In What Way Was the Bible Corrupted?

Discussion in 'Islam' started by Amica, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. Amica

    Amica Member

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    Salaam:

    I am posting this in the Islam section as the target audience for the discussion is only Muslims. Jews and Christians are welcome to respond, but I want an answer from an Islamic perspective. I do not expect Jews and Christians to agree with the proposed claim.

    So, I have read translations of the interpretations of the meaning of Noble Qur'an as well as the Old and New Testaments. And, my personal conclusion is that Allah SWT is not saying in the Qur'an that the both biblical testaments are corrupt 100%. Rather, Allah SWT is saying this:

    a. Jews received the Torah, but took something else as the guide that is not equivalent to the Torah.
    b. Christians have corrupted the New Testament that deviates from the true Message by preaching the concept of trinity

    When Allah SWT says that the Jews are using something as replacement for Torah, I am understanding this as the Talmud traditions and the books included in the Old Testament that are not part of the original books of Moses. So, in regards to the Jews the charge would be that they are using extra stuff that is not part of the Revelation. When Allah SWT speaks of Christians, the message appears to be more clearer in that the claim against them is their understanding of the nature of God and their belief in Jesus' "divinity."

    Are there any sources that either support or go against my understanding about this? I have read about the Roman Church adding, editing or deleting biblical verses and I do know that various Christian sects use different number of books for the Bible. There is also the apocrypha books too.
     
  2. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Well, which passages in the New Testament are corrupted by the concept of the Trinity? Muslim scholar Timothy J. Winter (also known as Abdal-Hakim Murad) has an article on the Trinity supporting claim b. in your post. The only clear passage in the NT that refers to the Trinity is 1 John 5.7-8, he says in another article, and it's missing from the oldest Greek manuscripts. His source for this claim is Bruce Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. In what way is the Bible corrupted? I understand corruption in two ways: (1) An interpolation or some type of forgery like 1 John 5.7-8 is one example of corruption (assuming it wasn't in the original text) and (2) another example of corruption is changing the meaning of a text with misinterpretations - as when Christians used the Bible to justify their brutal treatment of the indigenous peoples of the Americas through the Doctrine of Discovery or, according to Winter, when Christians misread "son of God" as an assertion of Christ's divine status.

    Winter has other resources about the Trinity online too. For example, he was interviewed about the Trinity on Youtube here and delivered a speech about it here. Let me know what you think.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
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  3. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    I would say you are right, and maybe a little excessive in some of it.

    First off, The Torah, Talmud, Psalms, NT, etc. all contain parts of Allah's word. over time these words were added to and more than likely removed or changed. (examples in Torah include Noah's drunkedness, year by year inaccuracies, etc). They were also not complete, in that the Torah doesn't display much mercy opportunity. And the NT is missing the actual teachings Jesus (PBUH) did. It mentions him teaching, but never records what it is. Much like the Roman Catholic Bible and the Lutheran Bible are different because a man simply didn't agree with some books.

    Ahanu, There is another sample of verses in Matthew with the same issue, the oldest reference in scrolls is some 200+ years after the others.
     
  4. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Here we disagree. This isn't a position we find in the Koran. If it were in the Koran, I don't think we would find the following ayahs:

    "Say, 'O People of the Book! You stand on naught till you observe the Torah and the Gospel, and that which has been sent down unto you from your Lord" (5.68).

    "Let the people of the Gospel judge by that which God has sent down therein" (5.47).

    "Ask the people of the Reminder, if you know not" (16.43; 21.7).

    ". . . those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find inscribed in the Torah and the Gospel that is with them, who enjoins upon them what is right, and forbids them what is wrong, and makes good things lawful for them and forbids them bad things, and relieves them of their burden and shackles that were upon them. Thus those who believe in him, honor him, help him, and follow the light that has been sent down with him; it is they who shall prosper" (7.157).

    "The Jews say, 'The Christians stand on nothing,' and the Christians say, 'The Jews stand on nothing,' though they recite the Book" (2.113).

    "He sent down the Book upon thee in truth, confirming what was before it, and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel aforetime, as a guidance to mankind. And He sent down the Criterion" (3.3).
    There are ayahs in the Koran that refer to a corrupted meaning, and not a corrupted text here: 2.75, 4.46, 5.13. I think this is what "corrupting the text" primarily means.

