God’s Word of Man’s Word?
“The Qur’ān is all God’s Word, but the Bible is a mixture of God’s Words, the prophets’ own words, and historian or narrator’s words.”
This objection is built on a totally false understanding of what ‘God’s Word’ (كلمةﷲ) is. The critic imagines that God’s Word cannot be anything but first-person statements from God to humanity, as though it is a recording of verbal utterances of God. This mistaken idea actually would then also disqualify the Qur’ān from being God’s Word, for by this standard the Qur’ān similarly contains God’s Words, men’s words, and even Jibrail’s words. Most of the Qur’ān is God addressing humanity, first person. By contrast, Sura Fatihah is a prayer from man to God.1 Likewise, Sura Maryam contains a statement of Gabriel: “We descend only at the bidding of Your Lord” (19:63). According to Muslim commentators, these are the words of the angel Gabriel, in reply to Muhammad’s complaint of long intervals elapsing between periods of revelation.
So this mistaken definition of “Word of God” will clearly not do. “God’s Word” more accurately means “God’s Message”—it is his complete message for mankind revealing “everything we need for life and godliness.”2 God’s Will has been revealed through historical events and various prophets, and God divinely inspired certain people to record this history in just the way he desired so that it would correctly portray his truth and will. In fact, this is one of the beautiful marks of the perfection of God’s Word that it contains within itself all that is necessary for a life of faith. There is no need for worrying about which hadith is reliable or not to decide what God wants—the Word of God contains within itself everything that he needs us to know. It is full and complete, the total Counsel of God for man.
Another reason the Holy Injil contains the writings of Jesus’ apostiles is this. In the case of most prophets, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, God entrusted them with a specific message as the “Word of God,” and so that prophet’s scripture was that specific “Word of God.” However, Jesus was different than all other prophets in that he himself was the “Word of God,” the living communication sent from God. Because of this, his scriptures are also different—they are divinely-inspired records of the actions and words of this “Word of God,” recorded under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration by Jesus’ disciples.
- Perhaps this is why Ubayy ibn Ka’b (whom the Sahih Bukhari calls one of the best Qur’ānic reciters) did not include Fatihah in his copy of the Qur’ān, as Surah Al-Hijr explicitly lists Fatihah separately from the “Qur’ān”: “And We have bestowed upon thee the Seven oft-repeated verses and the Grand Qur’ān.” (15:87).
- . Holy Injil, 2 Peter 1:3.