Do You Know These 7 Differences Between the Bible and Quran?

Jeremy Bouma on September 6th, 2016. Tagged under ,,,,.

Jeremy Bouma

Jeremy Bouma (Th.M.) has pastored on Capitol Hill and with the Evangelical Covenant Church in Michigan. He founded THEOKLESIA, which connects the 21st century Church to the vintage Christian faith; holds a Master of Theology in historical theology; and makes the vintage faith relevant at jeremybouma.com.

ngb1Nearly every religion has their sacred text. But not every text is equal in nature, composition, transmission, and use. Nabeel Qureshi makes that incredibly clear in his highly anticipated book investigating the evidence for Islam and Christianity, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?.

In a thought-provoking, revealing comparison between the Quran and the Bible, Qureshi exposes seven important differences between these sacred texts. “Both scriptures are considered holy to their people, certainly, but their uses are different, their histories are different, and indeed, their very natures are understood differently.” (104)

1) The Quran Is the Jewel of Islam

In 2011, the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor incited violence, even though a few years prior the US Government incinerated a cache of Bibles in Afghanistan without incident. Why the different responses? Qureshi says,

The answer lies, at least partly, in the fact that the Quran has a different place in the hearts and minds of Muslims than the Bible does in the hearts and minds of Christians…The traditional Muslim reverence for the Quran is almost inestimable. (104, 105)

2) The Quran is the Eternal Word of Allah

The reason why the Quran is valued differently than Christians—to the point of inciting violence—is that the very nature is understood differently than the Bible. As Qureshi explains, “[The Quran] is the closest thing to God incarnate… Its place in Islamic theology is that of Jesus in Christian theology.” (269) Meaning: the Quran is to Islam what Jesus is to Christianity. This is a significant difference between the two religions, for Christians believe the Bible is inspired by God, not eternal.

3) The Quran is Literally God’s Words

“Since Muslims believe the Quran is an eternal expression of Allah, they do not think that the Quran was written by men in any sense. It is the very speech of Allah, inscribed on a heavenly tablet, from which it was read by Gabriel and dictated to Muhammad.” (106) Rather than this word being inspired, in the Christian sense, it is revealed:

Allah revealed it piecemeal to Muhammad, dictating it through the angel Gabriel. Muhammad had nothing to do with shaping the text; he only relayed it. (106)

4) The Quran Is One Genre

The contents of the Bible and Quran is where some of the starkest differences emerge. We know the Bible is diverse in its literary genres and reading, because God inspired specific men to write using their own experiences and perspectives. Not so the Quran:

It contains essentially one genre: Allah speaking to Muhammad. Although there are significant exceptions…the Quran more or less reads in the same manner throughout its text. (108)

5) The Quran’s Compilation Was Fluid 

Given the nature of Arabic during Muhammad’s life, the Quran was not written but orally known, and by memory. Muhammed would recite the same verse multiple ways, so would his followers. He would also cancel previous texts through so-called abrogation: Mohammed “would tell his followers that certain portions of the Quran he had relayed before were no longer to be recited as part of the Quran.” (110) Therefore, if he needed part of the text to go away, he would replace it with another and tell his followers to stop reciting it and forget it. The Bible never underwent this sort of abrogation.

6) The Quran’s Textual Transmission is Problematic

Did you know that “today’s Quran, which was not put together by one of the teachers Muhammed named, is but one of multiple Quranic canons, the one that received official approval by the caliphate and became the standard text when the rest were burned”? (285–286) That’s right, the first burning of the Quran was actually by Caliph Uthman, who recalled all the variant manuscripts, destroyed them by fire, and issued an official, standardized version according to his reading. Qureshi’s indictment is important:

The Quran’s textual transmission is pockmarked by human artifice and intervention, and none of the other arguments for the Quran’s inspiration bear the weight of scrutiny. (286-287)

7) The Quran Is the Why of Islam

Perhaps the most important insight Qureshi offers is the “why” of Islam. He explains, “the primary use of the Quran is to serve as the basis of why Muslims believe in Islam.” (112) The Quran is Islam’s why because of its purported:

  • literary excellence
  • numerous prophecies
  • scientific knowledge
  • mathematical marvels
  • perfect preservation

“Unlike the Quran, the primary use of the Bible is to serve as the basis of what Christians believe, not why they believe.” (112) Qureshi reminds us that we believe what we believe because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; that’s our why.

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“The primary purpose of each scripture is related to its nature: The Quran is valuable in its mystical transcendence, while the Bible is valuable in its translatable and accessible guidance.” (112)

Engage Qureshi’s important investigation of the evidence for Islam and Christianity yourself to better understand your faith, and how it compares to the religion of your neighbors, friends, and co-workers.

ngb1To continue reading about the differences between Islam and Christianity, buy your copy of No God but One: Allah or Jesus? today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Christian Book.

