Islam in a Nutshell–
by Dr Ahmed Adam
A’oo’zoo Bil’laah’hi Mi’nash’shay’ta’nir’ra’jeem
Whenever the word “God” appears in this document, it refers to Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa-Ta'ala) the One and Only True God of everything that exists. There is no god worthy of worship except Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa-Ta'ala)
Whenever the name of the Prophet (S.A.W) is used, it refers to the extended salutation on him which is:
The Holy Prophet Mohamed (S.A.W. - Sal’lal’laa’hu A’lay’hi Was’sal’lam - Peace, salutations, Mercy and Blessings of Allah SWT be upon him & his family & his companions & all those who follow him)
(The following is from Islam in the Media by Dr Ahmed Adam)
Chapter 7. Islam in a nutshell
7 (a). The Qur’an is a Book without any doubt in it
There are two sources of knowledge:
Knowledge from Mankind
Knowledge from God [Allah (Sub'ha'na'hu Wa-Ta'ala)]
Knowledge from man is limited and often late or delayed (we sometimes understand things better with hindsight or retrospection). Furthermore, man’s knowledge is open to error, opinion and theories. As humanity advances, and research opens up new understanding, old theories are thrown away and replaced with new ones. Hence, at any point in time, man’s knowledge is neither complete nor error free. To cite a simple example, even in the field of medicine, which is highly specialised and firmly grounded in science and research, we are often encouraged to eat certain foods and avoid others, but soon thereafter, the whole situation is reversed with ‘new’ research. The public is often left confused and guessing and no longer knows which foods are harmful and which are beneficial.
In addition, mankind can only fathom knowledge that is evident to his senses through observation and study. Since God is veiled from our five senses, we cannot study God, nor can we observe God, nor can we have any knowledge about Him through our own theories and fantasies. Hence, the knowledge of God can only come from God. The source of Knowledge from God is Perfect and without error. God has Knowledge of the past and the future. God has Knowledge of everything in absolute fine detail to Perfection. Hence, the Guidance that God gives us, is Perfect and without any doubt or errors and is applicable for all time periods in the past and future. That is why the opening verse in the 2nd Chapter states:
S2V2: This is the Book; in it, is Guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah (God)
The Qur’an is the word of God. God has sent other Books of Guidance for mankind as well, but none of these Books have retained the exact Word’s of God from beginning to end. The Qur’an is the only religious book that has been preserved intact for more than 1400 years and will continue to remain in this pristine, precise, & accurate state. There is only one edition of the Qur’an. This first and only edition is the Final Message from God to His Creation. Being the Final Communication from God, it follows logic and reason that it has to fulfil a core requirement that it should be valid for all time periods, for all races, for all cultures and for all lands and that its message should remain pure without any human interference. The reason that it should be absolutely free from any human contamination is to ensure that man’s feeble mind does not taint the Perfect Knowledge of God in any way. There may be some verses that we do not understand today, but which may well be understood by the next generation to come. The Qur’an fulfils all these requirements and much more. Some features of the Qur’an that makes it truly amazing, include:
- It is a universal Message
- It is applicable to all people in all geographic areas
- It has relevance to all races; in fact, Islam clearly abolishes racism in all its forms
- The message of the Qur’an appeals to different social classes
- It is not limited to a specific time period or age but is timeless
- It was applicable and relevant 1000 years ago; it is just as applicable and relevant today; it will continue to remain relevant into the future till the Last Day, forever guiding generations of mankind towards their Lord and Creator.
- It appeals to the human spirit and to the soul
- It appeals to the mind and the intellect by presenting logical and rational discussions and continuously encourages mankind to ponder and reflect on the verses
- It remains preserved intact in its original language and is also read daily by millions worldwide in its Original Language
- It is free from any human interference of any kind such as additions to the original text, deletions from the text or manipulation of the text in any form whatsoever. It has remained in its original form, word for word, and letter for letter.
- It is simple to understand so that even the general population can understand it without the need to go to University. The knowledge of the Qur’an is not the exclusive property of “priests or religious elders” only
- It speaks directly to the reader so that the reader can apply this knowledge in his or her own life. Everyone can find at least something in the Qur’an and in the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) that has relevance to them
- It shows how to develop the character and the soul
- It precisely & clearly explains to the whole of Mankind what is mankind’s role and purpose on this earth
- It clearly explains to the reader where he/she came from, what he/she is presently doing here, and what happens when he/she returns to God.
