Tawrat (Tawrah or Taurat, Arabic: توراة) is the Arabic word meaning Law. Most Muslims believe it was a holy book of Islam given by God to Musa (Moses). The Hebrew word for their scripture, the Torah (also known as the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch) means instructions, that is why Tawrat as per the Qur'an does not refer to the entire Tanakh or Old Testament. All prophets governed with Tawrat 5:44, and meaning of Tawrat as per Qur'an is the Law, mentioned in 5:45; We ordained therein for them: "Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal." But if any one remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself. And if any fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) wrong-doers. According to the Twelver Shia, the original and uncorrupted Tawrat is contained in al-Jafr, which is presently in the keeping of Imam Muhammad al-Mahdi.

In the Qur'an

The word Tawrat occurs eighteen times and name of Musa is mentioned one hundred and thirty six times in the Qur'an. Nowhere in the Qur'an is it written that Musa alone has been given Tawrat, but all the prophets governed with Tawrat of Quran 5:44. In the Qur'an the governing ayats containing order of Allah are Taurat 5:43‏ وكيف يحكمونك وعندهم التوراة فيها حكم الله ثم يتولون من بعد ذلك ومااولئك بالمؤمنين Arberry: 5:43 Yet how will they make thee their judge seeing they have the Torah, wherein is God's judgment, then thereafter turn their backs? They are not believers.

Possible quotations from the Torah in the Qur'an are very few and inexact. An example is 5:45 where the Quran reads, "We ordained therein for them: "Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal."" (Abdullah Yusuf Ali) This could be a quote from Exodus 21:24-25: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe" (KJV)

According to 7:157, Muhammad is written about in both the Injil (revelations to Jesus) and the Tawrat, "Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), - in the law and the Gospel". (Yusuf-Ali)

Many Muslims consider Deuteronomy 18:18, "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him." to be a reference to Muhammad. Jews, however, see this as impossible according to Deuteronomy 17:15 which defines brethren as being limited to Israelites. Further, it would also violate a primary precept that Moses is the greatest prophet to ever exist (Deuteronomy 32). Lastly, Jews consider the period of prophecy to have ended approximately 1000 years before Muhammad.

The Tawrat is mentioned as being known by Isa (Jesus) in 5:110. "Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave" (Yusuf-Ali)

Some quotations are taken from other books of the Hebrew Bible. An example of this is 48:29, "This is their similitude in the Taurat; and their similitude in the Gospel is: like a seed which sends forth its blade, then makes it strong; it then becomes thick, and it stands on its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight" (Yusuf-Ali). This could be a quote from Psalm 1:3, 72:16 or 92:14,

  • "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm 1:3
  • "There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth." Psalm 72:16
  • "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;" Psalm 92:14

Or 48:29 could simply be using an analogy, where the earlier Tawrat is the "seed", and the later books (the Book of Psalms and the Gospels) are the "blade" that grow from it, becoming stronger, with the Quran being the final book, standing "in its own stem, (filling) the sowers with wonder and delight" - the "sowers" perhaps being the practicers of the religions in question who eventually find (and, presumably, convert to) Islam.

Some other quotations are from the Mishnah. An example of this is 5:32 where it says, "On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people." This could be a quote from Sanhedrin 4:5.

These quotes suggest that the word had the wide meaning of the whole corpus of Jewish Scriptures, as Torah in ancient Jewish literature itself,[1] but only late Muslim authors differentiate explicitly between "the wider and the specific meaning" of Tawrat.

In the Hadith

Because he believed the Qur'an replaced it, Muhammad did not teach from the Torah and the Qur'an says very little about it. He did say that Musa (Moses) was one of the few prophets to receive a revelation directly from God, that is, without an intervening angel. On one occasion, some Jews wanted Muhammad to decide how to deal with their brethren who had committed adultery. Abu Dawud records in Book 38 Number 4434:

   They placed a cushion for the Apostle of Allah peace be upon him who sat on it and said: Bring the Torah. It was then brought. He then withdrew the cushion from beneath him and placed the Torah on it saying: I believed in thee and in Him Who revealed thee. He then said: Bring me one who is learned among you. Then a young man was brought. The transmitter then mentioned the rest of the tradition of stoning similar to the one transmitted by Malik from Nafi' (No. 4431).


There is some ambiguity among English speaking Muslims on the use of Tawrat versus Torah. The Arabic of the Qur'an and hadith have only one word, Tawrat. Generally, in English, they are used interchangeably. However, some Muslims prefer to reserve Tawrat to refer only to the original revelation of Allah to Musa which was later supposedly corrupted. They use Torah to refer to the current, supposedly corrupted text.

There is also ambiguity as to whether the Qur'an uses Tawrat only referring to the five books of Moses, the entire Tanakh, or both, as in Hebrew. This comes because the Qur'an often lists the holy books as the Tawrat, Injil, and Qur'an, excluding the Zabur (the Psalms), possibly because the Psalms are part of the Tanakh. Moreover, a Muslim scholar seemed to reference the Book of Isaiah in the Tanakh, saying it was from the Tawrat.[2] This meaning is uncommon, as most Muslims think it only refers to the five books of Moses.

See also


  1. Bacher, Exegetische Terminologie, i, 197 ff.
  2. Tawrat, Zabur, & Injil

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