The four aspects of Islam mentioned earlier could be grouped into two parts: the theoretical and the practical. One concerns the beliefs and philosophy of Islam while the other deals with the implementation of these beliefs and principles in the daily life. In the Holy Quran, these two broad divisions are referred to as Iman, meaning faith or belief and Aamal, meaning deeds or actions.
The beliefs could be called the foundation of Islam, hidden from the view but supporting the superstructure of Islamic actions. The belief, or faith, is concerned with our thoughts, our principles and our convictions. For our actions to be meaningful in the eyes of God, they must be based on proper beliefs. In the religion of Islam, Iman constitutes acceptance of the truth brought by the Prophet Muhammad. The rejection of this truth amounts to kufr or disbelief.
The beliefs in Islam are not based on superstition or irrational conviction. They are presented in the Holy Quran in a systematic way and are supported by logical arguments. In Islam a belief must make sense to the believer; otherwise it becomes a dogma or a superstition. There are many beliefs in Islam but five of these, called the Five Articles of Faith, are the most important. These are:
- Belief in God
- Belief in the Angels
- Belief in the Prophets
- Belief in the Revealed Books
- Belief in the Day of Judgment
Now, one by one, we will discuss in detail these various articles of faith.
1. Belief in God
The doctrine of God is the foundation of the religion of Islam and is central to the teachings of the Holy Quran. God is the Supreme Being Who exists independently of everything else. He is the sole Creator of the universe, the Maker of heaven and earth. According to Islam, no event occurs in this universe without God’s knowledge and implicit consent. He is the ultimate source of every action and happening, animate or inanimate. God created not only the galaxies and stars, but also the life form on this earth. He is the Nourisher and Sustainer of all creation; He is their Lord.
For human beings, He is a very personal God. He listens to their supplications and prayers. He provides for all their needs. He overlooks their shortcomings and forgives their excesses. He is there whenever they need Him, in distress or prosperity. He deals with His creation with mercy, love and compassion.
The one most highly emphasized aspect of God in Islam is His Unity. God is One. He has no associates. He is neither born of anyone nor gives birth to anyone. He shares His supremacy in the universe with no one. To associate anyone else with God is shirk (ascribing partners with Him) and it is a grave sin in Islam.
The proper name of God in the Arabic language is Allah. The word Allah existed among the Arabs even before Islam. To the Arabs, however, Allah was not the only God. They associated many other subordinate deities with Him. Islam abolished this polytheism and restored Godhood to One Supreme Being, Allah. While Allah is the proper name of God in the Arabic language, the general word for god or deity in Arabic is Ilah. The concept of a Supreme Being also exists in other religions and in this respect the Allah in Arabic represents:
EL of the Canaanites
ELOHIM or YAHWEH (JEHOVAH) of the Hebrews
ELAH in the Aramaic language of Jesus Christ
YAZDAN or KHUDA of the Persians
BRAHMAN in Sanskrit
DEUS in Latin
THEOS in Greek
DIEU in French
GOTT in German, and
GOD in the English language
Although the proper name of God is Allah, we know Him generally through His attributes. These attributes describe the various powers God possesses and are in fact His manifestations. God’s attributes are innumerable since human intellect cannot possibly comprehend every aspect of the Supreme Being. In the Holy Quran and Hadith we are taught 99 attributes of God which are given below in alphabetical order. These are also known as al Asmaul Husna or “the Most Excellent Names”.