- It fills the reader with hope
In all of this and much more, the Qur’an gives clear, precise and simple answers that have been plaguing philosophers and thinkers throughout the ages. The Qur’an, being the Word of God, gives the answers that cannot be found in any made-made text. The Qur’an speaks about matters that are beyond the human intellect and beyond the human senses. The Qur’an speaks about how Mankind should conduct themselves while they are emissaries on this earth. But more importantly, the Qur’an speaks about the realm of the spiritual, transcendental, supra-sensory, cosmic and metaphysical dimension. Mankind can only speculate what the Spiritual, transcendental dimension is all about. In contrast, the Qur’an gives very clear glimpses into this Dimension. With this knowledge and understanding, comes peace and contentment as opposed to uncertainty and restlessness.
7 (b). Who is God (Allah)?
The answer to this question is found in the chapter of Purity of Faith (Chapter 112, Surah Ikhlaas). This is one of the shorter chapters in the Qur’an. The answer is clear and precise without any double meaning. The importance of this Chapter is indicated by the statement of the Prophet (SAW), that this chapter is equivalent to reading 1/3rd of the Qur’an. When the Prophet (SAW) was asked by the early Meccan Quraish disbelievers, “who is God?” the Prophet (SAW) received the following Revelation from God to answer this question, namely,
Surah 112: Surah Al-Ikhlaas: Purity (of Faith)
In the Name of Allah (God), Most Gracious, Most Merciful
S112V1: Say: He, is God (Allah), the One, and Only;
S112V2: God (Allah), the Eternal, Absolute;
S112V3: He begets not, nor, is He begotten;
S112V4: And, there is none, like unto Him
The basic, core, fundamental Paradigm of Islam is as follows:
There is only One God.
There are not 2, 3 or more gods or idols. There is only One God for all. God does not have any family, or partners or shareholders or children or parents. He is One. He Exists by Himself, self-subsisting. God does not resemble mankind or any of His Creation in any way whatsoever. God does not have any anthropomorphic (human) features. He is Unique. He is without the shape or form that we can imagine. He is Light upon Light in ways that we cannot even begin to comprehend. He is beyond our visual imagination and speculation. He is the same God of all the religions, of all the races, and of all the nations. He is the Creator of mankind. He is also the Creator of water, sand, air, fire, sun, moon, oceans, rivers, plants, animals, birds, reptiles, fish, dolphins, insects and dinosaurs, and of all the planets, comets, asteroids, stars, nebulae, black holes, intergalactic wormholes and galaxies and of all things known and unknown, matter and anti-matter.
God has Created Time and Space.
God has Created Light and Darkness.
God has Created Life and Death.
God has Created Night and Day.
God has created the Heavens and the Earth
God has Created the Physical World and the Spiritual World
God has created Man and Woman.
There is only One God. The Supreme Creator of everything. He has Created everything with Mercy, Love, Perfection and Beauty. From all of these millions of creations, God has created mankind in the Best of Moulds. What an honour. What a responsibility.
7 (c) Creation and Mankind
The topic of the creation and origin of mankind is sometimes a hot topic of discussion and debate in some circles. However, considering that man’s knowledge is not perfect and that man was not a witness when everything came into existence, it follows that this is an area that is often filled with speculation and opinion. However, the Qur’an, being the Word of God, dispels the speculation and opinion of man.
There are 2 options available to mankind:
Option 1: Minority viewpoint
Theory of Evolution, and especially the hypothesis, which says that everything happened by itself over time without the existence of God or a Creator
Option 2: Majority viewpoint
God (Allah) Created everything
This option can best be understood by the following example:
Take a big box and put all the parts of a motorcar inside that box. This will include the tyres, engine, wires, seats, bonnet, doors, windows, gearbox, battery, sparkplugs, radio, air-conditioner, sunroof, nuts and bolts, ignition, accelerator, etc. You then take this box into a desert and you wait for a strong wind to shake this box. So over many years, the wind keeps shaking this box many times and the parts are all jumbled up. Then suddenly, one day, strong wind shakes the box in such a way that all the parts fall into place in the exact right position with all the wires and nuts and bolts perfectly connected, so that you have a beautiful, state of the art sports, turbo, motor car already spray painted red with everything working perfectly. All you have to do is drive it away. So, essentially, a wonderful machine has been assembled by a gust of wind. Sounds absurd? Well, that is how absurd the idea is, that man is a creature of a chance event and that this whole Universe is a chance event.
