Study Regarding the “Injeel”

by Abu-Usaama 

A claim that many radical christians make in their endless endeavors to convert Muslims to christianity is that the Qur’an affirms the books that are in their possession, namely, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The purpose of this article is to show the falsehood of their claim that the New Testament in particular is endorsed by the Qur’an and also to clarify what the Injeel is and isn’t.


Ayaat regarding the Injeel

Allah (SWT) mentions the Injeel, which can be translated as Gospel, in several places in the Qur’an. Allah (SWT) says:

نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَأَنزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ

It is He Who has sent down the Book (the Quran) to you (Muhammad SAW) with truth, confirming what came before it. And he sent down the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel). [3:3]

وَيُعَلِّمُهُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ 

“And He (Allah (SWT)) will teach him [’Iesa (Jesus)] the Book and Al-Hikmah (i.e. the Sunnah, the faultless speech of the Prophets, wisdom, etc.), (and) the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel).” 3:48

يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تُحَآجُّونَ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمَا أُنزِلَتِ التَّورَاةُ وَالإنجِيلُ إِلاَّ مِن بَعْدِهِ أَفَلاَ تَعْقِلُونَ

 O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Why do you dispute about Ibrahim (Abraham), while the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) were not revealed till after him? Have you then no sense? [ 3:65]

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيهِم مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ لأكَلُواْ مِن فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِن تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِم مِّنْهُمْ أُمَّةٌ مُّقْتَصِدَةٌ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ سَاء مَا يَعْمَلُونَ

And if only they had acted according to the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to them from their Lord (the Quran), they would surely have gotten provision from above them and from underneath their feet. There are from among them people who are on the right course (i.e. they act on the revelation and believe in Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) SAW like ‘Abdullah bin Salam رضى ), but many of them do evil deeds. [[5:66]
 

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَسْتُمْ عَلَى شَيْءٍ حَتَّىَ تُقِيمُواْ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُم مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَلَيَزِيدَنَّ كَثِيراً مِّنْهُم مَّا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ طُغْيَاناً وَكُفْراً فَلاَ تَأْسَ عَلَى الْقَوْمِ الْكَافِرِينَ

 Say (O Muhammad SAW) “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! You have nothing (as regards guidance) till you act according to the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to you from your Lord (the Quran).” Verily, that which has been sent down to you (Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) SAW) from your Lord increases in many of them their obstinate rebellion and disbelief. So be not sorrowful over the people who disbelieve.

وَقَفَّيْنَا عَلَى آثَارِهِم بِعَيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الإِنجِيلَ فِيهِ هُدًى وَنُورٌ وَمُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَهُدًى وَمَوْعِظَةً لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ

“And in their footsteps, We sent ‘Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), confirming the Taurat (Torah) that had come before him, and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Taurat (Torah) that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for Al-Muttaqun (the pious – see V.2:2).

وَلْيَحْكُمْ أَهْلُ الإِنجِيلِ بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ فِيهِ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ

 هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

Let the people of the Injeel (Gospel) judge by what Allah (SWT) has revealed therein. And whosoever does not judge by what Allah (SWT) has revealed (then) such (people) are the Fasiqun (the rebellious i.e. disobedient (of a lesser degree) to Allah (SWT).” [5:46-47]

Michael Nazir-Ali, a pakistani born Christian Bishop states regarding the last-mentioned ayaat:

“The point here is not what Muhammad (SWS) thought the Injil to be…but what in fact it was at his time. He is, in the above passage, exhorting the Christians of his day to look into the Injil for guidance. Now, if these Christians had responded to such an exhortation and had looked into their Injil or evangel into what would they have looked? The answer is quite obvious: They would have looked into their New Testament (which is also ours)…” (Nazer-Ali, Islam: A Christian Perspective, pg. 14.)

Nazer-Ali makes a few incorrect assumptions in his statement. Firstly, he assumes that the aayah is implying that the Injeel given to Jesus (alayhe salam) was present at the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) .

Ibn Taymiyyah (May Allah (SWT) have mercy on him) states in his book “Al-Jawaab As-Saheeh” regarding the aayah[5:47]:

ذا قرىء وليحكم كان المعنى وأتيناه الإنجيل لكذا وكذا وليحكم أهل الإنجيل بما أنزل الله فيه وهذا يوجب الحكم بما أنزل الله في الإنجيل الحق لا يدل على أن الإنجيل الموجود في زمن الرسول هو ذلك الإنجيل

“This is a command for ruling by what Allah (SWT) revealed in the true Injeel, it is not a proof that the Injeel present in the time of the Messenger (meaning the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) ) is that Injeel.”

