Introduction to Holy Injīl Luke

Introduction to Holy Injīl Luke

The Injīl is recognised as a Holy Book in both Christianity and Islam. It thus has great potential as a basis for common ground between these two great world faiths. That the Injīl, or New Testament, is a Christian Holy Book is well known. That the Injīl is also a Muslim Holy Book is clearly confirmed in no less a source than the Noble Qur’an itself. The Qur’an provides ample testimony that the Injīl is to be received as a revelation from Allah. The following passages from the Qur’an demonstrate this:

            We made ‘Īsā son of Maryam follow them, confirming the Tawrah in his possession, and we gave him the Injīl, in which is guidance and light, confirming the Tawrah in his possession, as guidance and an admonition to the godly. (46) So let the people of the Injīl judge by what Allah has revealed in it. Whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed are unbelievers. (47) (al-Mā’idah 5:46-47, RQ)

He sent down the Book upon thee in truth, confirming what was before it, and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel (Injīl)4aforetime, as a guidance to mankind. (Āl ‘Imrān3:3-4)

Say, “We believe in God and what has been sent down upon us, and in what was sent down upon Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in what Moses, Jesus, and the prophets were given from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them, and unto Him we submit.” (Āl ‘Imrān 3:84)

In the light of these āyāt from al-Qur’an al-Karīm it is clear that Muslims should receive the Holy Injīl as a revelation from Allah Subhānahu Wa Ta’ālā and read it as a Muslim Book.

Do we have the original Injīl?

According to the Qur’an, the Injīl that was available at the beginning of the Islamic era (early 7thCentury AD) was the original Injīl which was to be believed and obeyed as a Book from Allah.

The People of the Book of that time are told to read it and judge everything by it. In other words, they are to view it as the ultimate authority.

We made ‘Īsā son of Maryam follow them, confirming the Tawrah in his possession, and we gave him the Injīl, in which is guidance and light, confirming the Tawrah in his possession, as guidance and an admonition to the godly. (46) So let the people of the Injīl judge by what Allah has revealed in it.Whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed are unbelievers. (47)(al-Mā’idah 5:46-47, RQ)

Say, “O People of the Book! You stand on naught till you observe the Torah and the Gospel (Injīl), and that which has been sent down unto you from your Lord.” (al-Mā’idah 5:68)

The earliest Muslims also are told to believe the book Allah revealed beforehand, namely, the Injīl.

O Believers, believe in God and in His Messenger, and in the Book He revealed to His Messenger, and the Book he revealed before. Whoso disbelieves in God, His angels, His Books, His messengers, and the Last Day has strayed far in error. (an-Nisā’ 4:136, TK)

If the version of the Injīl and Taurāt that were in the possession of the ‘People of the Book’ at that time were regarded as corrupt in some way, surely the Qur’an would warn people about that. However, we have seen that, far from warning people about the Taurāt and Injīl, the Qur’an only speaks of them in the highest terms, urging people to read, believe and judge by these Holy Books.

Manuscript Evidence

Could the Injīl have been corrupted sometime after the beginning of the Islamic era in the early 7th Century? This is not possible because there are many surviving manuscripts of the Injīl that are dated many centuries before the beginning of the Muslim era. In fact, there are around 5000 ancient manuscripts of all or parts of the Injīl in which the message is the same. It would have been impossible for someone or some group to corrupt all of these.

Imagine I write a letter and send it to ten friends in different parts of the world who do not know each other. They then each make nine copies of my letter and send those copies to nine of their friends in still other parts of the world, so that there are 100 copies of the letter in different places across the world. Suppose after 50 years one of those 100 people with a copy of the letter decides he wants to change some part of it. He can make his own fake copy but there is no way he would be able to trace all the other 99 copies to change them all in the same way. If this is the case with only a hundred copies of a letter, how much more difficult would it be after 600 years to gather together many hundreds of manuscripts of the Injīl from Asia, Africa and Europe and change them all?

An intact Injīl

So on the basis of the Qur’an’s teaching, the Injīl cannot have been corrupted before the Islamic era (early 7th Century AD). And on the basis of many manuscripts that date back to pre-Islamic times, it cannot have been corrupted after the emergence of Islam.

Abdullah Saeed, Sultan of Oman Professor of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne, writes;

‘The Qur’an shows utmost respect and reverence for what the Qur’an calls “the Tawrat” (Torah) of the Jews, revealed to Moses, and the Injil (Gospel) of the Christians, revealed to Jesus. It never makes disparaging statements about these “Books,” but instead refers to them as coming from God. The only denigrating remarks in the Qur’an are about certain individuals or groups of People of the Book (Jews and Christians) and their actions...

‘The Qur’an consistently refers to the Torah and Gospels as “Books of God,” revealed to Moses and Jesus. We know from the history of these two religious traditions that by the time the Prophet was preaching, the scriptures of both Jews and Christians were established and documented. Since the Qur’an was referring to those scriptures that existed in the seventh century, its references to them should equally apply in the modern era.’[1].

Who can change Allah’s words?

The Qur’an, Injīl, Zabūr and Books of the Prophets all agree that Allah’s words cannot be changed:

There is no altering the Words of God. (Qur’an, Yūnus 10:64)

Perfected is the Word of your Lord in truth and justice; there is nothing that can change His words. (Qur’an, al-An’ām 6:115, MMP)

It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for a single stroke of a pen to drop out of the Taurāt(Injīl, Luke 16:17[2])

Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. (Zabūr, Psalm 119:89)

The word of our God stands forever. (Book of the Prophet Isaiah 40:8)

Read it!