- al Adl, The Just
- al Afu, The Pardoner
- al Ahad, The One
- al Akhir, The Last
- al Ali, The High
- al Aleem, The Knowing
- al Awwal, The First
- al Azeem, The Great
- al Azeez, The Mighty
- al Badi, The Incomparable
- al Ba’ith, The Resurrector
- al Baqi, The Everlasting
- al Bari, The Originator
- al Barr, The Benign
- al Baseer, The All Seeing
- al Basit, The Expander
- al Batin, The Hidden
- ad Dhar, The Distresser
- Dhul Jalale walIkram, The Lord of Majesty and Bounty
- al Fattah, The Opener
- al Ghaffar, The Forgiver
- al Ghafur, The All forgiving
- al Ghanee, The Self Sufficient
- al Hadi, The Guide
- al Hafeez, The Preserver
- al Hakam, The Judge
- al Hakeem, The Wise
- al Haleem, The Forbearing
- al Hameed, The Praiseworthy
- al Haqq, The True
- al Haseeb, The Reckoner
- al Hayy, The Living
- al Jabbar, The Compeller
- al Jaleel, The Sublime
- al Jame, The Gatherer
- al Kabeer, The Great
- al Kareem, The Generous
- al Khabeer, The All-Knowing
- al Khafid, The Abaser
- al Khaliq, The Creator
- al Lateef, The Subtle One
- al Majeed, The Glorious
- al Majid, The Noble
- al Malik, The Sovereign
- al Mani, The Preventer
- Malik ul Mulk, The Owner of Sovereignty
- al Mateen, The Firm
- al Mu’akhir, The Postponer
- al Mubdi, The Originator
- al Mughni, The Enricher
- al Muhaymin, The Protector
- al Muhsi, The Reckoner
- al Muhyi, The Giver of Life
- al Mueed, The Restorer
- al Mu’izz, The Honourer
- al Mujeeb, The Responser
- al Mumin, The Guardian of Faith
- al Mumeet, The Giver of Death
- al Muntaqim, The Avenger
- al Muqaddim, The Expediter
- al Muqeet, The Sustainor
- al Muqsit, The Just
- al Muqtadir, The Powerful
- al Musawwir, The Fashioner
- al Muta’li, The Most Exalted
- al Mutakabbir, The Majestic
- al Muzill, The Abaser
- an Nafi, The Propitious
- an Nur, The Light
- al Qabid, The Constrictor
- al Qadir, The Powerful
- al Qahhar, The Subduer
- al Qawi, The Strong
- al Qayyum, The Self Subsisting
- al Quddus, The Holy
- ar Rafe, The Exalter
- ar Raheem, The Ever Merciful
- ar Rahman, The Most Gracious
- ar Raqeeb, The Watchful
- ar Rasheed, The Guide to the Right Path
- ar Rauf, The Compassionate
- ar Razzaaq, The Provider
- as Sabur, The Patient
- as Salam, The Source of Peace
- as Samad, The Eternal
- as Samee, The All Hearing
- ash Shaheed, The Witness
- ash Shakur, The Appreciator
- al Tawwab, The Oft Returning
- al Wadud, The Loving
- al Wahhab, The Bestower
- al Wahid, The Unique
- al Wajid, The Finder
- al Wakeel, The Trustee
- al Walee, The Friend
- al Wali, The Governor
- al Warith, The Inheritor
- al Wasi, The All Embracing
- al Zahir, The Manifest
Some attributes of God are mentioned in Ayat al Kursi, the 256th verse of Surah al Baqarah This verse is commonly considered to be the noblest verse of the Holy Quran and was called the loftiest verse by the Prophet Muhammad:
Allah there is no god but He, the Living, the Self
Slumber seizes Him not, nor sleep.
To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth
Who is there who can intercede with Him without His
He knows what is apparent and what is hidden.
And they encompass nothing of His knowledge except what
His throne extends over the heavens and the earth; and the
care of them tires Him not.
He is the Most High, the Supreme. (2:256)
Similarly, the first seven verses of Surah al Hadid, the 57th Chapter of the Holy Quran, present a very clear and concise view of the Islamic concept of God:
All that is in the heavens and the earth glorifies God,
He is the Mighty, the Wise.
His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth;
He gives life and He causes death;
And He has power over all things.
He is the First and the Last, the Manifest and the Hidden;
And He has full knowledge of all things.
He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six periods,
Then He settled Himself upon the Throne.
He knows what enters the earth, and what comes out of it,
And what descends from heaven and what goes up into it.
And He is with you wherever you may be;
And God sees all that you do.
His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth;
And to Him are all affairs referred.
He causes the night to pass into the day,
And He causes the day to pass into the night.
