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Similarities between the Bible and Qur'an
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Similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an

The Qur'an (Koran) contains many references to people and events that are mentioned in the Bible; especially the stories of the prophets of Islam, among whom are included Moses, David and Jesus.

Muslims believe that Moses was given the Tawrat (Hebrew Torah, or 'the Law'); that David was given the Zabur (or psalms) and that Jesus was given the Injil (Greek evangel, or Gospel) from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God (Allah in Arabic). Traditionally Muslims have believed that these teachings were eventually lost or heavily distorted to produce what is now the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament. Hence Muslims traditionally denied the accuracy of the Bible. They generally believe that the Qur'an is the only remaining uncorrupted revelation.

The stories of the Biblical figures mentioned in the Qur'an often contain few details and tend to concentrate more on the moral or spiritual significance of the story. Some Muslims may turn to the Bible to give a fuller picture of the person concerned, although this practice is questioned by traditional Muslims. Particular Muslims such as the Mu'tazili and Ismaili sects, as well as various liberal movements within Islam, believe that different revelations are created by God for the needs of particular times and places; this could potentially account for differences between the Bible and the Qur'an without having to accuse one or the other of being corrupted.

List of people/beings

The Biblical name is written, followed by the Qur'anic/Arabic name in parentheses if different.

  • Aaron (Harun)
  • Abel (Habil – he is not actually named in the Qur'an, referred to as 'Son of Adam')
  • Abraham (Ibrahim)
  • Adam
  • Cain (Qabil – he is not actually named in the Qur'an, referred to as 'Son of Adam')
  • David (Daud)
  • The Apostles (Al Hawaryyoon – they are actually named but not numbered in the Qur'an, there are 12 in the Bible)
  • Egyptian killed by Moses (not named in the Qur'an either)
  • Elias/Elijah (Ilyas)
  • Elisha (Al Yasa)
  • Elizabeth (she is not actually named in the Qur'an, referred to as 'Zakariya's wife')
  • Enoch (Idris)
  • Esther
  • Eve (Hawa - she is not actually named in the Qur'an, referred to as 'Adam's wife')
  • Ezekiel (Dhu al Kifl – it is disputed whether the Dhu al Kifl in the Qur'an is actually the Biblical Ezekiel)
  • Ezra ('Uzayr)
  • Gabriel, Angel (Jibril)
  • God (Allah)
  • Goliath (Jalut)
  • Isaac (Ishaq)
  • Ishmael (Isma'il)
  • Jacob (Ya'qub)
  • Jesus (Isa)
  • Job (Ayyub)
  • Jochebed (she is not actually named in the Qur'an)
  • John the Baptist (Yahya)
  • Jonah (Yunus)
  • Joseph (Yusuf)
  • Joseph's brothers (not named in the Qur'an, 11 named in the Bible)
  • Joseph's servants (they are not named in either book)
  • Korah (Qarun)
  • Lot (Lut)
  • Lot's wife (she is not named in either book)
  • Mary (Mariam)
  • Michael, Angel (Mikhail)
  • Moses (Musa)
  • Moses' father in law (the Bible gives him two different names – Reuel and Jethro, Syu'ib - he is not named in the Qur'an)
  • Miriam Moses' sister
  • Noah (Nuh)
  • Noah's sons (not named in the Qur'an, there are three – Shem, Ham, and Japeth – in the Bible)
  • Noah's wife (she is not named in either book)
  • Pharaoh (Fir'awn)
  • Pharaoh's Chief baker (not named in either book, in the Qur'an he is called 'a Young Man')
  • Pharaoh's Chief cupbearer (not named in either book, in the Qur'an he is called 'a Young Man')
  • Potiphar (The Aziz)
  • Potiphar's wife (not named in either book, traditionally in Islam she is called Zulaykha)
  • Queen of Sheba (not named in Qur'an , but called Bilqis in Arabic tradition)
  • Rachel (not named in Qur'an) Jacob's wife
  • Saul (Talut)
  • Samuel (he is not actually named in the Qur'an, referred to as 'a Prophet')
  • Sarah (she is not actually named in the Qur'an, referred to as 'Ibrahim's wife')
  • Satan (Iblis, Shaytaan)
  • Solomon (Sulaiman)
  • Terah (not named in Qur'an)
  • Zechariah (Zakariya)
  • Zipporah (she is not actually named in the Qur'an)

List of places/locations

List of events

There are several events that are present in both holy books in some form. The Biblical versions are concerned mainly with narrative and detail, whilst the Qur'anic versions are much more concerned with the stories as parables and moral teachings and they often contain little in the way of detail.

The events are listed in the order that they appear in the Bible, as they appear chronologically in the Bible whilst they often don't in the Qur'an.

Adam and Eve

The story appears in Genesis 2:4 – 4:1 in the Bible. It appears in many verses in the Qur'an: verses 30-39 of Surah 2: Al Baqarah (The Heifer), verses 11-25 of Surah 7: Al A'raf (The Heights), verses 26-42 of Surah 15: Al Hijr, verses 61-65 of Surah 17: Al Isra' (The Night Journey)/Bani Isra'il (The Children of Israel), verses 50-51 of Surah 18:Al Kahf (The Cave), verses 110-124 of Surah 20: Ta Ha and in verses 71-85 of Surah 38: Sad.

Biblical version

After God makes the heavens and the earth he decides to make a man, called Adam, out of dust on the ground. When this is done God breathes into the man's nostrils the breath of life, which makes him come alive. He then puts the man into a garden at Eden, which contains trees and fruit as well a river for watering. Also, in the middle of the garden there are two trees – the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. God tells Adam that he is to look after the garden and that he can eat from any tree he wants except the Tree of Knowledge, else he shall die. Later, God decides that Adam needs a companion and helper. He gets together all the animals, which Adam names, but they are all unsuitable. So God sends Adam into a deep sleep and takes out one of Adam's ribs. He makes a woman out of this rib, which he shows to Adam. They are both naked and without shame.

Now, in the garden there is a snake, who is craftier than all the other animals. The snake asks the woman if God really forbade the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. The woman replies that this is correct: if they do eat it then they will die. The snake replies that she will not die if she eats the fruit, but that her 'eyes will be opened' and she will be like God, knowing good and evil. The woman then sees that the fruit looks good, and that it will give her wisdom. She eats some of it and gives some to Adam. They both realize that they're naked and they sew fig-leaves to cover themselves.

Meanwhile, Adam and his wife hear God's voice moving about in the garden and they hide. God then calls out, "Where are you?" Adam then comes out and says that he was afraid to see God due to his nakedness so he hid when he heard Him coming. God asks Adam, "Who told you you were naked?" He then asks Adam if he has eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree. Adam replies by saying, "The woman that you gave to me offered me some, so I ate." God angrily asks the woman what she has been up to. She says that the snake deceived her so she ate some of the fruit. God then turns to the snake and tells it that because of its evil deed it shall be lowered beneath all the other creatures. He tells the snake that it is consigned to crawl on its belly and 'eat dust' for all the rest of its life. There will also be enmity between snakes and men from now on. God then turns to the woman and tells her that because of her deeds her pains during childbirth shall be greatly increased, and that her husband shall rule over her. God then turns to Adam and tells him that because of his deeds he shall suffer through painful toil all his life in order to make food.

After this, Adam names his wife Eve and God makes clothes for them. God realizes that the Tree of Life is still a temptation and decides to banish Adam and Eve from the garden. He puts some cherubim to guard the entrance to the garden with a 'flaming sword'.

Qur'anic version

Allah tells the angels that he is going to create caretakers for the Earth, or 'Khalifa, stewards (as translated literally from Arabic) that would be endowed with the gift of freewill, from clay. The angels respond by asking why Allah is placing a creature that will 'make mischief' and spill blood on the earth, whilst the angels sing Allah's praises. Allah merely replies: "I know what you don't." Allah then creates a man, named Adam, from sounding clay moulded into shape and He breathes life into His spirit.