This Universe is Perfect and has been Crafted & Created by the Supreme Designer and Creator, God (Allah SWT). In this view, God is the Creator. This is a powerful paradigm shift in the mind and psyche when you contemplate over this. A few questions immediately spring to mind: Who is God? Why did God Create me? What is my purpose and mission in life? What does God expect me to do while I am here? How will I know that I am carrying out my mission on Earth and fulfilling my destiny? Is there any clear Guidance from God that I can refer to so that I can keep my goals on track and focus on what I have to do? There must be a reason why God sent me to Earth…do I know that reason?
To shed some light on some of the above questions, it would help to give a very basic overall concept of Creation. I have done this in 33 points for easy and quick reference. Some of these concepts are developed further in the next section.
7 (d) Summary of Creation
- First, there is God.
- Nothing else existed.
- There were no planets. There were no stars, nor galaxies. There was no earth, no sun, no moon, no water, no plants, no sand, no sky, no animals, no birds, no insects, no trees and no air. There were no Angels. There were no humans. There was no Heaven. There was no Hell. There was no right. There was no wrong.
- There was nothing. Except, God.
- Everything was filled with His Light. There was no Darkness.
- God created the Heavens and the Earth out of this nothingness. There was no matter (substance) to start the whole process. It is like building a house with no building material, no sand, no bricks, no cement etc. One day there is nothing, the next moment there is a huge mansion. So the creation of the Heavens and the earth is truly a mind-boggling and awe-inspiring event.
- God created all creatures and everything we see (air, water, sand, plants, animals, fish, insects, birds)
- Everything obeys the Laws of Nature. (Laws of God)
- God then Created Mankind in the best mould – the best of creation. The first person that was created was Adam (PBUH).
- God gave mankind the choice: free will. No other creature has been given this gift.
- All creatures were asked to bow down to this best of creation
- Everyone bowed except Satan. He disobeyed so he has been rejected
- God created a partner for Adam (PBUH). Called Eve (PBUH).
- God placed Adam (PBUH) and Eve (PBUH) in Heaven and told them that they could have their hearts desire in Heaven: except for one law that they should not break
- Satan (shaytaan) distracted them and made them forget their promise to God
- Adam (pbuh) and Eve (pbuh) thus disobeyed the Law of God. Both are jointly responsible for this error.
- God then sent Adam (pbuh) and Eve (pbuh) to Earth to repent and earn their place back in Paradise. Earth is to be their temporary home, a place of trial and self-development to once again earn the good Pleasure of God. Islam teaches that the offspring of Adam (pbuh) and Eve (pbuh), is not burdened with ‘original sin.” Every single child is born pure and sinless. Every single person on Earth can trace their origins back to Adam (pbuh) and Eve (pbuh), thus making all of humanity, irrespective of colour and race, part of the same family.
- Satan has kept to his role to distract mankind and make them keep forgetting God. Satan contaminates the mind of mankind with concepts of arrogance, racism, discrimination, vulgarity, shamelessness and injustice, to name a few. Satan does not succeed against those who are sincere in Faith.
- God is Most Gracious and Most Merciful. He wants mankind to succeed. So He has sent regular Guidance to humanity.
- God sent 124,000 prophets and messengers to every single nation & race on Earth over thousands of years. This Guidance from God was initially limited to a specific nation, and to a specific place and to a specific time period. Some of these messengers came with Books while others simply came to remind the people through their words, actions and deeds.
- They all came with the same Message: that there is only One God. They came to remind mankind about their origins and to remind humanity that this world is only a temporary period of trial and that they should not be tempted nor distracted by Shaytaan.
- Some people rejected these messengers. Others responded because the message reminded their inner soul and spirit about their Promise to God when they were Created
- However, with the passage of time, the message and guidance from God got forgotten. In other cases, the original message or guidance became tainted & corrupted with the folly of human insertions, deletions and opinions.