    "Do you hope, then, that they will believe you, seeing that a party of them would hear the Word of God and then distort it after they had understood it, knowingly?" (2.75)

    "Among those who are Jews are those who distort the meaning of the word, and say, 'We hear and disobey,' and 'Hear, as one who hears not!' and 'Attend to us!' twisting their tongues and disparaging religion. And had they said, 'We hear and obey' and 'Listen' and 'Regard us,' it would have been better for them and more proper. But God cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, save a few" (4.46).

    "Then for their breaking of their covenant, We cursed them and hardened their hearts. They distort the meaning of the Word, and have forgotten part of that whereof they were reminded. Thou wilt not cease to discover their treachery, from all save a few of them. So pardon them, and forbear. Truly God loves the virtuous" (5.13).



     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
  5. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    It could just be a difference of opinion, but I would say that the authors of the "New Bible" distorted it. The Gospel, or injeel, was sent with Isa (PBUH). and instead of those people who recorded it taking his words, they took the words of those about him and in various situations. When it was recorded in its final form it included words from Paul and others who had never heard "The Gospel" from Isa (PBUH). Again I'm not saying that parts of it aren't included in the text we have today, but rather it is not exactly as it was taught.
     
  6. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Great thread, interesting discussion, Christian lurking...
     
  7. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    In this thread you're saying the oral Gospel taught by Isa was partially changed once it was written down by the first Christian writers. In post #36 in another thread here you shared a different view:

    "Muslims in general believe that Allah sent the Torah, and the Gospel. And those texts were changed either unintentionally or intentionally over time, These were still valuable, until the Quran came to correct the corrupted partial God's words with a complete one."​

    Here you're saying Christians altered the text. I'm now assuming you mean both are true: the writers altered the oral teachings of Isa and altered NT texts. I'll take a look at the latter claim: "Muslims in general believe that Allah sent the Torah, and the Gospel. And those texts were changed either unintentionally or intentionally over time . . ."

    In the early period of Islam Muslims in general did not believe earlier texts were changed. In Caner K. Dagli's commentary (edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr) she contrasts the views of earlier and later Muslim commentators' over the issue of tahrif (which can be defined as the "corruption of a document, whereby the original sense is altered," according to Abdullah Saeed):

    "Although later Islamic commentators and theologians often held a view that the Jews and Christians actually changed the text of the Bible, as epitomized in the work of the fifth-/eleventh-century scholar Ibn Hazm, the earlier commentators were not as eager to dispute the text of the Bible and preferred to view the 'distortion' as an act of faulty and even malicious interpretation."
    Abdullah Saeed also supports this view here:

    "A significant point of tension between today’s Muslims and the ‘People of the Book’ (Jews and Christians) is the common Muslim belief that the Jewish and Christian scriptures that exist today are corrupted and cannot be relied upon in any matters of faith, religion or law. Although this is a popular view, most classical scholars of the Qur’an were far more cautious in their understanding of Qur’anic texts on this issue . . . Qur’anic words such as tahrif are popularly accepted today as referring to deliberate distortion of scripture; however, classical scholars have interpreted the Qur’an’s references in a number of different ways. Almost all suggested that distortion occurred mainly through interpretation and not in the text itself."
    Strange shift . . .:confused:
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  8. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    Very informative... But not sure we are saying much different. The original text and possibly a majority of those available in the time/place of Mouhammed (PBUH) were accurate. This stands with the other claims and can be displayed in the variations of the texts used to make the new age Bible. No 2 texts were the same. Yet they were picked from each to develop what we have now. Now why were these changes made when establishing the volume we have now? Interpretation. They interpreted a meaning and needed it to make since, so they took what makes that interpretation make since to create a book, which could still be understood if the right mindset were behind it. For instance 90% of the Gospels make since to me given the knowledge that it is 3rd person accounts (2nd at best at some points) about a very in depth subject. Heck even a lot of the books of Paul make since given that he was trying to convey what he had learned to be true, but without actual teaching from Jesus (PBUH) to correct his inconsistencies.
     
  9. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    So you're saying the tahrif of word and meaning both apply. It's not an either/or question for you. What you and early Muslim commentators are saying is very different.

    Ibn Abbas (618-657), a cousin of the Prophet, disagreed with you:

    "The word tahrif (corruption) signifies to change a thing from its original nature; and there is no man who could corrupt a single word from God . . . so that the Jews and Christians could corrupt only by misrepresenting the meaning of the words of God."​

    He is also quoted as saying:

    "'They corrupt the word' means 'they alter or change its meaning.' Yet no one is able to change even a single word from any Book of God. The meaning is that they interpret the word wrongly."
    And:

    "As for Allah's books, they are still preserved and cannot be changed."
    I was told his tafsir is above later Muslim commentators. For Ibn Abbas this issue is an either/or question.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2015
  10. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    Scientifically this has been proven false, Heck even in the last 100 years the words of the bible, even its structure has changed in various "versions". Again, are the words he intended to be in there in there? probably, but not necessarily. If they are equal in accuracy with the Quran, then how do you justify the teachings of Paul, Trinity, Jesus (PBUH) Dying on the cross? Now I've heard theories that Jesus (PBUH) was on the cross, but his pain was removed and he was protected from death, but that doesn't really make sense when you say he wasn't "Crucified".