Now that Adam is alive, Allah teaches him the names of all things. Allah then goes to the angels and shows them some of these things, which they can't name. The angels realise now Allah's plan, and they profess His glory. Allah says that He knows the secrets of the heavens and the earth. Allah declared to the Angels and Jinns (it is important to note that jinns are creatures created from smokeless fire, and are capable of exercising freewill, unlike the angels who are made of light, and live to do Allah's bidding only) to bow (prostrate) before Adam. The Jinns who were also in the garden bowed before Adam as well - except one, the Chief of the Jinns, whose name was Iblis (translates as "frustrated" in english). An Argument then ensues as Allah demands that Iblis explain why he refuses to bow down. While Allah knows the answer to the question he does ask Iblis to explain himself and state his case in all fairness. Iblis responds by saying that he is better than this man as he's made out of fire and not mere clay. As such he believes himself of higher caliber and worth than this man. Some traditions say that Iblis did not prostrate to Adam for he refused to postrate -a sign of submittance- to anyone but his God, Allah. Allah is angered by Iblis' questioning of his decision and his refusal to accept a direct order from him. He tells Iblis he intends to throw him out. So Iblis begs for respite till the Day of Judgment to prove to Allah that this flawed creation, man, is not worthy as he is easily lured away from Allah and towards evil. Allah says that no righteous men will be lured by Iblis and his deception. To prove it he agrees to grant Iblis respite but tells him that he and any humans who willingly follows him shall be cast to spend eternity in the fire of Hell.

After this Allah puts Adam and his wife (traditionally called Hawa; she is not actually named in the Qur'an) in a garden, where there is no toil or pain and where there is more than enough food to eat. Allah tells them to eat of whatever they desire in the garden, except for one certain fruiting tree (not actually named). He also warns them of the lure of Iblis, and that they should not follow him as he is their enemy. Iblis nevertheless manages to whisper suggestions to the pair. He tells them that Allah only forbade the tree because if they eat of it then they shall become like angels and live forever. Encouraged by Iblis' lure, Adam and his wife both eat of the tree. As soon they do so, they become self aware, find themselves naked and make an effort to find coverings of leaves for themselves. Allah then reminds Adam that He told them not to eat of the tree, and that He warned them of Iblis' lure. While the blame for the disobedience is put on Adam, he begs Allah's forgiveness. Allah then teaches Adam words of repentance and tells him that he is to recite these words in the future should he succumb to Iblis' temptations and commit another transgression. Allah then sends Adam and his wife down to the earth, where they and their kind shall live for a while before the Day of Judgment. He tells them that from time to time He will be sending messengers who will deliver Allah's truth and message to their descendants and that those who chose to follow the messengers shall be saved and spared while those who refuse will suffer the punishments of Hell.

Cain and Abel / Qabil and Habil

The story of Cain and Abel appears in Genesis 4:1-16 in the Bible and in verses 27-31 of Surah 5: Al Ma'idah (The Repast) in the Qur'an.

Biblical version

Cain and Abel are the sons of Adam and Eve. Abel keeps the flocks whilst Cain works the soil. Cain gathers together some of the fruits of the soil and makes an offering to God. Abel gets some of the fat portions of his flock and also makes an offering to God. God accepts Abel's offering but not Cain's. Cain becomes angry at this. God asks him why he's angry, and then chides Cain, saying that if he does good God will accept him. Later on, Cain takes Abel to a field and kills him. God rhetorically asks Cain where Abel has gone, and Cain replies "Am I my brother's keeper?" God curses Cain in punishment, saying that he will never be able to grow crops again, and exiles him to the land of Nod, east of Eden. Cain cries out to God, saying that the punishment is too great and that someone will probably kill him. God reassures Cain that if anyone kills him then he shall be punished, and he marks Cain as a warning to any possible killers. Cain then has a son, Enoch, with his wife.

Qur'anic version

Cain and Abel are not actually named in the Qur'an and are referred to only as 'the two sons of Adam' (they are traditionally called Qabil and Habil). Both men offer a sacrifice to Allah. While not mentioned directly in the Qur'an, It is presumed by some scholars of Islam that while Habil chose the best of his flock and willingly gave the sacrifice to Allah, Qabil only grudgingly went along with the sacrifice idea and only put forth the least of his crops. Subsequently, Allah accepts one sacrifice (presumably Habil's) but not the other (presumably Qabil's). Qabil is angered and tells Habil that he'll kill him. Habil rebuffs him, saying that as Allah only accepts the sacrifices of the righteous then there must be something wrong with Qabil. Habil continues by saying that if he is attacked by Qabil then he shall not retaliate, as he fears Allah. Habil's stated reason for refraining from violence is that he desires that Qabil be laden with both their sins; according to some views of liberal Islam this implies that his pacifist death results in forgiveness of his sins. Qabil then kills Habil and becomes one of the 'lost ones'. Allah then sends down a couple of ravens to fight each other in sight of Qabil. When one kills the other the victor digs at the ground with its claws to bury its fallen enemy. This teaches Qabil, who had no experience with death up until that time, that like the raven, he should bury his brother's body. Qabil is filled with regret for what he has done. Later narrations of prophet Mohammad say that on the day of judgement, for every person of 'the son of Adam' (i.e. human kind) murdered, an equal amount of punishment for that crime will be heaped by Allah on both the murderer (for commiting the murder) and on Qabil (for setting the precedent of murder).

Noah/Nuh and the flood

The story of Noah and the flood appears in Genesis 6-9:17 in the Bible. It appears several times in the Qur'an, and it is often referred to in passing. The main narrative appears in verses 59-64 of Surah 7: Al A'raf (The Heights), verses 71-73 of Surah 10: Yunus (Jonah), verses 25-48 of Surah 11: Hud (The Prophet Hud), verses 23-29 of Surah 23: Al Mu'minun (The Believers), verses 105-120 of Surah 26: Al Shu'ara (The Poets), verses 9-16 of Surah 54: Al Qamar (The Moon) and the whole of Surah 71: Nuh (Noah).

Biblical version

Noah is the son of Lamech, and he lives during a time where people are widespread throughout the earth. However, most people are evil and corrupt in the sight of God. God is saddened at this, and he decides to wipe mankind and all the animals off the face of earth in a giant flood. Noah, however, is favoured by God as he is a righteous man. God tells him about his plan to flood the world. He instructs Noah to build an ark. God gives Noah the exact measurements for this ark and tells him that only him, his wife, his three sons (Shem, Ham and Japheth) and his son's wives are allowed on the ark. God then instructs Noah to put seven males and females of every clean animal on the earth, two males and females of every unclean animal, seven males and females of every bird and all the types of food in the ark. Noah does this and God ushers him and his family into the ark. God tells Noah that in seven days it shall rain for 40 days and 40 nights, and that everything on earth will perish. The flood starts, and it covers even the mountains. Eventually God sends down winds to make the water recede, and the rain stops, with the ark resting on Mount Ararat. Noah sends out a raven to observe the outside world, but it just flies around. Noah then sends out a dove to observe the outside world. It comes back seven days later with nothing. Noah then sends out the dove a second time. It comes back seven days later with an olive branch in its beak and Noah realises that the flood has definitely ended. Noah then sends the dove out a third time, but the dove doesn't come back. Noah, his family and all the animals come out of the ark and onto dry land. Noah then sacrifices some animals and birds as burnt offering to God. This pleases God and he vows never to destroy mankind again. He tells Noah to 'be fruitful and multiply'. God then makes a rainbow as a lasting symbol of his covenant with man. Noah lives 950 years and then he dies.

Qur'anic version

Allah tells Nuh that he has been selected as a prophet to deliver to his people a message. The message states that his people have become wicked for worshiping false idols, that all people should believe in the oneness of Allah before it is too late. Nuh is told to promulgate this message to his people, which he does. He tells his people that they should abandon all their false gods and worship the one true god; Allah, as he will look after them all. Nuh is ignored and rebuffed by his people. They say that he is just an ordinary man like themselves, And if Allah wanted to deliver a message why send a man and not an angel? Some call Nuh mad or possessed. Some people tell him that if what he says is true then he should bring about this punishment of Allah now to back up his claims. Nuh is even threatened with stoning if he does not desist his teaching. Nuh, however, is undaunted. He says he has asked for no reward, as Allah is his only reward. He even offers to be killed so that they may know who is righteous and who is not. Nuh keeps this up for '1000 years minus 50' according to the Qur'an. Eventually he appeals to Allah for help as he feels he is getting nowhere with the people. Allah tells Nuh that no more people will now believe than have already believed and chose to follow him. Nuh appeals to Allah to get rid of all unbelievers, as he fears that the believers may be corrupted or harmed by them. Allah instructs Nuh to build an ark for a flood that he shall shortly be sending on the earth. Nuh builds an ark but is ridiculed by his people. He is instructed to put a male and a female of each animal species on to the ark. The believers (who are few) and his family are also allowed onto the ark (except for his wife, who is unrighteous and had rejected his message). Nuh's son (he is not named in the Qur'an) does not get into the ark either. He says that he will retreat from the flood on a mountain. The flood then comes, and all are killed, including Nuh's son. The flood eventually ends, with the ark resting on Mount Judi. Nuh appeals to Allah about his son. He is rebuffed, as Allah says that the son was unrighteous and unworthy of being saved from the flood. Everyone then exits the ark. The Qur'an later references current people living as being 'decendant of those who we carried with Nuh'

Abraham/Ibrahim promised a son

The story appears in Genesis 17:15 – 18:15 in the Bible. In the Qur'an it appears in verses 69-76 of Surah 11: Hud (The Prophet Hud), verses 51-61 of Surah 15: Al Hijr and in verses 24-30 of Surah 51: Al Dhariyat (The Winds That Scatter).

