By Syed Mashood Ahmad, who is MA in Biblical Studies. He has spent many years interacting with Christian preachers, priests and academics, and has brought together everything learnt into this book.
I first developed an interest in Christianity in my University days some 20 years ago. There, one of my closest friends was the Christian Union’s president and he’d often invite me to his Bible talks. I began to attend regularly and from there didn’t look back. We covered the gospel of Mark in the talks, and I would carry on with my own study privately, to the point that whenever the Pastor would ask a question, I’d be the only one in the classroom who’d answer it!
I had at that point developed a strong interest in the actual Bible, and like any scripture, I wanted to know the most basic questions; Who wrote it? When was it written? How was it written? Who were the authors writing to? And of course, has the Bible been changed over time? I struggled to find many of these answers in literature written by Muslim scholars. Although we had many books and lectures on certain topics on the Bible and Jesus, like “Was Jesus god?” “Was Jesus crucified on the cross?” Etc. but not much on the origins of the Biblical text, nor the origin of the religion for that matter.
I undertook the journey to find out these answers, it led to me buying dozens of books by Biblical scholars, numerous academic commentaries, speaking to dozens of Christian Priests, Pastors and evangelists and finally, I decided to enrol in University, graduating with a Masters in Biblical Studies. From there, I learnt Greek grammar, techniques and methods of interpretation and how to actually write as well. From this point, the nature of my journey took me towards Christians themselves; learning from their perspective. I’d booked weekly sessions with numerous Priests and elders, going over every verse of the New Testament and listening carefully to how they understood these passages. I would host interfaith events with Christians, and we’d end up discussing various topics late into the night. In turn, I’d also speak about the Bible in numerous events in my mosque. This link enabled me to me to understand the Bible from a Christian perspective.
I searched far and wide for a Commentary of the Bible from a Muslim perspective, but I was shocked to find nothing. I decided to start the project and write one; and this is the result. The first Muslim Commentary of the Bible written in English. Admittedly it doesn’t cover the entire Bible, but the four gospels (the rest of the New Testament being my next project). Here I give an Introduction to the Bible; and answer the questions I initially wanted to know:
- I now know who wrote the gospels, or better who didn’t.
- I know roughly when they were written.
- I know how they were written.
- I know or have a good idea of who the author’s audience was.
- And of course; I now know that the Bible has been changed and more importantly, I can show it.
The last question is important; since I was always taught that the Bible has been changed over time, but when I raised this with a Christian Pastor in university, he asked me; “What has been changed? When was it changed? How was it changed?” I had no idea then! But now I do, I looked up all major Textual Variants (differences between ancient Biblical manuscripts) and compiled it in the commentary, so now I know exactly what was changed, I know roughly when, and I know how as well. I list over sixty of these changes, showing what changes were made and in what manuscripts, versus other manuscripts.
So many stories in the gospels are also recorded in the Holy Quran, but with subtle or other times major differences; for example, it was fascinating comparing the gospel accounts of the birth of John the Baptist with the Quranic account. Or finding other parallels within the hadith literature.
Building on the works of the Promised Messiah, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him), I delve deep into the narrative of how Jesus survived the cross ordeal. I trace numerous passages and teachings of Jesus which make perfect sense if understood to have happened after the crucifixion. For example, did you know that there were two signs of Jonah? Yes, in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says it twice! But one was said before he was crucified as a prophecy, and the other time was said after he was crucified, as a reminder to the audience of what happened.
The book is now finally available on Amazon, and will soon be made available through the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s bookshops for all to view and read.
A huge thanks must go to my family who encouraged me and continue to encourage me to write more, and Inshallah I plan to do so. My God guide me and enable me to serve to the best of my best ability. Ameen.
Categories: The Muslim Times