This discussion is confined to the issues of styles of expression and the language of the divine books. The divine laws and rulings and the historical narratives and their use and purpose will be taken up in a separate section.
It is known that teachings of Jesus Christ, though recorded in Greek, were originally delivered in Hebrew. Both the Torah and the Gospels were delivered in the same language. This is also clear to all that Arabic and Hebrew, the languages of the divine revelations, share the same origin. They necessarily share many things and each one of them may be taken as a guide towards understanding the language of the other. The major themes discussed in these books are also common to all of them. All have sprouted from the pure stream of divine inspiration. It is only natural that they contain similarity. Another important fact to be considered is that the Holy Qur’ān promises that it will explain to us the issues left unclear to the People of the Book. This renders it useful to know what issues the Book targets to explain. Another worth considering point is that the Holy Qur’ān came confirming the previous revelations. Therefore, understanding similarity between the Holy Qur’ān and the Previous Scriptures, and their unity of purport strengthens our belief in them. The Holy Qur’ān targets removing the differences that arose among the People of the Book and settling their disputations. All other books are basically an inspired message coded in the words of the prophets and are in a kind of verse. This obliges the students of these books to study them in the light of the Holy Qur’ān. The earlier books have been abrogated and their language has died out. If someone intends to study them he should take help from the language of the Holy Qur’ān for understanding their language.
I have stressed these points because I believe that many things mentioned in the Torah and the Gospels have caused dispersion among the adherents of these books. Had they been acquainted with Arabic they would have been able to see the right course. Jesus Christ rightly said that, “man is cast in abyss by the words and is saved by reaching at its true meanings.” They, on the contrary, fell upon the words and got lost. The case of Muslims is no much different. Some of the Muslims even dare to make a mock of verses of the Gospels. If only they could discover the affinity of such verses with that of the Qur’ān they would have appreciated that they are obliged to have faith in the facts, which they usually poke fun at, first of all. The Holy Qur’ān obliges us to believe in things we are not clear about. I do not see any reason why this directive is not applied to our attitude towards the previous scriptures. The Holy Qur’ān unequivocally states that rejecting a divine command merely because one cannot understand its real meaning incurs a great sin.
بَلْ كَذَّبُواْ بِمَا لَمْ يُحِيطُواْ بِعِلْمِهِ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِهِمْ تَأْوِيلُهُ كَذَلِكَ كَذَّبَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَانظُرْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الظَّالِمِينَ
But they belied what they could not grasp and they have not yet seen its real manifestation. Likewise did those before them. But see what the end of the wrongdoers was. (10:39)
Similarly the Prophet (sws) said:
لا تصدقوا أهل الكتاب ولا تكذبوهم
Do not confirm what the People of the Book report (from their sacred books for they have failed to preserve it) and do not reject it either (for its antecedent may not have yet manifested to you).
It would be right to think that an attempt to interpret the Qur’ānic text in the light of the earlier divine books may cause us misconstrue the text because these books have been exposed to manipulation and have been changed and corrupted. I do not advocate the view that the Qur’ān should be interpreted in the light of these scriptures in the first place. What I maintain is that the verses of the Qur’ān should be pondered in the light of their parallels by an expert of its language. Then if he finds something in the Scriptures which is akin to the statement of the Holy Qur’ān in meaning and style of expression, or is closely related with a Qur’ānic assertion, then pondering over both and comparing their style of expression may help us understand the eloquence of the Holy Qur’ān. Apart from this, if, in a certain case we prefer one of the various meanings of a plurivocal Qur’ānicword or expression we may grow more confident in our interpretation once it is corroborated by the earlier revelations. We will also, then, become clear over the meaning and signification of certain things mentioned in the earlier books which have been unclear to us. This will also help the scholars among the followers of the earlier revelations understand the veracity of the last revelation of God and will assist our scholars appreciate the veracity of their book. It will, in turn, create a positive relation between the followers of the Qur’ān and that of the other Scriptures and will eventually open the ways to guidance for the latter.
Quite the contrary, we find that many Muslims make a mock at the verses of the Gospels. One can only complain to God of such an unbecoming behavior. Muslims may not ignore the fact that they have been allowed to argue with others in a beautiful and decent manner. The Almighty has strictly forbidden using invective language for others. We see that this attitude from our side has only widened the gulf of difference between the adherents of the two faiths and has, as a result, made it much difficult for the People of the Book to submit to the truth. If the Holy Qur’ān contains clear and plain truth we need not worry. Truth always prevails. Light is bound to remove darkness. We cannot think of a more sound reasoning for us than to put both the sources before us equally and give the choice to the people to select what is evidently right and authentic. Those gifted with pure nature and sound understanding will not find it difficult to decide which one to choose. Concerning people with this quality the Holy Qur’ān says:
الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ
Those who hear a saying and follow the best of it. (39:18)
The above mentioned facts force me to find out what the Old and the New Testaments contain. I have pursued this course with pure and true intentions and I have complete faith in God. I resort to Him alone for help through the path of virtue.
A separate introduction will be devoted to the discussion over the factors which caused the Christians go astray and erroneously interpret their sacred texts. The whole edifice of the Christian theology has been founded on such erroneous interpretations. These issues include the meaning and explanation of the words ‘ab’ (father for God) and ‘ibn’ (son for Jesus), transformation of the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus, Jesus’ statement that God will make him sit at His right hand, that he will descend among the army of angels to judge the people on the Last Day, that he will send parcletus to instruct them in details of the Sharī‘ah and that the generation of his time will observe with their very eyes what he had threatened them with. The real meaning and manifestation of all these references, with the help of God, will be explained.