- God then sent a Final Messenger with the Final Book of Guidance for all mankind. To ensure that this book does not suffer the same critical fate of previous Messages, this Last Guidance came with a Foolproof Formula to protect the Message from human interference forever. The formula has 3 critical components: (a) it was written down immediately word for word as soon as it was revealed; (b) as a double safeguard, it was memorised by heart, word for word; (c) as an additional safeguard, the whole Qur’an was revised at least once a year during the month of Ramadaan.
- The main theme of the Final Message, is simply a re-emphasis to all humanity that: there is no god besides God and Muhammad (SAW) is the last Messenger and Prophet. Furthermore, this Message is no longer confined to a specific race or time period. It is for all humanity for all time periods.
- With this Final Message, mankind gets clear Guidance directly from God, with no human errors.
- The main purpose in life is to earn the pleasure of God and to do His bidding, which is to spread goodness, love, mercy, kindness and peace in the land.
- After death, there is a new beginning. At an appointed time, God raises every single person again from the dead, from Adam (pbuh) the first man to be Created, right up to the very last person. Everyone has to face God and give an account of how they conducted their lives while they were on Earth. This is known as the Day of Resurrection or the Day of Accountability
- As you sow, so shall you reap. Mankind has been given the choice either to obey God or disobey God. There is no compulsion. But by the choices we make, we either purify our souls and thereby become loftier than the Angels, or corrupt our souls and sink lower than the animals.
- Hence, the Qur’an is the untainted, Pure Word of God. It is the Final Guidance to all Humanity from our Creator. But by its very nature that it has been preserved intact, it serves as a timeless source of Guidance forever-more
- The Prophet Mohamed (SAW) is the Final Messenger in the Golden Chain of Prophets and Messengers: he has been sent as a Mercy to all mankind
- Islam is the Way or path to find God. Islam means submitting one’s free will to the Will of God. By doing so, we become in harmony with the rest of the Universe and attain a state of peace
- Muslims are those people who follow the way or the path to the One True God by obeying God through submission. Muslims are passionate about attaining the highest levels of spirituality, piety, morals, ethics and character, as demonstrated by the best exemplar, the Prophet Mohamed (pbuh), the best leader and teacher, par excellence.
7 (e) Mankind - A brief explanation
God existed before the before, and he will continue to exist after the after. That means, that before the creation of the Heavens and the Earth more than 13 Billion years ago, before the Creation of Time and Space, there was nothing, except God. Only the Light of God existed and filled everything.
The Universe (which comprises our planet Earth with all its creatures, as well as the solar system, planets, brown dwarfs, red giants, stellar nurseries, billions of stars, billions of Galaxies, black holes, worm holes, dark matter etc) was born 13 Billion years ago from a primary event known as the Big Bang. Before that time, there was nothing, not even the earth, not the animals and trees, not the moon, not the sun and no stars or galaxies. There was absolutely nothing. Except for God. God Existed before anything was Created in the vast emptiness. There was no matter and there were no atoms. Then out of nothing, God Created the Heavens and the Earth. He adorned and Decorated the Heavens with sights, sounds and beauty unimaginable. And He created the Earth and all that it contains such as: air, water, sand, oceans, mountains, rivers, trees, plants, beautiful flowers, animals, marine life, insects, birds, reptiles and creatures known and unknown with beauty and perfection. With everything that He created, He provided for it a special and unique habitat as well as a source of sustenance for its survival as well as a means of reproducing its own species. Furthermore, everything in the Heavens and the Earth, follow the Commands of God in everything. For example:
There is the Law of Gravity – for keeping us on earth and for attracting planets and keeping the Universe intact. There is also the Law of Motion and many other Laws. All of these Laws are also known as the Laws of Nature, or rather, the Laws of God. The purpose of these Laws is to ensure harmony in the Heavens and the Earth by maintaining a balanced state of homeostasis and equilibrium. Everything that has been created complies with these Supreme Laws. If any of these created objects break these Laws of Nature, or the Laws of God then there are problems that are associated with that e.g. a small particle such as an atom is supposed to be intact. But when such a small particle is forcefully split against the Laws of Nature, it explodes in a massive explosion unleashing tremendous power; if the Earth stops rotating then half the world will be in 24 hour sunlight with very hot temperatures and the other half of the world will be in 24 hour darkness with extreme cold)
The creation of the universe boggles the very limits of human imagination. Immense, gigantic, voluminous bodies weighing billions and billions of tons occupying volumes expressed in millions of light years, travel at speeds approaching the speed of light. The Earth itself is constantly spinning at 2300km/hr on its axis, while at the same time it is travelling at a speed of 147,000km/hr in its orbit around the sun. The solar system itself, together with the Milky Way galaxy, is travelling at speeds that can only be understood in terms of Light Years (the distance in kilometres that an object will cover when travelling at the Speed of Light for one whole year).
