Do Earlier Scriptures Complete the Quran?

Question and answer details
Erin Marie Peck
For Muslims, is it important to read and know about the other Holy Books that have been written? Like the Torah, Bible, Book of Mormon, etc... I have read most of the bible in my early years, and when I read the Quran, it touched on some of the stories. For instance, when speaking about Moses, it doesn't touch on the plagues, at least not in my translation. But in the Bible it does. So, my question is, do Muslims need to read everything so that when reading the Quran it is complete? I hope I phrased my question right. Many Blessings to you!!!
Shahul Hameed
Salam Dear Sister,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

In order to understand the Muslim position on Jewish and Christian scriptures, you need to first know what Islam is.

The word "Islam" stands for submission to God Almighty. Muslims believe that from the very beginning of mankind, God had been sending His prophets to guide mankind along the straight path. The first man, Adam (peace be on him), was the first prophet too, as he taught Divine guidance to his family.

As humanity grew in number and started living in different places as societies, new prophets came to teach them how to live in obedience to God. These prophets included Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus (peace be on them all) among others. They all preached the same religion, namely: Worship the One and Only God of the universe and lead a virtuous life here on earth in obedience to His Law.

This Divine religion as taught by Moses is now called Judaism (a name derived from Judah, the eldest son of Prophet Jacob); and the same religion as taught by Jesus is now called Christianity (named after Jesus Christ).

But in its original form, the religion of Moses, Jesus and other prophets was the same Divine religion, Islam – that is, a life of submission and obedience to the One True God.

What happened was that after a prophet's time, the religion of God became corrupted or distorted because of various reasons. One reason was the misinterpretations made by the priests or the elders out of their own selfishness and lack of faith. God sent prophets again to remind the people of the essential religion and bring them back to it. 

The Book sent by God to Moses is known as the Torah (usually translated, "the Law"). It is a book of Divine guidance that contained the Laws of God for humans. Moses taught his followers to live in accordance with the Divine commandments contained in the Torah. But God had foretold to Moses about the coming of a Messiah from among his own brethren.

It was during the reign of Emperor Tiberius Caesar that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, in Judea. When he was thirty years old, he started preaching to the people of Jerusalem and around. He claimed he was the expected Messiah.

A good number of the Jews of the time did not receive him as the Messiah. Those Jews who followed him became his disciples, who later came to be known as Christians.

Before the disappearance of Jesus from earth, he told his followers that a "Spirit of Truth" or "Comforter" will come after him to complete the Religion of God (John 16:7,8 & 16:12-14).

Muslims believe that "the Comforter" and "the Spirit of Truth" prophesied by Jesus was the same as "the Prophet like Moses" foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 18:17-19).

An objective study will show how the qualities mentioned in the prophecies of both Moses and Jesus (referred to above) are evident in Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the final prophet of God through whom God completed His guidance for man.

Islam as taught by Prophet Muhammad is thus seen by Muslims as the culmination and completion of the same religion taught by Moses and Jesus, indeed by all the prophets (peace be on them all) sent by Allah Almighty.

Like Jews and Christians, Muslims believe that God revealed words of guidance to humanity from the very beginning. We have records of these in the form of Books, such as the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel, and the Quran. It is clear that the Bible in its present form contains portions of these revelations.

It is well-attested by Judeo-Christian scholars that the Bible is a collection of writings done in different periods of history, by different writers. The various denominations of Christianity are not in agreement on the canon — which is a list of books accepted by the Church as authoritative or divinely inspired — of the Christian Bible.

While most of these books are agreed upon by almost all Christians, there are some books that are not universally accepted. Protestants call them Apocrypha and reject them; while Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox Church call them Deuterocanonical Books — second canon — and accept them as divinely inspired.

It is only an extreme position held only by some Christian groups that the Bible — in its entirety — is the revealed word of God. But the presence of so many contradictions and patently questionable ideas makes this claim untenable.

The verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), in the course of 23 years of his life, as and when events in the unfolding development of the religion of God called for Divine guidance.

As soon as the Prophet received these verses, he dictated them to his disciples, who not only wrote them down, but also learned them by heart. There were so many people who had memorized the Quran that we can say that from the first day of its revelation as it were, the Quran was in the hands and hearts of the people.

Moreover, God promises in the Quran that He would protect it. We read, for example:

 {Certainly, it was We Who revealed the Reminder (the Quran) and certainly We shall preserve it.} (Al-Hijr 15:9)

In the light of the foregoing, the following facts may be noted:

1. The Quran is a completion and corroboration of all the truths revealed in the earlier Books.

2. There is no reason in assuming that the Quran cannot be a complete book of guidance unless the stories of the Bible are accepted to supplement its narrations, because the Quran does not omit anything that is essential for a complete Divine guidance.

3. The Quran does not confirm the whole of the Bible as a correct record of Divine revelation, because the Bible contains additions, emendations, and interpolations made by its handlers all through history.

4. The stories of the ancient prophets as narrated by the Bible authors may contain details that are not in the Quran, or omit details that are in the Quran. As for the story of the Pharaoh and Moses, there are references in the Quran about the plagues: For instance, see this verse:

{Thereupon We let loose upon them floods, and (plagues of) locusts, and lice, and frogs, and (water turning into) blood distinct signs (all): but they gloried in their arrogance, for they were people lost in sin.} (Al-Aaraf 7:133)

5. To believe in the earlier scriptures is obligatory for Muslims; though reading them is optional. But certainly Muslims are encouraged to study them. And at the same time, the Quran speaks of the corruption of ancient scriptures too; and so Muslims should be careful about those details in the Bible that are not confirmed by the Quran, as Allah Almighty tells Prophet Muhammad in the Quran:

{To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what God hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee…} (Al-Ma'idah 5:48)

The Arabic phrase used in the Quran, meaning "guarding in safety" is: "Muhaiminan". Yusuf Ali, one of the most famous English translators of the Quran has this to say about this expression:

The Quran safeguards "the Book", for it has preserved within it the teachings of all the former Books. It watches over these Books in the sense that it will not let their true teachings be lost. It supports and upholds these Books in the sense that it corroborates the Word of Allah which has remained intact in them.

It stands a witness because it bears testimony to the Word of Allah contained in these Books and helps to sort it out from the interpretations and commentaries of the people which were mixed with it: what is confirmed by the Quran is the Word of Allah and what is against it is that of the people.

So it is clear that the expression, "confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety" indicates that the confirmation applies only to the truth that remains in the book, and not to all the spurious things that might have crept into it in course of time.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.


Useful Links:

Scriptures Before the Quran

Understanding the Quran & Other Questions

Revelation: Proof & Guidance

The Story of the Quran

Today's Quran: The Same Revelation?

The History of the Bible and the Quran

How Does Allah Protect the Quran and Islam?

How Were the Quran and the Bible Compiled?

Could the Quran Be a Copy of the Bible?

Proving the Quran Is the Word of God