In this article, we will look at two books which are the sacred scriptures for three religions. The Bible is the sacred scriptures for Christians, and the Old Testament section (Tanakh) is the scripture for the Jewish faith. The Koran (Qurʾān) is the scripture for the religion of Islam. What do these books tell us about knowing God, about His love, and about salvation?
History of the Quran and the Bible
The Old Testament section of the Bible was written over many centuries, stretching from 1446 BC (probably earlier) to 400 BC. The New Testament books were written from around AD 48 to 100.
The Koran (Qurʾān) was written between AD 610-632.
Who wrote the Bible?
The Bible was written by many authors over a timespan of 1500 years or longer. The Bible is God-breathed, meaning that the Holy Spirit guided and controlled what the authors wrote. It is the ultimate source of our knowledge of God, of the salvation provided through the Lord Jesus Christ, and our indispensable resource for daily living.
Moses wrote the Torah (first five books) during the 40 years following the exodus from Egypt, after ascending the mountain of Sinai, where God spoke directly to him. God spoke face to face with Moses, as with a friend. (Exodus 33:11) The books of the prophets were written by many men inspired by God. Many of the prophecies have already been fulfilled in Jesus, and the rest will soon come to pass as Jesus’ return is fast approaching. The writings and poetic books were written by King David, his son King Solomon, and by other authors directed by the Holy Spirit.
The New Testament was written by the disciples (apostles) who walked with Jesus, saw His great healings and miracles, and were witnesses of His death and resurrection. It was also written by Paul and others who came to faith later, but who were taught by the apostles and received direct revelation from God.
Who wrote the Quran?
According to the religion of Islam, the prophet Muhammad was visited by an angel in AD 610. Muhammad said that the angel appeared to him in the cave Hira, close to Mecca and commanded him: “Read!” Muhammad responded, “But I cannot read!” Then the angel embraced him and recited to him the first verses of the Surah Al-Alaq. The Qurʾān contains 114 chapters called Surah. Al-Alaq means congealed blood, as the angel revealed to Muhammad that God created man from a blood-clot.
From this first chapter of the Qurʾān, Muslims believe Muhammad continued to receive revelations, which make up the rest of the Quran, until he died in AD 631.
How long is the Quran compared to the Bible?
The Bible consists of 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. It has roughly 800,000 words.
The Qurʾān contains 114 chapters and is about 80,000 words, so the Bible is about ten times longer.
Similarities and differences of the Bible and Quran
Both the Bible and the Qurʾān contain stories and references about the same people: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Goliath, Elisha, Jonah, Mary, John the Baptist, and even Jesus. However, some of the basic details of the stories are different.
The Qurʾān says nothing about Jesus’ teaching and healing ministry and denies Jesus’ divinity. The Qurʾān also denies Jesus was crucified and resurrected.
Both the Bible and the Qurʾān say that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary (Maryam); after speaking with the angel Gabriel, she conceived through the Holy Spirit.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qurʾān, while the Bible mentions 166 women by name, including several prophetesses: Miriam, Huldah, Deborah, Anna, and the four daughters of Philip.
The Bible says that God created the heavens and earth, night and day, all the stars and all the plants and animals and humans in six days. (Genesis 1) God created the first woman, Eve, out of the rib of the first man, Adam, as a helper and companion for the man, and ordained marriage from the beginning. (Genesis 2) The Bible says that Jesus was with God in the beginning, that Jesus was God, and that through Jesus all things were created. (John 1:1-3)
The Qurʾān says the heavens and the earth were joined together as one unit, before God separated them (21:30); this agrees with Genesis 1:6-8. The Qurʾān says God created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon; they all swim along, each in their orbit (21:33). The Qurʾān says God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in six days. (7:54) The Qurʾān says God created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). (96:2)
God vs Allah
The name Allah was used for centuries in Arabia before Muhammed, designating the highest god (among 360) worshiped in the ka’aba (the cube – an ancient stone structure in the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia that was believed to be built by Abraham).