So, Muslim brothers and sisters, receive the Injīl as a Book for you. Receive it, not as the Book of another religion, but as a Muslim Book – as your Book, as Allah’s gift and guidance to you.

Many people say they believe the Injīl to be a Book revealed by Allah SWT[3], but never actually read it. This volume is prepared with the aim and du’ā that you may actually read the Injīl for yourself and gain immense blessing from it in this age and in the age to come.

Are you just going to admire the jug or are you actually going to drink the water? (Jalāl ud-Dīn Rūmī).

This Translation and Commentary

This volume contains a new translation of ‘Luke’, the third ‘book’ in the Injīl. There are twenty-seven ‘books’ of varying lengths within the one book, the Injīl. The first four of these books are accounts of the life, teaching and work of al-Masīh ‘Īsā (his peace be upon us), which are different from each other but which also complement each other. Luke was chosen because it contains a full description of the life of ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu) from the angelic announcement of his conception to his ascension into heaven. It is also the longest account. Luke is translated from the Greek of the original text of the Injīl into English, using terms and names that are familiar to Muslims. There is also commentary in the form of footnotes, some longer appendices and a glossary, which aim to explain difficult or less clear terms or concepts that arise in the text of the Injīl. The commentary section will also aim to relate material in the text to other parts of the Injīl and also the Taurāt, the Zabūr, the Books of the Prophets and the Qur’an.

Quotations from the Taurāt, Zabūr and Books of the Prophets are my own direct translations from the original Hebrew of these Books.

Quotations from the Qur’an are usually taken from ‘The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary’, Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Dagli, Caner K.; Dakake, Maria Massi; Lumbard, Joseph E.B.; Rustom, Mohammed (2015, HarperCollins).

Wherever other translations of the Qur’an are used, this is indicated using the following abbreviations:

AYA     ‘The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an – Translation by Abdullah Yūsuf Ali, New Modern English Edition.’

MMP   ‘The Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an – An Explanatory Translation by Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, New Modern English Edition.’

RQ       ‘The Arabic-English Reference Qur’an.’

TK        ‘The Qur’an – A New Translation by Tarif Khalidi.’

To make it easier to find one’s way around the text, it has been divided up into sections with headings. These headings are not in the original text.

In the commentary and section headings we follow the convention of using honorifics such as ‘peace be upon him’ (or abbreviated to ‘pbuh’) for prophets and other eminent spiritual persons. An example of this can be found in 1stBook of Kings 2:33, where Prophet Sulaymān (pbuh) says,

‘But on Dāwūd and his descendants, his house and his throne, may there be peace from the LORD for ever.’

When ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu)is mentioned in the commentary and section headings we have frequently used the honorific, ‘his peace be upon us’ (abbreviated to ‘hpbuu’). This honorific seems particularly appropriate in the light of passages such as Injīl, John 14:27 where ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu)says to his disciples,

‘Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’[4]

This volume comes to you with the du’ā that Allah SWT may bless you richly in this age and in the age to come as you read and study his message in the Injīl.

Duncan Peter

 

[1]How Muslims view the Scriptures of the People of the Book: Towards a Reassessment?Chapter 10 in ‘Religion and Ethics in a Globalizing World: Conflict, Dialogue, and Transformation’. Palgrave Macmillan. 2011 Kindle Edition.

In this essay, Saeed surveys classical commentaries on the Qur’an of the likes of Razi, Tabari, Qurtubi and Ibn Taymiyya and comments that ‘the Qur’an and a number of Muslim scholars take a more nuanced and positive view of existing Jewish and Christian scriptures and their authenticity.’

For a similar look at the early Muslim scholars, Ibn Qutayba, al-Ya’qūbi and Muqatil ibn Sulayman, see the Centre for Muslim Christian Studies, Oxford, Research Briefing Issue 2: Muslim Views of the Bible Past and Present  https://www.cmcsoxford.org.uk/resources/research-briefingsaccessed 12th December 2018.

Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies at the University of Edinburgh, comments,

‘It was not the Qur’an but later Muslim polemics which targeted both Jews and Christians with the concept of naskhabrogation and more significantly tahrif, whereby Jews and Christians are accused of having corrupted their original scriptures.’ (Christians, Muslims and Jesus, p25, Yale University Press, 2013).

Muslim scholar, Joseph E. B. Lumbard, Assistant Professor in the Department of Arabic and Translation Studies at the American University of Sharjah states,

‘It would be contradictory for the Quran to speak of the efficacy of judging by the Torah and the Gospel if it were to also maintain that these scriptures have been abrogated or excessively distorted.’ (The Quranic View of Sacred History and Other Religions,in Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Dagli, Caner K.; Dakake, Maria Massi; Lumbard, Joseph E.B.; Rustom, Mohammed [2015-11-17]. The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary [Kindle Locations 79106-79108]. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition).

[2]‘Injīl, Luke 16:17’ means, the book of Luke in the Injīl, chapter 16, verse 17. These chapter and verse divisions are not in the original text of the Injīl, but were added much later.We have used these chapter and verse divisions for ease of reference.

[3]Subhānahu Wa Ta’ālā.

[4]Other examples include Injīl, Luke 2:14 where the angels, having just announced the birth of al-Masīh ‘Īsā (hpbuu), pronounce, ‘… upon earth peace to people on whom Allah’s favour rests.

‘… we have peace with Allah through our Lord ‘Īsā al-Masīh.’ (Injīl, Romans 5:1)

‘Al-Masīh himself is our peace…’ (Injīl, Ephesians 2:14)

‘Let the peace of al-Masīh rule in your hearts…’ (Injīl, Colossians 3:15)