Connecting Themes

Connecting Themes Between the Bible and the Qur’an

The last step of our project was to combine all of our information into one spreadsheet so that we could easily visualize our data from the Bible and compare it to the data collected from the Qur’an. In the first visualization that we made in Tableau, we compared all of the different diseases that we collected and split them up by text:

Diseases in the Bible and the Qur'an
A bar graph made in Tableau that shows the spread of disease across the New Testament, the Old Testament, and the Qur’an

The first thing that we see in this visualization is that the Old Testament contains the largest variety of diseases, followed by the New Testament and then the Qur’an. There are a few proposed theories as to why this difference exists.

First, it may be because of the length of the Old Testament when compared to the other two texts. The New Testament is incredibly smaller than the Old Testament and the Qur’an is even smaller (only about 4/5 the size of the New Testament). Therefore, it makes sense that there would be a greater amount of data that could be collected from this source.

Another theory comes from the differences in the way that disease is discussed in the Bible versus how disease is discussed in the Qur’an. While the Bible tells specific stories of diseases plaguing humans and being cured one way or another, the Qur’an does not take this almost “historical” approach. Instead, we see the Qur’an using disease as a consequence for not believing in the one true God, Allah. Therefore, the way that disease is talked about in the Qur’an is much more vague and hard to interpret, making it much more possible to miss points that may be important.

Next, the research team wanted to look at  the distribution of treatments for illness in the Bible and the Qur’an to see if there were any major similarities and/or differences:

Treatments in the Bible and the Qur'an
A bar graph made in Tableau that shows the spread of treatments between the New Testament, the Old Testament, and the Qur’an

Here, we see a wide variation in the kinds of treatments offered in the Qur’an while only 5 different kinds of treatments are offered for disease in the Old Testament and only 2 are offered for the New Testament. We also see some differences in the kinds of treatments that are offered in the Bible and in the Qur’an. For example, the New Testament primarily offers healing through Jesus Christ and one case of healing through the consumption of wine. In the Qur’an, we see a lot of the possible treatments having to do with believing in Allah and/or making oneself a better person (giving food to a poor man, repenting, etc.). The Old Testament is much more similar to the Qur’an than the New Testament is. A lot of the treatments that we saw in the Old Testament came from nonbelievers who suddenly started believing in God to prevent or cure a disease.

In the Qur’an, we also see further suffering being used as a cure for disease. From beatings from angels to divine punishment, sickness was seen by followers of the Islamic faith as being a symptom of non-belief that may be only be cured through intense physical pain that eventually resulted in belief in Allah. In the Bible, this is not the case. We see many cases of God threatening illness and suffering upon people who do not believe in him, but we do not see further suffering caused by divine powers being used as a cure for disease.

The last major difference between treatments in the Bible and treatments in the Qur’an has to do specifically with  the way that Jesus Christ was regarded in these two texts. In both the New Testament and the Qur’an, Jesus is capable of curing disease.  However, in the New Testament, Jesus is regarded as being the son of God and having a divine nature. He was/is seen by Christians as being almost as powerful, if not as powerful, as God.  In the Qur’an, Jesus is regarded as being a prophet, on the same level as the prophet Muhammad (who wrote down the words of Allah and brought them to the people). While he was associated with the divine, the Jesus of the Islamic faith was not divine himself.