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Seminar: Guidance and Light? The wide variety of early Muslim engagement with the Bible

  • The Centre for Muslim-Christian Studies 109A Iffley Road Oxford United Kingdom (map)

Dr Martin Whittingham, Director, CMCS


‘Guidance and Light’ is a Qur’anic phrase describing what the Qur’an terms the Tawrāt (Torah) and Injīl (Gospel) [see Qur’an 5: 44, 6:91 on the Tawrāt, 5:46 on the Injīl]. This paper, drawing on a chapter from my book on the history of Muslim views of the Bible, samples a variety of types of literature, both Sunni and Shia (and in one case, Ibadi), from the period 800-1064. The latter date marks the death of Ibn Ḥazm, after which criticism of the Bible takes over with new momentum. At this earlier stage in the development of Muslim responses, making use of Biblical texts tends to overshadow criticising them, though both are in evidence. The paper will look at ‘Proofs of Prophethood’ works, which seek to show that the Bible refers to Muhammad. In addition I will explore Ismaili writings, Qur’an commentary, theological refutations of Christianity, and legal literature, including both positive law and legal theory.