Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

A Dawagandist Tacitly Accuses His Prophet of Being a Liar

Sam Shamoun

It is that time again to respond to Muslim taqiyyist Bassam Zawadi’s assault against God’s inspired revelation, the Holy Bible.

In this particular rebuttal we are going to be taking another look at the following section from Zawadi’s long winded article where he seeks to mislead people into thinking that Islam’s most reliable sources teach that the Jews and Christians have corrupted their respective Scriptures:

The Prophet's Accusation of the Jews and Christians Distorting Their Books

Al-Hakim related in Al-Mustadrak the following Hadith...

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah As-Saffar told us: Ahmad Ibn Mahdi Ibn Rustum Al-Asfahani told us: Mu'azh Ibn Hisham Ad-Distwani told us: my father told me: Al-Qasim Ibn 'Awf Ash-Shaybani told me: Mu'azh Ibn Jabal told us that he went to Sham and saw the Christians prostrate to their Bishops and priests and saw the Jews prostrate to their Rabbis and scholars. He said, "Why do you do this?" they answered, "This is the greeting of Prophets". I said, "We better do this to our Prophet". Allah's Prophet said, "They lied about their Prophets just as they distorted their Book. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone, I would command woman to prostrate to her husband for his great right upon her. No woman will taste the sweetness of Faith till she does her husband's rights even if he asks herself while she is on a Qutub" (Al-Hakim commented, "This hadith is authentic according to standards of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, but they did not relate it" This hadith was also related by At-Tabarani in "Al-Mu'jam Al-Kabir" vol. 8, p.31 but it includes An-Nahhas Ibn Fahm who is a weak narrator. Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal related it with a sound chain of transmission in his Musnad vol. 4, p. 381 (online source) with the following chain: 'Abdullah told us: my father (Ibn Hanbal) told me: Mu'azh Ibn Hisham told us: my father told me: Al-Qasim Ibn 'Awf - a man from Al-Kufa, one of Bani Murra Ibn Hammam - told me: Mu'azh Ibn Jabal - radiya Allahu 'anhu - told us that .. and mentioned the hadith. This hadith has been authenticated by Ibn Hajar Al Haytami in his Majma' Al Zawaaid, Volume 4, page 312. He said of the narrators in the chain 'their men are men of authenticity')

Notice that the Prophet is saying that the Christians and Jews distorted their books JUST AS they lied about their Prophets. The context of the situation is that the Christians and Jews said that bowing down to their priests and rabbis was the greeting of the Prophets. This is a forgery and a lie. Thus if they were to corrupt their books in the same way they would have made up lies in the Torah and Gospel by introducing false statements into it. (Evidence That Islam Teaches That There Was Textual Corruption of The Christian and Jewish Scriptures)

It is sad that Zawadi is incapable of seeing how such narrations end up proving that the Quran is a corrupted text and that Muhammad was an inconsistent liar. It is also rather unfortunate that we are going to have to take time from our already busy schedules to spell out all the problems that this particular hadith raises for his specific beliefs, since Zawadi is unable to see them for himself.

To begin with, this report contradicts both the Quran and other narrations attributed to Muhammad, which plainly testify to the reliability and incorruptibility of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.

For instance, Muhammad is made to say that he has been sent with a book which confirms the veracity of the Scriptures which the Jews and Christians possessed at his time:

Children of Israel, remember My blessing wherewith I blessed you, and fulfil My covenant and I shall fulfil your covenant; and have awe of Me. And believe in that I have sent down, CONFIRMING THAT WHICH IS WITH YOU, and be not the first to disbelieve in it. And sell not My signs for a little price; and fear you Me. And do not confound the truth with vanity, and do not conceal the truth wittingly. And perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and bow with those that bow. Will you bid others to piety, and forget yourselves while you read the Book? Do you not understand? S. 2:40-44

You who have been given the Book, believe in what We have sent down, CONFIRMING WHAT IS WITH YOU, before We obliterate faces, and turn them upon their backs, or curse them as We cursed the Sabbath-men, and God's command is done. S. 4:47

“To you We revealed the Book with the Truth, confirming previous Scripture AND WITNESSING TO THEIR VERACITY…” S. 5:48 (Tarif Khalidi, The Qur’an – A New Translation [Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., First American Edition 2008], p. 89; capital and italic emphasis ours)

