The Qumran Scrolls and the Qur'an

Rather more than ten years ago the first cave containing the Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered. Since then, besides the uncovering of the monastery of the Qumran sectarians, other caves have yielded their literary treasures. According to computations, the books and pamphlets dealing with the "finds" run into hundreds. "The literature on the Scrolls," wrote Professor Rowley in September 1957, "is so enormous that any full reference to the discussions on the various points is impossible."] Whether or not there has been much reference in this accumulation to possible contacts in thought or diction as between Qumran and the Qur'an, which of course must mean the contemporary Arabian scene at the rise of Islam, is an equally unknown factor for the paragraphs that follow. In six or seven books that have been read, whether by Jewish, Christian, or secular writers (some books with indexes, some without), there would not appear to occur very much in the nature of cross-references to Islamic beginnings.2 This is equally true of pamphlets and articles, including that in Arabic by Dr. Anis Frayha, whose discussion appears in the annual publication of essays by Near Eastern scholars, Egyptian and Lebanese.3 It may be that it is still too early to look for anything definite or constructive. This must wait till the more important Qumran documents have been translated into Arabic. Even the "Zadokite Work" from the Cairo Genizah, though known to Western learning for half a century, has not yet been done into Arabic.

It may, therefore, be considered somewhat presumptuous at this stage to suggest possible affinities between the ideas of this monastic or largely monastic Dead Sea Community, now fairly certainly dated in the era immediately preceding and succeeding the Christian Dispensation, and the Semitic developments in Northern Arabia half a millennium and more later. Yet there can be little doubt that some time before Islam the knowledge of Old Testament personalities, accruing from Arabian contacts with the Jewish settlements in Yathrib, Khaibar, and elsewhere, would have been substantiated by the merchants who frequented the Great Incense Road on their travels from the Hijaz or Hadramaut en route to Egyptian Temples or eastern Mediterranean ports. Such merchants would become doubly familiar with the story of Lot and the cities of the Plain-after all, the Dead Sea is still known by Arabic-speaking people as Bahr Lift. The Qur'an has some twenty-five verses in which Lot is mentioned, including those in Surat Hud-a sura which deals with the attitude and fate of unbelievers in familiar Near Eastern localities. The discovery, too, of Abraham and Ishmael in pre-Islamic times in some sense must have helped to pave the way for the importance the pair came to occupy in the unfolding religion, as in its two monotheistic precursors. Furthermore, we have come to recognize an affinity, through this relationship, in the ideas and even canonical pronouncements of the Prophet, enshrined in the Qur'an, which are today the treasured inheritance of so many millions across the heat belt of our world.

There is surely ample research, in this field of possible affinity between the Qur'an and Qumran, awaiting doctoral theses for the rest of this century. More important, it should also provide scope for sorely needed cooperative effort among Jewish, Muslim, and Christian scholars. For an inquiry of this nature, the student will be absolved from the consideration of questions involving the identification of personalities, whether Kittians, Wicked Priests, or different Messiahs. The research should only be directed toward common ideas and the forms in which they are clothed. Without being more imaginative, may it be permitted here merely to touch the fringe of this subject of tentative comparisons between Qumran and the Qur'an. Their general Semitic outlook would seem to invite closer investigation. It is for affinities, not for Qur'anic dependence on or borrowings from Qumran, that we are looking. As there are similarities in thought and language between Qumran and the New Testament, these may also be found, if less distinctly, when adopted or adapted by Muhammad.


