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Belief in the Books

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

By Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris

A Muslim believes that the Qur'an is the word of God. But it is not the only word. God sent many prophets before Muhammad and He spoke to them as He spoke to him. So a Muslim also believes (in fact he would not be a Muslim if he did not believe) in these earlier books, like the Torah and the Gospel, since the true believers are those who "believe in what has been sent down to thee (Muhammad) and what has been sent down before thee" [al Baqara, IV: 4].

"Say: We believe in God, and that which has been sent down on us, and sent down on Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes, and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and the prophets, of their Lord; we make no division between any of them." [al Baqara, II: 136]

God created men so that they may serve Him. His being a serva nt of God constitutes the essence of man. Man ca nnot therefore attain to his true humanity and acquire peace of mind unless he realises this aim for which he was created. But how can he do this! God, being merciful and Just, has helped him in many ways. He granted him as we said before an originally good nature that is inclined to know and serve its true Lord. He granted him a mind that possesses a moral sense and the ability to reason. He made the whole universe a natural book full of signs that lead a thinking person to God. But to make things more specific, to give him more detailed knowledge of his Lord, and to show him in a more detailed manner how to serve Him, God has been sending down verbal messages through His prophets chosen from among men, ever since the creation of man. Hence the description of these messages in the Qur'an as guidance, light, signs, reminders, etc.

All these books advocated basically the same message,

"And we sent never a Mesenger before thee except that we revealed to him, saying,'there is no God but I so serve Me.'" [Anbiya', XXI: 25]

And the religion which they all expounded is Islam i.e. surrender to God,

"The true religion with God is Islam." [Al-`Imran, III:19]

Thus Noah (X:72) Abraham (III: 67), Jacob and his sons (II: 133), the Apostles (V: 111), etc. were all Muslims.

Islam in this sense is in fact the religion of the universe.

"What! do they desire another religion than God's and to Him has surrendered (aslama = became a Muslim) whatsoever is in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwillingly, anti to Him they shall be returned." [Al-`Imran, III:83]

If the religion of all prophets is the same in its essence and basic foundation, not so are the ways of life based upon it. [Ma'ida, V: 48]

One last important point about books is that with the exception of the Qur'an they have not been preserved intact, but have either been completely lost or else suffered distortion and corruption. As to the Qur'an God has decreed that it shall never be subjected to such distortion but shall be preserved by Him. [Hijr, XV: 9]

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