“For assuredly We sent among every people a messenger (with the command), ‘Serve God and shun wickedness.’ Of them were some whom God guided and of them were some on whom error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth and see what was the end of the deniers (of truth).” (16:36)
“Say (O Muslims): ‘We believe in God and in what is revealed to us, and in what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Tribes (of Israel), and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and in what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them (in believing them all to be God’s messengers) and to Him do we submit ourselves.” (2:136, also 3:84-85)
The messengers or prophets of God have already been discussed briefly. It is important to note here that the Islamic conception of the role and function of prophethood differs somewhat from that of Judaism and Christianity. In Islam the word “prophet” (nabi in Arabic) does not in any way signify one who prophesies future events. Rather it denotes one who is very near to God through the total surrender of his entire being to Him and who receives revelations from Him which constitute a source of guidance for men. If the revelation is in the form of a written scripture, the prophet is in addition a “messenger” (rasool) as well. All the prophets who preceded Muhammad (may God’s peace and blessings be on them all) were sent with a message of warning and guidance to a particular people. None of their messages were intended to be universal, including that of Jesus, who was commissioned by God specifically as a prophet to the Children of Israel, until the last messenger, Muhammad (God’s peace and blessings be on him) was entrusted with the final and complete statement of God’s guidance for the whole of humanity for all time to come.
Who were some of the prophets of God? The Quran states that God sent a warner and guide to every people and it mentions the names of many of them. At the beginning of the line was Adam (Adam in Arabic, the first human being). Adam and his wife Eve (Hawwa), originally in a state of primal innocence, exercised the human attribute of freedom of choice and disobeyed God’s command Through this they learned the hard lesson
of the consequence of disobedience to the divine command in the loss of their innocent state and life of peace and tranquillity. But, the Quran states, they repented and God forgave them. He then bestowed prophethood upon Adam, giving him guidance for himself and his descendants.
The first true human beings on earth were thus believers in the One God, submitting to His guidance. But gradually over a period of time their accurate perception of Reality deteriorated and they became animists or idolaters, until God raised a new messenger among them to recall them to the truth. The Quran mentions Noah (Nuh), who brought a message of warning and the need for reform to his totally corrupted people. When they refused to take heed, God destroyed them in the flood. The next major prophet whose history is narrated in the Quran is Abraham (Ibrahim). Although he grew up among idolaters, he reasoned out the folly of believing in the divinity of any finite thing, especially of those made by human hands. He surrendered himself to God with such total submission that God made him an example for people of all times. The Quran calls him “muslim,” and so indeed all the prophets were mus/im — that is, those who submit themselves to God alone.
From Abraham came a long line of prophets through his two sons, Ishmael (Isma’il) and Isaac (Ishaq). Ishmael was the progenitor of the Arab peoples and Muhammad (peace be on him) was among his descendants. From Isaac came a number of prophets, including his son Jacob (Yaqoob), his grandson Joseph (Yusuf), Moses (Musa), David (David), Solomon (Sulayman), John the Baptist (Yahya) and Jesus (Isa). Of these, Moses, David and Jesus (God’s blessings and peace be on them) brought written scriptures revealed by God, although today only scattered portions of the originals remain, intermixed with what people have added, as is clear from an objective study of the format and
content of the Biblical text.
Islam asserts that Jesus was one in the line of prophets sent to the Children of Israel. The Message he brought reiterated the necessity of submission to God and obedience to His law given through Moses, emphasizing purity of heart and sincerity of intention instead of mere formalism and empty adherence to ritual.
The Quran states, as does the Bible, that Jesus was born of a virgin mother by the power of God. However, this in no way makes hint of divine nature or God’s son any more than it makes Adam, who was born without the agency of parents, divine. Jesus was a human being who was created in a special and unique manner by God, Who is able to create what He wills as and how He pleases. The notion of the divinity or sonship of Jesus, the Quran asserts, is completely contrary to the true message which Jesus
(peace be on him) brought of the Oneness and Uniqueness of God, and his insistence that God alone not himself was to be worshiped and obeyed (this topic will be discussed in greater detail later).
Muhammad (may God’s peace and blessings be on him) was born nearly six hundred years after Jesus (570-632 AD) in Mecca, Arabia. He lived at a time when his people were in the grip of the worst form of idolatry and their society was in a state of marked corruption and decay. Within Arabia, Jews had formed tribes and settlements, but they did not propagate the message of the Oneness of God and the human being’s responsibility to Him outside their own community. Christianity was splintered into many diverse feuding sects and its stronghold, the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium), was in a state of decline.
