What the Gospels Mean to Muslims? Lecture by revert Dr Gary Miller
QUESTIONER7: Sir, weíve talked about the Christian scriptures and their view of themselves, could you very quickly explain the Quranís view of itself in relationship to Christian scripture? What validity does it give for its own superiority, if it claims that?
DR MILLER: Yes, to start with, itís not so much a superior kind of a scripture, if thatís what you mean. That is largely a Muslim misrepresentation, which is an over enthusiastic patriotism.
The Quran does not claim superiority in the usual sense that people are talking about because the Bible and the Quran are different kinds of books. The Quran reads approximately like most of the so-called Minor Prophets and some of the pronouncements of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. It is not like most of the Bible, which are stories. That is, the book of Jonah begins by saying the Word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, quote, what you are about to read came from God, through Jonah.
Whereas the book of Luke begins by saying, in effect, what you are about to read is what I have gathered and put together because it seemed like a good idea, saying, "It seemed the appropriate thing to do" to gather the evidence and write this story. He doesnít say, what you are about to read are words God has handed to me and Iím now putting down on paper for you.
Those are two different kinds of things. The Quran is like the former. That is why it is really rather short, it is about 80% the size of the New Testament. It is pronouncements: if you read "I" it is God speaking, if you read "you" it is you, it is God talking to whoever is reading this. So they are different kinds of books, largely.
What it says of previous scriptures for one thing is that it says of itself that it confirms the truthfulness of WHAT IS IN previous scriptures. That is certain things that have fallen into debate, people were arguing about certain things, and if they were really important things the Quran touches on them. To say, it was correctly reported in that scripture on this matter that it really happened like that.
It confirms the truthfulness of previous scriptures, and this verse also in the 5th chapter, also says of itself that it is, and the Arabic word is MUHAYMIN, which maybe best translated by the words, quality control. It is kind of a test against other scriptures. That is, if somebody brings something and says this is scripture and it says such and such, it may well be the Quran says that specifically is NOT so, and the evidence is in that place, go and look. It is acting as quality control in that regard.
But, of course, it does not go step by step all the way through the Bible, the Hindu Gupta, and various other scriptures and say chapter 1 is correct, there one mistake in chapter 2, 3 in chapter 4 and so on. It doesnít do that. It just talks about certain issues and the advice traditionally given to the Muslim right from the beginning was that if, for example, the Christian comes and he says such and such is true and it says so in my book, and you donít have a reason to agree with him Ė then give him the benefit of the doubt. He might be right; he might be wrong but donít insist heís wrong. Leave him with it unless you evidence to the contrary.
And so it is, a lot of what Muslims commonly talk about are really things they may have picked up from the Christian or the Jew. Often to their detriment, Iím afraid, they pick up some of the fairytales and carry them over as well. Thatís the key, it is confirming the truthfulness of key issues and itís also setting the record straight on certain other things that people have misrepresented. A great deal else it does not comment on because it doesnít really matter.