In the Manual of Discipline there is allusion to the "spirits of truth and error," followed by a reference to the "angel of darkness" and all the "spirits of his lot," who try to make the sons of light stumble; but "the God of Israel and His angel of Truth have helped all the sons of light."4 If here there is some linguistic resemblance to the Johannine expression: "By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error," attention must also be called to the phrase "His angel of truth." Both Stephen and Paul make reference to the service rendered by angels in the giving of the Law. "Ye who received law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it."5 "The law was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator."6 What is plural in the New Testament, however, becomes singular in the Qur'an. It is true that in the Meccan suras (as Dr. Watt and others have pointed out)7 there is no reference to Gabriel, though the revelations during that period were mediated through Gabriel, since this archangel is generally regarded in Islam as the channel of inspiration. He is referred to as "the Spirit" along with angels in three Qur'anic contexts.8

There is the expression in Surah LIII. shadid al-quwwa,9 as one who taught the revelation. Is it possible that, in the traditional account of the experiences of the Prophet at Mount Hira', the phrase "the Truth came to him," with the "annunciation" that he was the Messenger of God, could mean Gabriel, comparing the statement in the Manual of Discipline concerning God's "angel of Truth"? It has often been suggested that, as his career progressed, Muhammad seems to have ceased differentiating between Gabriel and the Holy Spirit. There would appear a somewhat similar confusion between the "Angel of Truth" and the "Spirit" in the scroll. Anyhow we are confronted by people in the same circle of ideas; while in assessment the Manual is nearer to the agent in inspiritation according to Qur'anic presentation than it is to the allusions in the New Testament. But there is a further point of affinity in the word for "Truth," which occurs so frequently in the scrolls and which is used (according to Dr. Gaster) "in the specific sense of the Mosaic Law."10 Gaster says the Samaritans refer to this as Qushta or "the Verity." The sisterword in Arabic is al-qist is the one employed in the passage in Ibn Hisham, where the biographer gives a version of the closing verses of Saint John 15, where our Lord is quoted as using the phrase rah al-gist-"Spirit of Truth," or perhaps "Justice" or `Equity."I I ("Justice" is how Arberry renders the word in his translation of the fourteen occurrences in the Qur'an). 12 Al-gist and al-quds are not dissimilar in sound.


Abraham, in the Islamic form of Ibrahim, probably occurs more often in the Qur'an (sixty-nine times) than the name of any other character.13 In Surat al-Nisa' he is described in the same way as in the Epistle of Saint James14 as "the Friend of God" Khalil Allah the phrase coming at the conclusion of a description of the well-doer:

Thus the Qur'an; while the Zadokite Document states:

Abraham, however, did not walk in this way (that of the sons of Noah who went astray). Therefore because he kept the commandments of God and did not prefer the desires of his own spirit, be was accounted the Friend of God and transmitted this status in turn to Isaac and Jacob."16

The word translated "Creed" by Arberry is milla, which has come to include much more than belief-it was more than this that Abraham transmitted to his posterity. There is an echo of this "cultural continuance" of the milla in Joseph's remark to the imprisoned baker and butler-that he was a follower of the milla of his fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.17 One way or another, Qumran and Qur'an recognize, with Saint Paul, those who walk in the steps-follow the milla of our Father Abraham, the steps of that faith which he had in uncircumcision.18


One thing leads on to another. With Abraham the whole relevance of "righteousness" and "piety"-birr and tagwa-is involved. While it is true that the adjective birr only occurs three times in the Qur'an-of God where it is rendered "benign" or "beneficent," and of Yahya and 'Isa, when it is usually translated "dutiful," there are two occasions where the corresponding verb appears, in each case in company with another from a sister root.19 The context is implicative of an attitude to life and society. There are references too to the abstract noun: "Help one another in piety and godliness." "Conspire not in sin and enmity ... but conspire in piety and godliness."

The prayer toward the close of Surat Al-Imran: "0 Lord, forgive Thou our sins and acquit us of our evil deeds, and take us to Thee with the pious,"20 has the same kind of ring about it as the request put into the mouth of Balaam the son of Beor: "Lord let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his."21 There is no need to labor the Old Testament emphasis on this characteristic, particularly in the Psalms and Proverbs, or the Pauline interpretation of righteousness in respect of Abraham, the paragon of piety for the three monotheistic faiths. But the issue is that, when the time comes for a fresh examination of the relationship of what is being called "biblical theology" with that of the Qur'an, the Dead Sea Scrolls must not be left out in the caves of the wilderness of Judaea. One of the early adjudications of Dr. Brownlee, quoted by Professor Millar Burrows, has relevance in this connection"The Sect had its birth in Biblical interpretation."22

"Even those who practice righteousness are made liable to error."