Biblical version

Abraham (aged 100), son of Terah, lives with his wife Sarah (aged 90, who is barren) and his son Ishmael (who was born of Hagar, one of Abraham's servants) in Canaan. One day, God tells Abraham that his wife Sarah will bear a son, who'll be blessed by God. Abraham falls face down on the ground and laughs. He says to himself that he can't have a son when he's 100 and his wife is 90, and asks that Ishmael be blessed instead. God tells Abraham that nevertheless he will have a son this time next year, who shall be called Isaac, and that God's covenant will be with Isaac and his descendants, though Ishmael will also be blessed, and will father a great nation. Abraham then circumcises Ishmael and all the men of his household. Later on, Abraham is sitting at the entrance of his tent (near the great tree of Mamre) when he sees three men nearby (who are actually angels). He runs to them and bows down, as he believes that they are holy. Abraham prays to God not to let them pass by. He then speaks to the three men, and tells them that they can stay at his tent where they can eat, wash their feet and rest, to which they agree. Abraham then goes back to his tent and asks Sarah to make some bread. He also tells a servant to fetch a calf for food and some milk. The men eat and drink whilst Abraham stands under a tree. The men ask him where Sarah is, and he tells them that she's in the tent. God then tells Abraham again that he will return this time next year and Abraham will have a son. Sarah, who has been listening at the tent entrance, laughs to herself. She thinks that she and Abraham are too old to have a son. God then asks Abraham why she thinks that, as nothing is too hard for God. Sarah, afraid, says that she didn't laugh, but God tells her that she did. The men leave, heading towards Sodom, and God continues his conversation with Abraham, telling him of the imminent destruction of Sodom. Abraham bargains with God for the lives of the inhabitants of Sodom. A son is later born to Abraham and Sarah, who is named Isaac.

Qur'anic version

One day some angels appear in human form to Ibrahim, and they exchange greetings of "Peace," whilst Ibrahim thinks to himself that they look unusual. Ibrahim offers them a large roasted calf, but they don't eat it. Because of this Ibrahim becomes slightly fearful and mistrustful of the visitors. The angels tell him not to fear, as they have arrived here en route to help out Lut (Lot) at Sodom. They tell him that they bring glad tidings of a son (Isaac), who will be wise. Ibrahim replies by saying that he is old, but they tell him not to despair. Ibrahim tells them that only those who stray away from Allah would really despair. Ibrahim's wife (she is not actually named), who has been listening, laughs and smacks her head in incredulity. She asks how they can bear a child when they are both very old. The angels chide her, asking her if she wonders at Allah's decree. They tell her that Allah has blessed her and her household. Ibrahim's fear now passes, and he prays to the angels to help out Lut at Sodom. The angels tell him that is the reason why they are here.

Lot/Lut and Sodom and Gomorrah

The story appears in Genesis 18: 16-30 in the Bible. It appears frequently in the Qur'an: in verses 80-84 of Surah 7: Al A'raf (The Heights), verses 74-83 of Surah 11: Hud (The Prophet Hud), verses 57-76 of Surah 15: Al Hijr, verses 160-173 of Surah 26: Al Shu'ara (The Poets), verses 54-58 of Surah 27: Al Naml (The Ants), verses 28-35 of Surah 29: Al Ankabut (The Spider), verses 133-138 of Surah 37: Al Saffat (Those Ranged In Ranks), verses 31-37 of Surah 51: Al Dhariyat (The Winds That Scatter) and verses 36-39 of Surah 54: Al Qamar (The Moon).

Biblical version

(Following on from being promised a son) Abraham walks along a while with the three angels as they're leaving. They look out towards Sodom, a 'wicked' city full of 'sinners'. God then asks the angels if he should hide from Abraham what he is going to do to the city (i.e. destroy it). Abraham would be worried at this as his righteous nephew Lot, son of Haran, lives near the city. God asks the angels to go see if the stories about Sodom and Gomorrah that he has been hearing about are true. The three angels leave, headed for Sodom, leaving God alone with Abraham. Abraham asks God if He will still destroy the city even if there are 50 righteous men there. The righteous cannot be punished along with the sinners, he says. God assures Abraham that if there are 50 righteous men then he will not destroy the city. Abraham then asks if the city will still be destroyed if there are 40 righteous men there. This goes on, down to 10, and each time God replies by saying that he will not destroy the city if there are righteous men there. God then leaves and Abraham goes back home.

Two angels (it is not stated where the third one went) arrive at the gates of Sodom and they see Lot sitting there. Lot immediately gets up and bows to them. He invites the angels to stay at his house where they can eat and wash themselves. They reply by saying that they shall instead stay in the town square, but Lot insists and they eventually agree to stay at his house. When the angels are in Lot's home all the men of the city (both young and old) come and surround the house. They call out to Lot and ask him where those two men they saw earlier with him are, as they want to have sex with them. Lot comes outside and pleads with them not to do this to his guests. He offers his daughters instead (who are pledged to be married and hence are still virgins), and the men can do what they want with them. The crowd is adamant however, chiding Lot as he is an 'alien' and has no right to judge them. They then push towards Lot and try to break into his house. The two angels pull Lot inside and strike all the men with blindness. The angels tell Lot to get out of the city with his family, as it is about to be destroyed. Lot goes outside and tells his sons-in-law to leave Sodom, but they think that he's joking. The angels hurry Lot on, but he hesitates, so they pull him and his family away. They order him to flee to the mountains, and warn him and his family not to look back at the city. Lot doesn't want to go to the mountains – he wants instead to go to Zour (a nearby town). The angels agree to this, and Lot and his family travel there. Then God rains down burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah and all the people there die. Lot's wife (she is not named), though, looks back and she turns into a pillar of salt. Nearby, Abraham looks at the city and sees nothing but ruins.

Qur'anic version

(Following on from being promised a son) Ibrahim (Abraham) pleads with some angels to go and help Lut and his family against the people who are sinning in the cities (they aren't actually named). The angels tell Ibrahim that is the reason why they're here, and that the people there will be punished. They say that Lut and his family will be saved, except his wife who is of those who 'lag behind'. The angels go to the cities and to Lut (though this part of the narrative is not actually specified). Lut is there preaching against the people. He says that they commit lewdness such as no other people before, as they 'practice their lusts on men in preference to women'. Not only that, but they do it in the open. Lut says that they are 'transgressing beyond all bounds'. The people claim, with sarcasm, that they want to be pure and clean, and that Lut should throw the sinners out. Some threaten to cast Lut out. Then, the men rush towards Lut to try and grab the angels. Lut offers one of his daughters, and he pleads with them to leave his guests alone. The men respond that they don't want daughters and that 'you know what we want'. The angels tell Lut to travel away with his family (except his wife) while it is still night. They tell him not to look back at the cities, and that time is running out as morning is nigh. All the men are then blinded to stop their advance. When Lut has gone, there is a 'mighty blast' and Allah sends down brimstone, hard as baked clay, that levels the cities. All the people are killed, including Lut's wife. The cities are completely destroyed and the surrounding area made barren.

See also: Sodom and Gomorrah

Abraham/Ibrahim and the sacrifice

The story appears in Genesis 22: 1-20 in the Bible and in verses 102-109 of Surah 37: Al Saffat (Those Ranged In Ranks) in the Qur'an.

