15
May
07

A Comparative Study of Three Accounts in the Qur’an and the Bible

By Hadi Qabil
Translated by A.N. Baqirshahi

The accounts of the prophets are the best examples for men and their lives are the best ideals of the history that the believers should benefit from them. Accordingly, to narrate the accounts of the prophets in the revealed scriptures are of great importance, which constitute a sizable portion of the Torah and the Qur’an. Unfortunately these accounts in the Torah have been distorted and as a result of which, tarnished the beauty of the lives of these nobles. Even some of them have been treated less than ordinary people. While when these accounts are contrasted with the similar accounts in the Qur’an. The greatness of these men and the beauty of the Qur’an come to the fore plainly. What follows is the comparison of the accounts of three prophets (s) viz. Lot, Job and David as related in the Qur’an and the Torah.

The Account of Lot in the Torah.

‘The Lord appeared to Abraham at the sacred trees of Mamre. …he looked up and saw three men standing there. …he ran out to meet them. …he said, “Sirs, please do not pass by my home without stopping; I am here to serve you. Let me bring some water for you to wash your feet; you can rest here beneath this tree. I will also bring a bit of food; it will give you strength to continue your journey. …”

They replied, “Thank you; we accept.”

He took some cream, some milk, and the meat, and set the food before the men. There under the tree he served them himself, and they ate.

One of them said, “Nine months from now I will come back, and your wife Sarah will have a son.”

Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah had stopped having her monthly periods. So Sarah laughed to herself.

Then the Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and said, ‘Can I really have a child when I am so old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Then the men left and went to a place where they could look down at Sodom, …And the Lord said, “I will not hide from Abraham what I am going to do. …

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “There are terrible accusations against Sodom and Gomorrah, and their sin is very great. I must go down to find out whether or not the accusations which I have heard are true.”

Abraham approached the Lord and asked. “Are you really going to destroy the innocent with the guilty? He said, “I will not destroy it if there are ten.” after he had finished speaking with Abraham.

When the two angels came to Sodom that evening, Lot was sitting at the city gate. As soon as he saw them, he got up and went to meet them. He bowed down before them and said, “Sirs, I am here to serve you. Please come to my house. You can wash your feet and stay the night. In the morning you can get up early and go on your way.” But they answered, “No, we will spend the night here in the city square.” He kept on urging them, and finally they went with him to his house. Lot ordered his servants to bake some bread and prepare a fine meal for the guests When it was ready, they ate it.

Before the guests went to bed, the men of Sodom surrounded the house. All the men of the city, both young and old, were there. They called out to Lot and asked, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us!” The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with them.

Lot went outside and closed the door behind. He said to them, “Friends, I beg you, don’t do such a wicked thing! Look, I have two daughters who are still virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do whatever you want with them. But don’t do anything to these men; they are guests in my house, and I must protect them.”

But they said, “Get out of our way, you foreigner! Who are you to tell us what to do? Out of our way, or we will treat you worse than them.” They pushed Lot back and moved up to break down the door. But the two men inside reached out, pulled Lot back into the house, and shut the door. Then they struck all the men outside with blindness, so that they couldn’t find the door.

The two men said to Lot, “If you have anyone else here — sons, daughters, sons-in-law, or any other relatives living in the city — get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The Lord has heard the terrible accusations against these people and has sent us to destroy Sodom.”

Suddenly the Lord rained burning sulphur on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar, he and his two daughters, moved up into the hills and lived in a cave. The elder daughter said to her sister. “Our father is getting old, and there are no men in the whole world to marry us so that we can have children. Come on, let’s make our father drunk, so that we can sleep with him and have children by him.” That night they gave him wine to drink, and the elder daughter had intercourse with him. But he was so drunk that he didn’t know it.

The next day, the elder daughter said to her sister, “I slept with him last night; now let’s make him drunk again tonight, and you sleep with him. Then each of us will have a child by our father.” So that night they made him drunk, and the younger daughter had intercourse with him. Again he was so drunk that he didn’t know it. In this way both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father. The elder daughter had a son, whom she named Moab. He was the ancestor of the present-day Moabites. The younger daughter also had a son, whom she named Benammi. He was the ancestor of the present-day Ammonites.l

Analysis of the Account of Lot in the Torah.

