Are the Jews & Christians Ahl al-Kitab?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is for all time.  It is without error and irrefutable for those who have taqwa.  If Allah (s.w.t.) has Stated the characteristics of the mu’minin, it is for all time.  If Allah (s.w.t.) has Stated the characteristics of the mushrikin, it is for all time.  Thus, if these are the characteristics of the Ahl al-Kitab, they are for all time.  The Qur’an is not just for Muslims but for all mankind.  It is thus addressing the Ahl al-Kitab now as well.

There have been some asatidzah who have said that the Christians in the Qur’an are not the same as the Christians now.  Christianity as we know it was already settled in its doctrines, liturgy and the composition of the Bible by the time of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  The last of the Ecumenical Councils were over by the middle of the 3rd Century C.E.  There is little doctrinal difference between Christianity then and Christianity now.  By the advent of the last Prophet (s.a.w.), two of the three Christian denominations, Catholicism and Orthodoxy, had already been in existence for more than half a millennium.  The Protestant movements would only appear after the Reformation.

The Qur’an implicitly Acknowledges this in its address to the Christians and the Jews:

He begetteth, not nor is He begotten; (Surah al-Ikhlasw:3)

If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the Revelation that was Sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side.  There is from among them a party on the right course; but many of them follow a course that is evil.  (Surah al-Ma’idah:66)

O people of the Book!  Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth.  Christ Jesus, the son of Mary was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, which He Bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His Messengers.  Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah: Glory be to Him: (for Exalted is He) above having a son.  To Him Belongs all things in the heavens and on earth.  And enough is Allah as a Disposer of Affairs.  (Surah an-Nisa’:171)

The Jews call ‘Uzayr a son of Allah and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah.  That is a saying from their mouths; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say.  Allah’s Curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!  They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were Commanded to worship but one Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and Glory to him: (far is He) from having the parents they associate (with him).  (Surah at-Tawbah:30-31)

The Qur’an, therefore, addresses the Christians and the Jews for all time.  There is no major difference in the creeds of both faiths from the time of Muhammad (s.a.w.) and now.  Therefore, it is erroneous to say that the Christian and the Jews then are different from the Christian and the Jews now.


  1. Assalaamu alaikum akh,

    I would recommend a scholastic work, not as a challenge but as an addition to this discussion. It is by a respected friend and scholar, Micah David Naziri. It is called "People of the Book: What the Religions Named in the Qur'an Can Tell Us About the Earliest Understanding of 'Islam'." If you cannot afford it, let me know and I'll see what I can do. Ma'a salaama akh!


    1. Wa 'Alaykum as-Salaam,

      Thank you for the recommendation. I'll look it up, insha'Allah.


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