Praise be to Allah.
Researchers and specialists in the study of religion and
ancient history differ concerning the language spoken by the Messenger ‘Isa
ibn Maryam (Jesus son of Mary, peace be upon him).
Researchers are unanimously agreed that Palestine at the time
of ‘Isa was a mosaic, and that its inhabitants were a mix from every nation
and language, and they spoke, to varying degrees, Hebrew and Aramaic in
different dialects, as well as Greek and Latin.
But differences arose among them when they tried to define
the geographical borders of each of these languages, and when they wanted to
find out the distinguishing features of these languages and determine to
what extent they were influenced by one another.
When we read of the life of Jesus (peace be upon him) in the
four Gospels, we find that he addressed different groups of people. He
addressed the masses in various cities and desert areas, and he addressed
the members of the supreme council (Sanhedrin) and the teachers of the Law,
and those who were in charge of the Temple and running the religious affairs
of the Jews. He also addressed the Roman governor of Palestine whose
language was Latin.
Among the Aramaic words attributed to the Messiah (peace be
upon him) in the Gospels are:
“ ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’—which means, ‘My God, my
God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46)
“He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’
(which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’” (Mark 5:41)
“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried
out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).” (John 20:16)
It seems that the discussion was in their language, but
because of these different reports there was a strong difference of opinion
among the scholars and researchers as to the language of the Messiah (peace
be upon him).
Ibn Taymiyah and Ibn al-Qayyim were of the view that he did
not speak any language other than Hebrew. Ibn Taymiyah said in al-Jawab
The Messiah was a Hebrew and did not speak anything but
Hebrew. End quote.
And he said: The one who says that the language of the
Messiah was Aramaic or Greek is mistaken. End quote.
Some of them were of the view that all the evidence shows
that most of the speech of ‘Isa (peace be upon him) was in Aramaic, which
was the most widely spoken language of the people. He also spoke Hebrew, the
language of the Old Testament, to a lesser degree, and it seems that he was
educated in Latin and Greek.
See: Lughat al-Maseeh ‘Isa ibn Maryam by Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Azeez
Shahbar, published in the book Lughaat al-Rusul.
The Muslims are all obliged to believe in the Gospel (Injil)
that Allah revealed to His Prophet Jesus the Messiah (peace be upon him).
The one who denies this is a kafir (disbeliever) according to scholarly
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And in their footsteps, We sent ‘Isa, son of Maryam,
confirming the Tawrat that had come before him, and We gave him the Injil,
in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Tawrat that had come
before it, a guidance and an admonition for Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).”
Our belief in the Gospel dictates that we should also believe
that it exists and that it was revealed completely, and we believe that
everything that he brought from Allah was true.
But there is nothing in Islam to tell us whether this Gospel
was written and compiled at the time of ‘Isa (peace be upon him) or who
wrote it, or who preserved it and disseminated it, or whether the Messiah
taught it to the people orally or whether the disciples transmitted it and
who believed in it, or whether some of it was written down and some was not.
These are questions that we cannot answer for certain nowadays, rather some
researchers deny that there was even a true Gospel that was compiled in the
form of a book; rather it was just words that were transmitted.
The great scholar al-Tahir ibn ‘Ashoor says in al-Tahreer
wa’l-Tanweer, commenting on the tafsir of Surat Al ‘Imran:
With regard to the Gospel, this is the name of the revelation
that was sent to ‘Isa (peace be upon him) and was compiled by his
companions. End quote.
Shaykh Ahmad Deedat (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
We believe sincerely that everything that ‘Isa (peace be upon
him) said was revelation from Allah, and that it was the Gospel and glad
tidings for the Children of Israel. But throughout his life, ‘Isa did not
write a single word, and he did not order anyone to write anything. Hal
al-Kitab al-Muqaddas Kalimat Allah (Is the Bible God’s Word?).
But it seems that the Messiah (peace be upon him) knew how to
read and write. This may be understood from the words of Allah
(interpretation of the meaning):
“And He (Allah) will teach him [‘Isa] the Book and Al-Hikmah
(i.e. the sunnah, the faultless speech of the Prophets, wisdom), (and) the
Tawrat and the Injil.” [Al ‘Imran 3:48]
Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
It seems that what is meant by Book here is writing. Tafsir
But we do not have any evidence that the revelation was
written down at the time of ‘Isa (peace be upon him). The fact that the
Gospel is called “a Book” in the Holy Quran does not indicate that it was
written down on pages at the time it was revealed. The fact that it is
called a Book only refers to that which is with Allah in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz
(the Preserved Tablet), or that it was something that could be written. This
also applies to the Holy Quran, as Allah calls it a Book. Rather it was
transmitted verbally as well as being written down randomly on skins and
parchments. In fact it was not a compiled Book until the time of Abu Bakr
al-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him). Indeed, Allah says
(interpretation of the meaning):
“And even if We had sent down unto you (O Muhammad (peace and
blessings of Allah be upon him)) a message written on paper so that they
could touch it with their hands, the disbelievers would have said: ‘This is
nothing but obvious magic!’” [6:7]
al-Tahir ibn ‘Ashoor said in his commentary on Surat Maryam::
The Scripture refers to the law which is usually written lest
it be subject to change. The word Scripture is applied to the Law of ‘Isa
(peace be upon him) just as it is applied to the Quran. Al-Tahreer
Similarly the Christians do not believe that there is a book
that was written by the Messiah or one of his disciples during his lifetime
that was lost after that.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him)
As for the Gospel that is in their hands, they acknowledge
that it was not written by the Messiah (peace be upon him), nor did he
dictate it to someone else to write it down. Rather they wrote it after the
Messiah was taken up (into heaven). Al-Jawab al-Saheeh.
There is a clear difference between the revelation that was
sent down to Musa (peace be upon him) and the revelation that was sent down
to ‘Isa (peace be upon him). In the Quran there is an indication that the
former was written down, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And We wrote for him on the Tablets the lesson to be drawn
from all things and the explanation for all things (and said): Hold unto
these with firmness, and enjoin your people to take the better therein. I
shall show you the home of Al-Fasiqoon (the rebellious, disobedient to
Although it seems from the words of some Muslim scholars that
the true Gospel was compiled and written at the time of the Messiah (peace
be upon him). You can find this view in the words of Ibn Hazm in al-Fisal
and Ibn Taymiyah in al-Jawab al-Saheeh.
Similarly it says that the word Gospel (Injil) is applied to
that which Allah revealed to the Messiah, as it says in the Gospel of Mark
8:35: “… whoever loses his life for me and for the Gospel will save it”.
As for the Gospels that are extant nowadays, they are not the
true Gospel, but no one can deny that they contain a great deal of the
Gospel that Allah revealed to the Messiah (peace be upon him).
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
These four books that they call the Gospel, or call each of
them a Gospel, were written by them after the Messiah was taken up into
heaven, but they do not say in them that they are the word of God, or that
the Messiah conveyed them from God. Rather they transmitted in them some of
the words of the Messiah, and some of his actions and miracles. They said
that they did not narrate from him everything that they heard and saw from
him. So they are more akin to what was narrated by the scholars of hadeeth
(prophetic narrations), biography and maghaazi (battle) reports from the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) of his words and deeds
that are not Quran. So the Gospels that they have in their hands are more
like the books of seerah (biographies) and hadeeth (prophetic narrations),
or like these books, even if most of them are true. Al-Jawab al-Saheeh.
See also the answer to question no.
And Allah knows best.