Muhammad even went as far as to defend the reliability of the Torah against those who were attacking it and to grant it the same level of authority and authenticity as the Quran:

But when the truth (i.e. Muhammad with his Message) has come to them from Us, they say: "Why is he not given the like of what was given to Musa (Moses)?" Did they not disbelieve in that which was given to Musa (Moses) of old? They say: "Two kinds of magic [the Taurat (Torah) and the Qur'an] each helping the other!" And they say: "Verily! In both we are disbelievers." Say (to them, O Muhammad: "Then bring a Book from Allah, which is a better guide than these two [the Taurat (Torah) and the Qur'an], that I may follow it, if you are truthful." S. 28:48-49

It makes absolutely no sense for Muhammad to defend the Torah and challenge the disbelievers to come up with a scripture that contains better guidance than it did if he actually thought that Moses’ Scripture had been corrupted or was no longer available. That is unless, of course, Muhammad was acting deceptively. More on this point later.

The following lengthy citation provides further corroboration that Muhammad did not think for a minute that the text of the previous Books had been distorted:

“… It was reported that this part of the Ayah was revealed about some Jews who committed murder and who said to each other, ‘Let us ask Muhammad to judge between us, and if he decides that we pay the Diyah, accept his judgement. If he decides on capital punishment, do not accept his judgement.’ The correct opinion is that this Ayah was revealed about the two Jews who committed adultery. The Jews changed the law they had in their Book from Allah on the matter of punishment for adultery, from stoning to death, to a hundred flogs and making the offenders ride a donkey facing the back of the donkey. When this incident of adultery occurred after the Hijrah, they said to each other, ‘Let us go to Muhammad and seek his judgement. If he gives a ruling of flogging, then implement his decision and make it a proof for you with Allah. This way, one of Allah's Prophets will have upheld this ruling amongst you. But if he decides that the punishment should be stoning to death, then do not accept his decision.’ There are several Hadiths mentioning this story. Malik reported that Nafi` said that `Abdullah bin `Umar said, ‘The Jews came to Allah's Messenger and mentioned that a man and a woman from them committed adultery. Allah's Messenger said to them…

<<What do find of the ruling about stoning in the Tawrah>> They said, “We only find that they should be exposed and flogged.” `Abdullah bin Salam said, “You lie. The Tawrah mentions stoning, SO BRING THE TAWRAH.” THEY BROUGHT THE TAWRAH AND OPENED IT but one of them hid the verse about stoning with his hand and recited what is before and after that verse. `Abdullah bin Salam said to him, “Remove your hand,” and he removed it, thus uncovering the verse about stoning. So they said, “He (`Abdullah bin Salam) has said the truth, ‘O Muhammad! It is the verse about stoning.” The Messenger of Allah decided that the adulterers be stoned to death and his command was carried out. I saw that man shading the woman from the stones with his body.’ Al-Bukhari and Muslim also collected this Hadith and this is the wording collected by Al-Bukhari. In another narration by Al-Bukhari, the Prophet said to the Jews…

<<What would you do in this case?>> They said, ‘We would humiliate and expose them.’ The Prophet recited…

<<BRING HERE THE TAWRAH AND RECITE IT, IF YOU ARE TRUTHFUL.>> So they brought a man who was blind in one eye and who was respected among them and said to him, ‘Read (from the Tawrah).’ So he read until he reached a certain verse and then covered it with his hand. He was told, ‘Remove your hand,’ and it was the verse about stoning. So that man said, ‘O Muhammad! This is the verse about stoning, and we had hid its knowledge among us.’ So the Messenger ordered that the two adulterers be stoned, and they were stoned. Muslim recorded that a Jewish man and a Jewish woman were brought before Allah's Messenger because they committed adultery. The Messenger of Allah went to the Jews and asked them…

<<What is the ruling that you find in the Tawrah for adultery?>> They said, ‘We expose them, carry them (on donkeys) backwards and parade them in public.’ The Prophet recited…

