Torah Vs Koran

Published: 2021-06-29 07:04:06
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Category: History Other

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Contained in the many intricate and poetic Surahs of the Qur'an are retellings of a number of famous stories of the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. However, the Qur'an's account of the lives of certain biblical characters often differs in significant ways from the Jewish version. While a believer in the divine nature of the Qur'an may claim that differences in facts stem from distortions of G-d's message as recorded in Jewish holy books, both Muslims and non-Muslims might agree that the differences in emphasis are intentional. A more cynical observer might claim that the Qur'an changed the known Bible stories to suit its purposes. By choosing to include certain parts of a famous story and leaving out others, the story itself takes on a very different significance. Occasionally, the Qur'an will also discuss parts of the story which are entirely left out of the Torah, in which case a Muslim may claim the Torah did not deem those facts important for its own reasons. A cynical observer would claim the Qur'an made these additions to make its own message clearer.

In the discussion that follows, I will often talk of what "the Qur'an intends," or what "the Torah means to say" on a topic. It should be understood that I am not ascribing human attributes to inanimate books, but rather that I am intentionally avoiding the conflict inherent in naming the author of these books. Depending on one's tastes, one could understand the Qur'an's intention to be either Muhammad or Allah's intention. Likewise, "the Torah means to say" could really be understood as what either Moses or G-d means to say. Either way, the important point is that somebody thought through the stories and decided on which words were worthy of being included in the holy texts and which were not. One of the underlying assumptions of this paper is that the stories were written down the way we find them today for a reason, and this paper intends to shed light on some of those reasons.

Although the points where the Torah and Qur'an disagree on basic facts may be controversial, these facts can often profoundly change the overall character of a story. Rather than making a value judgment as to which story is better or more likely, I will simply present these differences along with a discussion on how they impact the meaning and purpose behind the story. Changing a few key facts about a person's circumstances can often have drastic effects on how that character is viewed by the reader.
Consequently, the moral lesson which is assumed to be the purpose behind the telling of
the story is greatly altered. It is therefore necessary to study how the reader views the biblical characters in each version in order to understand the story's significance in each respective culture.

In order to facilitate a fuller understanding of the Bible stories, I begin each discussion with an overview of the story. Since the Qur'an's version is often much more abridged than the Torah, and the Qur'an itself refers to the Torah and is fully aware of its contents, this overview may include parts of the story only mentioned in the Torah. I don't feel that this biases the discussion towards the Torah's version, since the Qur'an itself accepts that version by default wherever it chooses not to retell a part of the story. However, where the Torah and the Qur'an diverge, I defer discussion of the facts to the analysis section for that story.

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