Biblical version

God calls out to Abraham and tells him that tomorrow morning he is to take his only son Isaac( Hagar and Ishmael had left, so Isaac was his heir and only son ), to a hill at Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. The next morning Abraham gets together two servants and his son Isaac. He then collects some firewood for the burnt offering, and saddles up his donkey. The group then set off for Moriah. The next day Abraham sees the hill where he is due to sacrifice Isaac. He tells the two servants to stay put while he and Isaac go there to worship. Abraham carries the fire and knife, Isaac the firewood. Whilst walking up the hill Isaac asks his father where the lamb for the sacrifice is. Abraham replies by saying that God himself will provide the lamb for them. They then reach the top of the hill. Abraham builds a small altar there and he lays out the wood on top. He then binds Isaac to the altar on top of the wood and draw his knife, ready for the sacrifice. At that moment an angel calls out to Abraham. The angel tells Abraham that he knows now that Abraham truly loves God, as he was prepared to give up his only son. Abraham then sees nearby a ram in a thicket, caught by its horns. He realizes that it is to be sacrificed as the burnt offering instead of Issac. The angel tells Abraham that because of what he did today his descendants will prosper and be many. Abraham, Isaac and the two servants then go back to Beersheba.

Qur'anic version

Ibrahim lives with his son (not named in the Qur'an but Ismail according to tradition). When the son grows older Ibrahim tells him that he has seen in a vision that he is to offer him in a sacrifice to Allah. The son, believeing that it is Allah's command, tells his father that he should go along with this, hence thinking they have now both submitted to the will of Allah. Ibrahim lays his son prostrate on his forehead, ready for the sacrifice. Allah then calls out to Ibrahim and tells him that he has already fulfilled the real meaning of the vision (submission to the will of Allah) and that this was just a trial. Then Allah sends a huge ram for Ibrahim to sacrifice instead of his son.

Moses/Musa and the Egyptians

The story appears in Exodus 1-15:22 in the Bible. It appears many times in the Qur'an, and reference is often made to it: in verses 49-51 of Surah 2: Al Baqarah (The Heifer), verses 103-138 of Surah 7: Al A'raf (The Heights), verses 75-92 of Surah 10: Yunus (Jonah), verses 101-103 of Surah 17: Al Isra' (The Night Journey)/Bani Isra'il (The Children of Israel), verses 9-79 of Surah 20: Ta Ha, verses 45-49 of Surah 23: Al Mu'minun (The Believers), verses 10-66 of Surah 26:Al Shu'ara (The Poets), verses 7-14 of Surah 27: Al Naml (The Ants), verses 3-42 of Surah 28: Al Qasas (The Narrations), verses 23-46 of Surah 40: Ghafir (Forgiver)/Al Mu'min (The Believer), verses 46-56 of Surah 43: Al Zukhruf (The Gold Adornments), verses 17-33 of Surah 44: Al Dukhan (The Smoke) and verses 15-25 of Surah 79: Al Nazi'at (Those Who Tear Out).

Biblical version

The new king who did not know about Joseph came to power in Egypt. He noticed that the Israelites were large in numbers and feared if war broke out they would join their enemies and leave the country. So they worked the Israelites hard and the king of Egypt ordered the Hebrew midwives whose names were Siphrah and Puah to kill the boys born to the women. The midwives feared God and let the boys live. The king asked why have you done this and they replied "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive." God was kind to them and gave them families.

A Levite married a Levite woman and she gave birth to a son. She hid him for three months till she no longer could. She got a papyrus basket and coated it with tar and pitch. She put the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

The Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile and saw the basket among the reeds. She opened it and saw the baby was crying and felt sorry for him. Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter if she should get a Hebrew women to nurse the baby. She said yes and took it back. When the child grew older she took it to the Pharaoh's daughter and she named him Moses saying, "I drew him out of the water."

Moses grew and one day watched a Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. He killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he saw two Hebrews fighting and asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?" The man said who made you the ruler and judge over us? Are you going to kill me too? Moses became afraid that people knew so he fled from the Pharaoh to Midian. He rested by a well where the seven daughters of Reuel watered their flocks. Some shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock. They went back to their father and told him what happened. He sent for Moses and welcomed him and gave him his daughter Zipporah as his wife.

Moses was tending the flock and led it to the desert of Horeb, the mountain of god. He saw a bush was on fire yet did not burn so he went to see this strange sight. As he drew near he heard God saying: "Take off your sandals for the place you are standing is holy. You must rescue my people from Egypt." Moses said, "Who am I, that I should go to the Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? Suppose I go to the Israelites and they ask me what is his name?" God said, "I am Yahweh. Go gather the elders of Israel and go to the king and say to him let my people go." Moses asked: "What if they don’t believe me?" God said: "Throw your staff on the ground." Moses did this and it became a snake. Then God said: "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand in his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow. Then he put his hand back in and when it came out his flesh was restored. The Lord said: "These will be your signs to show them if they do not believe." Moses asked God to choose someone else because he was slow of speech. God replied that his brother Aaron was on his way to meet him. He would help Moses.

After this Moses went back to Jethro and told him what happened. Jethro wished him well and Moses and his family were on their way to Egypt. Moses and Aaron went to the Pharaoh and did as the Lord told them. Pharaoh did not listen and ordered the slave drivers not to supply the people with straw for the bricks but they must still meet the quota of bricks. Moses returned to the Lord and asked, "Why have you brought trouble to your people?" God said: "Go back and when the Pharaoh ask you to perform a miracle throw your staff and it will become a snake." The Pharaoh summoned the wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet the Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them just as the Lord said.

Ten Plagues came to Egypt. The first was the Plague of Blood. The Nile and all the water in the land became blood. The Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts. The second plague was of the frogs. But the magicians did the same again. The Pharaoh asked Moses to pray to the Lord to rid his land of the frogs and he would let them go. But when the frogs died the Pharaoh hardened his heart and did not let them go. The third plague was of gnats. The magicians tried to produce gnats but could not. The fourth plague was of Flies. The flies swarmed the Egyptians but not the land of Goshen, where his people lived. The fifth plague was on livestock. All of Egypt’s livestock died but Israel was untouched. The sixth plague was of boils. Moses took a handful of soot and tossed it in the air, and festering boils broke out on men and animals. The seventh plague was of hail. Moses said: "Take your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter because the worst hailstorm Egypt has ever seen will come tomorrow." And so it hailed everywhere except for Goshen. The eighth plague was of locusts. An east wind blew and the land filled with locusts. They ate what was left from the hail storm and nothing green remained in all the land of Egypt. The ninth plague was of darkness. For three days Egypt was covered with darkness, yet the Israelites had light where they lived. The tenth plague was of the first born. This is where the Passover originates from. Moses was instructed to brush blood on the doors of his people and the destroyer would pass over them, sparing there first born but killing Egypt’s first borns from the Pharaoh's to the slaves' and cattle's as well. At midnight the Lord struck and during that night the Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you requested"

Moses took the bones of Joseph with him and departed Egypt with a pillar of cloud to guide them. The Pharaoh's heart hardened and went after the Israelites. The Israelites saw this and cried to the Lord. The Lord said to Moses: "Raise your staff so and stretch your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground." The Egyptians pursued them into the sea. Moses stretched his hand and the waters engulfed the Pharaoh and his chariots.

Qur'anic version

Egypt is ruled by the Pharaoh, who represses the Children of Israel (Israelites) in the land by making them do hard tasks and he subjects them to punishments. He also orders that all newborn Israelite boys are to be killed, but the females are to be kept alive. It is in this environment that Allah sends inspiration to a woman – Musa's (Moses) mother. She is told that she will give birth, but when she 'has fears about him' she is to cast him into the river. Even though no name is mentioned this river is presumably the Nile, as it was considered to be the river in Egypt. The mother is assured by Allah that her son, who will be one of their messengers, will be eventually restored to her. The time comes, and Musa is put into a chest and cast into the river, and Musa's sister secretly follows it. The Pharaoh's people pick the chest up, with Musa's sister secretly observing them. Though they should kill him as he is an Israelite, Pharaoh's righteous wife (traditionally Asiyah) tells them not to, as he is beautiful and may one day be of use, or he may even be adopted by them. Meanwhile Musa's mother is distraught, despite having Allah to help strengthen her. Musa's sister approaches the Egyptians, and tells them that she knows someone who can help look after the child. Thus Musa's mother and her son are reunited, though the Egyptians don't realise this. Musa grows up, and he is endued with knowledge and wisdom.

