Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Scriptures Before the Qur'an

Scriptures Before the Qur'an

Shahul Hameed

As far as I know, there were four holy books so far (The Torah, the Psalms, the Bible and the Qur'an). Can you please tell me if there may have been other books given to other prophets, even if they are no longer valid?

In the Name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful;
All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, May Allāh blessings and peace be upon His Messenger.

Humanity needs Divine Guidance to lead a meaningful life on earth; and so God – Allah Almighty, out of His infinite Mercy has communicated with us in order to guide us. From the very earliest times, people have been in search of answers for eternal questions, and the One Who could give satisfactory an answer is God. So from the earliest times, revelation as a divine guidance has played a significant part in human progress.

Allah promised people that He would send prophets with guidance to help “mend their ways” and “lead righteous lives on the earth” as a salvation in Hereafter. This promise was given by God to all the children of Adam, as Allah Almighty says in the Glorious Qur'an, which means:

“O ye children of Adam! Whenever there come to you apostles from amongst you, rehearsing My signs unto you, - those who are righteous and mend (their lives), - on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve.”

 [Al-A`raf, 7:35].

Accordingly, God sent His Messengers with guidance to people living in different parts of the world in different stages in human history, to help them lead a life of truth and justice:

“We verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and the Balance, that mankind may observe right measure ...”

[Al-Hadid, 57:25].

The basic message of all prophets (peace be upon them) from God, and hence of all scriptures they brought, is one and the same message from God to humanity –to worship Allah:

· “We have certainly sent to every nation a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah, and shun false gods.” [An-Nahl, 16:36].

· “And We have not sent before you any Prophet except that We revealed to him that none has the right to be worshipped in truth but Me so worship Me.”

[Al-Anbiyā', 21:25].

· “And We will not punish a people until We have sent a Messenger.”

[Al-Isrā', 17:15].

All these prophets came to the people who lived in different lands in different periods of history. All the prophets were not given Books; in fact only to a few of them did Allah reveal His Books of Guidance.

Among those who received Books, were the four mentioned in the Glorious Qur'an: Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be on them all). The Books were the Tawrat (Torah) given to Moses (Musa), The Zabur (Psalms) given to David (Dawud), the Injil (Gospel) given to Jesus (`Isa) and the Qur'an given to Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

Apart from these, Abraham (Ibrahim) is mentioned as the recipient of Suhuf or scrolls.

All the teachings contained in the former Scriptures that were meant to be of lasting value and importances are included in the Qur'an. The Qur'an also gives some accounts, although selective, of what the earlier scriptures contained.

The Scrolls (Suhuf) of Abraham:

In two surahs, Al-A`la (87) and An-Najm (53) that belongs to first Makkan period, there is a mention of the "scrolls" (suhuf) of Abraham and Moses, and some reference to some of its contents:

“But those will prosper who purify themselves, And glorify the name of their Guardian-Lord, and (lift their hearts) in prayer. Day (behold), ye prefer the life of this world; But the Hereafter is better and more enduring. And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelation), - The Books of Abraham and Moses.” 

[Al-A`la, 87:14-19].

“Seest thou one who turns back, Gives a little, then hardens (his heart)? What! Has he knowledge of the unseen so that he can see? Nay, is he not acquainted with what is in the Books of Moses- And of Abraham who fulfilled his engagements? - Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another; That man can have nothing but what he strives for; That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight: Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete; That to thy Lord is the final Goal…” 

[An-Najm, 53:33-42].

The Torah (Tawrat) of Moses:

The Qur'an mentions the scriptures given to Moses in several places:

“It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light”

 [Al-Ma'idah, 5:44].

“We ordained therein for them: life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal, but if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity it is an act of atonement for himself and if any fail to judge by (the light of) what God has revealed they are (no better than) wrongdoers”

[Al-Ma'idah 5:45].

The Psalms (Zabur) of David:

It also mentions the Psalms, called "Zabur":

“And verily We have written in the Psalms, after the Reminder: My righteous slaves will inherit the earth” 

(Al-Anbiyaa', 21:105).

The Gospel (Injil) of Jesus:

The Qur'an refers to the scripture given to Jesus as the "Injil":

“Muhammad is the messenger of Allah and those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. Thou (O Muhammad) seest them bowing and falling prostrate (in worship) seeking bounty from Allah and (His) acceptance. The mark of them is on their foreheads from the traces of prostration. Such is their likeness in the Torah and their likeness in the Gospel like as sown corn that sendeth forth its shoot and strengtheneth it and riseth firm upon its stalk, delighting the sowers that He may enrage the disbelievers with (the sight of) them. Allah has promised, unto such of them as believe and do good works, forgiveness and immense reward” 

[Al-Fath, 48:29].

The early scriptures, besides carrying the same basic message about Allah, the Master of the worlds, as well as about His creation, humanity, also brought specific instructions addressed directly to particular communities living in specific periods in history such as the Jews and Christians. Scriptures before the Qur'an were in many of their details situation-oriented and relevant to their particular frameworks.

It is also significant that the earlier scriptures were not meant for all time, as Allah Almighty in His infinite wisdom would reveal His complete Guidance at the right time, when humankind is mature to receive it. That is to say, the Guidance of God would attain its finality, when it would be universally applicable and relevant for all future time. And Allah Almighty sent Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) as the Last Messenger of God to humanity with the Final form of Divine Guidance called the Qur'an.

The basic message of the Glorious Qur'an is the same as the basic message of the previous revelations and books, and the directives and instructions, by which it provides guidance for humanity, are of a universal nature: “Worship Allah, and shun false gods.”. They apply for all times to come and in all situations. This revelation corresponds to humankind's position on earth and in history. Humankind has reached, in its development, the stage when universal principles need to be applied to safeguard his purposeful existence. [See this ]

From the foregoing it is clear that there were prophets other than the ones mentioned by name in the Qur'an; and that some of them have also received Books of Guidance from Allah.


[Excerpted from Islam Online-Ask about Islam, on 18 October 2006]

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