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Learn what Muslim life is like

Take a look at this conversation with Nabeel Qureshi:

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  • else hagelin 2 years ago

    i don’t agree with Qureshi. he says that Christians believe that “…the Bible is inspired by God, not eternal.” wrong. The Bible is written in the power of the Holy Spirit by those who were inspired/chosen by God; they were vehicles that God used to bring His Word to the human kind.
    the quran was written by humans, not inspired by the true Living God, but their manipulative desires to control all. per quran’s “teaching”, those who choose not to follow quran/islam need to be oppressed, robbed of all livelihood and killed if other means don’t make person to change his/her mind. mohammed is dead, buried and, alike all flesh, dust of the earth until, at the end of time, called to the presence of the Judge of all the earth. –whereas, Jesus is risen and alive at the right hand of God the Father, and He is coming back again on the clouds of heaven, hallelujah!
    the Word of God, the Bible is the eternal living Word. Jesus is the Living Word of God and He says “…my words will not pass away.” (Matt 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33) and in John he speaks about His Word being the Judge at the end of times and giving the true life to those who believe in Him, in His Word. clearly, the inspired Word of the Bible brought to the mankind by God’s chosen authors is the eternal Word of God either for the judgment or for the true life of every human being who has ever lived on this planet. The Word of God is the life giving word; quran spreads hate, anger and murder.

  • else hagelin 2 years ago

    i need to add that as i was reading Qureshi’s writing above, to me it sounds that quran is given subtly greater value than the Bible in his writing.

  • Christian American 1 year ago

    I agree with Else Hagelin. This article appears somewhat slanted toward putting as good a light as possible on the quran, even with telling some truths. If you are a Christian and into telling the truth and into leading people to Jesus Christ for life abundant…. why keep titling paragraphs with “The Quran”, “The Quran”…. when the article supposedly was comparing the quran with the Bible? This is IMPORTANT information. Heaven and Hell are REAL and people need to know God’s great love, His eternal plan and that the quran is violent and a mess.

  • Ronilo Ysmael 9 months ago

    Else Hagelin is quick in saying that “The Word of God (written in the Bible) is the life giving word; quran spreads hate, anger and murder.” I wonder what will be Else’s comments on what is written in Deuteronomy 20:10-17!

  • Dave 8 months ago

    Totally one side article, slamming Christians while boosting the muslims. Article is biased and lame.

  • Tara Kingsley 6 months ago

    Where are the Christian principals and the beliefs that Christians hold toward their Bible?

  • Terri Ely 5 months ago

    There were a few insightful pieces in This article, but I struggled. Having presented an Intro to the Bible class, I found this article unclear, and in some cases, not consistent with my understanding.

    The presentation of the Koran provides insight, but the comparison with Christian understanding of the Bible is not precise, and at times, feels erroneous.

    Also many Christians today are not grounded enough in the Bible to be able to walk away with a strong comparison from this article.

  • Maegan Snider 4 months ago

    The Quran isn’t violent, if you understand it’s context. You can not simply read a book written hundreds of years ago as if it was written today. You need to understand the history, people, and culture of the time. The best translation I have found for English speaking Non Muslims is The Holy Quran: Arabic Text, English Translation and Commentary
    by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Maulana Muhammed Ali
    After reading it and being able to understand what it actually means it helped me to better understand the peace of Islam. You should not ever judge a religion when you are uneducated about it and also in a bias manner. I think because of some people who were extremist which can be applied to both religions Islam and Christianity people automatically are bias whether or not they want to admit it. Although the worst of the extremist of Christian faith is not always happening it still happens and was really bad in the past. So I do not think it is fair how some people get so offended. God made us different and none of us need to believe or be just like the other, I think it is best for us to rejoice in what God has revealed in our lives, and love and respect one another as Jesus would do. I don’t think the person who wrote this article was being mean or bias to Christians, I think he was just wanting people who didn’t grow up in Islam faith to understand how they view the Quran and there is no reason to take offense over that. IT is really hard for an American english speaking person to understand Islam bc there isn’t a lot of really good information out there for people who know nothing about it and when you see things that could be misinformation you do not know how to tell the difference. I know this from personal experience, believe me I have been met with a lot of negative thoughts and peoples personal opinions that are not fact about my marriage to a Muslim. I am an American english speaking person, raised in the deep south in church. There is no reason to get angry over everything and want to argue, be happy that you learned something instead of being so negative. BEST. God Bless. The best thing to do is to befriend someone of different religions and get to know it through your friendships, you do not have to convince each other one is right, the other is wrong, simply observe, learn, and love each other for the unique beautiful miracle God made, YOU. it’s ok to be different.

  • Riasat Mobashar 3 months ago

    Let me make it VERY CLEAR at the beginning of my comment as it may not be clear for some based on my name: I AM A FOLLOWER OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WITH ALL MY HEART, WITH ALL MY MIND, AND WITH ALL MY STRENGTH and I PRAY THAT THE LORD GRANTS ME THE STRENGTH AND FAITHFULNESS THAT EVEN MY DEAD BODY CRIES OUT (SHOUTS): JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, JESUS …………..!

    It does not matter to me or bother me whether you agree or disagree with what I am going to share below. You have the right to do either.

