Is it permissible to read the scriptures of the Jews and the Christians, such as the Injeel (Gospel)?
All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
It was reported that one of the Muslims of the tribe of Banu Quraythah wrote some words from the Tawraah (Torah) for ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab who then went to the Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam , and showed him these words. When he saw them, the Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was angry. Therefore, ‘Umar immediately testified that he was satisfied with Allaah The Exalted as his Lord, Islam as his religion and Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, as His Messenger. Thereupon, the Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was relieved and swore by Allaah The Almighty that if Moosaa (Moses) appeared among them and they followed him and left Muhammad they would be led astray. This is because Allaah The Almighty had made the act of following the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the only path to guidance and therefore He chose him for the Muslims and chose the Muslims for him. [Ahmad, At-Tabarani and Al-Haakim]
In another Hadeeth, it was reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, forbade us to ask the People of the Book about anything because they have deviated from the truth and, therefore, could not guide us to it. On the other hand, if we asked them we would either believe in their falsehood or deny a truth their words might contain. [Abu Ya‘laa]
‘Umar brought these sheets of the Tawraah just to read them and be acquainted with their content; however, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not allow him to do so. Consequently, the Muslim is neither permitted to recite any of the previous divine books nor to learn their content unless he does so to clarify their distortion and inconsistency. This can be done provided he is firmly grounded in knowledge. Common Muslims and those who are not qualified to refute the distortions and malicious allegations of the People of the Book, are not permitted to read the Tawraah, the Injeel nor any of the other previous books.
Allaah Knows best.