Amoung all these trillions of creations that God Created, He then Created a very special form of Creation in the Best of Moulds. This creature has been given the honorific title of being the “best of creations”. This honourable creation is called Mankind. God endowed mankind with a very special gift that can best be understood as follows:
The entire creation in the Heavens and the Earth submit to the Will of God. They have no choice in the matter. They have to love and obey God by instinct and by default. They cannot choose between alternatives. They have to comply. The Earth has to revolve between Night and Day. That is the Law. A lion can only eat meat, not fruit salad. That is the Law. The cow only eats grass, not chicken. That is the Law. If something is thrown up, it falls down. That is the Law. Lungs are bellows for air exchange while the heart pumps blood. The heart and lungs cannot swop roles. That is the Law.
In contrast, Mankind has been given the Gift of Choice and free will. That means that out of all the wonderful creations of God that obey His every single Command, Mankind is the only creature who can either:
Obey the Command of God voluntarily, by choice
Not obey the Command of God voluntarily, by choice
By the choices we voluntarily make, we sow the seeds for our success or the seeds for failure in fulfilling our mission & purpose in life.
Thus, mankind has been given a very high status by God. So, when God Created Mankind in the Best of Moulds out of clay (which is a mixture of sand and water), He instructed the Angels to bow down to His best creation. Everyone bowed down except Iblis, Satan (Shaytaan). He was haughty, arrogant and proud. Because he disobeyed the Command of God, he had earned God’s displeasure and had to be punished. But Satan knew that God is Most Merciful & Generous, so he asked God to delay His Punishment on him until the Last Day. God agreed to do this. But Satan also undertook to distract mankind from the remembrance of God until the Day of Judgement.
God also created a partner for Adam (pbuh). She is the first woman, called Eve (Hawa), and He sent both of them to Paradise to dwell there in love with each other. God taught Adam (pbuh) the nature and names of all things. God also taught Adam (pbuh) His Own name. Just as everything and everyone has a name, God too, has a Name. The name of God, is Allah (SWT). That is why Muslim’s call God by His proper Name, which is Allah (SWT). There is only One God. God can also be called by His many Beautiful Attributes such as Ar-Rahmaan (which means “O Merciful God”) or Al-Wudud (which means “O Loving God”). Whether you call God as “God” or “Allah” or “Rahman”, it still means that you are referring to the same God. Because there is only One God, and His Name is Allah (SWT).
God (Allah, SWT) then instructed Adam (pbuh) and Eve (pbuh) that they could have anything they wanted in Paradise to their hearts delight. However, there is one Command that they must not break. With time, they forgot the Command (Law) of God and Satan distracted them from the promise they made to God (Allah, SWT), because Satan knew that mankind has a weakness. Hence, Adam (pbuh) and Eve (pbuh) jointly succumbed to the deception of Satan and they broke the Law and thereby disobeyed God (Allah SWT). God then sent Adam (pbuh) and Eve (pbuh) to Earth, to be their dwelling place for a short while. Now mankind has to earn their place back to Paradise. The way to do this is to obey the Commands of God. On Earth, mankind will be faced with many distractions and temptations. The chief distractor is Satan. His job and mission is to try and cause Mankind to forget his origins, to forget his purpose in life and to forget and disobey the Commands of God (Allah). However, Satan does not succeed against the believers or those with firm Faith.
So, in short, mankind is on earth to stay for a while. Every new baby that is born comes in a state of purity with a sinless soul. The child does not carry any sins. A child, every single child, irrespective of race, religion or culture, is born in a state of absolute purity. That is why when a child dies, that child is referred to as a visitor from Paradise, born in sinless purity and returning in sinless purity back to Paradise. That is why babies activate our highest emotions of love, care, compassion, mercy and nurturing, because when we look into the face of a smiling baby sucking its thumb while sleeping, we see pure love and angelic innocence. This innocent soul is then either corrupted or purified by the life choices that we make on a daily basis from the onset of the Age of Understanding. Man has got the choice to choose between obeying the Laws of God (Allah SWT) and thereby earn His Pleasure, or disobeying and ignoring the Laws of God (Allah SWT) and thereby earn His Displeasure. By the choices we make, we either rise or fall.