When, in the midst of this decadent society, a Messenger arose in the city of Mecca with the earnest, burning call to repentance and reform. He issued to the leaders of paganism a challenge which they could not afford to ignore if they were to retain their grip on the people. “Arise and warn” was the message with which God charged him. But his warning was met with the most intense hostility. At first he was ridiculed and opposed. Then with his small group of followers progressively exposed to abuse, defamation, torture, boycott and ultimately the threat of assassination.
Every means the pagans could devise to induce him to give up his mission and force the early Muslims to abandon Islam was attempted. All of the early Muslims remained firm and constant, however, for their certainty of the truth of the Message was so strong that the mere threat of physical harm or death could not deter them from believing in it, proclaiming it and living it. Some of the first Muslims died under torture, and others migrated to Abyssinia to escape persecution, a country under the rule of a devout Christian king who subsequently secretly embraced Islam.
At length, after thirteen years of patient preaching and bearing with constancy all these trials, God opened to the Prophet and his followers the possibility of migration to the city of Yathrib (Medina) some three hundred miles distant, at the invitation of its inhabitants who had embraced Islam. They pledged their loyalty to the Prophet and swore to live and if necessary to die for Islam.
The Muslims left Mecca in small groups and made their way across the desert to the city which had opened its heart to the new faith. When they had all gone, the Prophet put his cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, in his bed to fool the pagans (thinking that the Prophet was still in his bed) while together with his closest friend, Abu Bakr, the Prophet left Mecca, by God’s guidance, avoiding the pagans’ attempts to assassinate him in Mecca and hunt him down on his journey.
In Medina, away from the continuous day-to-day persecutions of the pagan Meccans, the Prophet was able to give form and continuity to the community and system he had been commanded to establish. Here the parts of the Quran constituting legislation concerning various matters were revealed, and here they were put into practice by the Muslims as soon as the verses were received by the Prophet. Here too the Islamic community and state, with all the various elements of social, political and economic life cast into a form which would be an example for all the future generations of Muslims, came into existence.
But even here there was no peace for the Prophet and his community They were repeatedly harassed by the continued threats and military expeditions of the pagans, and by the opposition and treachery of dissident groups in and around Medina.
Yet the Muslim community, although initially small in number and poorly-equipped for battle, resisted with such valor that after some nine years it was able to subdue these enemies by a series of actions, both military and diplomatic. The Prophet (peace be on him) then entered the city of Mecca—from which he had fled several years earlier under the threat of death—as the leader and ruler of a humbled populace. Instead of reproaching or taking any sort of vengeance upon those who had persecuted him so cruelly, he freely forgave even his most bitter enemies, and thus the “conquest” of Mecca took place without bloodshed. The Prophet entered the Kabah, the sacred house of God’s worship built in antiquity by the prophets Abraham and Ishmael, and with his own hands broke into pieces the three-hundred-and-sixty idols which had been erected and worshiped there, purifying the Kabah once again for the worship of God, the Praised and Exalted, alone.
Prophet Muhammad (God’s peace and blessings be on him) died a few years later. Truly he had delivered the message with which he had been entrusted by God, and he left behind for all time to come two permanent, unchangeable sources of guidance: the Holy Quran and his sunnah— that is, his own example and practice, the details of which were within some years collected in many well-documented verbal reports known as Hadith which have been presented accurately to the present time as the second
source of guidance in Islam after the Quran.
After the Prophet, four of his closest friends and Companions—Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali—became the leaders and heads of the Muslim society and state with the title Khalifat rasool Allah, that is, caliph or successor to the Messenger of God. They ruled scrupulously according to the guidance of the Quran and the Prophet’s example. After them, however, the political leadership took the form of a hereditary monarchy which deviated markedly from the example of the Prophet and the first four rightly-guided caliphs. At the same time, Islam spread with great rapidity, carried to many parts of the globe by the Muslims whose individual lives and societies had been transformed by their faith. At its zenith (700 to 1600 AD) the Islamic Empire stretched from Spain to the Philippines, and, at a time when Europe was still in a very primitive state, the light of faith, learning and culture which illuminated Muslim lands was truly the beacon of piety and civilization in an otherwise darkened world.