    All in all The Original was not changed in word. I agree. The copies, were. Maybe not removed, but added to perhaps, only Allah knows all things. As I said the Bible still holds a very big place in my religious views, as it should for all Muslims, but to say that they are equal in accuracy, is (from an Islamic Standpoint) not possible. How many scrolls of Mark have been found from the first century? (i'm not sure actually) and how many of those match each other 100%. And IF there are some who match 100% are those the only references to the modern Bible? I'm pretty sure these answers exist, and they don't bode well for a discussion that the Gospels (as we have them today) are Allah's word exactly as was recorded.

    I'm not sure we will come to an agreement, but I'm really not seeing much of an actual difference in your argument and mine. I see your point, and it seems to be on target, but we are finding a different side of the base and swinging at the same ball. (that sounded clearer in my head... )
     
  11. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    I was expecting a different reply, Joe. Note Muslim tradition attributes both versions of tahrif - word and meaning - to Ibn Abbas. Anyway, since it appears you want to give me Ibn Abbas on this point, I'll take it! Thanks!

    You said 90% of the Gospels make sense, leaving us with an estimated 10% of corrupted text. Which verses do you believe were corrupted?

    Which teachings of Paul? Quote the corrupted passages, please. Be specific.

    I agree that the Koran criticizes the Trinity. Which verses in the NT clearly mention the Trinity and are corrupted? I noted 1 John 5.7-8 earlier as a possibility . . .

    Here we disagree. The Koran doesn't say: "Jesus wasn't crucified." Rather, it says: "They crucified him not." Big difference! We read:

    ". . . they did not slay him; nor did they crucify him, but it appeared so unto them."​

    This issue is so important I need to make a few points one-by-one.

    (1) Notice that in 4.157 this ayah does not come with a critique of Christian belief as we find with the other ayahs that critique the Trinity and the divinity of Christ (4.171; 5.73; 5.17, 72, 116; 9.31). 4.157 comes in the context of addressing the faithlessness of the Jewish people.

    (2) Consider the Koran echoes the NT affirmation that God has the power to take life. From this perspective a person could focus on God's sovereignty, saying, "They (the Jews) didn't crucify Jesus; God did." There are many related passages for discussion below from the Koran and NT:

    (3) Consider this: there isn't a unanimous rejection of Jesus' crucifixion in Muslim tafsir. Also, note a Christian named John of Damascus is the earliest account of any Muslim denial of the crucifixion. Scholar Todd Lawson, who wrote a book about the entire history of 4.157 and its interpretation, has my back on these two points:

    10th and 11th century Isma'ili scholars agreed with the NT account of the crucifixion. I'll note one example. Abu Hatim al-Razi, one of the Isma'ili scholars, reconciled the crucifixion in the NT text and Koran, saying:

    Todd Lawson has some interesting things to say about the context of Abu Hatim al-Razi's debate with another scholar over 4.157:


    There are many other Isma'ili scholars to point to, but you get the point. Interested in more perspectives on Jesus, the crucifixion, and Isma'ili? See Youtube here (10:57).

    (4) Remember, John of Damascus (675-749) was the first person we know to comment on the Muslim denial of Jesus' crucifixion. Around the same time period we find interesting Arabic inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock. It was constructed in the late 7th century, and contains no reference to Jesus' crucifixion. Why doesn't it record a denial of Jesus' crucifixion? Instead, it denies the Trinity and Jesus' divinity. Here's the inscription:


    This would be a perfect time to insert "Jesus wasn't crucified," yet there's no mention of it here. Just an interesting note.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015
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  12. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    Ahanu, I give you that you are much more versed in this argument than I. I will yield further discussion to someone more learned than I am. I am no scholar, merely a layman with some understanding. I leave a lot open for either way (in historical sense) due to the variations of thought (as I mentioned the possibility of Jesus being put on the cross), Although I may still find it unlikely.
    Within your analysis the rest is not repeated, is this part highlighted above not referring to an idea that it could not have been him?

