the Fatwa Department Research Committee - chaired by Sheikh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî
There is authentic hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Convey from me even one single verse. You may relate from the Children of Israel without harm. Anyone who deliberately tells a lie regarding me will take his seat in the Fire.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (3461)]
However, in another hadîth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whatever the People of the Book tell you, neither believe them nor deny what they say, but rather say: ‘I believe in Allah and His Messengers.’ For if it is something false, you will not be believing it, and if it is something true, you will not be denying it.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (3644)]
Consequently, scholars have different opinions regarding the meaning of the first hadîth. Generally, they say that it is permissible to listen to their stories, but not to believe them.
Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalânî writes, commenting on the aforementioned hadîth in Sahîh al-Bukhârî:
This means that "there is no restriction upon you in relating what they say". This is because the Prophet (peace be upon him) had previously rebuked them for taking from them and looking in their books, then he relaxed the restriction. It is as if the prohibition took place before the Islamic rulings and religious principles had been firmly established, to prevent confusion. Then, when the negative consequences went away, it became permitted to do so, because of the lessons to be learned from hearing the stories that took place back in their time. [Fath al-Bârî (6/498)]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted his Companions to relating from the Jewish and Christian traditions, but he forbade them from believing or disbelieving those traditions on their own merits.
Therefore, if these stories agree with the Qur’ân and Sunnah, we know that they are true. However, in this case they provide us with no new information. When they contradict what is found in the Qur’ân and Sunnah, we know that they are false. Otherwise, we take no stance as to the veracity of the information that they provide.
And Allah knows best.
Source: Islam Today