The Quran is emphatic in proclaiming that Muhammad (peace be on him) is the last messenger of God, the “Seal of the Prophets,” and that any who claim prophethood after him are false. But why, it may be asked, if God had sent messengers to earlier peoples as the need arose, and as the human being’s course on this planet is not yet run and the need for guidance is so evident today should there be no further prophets after him?
This is so because the Quran is God’s final and complete guidance for all humankind As such it does not require any amendment, abrogation or restatement. Moreover, it was revealed at a time when the human being’s intellect, consciousness and the ability to preserve and transmit knowledge through writing had reached full maturity. The Quran has been preserved, word for word, letter for letter, exactly as it was revealed, and as long as it remains so (and the Quran contains Almighty God’s promise to safeguard it from alteration until the last day), there is no need for any further revealed guidance. The Quran is complete and perfect, and its principles and teachings are as valid and binding today as at the time when they were revealed; for although the style and mode of human life have changed, the Ultimate Realities, the nature of good and evil, and the human being’s own nature are unalterable and permanent verities which are in no way affected by the passing of time or changes in the human condition.
Besides this there is another reason why no further messengers are needed. Supplementing the guidance set forth in the Quran is the example of the Messenger, Muhammad (peace be on him) A divinely-revealed Book might contain God’s guidance, but a Book was not enough; someone was needed to translate that guidance into action, to live it. And that someone was not to be an angel or a super-human being but a man like other men, a man from among the community to which the guidance was immediately addressed, who would serve as a living example to others and would give concrete form to the laws which God had revealed amidst the varied conditions of ordinary human existence.
Concerning the life of the Prophet (peace be on him), such a complete and detailed account has been preserved as has probably not been kept concerning any other individual in human history.
Because of the absolutely unique position he occupied as the recipient of revelations from God, the Praised and Exalted, every act and detail of his life was of the greatest interest to those around him. Hence the narrations preserved in the books of Hadith (life and sayings of the Prophet) deal with all facets of his life, from the most personal matters to the conduct of war and the affairs of state. Consequently Muslims have before them in every aspect of their lives — and it is to be borne in mind that in the Islamic frame of reference no part of the human being’s existence is outside the pale of religion—the living example of the best of human beings. As his wife Aisha said concerning him that his conduct was the Quran. And while Muhammad (peace be on him) was an individual of immense spirituality and nearness to God, at the same time he also lived an extremely full, active and complete life, exemplifying many varied and complex roles. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, a kind and responsible kinsman, a faithful, affectionate friend, a leader alike in worship and battle, a ruler and statesman par excellence. For the Muslims of his time as well as for the Muslims of today and tomorrow, he was, is and will always be the model: the teacher, the guide, the leader, and above all the conveyor of the divine guidance, the connecting link with God, and the person whom they love, revere and emulate above all other men.
“You have indeed in the Messenger of God a beautiful pattern for any whose hope is in God and the Last Day, and who engages much in the praise of God.” (33:21)
“O Prophet, truly We have sent you as a witness, a bearer of glad tidings and a warner, and as one who invites to God by His leave, and as a lamp spreading light. Then give the glad tidings to the believers that they shall have from God a very great bounty.” (33:45-47)
Now there have been many claimants to prophethood, some even in modern times. How, therefore, can anyone prove that Muhammad’s claim to be a messenger of God, to have received divine revelation, is true? In short, could Muhammad actually and in fact have been the Messenger of God, the Last Prophet, or did he merely imagine he was or pretend to be? [It is perhaps very difficult for many of us, in this age of loss of spiritual values and lack of spiritual individuals, to imagine or even believe in the possibility of a human being good enough to be a prophet. Yet even today among the devout Muslims, there do exist individuals who are so absolutely pure in heart and in conduct, so deep in faith and so near to God that although they are still far from approaching the character of a prophet, they nevertheless make it possible to understand that such a person, totally surrendered to God and submitting to Him with the entirety of his being, could and in fact did actually exist]
The real question being asked is in fact: How can one distinguish a true prophet from a false one? In order to determine the truth of any person’s claim to have brought a divinely-revealed scripture, it is necessary to establish some rigorous criteria which are generally acceptable in terms of logic and reason. These criteria should be such that in the light of them anyone may searchingly examine any scripture, whether it is the Quran, the Old and New Testaments, the Bhagava-Gita or any other religious text,
and decide for himself whether or not it deserves serious consideration as coming from the Lord of the universe. Such criteria may be something like the following:
- The person claiming to have received revelation should be known as an individual of unblemished character and morals, of whom no evil or sin is known. In particular, he must be of the strictest standard of honesty and truthfulness.