"All the ways of righteousness and truth."

"A zeal for righteous government."

"If a man casts his portion with truth, he does righteously."

Thus the Manual, where it is also stated that the duty of the Community shall be "to set the standard for the practice of truth, righteousness and justice." This is taken up again in the Zadokite Document, the moralizing being based on the words of Moses: "Not for thy righteousness nor for the uprightness of thy heart art thou going in to possess these nations, but because of His love wherewith He loved thy fore-fathers and because He would keep the oath."23

For the inheritance of the ancestral covenant applied to those who entered the "new covenant in the Land of Damascus"; but for those who lapsed from the proper observance of the rules there would be the visitation of Divine judgment. But when they have repented "they shall speak each to his neighbour to bring him to righteousness...." "Then shall ye distinguish (again) the righteous from the wicked."

Similarly the formula for the blessing of the president of the Community, whom God "has appointed to judge the needy in righteousness." The Book of Hymns breathes much the same atmosphere: "For none can prove himself righteous when Thou bringest him into judgment. Though man may prove more righteous than man, none can contend (with 'Thee') ."24

There is the same milieu of ideas, the same Semitic outlook. When even in these days there is in the Near East evidence of the inherent Semitic sense of the meaning of justice, piety, and righteousness, pervading a sequence of thought through the centuries, we should surely recognize an affinity derived from a shared ancestry; though at different stages the fuller implications, as we might acknowledge them in Saint Paul, may be reckoned insular or exclusive or undeveloped. The final verdict of the first Christians that their interest was not so much in a Teacher of Righteousness as in a Righteous Teacher sui generic, could never have reached Islamic thinkers in its simplicity or the Queanic doctrine of birr would have approximated to the New Testament rather than Qumran.


In the Zadokite Document, what leads to the discussion of "Millat Ibrahim" is the mention of the "Ancient sinners" who "fell" under the Divine wrath. Here is surely the correct Qur'anic tradition of later times. Interestingly there is natural reference to the contemporaries of Noah. For Qumran, those who went astray included members of his immediate family. This is again common ground with the Qur'an, though a divergence is noticeable in the actual personalities who suffered from the cat- aclysm.25 The previous notices of the "Watchers of Heaven" or "their sons whose height was like the lofty cedar" have their parallels in 'Ad and Thamud, so far as Arabian folklore is concerned. For Qumran and the Qur'an, God's anger was kindled against such evildoers. Here the Dead Sea Scrolls would seem to emphasize the ultimate debt of much Islamic thinking to contemporary Arabian Judaism. When the Community was scattered by the Roman extirpation of so many thousands of Jews, it is tempting to suggest that some of the Qumran adherents, rather than "members," may have found their way to the already established Jewish settlements in the Hijaz, to the permanent enrichment of the latter.