And He knows well all that is in the hearts. (57:2-7)
2. Belief in the Angels
Angels are spiritual beings who are assigned various duties by God and carry them out as commanded by Him. In the Arabic language the word for angel is malak meaning “power” while in the Hebrew language an angel is called mal’akh meaning messenger. The English word angel is derived from the Greek angelos, also meaning messenger. The literal meaning of the word angel thus points more to the function of such beings rather than to their nature. In the Quran, therefore, the angels are frequently referred to as rasul or messengers.
Although angels are spoken of as beings, they have not been granted the choice of doing right or wrong, as the human beings have been; the angels automatically carry out the command of God. In this respect, the angels may be said to be the powers of nature. The function of the angels is to obey; they cannot disobey. The various tasks assigned to the angels include:
- bringing of divine revelations to the prophets
- bringing punishment upon their enemies
- giving glad tidings to the believers
- glorifying God with His praise
- keeping records of people’s deeds
The concept of angels exists in Judaism and Christianity as well, and the names of some of the angels the Muslims believe in are mentioned in the Bible:
Jibraeel (Gabriel in the Bible)
Mikaeel (Michael in the Bible)
lsrafeel (Raphael in the Bible)
lzraeel (Israel in the Bible)
It was the Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) who used to bring the Quranic revelations to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
3. Belief in the Prophets
After the doctrine of the absolute Unity of God, perhaps the most important assertion made in the Holy Quran is that God has always been revealing His will to men through prophets and messengers. Belief in all prophets, therefore, is a fundamental article of faith in Islam. After Adam, the first known prophet, God continued to address mankind through a number of messengers, to warn people that their happiness lay in worshiping Him and in submitting themselves to His Will, and to tell them of the terrible consequences of His disobedience.
The Arabic and Hebrew word for prophet is Nabi which is derived from the root NABA which means “to announce” or “give news of matters unseen”. The prophets are called Nabi because they announce the good news to the believers, give warnings to the disbelievers and make prophecies about future events. In the Quran the prophets are frequently called rasul which means a messenger. The two words are used interchangeably in the Quran, meaning the same thing. The English word “prophet” is derived from the Greek word “prophetes”. The English words “prophet” and “prophecy” are today commonly associated with the idea of predicting the future. Although the prophets do make prophecies, their function is not limited to just predicting the future.
The prophets are appointed by God and are His authorized spokesmen. They serve as a channel of communication between the Divine and human worlds. The prophets have a mission and a mandate from God which they carry out despite great opposition.
The basic function of the prophets is to reform the people among whom they are raised and to bring them closer to God. What separates the prophets from saints and other men of religion is the great frequency with which God communicates with them and gives them intimation of future events.
A Muslim believes that prophets appeared in all nations of the world. A Muslim believes not only in the Israelite prophets mentioned in the Holy Quran and the Bible but also in the prophets of other religions such as Zoroaster, Krishna, Ram Chandar, Buddha, and so on. A Muslim believes that all prophets were sent by God for the guidance of mankind.
As to the total number of prophets that have come since Adam, nothing is known with any great deal of certainty. The study of comparative religions is relatively new and a great deal of work is required to identify religious personalities who either founded the various religions or furthered their cause.
The Quran mentions only twenty five prophets by name while the Bible mentions about fifty. Most of the Quranic prophets can be identified with their Biblical counterparts: Yaqoob of the Quran is the Biblical Jacob, Haroon in the Quran is Aaron in the Bible, Shuaib of the Quran is the Biblical Jethro, and so on.
There is no doubt that the maximum number of known prophets have come in the Babylonian Palestinian area and we will look at these prophets in some detail. A glance at the history of these Near Eastern prophets shows that there are seven distinct prophetic periods. One by one we will look at these periods.
(i) The Early Prophets
The earliest of all known prophets was, of course, Adam. Historians place the time of Adam at around four thousand years before Christ (4,000 B.C), and think that he lived in the fertile area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers known as Mesopotamia.
Contrary to popular belief, Adam was not the first created man. People already existed before Adam. Modem research in the science of evolution demonstrates this fact very clearly that human beings evolved, over a long period of time, from simpler and more primitive animal life. Adam marks that specific stage in this evolutionary process at which God started to communicate with human beings.