Allah in the Qurʾān is quite distinct from God (Yahweh) of the Bible. Allah is distant and remote. One cannot know Allah in a personal way; Allah is too holy for man to have a personal relationship with him. (3:7; 7:188). Allah is one (not a Trinity). Love is not emphasized with Allah. To claim that Jesus is God’s Son is shirk, the greatest sin in Islam.
Yahweh, the God of the Bible, can be known, and desires to be known in a personal way – that’s why He sent His Son Jesus to restore the relationship between God and man. Jesus prayed that His disciples “may be one as We are one—I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united.” (John 17:22-23) “God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.” (1 John 4:16) Paul prayed for the believers, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
The Bible says that sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Sin brought death into the world (Romans 5:12, Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6) The Bible says that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23), and that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
The Qurʾān uses different words for sin, depending on their nature. Dhanb refers to great sins such as pride that prevents faith, and these sins are worthy of hell fire. (3:15-16) Sayyi’a are minor sins that can be forgiven if one avoids serious dhanb sin. (4:31) Ithm are intentional sins, such as falsely accusing one’s wife. (4:20-24) Shirk is an ithm sin that means joining other gods with Allah. (4:116) The Qurʾān teaches that if one sins, they should ask Allah for forgiveness and turn back to him. (11:3) The Qurʾān teaches that Allah will overlook the sins of those who have faith in the teachings of Muhammad and do good deeds. (47:2) If they have wronged someone, they must make amends for Allah to forgive.
Jesus vs Muhammad
The Bible demonstrates that Jesus is precisely who He said He is– fully God and fully man. He is the Son of God and the second Person in the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead to save all those who put their trust in Him. The word “Christ” means “Messiah” (anointed one), sent by God to save the people. The name Jesus means Savior or Deliverer.
The Qurʾān teaches that Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) was only a messenger, like many other messengers (prophets) before him. Because Jesus ate food like other beings, they say he was mortal, not God, because Allah does not eat food. (66:12)
However, the Qurʾān also says Jesus was the al-Masih (Messiah) and that God caused Jesus, to follow in God’s footsteps, confirming what was revealed before Jesus in the Torah, and that God gave Jesus the Gospel (Injil), which is a guide and a light for those who ward off evil. (5:46-47) The Qurʾān teaches that Jesus will return as a sign of the Day of Judgement (43:61). When devout Muslims mention the name of Jesus, they add “peace be upon him.”
Muslims revere Muhammad as the greatest prophet – greater than Jesus – and the last prophet (33:40). He is considered the perfect believer and a model of ideal conduct. Muhammad was a mortal, but with extraordinary qualities. Muhammad is honored, but not worshiped. He is not a god, only a man. Muhammad was sinful, like all men, and had to ask forgiveness for his sins (47:19), although most Muslims say that he had no major sins, just minor infractions.
The Bible teaches that all people are sinners and worth of death and punishment in hell.
Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for our sins. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” Acts 16:31
God loved people so much, that He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place and take the punishment for our sins:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life. Whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with your heart you believe and are justified, and with your mouth you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
The Qurʾān teaches that Allah is merciful and accepts the repentance of those who sin in ignorance and repent quickly. If someone continues to sin and then repents just before they die, they will not be forgiven. These people and those who reject faith are destined for “a punishment most grievous.” (4:17)
A person must follow the Five Pillars to be saved:
- Profession of Faith (shahada):”There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
- Prayer (salat): five times a day: at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and after dark.
- Alms (zakat): donating a fixed portion of income to community members in need.
- Fasting (sawm): during the daylight hours of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, all healthy adults abstain from food and drink.
- Pilgrimage (hajj): if health and finances permit, every Muslim must make at least one visit to the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
The Qurʾān teaches that a person is purified by good deeds (7:6–9), but even those may not save the person – it is up to Allah, who has predestined everyone’s eternal future. (57:22) Even Muhammad had no assurance of his salvation. (31:34; 46:9). A Muslim cannot experience the joy or assurance of salvation. (7:188)
The Bible teaches that Jesus rendered death powerless and has illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Gospel (good news of salvation). (2 Timothy 1:10)
The Bible teaches that when a believer dies, his soul is absent from his body and at home with God. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
The Bible teaches that people in heaven have glorified, immortal bodies that will no longer experience sadness, sickness, or death (Revelation 21:4, 1 Corinthians 15:53).
