Introduction to Islam
by Dr. Zahid Aziz
Books of God
“(Muslims) believe in that which has been revealed to thee (O Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee.” (The Holy Quran, 2:4)
“He has revealed to thee (O Muhammad) the Book with truth, verifying that which is before it, and He revealed the Torah and the Gospel before, a guidance for the people, and He sent the Discrimination (the Quran).” (The Holy Quran, 3:3)
What is a Book of God?
To the various Prophets that God sent for people’s guidance, He revealed His teachings. The Prophets made this revelation public, and their followers learnt it and passed it down to their children, and they in turn passed it down to the next generation, and so on. This is how we come to have the ‘scriptures’ or ‘holy books’ of various religions today. Islam calls the original revelations of the Prophets as “Books of God” because they were meant to be preserved in a collected form (whether orally or written, or both).
Please name some of the Books of God which exist today?
The revelations granted by God to the Prophets before the Holy Prophet Muhammad, such as Moses, Jesus, Krishna, and Buddha, cannot be found today in their full and original form. However, the presentday scriptures of the followers of these great prophets do contain some fragments of the original teachings, although they are mixed up with later additions and interpretations. Some of these scriptures are: the Torah of the Jews, the Gospels of the Christians, the Vedas of the Hindus, and the Zend Avesta of the Zoroastrians.
On the other hand, the word of God that came to the Holy Prophet Muhammad is to be found fully intact and completely preserved in the Muslim scripture, which is known as the Quran.
Do Muslims have to believe in Divine scriptures other than their own?
Muslims have to believe that the original teachings of all the Prophets, including Moses, Jesus, the Prophets of India, those of China, etc., were revealed by God. On that basis, they respect the scriptures of other religions because some of the original revelations can still be found in them. So, Muslims are required to believe that the religions that came before Islam, such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., contain many truths, even as they exist today.
In what relation does the Holy Quran stand to other Divine Scriptures?
The Holy Quran claims to be:
- a “verifier” of previous scriptures: “a Book from Allah verifying that which they have” (The Holy Quran, 2:89).
- a “guardian” over them (The Holy Quran, 5:48).
- a “judge” to decide their differences: “We have not revealed to thee the Book except that thou may make clear to them that wherein they differ” (The Holy Quran, 16:64).
- to “make manifest” and to “perfect” their teachings (The Holy Quran, 26:1; 5:3).
Please explain the four points above a little further.
- The Holy Quran verifies that all the scriptures revealed to various nations of the world are of Divine origin.
- It has guarded and preserved those of their original teachings that were of permanent application, after these had become obscure due to loss and alteration in their texts.
- All scriptures were from God, but they had changed so much as to become totally different from each other, even in terms of their basic teachings. The Holy Quran came as a “judge” to decide these differences, and to sort out the original teachings from later changes.
- The Holy Quran sheds full light on all essentials of faith, many of which had not been fully dealt with in the earlier scriptures. It also replaced those of their teachings which were only local or temporary by perfect and universal teachings applicable to all nations and all times.