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Aqeedah / The ruling on reading the bible

The ruling on reading the bible

publish date : 2014-11-27 | Views : 1824
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What is the ruling on reading the bible?

حكم قراءة الإنجيل

All praise is due to Allah alone, and may the Salah and Salam of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and his companions.

To answer your question, we say while seeking the success from Allah:

A number of scholars transmitted that consensus of scholars that it is not allowed for Muslims to read the books of Jews and Christians (Torah and Injeel). This ruling is based on the statement of the Prophet (may the Salah and Salam of Allah be upon him) that he said to Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) after he saw him carrying a portion from the Torah wherein he said in anger: “If Moses were alive, and you were to follow him and leave me, you would go astray.” Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said after mentioning the different routes of this report: “These are all the chains of narrators of this hadith; even though it does not reach such a standard that it may be relied upon as evidence, when they are all taken into consideration, this implies that there is a basis for this report.” Fathul Bari (13/525)

A group of Hanafi, Shafi’e and Hanbali jurists stated that it is not permissible to read the books of the People of the Book based on the above mentioned information. However, al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar discussed this part related to the transmitted agreement of scholars in this regard so he said: “If this transmitted consensus is proven then there no objection but this ruling of impermissibility has been made limited to the case where a person is busy writing or reading these books, which entail that it would be allowed if one indulged in other activities at the same time, but to say it is not allowed in all cases, it is debatable.”  Then, he (may Allah have mercy on him) reached the following conclusion: “However, it appears to me that it is only disliked and not prohibited and it is important to note, in respect to this matter, that in the case of those who are not well-versed in knowledge and are lacking in faith, it is not permissible for them to read any of those books. The person who is well-versed in knowledge is allowed to look into these books particularly when he needs to refute his opponent. This is supported by the fact that many scholars from the past and current time have quoted from the Torah to establish the evidence against the Jews to believe in the Prophet (May the Salah and Salam of Allah be upon him). If they did not believe it is allowed to look into these books they would have not done it.” [Fathul Bari (13/525)]

The differentiation made by Ibn Hajar (may Allah have mercy on him) is a good one which says in summary that it is allowed to read and look into the books of the People of the Book if there is a need or necessity. The following report corroborates this ruling: The Jews came to Allah's Apostle and told him that a man and a woman from amongst them had committed illegal sexual intercourse. Allah's Apostle said to them, "What do you find in the Torah (old Testament) about the legal punishment of stoning?" They replied, (But) we announce their crime and lash them." Abdullah bin Salam said, "You are telling a lie; Torah contains the order of stoning." They brought and opened the Torah and one of them solaced his hand on the Verse of stoning and read the verses preceding and following it. Abdullah bin Salam said to him, "Lift your hand." When he lifted his hand, the Verse of stoning was written there.” Reported by al-Bukhari (3635) and Muslim (1699)

This report shows that the Prophet (may the Salah and Salam of Allah be upon him) did not object on looking into and reading from the Torah in his presence because there was a benefit expected from that. That said, if there is no benefit anticipated or potential harm caused from reading and looking into the books of the People of the Book, the ruling is only disliked based on the above mentioned hadith about Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) as the report does not necessitate it is forbidden but rather it could be to state it is disliked or not doing the best thing to do as stated by al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar in Fathul Bari (12/526). Another report can be used to support this ruling: Narrated Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him): "The People of the Book (Jews) used to read the Torah in Hebrew and then explain it in Arabic to the Muslims. Allah's Messenger (may the Salah and Salam of Allah be upon him) said (to the Muslims). "Do not believe the People of the Book, nor disbelieve them, but say, 'We believe in Allah and whatever is revealed to us, and whatever is revealed to you.'" Reported by al-Bukhari (4485) However, if harm is feared from reading and looking into these books, then it is with no doubt forbidden to do so because the means leading to the forbidden are also forbidden.

Your brother,

Prof. Khalid al-Musleh

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