Islamic Commentary on the Holy Bible: The Torah
Islamic Commentary on the Holy Bible: The Torah
The first English commentary set on the Holy Bible from the Islamic perspective from Genesis to Deuteronomy.
The first English commentary set on the Holy Bible from the Islamic perspective from Genesis to Deuteronomy. Read more
This could be marked as the first attempt on a commentary of the Holy Bible from an Islamic perspective by going through available resources to help us explain Scripture with recognition in the Islamic faith that the Bible is not an inerrant book; though Muslims are obligated to believe that what was originally sent was in reality revealed scripture.
To the Muslims, the first question comes to mind, what does Islamic literature say about the Bible and why did it take fourteen hundred years to even attempt this? Muslims do not use the Bible as a book of guidance, as scriptures can abrogate previous scriptures; hence the Qur’an is used as the only book of authority as it is a complete abrogation of all previous scriptures. It is also understood that it is the only scripture that has divine protection, unlike the previous scriptures, which the responsibility was given to humanity. It is true that Muslim scholars have referred to the Bible (usually for historical analysis), but there had always been a few problems in trying to work with the Bible.
The first problem was evident confusion throughout Islamic history as in regards to whether the text could or could not be used. Hadith literature showed that at a time the text was not recommended to be read, but this was mostly because the ‘Sahaba’ (the Companions) had more important things to deal with such as dealing with the Qur’an, it’s exegesis and narrations of Hadith literature. However it was also recommended to be read for the use in minority tribunals and for the purpose of communication; the biblical language can be learned.
It is said in Sahih Bukhari, one of the most prominent Hadith collections in the world - a view held by Orthodox Muslims - is that the Bible can be used as a book of reference in regards to the stories of the Children of Israel. Hence it is probably the reason why several books such as "Qisas-ul-Anbiya" used Biblical, Jewish and Christian traditions where the story was saw fit by the scholar.
Over a century ago, the British in India used to preach the Bible to the Muslim community (as was common in the colonial age), however they found themselves at odds when a scholar from that era wrote a whole collection in refutation and criticism of the text. By the later 1970’s, missionaries from all over the world began to use aggressive tactics upon Muslims especially since immigration reform in the West saw a sea of Muslims arriving in Western countries. Because of this the Bible was pushed into the Muslim communities, while ignorance of Islam was prevalent and at times some may have been honest in how they dealt with Muslims, others used aggressive tactics.
It was from this that a scholar from South Africa waged an aggressive reaction against the Missionaries using the text in India to disapprove the Bible to be the exact Word of God, which soon followed debates between two sides of the Christians and Muslims. Eventually Missionaries were going to strike back and have been doing so ever since, writing books or creating websites to attack Islam in a more hateful manner than ever seen before. Most of the hatred is fueled because of the conflict in the Middle East and the Holy Land, as well as self-interpreted Prophecy from the Bible, which gives some denominations a reason to fight Islam.
However the Qur’an teaches Muslims to approach Jews and Christians in a proper manner using language that is softer and to come to commonalities between each other. After all, the three great monotheistic faiths find its Patriarch to be Abraham and Christians and Muslims share in the belief that Jesus was the Messiah (with differences in regard to divinity), while Jews do not. Fundamental differences aside, these are the reasons why a Muslim must approach the text in a different manner. The Bible belongs to all three religions, at the very least the Torah. And even among Christians, however not every denomination accepts the Bible to be inerrant.
The goal with this book is more of a quest, a quest to find the Bible from within, and a quest to understand what the message of the Bible is even as simply asking the question is God wrathful or loving, or could He be both? Is the Bible being misused? Is it a complete misinterpretation? Could history and science come to common terms with the text? Could there be errors and could some of these be explained? What available manuscripts are authentic and should we substitute it with other texts? How do we figure what is cannon and what is not especially since there are different versions and denominations throughout the world. This cannot be done alone, as much as I share my knowledge with the reader, I wish for this to be a first attempt with rules for future thinkers of the Bible from the Muslim community.
One of the most important rules we must take is that a compromise cannot be made between the three major faiths just to appease another and if something differs it must be explained. Secondly, we must be aware that this book is not meant to be used as a tool for bashing the Bible.
The first set of books I wish to publish if God so wills, is the Torah, which is the first five books of the Bible. They are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The commentary will be on a verse by verse basis (where applicable).
I ask God’s forgiveness for my sins, for any wrong and any error I have make. I ask readers to have an open mind, and let God guide you to the Truth, ask Him directly and He may show you the way.
Risks and challenges
The first challenge is to discover by the end of the work is the question as to whether the book will be for the intellectual circles or for the everyday reader? Will it only be for Muslims or Jews and Christians as well? How can one find common ground when criticism or agreement can be seen in the text? As I continue to work on this as I have been studying comparative religion for over a decade, it is apparent that bias will exist. However bias needs to be placed aside at times without a compromise of faith in order to view what is being implied.
Finding the right sources to help pave way for the commentary is a challenge. Popular Commentaries from Rashi to ibn Ezra are going to be needed including Christian commentaries that are able to bring a different perspective. Since there is no major resource other than texts of criticism from the Muslim World, we will have to use whatever means available with guidance from the Holy Qur'an.
Another challenge is translation, currently Strong's Hebrew is the most important tool to take on this challenge. To overcome, we will be using the available versions of the Bible including the Jewish Tanakh, ESV, KJV and NIV, however our intent and purpose will be to find the correct wording rather than trying to re-translate the text which requires great expertise as the primary function is to be a book of commentary.
As for non-canon texts, some of these books help us understand what some communities had different interpretations at times. We will reference them and let the reader know if it is non-canon and where it can be applicable. However it too is a challenge as to most readers they don't matter.
Lastly a spiritual challenge will exist as with any religious journey and discovery. This is not to say one's heart is already weakened, but it can be a strain on the soul to work with a text that can be conflicting within itself. As an example how can one accept the story of Lot and his daughters?Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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