Years pass, and the now grown-up Musa enters a city (not named) when the Egyptians aren't looking. While there he sees an Israelite and an Egyptian fighting, and the Israelite calls for Musa to help him. Musa punches the Egyptian, unintentionally killing him in the process. Musa is aggrieved, and he prays to Allah for forgiveness. The next day Musa enters the city again. He sees the same Israelite in yet another fight with an Egyptian. Musa grabs hold of the Egyptian. The Egyptian replies by wondering if he too is to be killed by Musa as happened yesterday. He asks if Musa seeks to become violent and powerful in the land, rather than really setting things right as he claims. At that moment a man comes running from the furthest part of the city to Musa. He warns him that the Egyptian Chiefs are in counsel about killing him. Encouraged to run away, Musa does, praying at the same time.

Musa is travelling through the land when he sees the land of Madyan (Midian). He goes there and sees men watering their flocks at a watering hole. He also sees two women with their flocks, but they are staying away from the watering hole. When Musa enquires about this they tell him that their father is very old, so they must water the flocks, but they cannot as the men are there (the women are shy, and are waiting for men to go). Musa waters the women's flocks for them, and then goes to rest in the shade. Later on one of the pair comes to Musa, and tells him that their father has invited him home as a reward for his kindness. Musa goes with her and tells her father about his story with the Egyptians. One of the man's daughters points out that Musa is strong and trustworthy – an ideal employee. Their father tells Musa that he can have one of his daughters in marriage if he works for him for eight years. Musa agrees to this deal, and after fulfilling his term he leaves with his family.

Whilst travelling Musa spots a fire near Mount Tur. He goes off to investigate, telling his family to hang back until he has found out what it is (he thinks that he might be able to use the fire for warmth). When he gets to the fire he hears a voice coming from 'a tree in hallowed ground' – it is Allah's. Allah tells Musa to take off his shoes as he is standing on the sacred ground of Tuwa valley. Musa is then told to throw down his rod, and it turns into a moving snake. This scares Musa, and he tries to run away. Allah tells him not to fear, and that if he picks it up again it will turn back into a rod, which it does. Musa is then told to move his hand to his bosom, and it shines with brilliant white light with no stain or harm. Allah tells him that these are just two of nine signs Musa is to give to Pharaoh and his people, who are arrogant and wicked. Musa replies, saying that as he has killed an Egyptian then they will kill him in revenge. He also mentions his speech impediment, and he asks if his brother Harun (Aaron) can come with him to give strength and support. Allah agrees to this, and tells Musa that no harm shall come to him. Allah also tells him to ask the Pharaoh to let the Israelites have their freedom. Before he sets off Musa is reminded by Allah of all that has been done for him in the past.

Musa and Harun then set off to the Pharaoh, and when they arrive he is told about their divine mission and that he should let the Israelites go. Pharaoh rebukes him by saying that the Egyptians looked after him, and he reminds Musa that he has killed an Egyptian. Musa acknowledges this, and says that is the reason why he ran away – Allah helped him through that though. Pharaoh enquires as to who this god of Musa's is. It is Allah, he is told, the Creator of everything. At one point Pharaoh threatens him with prison, as he says there can be no gods other than himself, but he eventually asks Musa for a sign to see if he is telling the truth. Musa throws down his rod and it turns into a huge snake. He then draws forth his hand and it shines with brilliant white light. Pharaoh, however, rejects these signs as 'evident/manifest sorcery'. Pharaoh's chiefs wonder why they should believe in two men like themselves, and Israelite men at that. Musa is outraged at their reaction to the truth. He warns them to accept Allah or face the consequences. Pharaoh discusses the issue with his chiefs. They tell him that Musa's plan is to overthrow the Pharaoh by turning the people away from their established religion. Pharaoh tells them to stall Musa and Harun whilst well-versed sorcerers are found. These sorcerers are promised rewards and power. Pharaoh then arranges with Musa for him to come to the Day of the Festival.

The Day of the Festival arrives, and all the people are there along with the sorcerers and Musa and Harun. The sorcerers ask Musa who is go first, and Musa tells them that they are. They throw down some rods and ropes and they appear to move of their own accord, like a snake. Even Musa is slightly scared by this, but he has Allah's help. He throws down his rod and it 'swallowed up straight away all the falsehoods which they fake'. The sorcerers are stunned, and they bow in adoration to Musa and Harun, proclaiming their belief in their God. Pharaoh is angered at their belief without his permission. He threatens to cut off their hands and feet and crucify them on a palm-tree cross. The sorcerers are unperturbed, saying that they will only be sent back to their Lord, from whom they ask for forgiveness. They rebuke Pharaoh for threatening them just because they believe in Musa's signs.

Later, Pharaoh is with his chiefs. They ask him if he is to let Musa and the Israelites continue to spread mischief in Egypt, turning people away from the Egyptian religion. He decides to slay all the male Israelites but keep the females in order to keep power. Despite Musa's message few believe except the Israelites and a small number of Egyptians, as many are fearful of Pharaoh.

Meanwhile Musa is reminding the Israelites to pray to Allah. They tell Musa that they've been suffering before and after he came to them, but they pray anyway. Musa reminds them that Allah may destroy their enemies and make them inheritors of lands. As the Egyptians won't allow public buildings for the Israelites to worship in, Allah tells Musa and Harun to make the people's private dwellings as places for worship. Musa continues with his prayers. Not all the Egyptians disbelieve, however. There is one man – 'The Believer' – (he's not named). He spreads the message of Allah, and warns the Egyptians of Allah's wrath. He speaks out against Pharaoh, asking who will protect him from Allah's punishment when it comes. Nevertheless they refuse to recognise Allah, with Pharaoh expressly stating that whatever signs Musa brings he will never believe in him. In his arrogance he asks one of his chiefs, Haman, to make bricks from baked clay in order to build a 'lofty palace' that will reach up to Musa's god. This is despite the fact that Pharaoh tells Haman that he thinks Musa is a liar.

Allah punishes Pharaoh and the Egyptians with years of drought and crop shortages. During these bad times the Egyptians ask Musa to pray to Allah to help them and they say that they will release the Israelites, but when times are better they claim that it is due to themselves and they negate on their promises. Allah also sends down various plagues – 'wholesale death,' locusts, lice, frogs and blood (these are the rest of the nine signs that Musa was told about on Mount Tur). Despite all of this, the Egyptians still refuse to believe. Pharaoh reminds them that Egypt belongs to him. He is better than Musa, he says. Musa cannot even speak clearly and he doesn't own gold, he adds.

Musa prays once more to Allah. He is told to depart with the Israelites at night-time towards the sea. Meanwhile the Egyptians hear of this, and Pharaoh sends heralds to all the cities telling them about the insurrection. Finally, the Egyptians, led by Pharaoh, appear near the sea bent on destroying the Israelites. Musa strikes the sea with his rod and it parts. He and the Israelites pass through safely, but the Egyptians follow them 'in insolence and spite,' which scares some of the Israelites. However, with them safely across, the sea overwhelms the Egyptians. As he is drowning, Pharaoh calls out that he believes in the Israelites' god and that he submits himself to Allah. But it was too late. He is reminded of his evil acts, and Allah allows his body to be later picked up as a sign for those who do evil. Allah also levels some of the Egyptian's works and buildings.

Note: in verse 11 of Surah 66: Al Tahrim (Prohibition) it says that Pharaoh's wife (traditionally Asiyah) remained faithful to Allah throughout her husbands' misdemeanours.

Destruction of Korah/Qarun

The story of the destruction of Korah appears in Numbers 16:1-50 in the Bible and in verses 76-82 of Surah 28: Al Qasas (The Narrations) in the Qur'an. It is also alluded to in verse 39 of Surah 29: Al 'Ankabut (The Spider) and in verse 24 of Surah 40: Ghafir (Forgiver)/Al Mu'min (The Believer).

