The Injil (Gospel): Imam Farahi’s Viewpoint
Altaf Ahmad Azami

    Before we venture into examining Imam Farahi’s point of view regarding the Injil (the Gospel), it seems appropriate to first clarify certain fundamental issues related to the Injil, for example, its etymological root, its literal meaning, and opinions of the scholars of Islam viz-à-viz its veracity etc.  In this way, the importance and significance of Imam Farahi’s thoughts on this subject can become entirely evident.

Etymological Root of Injil
    In this regard, one view is that Injil is either a Hebrew or a Syriac word, while another view is that it is an Arabic word. Those who consider it to be of Arabic origin observe that it is based on the construction of اِكْلِيل (Iklil) and اِخْرِيْط’ (Ikhrit) and is a derivative of the word نَجَلَ’ (najala) which means ‘to make something vivid’. ‘نَجْل also means ‘basis, foundation, fountain and to amass’1.
    However, the author of ‘Taju’l-‘Urus’ and other lexicographers do not accept this etymological root2. In Arabic, one of its readings has been ‘اَنْجِيْل’ (Anjil). This is a proof of it being non-Arabic because the construction ‘اَفْعِيل’ (Af‘il) is not included in the Arabic word structures. Zamakhshari writes:

Torah and Injil are both ‘ajami’ (non-Arabic) words. People who have presented وَرْى and ‘نَجْل’ as their etymological roots and ‘تَفْعَلَةُ’ and ‘اِفْعِيل their paradigms have been unrealistic. These two points can only be tenable if these two words are of the Arabic language. Hasan Basri has read it on the paradigm of ‘اَنْجِيْل’ (Anjil) which is proof of its being non-Arabic because ‘اَفْعِيل’ (Af‘il) is not a part of the Arabic paradigm.3

    Baydawi (d: 1286/685) in his Anwaru’l-Tanzil has expressed the same idea.4Mufti Muhammad ‘Abduhu (d: 1322/1905), who belongs to the later group of hermeneutics scholars, has also given preference to this opinion5.
    Now, if this word is ‘ajami’ (non-Arabic), then to which language does it belong? One opinion is that it is a word of the Syriac language6 and the argument presented in its favor is that the Gospels, published in the Syriac language, have been published by the name of ‘Evangelion’. Here it should be kept in mind that the oldest translations of the Gospel in Arabic have been done from Syriac. The other opinion, regarded as most plausible by this writer is that Injil is a word from the Greek language, and it subsequently made its way into Syriac and through Syriac into Arabic7.

Literal Meaning
    In English, ‘اِنْجِيْل’ is translated as ‘Gospel’. It is derived from the ancient English word ‘goodspel’. It is a compounded form of two words ‘good’ and ‘spel’; While ‘good’ means ‘good’, ‘spel’ means ‘news’. So ‘Gospel’ means ‘good news’. This archaic word of English is in reality the translation of ‘evangelium’, which is the Latin form of the Greek word ‘euggelion’.
    In ancient Greek literature, the meaning of ‘euggelion’ encompassed everything that had a relation with ‘euaggelos’ which means ‘a messenger of good news’. It is the compounded form of two words, ‘eu’ and ‘aggelos’. While ‘eu’ means ‘good’, ‘aggelos’ means ‘messenger’ or ‘proclaimer’8. ‘Angel’ in English is adapted from this word.
    Later on, this word came to be used for every thing related to a king, particularly birth in the royal family and the proclamation of kingship. It was applied even for royal commandments9. Thus it is clear from this discussion that the literal meaning of the Greek word ‘evangellion’ is ‘glad tidings’ and ‘good news’.

Language of the Gospel
    The Gospel was first compiled in Greek but this does not mean that Jesus’s language was also Greek. Many scholars think that Jesus’s mother tongue and religious language was Hebrew. But researchers like Renan think that it was Syriac blended with Hebrew. The feature writer of Encyclopedia Britannica thinks that Christ and his disciples spoke Aramaic10. Dr Moses Butten Wieser, who was a professor of Hebrew, has written that during Jesus’s lifetime, Aramaic was the language in use11.

Historical Position of the Gospel
    A majority of Muslim scholars holds that the original Gospel revealed to Jesus (sws) is no longer extant. Today, the books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which are called the Gospels, were compiled much after Jesus (sws) by his followers. Representing this school of thought, Imam Razi writes:

In this time of decadence, the original Gospel revealed by Allah has been wasted away. Only a few portions from it are in existence, by the grace of Allah. In the light of only these can truth be made manifest to them.12

Rashid Rada was also a proponent of this view. He writes:

In the 4th century A.D, numerous Gospels were existent out of which four were selected and included in the present New Testament. We cannot call these books the Gospel which is referred to in the Qur’an at every instance mentioned as a singular word and which was revealed to Christ.13

    In this regard, the thoughts of an Indian scholar and exegete ‘Abdu’l-Haqq Haqqani are as follows:

In the time of the prophet (sws), the Torah and the Gospel were not in existence…. Calling the present fictitious collection that Torah and Gospel is mere ignorance and deception.14

    Most scholars also claim that the present Gospels, viz-à-viz their veracity, are dubious. Mas‘udi (d: 956/345), Al-Bayruni (d 1048/440), Ibn Hazm (d: 1064/456), Imam Ghazzali (d: 1111/505), Suharwardi (d: 1234/632) author of ‘Awarifu’l-Ma‘arif’, Ibn Taymmiyyah (d: 1325/728) and Ibn Qayyim (d: 751 H) have presented this view in their writings. Ibn Taymmiyyah in his book ‘Al-Jawab al-Sahih li man Baddala Din al-Masih’, Ibn Qayyim in ‘Hidayatu’l-Hayara’ and Indian scholar Rehmat Ullah Kiranvi in ‘Izalatu’l-Shukuk15 have thoroughly discussed this issue and have claimed that the present Gospels, both from the literal and connotative aspects, have been tampered with16.

Imam Farahi’s Viewpoint
    Imam Ibn Taymiyyah from among the earlier scholars and Imam Farahi from among the later standout because both were well versed in Hebrew. The latter’s instances of familiarity with Hebrew are abundant in his writings. The research on ‘marwah’ carried out by Imam Farahi in his monumental book ‘Fi man huwa al-dhabih (‘Which of Abraham’s son was Sacrificed?’) would not have been possible without acquaintance with the Hebrew language. Likewise, in Aqsamu’l Qur’an (Oaths in the Qur’an), his critique of English translations of the Hebrew word ‘yamin’ meaning ‘oath’ clearly shows that he was not only acquainted with Hebrew language but also had a firm grasp over it.

Meaning of Gospel and its Language
    It has been stated in the beginning that ‘Gospel’ is a word of the Greek language and its meaning is ‘glad tidings’. Imam Farahi intended to write a booklet by the name ‘Al-Iklil Fi Sharh al-Injil’ but unfortunately it remained unfinished. This unfinished booklet consists of 9 pages and is present in his writing treasure. In its preamble, while describing the meaning of Gospel and the purpose of the apostleship of Christ, he has written:

Jesus (sws) came as a messenger of the glad tidings of the last Prophet (sws) and his apostleship, and paved the way for him as he has affirmed (in the Gospel) and that is why he named his book Gospel ie. glad tidings and by giving numerous examples about the withdrawal of divine revelation from Jews, he has given the glad tidings of the advent of a Messenger after him17.

    About the language of Gospel, Imam Farahi’s view is that it was Hebrew18 but his distinguished pupil Amin Ahsan Islahi has written in ‘Tadabbur i Qur’an’ that it was Syriac19.

Status of the Gospel
    A majority of the scholars of Islam have unwittingly become victim of excesses in determining the status of the Gospel. For some, its status is no more than a book of geneology20 and others have declared it a divine book free from all mistakes and shortcomings21. The point of view adopted by Imam Farahi in this regard is, in the view of this writer, based on moderation and closer to the truth.
To Imam Farahi the status of foundation and pedestal rests only with the Qur’an. Anything other than it has a secondary status. He has placed three things in the ‘secondary’ category: Sayings of the prophet (sws), the established and agreed upon history of nations and the scriptures of earlier prophets, which are intact. In this regard, he writes in the prelude to his ‘Tafsir Nizamu’l-Qur’an’:

Had there been no intrusion of suspicion and doubt in sayings of the prophet (sws), history and ancient scriptures, we would not have placed them in the ‘secondary’ category, rather each would have attained the primary status and would have complemented each other without disparity.22

    In the light of this excerpt, we can say that like other religious scriptures, the position of the Gospel was also secondary to Imam Farahi.

Interpolation in the Gospel
    Like other Muslim scholars, Imam Farahi too was convinced about omission and interpolation in the Gospel. He remarks:

Our scholars claim and Christian scholars also corroborate this claim that the original Gospel is non-existent. What we have today by the name of the Gospel has the status of a mere translation in which the sayings of the narrators of the Gospel are interspersed with the sayings of Jesus (sws) and these narratives are mutually dissimilar, rather at some instances completely contradictory. Continuity and authenticity aside, the disjointedness and inexactness of the text itself is quite evident.23

Nature of Interpolation
    Those who have studied the Gospel know that a sizeable portion of it is allegorical in nature. Many words have been used in the figurative sense. This figurative and allegorical nature of the Gospel became disastrous for its followers.
    Christian scholars, while annotating the verses of the Gospel, forgot this proclamation of their Lord: ‘Man is destroyed by words and finds salvation in meaning’. They became fixated with words and were consequently destroyed. Had they searched for the intended meaning and its significance with untainted intentions, success would have fallen to their lot since the reality veiled in parable and metaphor could be easily revealed by slight reflection over the context of verses. But they were deprived of witnessing the truth because of an obsession with apparent meaning of words24.
    A large number of interpolations by Christian scholars involve very few words, of which ‘Ibn’, ‘Abb’, ‘Rabb’ and ‘Malakutullah’ are particularly noteworthy. The interpolation carried out in the text is actually an inevitable corollary of the flawed interpretation of these words. Imam Farahi, by expounding the true meaning of the first three mentioned words, ie. ‘Ibn’, ‘Abb’, ‘Rabb’, in  ‘Mufridatu’l-Qur’an’ has elucidated the interpolations of Christian annotators by giving examples. He writes:

In Hebrew language, the word ‘Ibn’ is frequently used in two meanings. One for relation, eg. ‘Ibnu’l-Sabil’, ‘Ibnu’l-Layl’, ‘Ibn Subh’, ‘Ibn Hawl’, ‘Ibn Sunnah’, and the other in the meaning of ‘Abd’ e.g. ‘Al-rajul’, ‘Al-fatah’, ‘Al-ghulam’. The word ‘Ibn’ is not like ‘Walad’ because the word ‘Walad’ distinctly carries the denotation of ‘Ubniyyat’. That is why one finds that in the Holy Qur’an, the use of this word is severely condemned and it has been made clear that since there is a speck of infidelity in the usage of the word ‘Ibn’, hence abstention from its usage is also imperative, just as the word ‘Rabb’ is akin to ‘Ma‘bud’. Thus it is quite evident from the Holy Qur’an that they have been extravagant in using these two words.25

    After explaining the literal meaning of ‘Ibn’, he further writes:

Whereever we find the word ‘Ibnullah’ in the Gospel, it is in effect ‘‘Abdullah’ and wherever the words ‘Abuna wa Abukum’ are found, they mean ‘Rabbuna wa Rabbukum’ as the Holy Qur’an has explained. Jesus (sws) had prohibited usage of the word ‘Rabb’ for himself and proclaimed that our God is one and He is Allah and we are all brothers, (Rabbuna wahidun wa huwa Allah wa ana wa antum ikhwah) but Christians changed this unambiguous instruction.26

    A clear example of this change is in the following verses of Matthew:

And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.27

    The excerpt that we have quoted above from Matthew’s Gospel is adopted from Imam Farahi’s booklet ‘Mufridatu’l-Qur’an’. According to his explanation, the interpolation committed in these verses is related to the words ‘Abun’ and ‘Rabb’. Hence, in the Arabic edition from Beirut, as Imam Farahi has written in the footnote of ‘Mufridatu’l-Qur’an’, they have replaced ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ with ‘Sayyidi, Sayyidi’, and in place of ‘li anna rabbukum wahidun’, the words ‘li anna mu‘llimukum wahidun’ have been inserted. Likewise, for ‘Rabban ‘ala’l-ard’ the words ‘Abban ‘ala’l-ard’ and for ‘li anna rabbakum wahidun’ the words ‘li anna abakum wahidun’ have been inserted respectively. By chance, the Arabic edition that we have under observation at this moment has been printed from Beirut and it includes this interpolation:

وأن يَدْعُوَهم الناسُ سيدي سيدي واَمَّا انتم فلا تُدْعَوا سيدي لِانَّ معلَّمكم واحدٌ المسيح وانتم جميعًا اخوةٌ ولا تُدْعَوا لكم أبا على الأرض لِانَّ أباَكم واحدٌ الّذي في السّموت28 

    Imam Farahi, in the related footnote, has written about the English translation of the above-mentioned verses that the words ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ have been kept intact in it but the remaining alterations still exist. Apart from this, the translator has committed another grave error: A break between the word ‘Al-Masih’ and ‘Antum Jami‘an ikhwah’ has been made through a colon sign (:) by virtue of which Christ’s relation is established with the preceding verse rather than with ‘Antum Jami‘an ikhwah29. The English translation of the Bible that we have in sight is extremely old and it has this break. The text is as follows:

They like to have places of honor at feasts and chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ: and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.30

    In another translation, which is in Modern English, the translator has completely omitted the word ‘Al-Masih’ and has inserted a capitalized ‘Rabbi’ in its place. The translation is as under:

But you must not be called ‘Rabbi’; for you have one ‘Rabbi’ and you are all brothers.31

    But in spite of all these interpolations, the teaching of Christ that ‘your Lord is one, He is Allah and do not proclaim anyone God besides Him’ remained intact. We’ll discuss it further ahead.
    The fourth word is ‘Malakutullah’, which the Christian scholars misinterpreted because of their injudiciousness and were consequently deprived of the honor of entering the kingdom of God and a major portion of their people are to this day deprived.
This point has been clarified previously, that Jesus (sws) came in this world as a harbinger of the prophet who was to succeed him. Therefore, he initiated his exhortation with these glad tidings. Observe the following words of Mathew:

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.32

    What did Jesus (sws) intend by this kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God; Christians themselves have differing views regarding this. One group thinks that it implies the second advent of Jesus (sws) when he will descend in the world as the son of Adam and the Lord, and will establish God’s kingdom on earth. Contrary to this, the other group derives from it that this world will soon come to an end and God’s kingdom would be established on it. The feature writer of the Encyclopedia of Religion writes:

The coming of God’s kingdom implied the end of the world order as it was then known.33

    But by reflecting on these words, wherever they have appeared in the Gospel, in light of their context, the mistake of both aforementioned groups of Christians becomes clear and it plainly appears that it neither means the end of the material world, nor the second advent of Jesus (sws) and the establishment of God’s kingdom in this world.  Rather it in fact implies the apostleship of the last prophet.
    It is most likely that the earlier Christian scholars were aware of this reality of ‘Malakutullah’, because of which they tried fervently to interpolate in it. Imam Farahi, after quoting in his mentioned booklet, ‘Al-Iklil fi Sharh Injil’ similar verses from Matthew and Mark regarding ‘Malakutullah’ has shown the disparity and contradiction in these verses, which visibly show that they have been tampered with.
    In Matthew, it is written that Christ questioned an assembly of Pharisees (Jewish jurists): ماذا تظنون في المسيح’ (What do you think of Christ, i.e. the promised king). The verses after this question i.e. from ‘إبن من هو؟’ (Whose son is he) to ‘من ذالك اليوم لم يحسر أحد أن يسأله’ (nor did anyone dare from that day to question Him any more) are the addition of Christian annotators because they make up an unrelated answer to the mentioned question. The question was related not to lineage but to ‘Malakutullah’. This is the reason why the phraseology of the response is utterly unintelligible and this is undeniable proof of interpolation.
    In the Gospel of Mark, this question ماذا تظنون في المسيح’ (What is your opinion regarding the Messiah?) was altogether omitted and only the first question ‘اية وصية هى اول الكل (Which is the first commandment of all) of the Pharisees has been reported. The response of Christ (sws) to this question has been affirmed by a person (probably a Pharisee) and the same is written  in the Torah.     After   hearing   this   affirmation, Christ  declared: ‘لست بعيدا عن ملكوت الله’ (You are not far from the kingdom of God).
    It is strange that Matthew has the question regarding ‘Malakutullah’, albeit unclear, its correct answer has been omitted, while Mark has the answer but the correct question is absent. It becomes evident from this that the authors of both Gospels have tried to veil the reality of ‘Malakutullah’.
    The sermon of Christ, which is famous as the ‘Sermon on the Mount’, also has mention of ‘Malakutullah’. The sermon has been recounted in Matthew’s Gospel. It begins with these very verses:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.34

    We shall quote only that part of the detailed commentary and critique made by Imam Farahi on this sermon that is related to the explanation of the kingdom of heaven, he remarks:

This reality would not be hidden from him, who has meticulously read and reflected over the manuscripts of the Gospel, that Jesus (sws) came as the harbinger of the advent of a heavenly kingdom. What was this heavenly kingdom? A purely religious dominion which was first bestowed on the Jews but they, after having wasted it, were now, after countless vicissitudes, according to the promise of God, once again awaiting its manifestation. Jesus (sws) gave them the glad tidings of its propinquity and explained it with numerous such parables that pointed exactly toward the apostleship of the Prophet (sws), but the people of their nation did not profess faith in it, and since the scholars too had become obdurate and captivated by the greed of material things, they stood against him as well. At last, after being dismayed by these people, he selected a small group of simple and impecunious individuals who were purged from all types of superfluities and contaminations of the material world and exhorted them so that when the heavenly kingdom manifests itself, they should be ready to enter it.35

    He further writes:

Hence, whatever Jesus (sws) proclaimed about the conditions of Christians, turned out to be absolutely true. One group within them remained content with their impoverished lives, but the other forgot the admonition of Jesus (sws) and immersed themselves in the pleasures of worldly life. Subsequently, exactly what Jesus’ (sws) had prophesized in the beginning of his sermon (regarding the materialists scorn for the ascetic’s destitution, despising contact with them) eventually transpired. The ascetic’s only sins were imposing upon themselves a life of poverty through expending all their valuables in the way of God; holding on to Torah and considering pork prohibited; considering circumcision necessary; deeming Jesus (sws) human, not God; accepting only the Hebrew manuscript of the Gospel which was squandered away by others; and, vehemently opposing Paul’s changes to Christianity.

