning, magnificent and noble.

(In Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz!) meaning, among the most high gathering, guarded from any increase, decrease, distortion, or change. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Source)

Here we see that the Qur'an is also preserved in the Preserved Tablet from being corrupted and the same logic applies to the other revelations that God has sent.

First, Zawadi’s assertion in the last paragraph is interesting in that he is basically saying that the situation is the same for the Quran as it is for the Bible: God’s original cannot be corrupted, but any book on earth can be changed. So, the Qur’an has no advantage over the Bible in that regard. That is quite an admission. Doesn’t Zawadi’s argument also nullify everything Muslims have always claimed, i.e. that the Qur’an is uniquely preserved because of the promise of Allah in the Qur’an?

Secondly, Zawadi makes it apparent that he doesn’t comprehend what he reads since, if he did, he would have then seen how these explanations actually backfire against him and prove that the revealed books of God can never be changed. Notice, once again, the words of al-Tabari:

"None can change His words", He is saying that there is no one who could change what He has informed IN HIS BOOKS about anything which is bound to happen during it's time or has been postponed. It all happens as Allah says it would.

Doesn’t Zawadi realize that if Tabari’s explanation is correct then this proves that God’s Books can never be changed? Does he not see that the only way for anyone to know what God’s promises are is if the Books that contained them remained uncorrupt? Can he not comprehend that if the texts of these Books have been changed then no one could know for certain whether the promises contained within them were actually made by God or lies which were falsely attributed to him?

Hence, if Zawadi is correct that anyone could simply pick up a revealed Book and change it then this means that a person can never have any confidence that God has kept his promises since he can never know what those promises are!

Moreover, Zawadi’s appeal to the so-called preserved tablet further establishes my point against him. The only reason Zawadi can even talk about Allah having a preserved tablet with him is because the Quran told him so. However, the only way Zawadi can know whether the Quran is correct about this issue is by first establishing that it is a revelation from God, and then proving that the text of the Muslim scripture has remained intact. Yet if it can be shown that the Quran is neither inspired nor has been perfectly preserved then this calls into question everything it says about this so-called preserved tablet.

In other words, Zawadi’s whole argument concerning the preserved tablet hinges on the textual reliability and alleged inspiration of the Quran!

The other problem with Zawadi’s appeal to the preserved tablet is that neither of the Quranic passages which he and I quoted even refer to it, or to the words contained therein. Neither verse speaks of Allah preserving only those words which are found in this alleged tablet, as opposed to safeguarding the ones which he had sent down to and through his messengers. Rather, both of these texts clearly mention Allah preserving the words which he revealed in the Book which he sent down to be recited to mankind and which is supposedly fully detailed:

[Say (O Muhammad)] "Shall I seek a judge other than Allah while it is He Who has sent down unto you the Book (The Qur'an), explained in detail." Those unto whom We gave the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] know that it is revealed from your Lord in truth. So be not you of those who doubt. And the Word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can change His Words. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. S. 6:114-115 Hilali-Khan

And recite what has been revealed to you (O Muhammad) of the Book (the Qur'an) of your Lord (i.e. recite it, understand and follow its teachings and act on its orders and preach it to men). None can change His Words, and none will you find as a refuge other than Him. S. 18:27 Hilali-Khan

Since Zawadi was obviously too afraid to quote the comments of the Muslim scholars that disagreed with him we will post them here for all to see how some of Islam’s greatest expositors interpreted these texts.

For starters, notice how Ibn Kathir interpreted Q. 18:27:

The Command to recite the Qur’an and to patiently keep Company with the Believers

Commanding his Messenger to recite his Holy Book and convey it to mankind, Allah says,

<None can change His Words,> meaning, no one can alter them, distort them or misinterpret them. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, (Abridged) (Surat Al-Isra’, verse 39 To the end of Surat Al-Mu’minun), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition, July 2000], Volume 6, p. 142, *; underline emphasis ours)

Isn’t it ironic that Zawadi quoted what this scholar said in respect to Q. 85:21-22 but did not bother to mention what he wrote concerning one of the verses that Zawadi cited?

