“And before this was the Scripture of Moses as a guide and a mercy. And this Scripture (the Quran) confirms it in the Arabic tongue, to warn the wrong-doers and as a glad tidings to those who do good.” (46:12)
“And in their footsteps Web sent Jesus the son of Mary… We gave him the Injeel; therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of what is in hand of the Torah [The original scripture revealed to Moses], a guidance and an admonition to those who fear God.” (5:46)
“It is He Who revealed to you (Muhammad) the Scripture (the Quran) in truth confirming what is in hand of (the Scriptures) that went before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Injeel before this as guidance to mankind. And He revealed the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong)… ” (3:3-4)
Belief in the reality of God’s guidance to mankind in the form of revealed books or scriptures is another basic article of belief in Islam.
We have already discussed the Islamic teachings concerning the oneness and continuity of the divine guidance throughout the human history, that guidance which only the One Who possesses absolute knowledge of all things could provide for His creatures.
However, the guidance revealed to all the prophets before Muhammad (peace be on them all) was sent to particular groups of people; it was not intended to be universal because humanity had not yet reached the stage of readiness for such a final, comprehensive statement of God’s guidance for all time to come.
This is clear from what the Quran states concerning the messages given to various prophets, from what the Old Testament says concerning them, and from the statement attributed to Jesus that “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
The final link in the chain of revealed scriptures. Islam asserts, is the Holy Quran. Quran is an Arabic word meaning “recitation” or “reading.” It was revealed to the Prophet (peace be on him) over a period of twenty-three years during the interval between his fortieth year and his death in numerous parts which bore an intimate relationship to the events through which the Prophet and his community, the first Muslims, were passing at the time. As we have mentioned, it was communicated to him through the agency of the angel Gabriel. The angel appeared to the Prophet on frequent occasions in his true angelic form or in the form of a man during intense states of inner concentration which were at times observed and documented by the Prophet’s Companions and family members: they have left behind for posterity a clear account, which is confirmed by the Prophet’s own narratives, of how the revelations came to him The Quran speaks in powerful, moving language of the attributes of God, His immense power and creativity, of the human being’s relationship and responsibility to Him, and of the certainty of the coming of the last day and the life hereafter. It lays down moral and ethical principles to govern all aspects of human life, both individual and collective, as well as practical guidelines for various types of human interaction. It also narrates the histories of some of the earlier prophets and peoples as an example and encouragement to the Prophet and his community and as a warning to those who deny God. Its main theme, reiterated over and over in powerful terms, is the reality of God’s existence and supreme power, the purposefulness of His creation and of all that occurs, and the human being’s position as God’s slave, His steward and vicegerent who is accountable to Him in everything.
The Holy Quran is the only divinely-revealed scripture in the history of mankind which has been preserved to the present time in its exact original form. For although parts of earlier revelations, such segments of the Torah given to Moses, the Psalms revealed to David, and the Evangel revealed to Jesus still remain, they are so heavily intermixed with human additions and alterations that it is very difficult to determine what part of them constitutes the original message (as many Biblical scholars admit only too readily), much less to guide one’s life by them. That the Quran has been preserved in the exact Arabic wording in which it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and in the exact order in which he himself placed it as commanded by divine revelation, is a matter well-documented historically and beyond dispute.
Because it is the word of God, the Quran is always recited in Arabic, the language in which it was revealed, in the Islamic prayers (salah) and on other occasions, never in translation.
However, it may certainly be read for understanding in translation by those who do not know Arabic, together with a commentary if desired.
Nevertheless, because of its extremely distinctive style and language, it is impossible for a translation to do more than convey its bare meaning. The great nobility of its form of expression, the earnest, moving, eloquent style which is its outstanding characteristic, cannot be translated, and hence any translation must be regarded (as all translators themselves confirm) as a mere approximation to the sense of the words. While Islam does not rest on miracles or signs and wonders as some other religions do, many who are familiar with the highest in Arabic literary style regard the Quran itself as a miracle, so unparalleled is its language and form of expression. Indeed, the Quran itself contains a challenge to the unbelievers of Muhammad’s time to try to produce a piece of writing comparable to it, and while many tried during his time to compose something similar to it, no one could succeed in doing so. To one conversant with Arabic, the divine origin of the Quran can be readily grasped by comparing Muhammad’s language (of which thousands of word-for-word examples are recorded) with the language of the Quran, which is the word of God. The one is ordinary language of an Arab of his time, while the other is language of such a sublime and exalted quality as no human being has ever been able to approximate either then or since. We will have to say more concerning the divine origin of the Quran under the next topic, the messengers of God.
“And if you (the unbelievers) are in doubt as to what We have revealed to Our servant (Muhammad), then produce a surah (chapter of the Quran) like it, and call your witnesses besides God if you are truthful. And if you cannot and you cannot then fear the fire (of hell) whose fuel is men and stones, which awaits those who reject faith.” (2:23-24)
“This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt. In it is guidance for the God-conscious, who believe in the unseen, and are steadfast in prayer (salah), and spend (in charity) out of what We have provided for them; and those who believe in what was revealed to you (Muhammad) and in what was revealed before you, and are certain of the hereafter. These are on (the way of) guidance from their Lord, and these are they who will be successful.” (2:2-5)
“But most of them follow only conjecture. Indeed, conjecture does not avail anything against the truth. Verily, God knows what they do. And this Quran cannot be produced by anyone other than God. Rather it is a confirmation of that which is in hand (of earlier scriptures) and a fuller explanation of the Scripture (God’s revelations to mankind throughout the ages) wherein there is no doubt from the Lord of the worlds.” (10:36 37)
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