    Since the 3 of these are inherently the same question, https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-The-Trinity/ . and yes I know some of these are simple misunderstandings. Arguably even the father, son, holy spirit thing is a misunderstanding considering the phrase could refer to God, Man, and Angels (or djinn or both). But why would someone need to baptize in the name of any but Allah (God). I get your point that it very could be a misunderstanding of meaning, however, IMO it is equally possible that the text we have today isn't exactly what was there originally, and that it isn't missing/adding anything. One could argue that Allah wouldn't allow man to remove any part of his word. But if that were true, are the books thrown out by protestants part of his word or not, did the Catholics have it right then it was messed up by the protestants? Or are the Protestants right and the fact they could throw books out of the Bible prove that those books were irrelevant. Or Is the Catholic Version complete, while the Protestant version is just an excerpt such as those mini NT editions handed out at church events. What about the Gnostics which include Epistle of Timothy (Or is it Thomas, I forget...)? There are many many scrolls of Christian Books that aren't included, Including several from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Again, Maybe there is an answer, But I'm not locked into one. For now, I read and filter through an Islamic lens (to the best of my ability)
    I cannot deny the possibility of either assumption. Therefore, all I can do is give a devils advocate answer, he ran out of room, many if not all those phrases are Ayat (my arabic or memory isn't great enough to verify atm) and that specific phrase did not come in the Quran. Again we are coming around to the same issue, is it implied or is it denied, etc.

    As I said, I am not one who has access to years of scholars materials, nor am I a scholar myself. It seems I may have stepped into something you are very schooled in and if the alternating view was accurate it would require a mind greater than mine to prove it. I do not, nor did I deny that it is possible. I hope you understand my ramblings. I'm just now getting to where I can breath without squinting due to an illness. I do know there are many many Muslims who say and teach otherwise, so I will see what their response may be.
     
  13. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    Also, since you are so keen on the idea they aren't corrupted, or changed, or mis-recorded in modern text, do you believe the earth is 5000 years old? How have these scholars explained this? or was Adam (PBUH) not the First Man, but rather the first Prophet in the line of the Abrahamics as has been suggested by some here?
     
  14. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Your translation isn't very good. Your translation reads:

    "And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain."​

    Whoever made this translation is clearly interpreting the text in a way that doesn't make sense.

    Here's a more objective translation:

    ". . . they did not slay him; nor did they crucify him, but it appeared so unto them."​

    "It," in the English translation above, refers to a specific event - the crucifixion. At least one can interpret it that way. Your translation assumes "it" refers to Jesus. Let's assume for a moment your translation is correct. If this is the case (and it is unlikely), then "someone or something is likened to him," says Todd Lawson. "Since this someone or something is never specified in the Qur'an, such a reading is impossible - presumably because one of the purposes of the Book is to instruct the faithful and an allusion to the unknown cannot be considered instructive." He explains more about this when he talks about Al-Zamakhshari's grammatical discussion of this ayah in his tafsir:


     
  15. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    An Isma'ili thinker named Nasr-i Khusraw (1004-1060) spoke about the unity of the scriptures and posed a challenge:

    "All the Books of God are the Qur'an without any difference. What the ignorant consider to be differences among the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an are not differences in meaning at all, but only in the exoteric aspect of the words, similitudes, and parables."​

    Earlier you made an objection based on the Trinity. Which Trinity? There are various interpretations of the Trinity. The first verse in your link quotes John 10.30: "I and [my] Father are one." This doesn't necessarily deny the Koranic view. One can accept the incarnation, for example, in a metaphorical sense instead of a literal sense. Consider this: In the Gospel of John Jesus indicates the Gospel shouldn't be taken literally (John 2.20-21, 3.4, 4.15).
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2015
  16. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, as I stated before, the Koranic view doesn't really support textual corruption, with the possible exception of a few specific verses directed against the Jews. "Truly it is We Who have sent down the Reminder, and surely We are its Preserver" (Koran 15.9). All the scriptures are Reminders (40.54, 21.7, 16.44).

    I don't think it is important. Protestants and Catholics preserve the Gospel. According to the USCCB here, Protestant Bibles and Catholic Bibles share 27 books in the NT (and, as far as I know, the differences here relate to the OT):

    "What's the difference between a 'Catholic Bible' and a 'Protestant Bible'?
    Catholic and Protestant Bibles both include 27 books in the New Testament. Protestant Bibles have only 39 books in the Old Testament, however, while Catholic Bibles have 46. The seven books included in Catholic Bibles are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch. Catholic Bibles also include sections in the Books of Esther and Daniel which are not found in Protestant Bibles. These books are called the deuterocanonical books. The Catholic Church considers these books to be inspired by the Holy Spirit."​

    I don't know why Protestants didn't include the OT books above.

