The Qur’an states:
“If thou (Muhammad) are in doubt as to what We have revealed, then ask the People of the Book.” Surah 10:94…”
The Christian missionary with whom I was discussing the issue adds:
“How can the Qur’an with confidence instruct when in doubt to ask the People of the Book, if they have a corrupted text? How can one be certain if they will give the right answer with a corrupt text”?
What is the Muslim perspective?
I responded by stating that it is an allegorical statement etc. Was I correct?
I will be grateful for your answer.
To understand the referred verse, it is necessary that its context be fully appreciated.
The basic theme of Surah Yunus is that when the Almighty sends his Messenger (Rasu’l) in a people, the fate of these people depends on their acceptance or rejection of that Messenger. If they – as a nation – reject the messenger, they are punished, not only in the hereafter but also in this world. On the contrary, if they – in their collective capacity – accept the message of God and believe in the messenger, they are blessed with success as individuals in the hereafter, and as a nation in this world. The Surah primarily addresses the Quraish and the Arab polytheists and informs them of the fact that with the advent of Mohammad (pbuh) they too are now subjected to the law of the Almighty concerning His messengers. If they reject His messenger, they shall meet the same fate as was met by those who rejected God’s messengers in the past. While, if they accept Mohammad (pbuh) and follow his teachings, they shall then be blessed with God’s bounties, as were those who accepted and followed the messengers of God in the past.
From verse 71 to the end, the fact that the rejecters of a messenger of God face severe consequences of their rejection and those who accept his message are blessed with the bounties of the Creator is historically evidenced. In this respect, reference is made to the people of Noah (pbuh) and the addressees of Moses (pbuh). In both the cases, the separate ends of those who rejected and those who accepted God’s message is stressed. The Quraish and the Arab polytheists are informed that in both the cases the rejecters were annihilated and those who believed in the messenger of God inherited the rule of the land.
The verse under consideration (Yunus 10: 94) is placed at the end of this reference to the two nations.
If seen in the correct context, it should be quite clear that the verse under consideration is not general but quite specific in its implication. The correct contextual translation of the verse,in our opinion, should be:
“If you are in doubt regarding what we have revealed to you [concerning these nations], ask those who read the scriptures before you.”
It is as if to say that these references are a part of the established history of the world and are so well known that if anyone has any doubts regarding their authenticity, he may even ask the people of the book (the Jews and the Christians) about them. Even they shall accept them as facts.
Thus, if seen in the correct perspective, it shall be known that the verse has nothing to do with the authenticity or corruption of the old scriptures.
Hope it helps