Recently as I was searching something about Christianity, a friend prohibited me from doing so, saying it to be unislamic. The idea seemed ridiculous. He pointed out a hadith in which the Prophet(pbuh) expressed his indignation over Hadhrat Umar (r.t.a) for reading the Bible. He didn’t give any source. I was just wondering if you could check the authenticity of this hadith and inform me about the context in which the Prophet (pbuh) prohibited Hadhrat Umar (r.t.a) from reading the literature of other religions, because I can’t see any reason why the Prophet (pbuh) prohibited this, especially when in my case, delving into other religions has actually strengthened my faith in Islam.
May God bless you people for this amazing work,
There is indeed such a narrative. However, this narrative cannot be taken as absolutely prohibiting one’s reading the earlier scriptures, as those scriptures are not only referred to by the Qur’an but are sometimes even essential for comprehending the details of many incidents cited by the Qur’an. Furthermore, it is also well known that many great Muslim scholars of the past were also well versed in the books of the Bible.
It clearly seems that the Prophet (pbuh) discouraged Omar (ra) from reading the Bible due to some special reasons. In my opinion, it seems that at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an, the Prophet (pbuh) discouraged his close companions from involving themselves in anything other than the Qur’an. It is also reported that during these times, the Prophet (pbuh) discouraged his followers from recording his sayings and to concentrate solely on memorizing and understanding the Qur’an. It apparently seems that for the same reasons, the Prophet discouraged his close companions from reading the Bible and to concentrate all their energies on memorizing and understanding the Qur’an.
It may be worth mentioning here that the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) hold a pivotal position in the preservation and the unadulterated transmission of the Qur’an. Had these companions involved themselves in other sciences, the preservation and the transmission of the Qur’an could easily have been affected.
I hope this helps.
August 29, 2003