Among the early generations of Adam rose such notable prophets as Enoch (Idris), Noah and Hud. Both the Bible and the Quran give detailed accounts of the Flood that came during the time of Noah and took the lives of many disbelievers. Noah and his followers took refuge in an ark which he had built on divine command.
(ii) The House of Abraham
After the early prophets, we run into a period in history where few if any prophets are known. Then around 2,000 B.C. we come to the noblest family in history, the House of Abraham. Prophet Abraham has the distinction of being the Patriarch of not only the Israelites but also the Quraysh of Mecca, among whom the Prophet of Islam was raised.
Two other well known prophets lived at the same time as Abraham. These two contemporaries of his were Lot and Saleh. Lot was also a nephew of Abraham. The people of Lot and the people of Saleh, both rejected their prophets and, as a consequence of God’s punishment, were wiped out from the face of the earth.
Returning to the House of Abraham, we find that both his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, were prophets. Ishmael eventually came and settled down in Mecca and, with the help of his father, built the Ka’ba. From Abraham’s other son Isaac, his grandson Jacob and his great-grandson Joseph were also prophets. Prophet Muhammad is said to have remarked once that the Prophet Joseph had the noblest descent or lineage among all people; this is because his father, his grandfather and his great grandfather were all prophets.
Prophet Jacob received the title “Israel” meaning “one who prevails with God,” in the Old Testament. This is why his descendents are called Banu Israel or Israelites.
Prophet Joseph’s story is narrated in some detail in the Quran. Because of their envy for him, his brothers had left Joseph in a waterless well from where he was picked up by some passing travelers who took him to Egypt. There he was sold as a slave to a nobleman. After being falsely accused of indecency by the nobleman’s wife, Joseph was thrown in the prison. While in prison he became well known for his accurate interpretation of dreams and came to the notice of the king who eventually released him and appointed him as a governor.
From the time of Joseph, the history of the Israelites and the history of the Biblical prophets are intertwined. As Prophet Joseph was appointed to a high office in Egypt, many Israelites migrated to that land from their homeland in the Canaan Babylonia area. The later kings in Egypt, however, treated the Israelites badly who spent the next three hundred years in bondage and servitude under their Egyptian masters.
PROPHETS OF THE QURAN AND THE BIBLE
(Biblical prophets in capitals, Quranic In brackets)
THE EARLY PROPHETS – History
4000 B.C. ADAM (Adam) – The first Prophet
NOAH (Nooh) The Great Flood
THE HOUSE OF ABRAHAM
2165-1990 ABRAHAM (Ibrahim) LOT (Loot) (Saleh) Ka’ba re-built
2065-1885 ISAAC (Ishaq) ISHMAEL (Isma’eel)
2005-1858 JACOB (Yaqoob)
1914-1804 JOSEPH (Yousaf) Hebrews follow Joseph to Egypt
Israel in Bondage under the Egyptian Kings
1525-1405 MOSES (Moosa) AARON (Haroon) JETHRO (Shuaib) Exodus
Israelites wandering in the desert
1043 B.C. SAUL becomes the first Israelite King
United Kingdom of Israel
THE KINGDOM PROPHETS
1040 B.C. SAMUEL
1011-971 DAVID (Da’ood)
971-931 SOLOMON (Sulaiman)
|Northern Kingdom of Israel (B.C.)||Southern Kingdom of Judah|
875-852 ELIJAH (Elias)
851-795 ELISHA (AI Yasa’a)
788-772 JONAH (Younas)
722 Capital Samaria conquered by Assyri
586 Fall of Jerusalem (Conquest by Babylon) Israelites exiled from Jerusalem
539 Israelites return to Jerusalem and start restoration of the city
Old Testament ends here
593-560 EZEKIEL (Dhul Kifl)
– JOB (Ayub)
400 Silent Years (no known prophets among the Israelites)
THE CHRISTIAN ERA
4 B.C – 100 A.D. JESUS CHRIST (Eesa) JOHN THE BAPTIST (Yahya)
THE DAWN OF ISLAM
570-632 (The Holy Prophet Muhammad)
Start of Islam
The Umayyad Caliphate
The Abbasid Caliphate
The Fatimid Caliphate
The Ottomon Empire
Political & Religious Decline of Islam
THE REVIVAL OF ISLAM
1835-1908 (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad)
Founding of Ahmadiyya
(iii) The Mosaic Period
The period of Israelites’ slavery ended with their exodus from Egypt to the land of Canaan, under the guidance of Moses. Moses is the most majestic of the Old Testament figures and his influence on the history of the Israelites was immense. The Torah or the first five books of the Old Testament are also known as the Books of Moses. And the Law that Moses gave to the Israelites is known to this day as the Mosaic Law.
