The traditional view
Muslims generally consider the Taurat to be initially a holy book of Islam, but later was distorted to become the holy book of Judaism. Muslims believed that the taurat is no longer available in its original form and the original message communicated to Musa had been lost. Thus, Muslims believed that the Taurat, or commonly known as the Torah had been corrupted, and that God revealed the Quran to Muhammad partly to correct the distortions. This is why Muslims believe they are not required to follow all Jewish laws.
Narrated Abu Huraira: ..The people of the Scripture used to read the Torah in Hebrew and explain it to the Muslims in Arabic. Then Allah’s Apostle said, “Do not believe the people of the Scripture, and do not disbelieve them, but say, ‘We believe in Allah and whatever has been revealed…’ Al-Bukhari Vol 9, Book 93, No. 632
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Umar: A group of Jews came and invited the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to Quff. So he visited them in their school. They said: Abul Qasim, one of our men has committed fornication with a woman; so pronounce judgment upon them. They placed a cushion for the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee. He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi' (No. 4431). Reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 4449 In-book reference: Book 40, Hadith 99 English translation: Book 39, Hadith 443
Similarly with the Injeel, Muslims generally considered Injeel as the Christian Gospel, also distorted by its many writers.
“Khadija [his wife] then accompanied him [The Prophet – PBUH] to her cousin Waraqa …, who, during the Pre-Islamic Period became a Christian and used to write the writing with Hebrew letters. He would write from the Gospel in Hebrew as much as Allah wished him to write.” Al-Bukhari Vol 1, Book 1, No 3
Narrated `Aisha: The Prophet (ﷺ) returned to Khadija while his heart was beating rapidly. She took him to Waraqa bin Naufal who was a Christian convert and used to read the Gospels in Arabic Waraqa asked (the Prophet), "What do you see?" When he told him, Waraqa said, "That is the same angel whom Allah sent to the Prophet) Moses. Should I live till you receive the Divine Message, I will support you strongly." reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 3392 In-book reference : Book 60, Hadith 66 USC-MSA web: Vol.4 Book 55, Hadith 60 ‘Amir b. Shahr said : I was with the Negus when his son recited a verse of the Gospel [al-Injeel]. So I laughed. Thereupon he said : Do you laugh at the word of Allah, the Exalted? Reference: Sunan Abi Dawud 4736 In-book reference: Book 42, Hadith 141 English translation: Book 41, Hadith 471
The Word Taurat & Injeel in the Quran.
The word Al-Taurat was mentioned 17 times, while the Injeel was mentioned 12 times in the Quran. However, upon reading the Quran, verse 3 to 4, of Surah Al-Imran, one will call into question the traditional understanding and the meaning of Taurat and Injeel.
Based on the above verses, if the Quran was addressing Prophet Muhammad, when the verse says “He revealed to YOU”,
- the Scripture (Al-Kitab),
- the Taurat
- the Injeel,
surely these three books should be with us today, alongside with the book Quran, in their original form or text. But Muslims today were told not to follow the Torah and the Gospel as these books were said to have been distorted by the Jews and Christians.
If the Taurat and the Injeel were books revealed to Prophet Muhammad, why were the two books not preserved and carried through like the Quran?
But the following verse says the Furqan was also revealed. And the verse says all these four (Al-Kitab, Al-Tawrat, Al-Injeel & Al-Furqan ) are the signs of Allah. But the Furqan was not known to be a book like the Quran, Torah or Injeel.
So before we explore what the Quranic explanation of the Tawrat and the Injeel, let us take an understanding of the term Al-Furqan, often translated as the Criterion.
The word Al-Furqan is from the trilateral root word of Fā Rā Qāf , with its basic meaning :
to make separation, distinction or difference (the Misbah, Kamoos, Tajul Aroos) between the two things.
From the above, we can comprehend that the meaning of Al-Furqan is the ability to differentiate, to distinguish, between one thing and another. This is the human cognitive process of making correlations and decisions, based on analytical observations. The Furqan, or the Criterion is our internal faculty that we use to determine differences or criteria in our decision makings. It could be the difference between right and wrong, better and best, between bad and worst, or simply the difference of characteristics ( blue vs red, for example).
But most importantly, it is the ability to separate the truth from falsehood. This ability to differentiate, to categorize, or making criteria, is crucial when the truth is being mixed with falsehood. (2:42) This is the functional purpose of Al-Furqan as one of the signs to guide us.
We can now conclude that Al-Furqan, that was revealed, as mentioned in verse 3:3, did not refer to a particular book.
Similarly, Al-Kitab, Al-Tawrat and Al-Injeel mentioned in the same breath cannot mean to refer to a physical book, and they were in fact, the abstract components of the Signs of Allah.