In this account Torah narrates the story of the Prophet Abraham (‘a), the presence of the angels in the Prophet’s house, the matter of Sarah’s son, the destruction of Lot’s people, and the visit of the Angeles with Lot, in a language incompatible with the spirit of the divine faiths and the characteristics of the Prophets. In this story certain ill-deeds are ascribed to the prophets who are actually immune from any sin. Anyhow, following points could be drawn:

  1. In this story God is considered as a visible body, descended from the sky and attended a feast in Abraham’s house, and Abraham also washed His feet and served Him with roasted calf.
  2. In the first stance, God appeared to Abraham in the form of three persons, then Abraham addressed him in singular pronoun and later addressed him (them) in plural pronoun. It is not known whether they were men, angels or God. According to the Torah they were God who surprisingly ate food over there as well!
  3. In the following verse: “I must go down to find out whether or not the accusations which I have heard are true.” it implies that God does not know unless he comes down to find out! Here the attribute of ignorance is attributed to God!
  4. Torah accused the Prophet of God of drinking wine and having intercourse with his chaste daughters. Even an ordinary man may not commit such shameful let alone the Prophet of God. Surprising point is that from the progeny of The Prophet Lot, two sons (illegitimate sons) remained. One of them became the ancestor of the present-day Moabites and the other who was Benammi became the ancestor of the presnt-day Ammonies.

The Account of Lot in the Qur’an

“Our messengers came to Abraham with the good tidings; they said, ‘Peace!’ ‘Peace,’ he said; and presently he brought a roasted calf. And when he saw their hands not reaching towards it, he was suspicious of them and conceived a fear of them. They said, ‘Fear not; we have been sent to the people of Lot.’

And his wife (Sarah) was standing by; she laughed, therefore We gave her the glad tidings of Isaac, and after Isaac, of Jacob.

She said, ‘Woe is me! Shall I bear, being an old woman? This assuredly is a strange thing.’

They said, ‘What, dost thou marvel at God’s command? The mercy of God and His blessings be upon you, O people of the House! Sure He is All-laudable, All-glorious.’

So, when the awe departed from Abraham and the good tidings came to him, he was disputing with us concerning the people of Lot; Abraham was clement, compassionate, penitent.

‘O Abraham turn away from this; thy Lord’s command has surely come, and there is coming upon them a chastisement not to be turned back.’

And when Our messengers came to Lot, he was troubled on their account and distressed for them, and he said, ‘This is a fierce day.’

And his people came to him, running towards him; and erstwhile they had been doing evil deeds. He said, ‘ O my people, these are my daughters; they are cleaner for you. So fear God, and do not degrade me in my guests. What, is there not one man among you of a right mind?’

They said, ‘Thou knowest we have no right to thy daughters, and thou well knowest what we desire.’

He said, ‘ O would that I had power against you, or might take refuge at a strong pillar!

They said, ‘Lot, we are messengers of thy Lord. They shall not reach thee; so set forth, thou with thy family, in a watch of the night, and let not anyone of you turn round, excepting thy wife; surely she shall be smitten what will smite them (your people). Their promised time is the morning; is the morning not nigh?’

So when Our command came, We turned it uppermost nethermost, and rained on it stones of baked clay, one on another, marked with thy Lord, and never far from the evildoers.[2]

Analysis of the Account of Lot in the Qur’an.

According to the Qur’an Lot was the first who believed in the Prophet Abraham and then left his city Chaleada to Palestine and remained in Sodom. People of that city were idolaters and had a very bad habit, that is, they would leave their women and have sex with boys. Lot was assigned to guide them and prevent them of such evil deed. But his efforts had no result, then he informed them of coming upon them a chastisement But the people of Lot said: “Then bring us the chastisement of God, if thou speakest truly”.

Then they threaten Lot and said: “If thou givest not over, Lot, thou shalt assuredly be one of the expelled. Anyhow, Lot’s efforts had no result and the chastisement of God came upon them. As narrated, first the angels came to the Prophet Abraham. The Prophet did not know that they were angels, thus he prepared flood for them. But they refrained from taking food hence, he was suspicious of them and conceived a fear of them. They said, ‘fear not; we have been sent to the people of Lot.’ We give a good tiding of a child for you and your wife. Then they came to Lot and said, set forth, thou with thy family, in a watch of the night, and let not any one of you turn round, excepting thy wife. The following points can be drawn from this story of the Qur’ an:

  1. The messengers were angels, therefore they refused to take food.
  2. The Prophets are infallible and God always help them in their problems.
  3. In the Qur’an Prophets are described by respectful expressions and reverent attributes.
  4. Every thing is known to God and He has dominance over all human deeds

Concluded that there are a lot of differences between the Qur’anic approach towards this story and that of the Torah and it is wrong to say that the Qur’an has taken its stories from the Bible and Torah. The Qur’an is God’s words and is free from any wrong expression.

The Account of Job in the Torah.

Can ‘t you see it is God who has done this? He has set a trap to catch me. I protest against his violence, but no one hears my cry for justice. God has blocked the way, and I can’t get through; He has hidden my path in darkness. He has taken away all my wealth and destroyed my reputation. He batters me from every side. He uproots my hope and leaves me to wither and die. God is angry and rages against me; he treats me like his worst enemy. [3]

Analysis of the Account of Job in the Torah.