The story of Moses is also narrated in the Quran in some detail. Moses was born among the Israelites who were being persecuted by the Pharaoh, Ramses II. His mother, in fear of his execution at the hands of the Pharaoh’s soldiers, placed him in a reed basket and set it afloat in the River Nile. The Pharaoh’s wife spotted the floating basket and after discovering the infant inside, decided to adopt him. Moses thus grew up in the palace of the Pharaoh. When Moses was commissioned as a prophet, he told the ruling Pharaoh, Merneptah, to believe in One God. The Pharaoh not only disbelieved but decided to punish Moses and the rest of the Israelites. Moses, under Divine command, led the Israelites out of Egypt towards the Promised Land.
For the next forty years after leaving Egypt, the Israelites moved from place to place in the Sinai Peninsula, never settling down in any one location for long. This period in the Israelite history is known as the “Wanderings in the Desert”. Finally, the Israelites reached the Canaan area which was the land promised to them. Moses, however, died before crossing the River Jordan and the Israelites entered their new homeland under the leadership of Joshua.
Another prophet who was a contemporary of Moses was Shuaib (Jethro of the Bible). Shuaib lived in a place called Median where Moses came and spent some years. Shuaib was also Moses’ father in-law.
(iv) The Kingdom Prophets
For a long time the Israelites lived in Canaan under a tribal system. Then, around 1043 B.C., Saul became the first king of Israel. Around the same time the first prophet after the Mosaic period was raised among the Israelites. This prophet was named Samuel. Two of the Old Testament Books, Samuel 1 and Samuel 2, are named after him.
After Samuel came David, the first prophet king of the Israelites. David consolidated the Israelite kingdom by uniting the various Israelite tribes and also extended its borders. Two other prophets, Gad and Nathan, were contemporaries of David and used to advise him on important matters. David’s son, Solomon, was another prophet king who was very famous for his wisdom and justice. It was Solomon who built the Temple at Jerusalem towards which the Muslims used to face during their Prayers, before the commandment came down to face the Ka’ba.
The six hundred year period starting from the Prophet Samuel has been named the Kingdom period since it was the first time in history that the Israelites had a kingdom of their own and exercised dominion over their own lands. Israel thus became a state ruled by a hereditary king who in turn was bound by the law of the Torah and God’s Covenant with the chosen people. From a religious point of view, this six hundred year period was the most glorious in the Israelite history when many prophets were raised among them, one after the other. In fact it would not be an exaggeration to call this period “the Age of Prophets”. There was hardly anytime during this period when the Israelites did not have a prophet among them.
The newly established monarchy in Israel, however, did not last very long. There were strong rivalries between the northern and southern Jewish clans which eventually shattered this fragile alliance. At the death of the Prophet Solomon, therefore, the United Kingdom of Israel broke up into two separate kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel lasted until 722 B.C. when its capital, Samaria, fell to the conquering Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom of Judah lasted until 586 B.C. when its capital, Jerusalem, fell to the conquering Babylonians.
During this six hundred year Kingdom period, more than thirty prophets were raised among the Israelites including such well known names as Elijah (Elias), Elisha (Yasaa), Jonah (Younas), Daniel (Daniyal), Ezekiel (Dhul Kifl), Job (Ayub), and Ezra (Uzair). Of all the Old Testament characters, none has been kept more alive in people’s imagination than Prophet Elijah. He is described in the Scriptures as appearing mysteriously from an unknown background, fighting as a soldier in the way of God, helping the downtrodden, performing many miracles, and is said to have vanished up into the heavens in a blazing chariot. By Jewish tradition, Elijah is still alive and will reappear one day to usher in the Messiah and the final deliverer of mankind.