Moving along, the following commentary is attributed to Muhammad’s first cousin, Ibn Abbas, considered to be one of Islam’s greatest scholars:

(Perfected is the Word of thy Lord) the Qur'an, detailing the commands and prohibitions (in truth) in His speech (and justice) from Him. (There is naught that can change His words) the Qur'an; it is also said that this means: the Word of your Lord has prescribed that His friends shall triumph. He is truthful in His speech and just in that which shall come. Nothing can change His words about His giving help to His friend. It is also said that this means: the religion of your Lord is now manifest, people truthfully believe that it is Allah's religion. Allah's command is just and nothing will ever change His religion. (He is the Hearer) of their speech, (the Knower) of them and their works. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs, Q. 6:115; bold and underline emphasis ours)

And here is al-Tabari’s explanation of the same verse:

The word of God meant in this verse is the Quran. This word is complete in truth and justice. Nothing can change Allah’s word which he revealed in his BOOKS. The liars cannot add or delete from Allah’s BOOKS. This is referring without a doubt to the Jews and Christians because they are the people of the books which were revealed to their prophets. Allah is revealing that the words they (the people of the book) are corrupting were not revealed by Allah, since Allah’s word cannot be changed or substituted. (Tafsir al-Tabari, Q. 6:115; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Again, isn’t it intriguing that Zawadi only quoted a part of al-Tabari’s exegesis but failed to reference these comments of his, which expose Zawadi’s feeble and shallow “rebuttal”?

Another Muslim source states:

Described in the second verse (115), there are two more distinctive qualities of the Holy Qur’an sufficient to prove its being the Divine Word. It is said … (And the Word of your Lord is perfect in truth and justice. None is there to change His Word) … The sixth quality has been identified as … that is, there is no one who can change the words of Allah Ta’ala. One form in which such a change can take place is when someone proves a mistake in it because of which it has been changed; or, that some enemy changes it forcibly. The Word of Allah is pristinely pure and far beyond any such possibilities. He has Himself promised … that is, ‘We (only We) have revealed the Dhikr (the Qur’an) and, for it, We (only We) are the Protector’ – 15:9). When so, who can dare break through the protection of Allah and make any changes or alterations in it? For that matter, over fourteen hundred years have passed and there have been against it as compared in numbers, even in power, with those who have been believing it, but not one of them had the courage to introduce one tiny variance in even a vowel point of the Qur’an. Of course, possible there was a third form of bringing in a change, that is, it be changed through abrogation (naskh) by Allah Ta’ala Himself. Therefore, Sayyidna ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘This verse indicates that the noble Prophet is the Last Prophet and the Qur’an, the Last Book. After this, there is no probability of an abrogation’- as it has been elucidated in other verses of the Qur’an. (Mufti Shafi’ Uthmani, Maariful Qur’an, Volume 3, pp. 444, 446-447; bold emphasis ours)

The late Muslim scholar Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi also interpreted Q. 6:115 and 18:27 in respect to the incorruptibility of the Book which was sent down, which in this case is supposed to be the Quran:

82 That is, “These principles, that have been laid down for the domination of the Truth, are not new ones which might have been invented today to explain away the difficulties and obstacles of the Way. All those people, who possess the knowledge of the Divine Books and are acquainted with the Mission of the Prophets, will bear testimony that whatever is being stated in the Qur'an is the very Truth, which is eternal and has never changed.” (Tafhim al-Qur'an (The Meaning of the Qur'an); *; bold emphasis ours)


27 This does not mean at all that, God forbid, the Holy Prophet was inclined to make any changes in the Qur'an to please the disbelievers of Makkah and was thinking of some formula of compromise with the chiefs of the Quraish which necessitated a warning that he was not authorized to do so. As a matter of tact, though this was apparently addressed to the Holy Prophet, it was really meant for the disbelievers that they should not entertain any hope whatsoever for anything like this, as if to say, "You must understand it once for all that Our Messenger is not authorized to make any changes in Our Revelation, for he has to deliver it precisely just as it is sent down to him. If you want to accept it, you will have to accept it in its entirety as it is being sent by the Lord of the Universe: and if you want to reject it, you may do so but you must understand it well that no modification even in the least, will be made in it to please you." This was the answer to the repeated demand of the disbelievers. “If you do insist, O Muhammad, that we should accept your Message in its entirety, then make certain modifications in it to accommodate some creeds and customs of our forefathers, and we will accept your Message. This is our offer for a compromise and this will save our people from dis-union.” This demand of the disbelievers has been cited in the Qur'an at several places and the same answer has been given, e.g. "When Our clear Revelations are recited to them, those who do not expect to meet Us, say, `Bring an other Qur'an in its stead or make some amendments in it' ...." (X: 15) (Ibid.; *; bold emphasis ours)

