The Qur’an is the primary holy text of the Islamic faith. According to Muslim beliefs, the words of the Qur’an were dictated by Muhammad, who relayed them orally to his followers. The term Qur’an translates to mean “the recitation.” The message was delivered by Muhammad approximately 600 years after the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Given the Qur’an is the foundation of the Islamic worldview – the basis of Muhammad’s prophetic claims, the foundation of Shari’a law, and the most frequently recited book in the world. Many people think that the Qur’an is drastically different from the Bible. While there are major differences, there are also many connections between the two holy books. Here are four major connections between the Qur’an and the Bible.
The Qur’an and the Bible have common events.
In some cases, the Qur’an and the Bible have common events but these events occur in different narrations. One example is Saul and Gideon. In the Bible, Gideon ad Saul are military leaders of Israel between the Exodus and Exile. We see in the book of Judges in the Bible, Gideon is hesitant about leading the Hebrews in battle. God shows his power when he tells Gideon to observe when the troops reach a river, telling them that whoever drinks without His hands Gideon has to send home. The Hebrews have a later victory. In the Qur’an, the same event happens to Saul when he is on the way to meet Goliath. In the Biblical account of Saul and Goliath, Saul is also hesitant about the battle with Goliath’s army.
The Qur’an is filled with characters from the Hebrew Bible.
The Qur’an and the Bible have over 50 people in common. The angel Gabriel is a very important character in both the Bible and the Qur’an. In the Bible, the angel Gabriel appears and explains the visions of the prophet Daniel, and also New Testament where he appears to Zecharia, telling him of his son-to-be John the Baptist. According to Muslim belief, the angel Gabriel appeared to Muhammad in a cave near Mecca, reciting to him the first verses of the Qur’an. But Gabriel is not the only character that shows up in both the Qur’an and the Bible. Both holy books include: Adam, Abraham, Noah, Lot, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and Goliath, Jonah, Mary and John the Baptist in addition to others, including Jesus.
The Qur’an illustrates Jesus as a prophet given a message to display to all people.
Jesus is mentioned in both holy books, but who they believe Jesus was is different. While Jesus is recognized as the Son of God in the Bible, Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet who was given a special message, or gospel, to convey to all people.
The Qur’an mentions Jesus, or Isa, 25 times, but differently each time. The Qu’ran explains that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary (19:20-210 and is “high honored in this and the next world” (3:45-46). This is why he is called Isa ibn Maryam, which means Jesus son of Mary. The Qur’an also refers to Jesus as ruh min Allah, which means “Spirit from God”, mushia bi’l Baraka, which means “the Messiah – someone blessed by God”, kalimah min Allah, which means “Word from and/or of God,” and rasul, which means “Prophet-Messenger” of God.
While Muslims accept that Jesus was a servant, teacher and lover of God’s Word which the Bible characterizes Jesus as, they do not believe that He was divine or the Son of God.
The Bible and the Qur’an both command and restrict violence in protection of their religious communities.
In the Bible, extreme warfare is commanded in order to establish the Jewish religious community in Israel, but then also commands that non-Jews be free to live in Israel unharmed. The Qur’an also commands warfare to protect the early Islamic community in Arabia, but also limits warfare to those who break treaties or persecute Muslims. One thing that does separate the New Testament from the Qur’an is that Jesus commands non-violent resistance and love of enemies, even at times when the individual or religious community is threatened, a principle that many of his followers neglected.
Contrary to popular belief, the two holy books have similarities. Believers of both faiths should take the time to read and understand both holy books. When Christians take the time to read the Qu’ran, they are showing respect to their Muslim neighbors, respect enough to try and understand their religion. When Muslims take the time to read the Bible, they are also taking the time to respect to their Christian neighbors. In the process, each gains respect for each other.
For anyone interested in reading the Qur’an, know that it is not light or easy reading. There are many who consider it to be confusing and difficult to read from cover to cover. The themes of the Qur’an are interwoven among the chapters and the book is not in Chronological order. Despite the challenges of reading the text and understand its message, there are also tools and resources available that make reading the text easier.