Malachi was the last of the Israelite prophets and with his death the Old Testament comes to a close. The Jews today do not believe in any prophet after Malachi who died around 415 B.C.
(iv) The Christian Era
The four hundred year interval between the death of Malachi and the birth of Jesus Christ is known in history as the “Silent Years”. During this period no prophets are known to have come in the Israelite areas. The silent years came to an end with the appearance of two prophets: John the Baptist and Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist was born about the same time as Jesus Christ and his mission was to tell the people that a great prophet, the Messiah, was soon to be raised among them. John the Baptist was eventually imprisoned by King Herod for denouncing his marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodes. Later on, John the Baptist was beheaded at the request of Herodes. John the Baptist is the only known Israelite prophet who died at the hands of his enemies.
From the Holy Quran it appears that Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was also a prophet who was given the glad tidings of the birth of his son in advance. In the Bible, however, this Zechariah is only a priest and the Prophet Zechariah is the one who lived in the fifth century before Christ.
Jesus Christ was born among the Israelites and the New Testament traces his ancestry to Prophet David. His given name was Eesa and his title, al Massih meaning “The Anointed”. The name Jesus Christ is the Greek rendering of his Hebrew name “Eesa al Massih”.
Although Jesus Christ’s teachings were essentially the same as the Old Testament’s, the Jews of his time rejected his claim to prophethood. This was because the Jews were still waiting for the second coming of Elijah, as promised by Malachi in the Old Testament. Jesus started his mission when he was about thirty years old. By the time he was about thirty three, the opposition to his mission by the Jews and the Romans reached such an extent that he was put on the cross.
Of all the prophets in history, the life of Jesus Christ is perhaps the most controversial. There are four distinct beliefs today regarding his crucifixion and what happened to him afterwards:
(a) The Jews believe that Jesus died on the cross and, therefore, was not a true prophet because, according to the Bible, one who is crucified is accursed by God.
(b) The Christians of today believe that Jesus died on the cross and that his corpse was placed in a tomb. But after some time he was resurrected, visited his disciples on a few occasions and, soon afterwards, ascended to heaven. The Christians still await the second coming of Jesus Christ.
(c) The traditional belief of the majority of Muslims has been that Jesus was not put on the cross at all, and that someone else resembling Jesus was crucified in his place. Jesus, instead, is supposed to have been raised to heaven, body and soul. The majority of Sunni Muslims also await the second coming of Jesus Christ.
(d) The belief of Ahmadi Muslims, based on the Bible and other historical evidence, is that Jesus was indeed put on the cross but only for a few hours. He was then taken down while still alive and hidden in a tomb by his followers. After fully recovering from his wounds, Jesus left the Palestine area moving eastward to Afghanistan and eventually to Kashmir. He is said to have died in Sri Nagar, the present capital of Kashmir, where his grave exists to this day. The Holy Quran mentions of his death in verse 5:117 and of his migration to an elevated place in verse 23:51.
It should be remembered that Jesus Christ did not intend to found a new religion and told his followers that the Mosaic Law still applied to them. He, however, impressed upon the people to acquire certain qualities such as charity, forgiveness, humility and a special love for God, which were fast becoming extinct among the Israelites. The Christianity of today, with beliefs in the Trinity and the Eternal Sin, owes its origin to later developments and cannot be attributed to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
(vi) The Dawn of Islam
Prophet Muhammad came some six hundred years after Jesus Christ, with no other prophet appearing in this interval. A detailed account of Prophet Muhammad’s life is given in Section 3 of this book.
A majority of the Muslims, not including the Ahmadi Muslims, believe that no more prophets can come after the Prophet Muhammad who, according to them, was chronologically the Last Prophet. In the view of Ahmadi Muslims, the door to prophethood is always open. However, new prophets can only come within the fold of Islam and as followers of the Prophet Muhammad.
