What is the Kitabul Muqaddas?
Al-Kitabul Muqaddas (الكتاب المقدس) means simply “The Holy Book” in Arabic, just as “Holy Bible” comes from the Latin for “Holy Book.” It is comprised of:
- The Tawrah (Hebrew: תורה, Arabic: التوراة) or Torah of the Prophet Moses
- The Zabur (Hebrew: תהילים, Arabic: الزبور) or Psalms of the Prophet David
- The Prophetic Writings (Hebrew: נביאים, Arabic: الأنبياء) or Imbiya’t of various other prophets
- The Injīl (Greek: Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Arabic: الإنجيل)
The Tawrah (Hebrew: תורה, Arabic: التوراة)
In the Taurah or Torah revealed to the Prophet Moses three and a half thousand years ago, we find the account of creation and the history of all the prophets up until the time of Moses, including Adam (p), Noah (p), Abraham (p), `Īsāac (p) and Jacob (p). We learn from the Taurat that God created the world perfect and sinless, but Shaitan tempted Adam into the first sin. Even since, humanity has been plagued by this tendency towards sinful rebellion against God, which is the root of all the pain in the world today. The Taurah tells us that God called our father Abraham to start a model community of God’s people, which was intended to attract all the nations back to God. So God called Abraham to travel a thousand miles from present-day Iraq to the area of Jerusalem to start this model community. No better location could have been chosen, as this was at the intersection of the three main continents of ancient civilization as well as the hub of the major trade routes. This became the central location of God’ model community, the Bani-Israel, for over a thousand years. All the major prophets ministered in this area and were descendents of Abraham in this ‘model community’: Ibrahim, Ishaq, Yaqub, Musa, Harun, Dawood, Sulaiman, Elias, Al-Yasa, Zakaria, Yahya, and `Īsā Al-Masih all were in this line of descent, the Bani-Israel, and focused in their ministries on this geographical region. According to the Taurat, God established a special covenant relationship with these people which was not based primarily on the Law but on faith in God. In addition to these historical accounts, the Taurat contains the Laws which God gave through Moses for the Israelite peoples. This Law code contains universal rules of basic righteousness, justice and morality, such as banning idolatry, adultery, theft and murder. It also had rules specifically for the Israelites, such as civil regulations about government, warfare. Thirdly, it outlined rules of animal sacrifice for atonement of sin, intended to make the Israelites aware of the necessary consequences of sin and the need for atonement or payment. This Law was never intended as a way for God’s People to earn their own salvation; the Taurat makes it clear that salvation only comes on God’s own merit and his righteousness, not through our good works. Instead, the Taurat makes it clear that the Law of Moses was intended specifically for Israel’s descendants in the region of Palestine for their own welfare, not as a timeless universal Law code. There is in fact no verse anywhere in the Taurat which promises heaven for those who obey the Law; that is simply an arrogant human idea. The function of the Law is to show us the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, to make us aware of our sinfulness, for salvation only comes by God’s grace and through the merit of His own Righteousness. When God first established His covenant with Abraham, he made it clear that God would bring salvation through one of Abraham’s descendants, and through faith in this future Savior rather than good works. Before the Prophet Abraham had even received any laws, the Taurat says that he believed God’s promises and “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Salvation comes through submission of the heart to God and His Word, not through keeping a law code; though righteous living is the natural result and evidence of a surrendered heart. As the Taurah predicted in Deuteronomy 28, the Israelite people frequently did not obey God’s Law, and so God sent numerous prophets to them to turn them back to repentance and obedience.
The Zabur (Hebrew: תהילים, Arabic: الزبور)
This brings us to the Prophet David, King of the Israelites, who under divine inspiration wrote hymns of devotion recorded in the Zabur or Psalms. These Psalms are beautiful prayers of repentance and love of God.
Yet I am always with you;you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalms 73:23-26)
The Psalms make it even clearer that salvation cannot be earned through good works, but rather comes through God’s own provision of righteousness:
“no one living is righteous before you.” (143:2)If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (130:3-4)
The Prophetic Writings (Hebrew: נביאים, Arabic: الأنبياء)
This portion of scripture consists of the Prophetic writings, both prophecy and historical narrative concerning the Prophets. Many of these prophets predicted a coming “Messiah” who would save people from their sins. Many details of his life were predicted in the Scriptures, but the clearest prediction is found in Isaiah 53:
“But he [the Messiah] was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter… …he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:5-7,12)
The Injīl (Greek: Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Arabic: الإنجيل)
This brings us to the Prophet Jesus, who is given by both the Qur’an and Injil the unique titles of “Messiah” and “God’s Word” (see footnote for more)1 Jesus came not to replace the previous Taurat or Zabur with a new scripture, but to reveal the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation. This is why he said, “I have not come to abolish the Taurat, but to fulfill it.” Jesus taught no less than eighteen times directly, and many more times indirectly, that salvation could not be earned but came only through faith in God’s grace which came through his substitutionary death for our sins. Jesus was the only person in history who had the right to redeem others from their sins, since Jesus alone in history was totally free from sin. Both the Qur’an and the Bible mention the sins of prophets like Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon, Yunus, and even Muhammad, though all these were good men. In contrast, neither the Bible nor Qur’an ever mentions a sin of Jesus, and instead both Qur’an and Bible call him “sinless” and “righteous.” The Qur’an and Bible also compare him with Adam; Adam brought condemnation to all humanity through one act of sin, and Jesus brought salvation to all humanity through one act of redemption. Even the Sahih Hadith relates that all humanity except Jesus were touched by Shaitan at the moment of birth, but Jesus alone was untainted. Jesus is uniquely called the Word of God because he is the Living expression of God’s Character and Will. A Word, or Kalam in Arabic or logos in Greek, is an expression or communication of something. This is what Jesus was, he was the expression of God’s character and will. Jesus did not write a scripture, he brought the “Gospel,” (meaning “Good News”) of salvation from sin. Simply stated, the good news Jesus taught is that God has provided a way of salvation from sins through Jesus’ substitutionary death on our behalf, and we can be reconciled with God and saved through repentance, submission and following Jesus. The Scriptures called the Injil are the divinely inspired record of Jesus’ life and teachings which express this Gospel, as well as the testimonies of the first generation of Jesus’ disciples.
- The angel Jibrail instruct Maryam to call his name “Jesus,” which in Hebrew means “The Lord Saves,” indicating Jesus’ unique role as God’s provision of Salvation for humanity. God often named prophets according to their primary task; as the father of humanity Adam means “man”; Abraham’s name given by God means “father of many”; Moses, who brought the Israelites out of Pharaoh’s bondage, literally means “brought out,” and in the same way Jesus’ name indicated his primary role as Savior.