When was the Gospel distorted?

The Details of the Question

- Citing Maryam 101 as evidence, some people say that the Gospel was distorted after the Quran was revealed. They support it by saying that there is no one who can change the words of Allah. Is the real Gospel still hidden and is there a hadith that the Prophet Isa (Jesus) will find it when he comes?

- Could the 113 bismillahs in the Quran (according to Maliki madhhab) be distorted perhaps years later? Or, is the Quran, including the 113 bismillahs, the Quran that has been preserved and will be preserved?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- It is difficult to determine the date when the Gospel was distorted. However, there is no doubt that it was before the revelation of the Quran. Nevertheless, it would not be wrong to think that this distortion did not happen all at once, but that there was a process of different distortions that continued at different times as they regarded it appropriate based on their desires.

The number of verses in the chapter of Maryam is 98 and there is no such thing as verse 101.

- It should not be forgotten that accepting that some distortions were made in the Torah and the Gospel does not mean that there is no truth in them. On the contrary, a large percentage of them may be true and may be in accordance with the Quranic statements. As a matter of fact, in his book titled Risala al-Hamidiyya, Husayn al-Jisri found 114 pieces of evidence from the Torah and the Gospel that point to the Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of the End Times.

However, it is also accepted by the scholars of People of the Book that most of the Bible is not divine revelation. In particular, the fact that there are four Gospels, and that they are accepted in preference to dozens of other Gospels, and that the authors of those Gospels are known, and that none of these authors - according to the most accurate information - was an apostle of Jesus Christ, and that they were written much later, completely eliminates the idea that the Gospels are divine revelation.

However, they may have a close resemblance to the hadith literature in Islam. An important difference is that the sound hadiths were handed down to us through mu’an’an chain of narrators but there is nothing like that in the Gospels.

- There are 114 bismillahs in the Quran (including the one in verse 30 of the chapter of an-Naml). According to the majority of scholars, except for the one in the chapter of an-Naml, the others are not independent verses, but were placed at the beginning of the suras as a blessing.

According to some scholars, such as Imam Shafi, all the bismillahs are verses. In other words, bismillah was revealed 114 times as a single verse.

- No matter what the form, it is not possible for these bismillahs to be removed from the Quran and distorted because all copies of the Quran all over the world include these bismillahs. They are also in the memory of millions of hafizes.

Distortion is more likely for the works that do not have many copies outside and are not available in the world of print. The distortion of the Torah and the Gospel happened like that. That is, they did not have many copies and they did not have printed forms. There were very few hand-written copies and they were owned by certain clergymen. In fact, the accreditation of these four Gospels was done by certain church-clergymen.

- It is known that the original Torah is lost. However, there are many differences among the translations of the Torah. For instance, there are some clear differences between the Greek translation known as Sab’iniyya and the Hebrew version. The Torah, which was first written in Hebrew, was started to be distorted when it was translated into Aramaic and Greek.

There are also differences among the translations in Chaldean, Latin, Habashi, Ghawti, Armenian and Arabic (ibid).  (For more information, see M. Diyaur-Rahman al-Azami, al-Yahudiyya wal-Masihiyya, pp.175-181)

It is also valid for the Bibles whose original copies are not available.

- We should note that there is a difference of opinion among Islamic scholars as to whether the distortion of the Bible took place in terms of its words or interpretation.

The distortion of the Torah is regarded in two ways: The first one: The distortion of the words of the verses and the addition of some words. The second one:  The distortion of the meaning.

We do not have much information on the extent of the first type of distortion, except for a few examples like “hittatun/hintatun”. The second type of distortion often occurred and one of the important duties of the prophets who came after Moses, including Zechariah and John, was to repair those misinterpretations and distortions in meaning. However, this disease of distortion often recurred among the Jews.  

- Finally, we should note that we do not have the original copies of the Torah or the Gospel. There are many truths of revelation in these two books but there are also contradictions and unreasonable points indicating that a lot of distortion took place.

It is accepted by the scholars of People of the Book that these two books that we now have were written much later. In particular, the case of the Gospel is much more critical. The existence of the current four Gospels, which were selected from among dozens of Gospels three hundred years after Jesus Christ, as well as the existence of other unaccepted Gospels, raises important doubts in this regard. The authors of the four existing Gospels are known. It is an indisputable fact that a significant part of the Bible, which contains the Torah and the Gospel, consists of historical information written by human beings.

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