Then there is the whole question of Comparative Angelology. Belief in the angels is fundamental in the Creed of Islam.26 There are the Four Archangels, two of whom figure in the New Testament, and to one of these reference has already been made. On the whole, however, they do not figure in Christian thought as in Islamic and Qumranic. In the heavenly hierarchy in Islam, the archangels are supplemented by the Guardian Angels, the Recording Angels, the "Throne Bearers"; while there is Ridwan in charge of heaven; Malik, who presides over hell; Munkar and Nakir, who visit the graves of the dead. There is some parallel here with scattered passages in the New Testament, the majority of the allusions (the Apocalypse apart) being perhaps to ministering angels. The more developed angelology of the Qur'an is also found in the scrolls. The Manual of Discipline, the Zadokite Document, the War Scroll, and the Hymns have a full quota of references to angelic beings. Gaster enumerates five groups, three of them with considerable subdivisions. Besides the archangels, whom he designates "Protective," there are "Guardian Angels" (somewhat like the "Ministering"), and certain "Particular" angels possessed of special commissions. Then there are the angels described by another name-"Host of Heaven" or "of the Holy Ones," "Stalwarts" or "Glorious Ones"; and last, but not least, those who participate in the final eschatological war.27 In this analysis there would appear some crisscrossing. But the total list is as impressive as that of Islam; while both Qumran and Islam may be in debt to Persian thought. Millar Burrows in the "angelic" paragraphs in his chapter on Qumranic belief, notes a spiritual kinship with apocalyptic literature, agreeing that "sons of heaven" and "holy ones" are probably expres sions that refer to angels.28 In the Manual of Discipline he finds only one occasion where "angel" is used for a good spirit-"the angel of God's Truth." He refers, perhaps incidentally, to the curiously interesting coincidence with later Islamic history. The War Scroll tells how there are "holy angels with the army of the righteous." We cannot but be reminded of the Qur'anic account of the Battle of Badr, which probably more than any other was the "Hastings" of nascent Islam, and the "Bannockburn" of Arabian paganism! In Surat Al-Imran is the following allusion:

When thou wentest forth at dawn from thy people to lodge the believers in their pitches for the battle-God is All-hearing, All-knowing-when two parties of you were about to lose heart, though God was their Protector-and in God let all the believers put all their trust-and God most surely helped you at Badr, when you were utterly abject. So fear God, and haply you will be thankful. When thou saidst to the believers; "Is it not enough for you that your Lord should reinforce you with three thousand angels sent down upon you? Yea, if you are patient and godfearing, and the foe come against you instantly, your Lord will reinforce with five thousand swooping angels."29

Muhammad was, of course, looking back to an event in recent history, and in part accounting for the Muslim victory. But the War Scroll is more interested in eschatological warfare:

Be of good courage for the battle of God; for this day has been determined as the day of battle-as the day of combat against all flesh. The God of Israel lifts up His hand with wondrous power against all the spirits of wickedness. And the Warrior angels gird themselves for battle; they are marshalled in serried ranks (and mustered for the day of combat).30

Two of the Qumrani hymns have something of the same conception:

... the hosts of heaven give forth their voice, and the world's foundations rock and reel; when warfare waged by the soldiers of heaven sweeps through the world.31

His legions shall go marching from end to end of the earth.

Or once again in the War Scroll:

Warrior angels are in our muster.32

There is one difference in this attitude to angels as between the Qumran sectaries and some at least of the more orthodox thinkers in Islam. The sectaries seem to have regarded the possibility of angels being sinful or good, much as in the Epistle of Jude.33 The Qur'an, moreover, refers to two such, Harut and Marut, as well as to the refusal of Iblis to worship Adam. In the latter case Al-Taftazani (for instance) claims that Iblis was the exception who proved the rule of angels being usually good. He was "a lone Jinni inexperienced in worship in the midst of the angels."34 Harut and Marut on their part were, in his view, "uncommitted" angels, neither responsible for unbelief nor guilty of a great sin. They were rebuked like the prophets for inadvertence; they may have taught people magic, but it is not unbelief to teach magic. They failed to appreciate the failings of human beings, so were sent to earth for their testing. This difference, if such it be, should not deter us from recognizing some affinity in the general Qur'anic attitude to celestial beings with that of the Qumran sectaries. Professor Jeffery says that Muslim authorities are unanimous in regarding malak as Arabic. But (he adds) there can be little doubt that the source of the word is Ethiopic, in which language the word bears the twin meanings of angelus and nuntius, thus making it correspond exactly with the Hebrew. His conclusion is that the "word seems to have been borrowed into Arabic long before the time of Muhammad, for the Qur'an assumes that Arabian audiences are well acquainted with angels and their powers, and the form indeed occurs in the North Arabian Inscriptions."35 There seems enough affinity in the Qumranic and Qur'anic systems of angelology to suggest the need for more detailed investigation.


