Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Comparing the scriptures: a glance at Biblical and Quranic texts



This article is not designed to antagonize nor offend readers of any faith. Nor is it a polemical device. Rather, it is an educational and discussion tool, on a subject we have been long asked to address. The reader is encouraged to verify the quotations for themselves. The Biblical references are from the NIV [NIV study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2002 edition] unless otherwise stated, and the Quranic texts are translated by the author, unless otherwise stated.

God concept

The basic idea or understanding of how to conceptualize the Almighty is the same as between the Bible and the Qur'an.

"I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the ways you should go.." [Isaiah 48:18]

"God is not a man that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind." [Numbers 23:19]

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one." [Deuteronomy 6:4]

"Say: He is Allah alone! Allah the eternal. He does not give birth, nor was he given birth to, and nothing exists like him. "[Qur'an 112:1-4]

 "And place your trust in the Living One [Al-Hayy] who does not die, and celebrate his praise, and he is sufficient as aware of the sins of his servants" [Qur'an 25:58]

 “Allah![1]  Nothing deserves worship except He, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal. Slumber does not overtake him, neither does sleep. To Him belongs what is in the Heavens and what is in the Earth. Who possesses abilities of intercession, except by His permission? He knows what is between them, and what is behind them. None grasp of his knowledge, except by his will. His throne encompasses the Heavens and the Earth, He does not tire in protecting them both, and He is the Most High, the Magnificent” [Q 2:255]


 “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
 “You shall not murder.
 “You shall not commit adultery.
 “You shall not steal.
 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”[Deuteronomy 5:16-21]

 "Hence, do not kill your children for fear of poverty : it is We[#2] who shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily, killing them is a great sin.And do not commit adultery  -for, behold, it is an abomination and an evil way.And do not take any human being's life -[the life] which God has willed to be, sacred-otherwise than in [the pursuit of] justice.  Hence, if anyone has been slain wrongfully, We have empowered the defender of his rights [to exact a just retribution] ;  but even so, let him not exceed the bounds of equity in [retributive] killing.  [And as for him who has been slain wrongfully -] behold, he is indeed succoured [by God] !And do not touch the substance of an orphan, save to improve it, before he comes of age.  And be true to every promise - for, verily, [on Judgment Day] you will be called to account for every promise which you have made !
" [ 17:31-34 Muhammad Asad translation, The Message of the Qur'an]

Broadly speaking, these two topics are arguably the most important. The two scriptures share the same vision here. While differences do exist between the two, it is the similarities that outweigh the differences.

[1] "Allah" is the name of God in Arabic, just as Dios is in Spanish and  Khuda in Farsi and Urdu. It refers to the One and Only God.

[2] "WE" refers to God himself. The plural used is a royal plural, given to denote grandeur and authority. The Bible repeatedly uses this, such as in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God [Elohim] created the heavens and the Earth." Elohim is plural of Eloh!