The Bible teaches that hell is a horrifying place of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:44). It is a place of judgment (Matthew 23:33) and torment (Luke 16:23) and “black darkness” (Jude 1:13) where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30).
When God sends a person to hell, they are there forever. (Revelation 20:20)
The Bible teaches that anyone’s name not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
The Qurʾān teaches that there is life after death and that there is a Day of Judgement when the dead will raise to life to be judged.
The Qurʾān describes Jahannam (afterlife for evil doers) as the blazing fire and the abyss. (25:12) Hell is horrible and eternal (6:128 and 11:107) “except as Allah wills it.” Some Muslims believe this means that not everyone will stay in Hell forever, but it will be more like purgatory for minor sins like gossip.
Muslims believe in seven layers of hell, some of which are temporary (for Muslims, Christians, and Jews) and others which are permanent for those without faith, witches, and so forth.
The Qurʾān teaches about Jannah as the final home and reward of the righteous. (13:24) In Jannah, people live near to Allah in a garden of bliss (3:15, 13:23). Each garden has a mansion (9:72) and the people will wear rich and beautiful clothing (18:31) and have virgin companions (52:20) called houris.
The Qurʾān teaches that one must endure great trials to get into Jannah (heaven). (2:214, 3:142) The Qur’an teaches that righteous Christians and Jews can also enter heaven. (2:62)
Famous quotes of the Bible and the Quran
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“Beloved, let’s love one another; for love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)
Famous Qur’an quotes:
“God, there is no god but He, the Living, the Eternal. He sent down to you the Book with the Truth, confirming what came before it; and He sent down the Torah and the Gospel.” (3:2-3)
“The Angels said, “O Mary, God gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, well-esteemed in this world and the next, and one of the nearest.” (3:45)
“We believe in God, and in what was revealed to us; and in what was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses, and Jesus, and the prophets from their Lord.” (3:84)
Preservation of the Quran and the Bible
The Qurʾān says that God revealed the Torah (first five books of the Bible), the Psalms, and the Gospel just as he revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad. However, most Muslims think the Bible has been corrupted and altered over the years (although the Qurʾān doesn’t say this), while the Qurʾān has been unchanged and perfectly preserved.
When Muhammed would receive revelation, he would later recite them to his companions, who wrote them down. The entire Qurʾān wasn’t organized into one written book until after Muhammad died. The Sanaa manuscript was discovered in 1972 and is radiocarbon dated to within 30 years of the death of Muhammad. It has an upper and lower text, and the upper text is virtually the same as the Qur’an of today. The lower text has variations that emphasize or clarify certain verses, so it may have been something like a paraphrase or commentary. At any rate, the upper text demonstrates that the Qur’an was preserved.
But so was the Bible. In 175 BC, King Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria ordered the Jews to destroy their Scriptures and worship the Greek gods. But Judas Maccabaeus preserved the books and led the Jews in a successful revolt against Syria. Even though parts of the Bible were written 2000 years or more before the Qur’an, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 confirmed that we still have the same Old Testament as was used in Jesus’ day. Thousands of New Testament manuscripts dating as far back as AD 300 confirm that the New Testament was also providentially preserved.
Why should I become a Christian?
Your eternal life depends on your faith in Jesus. In Islam, you have no guarantee of what will happen when you die. Through Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven and our relationship with God is restored. You can have assurance of salvation in Jesus.
“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:20)
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:10)
Becoming a true Christian provides us with escape from hell and the firm assurance that we will go to heaven when we die. But there’s so much more to experience as a true Christian!
As Christians, we experience indescribable joy walking in relationship with God. As children of God, we can cry out to Him, “Abba! (Daddy!) Father.” (Romans 8:14-16) Nothing can separate us from the love of God! (Romans 8:37-39)
Why wait? Take that step right now! Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!