Biblical version

Korah, son of Izhar, becomes insolent towards Moses, and he rises up against him with 250 Israelite men. Korah says to Moses that all are holy, not just him. He asks why Moses sets himself up above the rest of the people. Moses falls down on the ground. He says that the following morning God will show who is holy and who is not. Moses orders Korah to bring censers and burn incense tomorrow, and then God will choose who is holy. Moses despairs of Korah, as his people (the Levites) were given special tabernacle duties, and he asks: 'Is that not enough?' Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, refuse to come, asking why Moses should lord it over them. The next day all the 250 rebels, and Korah, Dathan and Abiram, as well as Moses and his son Aaron, burn their incense in front of the Tent of Meeting in front of the people. God appears and tells Moses and Aaron to move out of the way, as he is about to destroy everyone here. Moses pleads with God not to kill everyone over a few men. God agrees, and he tells everyone to move away from Korah, Dathan and Abiram. The three men come out with their wives and children. Moses then tells the people that if the people die a normal death, then he is not holy, but if something new and unexpected occurs then this will prove that he is sent from God. The earth then swallows the three men and their families with all their possessions, along with the 250 rebels. The people then get scared, as they fear that the earth will swallow them up too. God orders Eleazar, son of Aaron, to collect together the censers, as they are holy. The censers are hammered flat and laid over the altar as a reminder to the people that only a descendant of Aaron should burn incense. The next day the whole community gets angry with Moses and Aaron, as they feel they were responsible for the deaths of fellow Israelites. God then tells Moses and Aaron to move away from the people as he is going to destroy them all. Moses orders Aaron to quickly burn some incense to pacify God, but it is too late. God has already sent down a plague, and it kills 14,700 people.

Qur'anic version

Qarun was an extremely wealthy man of the Israelites whose keys for his treasures were too heavy for a bunch of strong men. He becomes very arrogant and his people urge him not to exult in the riches he has, as it displeases Allah. They remind him that he should concentrate on the true wealth of the hereafter, rather than wealth in this life. Qarun arrogantly retorts by saying that he knows certain sciences, and this is why he is so rich. One day he parades with his full glory, and some of the people are envious of Qarun's riches, but most stay true to Allah. Allah then makes the earth swallow up Qarun and his house. The people that envied him realise why, and they go back onto Allah's path.

Samuel appoints a king

The story appears in 1 Samuel 8-12 in the Bible and in verses 246-248 of Surah 2: Al Baqarah (The Heifer) in the Qur'an.

Biblical version

Samuel is a judge/leader of Israel, and when he grows old he appoints his sons Joel and Abijah in his place. Unlike Samuel, the two sons are corrupt and they accept bribes. The elders of Israel complain to Samuel about his son's conduct. They demand that Samuel give them a king so that they'll be like the other nations. This request annoys Samuel and so he prays to God. God tells Samuel that the people have forsaken him and strayed from his path despite all that he has done for them. God tells Samuel all that a king would do, such as tax the people and make them work in near-slavery. Samuel recounts God's words to the people but they are still adamant in wanting a king. God relents and agrees to the idea, and Samuel tells everyone to go back to their houses.

Meanwhile one of Kish's donkeys goes missing. He sends his son, Saul (who is a head taller than all other Israelites) and a servant to go and look for it. The pair eventually arrive at Zuph, and Saul wants to go back. The servant, though, has heard that a seer called Samuel lives nearby. He thinks that Samuel will help them find the donkey. Saul replies by saying that they have no gifts for the seer. The servant, though, has some silver and so they set off to find Samuel. As they walk up a hill they see some girls drawing water. Saul asks them if Samuel is nearby. They say that he is, and that there will be a sacrifice at the 'high place' later, which Samuel shall bless, followed by a feast. They enter the main town and they see Samuel (who has been told by God to look out for a potential king). God tells Samuel that the man over there (Saul) is to be the king. Saul walks over and asks Samuel where the seer they've heard about is. Samuel says that he's the seer, and he invites Saul and the servant to the meal at the high place. He also assures them that their donkey has been found. Samuel also tells Saul that all of Israel is turned towards him (i.e. in reference to his kingship). Saul is surprised and asks how a Benjamite (the smallest Israelite tribe) could be a king. Samuel nevertheless takes Saul and the servant to the hall where the feast is taking place. He seats them at the head of the table, which contains 30 guests. Samuel asks a cook to bring out the piece of meat that he had been ordered to lay aside. The meat is given to Saul, and he dines with Samuel. After the meal Samuel and Saul go to the town and they sit and talk on the roof of Samuel's house. As dawn comes Saul gets ready to leave. The pair, with the servant, venture to the towns edge. Samuel tells Saul to make the servant carry on, as he needs to give Saul a message from God in private. With Samuel and Saul now alone, Samuel pours oil on Saul's head and he kisses him, anointing Saul as leader. He tells Saul that he will see some signs on his journey and that he will also prophesy. He also says that they will sacrifice together at Gilgal later on. During Saul's journey home, all of the signs Samuel told him about came to be, and he also prophesised, which made the people wonder what had happened.

When Saul and the servant arrive back at their house Saul's uncle asks them where they've been. Saul replies by saying that they were looking for the donkey and that they asked Samuel for help. When the uncle enquires into what Samuel said, Saul says that told them the donkey had been found, but he doesn't mention the kingship. Later on Samuel summons all the Israelites to Mizpah. God then reminds the people of all that he has done for them. He then orders all the Israelites to present themselves by tribe then by clan so that a king can be chosen. The Benjamite tribe is picked, then the Matri clan, then Saul, but he isn't there. God says that he has hidden himself among the baggage. Saul is pulled out and everyone sees his unusual height. The people then shout out "Long live the king." The now King Saul recounts the regulations of kingship to everybody. He then dismisses the people, and he himself goes back home to Gibeah, accompanied by some 'valiant men'. Not everybody is pleased though, and some grow to despise him. Saul soon has to help liberate the Israelite city of Jabesh Gilead, which has been captured by Nahash the Ammonite. When this is done the people are very happy, and they are keen to root out any anti-Saulists. Saul stops this, and his kingship is confirmed with sacrifices and a celebration at Gibeah.

Qur'anic version

The chiefs of Israel ask 'a prophet that was among them' (he isn't actually named) to appoint a king over them so that they can 'fight in the cause of Allah'. The prophet replies by wondering if they would fight anyway if commanded to. They tell him that of course they would, as they have been thrown out of their homes and so forth. However, when the command to fight does come, only a small number of them don't turn back. The prophet then appoints Talut (Saul) as their king, though some are critical of this decision. They point out that Talut isn't rich. They feel that they are better suited to rule. The prophet reminds them that Allah chose Talut over them, and that Allah has given Talut strength and knowledge. As a sign of Talut's authority, an Ark of the Covent will come, along with the relics of the families of Musa (Moses) and Harun (Aaron). (The story of Dawud (David) and Jalut (Goliath) is then told).

David and Goliath / Dawud and Jalut

The story appears in 1 Samuel 17:1-58 in the Bible and in verses 249-251 of Surah 2: Al Baqarah (The Heifer) in the Qur'an.

Biblical version

The Philistines are gathering for war against Israel at Socoh in Judah. King Saul of Israel and his army get ready for battle and camp near the Philistines' camp at the Valley of Elah. The Israelites are camped on one hill, the Philistines on the other with the valley between the two armies. Then Goliath comes out of the Philistine camp. He is an extremely tall man (3 metres or 9 feet) who wears a bronze helmet and armour, with bronze greaves and a bronze spear and javelin. Goliath calls out to the Israelites, telling them to choose a man to come out and fight him. If this man kills him then the Philistines will be Israel's subjects, but if Goliath kills the Israelite then they will be subjects of the Philistines. This threat scares the Israelite army and King Saul, due to Goliath's obvious strength and height.

For 40 days this goes on, with Goliath issuing the same challenge each day. Meanwhile David, who is a man favoured by King Saul for his armour-bearing and who has been anointed by the Prophet Samuel in the sight of God, is tending his father Jesse's flock of sheep at Bethlehem. Jesse tells his son to go to his three brothers (Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah) who are in the army and give them some food supplies, as well as giving some to the commanders.

The next day David goes to the battle lines and meets with his brothers. Goliath comes out and issues his usual challenge, which makes some of the Israelites run amok. Some soldiers tell David that King Saul has promised his daughter's hand in marriage, wealth and freedom from taxes for their family to the man who fights and slays Goliath. His brother Eliab is angered when he hears the soldiers talking with David, as he thinks that David is a conceited and wicked man who has only come to observe the fighting. Nevertheless, David goes to King Saul and tells him that he will fight Goliath. Saul retorts by saying that David is just a boy, but David tells him that while tending his father's flock he has had to kill bears and lions in order to protect the sheep. Plus, he has God's help and power with him. David tries on some armour but finds it uncomfortable. He then picks up five stones and his sling and goes to confront Goliath.