<<Bring here the Tawrah and recite it, if you are truthful.>> So they brought the Tawrah and read from it until the reader reached the verse about stoning. Then he placed his hand on that verse and read what was before and after it. `Abdullah bin Salam, who was with the Messenger of Allah , said, ‘Order him to remove his hand,’ and he removed his hand and under it was the verse about stoning. So the Messenger of Allah commanded that the adulterers be stoned, and they were stoned. `Abdullah bin `Umar said, ‘I was among those who stoned them and I saw the man shading the woman from the stones with his body.’ Abu Dawud recorded that Ibn `Umar said, ‘Some Jews came to the Messenger of Allah and invited him to go to the Quff area. So he went to the house of Al-Midras and they said, ‘O Abu Al-Qasim! A man from us committed adultery with a woman, so decide on their matter.’ They arranged a pillow for the Messenger of Allah and he sat on it and said…

<<Bring the Tawrah to me.>> He was brought the Tawrah and he removed the pillow from under him and placed the Tawrah on it, saying


<<Bring me your most knowledgeable person.>> So he was brought a young man… and then he mentioned the rest of the story that Malik narrated from Nafi`… These Hadiths state that the Messenger of Allah issued a decision that conforms with the ruling in the Tawrah, not to honor the Jews in what they believe in, for the Jews were commanded to follow the Law of Muhammad only. Rather, the Prophet did this because Allah commanded him to do so. He asked them about the ruling of stoning in the Tawrah to make them admit to what the Tawrah contains and what they collaborated to hide, deny and exclude from implementing for all that time. They had to admit to what they did, although they did it while having knowledge of the correct ruling…” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 5:41; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Here we see Muhammad not only demanding that the Jews bring their copy of the Torah and rule by it, he also went as far as to proclaim that the Torah in their possession was the revelation that God had given them!

Interestingly, one of Zawadi’s renowned scholars testifies that some Muslims used this very narration from Abu Dawud, along with the following Quranic reference,

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. 6:115

To prove that the text of the Torah has remained intact since no one is capable of corrupting any of God’s inspired Books. This led them to conclude that the Jews and Christians distorted the Scriptures by misinterpreting them:

“… 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."

And the Torah is Allah’s word.” (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ighathat Al Lahfan, Volume 2, p. 351)

The logic employed by these Muslims to arrive at their conclusion concerning the incorruptibility of the Scriptures is not only sound, but irrefutable as well. Since God’s words can never be changed as the Quran itself plainly testifies, and since the Scriptures that God revealed to the Jews and Christians are his revealed words, then the text of these inspired writings can never be distorted. This means that the Scriptures that the Jews and Christians possess must be the uncorrupt revelations that God revealed through his prophets and apostles; there is simply no way around this.

Nor is this the only instance where Muhammad expressly confirmed the Scriptures in the hands of the Jews:

Rafi b. Haritha and Sallam b. Mishkam and Malik b. al-Sayf and Rafi b. Huraymila came to him [Muhammad] and said: ‘Do you not allege that you follow the religion of Abraham and believe in the Torah WHICH WE HAVE and testify that it is the truth from God?’ He replied,CERTAINLY, but you have sinned and broken the covenant CONTAINED THEREIN and concealed what you were ordered to make plain to men, and I dissociate myself from your sin.’ They said, ‘We hold by WHAT WE HAVE. We live according to the guidance and the truth and we do not believe in you and we will not follow you.’ So God sent down concerning them: ‘Say, O Scripture folk, you have no standing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been sent down from your Lord. What has been sent down to thee from they Lord will assuredly increase many of them in error and unbelief. But be not sad because of the unbelieving people.’ (The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, with introduction and notes by Alfred Guillaume [Oxford University Press, Karachi, Tenth impression 1995], p. 268; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Muhammad again proclaims his total trust and belief in the authenticity and reliability of the Scriptures that the Jews of his day had in their possession. His only problem was that they were unfaithful to the covenant mentioned in those very same writings.

This now brings us to the second problem with the hadith that Zawadi cited.

