It is a well known fact that Islam is hostile towards Christians and the Bible. Islamic priests attack Christian doctrines with verbosity and memory feats. Yet there is one fundamental difference between the Bible and the Qur'an that they cannot deny: the Bible is a historical revelation, while the Qur'an is not. The God of the Bible revealed Himself over thousands of years in the history of the Jewish nation. He called Abraham to be its ancestor and taught people His ways, beginning with Abraham (Genesis 26:5, 'Abraham obeyed Me and kept My requirements, My commands, My decrees, and My laws').
While the Jewish nation was increasing in numbers, God often intervened in their lives. He made His desires known to them. He chose men who wrote down the nation's history during various stages. (Through His dealings with them God wanted to teach all peoples of the earth, not only the Jews.) The Biblical historians wrote down what went on behind the scenes. For example, the Israelites were in distress under the oppression of the Midianites (Judges 6-7). God showed them that they had disobeyed their covenant (agreement) with Him, but when they prayed He helped them rid the country of the Midianites (1). We see God's mercy all through the narrative, although He still requires obedience. The Bible is not a sterile list of commandments, but it is a report of what God does in people's lives. Today, thousands of years later the Holy Spirit is still teaching God's ways through the history of the people in the Bible (2).
The Scriptures contain only selected parts of the history of the Jewish nation and their relationships with their neighbors. In this whole panorama (written down so that it would be available to the next generations), God is teaching people about life, namely what to expect from it, how to persevere in following His statutes, what the final outcome will be, and many other aspects that pertain to preparation for eternity. 'So God, through the Jewish nation, would witness to nations concerning His universal role, His nature and His expectations of life on earth' (3). That is why the Christian religion has many books on archaeology, the history of Israel, the reliability of the Bible, and Old and New Testament atlases to follow the events of its history. That also explains why God had to use many people to write down His words, as it covers thousands of years. Not only was it impossible for one person to have been an eye witness to all the historical happenings, but God has a principle that more than one witness must be used. He used many to teach us that the inspiration by the Holy Spirit was consistent and true. God also witnesses through the different writers that He is the God of history. They have a basic message: God is setting up an eternal kingdom and is inviting people to be part of it.
There is nothing like that in the Koran. Allah made himself known only to Muhammad, and his advice was memorised and written down. When Muhammad died an effort was made to collect all his sayings, and eventually one authoritative version was used and the rest destroyed (4). You cannot compare the two books. One is historical, with many writers, and can be verified by the history of its neighbors and oppressors like the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks and Romans (5). The 'revelation' of Allah to Muhammad is not a comparable historical revelation, which means it is a completely different kind of book. Muslims who attack Christians or the Bible should always be reminded of the differences and asked what historical revelations they can present to authenticate the Qur'an?
- Judges 1:1. 'Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites.' Vs 6, 'Midian so impoversihed the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.' Judges 8:28, 'Thus Midian was subdued before the Israelites and did not raise its head again. During Gideon's lifetime, the land enjoyed peace forty years.'
- Romans 15:4. 'For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.'
- W A Elwell (gen ed), Baker's Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol 2, Baker Book House, 1988, p 1860, 1861
- J Gilchrist, The Qur'an, The Scripture of Islam, Life Challenge Africa, 1995, p 102-125.
- P Masters, Heritage of Evidence in the British Museum, The Wakeman Trust, London, 2004; A Edersheim, Bible History, Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, copyright 1995 (of the 1890 seven volume edition)