When this kingdom of heaven Jesus (sws) prophesied manifested itself with the Apostleship of the Prophet Muhammad (sws), a sizeable portion of these mendicants entered it but the wealthy opposed it and remained deprived of entering this kingdom of heaven.36

    Imam Farahi has also exposed the interpolation by Christian scholars in the foregoing verses of Matthew. He writes:

If these directives of Jesus (sws) are taken to be general, then it necessitates defiance of the Sunnahs of such illustrious prophets as Abraham (sws) and David (sws). These respected prophets waged wars in the way of God, assembled armies for it, amassed wealth, spent it fittingly and never depended on others for subsistence. How then can it be said that abnegating the world is imperative for achieving excellence. This point pricked Christians too, so in order to ward it off, they made such additions in the Gospel of Matthew that have tainted the essence of the original words. The words of Matthew are: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit …Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness’. Though, even after such changes there has been no change in the spirit of the remaining text and it is evident from it that its real adversaries are the destitute and poor in wealth not the destitute and poor in spirit.37

    From this discussion it becomes evident that addition and elision has taken place in the Gospel in the garb of annotation and interpretation. Imam Farahi has not only lifted the veil from these interpolations but has also rectified them, as is clear from the above excerpt.

Respect for the Gospel
    It is true that Imam Farahi has accepted interpolation in the Gospel and has pointed it out as well, as mentioned in the above explanation, but this should not create a misperception in anyone’s mind that the present Gospel did not warrant any respect and reverence in his eyes, as one gets after reading the discourse of several other Muslim scholars.
    Imam Farahi, despite some interpolations, showed complete reverence to the Gospel as a divine book because it is a Qur’anic directive to profess faith in all divine books without any distinction. He writes:

Some Muslims ridicule certain statements of the Gospel although if they brought them in consonance with Qur’anic teachings, they would realize that the greatest responsibility of accepting certain Gospel sayings lies with Muslims. We have been directed in the Qur’an to proclaim faith on allegorical (Mutashabihat) verses. I find no reason for this directive’s principle to not apply to other divine books. It is clearly enshrined in the Qur’an that if an individual simply rejects something because he is unable to find an explanation, then he shall be considered a great sinner. Accordingly, there is a saying of the Prophet (sws): ‘Do not verify the people of the book… (meaning that whatever they narrate from the sacred books, do not verify it because they have not safeguarded it), and do not repudiate it (since it is possible that it might be among those matters whose reality is not apparent to us)’.38

    It is absolutely clear from this excerpt that Imam Farahi reviewed the Gospel as a sincere exhorter and accounted for all its exigencies. This is why his demeanor is not argumentative while critiquing and commenting on the verses of the Gospel. In the critique of the Gospel and its adherers by Islamic scholars, a polemical manner of argumentation is quite evident. The harm of this approach was that Christian scholars, in reaction, distanced themselves from the Qur’an. Imam Farahi writes in a very distressful manner while commenting on this situation:

Some Muslims ridicule the verses of the Gospel and the complaint of those who deride Christ (sws) can only be made to God. Muslims should not forget that they have only been allowed to debate in a beautiful manner and strictly disallowed from reviling their opponents. The result has been nothing but our estrangement from them and widening of the gulf of disagreement, and as an obvious outcome, they have remained deprived from accepting the truth. Although, if it is true that truth prevails over falsehood and light obliterates darkness, there can be no greater manifestation of truth for them and ourselves than juxtaposing the two views so that the one possessing wisdom and an elevated disposition would himself choose the better of the two.39

    This very exhortatory feeling of Imam Farahi drove him towards the idea of writing a commentary of the Gospel in order to expunge the deviation of the followers of the Gospel and unearth the path of submission to the truth for them. He writes at one point:

As a pretext, I would hope to discuss those matters which caused the transgression of Christians and on which their present faith is anchored. For instance, the words ‘Ibn’ and ‘Abb’; the transformation of bread and wine into Christ’s flesh and blood; that he is sitting on the right side of God; would descend among an army of angels and hold court on the Day of Judgment; that he would send PHARCOLEET who would instruct Christians on all the details of law; and, that the people of his time would witness all those things about which he has forewarned.40

    For this purpose, he wanted to write a booklet by the title of ‘Al-Iklil fi Sharh Injil’, but was unable to complete it. Even still, this unfinished booklet bears strong witness to the fact that Imam Farahi was a true well-wisher of the people of the book and they had an extremely elevated status in his eyes.

Is the Gospel Devoid of any Truth?
    When it is said that the Gospel is corrupted, people usually take it to imply that it is bereft of any truth. One is especially surprised when scholars make such gross assertions. One possible reason for this is that people do not study the Gospel. Aside from the Gospel few among these same people would be found reflecting on the verses of the Holy Qur’an.
    In reality, the Gospel does still hold some truth. From the context of the Gospel’s verses and parallels, as well as from the Qur’an, there is proof of both tampering and presence the original, real message. This was Imam Farahi’s point of view. As he wrote on one occasion:

Jesus (sws) dispelled another doubt and made plain that it is not greatness to forsake the world altogether. This is an additional distinction. The refuge from certain sins that man achieves as a result of forsaking the world is actually an escape from life’s test. Thus he has chosen this course of abandoning the world to instruct those who are unable to achieve absolute excellence. Hence the saying: ‘The disciple would not take precedence over his mentor rather everyone would be like his mentor when perfected’, (Luke).  However, later adherents did not settle for the fact that Jesus’ (sws) tradition only be considered that of additional excellence, therefore they added to the narrative of Matthew: ‘Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect’; and in place of this sentence in Luke, the following words were inserted: ‘You are as merciful as your father is’, even though the abhorrence of these words is evident. How could creation be at par with its creator? But thank God, notwithstanding the incursions of interpolators, truth prevailed and such evidences remained in the Gospel, against their desire, through which, on the one hand, any trace of polytheism is rebutted and on the other, it becomes apparent that Christ’s excellence was additional, reserved only for the mendicants.41

    Since the issue under discussion, as mentioned by Imam Farahi (‘Notwithstanding the incursions of interpolators, truth prevailed’), is of utmost importance and also a cause of bewilderment for many people, it seems reasonable to explain it further to elucidate Imam Farahi’s point of view. For this purpose, we take those three words that have become the most frequent target of Christian scholars’ tampering. These are ‘Rabb’, ‘Malakutu’l-Samawat’ and ‘Ahmad’ (Pharcoleet). The former is related to Jesus (sws) and the latter two with the Prophet (sws).
    A discussion on ‘Rabb’ and ‘Malakutu’l-Samawat’ has already been done in the preceding pages, hence this discussion would be confined to proving that despite tampering with these words, the essence of their true meaning is still unmarred. We shall start the discussion with the word ‘Rabb’.
    The present belief of Christians is that Jesus (sws) is their God and he would again, in his previous capacity, honor the world with his presence. This belief is entirely repugnant to the true teachings of Jesus (sws). He, in plain words, forbade conferring the status of God upon anyone besides the one God and included his own person in this prohibition, but later followers changed this teaching. We have already quoted certain verses from Matthew’s Gospel in this regard. Have another close look at these verses, he observed:

Greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’. But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.42

    As has been mentioned earlier, in this excerpt, in place of ‘for one is your God’ the words ‘for one is your Teacher’ have been supplanted only because Christians consider Christ their Lord and the verse prohibited it. But has this literal tampering wiped out the real teaching of Christ?
    Looking at the context of these verses, if it is conceded that in place of ‘for one is your God’, the actual verse was ‘for one is your Teacher’, then there was absolutely no need for mentioning this teaching here since the same phrase is found one phrase later in this discourse: ‘And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ’. It becomes completely evident from this that the real verse was ‘for one is your God’ which was changed by Christian scholars to ‘for one is your Teacher’?
    This ‘teaching’ can still be found at other occasions in the Gospel, for instance in the very beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, where the trial of Christ through Satan is related, the following verse is found:

Jesus said to him: ‘Away from me Satan! for it is written: “Worship the Lord, your God, and serve him only”.’43

    In this verse, the word ‘Lord’ is synonymous with the word ‘God’. Hence God is actually the Lord of people and He is to be worshipped. This teaching is more clearly found at another instance in Matthew. Pharisees’ (Jewish jurists), in order to judge Christ, questioned: ‘Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said unto him: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind44. It can be seen in this verse too that the word Lord is used with God for just one being worthy of existence. These instances are so innumerable in the Gospel that it is difficult to cover all of them.
    Can anyone claim even after these verses that the Gospel is devoid of teaching the oneness of God? As for the question, that even after these verses why do Christians consider Jesus (sws) their Lord, the answer is quite obvious. It is mentioned in the Qur’an on many instances in clear words that all prophets were humans and the last prophet (sws) was also human but in spite of this clear teaching, a large segment of Muslims consider him (sws) superhuman. The reason in both cases is the same: mendacious scholars who have mastered the craft of completely changing something through interpretation.
    By the word ‘Malakutullah’, Jesus (sws) suggested the apostleship of the last Prophet (sws), as has been mentioned above. That is why at all instances mentioning these glad tidings, Christian scholars have added such words and sentences as so these verses would bespeak the last Prophet (sws). They have succeeded in this attempt at some instances but there are still such occurrences in the Gospel, merely by the grace of God, which unequivocally declare that nothing but the apostleship of the last prophet (sws) could be implied by kingdom of heaven. For instance, consider the following verses of Mathew:

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, who planted a vineyard, hedged it around, dug a winepress in it, built a tower, let it out to husbandmen, and then went into a far country: When the fruit were ripe, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, ‘they will reverence my son.’ But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves: “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus said to them,

‘Did you never read in the scriptures, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I to you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.’45

    Regarding this topic, there are other interesting and meaningful parables also mentioned in Matthew’s Gospel. I do not wish to stop the ambling pen here, but the fear of prolixity is also imminent, so I would settle for this one parable. Those who are interested should take a look at Matthew (13:24-34; 18:1-6; 20:1-16; 22:1-4).

Now take the word ‘Ahmad’. The Qur’an says:

وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَابَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِنْ بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ (61:6).

