Quoting the Bible for Dawah Purposes

Q. I heard a Maulana saying that it is Biddat to quote the Bible to do Daw’ah to the Ahle-Kitab (People of the Book; i.e. the Jews and the Christians). I would like to get the answer from Dr. Zakir Naik whether it is allowed as he very often quotes the Bible.

Basheer A. Hamid: basheer_siddiqui@yahoo.co.uk

A. Although majority of the Muslim Scholars find nothing wrong in the act of quoting the scriptures of Ahle-Kitaab (People of the Book; i.e. the Jews and the Christians) for the purpose of Daw’ah, there are some Muslims who harbour a misconception that it is wrong to do so. Some of the Scholars among them state that ‘those Muslims who quote the Bible are doing Bid’ah’. It will be pertinent to know the relevance of the evidence provided by these people to substantiate their claim. The only Hadith that is very often quoted by them is as follows:

“Narrated Jabir Ibn Abdullah :
Umar ibn al-Khattab brought to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) a copy of the Torah and said: ‘Allah’s Messenger, this is a copy of the Torah’. He (Allah’s Messenger) kept quiet and he (Umar) began to read it. The colour of the face of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) underwent a change, whereupon Abu Bakr said: “Would that your mother mourn you, don’t you see the face of Allah’s Messenger?’ Umar saw the face of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and said: ‘I seek refuge with Allah from the wrath of Allah and the wrath of His Messenger. We are well pleased with Allah as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as Prophet’. Whereupon Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said : ‘By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, even if Moses were to appear before you and you were to follow him, leaving me aside, you would certainly stray into error; for if (Moses) were alive (now), and he found my prophetical ministry, he would have definitely followed me’.

(Sunan Ad-Darimi, Vol. 1, Hadith No. 435)
Based on the Hadith quoted above, some scholars insist that it is forbidden for the Muslims to quote the Bible, regardless of the purpose behind quoting it since the Prophet (pbuh) expressed his displeasure when Umar (R.A.) read the Torah. However, here the objection of the prophet (pbuh) was mainly on reading the Torah for guidance, as can be understood by Umar’s prompt reafiirmation and satisfaction with Allah as lord, with Islam as religion and with Muhammad (pbuh) as messenger. The Prophet’s (pbuh) remark further clarifies that even if Moses was alive, he would have definitely followed him, meaning Moses (pbuh) too would have followed the Qur’an and the teachings of Muhammad (pbuh). Thus those Muslim Da’ees who quote the Old Testament or the New Testament of the Bible for the purpose of Daw’ah do not quote it with the intention of following them or seeking guidance from them, because the ultimate and the best of the guidance is found in the last and the final testament, the Glorious Qur’an and the authentic Ahadith. Says Allah in the Qur’an:

“This day have I perfected your religion for you completed my favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Al-Qur’an 5:3)

With regards to quoting the Bible for the purpose of Daw’ah, the authentic sources of knowledge of Islam indicate beyond any doubt that it is permissible for the Muslims to do so.

Let us first analyse the following verse of the Qur’an :

Say : “O people of the book! Come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not from among ourselves Lords and patrons other than Allah.” If then they turn back say: “Bear witness that we (atleast) are Muslims (bowing to Allah’s will).”

In the verse quoted above, Allah instructs Muslims to invite the Ahle-Kitab to common terms, with the first term being the oneness of Allah. How will a Muslim get to common terms without knowing the terms of the faith of Ahle-Kitab? It is either through studying their scriptures, or is it to be presumed that all Muslims are well versed with their term ? If a person tries to know the common terms just by looking at the followers of Christianity, he will be in a dilemma as to what the common terms are, because majority of the Christians believe in many diverse concepts, several of which are contrary to the teaching of the Bible.

Let us analyse some more verses of the Qur’an :

“ All food was lawful to the children of Israel except what Israel made unlawful for itself before the Law of Moses was revealed. Say: “Bring you the Law (Torah) and study it if you be men of truth.” (Al Qur’an 3:93)

Allah also says : And they (the jews and the Christians) say: “None shall enter paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian”. Those are their (vain) desires. Say :” Produce your proof if you are truthful.” (Al-Qur’an 2:111)

In the verse Quoted above Allah (swt) commands us to demand for proof for the claims of the Jews and the Christians. And they have produced the only proof they have – i.e. the Bible, in over two thousand different languages of the world. Are we going to swallow their ‘proof’ hook, line and sinker? It is presupposed that when Allah commands us to demand for proof, that we would analyse the proof, once it is produced. Otherwise it makes no sense to demand proof.

