As had been stated in the introduction, similarities between the Qur'an and previous Abrahamic scriptures have been noticed since the inception of Islam. However, the Judeo-Christian tales and their Qur'anic counterparts do not always match. There are three possible explanations for this:
- The original Judeo-Christian scriptures have been corrupted (as Muslims like to claim).
- Muhammad imperfectly borrowed from the Judeo-Christian scriptures.
- The Qur'an was corrupted.
Muslims typically focus on translational variations. In most of the examples of Muslim charges, they curiously deride variation in modern English translations of the Bible. This is merely them seeing Christianity through Islamic eyeglasses. Muslims like to claim their Qur'an is immutable and thus deride any variations as proof of the corruption of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Some of the more intelligent Muslims have homed in on transcriptional variations as well. To them, the Judeo-Christian scriptures are self-evidently corrupt. Hence, there is no need to actually provide any tangible evidence to support their assertions.
None of the early Christian texts support the Muslim contention of corruption of the Judeo-Christian scriptures, as Muslims fail to distinguish between apocryphal and canonical works. They fail to see the difference between mainstream texts and cultic/Gnostic texts.
One really needs either the original manuscripts or a succession of early manuscripts to show how the alleged corruption has occurred. However, since the original manuscripts are long lost, this avenue is unavailable to Muslims. The next possibility is to examine the change in the succession of early manuscripts – the historical approach. However, as far as is known, the Judeo-Christian scriptures are remarkably similar to historical manuscripts. The next possibility is to examine the extra-scriptural writings of the early Rabbis and early Church fathers. Alas, no irrefutable evidence has yet surfaced that would lead one to conclude the Judeo-Christian scriptures have been corrupted.
Since Muslims have been unable to produce even any tangible evidence of corruption in the original Judeo-Christian scriptures, one must conclude that the charge of corruption is unproven.
However, the parallelism between the Qur'an and the Judeo-Christian scriptures is undeniable. The main parallelisms have been mentioned in this set of articles. I have ignored other charges such as the seven sleepers in the cave Qur'an 18:8-26 (as per the seven sleepers of Ephesus); the story of the angels Harut and Marut Qur'an 2:102 (as per Midrash Yalkut chapter 44 with the angels Shamhazai and Azael: for further details, click here); and God holding Mt Sinai over the Israelites Qur'an 7:171 (as per the second century Jewish apocrypha Abodah Sarah).
Robert Morey has also listed some other interesting parallelisms (for further details, click here.)
To reiterate, the main parallelisms are: Talking baby Jesus; Mary daughter of Amran & sister of Aaron; Sanhedrin 37a; the raven and the burial of Abel; Mary, Jesus and the Trinity; Jesus and the clay birds; Mary’s upbringing & her relationship with Zachariah; Mary, Jesus & the palm tree; Satan’s refusal to prostrate to Adam; the Queen of Sheba; the wealth of Korah; and Abraham & the idols.
Upon reading these articles, the point that becomes apparent is that these parallelisms are either apocryphal, heretical, commentaries by religious figures, or mere folk tales. Or, in the case of the Trinity, a clear misunderstanding of Christian doctrine.
Now, one must stress that the charge is not that Muhammad copied from previous scripture, but that he incorporated stories he heard from other people. Some of these tales he probably heard from the Christian slave of Sahih Bukhari 4:56:814 whom Ibn Ishaq named as Jabr for which Qur'an 16:101-104 was probably revealed. Waqidi names this Christian as Ibn Qumta. Ibn Ishaq also recounts the story of how three Christians, Abu Haritha Ibn `Alqama, Al-`Aqib `Abdul-Masih and Al-Ayham al-Sa`id, spoke to Muhammad regarding such Christian subjects as the Trinity, Jesus speaking in infancy, and Jesus animating clay birds. Ibn Ishaq also claimed that as a result of these discussions, the Qur'an was revealed addressing all these arguments – leading to the conclusion that Muhammad incorporated Judeo-Christian tales he had heard from other people.
Thus, it is quite conclusive that the parallelism, particularly the imperfect parallelisms, point to Muhammad and not any divine source as being the originator of the Qur'an.
So, is the Qur'an corrupted? Strictly speaking, no. The Qur'an was not corrupted, but it was false from the start.