According to those same Scriptures, both the prophets and God’s people would bow down to others as a way of showing honor and respect to them, just as the following examples testify:

“When Abigail saw David, she hurried and dismounted from her donkey, and fell on her face before David and bowed herself to the ground… She arose and bowed with her face to the ground and said, ‘Behold, your maidservant is a maid to wash the feet of my lord’s servants.’” 1 Samuel 25:23, 41

“David went up according to the word of Gad, just as the Lord had commanded. Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants crossing over toward him; and Araunah went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king. Then Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’ And David said, ‘To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be held back from the people.’” 2 Samuel 24:19-21

Then Bathsheba bowed and prostrated herself before the king. And the king said, ‘What do you wish?’… Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the ground, and prostrated herself before the king and said, “May my lord King David live forever.’” 1 Kings 1:16, 31

“So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah. And the king arose to meet her, bowed before her, and sat on his throne; then he had a throne set for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.” 1 Kings 2:19

“”So he again sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. When the third captain of fifty went up, he came and bowed down on his knees before Elijah, and begged him and said to him, ‘O man of God, please let my life and the lives of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight.’” 2 Kings 1:13

The following citations are even more relevant to our topic:

“Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, ‘Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.’ Then his brothers said to him, ‘Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, ‘Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’ He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?’ His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.” Genesis 37:5-11

Notice that Joseph sees dreams where his father, stepmother and brothers all bow down to him. The following texts show that Joseph’s dreams came to pass years later when he had come into prominence in Egypt:

“Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.” Genesis 42:6

“When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which was in their hand and bowed to the ground before him. Then he asked them about their welfare, and said, ‘Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?’ They said, ‘Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.’ They bowed down in homage.” Genesis 43:26-28

The reason why this is a rather important incident is because the Quran confirms this story since it includes it as part of its narrative concerning Joseph!

(Remember) when Yusuf (Joseph) said to his father: "O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon, I saw them prostrating themselves to me (sajideena).” S. 12:4

And he raised his parents to the throne and they fell down before him prostrate (sujjadan). And he said: "O my father! This is the interpretation of my dream aforetime! My Lord has made it come true! He was indeed good to me, when He took me out of the prison, and brought you (all here) out of the bedouin-life, after Shaitan (Satan) had sown enmity between me and my brothers. Certainly, my Lord is the Most Courteous and Kind unto whom He will. Truly He! Only He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. S. 12:100

Moreover, Joseph isn’t the only one that had others prostrate to him according to the Quran:

And (remember) when We said to the angels: "Prostrate (osjudoo) unto Adam." They prostrated (fa’sajadoo) except Iblis (Satan). He said: "Shall I prostrate (asjudu) to one whom You created from clay?" S. 17:16

And (remember) when We said to the angels; "Prostrate (osjudoo) to Adam." So they prostrated (fa’sajadoo) except Iblis (Satan). He was one of the jinns; he disobeyed the Command of his Lord. Will you then take him (Iblis) and his offspring as protectors and helpers rather than Me while they are enemies to you? What an evil is the exchange for the Zalimun (polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc). S. 18:50 – cf. 2:34; 7:11-12; 15:29-33; 20:116; 38:72-75

Here we have Allah demanding that his entire heavenly assembly bow down to Adam, going so far as to punish Iblis (Satan) for refusing to do so!

With the foregoing in perspective, the Jews and Christians were obviously correct, which means that Muhammad was either wrong or lied, since both the Holy Bible and the Quran testify that God permitted people to bow down to each other as a show of love and respect. (However, in the case of the Quran such bowing is a clear act of worship which is supposed to be given to God alone. See below for further details.)

Now this introduces some additional problems for Zawadi.

In the first place, the Arabic word that the Quran employs to describe the prostration that Adam and Joseph received is sajada/sujud, which just so happens to be the same word used for the worship which the Islamic sources insist is only to be given to Allah:

Not all of them are alike; a party of the people of the Scripture stand for the right, they recite the Verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer (yasjudoona). S. 3:113

“When you (O Messenger Muhammad) are among them, and lead them in As-Salat (the prayer), let one party of them stand up [in Salat (prayer)] with you taking their arms with them; when they finish their prostrations (sajadoo), let them take their positions in the rear and let the other party come up which has not yet prayed, and let them pray with you taking all the precautions and bearing arms…” S. 4:102

Surely, those who are with your Lord (angels) are never too proud to perform acts of worship to Him, but they glorify His Praise and prostrate (yasjudoona) before Him. S. 7:206

And unto Allah (Alone) falls in prostration (yasjudu) whoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, and so do their shadows in the mornings and in the afternoons. S. 13:15 – cf. Q. 16:48-49; 22:18; 55:5-6