The Eschatological War naturally invites comparison with the Qur'anic conception of the ideals and purposes of Jihad. The very title awarded to the scroll of the "War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness" brings to mind the "great divide" in early Islam, when the world around was either "Dar al-Islam or Dar al-Harb."36 It is true that the War Scroll, as it progresses, seems to visualize the consummation of the world. But at the start there is direction for the extermination of opposing nations. There is a sequence in campaigning, a full nineteen years being devoted to warring against Near Easterners from Syria to Persia, from Lydia to Southern Arabia. It is quite obvious who, respectively, are sons of light and sons of darkness.37 It is just as obvious who belong to Dar al-Islam and who to Dar al-Harb. For the War Scroll the inscriptions on the standards are proof enough. The warriors are to be "felling the slain to the judgment of God" or "subduing the enemy" by His might: or through pursuit to annihilate him in the Battle of God unto his eternal extinction,

Thou art He that told us aforetime that Thou wouldst be in our midst, a great and awful God to make spoil of our enemies before us.... Your God is marching with you to do battle for you against your foemen to the end that He may save you.38

Though in the same Semitic realm of ideas, there are differences to note in this call to Jihad. For the Qumrani and the Muslim alike Jihad was incumbent on the nation rather than the individual as such; but for the Muslim the extermination of opposing forces would not seem to have been primary, since the main object was winning these opponents over to Islam. The Qur'an can speak for itself: "The believers fight in the way of God, the unbelievers fight in the idols' way. Fight you, therefore, against the friends of Satan; surely the guile of Satan is ever feeble."39

There was probably not much to choose between Satan and Belial. The Qumrani, however, rather tended to regard his case as resting for justification on the past, something to which the first Muslims could hardly refer. Albeit it is a Semitic tendency to which later generations have too easily succumbed. Instead, in the Qur'an the believer is urged to participation in Jihad by current considerations and future rewards for himself and others. The purpose is the spread of Islam. "And fight in the way of God with those who fight with you, but aggress not: for God loves not the aggressors."40 Here however, we come against a contradiction with the famous verses at the outset of Sura IX.

A proclamation from God and His messenger unto mankind on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage: "God is quit, and His messenger, of the idolaters." So if you repent that will be better for you; but if you turn your back; know that you cannot frustrate the Will of God. And give thou good tidings to the unbelievers of a painful chastisement: excepting those of the idolaters with whom you made covenant; then they failed you nought neither lent support to any man against you. With them fulfil your covenant till their term; surely God loves the God-fearing. Then when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush .... 1141

These opening phrases are, as it were, in the best tradition of Jihad, an echo of the trumpets of carnage and the trumpets of ambush in the battles waged against the troops of Belial, when the Qumrani would probably have refused quarter to the repentant, unlike the Quranic reservation. Then comes the paradox. The sectarians visualized a campaign of twentynine years or more, after six for mobilization, but every seventh year the recruitment of fresh soldiery is to cease and the sabbatical rest for Israel be observed. If in this latter phenomenon there is some parallel with the pre-Islamic custom prevalent in Arabia of maintaining guerilla warfare two-thirds of the year-with the remaining four months reckoned "sacred," when fighting was banned-the parallel is with a ruling that the Qur'an abrogated. The Qumranic prohibition was Semitic but not Qur'anic. There came a time when the ashhur al-hurum would have to be disregarded. This verse in Surat al-Taubah was probably first invoked when Abu Bakr was faced with the reconquest of recalcitrant tribes, who were threatening to relapse into darkness after being sons of light. For his Khalifah, as for the Prophet, Jihad had become a matter of military necessity; for the Qumrani down by the Dead Sea wastes, the extermination of the ancient enemies, starting with Edom, Moab, and Ammon, just across the Sea of Lot, can never have reached much beyond the range of wishful thinking. There were always more Kittians in expanding circles. The Muslims in real life were to discover this as the seventh century merged into the eighth and Jihad itself took a different turn.