He also says:

 وأما قراءة الجمهور ^ وليحكم أهل الإنجيل ^ فهو أمر بذلك فمن العلماء من قال هو أمر لمن كان الإنجيل الحق موجودا عندهم أن يحكموا بما أنزل الله فيه

“It is a command for whoever has the true injeel residing with them that they judge by what Allah (SWT) revealed therein”

Even if one were to assume that the aayah and other similar aayaat exorted the christians at the time of the Rrophet Muhammad  to look into  something available to them, one can not assume how the christians at that time would have interpreted this. The wide range of texts relating to Jesus’ teachings and message that existed outside what is traditionally known as the new Testament are numerous, and many revered up until the time of the Prophet  Muhammad and even later. In fact, a “gospel” which is not present in today’s New Testament, which is known as the Gospel of Peter, was revered by groups of early christians, which is testified to the fact that portions of it were found in the tomb of a monk in egypt dating back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)

Bart D Ehrman, a scholar of Christian history states in his book “the Lost Christianites” concerning the “Gospel of Peter”:

“Somebody revered Peter and his Gospel, somebody living in Egypt, some four or five hundred years after Serapion had forbidden the Gospel’s use. And the Egyptian was not alone.She or he must have been part of a community which must have had a contemporary copy of the Gospel and accepted it as a sacred text. Nor was the community of the ostracon’s inscriber alone: A fragment of hte Gospel was buried, presumably as a cherished text, in the tomb of a monk a century or so later. The Gospel of Peter may have become lost to us but it was widely used in the early centuries of Christianity, and it continued to be used down to the early Middle Ages in some parts of the church.”

Some of the beliefs of this document include that Jesus (alayhe salam) felt no pain while being crucified, did not die on the cross, and that his soul was raised to heaven directly from it.

So how can it be said that the christians would have interpreted the aayah as an exortation to follow the writings of Mark, Luke, John, and Matthew, let alone the writings of Paul and other unknown individuals after Jesus (alayhe slaam)?
There is some evidence that there may have existed some groups who held fast to what was originally given to Isa(Jesus) alayhe slaam.

حدثنا بشر , قال : ثنا يزيد , قال : ثنا سعيد , عن قتادة , قوله   { الذين آتيناهم الكتاب من قبله هم به يؤمنون } قال : كنا نحدث أنها نزلت في أناس من أهل الكتاب كانوا على شريعة من الحق , يأخذون بها , وينتهون إليها , حتى بعث الله محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم , فآمنوا به , وصدقوا به , فأعطاهم الله أجرهم مرتين , بصبرهم على الكتاب الأول , واتباعهم محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم , وصبرهم على ذلك , وذكر أن منهم سلمان , وعبد الله بن س

It is related that Qatada said regarding the aayah: “those whom We gave the Book from before, they believe in it”. It has been related to us that this was revealed regarding a group from the people of the Book who were upon a true shareeah, they held unto it and followed it, until Allah (SWT) sent Muhammad (salallahu alayhe wasallam) so they believed in him and affirmed him. So Allah (SWT) gave them a double reward for their patience upon the previous Book. And their following of Muhammad (salallahu alayhe wasallam) and their patience upon that. And it is mentioned that from them are Salmaan (al-Farisi) and Abdullah ibn Salam.”

If one examines what is related of the testimony of Salmaan Al-Farisi, regarding his journey to Islam, one notes that the number of people who were grasping onto the truth before the Prophet were very small. He relates that a bishop mentioned to him at the thores of death: “By the name of God, I do not know of anyone who follows the same genuine religion I follow. Humanity is in a great trouble: people have changed the original teachings, abandoned and ignored most of what the forefatherse belived in except so-and-so living in Mosul.” Additionally, its related that  the individual in Mosul also said to him ” I do not know anyone who follows the same teachings as we do except a man in Nasebin, and his name is so – and – so, follow him.” However, the details of the religion or scriptures of these people is unknown, except for that they were waiting for the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)  to come.

Another narration that discusses some followers of the Injeel before the Prophet (salallahu alayhe wasallam): Ibn Jarir and Abu `Abdur-Rahman An-Nasa’i — and this is his wording – recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “There were kings after `Isa who changed the Tawrah and the Injil when there were still believers who recited Tawrah and the Injil. Their kings were told, `We were never confronted by more severe criticism and abuse than of these people.’ — they recite the Ayah,

[وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْكَـفِرُونَ]