Goliath is most unimpressed and says that he will easily kill David. David replies by saying that Goliath may have weapons but he's got God's power, and that Goliath will soon be dead. Then, Goliath moves to fight, but David slings a stone at him with the sling. The stone sinks into Goliath's forehead and he falls face down on the ground. David then picks up Goliath's sword and kills him with it. He then cuts off Goliath's head. All the Philistines run away upon the death of Goliath. The Israelites pursue them and try to kill them all. When they return they plunder the Philistine camp. David later takes the head to Jerusalem, but keeps the sword for himself. His strength impresses King Saul immensely.

Qur'anic version

King Talut (King Saul) is with his army, marching to fight a battle (Dawud is presumably among them, though it is not explicitly stated as such). He decides to test his army at a stream that they stop at. King Talut says that if any of the men drink from the stream then they are to leave, but if they abstain then they shall stay with him for the battle (though he will excuse a small hand-sipping). The army is thus purified of any unnecessary soldiers. When the army arrive at the battle site many are scared at the height of Jalut, a member of the enemy's forces. Others chide them, telling them to remember all the times in the past that Allah has let a small army win out over a much larger one. The army then march towards the opposition whilst praying to Allah. The enemy is routed and Dawud slays Jalut. Because of this Dawud is given much power and wisdom by Allah's grace.

King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba / Sulayman and Bilqis

The story appears in 1 Kings 10:1-13 and 2 Chronicles 9: 1-13 in the Bible and in verses 20-44 of Surah 27: Al Naml (The Ants) in the Qur'an.
Note: Sheba is believed to be in modern Yemen.

Biblical version

Solomon, son of David, is king of Israel. He is wise, knowledgeable and also close to God. He has ordered many building works and so forth. The Queen of Sheba hears of Solomon, and she sets off to meet him in order to 'test him with hard questions'. She takes with her a large caravan, with spice, gold and precious stones. When she arrives at Jerusalem she meets up with Solomon and talks to him about all that is on her mind. Solomon answers all her questions. The Queen is overwhelmed by Solomon's splendour – his palace, his official's seats, his cupbearers, his burnt offerings to God. She tells him that the things she had heard about him are all true, though before she came here she didn't believe them. She adds that Solomon has far exceeded all her expectations, and that God must truly love Israel if he has given them Solomon as a king. The Queen of Sheba then gives Solomon 120 talents (about 4 tons) of gold, many spices (more than anyone before or since) and precious stones. In return, Solomon gives the Queen all that she asks for, in addition to what he has already given her out of his 'royal booty'. The Queen then returns home with her caravan.

Qur'anic version

King Sulayman, son of Dawud (David), is wise, knowledgeable and close to Allah. He also has a troop of birds, and when one day he musters them together he notices that the hoopoe is missing. Sulayman threatens to punish or even execute the hoopoe if he doesn't give a good reason for his absence. The hoopoe flies back, and tells him that he has been compassing territories un-compassed by Sulayman. During his search he discovered a woman, named Bilqis, ruling over Saba (Sheba), provided with 'every requisite,' on a magnificent throne. However, the woman and her people were worshipping the sun, and not Allah, as Shaytaan (Satan) has deceived them. Sulayman responds by saying that he will find out if the hoopoe lies or tells the truth by getting him to deliver a letter to the Queen. After that the hoopoe is to wait and gauge her reaction.

When Sulayman's letter arrives Bilqis tells her chiefs about it. The letter, which opens with the bismallah ("In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Beneficent"), tells the queen not be arrogant but instead join him in the true religion. Bilqis consults with her chiefs (as she always does) about what to do. The chiefs tell her that the people are strong and 'given to vehement war,' but that the final decision rests with her. Bilqis decides to send a caravan with presents to Sulayman. Sulayman, though, is outraged at the gifts of wealth – 'What Allah gives me is better,' he says. Sulayman orders the caravan to go back and await some hosts to expel them.

After they have left Sulayman asks his chiefs if anyone is capable of bringing him the Queen's throne before she comes to Jerusalem in submission. An ifrit (a strong and powerful Jinn) says that he will bring it before the gathering is over. But a common man, 'One with knowledge of the Book' also offers to do it 'within the twinkling of an eye'. He does, and Sulayman is grateful and he praises Allah. Sulayman asks them to transform the throne out of all recognition in order to see if Bilqis is guided by truth or not. When she eventually arrives she asks Sulayman if that is her throne, and she submits to Allah – Sulayman has succeeded in leading her away from her people's false religion. Later on, Bilqis is asked to enter a lofty palace, but thinking that its a lake she pulls up her skirt and exposes her legs. Sulayman tells her that it is not a lake, but a palace made of smooth slabs of glass. She then reaffirms her submission to Allah with Sulayman.

Jonah/Yunus and the whale

The story of Jonah and the whale appears in the whole of the book of Jonah in the Bible. It appears three times in the Qur'an: in verses 139-148 of Surah 37: Al Saffat (Those Ranged In Ranks), verses 87-88 of Surah 21: Al Anbiya' (The Prophets) and verses 48-50 of Surah 68: Al Qalam (The Pen)/Nun. It is mentioned in verse 98 of Surah 10: Yunus (Jonah) and verse 86 of Surah 6: Al An'am (The Cattle).

Biblical version

God tells Jonah, son of Amittai, to go to the city of Nineveh and preach against it, as God is displeased with the wickedness of the people there. Instead Jonah runs away, heading for Tarshish. He gets to Joppa (Jaffa) where he finds a boat headed for Tarshim. He pays the fare, hoping to escape from God on the boat, and the boat sets sail.

At sea God sends down great winds and a violent storm which threaten to destroy the ship. The ship's crew is terrified, and each crew member calls out to their own god to help save them. They even throw some of the cargo overboard to lighten the load. Jonah, though, is below the deck, sleeping deeply. The ship's captain comes down and asks him how he can sleep through this. The captain tells Jonah to get up and call on his god in the hope that he might save them. The crew then casts lots to see who is to blame for the trouble. The lot falls on Jonah. The crew immediately ask Jonah a torrent of questions, demanding to know where he comes from, what country he belongs to and so forth.

Jonah tells them that he is a Hebrew and that he worships God. The crew asks him: 'What have you done?' (as Jonah had told them previously that he was running away from God). With the seas getting rougher, the crew asks Jonah what they must do to him to make it stop. Jonah replies by telling them to throw him overboard and it will stop, as it was his fault that it started. The crew instead try to sail back to land, but the sea just gets worse. They then decide to throw Jonah overboard, praying to God to forgive them. The seas calm. The crew offers vows and a sacrifice to God. God makes a 'great fish' (commonly called a whale) swallow Jonah. He is in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights. Whilst inside the whale Jonah prays to God, thanking him for rescuing him from death. God then commands the whale to vomit Jonah out onto dry land, which it does. God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach his message. If the inhabitants do not repent then God will destroy the city in 40 days time. Jonah goes to Nineveh and gives them the message. The people are scared, and they all begin a fast. They also all put on sackcloth. Even the King of Nineveh takes part in this. Because of this God has compassion and decides against destroying the city. This angers Jonah, but God chides him, asking him what right he has to be angry.

Jonah then moves to the east of Nineveh and builds a shelter so that he can see if anything happens to the city. God provides a vine to grow over Jonah's head, and Jonah is pleased as it lessens his discomfort. The next day God sends a worm that eats at the vine and makes it whither away. The sun rises, and God sends a scorching east wind. The sun bakes down on Jonah's head and he grows faint. So great is his discomfort that he wishes to die. God chides Jonah, asking him what right he has to be angry over the vine. Jonah replies that he does have a right to be angry, to the point of death. God replies by saying that Jonah is angry about the loss of a vine which he didn't grow or tend himself. But in Nineveh there are hundreds of thousands who can't tell their left hand from their right. God says: 'Should I, then, not be concerned about that city?'

Qur'anic version

Yunus (also called Dhu al Nun – 'Man of the Fish/Whale') is given Allah's message, but he instead runs away to a fully loaded ship, thinking that he can escape from Allah. Whilst onboard there is presumably a storm (though it is not stated exactly what occurs). Yunus agrees to cast lots, but he is condemned and cast overboard. A 'big fish' (probably a whale) swallows him. Inside the whale, Yunus repents and worships Allah. Yunus is cast out onto the shore, feeling sick. Allah makes a spreading gourd grow over him. Yunus is then sent on a mission to hundreds of thousands of men (it is not stated where he goes). The people there believe and repent, and Allah has mercy and allows them to live.