But with this wonderful Gift is a responsibility. The responsibility is that by the choices we make, we either:
Rise in status even higher than the Angels
(that is why even the Angels bowed down to Prophet Adam (pbuh)
when they saw humanity’s potential).
Or drop to such low levels, even worse than the animals.
So every human being has been given the dual Qualities of Angel and Animal. The brain of man also has these dual qualities of Angel (higher intellectual functions that reside in the cerebral cortex) and Animal (lower basal functions that reside in the midbrain and brain stem). Man has been put on Earth with many distractions and temptations. By the choices we make, we either purify our soul or corrupt our soul. Our choices are made by how much control our intellectual brain has over our animal brain. Our choices either make Angels out of us, or Animals out of us. Our animal side is called the Nafs (ego). The nafs is our nature that yields to the temptations of Satan. It is the part of us that inspires us towards greed, jealousy, anger, lust, promiscuity, lawlessness, savagery, brutality, stealing, slavery, murder, hatred, oppression, racism, vulgarity, shamelessness, swearing, blasphemy, corruption and arrogance. In Contrast, we have the Angelic qualities within us which include kindness, mercy, forgiveness, honesty, peace, love, tranquillity, harmony, charity, respect, sound character, good manners, helping others, compassion, empathy, love for humanity, love for animals, love for the environment & tolerance, humility and modesty.
God (Allah SWT), being most Kind and Merciful, wants man to succeed in his mission on earth, and not to be forgetful or yield to the temptations of Satan. So God (Allah) in His Mercy, sent many Prophets and Messengers throughout history to keep reminding mankind about their mission and purpose in life. Mankind is encouraged to resist the temptations of Satan and not fall victim to his whisperings, in the same way that Adam (pbuh) and Eve (pbuh) succumbed to his temptations, but rather, that we should strive towards developing the angelic qualities within us.
Throughout the ages, when the various Prophets and Messengers came, there were some people who heeded their call and listened to them & realised that this is the truth. In addition, throughout the ages, there have been the sceptics and disbelievers who deny the truth. In addition, whenever a Prophet came to a people, they were relevant for that tribe or nation and for a certain time period. Furthermore, because record keeping was not yet perfected to an exact science and art, it inevitably happened, that with the passage of time, the society started changing the original message and teachings of the Prophets by including human interpretations, additions and deletions to the original Guidance. In addition, in some communities, idols were carved out of stone or wood in memory of those great people who came to give them guidance, and with time, the intention of the message was corrupted and instead of worshipping the One True God, communities started worshipping man-made idols. This has happened throughout history until God (Allah SWT) sent His Last Messenger and His Last Book. With the Last Messenger, the Golden chain of Prophets has now come to an end. God (Allah SWT) will not send any more Divine Books nor any Prophets or Messengers after Mohamed (SAW). Consequently, Islam is a Universal religion for all nations, for all tribes, for all geographic areas and for all times periods.
7 (f) The Perfect Qur’an – how it was recorded
To ensure that the Final Prophet and the Final Message must remain unchanged, it had to be revealed and protected in a perfect manner so that there is no chance of human error or human additions or deletions to the text in any way whatsoever. The foolproof formula for achieving this is as follows:
- The Verses of the Qur’an being the Word of God (Allah SWT), were revealed to the Prophet (SAW) through the Angel Gibrael (AS)
- As soon as a Verse was revealed, the Prophet (SAW) immediately dictated it, word for word, to the honourable, trustworthy and loyal scribes that were around him.
- The scribes wrote down the verses exactly as dictated by the Prophet (SAW). The scribes then read out aloud the verses that they had written, so that the Prophet (SAW) could verify that it is correct, exact and accurate.
- When the Prophet (SAW) was satisfied that the scribes made an exact rendition of the Verses that were revealed to him, only then were the verses catalogued
- The verses were then immediately memorised by the companions
- These verses were then taught and shared with everyone in the community.
