The Qur'an and the Gospels - a Comparative Study

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, 02:50 WIB

Book Title :  The Qur'an and the Gospels - a Comparative Study

Author :  Dr. Muhammad Abu Laylah

Publisher :  Al-Falah Foundation for Translation, Publication & Distribution, Cairo, Egypt, 2005


At the preface it is written that "Each person is born under circumstances which are not of his own choosing. The religion of his family or the ideology of the state is thrust upon him from the very beginning of his existence in this world. By the time he reaches his teens, he has usually been brain-washed into believing that the beliefs of his particular society are the correct beliefs that everyone should have. However, when some people mature and are exposed to other belief systems, they begin to question the validity of their own beliefs".

God gave us all minds and intellects to enable us to make this crucial decision. It is the most important decision in the life of any human being; upon it depends his future. Consequently, each and every one of us must examine dispassionately the evidence presented and choose what appears to be right until further evidence arises.

In this book, Dr. Abu Laylah, a well-known scholar in the field of comparative religions, examines the authenticity of both the Qur'an and the Gospels through comprehensive analysis and investigation basing his arguments on rational as well as textual proofs, with the aim of reaching a fair and unbiased attitude towards both of them. He included some important suggestions and comments made by Prof. Blankeship at Temple University who is an assistant Professor of comparative religion.

The book serves several different purposes. Firstly, it wishes to set out the Islamic tradition, the Islamic point of view based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah, and Muslim scholarship, to help non-Muslim readers to gain a closer view of Islam and a fairer view of this great religion. Secondly, it aims to demonstrate to non-Muslims that the Islamic view of the gospels is the true one. Thirdly, it will help Muslims to understand the gospels.

Dr. Abu Laylah says "to write about other religions, in my view, is like providing a map to give details of certain area. If the map is wrong the information is wrong and will prove to be of little use. In recent times, interfaith days have become important in the public curriculum. Dialogue, conversation, argument are characteristic of human life." He follows up saying "dialogue means intellectual communication between people. It reflects their varied approaches, different positions in life, varied ideas and different beliefs. All prophets of God withouth exception entered into dialogue with their veterans, especially with their critics. Dialogue was a prominent element in the delivery of God's message to His peoples".

In almost every Scripture we find a form of dialogue between two persons, or between a person and an abstract idea (such as wisdom), or a person talks to his own soul. In the Gospels, Jesus talked to his Disciples in many occasions. Some of his Disciples collected these dialogues and preserved them. In the Qur'an there are many forms of dialogue: between some of the prophets and their nations, or between two ordinary people discussing proper behavious (as a means of teaching). In this way God showed us that we should be persuasive, convincing, open minded, ready to listen to others when teaching, Muslims took dialogue very seriously and soon developed what is now called interfaith dialogue or debate.

Dr. Abu Laylah has included pieces about the ancient Christian Gospels but has deliberately avoided going into detailed discussion. He says that "It is striking that the gospel of Thomas is silent about the matter of Jesus' death and resurrection, as Helmut Kuester says "the keystone of all proclamations." He follows up "but Thomas is alone in omitting mention of this. The source Q that was used by Matthew and Luke does not consider the death of Jesus to be part of the Christian message, and thus does not concern itself with reports of the resurrection and subsequent events". He then concluded that "the Gospel of Thomas and the source Q in that way challenge the assumption that the early church was unanimous in regarding Jesus' death and resurrection the cornerstone of Christian faith. Both documents emphasize that the significance of Jesus lay in his words, and not in what people thought about him. This puts Jesus closer to the Muslim view".

He added that "it is striking that the Gospel of Thomas is also totally silent on the titles given to Jesus by others, such as 'Lord', 'Christ', 'Son of Man', 'Messiah', and 'Son of God'. The title 'Son of Man' given to Jesus in the canonical gospels and in the "Q" source is an indication of his manhood and absolute human nature but tho the Christians it is an indication that Jesus is the one who will appear from heaven at the end of time, shown as lightning flashes and lights up the sky, so will the Son of Man be in his day. (Luke 17.24)"

The book has five chapters in the first chapter it discusses Islam's attitude towards the preceding Prophets with two subtitles: Jesus in the Qur'an and Jesus' titles in the Qur'an and the Gospels. In the second chapter it discusses Islam: concept, dimension and attitude towards prophets and prophecies. In the third chapter it discusses the nature and authority of the Qur'an. While in the fourth chapter it discusses the Gosples as individual books following that in the fifth chapter by discussing the transmission of the Christian sacred texts and the question of corruption.

Dr. Abu Laylah ends his book by "We all live in one big house each should look after the room in which he lives, be a good neighbor not an enemy next door". (Saber)