The Koran and its connection to Christianity and Judaism

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Through Charles Mathewes, Ph.D., University of Virginia

Over the past 50 years, thinkers have come to realize that Islam is an integral part of the history of Western thought on evil in complex ways. Islam is linked to the older traditions of Jewish and Christian thought, but offers them an alternative view. There is also the way in which Islam views the Quran.

The three Abrahamic religions share some common characteristics, but have their own interpretations of evil. (Image: Arent de Gelder / Public domain)

Islam and other Abrahamic religions

Islamic thought was deeply influenced by the early Greek, Jewish and Christian thinkers; and thus, understanding Islamic thought reveals things about these earlier traditions that might otherwise disappear.

Islam itself was the source of the transmission of much of pre-Christian literature and philosophy, especially Greek philosophy, to Western Christendom. These also gathered good insight on a range of important topics from Islamic philosophers and lawyers themselves.

Moreover, Islam serves as a sort of internal critique of the mainstream of Western thought on evil; a critic who is both inside and outside of this mainstream. It not only serves as a useful contrasting option to the main line of thought that Western ideas of evil follow, but it also serves as a vital narrative that has its own integrity, albeit somewhat oblique to that mainstream. .

This is a transcript of the video series Why evil exists. Look at it now, Wondrium.

The uniqueness of the Quran

A decorated page of the Koran
The Quran has a complicated relationship with the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity. (Image: acquired by Henry Walters / public domain)

The Qur’an is unique among the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions in making explicitly the episode of the origin of evil in Creation by recounting the rebellion of Iblis, the rebellious spirit. Iblis is the one who becomes ash-Shaitan, the primordial rebel against God.

The Quran is the sacred text of Islam, but it is not, per se, considered to be the Muslim Bible. Yes, it is about as long as the Christian New Testament and similarly divided into sections. There are 114 suras (chapters) in the Quran and each of these suras is composed of verses called ayah, which is also translated as the word “sign”.

Each of the verses, thus, of each of the suras of the Qur’an is a sign of God’s providence and love for mankind. So far, so good; it looks like another holy book.

Learn more about the idea of ​​evil in Abrahamic religions.

A complex relationship

But the similarities can be misleading in some important ways. The Qur’an is linked in a complicated way to both the Torah and the Christian Bible, the New Testament and the Old Testament.

First of all, Islam respects the sacred books of the Jewish and Christian positions; he claims, in fact, that these books themselves contain significant dimensions of the revelation of God through the sending of the prophets of God. Islam incorporates important segments of Hebrew Bible and Christian New Testament accounts into its teachings; and, sometimes, the story itself appears, slightly differently told, in the Qur’an.

Written revelation

Second, the Quran is not quite the same as a “bible”. A bible literally comes from the Greek word “the book”; the Qur’an literally means ‘recitation’. The Koran is the revelation given to Muhammad, which was transmitted to him by the angel Gabriel; and Muhammad, then, would go and recite it to his disciples and rivals and other people interested in the cities.

It was in fact only written in bits and pieces during Muhammad’s lifetime, then it was not compiled, collected, organized and verbatim corrected until after his death and canonized in the form we have it apparently. -it, by Uthman, the third caliph, who reigned about 20 years after Muhammad’s death.

The perfect recording of the divine

The vast majority of Muslims through the centuries believed that the Quran was the perfect recording of what Archangel Gabriel recited to Muhammad as God told him to recite it. The Qur’an is composed entirely of exceptionally powerful lyric poetry, one of the finest Arabic poems ever written.

Unlike the Torah and the Christian New Testament and Old Testament, the Koran itself is sacramental; a material means of holiness; a way of participating in God; in a sense, closer to the Christian Eucharist than to the Christian Bible or the Jewish Torah.

Form and language of the Quran

Muslim child reciting the Quran
The Quran is the word of God for Muslims, and the form and language of the Quran is considered to be as transmitted from God. (Image: Yusnizam Yusof / Shutterstock

The Quran is the word of God for Muslims, but in this case it looks a bit like how Jesus is the word of God for Christians because the Quran was recited by God to Gabriel in Arabic. In other words, there is no distance between the content of God’s message and the linguistic form in which it exists in the Quran.

In Islam it is very clear that the poetic form and the linguistic form of the Quran is exactly what God wanted to give to his people. At one point in the Quran, God says, “I gave you an Arabic Quran, an Arabic recitation”; and that means that this language and this recitation, these poems, are inherently very rich and dense theologically.

Learn more about the Hebrew Bible and the fear of God.

Indeed, the whole Quran has only about 200 verses directly ordering believers to pray, but 600 verses ordering believers to reflect, meditate and analyze the magnificence of God in nature, in plants, in stars and in the solar system as an integer.

Q. What is the connection between Islam, Greek thought and Christianity?

Islam was the source of the transmission of much of pre-Christian literature and philosophy, especially Greek philosophy, to Western Christendom. These also gathered good insight on a range of important topics from Islamic philosophers and lawyers themselves.

Q. How is the Quran different from the Bible in terms of the view of the book itself?

In a different way from the Torah and the Christian New Testament and Old Testament, the Koran himself is sacramental; a material means of holiness; a way of participating in God. The Koran is the word of God for Muslims.

Q. Does the Quran only deal with legal aspects?

No. Approximately 6,000 verses in the Koran, only about 500 are in the form of law.

Keep reading
The Prophets in the Hebrew “Bible”: The Answer to God and to Evil
Evil: challenges between theoretical and practical aspects
Adam and Eve: evil as rebellion against God


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