We have saved the best for last. Amazingly, according to one of Zawadi’s greatest scholars, there was a group of Muslim scholars that actually used Q. 6:115 to prove that Books such as the Torah could never be corrupted since it happens to be the revealed word of Allah:

On the other side, another party of hadith and fiqh scholars said: these changes took place during its interpretation and not during the process of its revelation. This is the view of Abi Abdullah Muhammad bin Ishmael Al-Bukhari who said in his hadith collection:

“No one can corrupt the text by removing any of Allah’s words from his Books, but they corrupted it by misinterpreting it.”

Al-Razi also agrees with this opinion. In his commentary he said:

There is a difference of opinions regarding this matter among some of the respectable scholars. Some of these scholars said: the manuscript copies of the Torah were distributed everywhere and no one knows the exact number of these copies except Allah. It is impossible to have a conspiracy to change or alter the word of God in all of these copies without missing any copy. Such a conspiracy will not be logical or possible. And when Allah told his messenger (Muhammad) to ask the Jews to bring their Torah and read it concerning the stoning command they were not able to change this command from their copies, that is why they covered up the stoning verse while they were reading it to the prophet. It was then when Abdullah Ibn Salam requested that they remove their hand so that the verse became clear. If they have changed or altered the Torah then this verse would have been one of the important verses to be altered by the Jews.

Also, whenever the prophet would ask them (the Jews) concerning the prophecies about him in the Torah they were not able to remove them either, and they would respond by stating that they are not about him and they are still waiting for the prophet in their Torah.

Abu Dawood narrated in his collection that Ibn Umar said:

A group of Jewish people invited the messenger of Allah to a house. When he came, they asked him: O Abu Qassim, one of our men committed adultery with a woman, what is your judgment against him? So they placed a pillow and asked the messenger of Allah to set on it. Then the messenger of Allah proceeded to say: bring me the Torah. When they brought it, he removed the pillow from underneath him and placed the Torah on it and said: I BELIEVE IN YOU AND IN THE ONE WHO REVEALED YOU, then said: bring me one of you who have the most knowledge. So they brought him a young man who told him the story of the stoning.

The scholars said: if the Torah was corrupted he would not have placed it on the pillow and he would not have said: I believe in you and in the one who revealed you.

This group of scholars also said: Allah said:

"And the word of your Lord has been accomplished truly and justly; there is none who can change His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing." (Q. 6:115)

And the Torah is Allah’s word. (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ighathat Al Lahfan, Volume 2, p. 351; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The reasoning that these Muslims employed is logically sound since both their premises and the conclusion they drew from them are valid.

  1. According to Q. 6:115 and 18:27 there is absolutely no one who can change or corrupt the words of Allah.
  2. The Muslim expositors understood this to refer to the revealed Books such as the Torah and the Gospel since these are all words of Allah.
  3. Therefore, none can change or corrupt the text of any of Allah’s Books such as the Torah and the Gospel.

No wonder Zawadi didn’t make his response a direct reply to my article!

He obviously didn’t want his readers to see these quotes from some of Islam’s greatest scholars and commentators which I had provided in my article. Zawadi was obviously afraid that his readers would see for themselves how the explanations of his own expositors actually confirm that the Holy Bible that we possess must be the uncorrupt, preserved words of God.

In conclusion, these Quranic passages clearly, unambiguously, and explicitly affirm that the Torah and Gospel in the hands of the Jews and Christians today are the uncorrupt revealed words of the true God. It is therefore time for Zawadi to face reality and come to terms with the fact that according to the uncorrupted Scriptures of God Muhammad was a false prophet who happened to be one of the antichrists which the Holy Bible spoke against, and that the Allah of the Quran is in reality the spirit of antichrist who possessed and inspired Muhammad:

“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour… Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” 1 John 2:18, 22-23

“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:1-10

I want to thank Jochen Katz for a couple of ideas he contributed to this article.