- The people in the community then modified their lives according to the wisdom in these verses, since the verses were revealed to shed light and give guidance to the problems affecting the society during the 23-year period of revelation & Prophethood.
- For example, when the verse was revealed in Medina that forbade the drinking of alcohol because it damages the brain and is a social evil, the entire community immediately threw away their entire caches and stock of wine and alcohol and stopped drinking with immediate effect, without having the need to open up alcoholic rehabilitation centres or go for counselling services.
- In addition, the Prophet (SAW) through Divine Guidance, positioned the various verses in specific places of the Qur’an, like slotting in pieces of a puzzle that will eventually yield a beautiful scenic landscape. So the Qur’an is not read in the chronological order in which it was revealed, but it is in the sequence revealed by Divine Instruction regarding the position of the verses. Hence even though Surah Alaq (Iqra) was the very first Chapter to be revealed to the Prophet (SAW), it occupies Chapter 96 of the Qur’an. A simple way to understand this is as follows: consider a construction site foreman. The foreman knows what has to go into the building. So when the tiles arrive for the Master Bedroom, he sends it to the specific area; when the kitchen units arrive, he sends them to their relevant place. Then when the bathroom fittings arrive, he sends them to their correct place. The foreman does not build the house according to the order of arrival of the material otherwise you will end up with bathroom fittings in the kitchen. Similarly, the Prophet (SAW) through Divine Inspiration, ordered the specific sequence of the verses of the Qur’an as we have them today. This same sequence was read during the Salaah prayers in the time of the Prophet (SAW) as they are read today by close to two billion Muslims worldwide.
- Furthermore, to further ensure its accuracy and order, the Angel Gibrael (AS) revised the entire Qur’an with the Prophet (SAW) every year during the fasting month of Ramadaan, except in the final year , during which time it was revised twice. In keeping up with this practice, Muslims throughout the world revise the entire Qur’an at least once (if not more times) during the month of Ramadaan.
- This methodology of writing and memorising the Qur’an has been continuing up to the present day. There are millions of Muslims worldwide who have memorised the entire Qur’an by heart in the original Arabic language in which it was revealed 1400 years ago, page by page, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence and word for word. There is no other book that can claim the same authenticity.
7 (g) Scientific Facts in the Quran
There are numerous facts and statements in the Qur’an that have only been verified recently by scientists in various fields. Some astounding findings relate to topics such as the developmental stages of the embryo, the regular revolution of all heavenly bodies in precise orbits as well as a wide range of topics on subjects like the formation of mountain ranges, rain, weather, ozone layer and the creation of the Universe through an initial ‘big bang’ event. These facts do not make the Qur’an a book of Science, but rather, it lends authenticity to the Signs that God (Allah SWT) has given so that we can study nature that is all around us. The entire system of Nature is a Sign of God. We understand God through His attributes (such as Mercy, Love, Forgiveness, Kindness, Grace etc) as well as through the Signs (the wondrous beauty and marvels of Creations) that He leaves for us.
If you observe any building or motorcar or cell phone, then the fact that you can touch and see that object means that someone has designed and then built that object. So even though you cannot see the Scientists & Architects who designed it, but it follows logically, that if there is a building, someone must have designed and built it. If there is a car, then someone must have designed and built it. If there is a cell phone, then someone has designed and built it. Similarly, God (Allah SWT) appeals to our sense of reason and logic and shows us His signs to indicate to us, that He exists and that He is the Creator Supreme. So even though we cannot see Him through our limited faculties, He is everywhere, simply by the evidence that He has left for us to observe and to study and to contemplate upon. So when you look at the water, you realise that someone has created it. Man did not create the water. It has to be God (Allah SWT) who Created it; when you look at the Moon, someone has created it. Man did not create the Moon. It has to be God (Allah SWT) Who Created the Moon and measured out stages for her; when you look at a flower, someone has created it. Man did not create the fascinating variety of plants that soothe and excite the senses. It has to be God (Allah) Who Created the plants; when you look at your cat, someone has created it. Man did not create a cat. It has to be God (Allah) Who Created the cat; when you look at the fish, someone has created it. Man did not Create the fish; it has to be God (Allah) who Created the Fish. ; When you look at humans, someone has created us. We did not simply appear as a chance event. Someone Created us, and then filled us with a soul and the spirit of Life. That someone, is the Creator Supreme, Lord of the Worlds, Allah (SWT) who Created everything that we can see. So this is where the attribute that God is everywhere (Omnipresent) comes about: wherever, you look, whether it is the sun or moon, or your blood cells, or at the atom, or at the galaxy or the oceans or mountains, they all point to the direction of the Creator. So everything in Nature, is a Sign of God (Allah SWT). It is a signpost that boldly states: this is God’s (Allah SWT) Beautiful, Perfect and Magnificent Handiwork.
