It’s a common assertion to sometimes hear missionaries and some Jewish critics making the claim that the Quran plagiarizes from the Bible. The reasoning behind this claim is that many of the same stories and figures mentioned in the Bible, are repeated in the Quran.
Now the irony is that if the Quran had different stories about these figures and what happened, these same critics would use this to argue against the Quran, that the Quran has come from a different source (god) from the one that revealed the Bible. In fact, this is exactly what the critics argue, because while many of the same stories are retold in the Quran, there are some areas where the story differs from that of the Bible. For example in the Quran it was Ishmael, not Isaac, who was the sacrificial son of Abraham. The father of Abraham is also different in the Bible and the Quran. Incidents regarding Solomon are also different between the Bible and the Quran and so forth.
So the critics allege that these differences is because the author of the Quran is in fact not the same author of the Bible, thus Islam is incorrect when it asserts that it follows the same God as the previous peoples (Jews and Christians). So on one hand when the Quran has the same story, it’s plagiarizing, on the other hand, when it has a somewhat different take on what happened, it’s proof that it’s false! This is a classic example of you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t; it’s a lose-lose situation no matter what.
Now what about the similarities between the Quran and the Bible, did the Quran simply copy these stories from the Bible as an act of plagiarizing? The answer is no, at the end of the day, the author and the one who revealed the Quran, is the same one who was involved in the previous revelations, thus we would expect to find similarities. The God of the Quran is the same God who commanded Moses to free the Israelites from Egypt, the same God that gave Moses his miracles and signs against the Pharaoh. The Quran doesn’t claim to be a different or new revelation in the sense that it’s bringing something totally different, rather the Quran as it says is reminding people.
Moreover if the Quran was simply copying from the Bible, and this was supposedly being done by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), why would he then change some of the stories? It makes no sense that if he has no divine source behind him, to be changing stories and some specific details, which can then be used as an argument against him later on. Rather if he was a false prophet, he would have copied the stories and left them as they are, and then add his own touch to it by adding that he’s now from that line to continue from where the others left off. So why the need to change the stories (an argument the critics bring up) if he was simply plagiarizing? That makes no sense at all. If the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) wanted to win followers from the Christians and Jews (as a false prophet), the best and easiest way of doing so would be to conform completely to what is in their scriptures, rather than diverging on some (key) areas.
It makes no sense from somebody who is (supposedly) disingenuous with ulterior motives to plagiarize from another text for these disingenuous ulterior motives, to then decide to change parts of the story from the texts he’s supposedly plagiarizing from, thus losing him followers and bringing unnecessary arguments against him.
In conclusion, the similarities between the Bible and the Quran is not down to plagiarizing, but rather it is down to both books having the same author-source, the one who revealed and was involved in the incidents during the times of the Bible, is the same one who revealed and was involved during the time of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).