Who are Ahlal Kitab?

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Most probably the reply you will get when you ask this question ‘Who are Ahlal Kitab?’,  will be ‘Jews and Christians’, although there is an admonition  in Al-Quran in 6:156 that you shouldn’t say that this Al-Kitab was sent on two groups before us.

Al-Kitab/the Book is one of the attribute of Al-Quran. Al-Quran in book form is Al-Kitab (The book). The people who adhere to this book, should be called Ahlal Kitab/(people of the book) however, the popular conception is that people who do not adhere to this book at present time are Ahlal-Kitab/People of the book as they were given an earlier version of divinely sent book which later was altered by them.

One thing worth mentioning is that no body can alter Allah’s book (6:34). The conception that before this book, other books were sent by Allah which were altered cannot be true because Allah declares that his ‘kalima’/word cannot be changed (6:115). Therefore if the other books were Allah’s books, they could not be altered because Allah protects his ‘kalima’/word and remembrance (15:9). What happened was that these nations put Allah’s book on their back and wrote  books with their own hands and attributed those to be from inspiration of Allah (2:79). These other books even have the names of human authors on them (Gospel by Luke, Mark etc). Whoever adheres to Al-Kitab should therefore be called Ahlal Kitab and not the people who were supposed to have different version of the book at some earlier time. For example as long as the people following prophet Essa adhered to Al-Kitab, they were Ahlal Kitab/People of the Book. However when they put Al-Kitab on their back and instead adopted a book they wrote by themselves, they no longer are Ahlal Kitab. Present day Ahlal Kitab are the people who adhere to The book (however for the majority of them the book keeps collecting dust in their homes in the top shelves. Even when they read it, it is mostly without understanding and very rarely that they adopt its instructions in their lifestyle 7:169).

Ayahs of sura Al-Inam 6:83-90 inform the names of 18 prophets who were given Al-Kitab.

5:47 states that Ahle-Injeel should order with Al-Injeel. This wont be possible unless Al-Injeel is also one of the attribute of the book. (Per religious leaders interpretation, if Al-Injeel is cancelled when Al-Quran is revealed, then why this order is in Al-Quran. This would be possible only if Al-Anjeel is not a different book, but an attribute of the same book).

6:156  أَن تَقُولُوا إِنَّمَا أُنزِلَ الْكِتَابُ عَلَىٰ طَائِفَتَيْنِ مِن قَبْلِنَا وَإِن كُنَّا عَن دِرَاسَتِهِمْ لَغَافِلِينَ

‘Do you say surely , Al-Kitab/The book was revealed on the two groups before us, and that we remain unaware about their studies.’

6:34 وَلَقَدْ كُذِّبَتْ رُسُلٌ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَصَبَرُوا عَلَىٰ مَا كُذِّبُوا وَأُوذُوا حَتَّىٰ أَتَاهُمْ نَصْرُنَا ۚ وَلَا مُبَدِّلَ لِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَلَقَدْ جَاءَكَ مِن نَّبَإِ الْمُرْسَلِينَ

‘Rejected were the messengers before you. With patience they bore their rejection and their persecution, until Our aid reached them; and Words of Allah cannot be altered. Already you have received some account of those messengers.’

5:47  وَلْيَحْكُمْ أَهْلُ الْإِنجِيلِ بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

‘Let the people of the Injeel/Gospel  judge/govern by what Allah has revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by what Allah has revealed, they are wrongdoers/Fasiqeen.’

2:213   كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ فَهَدَى اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

‘Mankind was one single nation, and Allah sent prophets with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the book in truth, to judge between mankind in matters wherein they differed; but the people who were given it (the book) did not differ in it except after the clear Signs came to them, to wrong one another (mutual animosity). Allah by His will,  guided the believers to the Truth, in matters wherein they differed.  For Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path.’

3:113  لَيْسُوا سَوَاءً ۗ مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ أُمَّةٌ قَائِمَةٌ يَتْلُونَ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ آنَاءَ اللَّيْلِ وَهُمْ يَسْجُدُونَ

‘Not all of them are alike. Of the People of the Book are a portion who stand (For the right). They rehearse the Ayahs/Signs of Allah night long, and they prostrate.’

43:21  أَمْ آتَيْنَاهُمْ كِتَابًا مِّن قَبْلِهِ فَهُم بِهِ مُسْتَمْسِكُونَ

‘Have We given them a book before this, and they are upholding it?’

In below ayat, Allah challenges that if there was a book before it ( before Al-Quran) then bring it forth or bring some remnants of knowledge. Had present day Bible an altered version of Allah’s Book, then it would have been presented as older book and remnant of knowledge as response to this challenge.  So, the below ayat confirms that present day bible is not an altered from of Al-Kitab

46:4   قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَرُونِي مَاذَا خَلَقُوا مِنَ الْأَرْضِ أَمْ لَهُمْ شِرْكٌ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ ۖ ائْتُونِي بِكِتَابٍ مِّن قَبْلِ هَٰذَا أَوْ أَثَارَةٍ مِّنْ عِلْمٍ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

Say: “Do you see what it is you call besides Allah? Show me what it is they have created on earth, or have they a share in the heavens. Bring me a BOOK before this, or any remnant of knowledge (you may have), if you are telling the truth!