About two-thirds of the way through the War Scroll, before the Highpriestly Benediction, there is inset a hymn, looking forward to the con summation of the Campaign, when Jerusalem shall have come into her own again. The verses have a Messianic ring about them-42 One of the Dead Sea Scroll discussions has centered round the Messianic idea or ideal. The general consensus of opinion points to "Messiah" having been capable of both political and religious connotation-for both king and priest were anointed. Professor Bruce has pointed out that the New Testament with the addition of "Prophet" attributes the combination of the three titles with their implications to Jesus Christ. It is, however, the "Prophet" per se that constitutes a parallel with Qur'anic thinking.43 Qumran would appear to have some light to throw on a controversy of important identification, involving Judaism, Christianity, and Samaritanism as well as Islam. The Manual of Discipline or Rule of the Community (Bruce) has the very vital sentence that "until the coming of the Prophet and of both the Priestly and Lay Messiah" the Community "is not to depart from the clear intent of the Law to walk in any way in the stubbornness of their own hearts." So far as the Qur'an and the "use" of "Messiah" is concerned, there is little doubt that Muhammad neither regarded al-masih as anything else but an alternate way of referring to Jesussometimes uniting the words in a single phrase as in the New Testament and throughout Christian history-nor did he ever suggest himself as being Messiah of the Jews (in Arabia). If Qumran was satisfied with two Messiahs, respectively Aaronic and Davidic (Israelite), Muhammad lived at a period in Near Eastern history when the Christian evangelistic conviction that Jesus was proved the only Messiah had been accepted as decisive-had in point of fact become part of the normal way of alluding to him. But it was not quite the same with regard to the term "Prophet." Muhammad's claim was that God had sent him with a message to the Arabs. Added to this was a confident assurance that the Jewish Scriptures supported his "prophethood" through a fresh application of the text in Deuteronomy, which had proved so controversial in the early days of Christianity, being quoted both by Peter and Stephen: "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee."44

This quotation has turned up again in the fragment from Cave 4, which seems to be a list of proof texts for the Messianic era.45 Starting with this quotation from the Lord's world to Moses dealing with the "Prophet" like him, the subsequent "proof text" is from Balaam's prophecy of the "Star of Jacob." Here the implication is of the military prowess of the king, who "would smite the brow of Moab." The third consists of the Mosaic blessing of Levi, and is consequently priestly in character. These three traits are united according to Christian interpretation in the person of Christ. Whether or not prophets were regularly anointed (as seems inferentially likely from the use of the Isaiah passage by Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth), the two more Messianic qualities merge in sublimation when used of Jesus as the Christ. This Christian nomenclature would seem to have established itself in pre-Islamic Arabia, despite any meaning that the Jewish settlements in contact with Muhammad may have given the term. The Messenger of God in Arabia made no attempt to prove any "Messianic" connection with himself; but he does not seem to have realized that for Christian tribes, taking for granted the use of al-masih, "Prophethood" par excellence was as much wrapped up in the person of Jesus as the other two more generally conceded qualities of Messiahship. But presumably, Jewish thought in Arabia remained as pigeonholed as in Qumran, or as in the relevant parts of the Old Testament as interpreted by Judaeans or Samaritans. Muhammad was in consequence, then, enabled to regard himself as "the Prophet," whom, in accordance with Mosaic expectation, Jahveh would "raise." To this the Samaritan passage mentioned in Saint John 4 lends considerable support. Qumran certainly left the loophole open. There is no parallel in the Qur'anic use of "Messiah" with that of Qumran. There is a parallel in the construction put on the Deuteronomic context in Qumran and the Qur'an. "The Prophet was raised" wistfully for the Qumrani, factually for the Muslim.


