Submission to God is eternal religion
According to Islam, there has really only been one true religion, that is, the message of Allah (SWT), submission to the will of Allah (SWT). This is called Islam. It was the religion preached by Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jesus and all the prophets, by whatever name they were called. People, however, corrupted this pure light and called their religions by different names. Although Islam teaches Muslims to put up with them all and to allow names for convenience, it also insists on the predominance of truth over all distorted forms of religion. The Quran says: “It is He who sent His messenger with guidance and the religion of truth. That he made it prevail over all religion, even though the pagans may hate (it).”
As a corollary, the continuity of this message of truth has also been demonstrated. “He chose you, and did not impose any difficulty on you in religion, it is the religion of your father Abraham. It is he who named you Muslims, before and this (revelation), witness for you, and you are witness for humanity. So establish a regular prayer, give Zakat, cling to Allah. He is your protector, the best to protect and the best to help.”
In this way, Islam existed before the preaching of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) on earth, as the Quran expressly calls Abraham (AS) a Muslim. Its teaching (submission to the will of Allah) has been and will be the teaching of religion for all times and for all peoples. There has been a continuous chain of prophets throughout the annals of human history and the Quran literally calls the prophets in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim dispensation one family, and even further claims that all men of faith form one family. “Allah chose Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham and the family of ‘Imran above all the descendants of each other”.
Thus, Islam is universal and claims to date from Adam. Additionally, Father Abraham is mentioned as the great ancestor of those among whom Islam was first preached, i.e. Jews, Christians and Arabs. The Koran mentions that the children of Israel received the book, the power to command and the prophecy. They were also favored above all nations because they were the keepers of the message brought by the prophets. Clear signs were given to them in matters of religion.
It was only after knowledge had been granted to them that they fell into schisms; out of insolent envy between them, “verily your Lord will judge between them in the day of judgment concerning the matters on which they have settled differences”. Since the prophets came with divinely ordained knowledge and guidance, it contained the message of unity. We know that the message brought by Moses (as) presented integrity. It was a book. But the present Old Testament is a collection of odd books (leaves) of all kinds? Why? Because its integrity has been lost or concealed by the Jews themselves. The same goes for the New Testament. This shows that all the prophets mentioned above had a mission and explained their teachings in accordance with each other. But this mission has been undermined by the widespread schisms in their ranks. “Who then sent down the book which Moses brought? A light and guidance for man. But you make (separate) sheets of it for show”.
In this, the Qur’an exposes the excesses and distortions made by the Israelites in the message of Allah (SWT). They even blacked out several parts or added some misleading elements. “While you conceal much (of its contents), you have learned therein that you know neither you nor your fathers”, say: “Allah (has sent down)”.
The Quran develops the same point and says that the purpose of the new revelation was twofold: to bring God’s blessings in the form of a universal and pure message, and to confirm previous revelations. The Quran says, “And this is a book which we have sent down, bringing blessings and confirming (the revelations) that preceded it, that you may warn the mother of the cities and all around her”.
Makkah being traditionally associated with Abraham was nevertheless the mother of the cities. Hence, it also indicated the universality and continuity of the religion i.e. Islam. Moses was also followed by a succession of messengers. Jesus was also sent with clear signs to the people to continue the same message of Islam. “We gave Moses the book and followed him with a succession of messengers. We gave Jesus the son of Mary, clear (signs) and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit”.
However, as mentioned above, the Torah has been twisted and rendered into various fragmented parts. Books such as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are traditionally attributed to Moses. They were compiled in their present form probably some time after the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. Cyrus’ decree allowing such a return was in 536 BC.
Ernest Renan (1823-1892) even doubted the existence of Moses, due to the disordered state of the present Torah. He doubts that Moses is not a myth. But as Muslims, we believe that Moses existed; that he was an inspired man of God; that he gave a massage which was later distorted or lost, that Israel has repeatedly attempted to reconstruct this message; and that the Torah as we have it is not prior to the middle of the 5th century. The primitive Torah must have been in ancient Hebrew, but there is no Hebrew manuscript of the Old Testament currently available which can be dated to certainly earlier than AD 916; in Jesus’ time it had to be cultivated.
The Hebrews used the Greek language, and others used Aramaic, including Syriac and Chaldean, Latin, or local dialects. There were also Arabic versions. No standard text of the Old Testament is found in its Hebrew form. The versions frequently differ from each other in minor details and sometimes in major details. It was the merit of Islam to have emphasized this as a scripture; The Torah had no value, even though it recognized Moses as an inspired messenger. All its original law as having validity in its period until superseded. In his critique of the Jewish position, he said in effect: “You have lost your original law, even the one you now have as a substitute, you are not following it honestly; is it not better, now that an inspired master lives among you, that you follow him rather than quibble over uncertain texts”.
After Moses came Jesus, whose mission was to his people, the Jews, “I am only sent to the lost sheep of Israel”92, and “It is not of the spirit to take the bread of the children and cost it to the dogs”. The Quran says: “And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said:
“O children of Israel, I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Taurat (who came before me) and announcing the glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name should be Ahmad But when he came to them with clear signs, they said, “It’s obvious Socrecy.”
“And Allah will teach him the book and the wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel and (appoint him) a messenger to the children of Israel, (with this message).”
(The author is Head of Department of Religious Studies and Central University of Kashmir. Former Director of Shah-i-Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Kashmir Srinagar. He can be contacted at [email protected])