Attributes of Quran

As Allah has 99 beautiful attributes (e.g Rehman, Rahim), so does Al-Quran has several attributes. Some of the attributes of Al-Quran which are mentioned in the book are given below:

  1. Quran,             Reading
  2. Kitab,               Book
  3. Taurat,             Law
  4.  Injeel,             Good News
  5. Zaboor,           Piece
  6.  Furqan,          Criteria
  7. Burhan,          Proof
  8. Hikma,            Wisdom
  9. Wahi,              Inspiration
  10. Majeed,           Glorious
  11. Noor,               Light
  12. Ahsan ul Hadith,         Best narration
  13. Ahsan ul Qasas,            Best of relationship
  14. Moizza,         Sermon
  15. Zikr,              Remembrance
  16. Alwah,          Tablets
  17. Qual,              Saying
  18. Haq,               Truth
  19. Ilm,                Knowledge
  20. Kalam            Word
  21. Suhuf             Pages


  • The sura or chapters of Al-Kitab are referred in plural form in Quran as books/kutub, for example e.g in 98:2-3.
  • Ayat 2:4, The same book is given to all messengers.

بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ   The Arabic words ‘Baina Yadaihi’ means ‘between his hands’. Does not mean ‘Before it’ as found in some translations. You read from the book between your hands  and  its understanding is revealed in your Nafs (5:48)

  • 3:65, (sunnat/practice of) Ibrahim a.s (The Idol breaker) is the first step in achieving path of faith and the Book. You cannot attain the sprit of the Book, until you clean yourself of previous Idols held in high esteem in your psyche. After these idols are broken,  Taurat/The Laws of the Book can be incorporated in ones life, and one can advise with Injeel/Glad tiding, light and sermons (5:46).
  • 2:136-137, the muslims/submitters say whatever was revealed to all the Messengers we don’t differentiate any thing in it. (Cannot say one is superior to another, or some covered local scope and some global; what is revealed to all messengers is one and same thing)

قُولُوا آمَنَّا بِاللَّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَمَا أُوتِيَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَا أُوتِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍ مِّنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لَهُ مُسْلِمُونَ

فَإِنْ آمَنُوا بِمِثْلِ مَا آمَنتُم بِهِ فَقَدِ اهْتَدَوا ۖ وَّإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّمَا هُمْ فِي شِقَاقٍ ۖ فَسَيَكْفِيكَهُمُ اللَّهُ ۚ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

Say you: “We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Yaqoob, and the tribes, and that given to Moosa and Essa, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between any one of it: And we are muslims/submitters.

So if they believe as you believe, they are indeed on the right path; but if they turn back, it is they who are in schism; but Allah will suffice thee as against them, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.

– As long as the people following prophet Essa (a.s) adhered to the original Al-Kitab, they were Ahlal Kitab/People of the Book. However when they put Al-Kitab on their back and instead adopted a book they wrote by themselves, they no longer are Ahlal Kitab. In the below ayat, Allah is admonishing them not to fabricate things on Allah and desist faith based on concept of trinity.

4:171 يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِّنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَّكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّهُ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your judgement. Nor say about Allah but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary, is a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and (Essa is) a spirit proceeding from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Three/Trinity”. Desist. It will be better for you. Only Allah is one God. Glory be to Him. (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth and enough is Allah as a solicitor. 

Below is a lecture by scholar Mohammad Shaikh on Al-Kitab:


9 thoughts on “Who are Ahlal Kitab?

  1. […] Important thing to note that Al-Injeel is an attribute of Al-Kitab, i.e the book revealed by God. Al-Injeel is not to be confused by the book known as Bible. Bible is not the altered version of Al-Injeel as Allah Kalima and Words cannot be changed and Bible cannot be presented as remnant of knowledge of Allah’s Book (46:4). See previous post of ‘Who are Ahlal Kitab (https://topicsfromquran.com/2017/03/26/who-are-ahlal-kitab/) […]


  2. Ahl al-Kitab, (Arabic: People of the Book) in f8 Islamic thought, those religionists— Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, as well as the imprecisely defined group referred to as Sabians—who are possessors of divine books (i.e., the Torah, the Gospel, and the Avesta ), as distinguished from those whose religions are not based on divine revelations.


    • The term ‘Ahlal-Kitab’ means people of the Book not books. The post explains the concept that the other books which are supposed to be divine revelations e.g are not divinely revealed books. The post titled ‘Heavenly Book or Books ?’ on this site, gives details about it.


  3. […] Before we delve deeper into this topic, please understand that the word ‘Al-Quran’ means ‘The Reading’. When the message of Allah is read, it is ‘Al-Quran’. When it is written, it is ‘Al-Kitab’. Generally a copy of Quran in paper form is called a ‘Mus-haf’ while Al-Quran does not use the word ‘Mushaf’ itself. General public sometimes use the word ‘Quran’ interchangeably for the written book form, which is technically not correct. Another attribute in Arabic of Al-Quran is ‘Az-Zikr’ which means ‘The Remembrance’ or ‘The Admonition’. (List of attributes of the message of Allah is given in previous post of Al-Kitab on this site : https://topicsfromquran.com/2017/03/26/who-are-ahlal-kitab/) […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.