There is still another point in this context that brings the Qumran sectarians up to date; while there are passages in the Qur'an that come to much the same thing. It has been noted, as by Millar Burrows, that the Royal Messiah was normally expected to arise from the tribe of Judah, as in the Matthean explication of Micah in the Nativity story. This was also in conformity with the prophecy of Balaam, who like Micah after him associates this question of royal rule with "Israel" rather than Judah.46 It would appear that Israel is employed in this Qumranic list of proof texts in its more comprehensive connotation, as in the mocking of the priests at the time of the Crucifixion: "Let Christ (Messiah) the King of Israel come down from the Cross."47 There are more than forty occurrences of Israel in the Qur'an (two of them being alternate to "Jacob"). Jeffery contends for a Christian origin for the name-probably Syriac.48 This might mean that Muhammad regarded the "Bann Isra'il" as the ancestors of the Jews (Yahud) in a sense wider than that of pure consanguinity. It was from the Jews of his time that he gathered his information with regard to past; they were the representatives of Israel spiritually and historically. "Israel" is about as synonymous for "Jews" as "Messiah" for "Jesus." If the identification of the "Prophet" is still a moot point as between the followers of the three monotheistic faiths, there remains the resuscitated question as to the real meaning of "Israel" today-is it geographical, political, spiritual, or what? Can Qumran and Qur'an help to unravel the tangled skein of rival Semitic interpretations? The problem is not merely antiquarian.


Throughout the literary material from the Dead Sea Caves so far made available, there is scattered phraseology of a Semitic nature reminiscent of similar phraseology in the Qur'an-though there may be a somewhat different slant in some cases. If we leave the respective references to Gog to modern commentary (whether in Ezekiel, Qumran, Apocalypse, or the Qur'an) there are detailed similarities more rewarding that bespeak a common background. The "Most High God" in the Seventh Thanksgiving Psalm is equally Semitic as El-Elyon on the lips of Old Testament worthies and as Allahu Tacala in Qur'anic Arabia or even the modern Near East. Qumrani and Muslim are equally emphatic on the prerogative of Divine Creation. "It is He that hath made us and we are His" is Qur'anic and Qumranic. There is the repeated emphasis on the equally Divine prerogative of "mercy." The use of the term "Blessed" in respect of God comes into the same category. Qumran and `Arafat unite in a chorus of "praise to the Holiest in the height."

Both scrolls and fragments imply the provenance and popularity of the work of Isaiah, a popularity substantiated in the Gospels, in particular the command to "prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness." It was this Isaianic vision that was as responsible as anything else for the early prayer in Islam that came to occupy the place of preeminence at the outset of the Qur'anic suras. It was always difficult through thirty years in Palestine not to feel ihdind al-sirat al-mustaqim had roots in the previous experience of Judaism and Christianity. For this pregnant phrase Gaster even suggests that "the Figure of the Teacher of Righteousness was the prototype for the Islamic development of the Mahdi"49-if so, it brings Qumran to Omdurman in nineteenth-century Africa. But being guided along the "straight path" mostly meant for the Qumrani that study of the Law "that all things may be done in accordance with what is revealed therein."50 For the Christian greater attention is paid to the fact that the wilderness is not out of date in the call to preparation for the teachings of Christ. The Muslim may feel that God alone can guide along this straight path and be inclined at times to "leave it at that."

But the common idea derives from an Old Covenanting Prophet who knew the highways and byways of his Palestine so well as to realize that it would give his world a picture of what was and what might be. After all, this petition is the central plea of the Fatihah, and it would be entirely possible to rewrite this little sura in Qumranic language with comparatively little change in wording. Mutatis mutandis sentences in the closing paragraphs of Millar Burrows's chapter on the beliefs of the Dead Sea sectaries might well stand as true of much of the attitude to life and thought bequeathed by the Qur'an to the immediate followers of Muhammad in the seventh century.