- The words of the alleged scripture should be recorded exactly as they were received from the divine Source, without the slightest interference or change on the part of anyone, including the one who claimed to have received the revelation. The original scripture should remain intact and accessible to anyone who wishes to read it.
- The message contained in the scripture should be totally consistent throughout. No part of it should contradict any other part.
- There should be no confusion among its concepts and teachings.
- Nothing in it should be contrary to the objectivity observed facts of the natural world.
- It should appeal to human reason and rational faculties rather than to irrationality, superstition and the like.
- It should provide spiritual insight and moral guidance of the highest order.
- It should not attribute to God anything which is contrary to His unique, exalted and transcendent nature, nor to any created being anything which pertains exclusively to God.
- It should emphatically deny to anyone other than God the right to be worshiped and obeyed.
- It should emphasize brotherhood and equality among human beings, and should not uphold the domination of some people by others.
- It should not attribute major sins and vices to the persons whom God singled out for the task of conveying His guidance (the prophets), for this is tantamount to attributing lack of knowledge or stupidity to God.
- Its language should be eloquent and sublime and of the highest order of literary style and expression.
- Although it is not essential as a proof of its truth, if it contains objectively verifiable information such as could not be known by anyone other than the Creator, it will be considered a further testimony to its truth and genuineness.
If the reader should be interested in carrying out such an examination of the Quran, it is important that he approach it with a completely open mind, uncolored by earlier preconceptions or prejudgments about Islam and its Book. It is also suggested that he begin his reading of the Quran from the far end rather than from the beginning, or, if he plans to read bits and pieces rather than the whole of it, to open it anywhere he pleases at any point in his reading. The reason for this is that the Quran is not a volume with the sequential order of a conventional book and thus it may be opened and approached from any portion or page. The most powerful and moving surahs (chapters) are by and large found in the latter portion of the Book, while the long surahs near the beginning contain considerable matter dealing with legislation, the early Muslim community, relations with non-Muslims, the histories of earlier prophets and their peoples, and various other subjects. It is also suggested to use a translation by a Muslim rather than by a non-Muslim, as it is likely to be more accurate and true to the spirit of the Arabic ,1° and, if possible, one containing a commentary for clearer understanding.
From such an examination of the Quran, we can make the following important points:
- We observe that Muhammad brought a Message over a period of twenty-three years which, from the first revelation to the last, was totally consistent with itself, without any contradiction, confusion or change.
- The wording of the existing Quranic text (of which there is only one standard Arabic version throughout the world) remains word-for-word exactly as Muhammad received it. Its verses and sections are in the exact order in which he himself placed them as commanded by divine revelation.
- We observe that the language of the Quran is completely different from the speech of Muhammad which has been recorded in his exact words in the voluminous collections of Hadith, and that it has a unique, sublime, exalted quality which is also different from the speech of any human being before or since which even the enemies of the Prophet, despite their most strenuous efforts, were unable to imitate.
- The concept of God and of the Ultimate Realities which the Quran expresses is of the utmost degree of fitness and sublimity as are the spiritual truths and moral guidance it sets forth.
- Muhammad did not know how to read or write, nor was he learned in any branch of knowledge. Although he may have had some idea about the basic teachings of Christianity and Judaism, his knowledge of these religions cannot have been more than quite superficial. However, the Quran contains innumerable references to these religions, their teachings and the histories of the earlier prophets in such depth and detail as could not possibly have been mastered by anyone who was not literate and of a very high degree of religious knowledge. In addition, other elements of the Message he brought are such that it would have been impossible under any circumstances for an illiterate Arab of his time either to master or to construct them within his own mind impossible, indeed, for any human being of any time or place, for a great part of them relate to al-ghaib, the Unseen Realities, containing information which can be known only to the Creator of all things.