    Or what about the Ebionites? According to one Church Father, they only accepted the Gospel of Matthew. In my opinion, the Koran sticks to speaking about the Christian community as a whole. See the ayah below:


    "And believe in that which I have sent down, confirming that which you have with you, and be not the first to disbelieve in it . . ." (2.41)​


    When I read "confirming that which you have with you," I think it supports the teachings of the Gospel, which is generally accepted by the majority of the Christian community.

    For me it just depends on how far "the Christian Books" diverge from the Gospel. For example, Infancy Gospel of Thomas doesn't diverge much from the Gospels as it tries to explain more about Jesus' childhood, draws on Luke as a source, lists numerous miracles, and focuses on Mary at the end. The Koran shows knowledge of the Gospel of Luke and John. Sometimes what a Christian did or didn't include doesn't matter. For example, Marcion omitted OT passages from the Gospel of Luke. But the Gospel of Luke had already reached a large population, so this change didn't last. For a Muslim argument about the impossibility of textual alteration after the scriptures have reached a large population, see Al-Razi.

    So how do you read Koran 2.41 above? I'm aware of another interpretation. Just curious about your perspective. The Koran includes a story from Infancy Gospel of Thomas, a popular text in the Christian community during the emergence of Islam. Although this book is outside the NT, it doesn't seem to change anything theologically. It simply recounts the miraculous feats of Jesus in his childhood. Whether or not Muhammad accepted the entire Infancy Gospel of Thomas is unknown.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2015
  17. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    I was mainly giving reference to the fact that many are perceived, and the other place there the "father, son, and holy spirit" is mentioned is in Matthew, which is from a source that that is different that the majority of the scrolls. The verses don't exist in most. The father and I quote is one that I mentioned being misunderstood.
    And yet the Aya 4:157 mentioned earlier calls out the crucifixion event and Isa (PBUH) dying directly and informing them they have the wrong idea. Now I do see where what you are saying it is meaning could be interpreted as such. but when it comes down to it,
    is the main reason we cannot take the Bible as God's revelation, nor the prophets (PBUTA) words. From biblical teachings Jesus (PBUH) often referred to the book of Isaiah and the Torah. So we know that IF these statements are true that he acknowledged these books and only changed or added to them as he stated. Again, I'm no scholar, and I never claim it. My opinion is just that.
    I realize this is a translation, and forgive my interpretation if the Arabic is more revealing. To me, this is saying that the Ayas that came to confirm what they already knew (one God, Not a man, no form, Prophets and their stories (PBUTA), etc) are to be believed in certainty, and not to disbelieve in them, and certainly do not do so for a small price (gold, food, etc). Essentially saying I've taught you this before, and you can surely be sure that these Aya are a matter of Fact that can be referenced in their old ways., and not something new. If this isn't clear I will try again.

    In the meantime, from your understanding what are the early scholars views on the timelines that are given, making evidence to the young earthers? I've never found evidence that early scholars though the earth was only a few thousand years old at the time of the Prophet (PBUH)
     
  18. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    Oh, sorry, I forgot about this question. I'm a little confused by what you mean.

    I assume you're talking about early Muslim scholars? Or are you talking about early Christian scholars? Just want to be sure . . .
     
  19. BigJoeNobody

    BigJoeNobody Professional Argument Attractor

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    Whichever, I have heard multiple sources from both sides discuss it, and then the multiple sides of the Christian perspective alone. I've never once heard an Islamic teaching about how the Bible is 100% accurate, and this has always been at the easy example of such. I'm just wondering what you might have picked up. Since you seem to be more keen on early Islamic Scholars. I have mostly been referencing people who have referenced them in my studies, and your perspective is quite different.
     
  20. Ahanu

    Ahanu Well-Known Member

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    The Koran reads:

    "Truly your Lord is God, Who created the heavens and the earth in six days, then mounted the Throne . . . " (7.54)​

    According to Ismai'li thinkers, the six days of creation are six periods of revelation (Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad). But who existed before Adam? Ali is reported to have answered this question in the following way:

    "Once a person went to 'Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, and said, 'Ya 'Ali, who was there before Adam?' And he said, 'Adam'. 'But who was there before that Adam?' And he said, 'Adam. And if you continue to ask me this question to the Day of Judgment, I shall continue to say Adam.'"​

    This obviously means our planet is more than 5,000 years old.
     

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