Literary CornerThe Bible1, the Qur’an and science 1/3 [Archives:2005/844/Culture]
Abu Alkalmah Al-Tayyibah
“If the people of the Scriptures had believed and were God-fearing, We would have pardoned them for their sins and entered them the paradises of tranquility. Had they stood by the Torah (Old Testament) and the Bible (Old and New Testament and all (the revelations) that descended to them from their Lord, they would have eaten from above them and from below their feet; some of them are provident , and many of them, what they do is evil.” (The Holy Qur'an V/65-66)
“Say, Oh, people of the Scriptures, you are not onto anything, until you administer the Torah and the Bible and what was descended to you from your Lord, (The Holy Qur'an V/68
Verily, those who believed, those who have become Jews, the Sabaians3 and the Christians – Those of them who believed in Allah4 and the Final Day and who did perform rightly, then for them, there should be no fear and they are not to be in grief (The Holy Qur'an V/69
That there should be conflict amongst people who share convictions in so many ways and differ in their interpretation of morals and Divinely ordained codes of conduct and social cohesion is the dilemma that has perplexed mankind for well over most of Biblical Times until today. What is even more astounding is that, at least for the three major monotheistic faiths of the world today (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), their sources of guidance originate from the same Divine source. So, what is it that causes such difficulty in the followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to relate to each other? Or rather, what is it that makes the believers in the same God, holy scriptures and prophets willing to shed blood against each other, annulling all the painstaking work of the prophets and the religious dictates of the Scriptures?
The truth of the matter is, according to the author of this truly well researched book on comparative religions, that if the adherents of all the three faiths truly understood the religious convictions of the followers of the other monotheistic faiths, they would find very little ground for conflict. Even more revealing, was the author's belief that if the followers of the different holy Divine sent scriptures analyzed their Books, per se, objectively, then they would come to a stronger recognition of the other monotheistic faiths and maybe assess the validity of their own misconceptions. M. Bucaille attempts to establish a standard by which the Scriptures of the three leading monotheistic faiths should be compared: specifically the findings of modern science and how they relate to some of the events depicted in the Torah (the Jewish Scriptures and their similar Christian counterparts in the Old Testament of the Bible), the New Testament and the Holy Qur'an. He goes deeper than this by presenting a chronological background of their formulation, compilation and structuring. In the former context, Bucaille seeks to show the strengths of the Scriptures texts and their validity based on the progress that science has made in deciphering so many secrets of the universe, that were in the realm of the Unknown when all the Scriptures were revealed, collected and adopted by their believers.
Bucaille makes certain notes that are worthy of consideration when delving into the comparisons:
The Jews only recognize “their own scriptures” and would have nothing to do with the New Testament or the Qur'an.
The Christians are ready to recognize the Torah with some minor adjustments and of course derive most of the Old Testament for the Old Testament of the Bible and of course the New Testament. They refuse to recognize the Qur'an as Divine Scriptures.
The Moslems insist that the three “books”, as the Qur'an defines the Scriptures, emanate from the same Divine source and were delivered by the same Deliverers of mankind and speak the same language of faith (although admittedly not recognizing the latest versions as the same as the original revealed documents).
The above three quotations from the Qur'an confirm some of these notes and the Qur'an is full of the revelations that the Qur'an came only to substantiate what has been revealed before in the previous Scriptures and correct any corruptions that were introduced later by men, for various reasons, which the author interestingly delves into.
In this critique of the book, we will try to give a brief overview (in this issue) of the book and then proceed to look at some of the findings of the research done by the author and understand what he concludes from these findings.
The author, although of Catholic denomination, assumes that all three faiths should view the Scriptures of all the faiths as Divine revelations and thus does not accept the rejections of any of the three faiths (if any) of the accepted Scriptures of the other faiths: “If we take the objective facts of religious history, we must place the Old Testament, the Gospels and the Qur'an on the same level as being collections of written Revelation. The faithful of the West, under the predominantly Judeo-Christian influence refuse to ascribe to the Qur'an the character of a book of Revelation.
After noting how the Qur'an refers to the Scriptures and prophets of the other two monotheistic with a high degree of recognition, he notes: “The above facts are not generally known in the West.” He blames this on the “way many generations in the west were instructed in the religious problems facing humanity and the ignorance in which they were always kept about anything related to Islam (underscore by literary critic)
The author is a surgeon and he was attracted to the high level of piety shown by Moslem patients and decided to seek an understanding of Islam. He learned the Arabic language and was amazed at how the Qur'an made certain pronouncements on natural phenomena that science only recently deciphered the meaning of. Further exploration follows in the next Literary Corner.
1 The Torah and the Old Testament as combined by the author
2 The English version. The French version was first published in May 1976, with a Fourth Edition published in 1977. The book apparently aroused the interest of the Presidency of the Shari'ah Courts in Doha, Qatar, who contributed to the printing of the English translation.
3 An ancient Judaeo-Christian faith, in the Arabian Peninsula. Different characterizations have been made of these monotheistic people as to their exact habitat and what their beliefs were exactly. Some suggest it is in Southern Arabia.
4 I.e., God (Christian Arabs also call God Allah).