Here in future "Elysian Fields" are possible parallels between Pharisaic, Qumranic and Qur'anic conceptions of the Resurrection of the Body. Here, too, we note the same heedless way in which Divine warnings were disregarded by those of ancient times. But more, both Dead Sea and desert alike inculcated or emphasised a domestic and personal involvement.

Unlike most other Jewish groups" the Qumran sectaries "even believed that they had been granted a new revelation that made clear the true meaning of the Scripture. In the prophets they found their own past and future prefigured.... They believed that all things were ordained of God. Even the existence of evil and the struggle between good and evil in human society and in the individual soul were part and parcel of the divine plan. At the end of the appointed time God would deliver His elect and destroy the hosts of wickedness.... The Covenanters firmly believed that they were God's elect, not only as members of the chosen people but also individually as sons of light, the men of God's lot.... They confidently expected the judgment and eternal punishment of the sons of darkness ... they fervently hoped to enjoy eternal felicity in the presence of God .... 1157

May it not be that there is enough affinity here between Qumran and the Qur'anic scheme of life and death, to warrant further research into the comparative thinking of the desert and the Dead Sea? Writers who deal with this growingly vast subject refer to the tenth-century Qaraite Al- Qirgisanl, who, among others before and after him, mentions a cave-sect, so named because their literature came to light in a cave-hence the Arabic form "Magharians." There are reasons for thinking that these "Adullamites" might be the Qumranis, flowering each side of the Christian era. If Jewish and Christian scholars in diverse languages have been contrasting and comparing the tenets of these Magharians with contemporary Judaism, or examining the relationship of their thought forms with New Testament literary expression, we must ask Islamic scholarship as well to make research into the treasures hidden within the caves.


1. Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 40 no. 1:114.

2. For the only one (so far), see Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, p. 105 n. 30.

3. Vol. 58 if.

4. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, p. 53. Cf. Millar Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 261.

5. Acts 7:53.

6. Gal. 3:19.

7. Wolf, Muhammad at Mecca, pp. 43 f.

8. Suras LXX.4, XCVII.4, XVI.2.

9. Sura LIII.5.

10. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, p. 103.

11. See Muslim World (October 1951): 251-56.

12. E.g., Sura I11.18, 21.

13. Jeffery, Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, pp. 44-46.

14. James 2:23.

15. Arberry, vol. 1, p. 119.

16. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, p. 73.

17. Sura XII.38.

18. Rom. 4:12.

19. Sura 11.224, LX.8.

20. Arberry, vol. 1, p. 98.

21. Num. 32:10.

22. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 247.

23. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, p. 81.

24. Ibid., p. 63. Cf. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 407.

25. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, pp. 73, 109 n. 2. The Qur'an says Noah's wife; see Hanauer, Folklore of the Holy Land, pp. 13, 66.

26. See, e.g., Klein, The Religion of Islam, pp. 65 f.

27. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, pp. 316, 317.

28. Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 261.

29. Arberry, vol. 1, p. 89.

30. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, p. 280.

31. Ibid., p. 143 et passim.

32. Ibid.

33. Verse 6.

34. Elder, Commentary of Al-Taftazani, pp. 134, 135.

35. Jeffery, Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, p. 269 ff.

36. Klein, The Religion of Islam, p. 73 ff.

37. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, pp. 261-62.

38. Ibid., pp. 272-73.

39. Sura IV. 16.

40. Arberry, vol. 1, p. 57.

41. Ibid., p. 207.

42. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, p. 276.

43. Second Thoughts on the Dead Sea Scrolls, pp. 77 ff.

44. Deut. 18:18, 19.

45. Bruce, op. cit. ad. loc., Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, pp. 353-54.

46. Num. 24:15-17, Mic. 5:2, Matt. 2:5.

47. Mark 15:32.

48. Jeffery, Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an, pp. 60, 61.

49. Gaster, The Scriptures of the Dead Sea Sect, p. 36.

50. Manual of Discipline in the Rules of the Order. See Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 382.

51. Ibid., pp. 271-72.

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