Constituents of the Muslim Faith- Part 1
This is not a “My Book is better than yours” conversation. I am hoping, instead, for a mature and informative discussion of convergence and divergence of scriptures.
The decision on which scriptures to follow, is of course, a matter of personal choice and personal responsibility.
Following on from my previous post, I putting here, some of my thoughts and ideas about Islam. If you want to see Islam through a Muslim eye, then please read on.
In order of significance and authority, the primary sources of the Islamic faith are:
- The Quran
- Sayings of the Prophet, or ‘Hadith’
- Biography of the Prophet or ‘Seerah’
I, and All Muslims, believe the Quran to be the literal words of God as revealed to Prophet Muhammad through the angle Gabriel. The revelation took place over a period of approximately 23 years. The first revelation was in a cave in Mecca when the prophet was 40 years old, and last in Medina shortly before the prophet died aged 63.
The term word of God has a slightly different meaning from that adopted in Evangelical writings. Here literal means all the words were chosen by God and revealed to the prophet Muhammad who relayed them “exactly as he was taught by the angle Gabriel” .
I am hoping to write about the following aspects of Quran:
- Ownership of the Quran
- Style of the Text of The Quran
- The Teachings of the Quran
- Transmission of the Quran
- Can you show any Signs that this is a Book from God?
- Do you have answers to your critics?
As we progress in this discussion, other topics might also be added.
You may ask: What do you mean by saying “The Quran is composed of the literal words of God”? How is that different from the words of the Gospels?
Well, the word literal is very significant, because it means that no man has ever claimed to be the author of the Quran, not even prophet Muhammad. The book is understood to be God own words, chosen by HIM and delivered to the prophet whose only role was to recite them. He (the Prophet) has not claimed to have any input in the Book.
Style of the Text:
The Quran is narrated in the First person, with the speaker being God.
This is completely different from the Gospels, where it is made clear to the reader that, the writer is a particular person who is telling a story, or a person stating what he believes.
To demonstrate this difference, let us compare two verses concerned with the origin of the Quran and that of the Bible from the respective scriptures:
The Quran Chapter 39:
1- The revelation of the Scripture is from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise.
2- Lo! We have revealed the Scripture unto thee (Muhammad) with truth; so worship Allah, making religion pure for Him (only).
3- Surely pure religion is for Allah only. And those who choose protectors beside Him (say): We worship them only that they may bring us near unto Allah. Lo! Allah will judge between them concerning that wherein they differ. Lo! Allah guideth not him who is a liar, an ingrate.
4- If Allah had willed to choose a son, He could have chosen what He would of that which He hath created. Be He Glorified! He is Allah, the One, the Absolute
It is clear here and, throughout the whole book, that prophet Muhammad [pbuh] is not claiming to be the author of the text,
When you look at the beginning of the Gospel according to Luke, you will find a different definition of the text. You will find a text that belongs to Luke. It was Luke’s choice of words, and events to describe. He wrote:
The Gospel According to Luke [1:1-4]:
1- Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us,
2- just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
3- Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
4- so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
In fact, the canonical Gospels are similar in style and content to the third category of Scripture in Islam, i.e. “Biography of the Prophet” or “Seerah”,.
There are two non canonical Gospels (The Gospel of Thomas, and, the hypothetical “Lost Gospel Q”.) that have some similarities in style to the Muslims second category of Scriptures- “Hadith” -in that, they are composed of pure “Sayings of Jesus”.
Another feature of the Quran is that, it has no time-line. It navigates freely through time, and there is no chronological order. In many places, it refers to future events in the past tense, to imply certainty. There is no beginning or end to the book in the way you find in the Gospels or the Torah.
Other features of the Quran that are only demonstrable if you listen to the recitation in Arabic, for example the internal rhythm, the sound of the verse endings, the harmony of the sounds of individual letters and words. All of these features, are outside the scope of this discussion.
There follows a translation of the recitation in this video, from chapter 36:
[36:1] Ya Seen.
[36:2] I swear by the Quran full of wisdom
[36:3] Most surely you are of those sent
[36:4] On a straight path.
[36:5] A revelation of the Mighty, the Merciful.
[36:6] That you may warn a people whose fathers were not warned, so they are heedless.
[36:7] Certainly the word has proved true of most of them, so they do not believe.
[36:8] Surely We have placed chains on their necks, and these reach up to their chins, so they have their heads raised aloft.
[36:9] And We have set a bar before them and a bar behind them, and (thus) have covered them so that they see not.
[36:10] And it is alike to them whether you warn them or warn them not: they do not believe
[36:11] You can only warn him who follows the reminder and fears the Beneficent Allah in secret; so announce to him forgiveness and an rich reward.
[36:12] Lo! We it is Who bring the dead to life. We record that which they send before (them, and their footprints. And all things We have kept in a clear Register.
A final prayer:
“My God, Creator of heavens and earth, Knower of the seen and the unseen, I dedicate my work to you, seeking to earn your pleasure and hoping avoid your anger.
If I do well it is by your Grace alone, and if I erred, it is myself, and Satan that are to blame.”