    I read the above article as you did and read most of your comments. I grew up in the same land and culture where our Dear Brother Nabeel Qureshi’s parents came from (Pakistan) and lived there for the first 27.5 years of my life. It will be a great pleasure and honor for me to meet Nabeel on one glorious day in the presence of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

    In a way, I can say that I do have a background in both the Christian and Muslim cultures. I was born in and grew up in a Christian family but studies and lived among Muslims (Millions)! Up to my high school, I studied mandatory Islamic Studies (Parts of Quran, Islamic History, Mohammed’s Biography, Muslim Viewpoint of Jesus, Bible, Christianity, Christians, etc.). This is when I learned how to read Arabic. Initially, I was unhappy to study all this especially with all that HATRED and LIES against ALL THAT I, MY FAMILY, and MY COMMUNITY BELIEVED AND VALUED and it was not for an hour, day, week, month, or a year but FOR MANY YEARS! Please understand that I am not asking for any sympathy but trying to provide you a truthful background as Ms. Maegan Snider has basically questioned the background of “English Speaking” Americans/Westerners who have a different opinion of the above article than she does. Now back to what I was sharing. But with the time, The Lord helped me and strengthened me such that I took The Islamic Studies as a subject and studied it hard just like other subject. In my high school exams The Lord helped me do so well in The Islamic Studies that I beat all my classmates (approx. 100). Well, I beat them in all subjects and graduated at the top of my class. Throughout my life (I am in my early 60s now and live in the “English Speaking” country called The United States of America..), I have studied Islam and came across (interacted with) many, many more Muslims of a variety of backgrounds. I participate in several discussion groups on the internet and own a copy of the Glorious Quran (Arabic with English Translation and Commentary by a Committee of four Muslim Scholars (all have Ph.Ds. and three are professors) from Turkey) that I read and use in my discussions with Muslims. Again to make it VERY CLEAR: I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT QURAN IS THE INSPIRED AND REVEALED (WAHEE in Arabic) WORD OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD (YAHWEH). So, Ms. Snider, I respectfully state that I DO HAVE THE BACKGROUND IN ISLAM AND THE MUSLIM CULTURE THAT YOU BROUGHT UP AS “LACKING” IN THE “ENGLISH SPEAKING” NON-MUSLIMS! I do speak English (mostly if nor exclusively), have lived in the great country called USA for almost 35 years of adult life, and have three earned degrees in “the hard sciences” (with the 3rd the highest degree in science). Now all this is not for boasting but to address your “objection” that other who commented on the above article lacked “the background” in Islam, Quran, Arabic language, and Muslim culture and thus were “unfit” to comment on the above article and quotations therein from Dr. Nabeel Qureshi’s book. I boast in My Savior and Lord Jesus Christ ONLY! By the way, Dr. Nabeel Quresh was a bold witness and follower of The Lord Jesus Christ before he went to live with The Lord in 2017.

    Now back to the above article and Ms. Snider’s comment on it. The article is slanted to kind of “glorify” the Quran but I don’t know why. Despite my background, as I summarized above, I am disappointed and kind of “confused” with the article or maybe its the way its presented. As I wrote above, Dr. Nabeel Quraishi was a bold and faithful witness and follower of The Lord Jesus Christ but I have not read his book that is quoted in the above article.

    I am not a scholar of the Arabic language but I found almost all 7-8 English translations of the Quran that I accessed online, including the one I own, LACKING, INACCURATE, and “DECEPTIVE” at many significant points. For example, Surah Al-Ikhlas (112) that Muslims frequently quote in discussions with Non-Muslims (Christians) talks of ONENESS of Allah especially the Verses 1 and 4. All English translations say that Allah is “ONE AND ONLY”, “ONLY ONE”, etc. Maybe this is what Muslims believe BUT THIS NOT WHAT’S WRITTEN IN ARABIC IN THE QURAN! There are many other such examples.

    Ms, Snider’s favorite translator Maulana Muhammad Ali was not a native Arabic speaker. He was born and lived his entire life in India. So, his knowledge of Islam, Quran, Mohammed, Arabic language, English language, and the Arabic (Makkan) culture of the late 6th and early 7th Century AD was SECOND HAND AND BOOKISH AT BEST just like most others. In fact most translators of the Quran (we are not talking about The Holy Bible and books of other religions at this time) are NON-NATIVE ARABIC SPEAKERS and MOST NOT EVEN NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS. Most English speaking people like Pickthall’s English translation as he was an English speaking convert to Islam.

    In my discussions with Muslims, I focus on Jesus and Mohammed and The Holy Bible and the Quran. Here is Mohammed’s example:

    “The Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah. [Muslim, Book 1, Hadith 33].

    Unlike the Quran, there is no interpretation needed here and The Sahih (CORRECT; AUTHENTIC) Al- Muslim Ahadith and Sahih Al-Bukhari Ahadith are the two Collections of Ahadith (Syaings of Mohammed) that are the most trusted and most respected among Muslims.

    Ms, Snider, what is your defense of this example of Mohammed? The Islamic History and literature document that this is how MOHAMMED LIVED HIS LIFE INDEED! This is not a “theoretical”! Can you give us an identical example from Jesus’ life?

    May The Lord Jesus Christ (The Almighty God in Human Body) bless you!