The following Hadith from Sahih Al Bukhari further substantiates that it is permissible to quote the scriptures of the Ahle-Kitab:

Narrated Abdullah bin Amr

The Prophet said, “Convey (my teachings) to the people even if it were a single sentence, and tell others the stories of Bani Israel, for it is not sinful to do so. And whoever tells a lie on me intentionally, will surely take his place in the (Hell) Fire.”

(Sahih Al Bukhari, Vol. 4, Hadith no. 3461)

There are some scholars who interprets this Hadith by saying that the permission to quote the stories of Bani Israel and that this Hadith refers to the stories mentioned in the Qur’an, and not in the Scriptures of Ahle-Kitab. However, we should understand the Hadith according to the understanding of the narrator of the Hadith, Abdullah bin Amr (R.A.), the companion of the Prophet (pbuh), because the narrator’s understanding would be far more accurate than the different understanding of all the modern interpreters put together.

Ibn Kathir comments on this Hadith as follows: “This Hadith from ‘Abdullah bin Amr was collected by Al-Bukhari (Fath Al Bari 6:572). This is why when ‘Abdullah bin Amr’ had possession of two books from the people of the scriptures on the day (battle) of Yarmuk , he used to narrate what was in them, because of what he understood of the hadith that allowed this practice.”

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Vol. 1, page no. 31)

The Hadith quoted above should be proof enough even for the most skeptics among those who object to quoting the Bible for the purpose of Daw’ah.

Following is the translation of the words of Shaykhul-Islam Ibn-Taymiyyah taken from ‘Majmu’atul-Fatawa’, Vol. 7, Part no. 13, paged 196-197, as well as Tafsir Ibn Kathir, abridged, Vol. 1, page no. 31: “Yet, the Israelite accounts and stories should only be used as supporting evidence, not as evidence themselves. There are three types of these accounts and tales; a kind that we are sure is authentic because we have in our religion something that testifies to its truth. The second type is what we know to be false based on what we have. The third is of neither type. Hence we neither affirm nor deny this type, and we allowed to narrate it because of the Hadith that we mentioned…..”

Let us analyse the following Hadith :

Narrated Ibn Umar

A Jew and a Jewess were brought to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) on a charge of committing an illegal sexual intercourse. The Prophet (pbuh) asked them. “What is the legal punishment (for this sin) in your book (Torah)?” They replied, “Our priests have innovated the punishment of blackening the faces with charcoal and Tajbiya.” Abdullah bin Salam said, “O Allah’s Messenger, tell them to bring the Torah.” The Torah was brought, and then one of the jews put his hand over the Divine Verse of the Rajam (stoning to death) and started reading what preceded and what followed it. On that, Ibn Salam said to the jew, “Lift your hand.” Behold ! The Divine Verse of the Rajam was under his hand. So Allah’s Messenger ordered that the two (sinners) be stoned to death, and they were stoned. Ibn ‘Umar added: so both of them were stoned at the Balat and I saw the jew sheltering the Jewess.

(Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8, Hadith No. 6819)

From the Hadith quoted above, we realize that the Prophet (pbuh) punished the jew and the jewess according to the law of Torah since the law was going in accordance with the law of the Qur’an. Here the intention of the Prophet (pbuh) was not to follow the Torah but to implement from it what was conciliating with the Qur’an, i.e. the punishment for adultery. Similarly the easiest way to prove a point to a person who believes in the Bible is to make reference to the Bible. For example, the Bible says in the Gospel of Mark 12:29 “Hear, O Israel; The Lord of our God is one Lord”. By making a Christian believe in one God through this verse, we also make him believe in the first verse of Surah Al-Ikhlas, chapter 112 of the Qur’an says: “He is Allah the One and Only”. This would help negate the concept of Trinity from his mind. Thus we follow the instructions of Allah as mentioned in the verse quoted above from Al-Qur’an 3:64, which says: ‘Say ” O people of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah….”

Thus it can be concluded that it is permissible for the Muslims to quote Bible for the purpose of Daw’ah and all those who object to it should ponder over the evidence provided by us. And Allah Knows the Best.