In this account Prophet Job has leveled an implausible accusation against God. The Prophet Job in this story is considered to be the weakest person. Following points can be drawn:

  1. God in this account is one who set a trap to catch Job and blocked the way for him, tormenting him with words, and uproots his hope. Surprisingly such complains against God is leveled by a Prophet not an unbeliever or one who is deviated from the path of God!
  2. The prophet of God Job is restless and complaining against God. He sees himself in perdition state.

The Account of Job In the Qur’an

Remember our servant Job; when he called to his Lord, ‘Behold, Satan has visited me with weariness and chastisement.’ Surely We found him a steadfast man. How excellent a servant he was! He was a penitent.[4]

Analysis of the Account Job In the Qur’an

The Qur’an first describes the characteristics of Prophet Job by saying that he was an excellent servant with great patience as well as being a steadfast man. Even on his illness he says that Satan tried to tempt him by saying that had God loved him He would not have made him ill. Then he says that he takes refuge to God from the temptation of the Satan.

According to the Qur’an God is kind, blessing, and supporter of his Prophet Job and other prophets. He never forgets His servants, particularly His Prophets. There are two different approaches towards these stories. Therefore it is implausible to hold that the Qur’an has taken its stories from the Torah.

The Account of David in the Torah.

One day, late in the afternoon, David got up from his nap and went to the palace roof. As he walked about up there, he saw a woman having a bath. She was very beautiful. So he sent a messenger to find out who she was and learnt that she was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite. David sent messengers to fetch her; they brought her to him and he made love to her. (She had just finished her monthly ritual of purification.) Then she went back home. Afterwards she discovered that she was pregnant and sent a message to David to tell him.

David then sent a message to Joab “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” So Joab sent him to David. When Uriah arrived, David asked him if Joab and the troops were well, and how the fighting was going. Then he said to Uriah, “Go home and rest a while.” Uriah left, and David sent a present to his home. But Uriah did not go home; instead he slept at the palace gate with the king’s guards. When David heard that Uriah had not gone home, he asked him, “You have just returned after a long absence; why didn’t you go home?”

Uriah answered, “The men of Israel and Judah are away at the war, and the Covenant Box is with them; my commander Joab and his officers are camping out in the open. How could I go home eat and drink, and sleep with my wife. By all that’s sacred, I swear that I could never do such a thing!”

The next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by Uriah. He wrote: “Put Uriah in the front line, where the fighting is heaviest, then retreat and let him be killed.” So while Joab was besieging the city, he sent Uriah to a place where he knew the enemy was strong. The enemy troops came out of the city and fought Job’s forces; some of David’s officers were killed, and so was Uriah.

When Bathsheba heard that her husband had been killed, she mourned for him. When the time of mourning was over, David sent for her to come to the palace; she became his wife and bore him a son. But the Lord was not pleased with what David had done.

The Lord sent the Prophet Nathan to David. Nathan went to him and said, “There were two men who lived in the same town; one was rich and the other poor. The rich man had many cattle and sheep, while the poor man had only one lamb, when he had bought. He took care of it, and it grew up in his home with his children. He would feed it with some of his own food, let it drink from his cup, and hold it in his lap. The lamb was like a daughter to him. One day a visitor man didn’t want to kill one of his own animals to prepare a meal for him; instead he took the poor man’s lamb and cooked a meal for his guest.”

David was very angry with the rich man and said, “I swear by the living Lord that the man who did this ought to die! For having done such a cruel thing, he must pay back four times as much as he took.” “You are that man,” Nathan said to David.

Analysis of the Account of David in the Torah.

Torah doesn’t consider David a Prophet of God but holds that he was a just king, having the Book of Psalm. Torah leveled the worst accusation against David and put him parallel with the lewd persons with such characteristics. How can these Prophets be the ideal and guide for their people. How can their words and prayers be as the divine Books. Following points can be drawn from this story:

  1. In the Torah David is considered as a lewd person.
  2. Undermining the social and divine rule, David went to his palace roof and watched a woman who was having a bath in her house.
  3. By seeing that woman he sent a messenger to fetch her; brought her to him and made love to her.
  4. He had sex with that married woman, and so she became pregnant. while adultery is strongly prohibited in the Torah, and death sentence is prescribed for one who commits such an act.
  5. To prevent disclosure of his offense, David indulged himself in another offense, he called Uriah, that woman’s husband, from the battlefront and asked him to go home and sleep with his wife. But Uriah refused to do so by saying that how could I go home, eat and drink, and sleep with my wife while my commander and his officers are camping out in the open. Then David makes a secret plan to kill him. To do so he wrote a letter to Joab and asked him to put Uriah in the front line, where the fighting is heaviest, then retreat and let him be killed. Then Uriah was killed and David was pleased by hearing such news. Such story about the Prophet David is unfounded and implausible. How an officer of David is so loyal that he refuses even to sleep with his wife for his friends are in front line, fighting with enemy, while David who is the Prophet of God and the Guide of people attempts his life. It means David is motivated by his sensual passions and is lower than his officer Uriah. Torah does not recognize David as Prophet but considers him as a Just and highly positioned king who is the founder of a great synagogue. Moreover, the Psalm of David which covers the supplications of David is considered to be a part of Torah. The question is that how the supplication and sayings of such person as described in Torah should be included in the Old Testament.
  6. An ordinary person didn’t come to David, but the Prophet Nathan came to David and told him the story of that rich and poor men.
  7. David first ordered death sentence of that rich man for killing a lamb.(Is it plausible to issue death sentence to a man for killing a lamb!)
  8. Upon issuing such he contradicted his former order and said: he must pay back four times as much as he took.
  9. David confessed his sin against Uriah’s wife!
  10. God forgives him (that crime and sin is easily pardoned).
  11. While David is pardoned he was subjected to certain punishment.
  12. That woman, Bathsheba, Uriah’ s wife with such a record as described in Torah, became the mother of the Prophet of God, Solomon!

The Account of David In the Qur’an.

And remember our servant David, the man of might; he was a penitent. We strengthened his kingdom, and gave him wisdom and speech decisive. Has the tiding of the dispute come to thee?

When they scaled the Sanctuary, when they entered upon David, and he took fright at them; and they said, ‘Fear not; two disputants we are – one of us has injured the other; so judge between us justly, and transgress not, and guide us to the right path.

Behold, this my brother has ninety-nine ewes, and I have one ewe. So he said, “Give her into my charge”; and he overcame me in the argument.’

Said he, “Assuredly he has wronged thee in asking for thy ewe in addition to his sheep; and indeed many intermixes do injury one against the other, save those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness — and how few they are!”

And David thought that We had only tried him; therefore he sought forgiveness of his Lord, and he fell down, bowing, and he repented.

Accordingly We forgave him that, and he has a near place in our presence and a fair resort.

“David, behold, We have appointed thee a viceroy in the earth; therefore judge between men justly, and follow not caprice, lest it lead thee astray from the way of God. Surely those who go astray from the way of God – there awaits them a terrible chastisement, for that they have forgotten the Day of Reckoning.”

And We gave unto David Solomon; how excellent a servant he was! He was penient.[6]

Analysis of The Account of David In the Qur’an.

According to the Qur’an all the Prophets are infallible and free from any sin. The Qur’an narrates the story as it happened and praises David very much. Anyhow following points can be extracted:

  1. The Qur’an never mentions the matter of the marriage of David with Uriah’s wife, Thus, we can not comment upon it, Some of our Traditions have dealt with this story among which some are unfounded while some others are true. For instance there is a tradition from Imam Rida on this matter. It is said that one day Imam Rida said to ‘Ali bin Jahm: What do you know about David, the Prophet of God? He narrated the story according the Torah. Imam Rida got angry and said: “You accused the Prophet of God of being weak in his prayer and like children he was runnig after the birds. Then you accused him of indulging in indecency and murder. ‘Ali bin Jahm asked, then, what was ‘the sin of David upon which he sought God’s pardon as the Qur’an refers to it? The Imam replied: At that time, when the women were losing their husbands, they never marry again for it was unusual to do so. David was the first who was allowed to marry to such women (so that to break such wrong tradition). Thus, when Uriah was killed, he married to his wife. This act of David was not plausible for the people.[7]
    Imam’ Ali (‘a) said: if anybody, comes to me and says that the Prophet David married to Uriah, I would punish him twice. One punishment for insulting the prophethood, and second one for Islam (accusation of a faithful man to an unlawful act). [8]
  2. God praises the Prophet David in the Qur’an as follows:…”And remember our servant David, the man of might,. He has a penitent. With him We subjected the mountains to give glory, at evening and sunrise, and the birds, duly mustered, every one to him reverting; We strengthened his kingdom, and gave him wisdom. and speech deci.sive.”[9]
  3. The Qur’an speaks about the Divine visitation of God with David. By divine visitation God wants to display the spirit of satisfaction, submission, and sincerity of his Prophets, and introduce him as their guide. There are ample of ahadith dealing with this issue.

Notes:

  1. Good News Bible, (Today’s English Version), The Bible Society of India, Genesis. 18-20.
  2. The Qur’an, (An English translation by A.J. Arbery), Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, the verses: Hud:71-85.
  3. Op. cit. Good News Bible, Job. 19.
  4. Op; cit. The Qur’an, 38: 40-45
  5. Op. cit. Good News Bible, Samuel, 11
  6. Op. cit. Tlle Qur’an, 38: 16 -30
  7. Nural-Thaqalayn, vol. 4. P. 445.
  8. Majma .al-Bayan, vo1. 8. P. 473

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