Qur’an ‘preserves’ Previous Scriptures?

“The Qur’ān was sent down because of the corruption of the previous Scriptures.”

Fundamentalists like Zakir Naik have spread the un-Qur’ānic idea that the Qur’ān was revealed because the previous scriptures had been changed. This notion is nowhere to be found in the Qur’ān. The Qur’ān in fact says the opposite, that the Qur’ān was given to confirm ( saddaqa ) the previous scriptures:

“And before this, was the Book of Moses as a guide and a mercy: And this Book confirms it in the Arabic tongue ; to admonish the unjust, and as Glad Tidings to those who do right.” (Al-Ahqaf 46:12)

The Qur’ān was revealed in “clear Arabic” so that the Arab peoples could share in the divine knowledge that up till then had been unknown to them. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, confirm means to “give approval to” or “give new assurance of the validity of.”

Those who teach that the Qur’ān replaces the previous scriptures use the following verse:

“It confirms the Scriptures which came before it and stands as a guardian over them.” (5:48)

According to them, the Qur’ān is a “guardian” ( muhayim) in that it preserves the original correct content of the corrupted scriptures. Yet this interpretation clearly contradicts “confirm” in the same sentence, so we must interpret “guardian” in the same positive sense as confirmer. According to the eminent Muslim translator Yusuf Ali, muhayim in this verse “means one who safeguards, watches over, stands witness, preserves, and upholds.”

The Qur’ān uses the same word “confirm” (saddaqa) for Jesus’ attitude to the Tawrat (5:46). Jesus did not teach that the Torah should be henceforth ignored or that it was textually corrupted, he taught that it was unchangeable, sacred Scripture which should be read and understood. This is exactly what the Qur’ān is saying of the previous scriptures.

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