- Not only does the Quran contain nothing which is contrary to reason or objectively observed facts, but it repeatedly appeals to the human being to use his reason and logical faculties to verify the truth of its message. In particular, it cites example after example from the natural world as a proof of God’s limitless power and wisdom. In addition to this, it also contains matter related to the world of nature which was not known or understood by anyone until many centuries later. Here are only three examples:
“Do those who disbelieve not see that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them? And We made every living thing of water. Will they not then believe? And We placed in the earth firm hills lest it quake with them and We placed therein ravines as roads that they may find the way. And We have made the sky a roof withheld (from them), yet they turn away from its signs. And it is He Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. They float, each in an orbit.” (21:30-33)
“And God created every animal from water. Among them is that which goes upon its belly and among them is that which goes on two legs and among them is that which goes upon four. God creates what He wills. Verily, God has power over all things.” (24:45)
“Verily, We created the human being from a quintessence of wet clay, then placed him as a drop in a safe lodging. Then We made the drop a clot. Then We made the clot a lump, then We made the lump bones, then clothed the bones with flesh, and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be God, the best of creators.” (23:12-14)
These verses, which first came to light in sixth century Arabia, are so extraordinary that it is worthwhile to study them very closely. Was there anyone in Muhammad’s area who had the remotest inkling of the processes be which the universe came into being, or that all life, and every form of animal, originated from water, or of the balancing force which mountains provide to the earth, or the fact that the heavenly bodies all “float” along “in orbit?” For views less heretical than these the scientists of Europe were called to account by the Inquisition centuries later.
Or was there anyone during his time who understood the detailed stages and processes be which a drop of sperm becomes a human infant? And these are not unique examples. The Quran is full of statements concerning the natural world which totally conform to modern scientific findings, some of which could not have been understood in scientific terms by anyone until fairly recent times. [For an elaboration of this see The Bible, Quran and Science by Maurice Bucaille available at KAZI Publications] Moreover, the Quran exhibits an extraordinary depth of insight into human nature, particularly in relation to the contrasting states of mind of one who is deeply grounded in faith in God and one who is in a state is disbelief or rebellion against Him. In this it outshines the most subtle contemporary researches into human psychology, dwelling on the state of peace, balance, direction and contentment of the believer on the one hand, and the inner emptiness, anxiety, depression and confusion of the nonbeliever on the other.
- Finally, we note that the man who brought this scripture was renowned among his people for his faithfulness, good character and honesty. He was so respected for his truthfulness and upright character that his fellow Meccans had honored him with the title of “al-Ameen” (the Trustworthy) years before the beginning of his call to prophethood. He repeatedly warned others with the utmost urgency of the enormity of attributing anything to God, Whose displeasure he feared more than anyone because of the immensity of the responsibility which had been laid upon him. Could such a man. then, have been the forger, over a period of more than two decades, of a scripture which he claimed was revealed to him by God but which was actually of his own fabrication?
In view of all the foregoing, one is left with only two possible explanations of the scripture called the Quran: either that Muhammad really was what he claimed to be, the individual to whom God Most High had entrusted the awesome task of conveying His ultimate guidance to mankind, or that he was the most outrageous and flagrant liar and deceiver who ever lived; and this is so totally at variance with everything that is known about him as to be absolutely impossible. But even if we accept for a moment for the sake of argument the possibility that Muhammad made up the entire Quran over this long period of time, we are still left without any explanation of how even the most audacious forger could have had knowledge of the many matters in the Quran which it is absolutely impossible that any human being of his time could have known or even remotely imagined, how the whole Quran could be so utterly consistent and free of contradiction, of such sublime depth and inimitable language, and how it could have such a convincing. unassailable, earnest ring of truth in its exposition of the Ultimate Realities.
Some have tried to explain away the Quran by alleging that Muhammad was mad or epileptic. But has there ever been, in all of human history, an instance of a person in the grip of epileptic seizures, insanity or any other form of mental aberration producing anything so consistent and coherent, of such profound depth and wisdom, something which was beyond the knowledge of any human being and which was beyond the capacity of the sanest and wisest men to produce? [See Abdul Hameed Siddiqui, The Life of Muhammad, KAZI Publications, Chicago, 1975, pp 59-63 for a discussion of this point] The pagan Meccans of Muhammad’s own time, trying their utmost to avoid coming to grips with the truth of what he brought, tried in vain to explain away his message by similar allegations, and by claiming that he must be in the grip of poetic frenzy, or a soothsayer or one possessed; they even suggested that someone learned in Christian doctrines must be teaching him. But Muhammad had no knowledge at all of composing poetry, nor did he have any of the well-known bizarre characteristics of a soothsayer or a man who is possessed. As for the “teacher” theory, it could not be carried very far with a person who was always in full view of his enemies as well as of his followers (who both, for their own individual reasons, scrutinized
with utmost care every detail of his life), and who often received the divine revelations in their presence.