(vii) The Revival of Islam
In the Tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, there are sayings regarding the coming of a latter day Messiah who will strive against the unbelievers and will re establish the glory of Islam. Prophet Muhammad referred to this latter day Messiah as a “prophet”. In the late 1800s, a man from Qadian, India, by the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, claimed to be that Promised Messiah. He received many revelations from God, cleansed the Islam of the day of all superstitious beliefs and bad customs, re emphasized man’s relationship with God and threw a challenge to the whole world that his mission will succeed despite all opposition.
We will read a detailed account of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s life in Section 5 on the history of Ahmadiyyat.
(viii) The Prophets of Other Religions
So far we have talked only about the prophets of the Bible and the Quran. What about the prophets of other religions and nations? According to the Quran, God has sent His messengers to every nation:
“There is not a people but a Warner has gone among them” (35:25)
“For every nation there is a Messenger” (10:48)
The Muslims, therefore, believe that earlier religions were also founded by God’s messengers. Their teachings, however, were corrupted by their followers over the course of time. Below are given the names of some of the founders of other religions who could be equated to the prophets of the Quran and the Bible.
Luqman: mentioned in the Quran by name but his territory is unknown. According to some scholars he was the
Greek “Aesop” while according to others he was a Prophet in Abyssinia. Luqman does not correspond to any Biblical prophet.
Zoroaster: The founder of Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion of Iran. Zoroaster’s period is roughly placed at around 1500 B.C.
Krishna, Ram Chandar: Krishna is known among the Hindus as an “Avatar” Ram Chandar or a manifestation of God. It appears that both Krishna and Ram Chandar were the Hindu equivalent of the Quranic nabis. They, however, were not the founders of the Hindu religion.
Mahavira: Founder of Jainism, Mahavira lived in India in the sixth century B.C. He tried to abolish the caste system that existed in Hinduism.
Buddha: Siddhartha Gautama Buddha was the founder of the Buddhist faith. He lived in India in the sixth Century B.C. The word ‘Buddha’ means the Enlightened One.
Confucius: Founder of Confucianism, a Chinese religion. Confucius lived in China in the fifth century B.C. His teachings placed great emphasis on social ethics.
Lao Tze: The founder of the Tao religion of China who lived in the sixth century B.C.
4. Belief in the Revealed Books
The Muslims not only believe in all the earlier prophets but also in the revelations and Scriptures given to those Prophets by God. In the Holy Quran itself, reference is made to five revealed books:
SOHOF (Scrolls) of Abraham (87:20)
TAURAT (Torah) of Moses (3:4; 5: 45)
ZABUR (Psalms) of David (4:164)
1NJEEL (Gospel) of Jesus Christ, and (5:47)
QURAN of Prophet Muhammad (6:20)
Except for the Holy Quran, none of the revealed books were recorded during the lifetime of their respective prophets. The accuracy and authenticity of these books, therefore, is questionable.
Of the Scriptures of Abraham, nothing is known today. To begin with, these scriptures were probably never recorded in writing. Secondly, the followers of Abraham eventually adopted the teachings of Moses and the original Abrahamic teachings and scriptures got amalgamated in the Old Testament.
The Taurat or Torah of Moses comprises the first five books of the Hebrew Bible and contains the complete Law for the Israelites. These five books are:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Together, these five books are known as the Pentateuch. The Torah was passed down the generations by the word of mouth until it was written down some hundreds of years after Moses. The Hebrew Bible is a collection of 24 books, including the five books of the Torah.
Very little is known today of Zabur, or the revelations of Prophet David. In the Hebrew Bible there are many psalms (sacred songs or hymns) attributed to David which may constitute part of the Zabur.
The Injeel or Gospel was revealed to the Prophet Jesus but was not recorded during his lifetime. After the death of Jesus Christ, attempts were made to record his teachings in writing. Of the many such narratives, four were selected by the early Church as official accounts of the teachings of Jesus. These four versions of the Gospel are known today as:
Gospel according to Matthew
Gospel according to Luke
Gospel according to Mark
Gospel according to John
The Gospels are only part of the Christian Bible which consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is the Christian rendering of the Hebrew Bible but arranged in a somewhat different order than the Hebrew Scriptures. The Roman Catholic version of the Old Testament contains 39 books. It is noteworthy that the Bible of the Christian includes Scriptures of another religion, Judaism. This has been the case since the early days of Christianity.