And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah sent to you, confirming the Law [which came] before me, and giving Glad Tidings of an Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. (61:6)

    According to the above quoted verse, Jesus (sws) had foretold the name ‘Ahmad’ for the Prophet to succeed him. Perhaps this is the only example in the history of prophets that an apostle has given the glad tiding of the succeeding messenger with his name. Evidently, after these clear and established glad tidings, it was quite easy for Christians to profess faith in the last prophet, but woe to national and religious prejudice, Christian scholars tampered with this name while translating the Gospel.
    The Gospel was first translated into the Greek language. It has a word PERICLYTOS, synonym for Ahmed46. It also has a similar word PARACLETUS. Christian scholars made use of this phonetic and somewhat literal similarity and translated it as ‘helper’. But did the Gospel become bereft of the glad tidings of the last Prophet (sws) by this interpolation? No, in spite of all their possible efforts, these glad tidings still exist in unambiguous words. Consider the following verses of John’s Gospel:

And I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever.47

I have spoken these things to you, being present with you. But the Comforter48, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.49

And when the Comforter has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me.50

I shall no longer speak many things with you, for the ruler of this world comes, and he has nothing in Me.51
But I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you.52

I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears, He shall speak. And He will announce to you things to come.53

    The above mentioned verses make it difficult for any Christian to say, except out of obstinacy and prejudice, that these verses do not correlate with the glad tidings mentioned in Qur’an 61:6 (quoted above).
    It is evident from this discussion that despite interpolations, the Gospel still contains truth. The reason for this is the allegorical style of the Gospel because of which interpolators have not succeeded in their ulterior motives. Had it been bereft of truth, Christians would not have been ordered in the Qur’an to stand fast by it. The following verses in this regard assume the status of indubitable evidence:

قُلْ يَاأَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَسْتُمْ عَلَى شَيْءٍ حَتَّى تُقِيمُوا التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنجِيلَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ (5:68).

Say: ‘O People of the Book! you have no ground to stand upon unless you stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord’. (5:68)

وَلَوْ أَنَّهُمْ أَقَامُوا التَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنجِيلَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْهِمْ مِنْ رَبِّهِمْ لَأَكَلُوا مِنْ فَوْقِهِمْ وَمِنْ تَحْتِ أَرْجُلِهِمْ (5:66).

If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and what was sent down to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. (5:66)

    Since our scholars have come to believe that the Torah and the Gospel are completely corrupted, they were severely perplexed in understanding the above mentioned verses. The Qur’anic directive of standing fast by the Torah and the Gospel can only be meaningful when it is accepted that these books still contain truth, since holding on to corrupted books is irrelevant. The solution to this problem was contrived by presenting the unsubstantiated claim that these verses do not imply to the Torah and Gospel in existence today, rather the reference is to those books extant during the prophet’s time, which have now gone into extinction.
    If our respected scholars had reflected on the mentioned verses, they would not have needed this farfetched explanation. The Holy Qur’an has directed the people of the book to stand by not only the Torah and the Gospel, but the Holy Qur’an. This has been pointed to in the words ‘and what was sent down to them’ of 5:68 quoted above. Here, it should also remain in perspective that the Holy Qur’an has been called the ‘Muhaymin’ of these books. Therefore, standing by these three books in effect means standing by the Qur’an.
    Those who have insight into the psychology of nations and their national and religious prejudices can fully understand why people of the book were directed to stand by the Torah and the Gospel besides standing by the Qur’an. To this writer, this exhortation of the Qur’an holds as true for the People of the Book today as it did in the prophet’s time because these books contain truth even today.

    It is evident from our detailed analysis, in the preceding pages, of Imam Farahi’s point of view regarding the Gospel that he has analyzed it as a sincere exhorter. He has not sought to discover interpolations in the Gospel to immerse Christians in a psyche of religious inferiority and Muslims in a delusion of superiority; rather his only purpose was to make plain the passage of truth for them. That is why where he unveils interpolations of Christian annotators, he also presented the correct interpretation of manipulated verses. This approach distinguishes Imam Farahi from other Muslim critics of the Gospel and determines the right course and direction for scholars in the study of divine books.

(Translated by Razi Allah Lone)