Hence these charges were soon dropped, and even his most implacable enemies were forced to come to the conclusion that what he was receiving was indeed, as he claimed, from God.
Moreover, he asked nothing for himself. No one can debate the fact that he had nothing whatsoever to gain and everything to lose—his life itself—by persisting in his mission in the face of the relentless persecutions of the pagans; while if his aim had been to achieve fame, power or wealth (the only possible motivations which can be ascribed to him if his message was not what he claimed), the pagan Meccans did in fact offer him all these and would gladly have given them to him instantly to deter him from proclaiming his revolutionary statement of the human being’s accountability to God and the brotherhood and equality of all Muslims which threatened to destroy the entire edifice of their power, prestige and decadent life-style.
Consequently if we return to the message and look at the sublime concepts and ideas it embodies: its total consistency from beginning to end; the lofty standard of morality and human interaction it lays down; its profound, self-evident wisdom and depth; the extremely noble, earnest, moving quality of its tone and language: and what it contains relating to matters not then known to any human being on earth (least of all to an illiterate Arab) concerning the physical universe as well as the Unseen Realities; it becomes impossible to ascribe the Quran to human authorship. As a result, having ruled out every other possible explanation for the phenomenon of the Quran, we are compelled to conclude that it is, as Muhammad (peace be on him) proclaimed, the word of Almighty God. In the words of the Quran itself:
“So I swear by all that you see and all that you do not see that this verily the speech of an honored messenger (Gabriel). It is not the speech of a poet; little is it that you believe. Nor is it the speech of a soothsayer; little is it that you remember, (This is) a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. And if he were to invent any sayings concerning Us, We would assuredly seize him by his right hand and cut off his life-artery, and not one of you could keep Us from him. And verily, this is a reminder for the God-conscious. And We surely know that some among you will deny it, and that it is indeed a source of sorrow to the unbelievers. But verily it is the truth of assured certainty. So glorify the name of your Lord, the Almighty.” (69:38-52)
“And thus have We, by Our command, sent inspiration to you. You did not know (before) what revelation was and what faith was, but We have made it (the Quran) a light with which We guide such of Our servants as We will, and verily you guide to the straight way—the way of God, to Whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth. Behold (how) all affairs tend towards God.” (42:52-53)
“This Quran is not such as can be produced by anyone other than God. It is a confirmation of earlier revelations and a detailed explanation of the Scripture (the totality of divine guidance since the beginning of human history on earth) in which there is no doubt from the Lord of the worlds.” (10:37) Then what about the claims made by other “prophets,” of either ancient or modern times that they too received revelations from God and perhaps a scripture? Again, we must go to the messages they brought and examine them carefully in the light of stringent criteria such as those suggested earlier for determining the truth of a scripture. Next we carefully examine the lives of the “messengers” themselves to see whether they conform to any sort of an accepted standard of righteousness and purity intelligence and credibility. [Islam holds that a prophet possesses the following characteristics: he is absolutely truthful; he is free of any kind of major sins; he delivers the message with which he has been charged without any failure or concealment; and he is of the highest order of intelligence and mental ability. Obviously if those who claim prophethood do not possess such essential qualities, Almighty God can be accused of ineptitude in His selection of the people to whom He has entrusted the most important task on earth!] Then if the claimants to prophethood of either ancient or modern times do not meet such criteria as we may consider to be an objective and valid test of truthfulness and credibility, we are forced to regard their claims as fabrications and those who brought them as deliberate forgers and deceivers of their fellow human beings. In many passages the Quran speaks of the terrible punishment which will come to those who invent lies against God, as in the following:
“And who does more wrong than one who fabricates lies concerning God or who says, ‘I receive revelations,’ when he does not receive revelations at all, or who says, ‘I will reveal the like of what God has revealed?’ And if you could see when the wrong-doers are in the pangs of death and the angels stretch out their hands, (saying), ‘Render up your souls. This day are you recompensed with the punishment of degradation because of what you spoke about God without truth and because you scorned His signs.'” (6:93)
And it is up to every human being to use the intelligence God gave him to determine the credibility of such claims for himself, for truth and falsehood are two different things and each can be recognized by its own special characteristics.
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