Verses explaining Al-Taurat and Al-Injeel
Below is a comparative verse mapping where the two words were mentioned. Most of the time, they were mentioned together, indicating a relationship between the two.
The followings are verses that explain the meaning of Al-Taurat and Al-Injeel in typical allegorical narrative of the Quran. Verse 7:157 explains that both the Taurat and the Injeel are written down in them.
From the above we can understand that the Taurat is about enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong. And it also involves making things lawful or unlawful, accordingly. Whereas the Injeel describes a condition of being liberated from unnecessary burden that restricts the path towards the light. This explanation is also reflected between verse 3:47 and 3:50, explaining the two.
We can see from the above, that the term Al-Hikmat was also explained in similar fashion. Verse 3:49 had been commonly understood as a miracle performed by Isa. But we know it was not the task of messengers to perform miracles to convince those who do not believe. It was a pointless exercise and the Quran already reiterates that the messengers were just human after all. Please read Surah Al-Isra verse 90-93. It is not the task of Isa to go around to find clay and turn it into birds to impress the people, or to find dead bodies from the graves to make them walk again. People may not be impressed by dead people raised alive. They will be running for their lives.
Taking the clay and forming it into a bird is an allegorical description of a process of liberation. The characteristic of clay, reflects a form that is stiff but still mouldable. Given the spirit / Ruh, one will experience the true life and be liberated from the restricted nature of the clay. The Arabic expression “fa-anfukhu fi-hi : then I breath into it” often used to mean to educate, or to give knowledge – Like the arabic proverbs :” you have breathe something to his ears and now he is clever”.
Similarly with the allegorical meaning of curing the blind, was to open the vision, blinded by falsehood since birth. While curing the leper, was to heal the disease of disbelief (2:10). The term being dead in the Quran always refers to those who are deaf, dumb and blind. So the task of Isa is to turn this around, to breathe into us, to educate us and restore our true purpose against the falsehood that have been misleading us. Verse 3:49 was again replicated in verse 5:110.
Another allegorical explanation of the Taurat and the Injeel can be read in verse 48:29.
The second paragraph above describes the characteristic of those who manifest the Taurat. Concuring and complying with the lawful. And the expression of the Injeel are of those having their potential set free into realization of the higher self.
The verses above are reminding us of the Taurat that have been given to us, and we shall not seek other judges appointed by others onto us. The verses are responding to those who who want us to listen to falsehood. Here, they were being addressed as the Hadu, Al-Rabanuyuna and the Ahbaru. They were generally the religious clerics, whom were given the trust of the Scriptures, and we see them today, exchanging payment for the words of Allah.
Both the Taurat and the Injeel were regarded as Guidance for us. Injeel being described as Light, while the Taurat as for admonition. As explained earlier – Taurat is about the right and the wrong, and being equitable (5:45).
Taurat > Admonition > A Law
Injeel > A Light > A Clear Way
In 5:48, Allah has reminded us to judge between the two ; The Taurat and the Injeel. The following verses also commanded us to stand firmly between the two, so we are able to make the best out of what Allah has provided to us, instead of making things lawful, becomes unlawful, and the unlawful, becomes lawful.
In verse 9:111 and 112, the Quran reminded us the garden will be the promise of the Taurat and the Injeel, for those who fight in the cause of Allah and becoming a mu’min.
It is very clear that the Taurat and the Injeel mentioned in the Quran were not of some printed or written books by men, which contain religious texts, which the Muslims believed to have been distorted by the Jews and Christians. From all the above, we can clearly see that the Taurat and the Injeel were the embedded codes inside us that has already been given to us as guidance.
We can say that the Taurat is the moral compass that Allah has given us, as a guide, so we are able to identify and judge between the right and the wrongs, and how to be equitable in upholding justice.
Injeel on the hand, also serves as guidance, to unlock the true human potential to elevate towards the higher self, liberated from false dogma. This self actualisation requires rigorous and critical path journey, and in quranic sense, it requires submission to the Lord of the Universe and agree to comply with all the signs revealed to us.
To arrive to this, that rigorous and critical path journey, one must emulate the case of Ibrahim, to observe and investigate, to question and analyse, in order to arrive to the truth and submit to it, and by rejecting any partners to Allah. Ibrahim had questioned the belief of his community and his forefathers and also experimented with other gods before realising he had to submit to the One.
The Guidance from the Taurat and the Injeel will be revealed after the submission (aslama) and attainment of security (Imaan). In Quranic path, one must take the journey of Ibrahim, before revelations of the Taurat and the Injeel, that will unlock our true potential and resources.