Fatwa: "The People of the Book Disgraced (Themselves) and Their Dhimmi Covenant by Distorting What (Allah) Sent"
This fatwa comes from Shaykh Faysal al-Mawlawi, the Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, and is posted on IslamOnline.net. Shaykh al-Mawlawi explains that only the Qur'an has been preserved and protected by Allah, whereas the Bible has been corrupted and distorted by the Jews and Christians. He further argues that one reason for the Jews and Christians doing this was to wipe out all reference to Prophet Muhammad in the Bible, which Muslims often claim was originally in there.
Answer: In the name of Allah, praise be to Allah, and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah.
Allah Almighty sent down the Torah and the Gospel, and charged the Jews and Christians with guarding them. They (however) distorted and changed them. Then He sent down the Qur'an, and made it the eternal constitution for Muslims. Therefore Allah ensures its preservation (alone), excluding the rest of his books. The People of the Book disgraced (themselves) and their dhimmi covenant by distorting what (Allah) sent to them. The Almighty said, "...[those who] displace words from their (right) places..." [Qur'an 4:46], (and) "...they change the words from their (right) places..." [Qur'an 5:41]. There are many evidences in the Book of Allah Almighty and the Pure Sunnah to the distorting of the Torah and the Gospel. This indicates that Allah has preserved the Qur'an (alone), excluding the rest of his books.
(Here is) the fatwa of His Eminence, Counselor Faysal Mawlawi, Deputy Chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research:
The word 'message' carries more than one meaning, for several different meanings for it have been mentioned in the Noble Qur'an:
1- The Noble Qur'an. The Almighty said, "We have sent down the message." 2- The previous divine books. The Almighty said, "if ye realize this not, ask of those who possess the Message." There are other meanings which are not necessary to mention here. Here we will (merely) say that the message of which Allah said, "We will assuredly guard it," is the Noble Qur'an alone.
Now the meaning of 'message' which (refers to) the previous divine books is not repeated in, "We will assuredly guard it." This is the difference between the two. The previous divine books have been distorted and changed. The Qur'an is overflowing with verses (which) reveal the reasons for the distortion and change, among which was wiping out the description of the Messenger (peace be upon him) which (the Christians and Jews) could find written in the Torah and the Gospel, as the verse mentioned. (Another reason) was to avoid punishments being carried out against them. When a man and woman from the Jews came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to have their punishments given to them, for they had committed adultery, he declared that the punishment was stoning, as it was written in the Torah. They denied that the punishment was in the Torah, which they had with them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) discovered it in their Torah, and stoned them by the ruling of the Torah. 'Abdallah bin Salam, who was a Jewish rabbi who had become a good Muslim, corroborated the stoning verse in the Torah. (There are) many other reasons (for the changes), which are not necessary to mention.
The verse, "if ye realize this not, ask of those who possess the Message," is speaking to the infidels of Quraysh, who rejected that the Prophet should be a man, for the verse had come down, "And before thee also the messengers We sent were but men," or mortal men. Then He spoke to them again, "Ask," in other words, O infidels of Quraysh, (ask) the people of the Torah and Gospel about this, "if ye realize it not."
The verse asked them to ask the People of the Book about that because the infidels of Quraysh had a friendly relationship with them, and they were neutral. Therefore they were comfortable with them, and would listen to them more than they would the Prophet (peace be upon him) and those that were with him. In most verses, the 'People of the Book' is understood to mean just 'the Jews,' because they were in closer proximity to the people of Mecca and Medina than the Christians were. It was well-known among the Jews that the prophets were men and not angels, such as Moses, David, Solomon, Joseph, and so on.Allah knoweth best.
Shaykh Faysal al-Mawlawi, (questioner) Muhammad 'Abdallah - Egypt, IslamOnline, July 7, 2002