I have been told by my Muslim connections that there is a story in the Quran that relates how wicked the Jews are because they would lay traps to trap fish on the Sabbath.

My question is given that the Quran obviously condemns Sabbath desecration by a Jew would it not make sense that a Jew who converts to Islam is still obligated to observe the Sabbath being under the covenant of the Torah which the Quran seems to accept was, at least in its original form, of divine origin?

To my horror when I asked this question to my Yemenite Arabic teacher he answered that a Jew that converts should not continue to observe the Sabbath. Surely he is mistaken? Did Islam come to change the Torah? Surely that cannot be the official position of Islamic scholarship?

  • 1
    What even do you think "convert" means if it involves sticking with your original belief system?
    – goldPseudo
    Mar 4 at 3:08
  • @goldPseudo but the claim of Islam is that all the Jewish prophets were in fact Muslims and that they did not come to change anything but to rectify that which was changed by errant Jews and Christians. Surely, you can see the problem that my question presents to such a claim. If the Quran acknowledges that Sabbath observance was part of the original unchanged Torah how can you simultaneously insist that a Jew who becomes a Muslim should not observe the Sabbath any longer? This is a complete contradiction that needs to be resolved if you really desire any Jew to consider converting. Mar 4 at 3:15
  • Islam isn't some sort of "sequel" to Judaism. The Jewish prophets were Muslim, but they were also Jews preaching to Jews about Jewish Law. Christ Jesus was the prophet who fulfilled the Law, not Muhammad, and his teaching to the Jews regarding the Law are out of scope here. Muhammad was never a Jew, and many of the early Muslims and people he preached to were polytheists who knew nothing of the Torah or Mosaic Law which never applied to them.
    – goldPseudo
    Mar 4 at 3:23
  • @goldPseudo If you are now suggesting that the new religion is primarily for non Jews who do not need to observe the Sabbath that would be a far less problematic proposition. But if you are to maintain the Jews are wicked because they changed the Torah and then simultaneously insist that any Jew who becomes a Muslim cannot keep the Sabbath that is a most problematic notion indeed and perhaps something worth reflecting on as a potential reason for why large numbers of Jews have never been persuaded. Of course if you don't want Jews to convert continue thus with this effective strategy. Mar 4 at 3:40
  • We are not a site for argument or debate: If you do or don't want to convert to Islam, that's entirely up to you. But accepting Muhammad as a prophet of God de-facto requires accepting Christ Jesus as well, so if you have questions regarding your own Law, I'd recommend trying to understanding his teachings first.
    – goldPseudo
    Mar 4 at 4:10

3 Answers 3


This story is known in Islam as the Sabbath breakers. A Jew who converts to Islam i.e. a Muslim is not, and must not be, obligated to any rites that were not legislated in Islam (i.e. commanded and advised from the main sources of Islam; Quran, Hadith, and sometimes similar resources like The Four Principles of Twelver Shia), even some Islamic mystic rites are sometimes subjected to Shirk even that they all about Islam and the love of Allah.

In this case, to answer your question, a Jew who converts to Islam and observes the Sabbath will be considered to have committed Shirk. Not only that it is a rite that "for which Allah hath sent down no authority: the command is for none but Allah: He hath commanded that ye worship none but Him: that is the right religion, but most " [12:40 Quran] but it also promotes beliefs (for example messianic age) that are not compatible many of the main Islamic fundamentals.

Torah which the Quran seems to accept was, at least in its original form, of divine origin

While Quran emphasizes that it is from the same divine source as the Bible and the Torah it does say that both of them were manipulated and distorted from their "original form". For examples of how Islam describes distortion of the Torah see Quran 5:13, 2:79, 6:91, 5:41.

  • I understand that Muslims believe the Torah has been changed. What I don't understand is how the Quran can acknowledge that Sabbath observance was part of the original Torah and that simultaneously Islamic scholars hold that a Jew who converts can not observe the Sabbath. The only logical conclusion is the Islamic scholars seem to believe that the Quran has somehow supplanted even the original Torah. Simply put it came to make a change. Is that your position? Mar 4 at 2:48
  • @YaakovTzir It came to make a change in terms of laws, for those have always been subject to change for as along as God sent down new revelation to Prophets among the people. But the Quran did not come to make a change in terms of belief, rather it came to rectify it, that is, restore the belief in One God and His prophets with everything that entails. Mar 4 at 13:41
  • @csstudent1418 I don’t think many Jews are going to find that a convincing narrative. A fundamental principal of Judaism is the Torah is eternal and immutable. The accusation that it is the Jews who have changed the Torah doesn’t seem to stand given that they are arguing it cannot be changed while as I have recently learned from responses to this question it is the Muslims that are advocating for change. Mar 4 at 13:48

From a strict Islāmic theological perspective, once a person converts to Islām, they are expected to follow the teachings and practices prescribed in the Qur'ān and Hadīth, which do not include observing the Sabbath. Islāmic jurisprudence emphasizes the importance of distinguishing Islāmic practices from those of other religions to maintain a clear Islāmic identity.