O you who believe! Bow down, and prostrate yourselves (wa’osjudoo), and worship your Lord and do good that you may be successful. S. 22:77

So fall you down in prostration (fa’osjudoo) to Allah, and worship Him (Alone) (wa’oabudoo). S. 53:62– cf. Q. 2:125; 7:120-122; 9:112; 15:98; 17:107; 19:58; 20:70; 22:25-26; 25:60, 64; 26:46-48, 217-220; 32:15; 39:9; 41:37; 48:29; 68:42-43; 76:26; 96:19

This means that Allah is personally responsible for commanding his creatures to worship some of his servants, thereby causing them to commit the unpardonable sin of shirk, i.e. the transgression of associating a creature with Allah in his exclusive divine attributes and worship (cf. Q. 2:22; 4:48, 116; 6:83-88; 39:65).

The other problem Zawadi faces is that the hadith he cited ends up proving that Muhammad was actually a liar who distorted his own book.

Recall what Muhammad is reported to have said in response to the assertion of the Jews and Christians that the reason they bowed down to their priests and rabbis is because this was the greeting of the prophets:

“… Allah's Prophet said, ‘They lied about their Prophets just as they distorted their Book…’”

Muhammad states that their claim was a lie and used this to accuse them of distorting the Book. And yet Muhammad himself included examples of Joseph’s family prostrating to him and the angels bowing down to Adam as part of his revelation, which means that he must have lied as well according to his very own argument.

Now there are a few ways in which Zawadi can get out of the mess that he has created for himself. He can admit that this narration is a fabrication since, it not only contradicts the plain teaching of the Quran and hadiths that we presented which testify to the incorruptibility of the previous Scriptures, it also portrays Muhammad as an inconsistent liar.

Or Zawadi can interpret the hadith in such a way as to make it conciliatory with the teachings of both the Holy Bible and the Quran. And here is how he can do just that: By accusing them of lying and distorting the Book, Muhammad may have meant that the Jews and Christians misapplied and misinterpreted certain Biblical texts in order to justify their practice of prostrating to their religious scholars and leaders. Muhammad wasn’t arguing that the Jews and Christians corrupted the text of their Scriptures, nor was he claiming that the Holy Bible didn’t contain examples of the prophets bowing down to others as a sign of love and respect. Rather, Muhammad’s point was that the Jews and Christians were guilty of distorting the Scriptures by misinterpreting and misapplying them, since this practice was only allowed during the time of the prophets, and wasn’t meant to be observed indefinitely. As such, the Jews and Christians had no business using such Biblical examples to support the kind of reverence and devotion which they were giving to their religious authorities.

This explanation is actually in line with the Quran itself since it does accuse some of the Jews (and perhaps even Christians) of distorting the Scriptures with their “tongues,” e.g. by their faulty interpretations:

And verily, among them is a party who distort the Book with their tongues (as they read), so that you may think it is from the Book, but it is not from the Book, and they say: "This is from Allah," but it is not from Allah; and they speak a lie against Allah while they know it. S. 3:78

Yet this interpretation basically cuts the ground from under Zawadi’s feet since it would force him to admit that the hadith provides absolutely no support for his assertion that Muhammad actually believed that the Jews and Christians had corrupted their Scriptures. This also means that Zawadi has no choice but to go back to the drawing board since he has thus far failed to provide any conclusive evidence for his argument that Allah and his “messenger” did not teach or believe that the Holy Bible is the uncorrupt Word of God.

So much for Zawadi’s tirade against the God-breathed Scriptures.

Lord Jesus willing, more responses to Zawadi’s distortions and logical fallacies will be appearing soon.

Further Reading

Prostration as evidence of corruption?
Evidence for Muhammad's Duplicity?
Did Muhammad Confirm the Torah?
Revisiting the Issue of what the Quran says about the Torah Again!
God's Words Can Never Be Changed
The Words of God Are Unchangeable! [Part 1], [Part 2]
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah and the Text of the Torah
Revisiting the Issue of Ibn Qayyim and the Torah
Fakhr ad-Din Ar-Razi and his views on the inspired Scriptures
Rebutting Zawadi's Reply to TurretinFan
The Messiah is God Indeed - Part 1