1. For these meanings, see Ibn Manzur, Lisanu’l-‘Arab, Beirut 1956 11/648
2. Muhammad Murtada Zubaydi, Taju’l-‘Urus, Beirut, 8/138
3. Zamakhshari, Kashshaff, Egypt, 1354 H, 1/73
4. Baydawi, Anwaru’l-Tanzil (Tafsir Baydawi), Lucknow 1282 H
5. Rashid Rada Misri, Tafsir al-Manar, Egypt, 1234 H, 3/158
6. Taju’l-‘Urus 8/138
7. A contributor to Encyclopedia of Islam has written that Injil is the arabicized form of the Berber word ‘wangel’. This writer does not consider this research to be correct.
8. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, New York, 1987, 6/7980
9. Ibid.
10. Encyclopedia Britannica, 1950, 3/22
11. Jewish Encyclopedia, 8/503 (article: Messiah)
12. Imam Razi, Al-‘ilal, Egypt, 2/2-39
13. Tafsir-al-Manar, 3/49-158
14. ‘Abdu’l-Haqq Haqqani, Fathu’l-Mannan, Lahore, 1364 H, 4/46. In the exuberance of criticizing, the Mawlana forgot the Qur’an (3:93).
15. Also his book Izharu’l-Haqq that has been written in response to Mizanu’l-Haqq, the writing of a priest.
16. A group of Christian scholars and researchers concede that the present Gospels have been tampered with. Famous German Dr Mill in 1707 and Rothstein in 1751 have proved after much research and investigation that the New Testament contains interpolations. Famous writer F.C.Burkit has given various examples of these in Encyclopedia Britannica (3/518). But these interpolations are largely related to the text. The examples of interpolation given by the scholars of Islam also relate to text and this is certainly right, as we would explain ahead in detail.
17. Al-Iklil fi Sharh Injil (Manuscript, Dai’rah Hamidiyyah, Sara’i Mir, ‘AzamGarh)
18. Preamble, Tafsir, Nizamu’l-Qur’an, p. 40
19. Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, Taj Company, Delhi 1989, 8/364
20. Sayyid Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Nadawi, Mansab-i-Nabuwwat awr us kay ‘ali maqam hamilin, Lucknow, 1975, 232
21. Mahmud ‘Aqqad, ‘Abqariyatu’l-Masih
22. Preamble, Tafsir, Nizamu’l-Qur’an, p. 28
23. Aqsamu’l-Qur’an, (Urdu translation of Am‘an fi Aqsami’l-Qur’an, Dai’rah Hamidiyyah, Sara’i Mir, ‘AzamGarh), pp. 122-3
24. Not only Christian scholars have gone astray by this parable but several Muslim scholars and mystics, particularly existentialist mystics, have not also remained safe from it. For instance the narrative:

The Holy Prophet (sws) said that on the Day of Judgment the Almighty will say: ‘Oh son of Adam! I suffered illness but you did not visit me’. ‘You are the Lord of the worlds, how can I visit you?’ will be the reply. The Almighty will say: ‘Did not you know that such and such person fell ill but you did not visit him. Don’t you know that had you visited him you would have found me there’. (Muslim, No. 2569)

25.  Mufridatu’l-Qur’an, Islah Publications, Dai’rah Hamidiyyah, Sara’i Mir, ‘AzamGarh, 1358 H, p. 10. The research of Shah Wali Ullah in this regard is that in primordial times, the word ‘Ibn’ was synonymous with ‘dear’, ‘beloved’ and ‘chooser’, and its evidence is abundantly found in the Gospel (see Al-fawzu’l-Kabir-fi usul Al-Tafsir (urdu translation), Maktabah Burhan, Delhi 1963, p. 18). We see the confirmation of this thought from the Gospel. Allah says in the book of Samuel:

When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father and he shall be my son. (2Samuel, 7:12-14)

26. Mufridatu’l-Qur’an, p. 10
27. Mathew’s Gospel (the Holy Bible, Old Testament and New Testament) Beirut, 1930, Chapters 6:23 to 12
28. Mathew’s Gospel, Chapter 23:8-10s
29. Mufridatu’l-Qur’an, p. 11
30. Mathew, Holy Bible-Old and new Testament, London, 1911, Chapter 23:6-11
31. New English Bible – New Testament
32. Mathew, Chapter 4:17
33. Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 2/184
34. Mathew, Chapter 5:1-10
35. Aqsamu’l-Qur’an, pp. 132-3
36. Ibid, p. 133
37. Aqsamu’l-Qur’an, pp. 128-9. It is a fact that on numerous occasions, Christians scholars have committed interpolation because they were unable to understand the true meaning of the words, as is quite apparent from this excerpt.
38. Preamble, Tafsir, Nizamu’l-Qur’an, p. 41
39. Preamble, Tafsir, Nizamu’l-Qur’an, pp. 43-4
40. Preamble, Tafsir, Nizamu’l-Qur’an, p. 44
41. Aqsamu’l-Qur’an, p. 126
42. Mathew, 22:7-11
43. Mathew, 4:10-11
44. Mathew, 22:36-7
45. Mathew, 21:23-45
46. Its synonym is Munhamanna in Syriac and Barkleetus in Roman (Latin) (Sirah Ibn Hisham, Published by Muhammad ‘Ali Sabih, Cairo, vol. 1, p. 149)
47. Mathew, Chapter 14:16,17, the verse ahead is: the true spirit, which the world cannot attain, is an annexation.
48. This is the exegetical sentence of Christian scholars, hence connecting.
49. John, 14:25-26
50. John, 15:26
51. John, 14:30
52. John, 16:7
53. John, 16:12-13
54. The Qur’an (5:48)