Dispelling Muslim Myths About the Gospel -- By: Doug Smith
CAJ 3:1 (Spring 2004) p. 38
Dispelling Muslim Myths About the Gospel
The word gospel is derived from the Old English godspel, meaning good spell, good story, or good news. It was intended as a translation of the late Latin word evangelium or the Greek word euangelion, meaning good tidings.1 The good news as Yusuf Ali, a modern translator and commentator of the Qur’an, writes is the proclamation of “God’s goodness to the righteous and forgiveness to those who repent (good news).”2 Abyssian Christians probably brought the word into Arabic, translating it as Injil, and it would have been in widespread use before the time of Muhammad.3
Both Christians and Muslims teach that the Gospel was taught by Jesus (spelled ‘Isa in the Qur’an), and both believe that it was recorded in written form. When Christians refer to “the Gospel,” it means the good news message taught by Jesus. They
CAJ 3:1 (Spring 2004) p. 39
believe that this message has been recorded by four eye-witness accounts in what are called the four Gospels. Most Muslims, however, hold to the view expressed by Ali:
The Injil (Greek, Evangel = Gospel) spoken of by the Quran is not the New Testament [Christian Scriptures]. It is not the four Gospels now received as canonical. It is the single Gospel which, Islam teaches, was revealed to Jesus, and which he taught. Fragments of it survive in the received canonical Gospels and in some others, of which traces survive.. .. Muslims are therefore right in respecting the present Bible. .. though they reject the peculiar doctrines taught by orthodox Christianity or Judaism.4
Ali’s view reflects modern day Islamic thought, but it was neither held by Muhammad, early Muslim commentators like Tabari, nor even more recent theologians like Egyptian Muhammad ‘Abduh.’5 Moreover, Islam reasons that since Jesus’ words were from God, they would perforce conform to the Qur’an; therefore, only the Qur’an is needed since it is a superset of God’s divine revelation.6 So, is Ali correct in saying that we no longer have the Gospel given by Jesus? On the contrary, he says that the Gospel is what Jesus taught; therefore, any record of the teachings of Jesus, which would include any eye-witness accounts such as the Christian’s four Gospels, are part of Jesus’ Gospel.
Nonetheless, Muslims contend that the Christian Gospels contain only fragme...
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