  • So Islam is indeed therefore proposing a drastic change. Mar 4 at 2:54
  • So, if a Jew accepts Islām. Does he need to do Chatat, Asham and other rituals? The Sharī'ah of Muḥammad ﷺ is superior than the Sharī'ah of Musa (AS). He was sent only to the Children of Isra'īl.
    – Azaan
    Mar 4 at 3:28
  • Just to be absolutely clear then you do agree that Islam is presenting a change to what came before and not a restoration as many claim. Mar 4 at 3:36

No he should not. According to Islam, the prohibitions of the Sabbath were only made obligatory on the Bani Israel for a period of time due to a particular reason, it does not apply in Islam now rather it has been abrogated.

إنما جعل السبت على الذين اختلفوا فيه

The sabbath was only appointed for those who differed over it.

Quran 16:124

The Jews who are condemned in the Quran were condemned for disobedience to Allah. Now breaking the Sabbath is no longer disobedience as Allah has replaced it with the Islamic observances of Friday, hence it is no longer condemned to violate the Sabbath.

As an example, Abraham (عليه السلام) was commanded to sacrifice his son, however now we are no longer required nor permitted to sacrifice our sons rather that command was abrogated and has been replaced by animal sacrifice. Similarly, according to some traditions, Jacob (عليه السلام) was permitted to marry two sisters, whereas this is forbidden now in Islam.

A Jew who accepts Islam must follow Islam completely and should not act according to what has been abrogated. There are traditions that the following verse was revealed regarding the following of such abrogated laws:

يا أيها الذين آمنوا ادخلوا في السلم كافة ولا تتبعوا خطوات الشيطان إنه لكم عدو مبين

O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.

Quran 2:208

As various exegetes have noted:

نزلت هذه الآية في مؤمني أهل الكتاب عبد الله بن سلام النضيري وأصحابه وذلك أنهم كانوا يعظمون السبت ويكرهون لحمان الإبل وألبانها بعدما أسلموا وقالوا : يا رسول الله إن التوراة كتاب الله فدعنا فلنقم بها في صلاتنا بالليل فأنزل الله تعالى ( يا أيها الذين آمنوا ادخلوا في السلم كافة ) أي في الإسلام

This verse was revealed regarding the believers from the Ahl al-Kitab Abdullah ibn Salam and his companions. For they wished to venerate the Sabbath and disliked to eat the flesh and drink the milk of camels after they accepted Islam. And they said: "O Messenger of Allah, the Torah is the Book of Allah so let us recite its verses in prayer during the night." So Allah revealed the verse "O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely"

Tafsir al-Baghawy

أن هذه الآية نزلت في طائفة من مسلمي أهل الكتاب كعبد الله بن سلام وأصحابه وذلك لأنهم حين آمنوا بالنبي عليه السلام أقاموا بعده على تعظيم شرائع موسى، فعظموا السبت، وكرهوا لحوم الإبل وألبانها، وكانوا يقولون: ترك هذه الأشياء مباح في الإسلام، وواجب في التوراة، فنحن نتركها احتياطا فكره الله تعالى ذلك منهم وأمرهم أن يدخلوا في السلم كافة، أي في شرائع الإسلام كافة، ولا يتمسكوا بشيء من أحكام التوراة اعتقادا له وعملا به، لأنها صارت منسوخة ولا تتبعوا خطوات الشيطان في التمسك بأحكام التوراة بعد أن عرفتم أنها صارت منسوخة

This verse was revealed regarding a group who became Muslims from the Ahl al-Kitab such as Abdullah ibn Salam and his companions who after they had believed in the Prophet also venerated the laws of Moses, so they respected the Sababth and disliked the meat and milk of camels, and they said: "Leaving these things is permitted in Islam and obligatory in the Torah, so we shall leave them as a precaution." So Allah disliked that and commanded them to enter Islam completely, i.e. the laws of Islam completely, and to not hold onto commandments of the Torah for they are abrogated, so do not follow the footsteps of Satan by adhering to the provisions of the Torah after knowing that they are abrogated

Tafsir al-Razi

Further, note that a law of the Torah can fall under either one of the following:

  • An alleged law in the previous scriptures which is not attested to in the Quran or Sunnah, but we only know of it through the books or scholars of the Jews and Christians. There is consensus that such a law is not applicable to us.

  • A law in the previous scriptures which is attested to in the Quran or Sunnah, and it is also explicitly ordained for us. There is consensus that this law will be applicable to us.

  • A law in the previous scriptures which is attested to in the Quran or Sunnah, but the Quran or Sunnah abrogate that law. There is consensus that such a law is not applicable to us.

  • A law in the previous scriptures that is attested to in the Quran or Sunnah, however the Quran and Sunnah do not explicitly ordain it for us, nor is there an indication that it has been abrogated. In this case the view of the majority is that such a law is applicable to us while some madhabs hold that it is not applicable.

As far as the Sabbath is concerned then that falls under the third category. It is abrogated in Islam.

  • So we can agree then that Islam evidently came to change and not to restore as many falsely claim? Mar 4 at 4:30
  • Easing the Sabbath is restoring the original as the Sabbath was not prescribed before the Torah, see Ibn Kathir. However it is wrong to think that generalizations like this have no exceptions, Islam restored many things and it also made some provisions which were unique to it.
    – UmH
    Mar 4 at 7:10

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