The New Testament is the second part of the Christian Bible and contains the Gospels and other sacred literature of Christian origin. There are 27 books in the New Testament, including the four Gospels. If classified according to subject matter, the New Testament writings could be grouped into three categories: the Gospels which give accounts of the life of Jesus, the Acts which describe the origins of the Church, and the Letters which represent the beginnings of Christian theology.
The Quran of the Prophet Muhammad is the last of the revealed Books. The recording of the Quart was started during the life of the Prophet Muhammad and within twenty years of his death, authenticated texts of the Holy Quran were distributed in the entire Islamic world. From the point of view of authenticity, therefore, none of the other revealed books come even close to the Quran.
At this point, we will mention some of the sacred books of other religions. These books, however, are not mentioned in the Quran or the Bible:
AVESTA Scriptures of Zoroastrianism
VEDAS Scriptures of Hinduism
PALI, TRIPITAKA Scriptures of Buddhism
SIDDHANTA, ANGAS Scriptures of Jainism
TAO TE K’ING Sacred book of Taoism
KINGS, LUN YU Sacred books of Confucianism
KOJOKI, NIHONGI Sacred books of Shinto faith
5. Belief in the Day of Judgement
After belief in One God, belief in the Day of Judgment is the most emphasized doctrine in the Quran. No other revealed book draws such a vivid picture of the Day of Judgment as does the Holy Quran. According to the Quran, on the Day of Judgment this entire universe will come to an end. Then the dead will be resurrected and accounts taken of their deeds. People with good records will be rewarded and welcomed into heaven while those with bad records will be punished and cast into hell. The concept of hell in Islam is more of a reformatory, where people will spend limited time before eventually entering heaven, which will last for ever. The Day of Judgment is referred to by many names in the Holy Quran, some of which are mentioned below:
yaum ad din – the Day of Judgment
yaum al akhir – the Last Day
yaum al qiyama – the Day of Resurrection
yaum al fasl – the Day of Distinction
yaum al jami – the Day of Gathering
yaum al talaqi – the Day of the Meeting
as-sa’at – the Hour (of Doom)
al-qariah – the Calamity
In the Quran are given many signs of the coming of the Hour but its exact timing is known only to God. Following is a description of the Day of Judgment taken from Surah al Qariah, the 101st Chapter of the Holly Quran:
The Great Calamity; What a Great Calamity!
And what should make thee know what the Great Calamity is?
The day when men will be like scattered moths;
And mountains will be like carded wool;
Then as for him whose scales are heavy,
He will have a pleasant life.
But as for him whose scales are light,
He will have hell as his resort. (101:2-10)
We have covered in detail the five fundamental beliefs in Islam. There are, however, many other beliefs which are also very important in Islam. We will mention a few of these below:
(vi) A Muslim believes in taqdir or the Divine Decree. In Islamic philosophy taqdir, or God’s decree, controls the eventual outcome of all actions in this universe.
(vii) A Muslim believes that every person is born innocent and free from sin. Sin is a conscious breach of some ordinance of God brought to one’s attention by the Prophet, or by one’s own intellect, a God-given faculty. Only when a person reaches maturity of understanding and can distinguish between right and wrong, does he become accountable for his actions.
(viii) A Muslim believes that God does not hold anyone responsible unless He has shown him the right way. This is the reason why God has sent so many messengers and revelations. God always sends His guidance and warning before inflicting His punishment on people.
(ix) A Muslim believes that faith is not meaningful if it is followed blindly, without reasoning or understanding. A person should use his powers of reasoning and reflect upon God’s teachings.
(x) A Muslim believes that every person is responsible for his own deeds and that no one carries the burden of another. On the Day of Judgment, no intercession will be accepted on behalf of another and each soul will be rewarded according to what it had earned.
(xi) A Muslim believes that all prophets were sent by God and that no distinction should be made among them in this respect.