Jesus/Isa

The story takes up the whole of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) in the Bible. It appears several times in the Qur'an: in verses 35-59 of Surah 3: Al Imran (The Family of Imran), verses 156-158 of Surah 4: Al Nisa' (The Women), verses 109-120 of Surah 5: Al Ma'idah (The Repast), verses 16-35 of Surah 19: Maryam (Mary), verse 50 of Surah 23: Al Mu'minun (The Believers) verses 57-65 of Surah 43: Al Zukhruf (The Gold Adornments) and in verses 6 and 14 of Surah 61: Al Saff (The Battle Array). Reference is made to it several more times.
Note: this piece focuses on similarities only, and hence large parts of the Biblical narrative, which are heavy in extra details not present in the Qur'an, have been left out.

Biblical version

Mary (a virgin) and Joseph (a descendant of David), who live in Nazareth, are pledged to be married. God sends the angel Gabriel down to Mary, who tells her that God is with her and that she is favoured by him. Mary becomes scared, though the angel tells her not to be. Gabriel says that she will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, who is to be named Jesus, who will be special in God's sight. Mary asks how this can happen seeing as she's a virgin. She is told that God can do anything, and that the Holy Spirit will come to her, and that the power of God will overwhelm her. Mary accepts that it will now happen. She then travels to Judea to meet with her relative Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah. When Mary greets her, Elizabeth's baby (John the Baptist) leaps in the womb, and is filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary stays at their house for three months before returning back home.

Joseph later learns that Mary is pregnant, though he does not realize that it is through the Holy Spirit. As he is righteous he doesn't want to expose Mary to disgrace, so he decides to divorce her discreetly. However, an angel appears to him in a dream, telling him not go through with the divorce. The angel also tells him to name the baby Jesus.

The Roman emperor at his time, Caesar Augustus, orders a census to be taken of the entire Roman Empire. Everybody has to go to their town to register themselves. Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem, which is in Judea, a region ruled by King Herod. When they get there Mary feels the baby start to come. They try to get a room at the inn, but it is full, so they go to a place with a manger, where Jesus is put into a cradle. Nearby are some shepherds tending their flocks at night. A stunningly bright angel appears to them, and they become scared. The angel tells them not to fear, as he/she has come with good news for all people. The angel tells them that a saviour/Christ has been born in Bethlehem, who is lying in a manger wrapped in cloth. Then a 'great company' of angels appears. They praise God and then go back to heaven. The Shepherds find the baby and share their story, and all are amazed. They leave, praising God.

Magi from the east arrive in Jerusalem and report seeing a star signifying the birth of the 'King of the Jews'. When they ask where the child can be found, King Herod hears and is disturbed, as is all Jerusalem, so Herod calls together all the teachers and priests in order to find out where this Christ can be located. They cite Micah's prophesy and direct Herod to Bethlehem, in Judea. Herod tells the Magi to go find the child, as he wants to worship him. They set off, with the same star guiding them. It stops over a particular house, and when they enter they see inside Jesus wrapped in cloth in a manger. They bow down to him in worship, praising God. They also give Jesus gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense. They then leave, but they were warned about Herod in a dream, so they choose not to report back to him and instead they follow a different path home.

Meanwhile, an angel tells Joseph in his dream to escape to Egypt, as Herod plans to kill Jesus if he finds him. Joseph and his family go to Egypt, and they stay there until Herod's death. King Herod, however, has realised that the Magi have tricked him. He orders that all the boys aged 2 or below in Bethlehem and its vicinity are to be killed. When Herod dies an angel tells Joseph in a dream that it is safe to go back to Israel. When he and his family arrive back, though, Joseph becomes scared when he learns that Herod's son Archelaus is now king of Judea. Joseph instead decides to go live in Nazareth in Galilee.

Jesus grows up, and he starts to promulgate his gospel of kindness, mercy and love for God and all people. He expounds wisdom through his teachings and parables. He also heals blindness, leprosy, paralysis, constant bleeding, cripples, possession and he even raises the dead. Jesus also promises a 'comforter/councillor' who shall come later on, referring to the Holy Spirit (in Greek 'paracletos', Muslims say this is actually 'periclytos,' meaning 'Ahmad' – Mohammed). Jesus says that he "came from heaven" and that he was the Son of God, and says that his mission is to give his life for the world. He gains a number of followers, but also many skeptics to his claims. Jesus frequently is involved in arguments with some of the Jewish leaders, the worst of which plot to kill him out of jealousy and on accounts of blasphemy. Jesus also gathers together 12 apostles to help him spread the word. One of these apostles, Judas Iscariot, betrays Jesus, and the Roman authorities arrest him. They crucify Jesus in front of a baying crowd. Later on he is resurrected, and after appearing to various people he eventually joins God in heaven.

Qur'anic version

The wife of Imran (who is not named) gives birth to a girl, who is special in Allah's sight. She is named Maryam (Mary) and is assigned to the care of Zakariya (Zechariah). Maryam spends her time in her private chamber, where she is sustained by Allah. Zakariya questions her about this, and Maryam tells him about Allah's sustenance.

Later on, Maryam withdraws from the family to a 'place in the east'. While there she sees an angel, who appears as a man. This scares her, and she warns him not to come near her if he fears Allah. The angel tells her that he is actually a messenger from Allah, and that Allah has chosen her for the task of carrying a special son, who will be righteous, holy and will speak in infancy. The angel also reminds her to pray to Allah. Maryam asks how this can happen seeing as she is a virgin. The angel tells her that nothing is beyond Allah, all he has to say is 'Be' and it is. Allah will teach the child all of the past books of wisdom and will give him a new one – the Injil (Gospel). When he grows up he shall go the Children of Israel (Jews) with a sign to make them believe: he shall make a clay figure of a bird, he will breathe into it and it will come alive. He shall also heal the blind, cure lepers and raise the dead.

After this visitation, Maryam retires to rest under a palm tree in a 'remote place' in order to give birth. The birth, though, is very painful and Maryam cries out in agony. A voice 'from beneath the tree' then tells her that Allah has provided a rivulet beneath her to drink from. The voice also instructs her to shake the palm tree and fresh dates will fall down for her to eat. It then tells her to remain silent and not speak to anyone.

Sometime after the baby, who is named Isa (Jesus), is born Maryam goes back to her people. They are amazed, and they ask how Maryam could disgrace her family and ancestors like this, as they think that she has had the child outside of marriage. Maryam is silent and points towards the baby, they mock her and say how can a baby in cradle speak. But Isa can speak, and he tells them he is a messenger from Allah, here to give revelation to the people. He says that he will be kind and charitable all his life, and that peace shall be with him, as he is strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

When Isa has grown up he starts to promulgate his message and wisdom. He tells the people that they should worship Allah, and Allah only. Isa also says that he is here to clear up religious and ideological disputes that the people have. Isa also gives 'glad tidings' of a certain Ahmad (Muhammad) who shall come in the future. He then asks the people who will come with him to help spread the message. The call is answered by the people who will become Al Ansar (The Apostles – they are not named). They state that they are Muslims bowing to Allah. Later on, Isa is with Al Ansar. They ask him to get Allah to produce a table set with viand for them. Isa rebukes them by telling them that they should fear Allah if they have faith. They reply by saying that they only want to eat and be witness to a miracle, so that they can be certain that Isa is telling them the truth. Isa asks Allah to produce a table set with viands, and Allah agrees to it, but he warns them that if any of them don't believe in him after the miracle then they shall suffer a terrible punishment. The table set is produced.

Allah later tells Isa that he shall be raised up to him away from those who blaspheme (i.e., Jews who reject him and Christians who make exaggerations and lies about him). Nevertheless, Allah says, those who blaspheme but still have belief shall be better off than complete unbelievers. Isa is 'raised up,' but he was not crucified (a boast which the Qur'an says some Jews made), but 'so it was made to appear to them'. Allah also says that on the Day of Judgment Isa will rebuke those who blasphemed and told lies against him, and that he will tell them the truth about himself. God will ask Isa if he had ordered the people to worship him and his mother, Maryam. Isa will respond: "Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it."

Note: The Qur'anic narrative also includes various counters against beliefs attributed to Isa/Jesus. They are: (1) that Isa was the son of Maryam only, and not Allah, as Allah is above having a son, (2) that Isa was just a messenger, nothing more, nothing less, (3) that Isa was not crucified, (4) that there is no 'holy trinity' and (5) that Isa did not prescribe monasticism or sects and schisms for his believers, as these were made up by people.

See also

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