7 (h) Translations of the Qur’an
The Arabic is the original language of the Qur’an. This is the language through which the Qur’an has been revealed to the Prophet Mohamed (SAW). The Arabic text is the Speech of God (Allah). It cannot be translated into any other language to give its exact, in-depth meaning. For example, there are many words in Arabic that do not have an exact literal English equivalent. However, translations are there to assist different language groups to get an idea about God in their own language.
However, there are a few observations to bear in mind when reading translations:
- The Arabic Qur’an is the Authentic Text
- Consult your local Islamic Book store or Mosque or Muslim Organisation who can guide you to the Authentic Qur’an texts that are available.
- Then there are many translations in different languages. Throughout the ages, people have attempted to translate these Beautiful & soul-inspiring Words into other languages but have fallen short. Some have succeeded in getting an overall concept of the religion. New texts are being produced all the time.
- Unfortunately, some mischievous people are trying to produce distorted texts. Distorted texts are obviously easily detected by the Muslim World Body and are immediately rejected. Hence, to get a clear picture of this Religion and to fill your mind with useful information, please consult your local reputable Muslim organisation for a copy of an approved and acceptable translation of the Original Arabic Qur’an.
- If there are any areas of dispute or doubt concerning some parts of the translation, please remember that it is due to human folly and error in translating the original into another language. There are many words and phrases in Arabic that cannot be a literal translation in another language. Hence, very close approximations are made. This does not mean that there is a problem with the Original. It simply means that a translation has not encapsulated the Original. Hence, discussions of Fiqh law or other areas of Jurisprudence & Shariah are always done in the original Arabic by scholars and experts in their respective fields.
- Muslims should therefore abstain from debating with other people and each other over verses that are derived from texts other than the original Arabic. Instead of debating to win an argument, the principle to follow in Islam is the concept of Shura, which simply means decision-making by consensus. This is simply the principle of brain-storming or the master mind principle, where two or more heads working toward a common objective, usually achieve a better outcome. This is consensual, mutually beneficial discussion rather than debating and arguments that lead to divisions that exhaust our energy and enthusiasm. However, it is also important to remember, that differences of opinion are welcome for this in itself is a Blessing, provided that we show tolerance for different views.
7 (i) The Opening Chapter
Al –Fatiha is the very first Complete Surah (chapter) and the 4th one to be revealed to the Prophet Mohamed (SAW). Hence it is an early Meccan Surah. Al-Fatiha is a prayer that God teaches the seeker who embarks on the journey to the Straight Path, which leads to Him. Al-Fatiha forms a pivotal core of the Qur’an and is so important, that it is recited in every Salaah (Prayer), without which, the prayer is invalid. It signifies that anyone who wants to benefit from the Book, the Qur’an, needs to first seek Guidance from Allah (God) SWT. By praying to the One True God, man’s soul tugs at the inner yearnings of the heart, so that the seeker of the Truth finds spiritual enlightment, bliss and freedom while he is locked in this limited physical dimension.
7 (j) The Prophet (SAW)
The Qur’an and the Prophet (pbuh) cannot be separated. Allah SWT (God) is Pure. His Word is Pure. His Message is Pure. Hence this Message could only be received and conveyed by someone who is himself pure, truthful, and honest. Such a person is found in the personality of Mohamed (PBUH). He had to shoulder the heavy burden of responsibility of receiving and then accurately conveying this Divine Message. He also had to ensure that this message was not corrupted by human interference, as was the fate of other scriptures. To understand how he accomplished this awesome mission, the curious reader is encouraged to read an authentic biography on the fascinating life of the Prophet of Islam. In the next section, I simply give a very brief glimpse into the life of Mohamed, the man, the Last Prophet, the Final Messenger, the mercy for all creation, may Allah’s (SWT) Peace and Blessings be upon him.