(And whosoever does not judge by what Allah (SWT) has revealed, such are the disbelievers.)(5:44), as well as, they accuse us of short comings in our actions, while still they recite. Therefore, summon them and let them recite these Ayat our way and believe in them our way.’ The king summoned them and gathered them and threatened them with death if they did not revert from reciting the original Tawrah and Injil to using the corrupted version only. They said, `Why do you want us to do that, let us be.’ Some of them said, `Build a narrow elevated tower for us and let us ascend it, and then give us the means to elevate food and drink to us. This way, you will save yourselves from hearing us.’ Another group among them said, `Let us go about in the land and eat and drink like beasts do, and if you find us in your own land, then kill us.’ Another group among them said, `Build homes (monasteries) for us in the deserts and secluded areas, where we can dig wells and plant vegetables. Then, we will not refute you and will not even pass by you.’ These groups said this, even though they all had supporters among their tribes. It is about this that Allah (SWT) the Exalted and Most Honored sent down this Ayah,

[وَرَهْبَانِيَّةً ابتَدَعُوهَا مَا كَتَبْنَـهَا عَلَيْهِمْ إِلاَّ ابْتِغَآءَ رِضْوَنِ اللَّهِ فَمَا رَعَوْهَا حَقَّ رِعَايَتِهَا]

(But the monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them, but (they sought it) only to please Allah (SWT) therewith, but that they did not observe it with the right observance.) ”

The details of the the Injeel of these followers however is not mentioned.

Regardless, whatever Allah (SWT) truly gave ‘Isa (alayhe salam) is to be regarded as the Injeel, so whatever rememnants of this that may have been present at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS), if any at all, may be considered Injeel. This does not constitute anything that promotes polytheism or false-concepts.

Was the Injeel given to Isa (alayhe salam) written in the form of a book?

Many scholars  talk about the Injeel  as if it was written down in the form of a book between two covers, however, all what is shown in christian history as is presented are books that were written by individuals after Jesus about Jesus (alayhe salam). It is not impossible that the Injeel was not written down in the time of Jesus (alayhe salam ) but rather simply transmitted orally.

al-Taahir ibn ‘Ashoor said in his commentary on Soorat Maryam 19:30:

“The Scripture refers to the law which is usually written lest it be subject to change. The word Scripture(kitaab) is applied to the Law of ‘Eesa just as it is applied to the Qur’aan. [Al-Tahreer wa’l-Tanweer (8/470)].”
 

However delving into which is the case is mere speculation.
 

Does the New Testament today have remenants of the Injeel?

There is evidence, that the New Testament as it is today may contain remenants of the Injeel revealed by Allah (SWT) to Isa(Jesus) alayhe salam. Allah (SWT) says in Surah Al-Fath

مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاء عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاء بَيْنَهُمْ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعاً سُجَّداً يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلاً مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَاناً سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ذَلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَى عَلَى سُوقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْراً عَظِيماً

“Muhammad (SAW)  is the Messenger of Allah (SWT), and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and falling down prostrate (in prayer), seeking Bounty from Allah (SWT) and (His) Good Pleasure. The mark of them (i.e. of their Faith) is on their faces (foreheads) from the traces of (their) prostration (during prayers). This is their description in the Taurat (Torah). But their description in the Injeel (Gospel) is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, it then becomes thick, and it stands straight on its stem, delighting the sowers that He may enrage the disbelievers with them. Allah (SWT) has promised those among them who believe (i.e. all those who follow Islamic Monotheism, the religion of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS)  till the Day of Resurrection) and do righteous good deeds, forgiveness and a mighty reward (i.e. Paradise). [48:29]

A form of the parable mentioned  in regards to the Injeel is recorded in the “Gospel of Mark” in the New Testament today, as a statement of Jesus (alayhe salam) to his disciples.

To claim however, that the English New Testament in the hands of the christians today can be referred to as “the Injeel” is quite frankly,  a stretch beyond a stretch, and deception beyond deception. The mixture of the opinions of varoius unknown authors and individuals with no chains of transmissions, promoting various contradicting ideas and polytheistic concepts, along with the loose and biased translations to fit particular creeds, make the New Testament in the hands of christians today no short of an insult to Allah (SWT).
 

Islamic position regarding what the Christians have

The basic position of the scholars regarding the the scriptures in the hands of the christians and Jews is that the Qur’an is muhaymin (trustworthy) over them, as Allah (SWT) says in the aayah afterwards:

وَأَنزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَـبَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَـبِ وَمُهَيْمِناً عَلَ

“And We have sent down to you the Book (this Qur’an) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and Muhayminan over it (old Scriptures).”

Ibn Katheer mentions in his tafseer regarding the aayah that Ibn Jarir said, “The Qur’an is trustworthy over the Books that preceded it. Therefore, whatever in these previous Books conforms to the Qur’an is true, and whatever disagrees with the Qur’an is false.”

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