Belief in the Divine Books – Muslim Beliefs – Divine Books
Hi, Assalamu alaikum,
My name is Ibrahim Sayar. I’m the president of North East Islamic Community Center and I’m working there as an imam. So today we will be talking about Belief in the Divine Books.
As you may know, Islam orders the followers of Islam to believe in six fundamental articles and one of them is believing in the Holy Divine Books. When we say Holy Divine Books, we mean like Qur’an, the Bible, Old Testament, New Testament, along with other book that we may or may not know that has been sent throughout the history to the Prophets by God. Believers of Islam are obligated to believe not only to Qur’an, but to all books. Allah jalla jalaluhu, God ordered to believe all the Prophets and also all the revelations to the Prophets meaning the Holy Books. I just wanted to give an example. There are couple of examples in the Quran regarding the belief in the old texts and old books. It says, “in Arabic” … This is the chapter of Ali Imran, which is the third chapter and the verse is the third verse. It says
“It is He who sent down these step by step.”
In truth, the Book confirming went before it. And He sent down the Torah of Moses (peace be upon him) and the Gospel, Jesus (pbuh) as a confirmation of the messages that came previously.
It might be useful to talk about a little bit about when we say Islam what really Islam and religion means according to Islamic structure. Islam means or religion means according to Islam, starting from Adam the first Prophet to the last Prophet, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and in between them, it has been said there were approximately 124,000 and some say 224,000, whatever the number is, all the Prophets that has been sent by God to the people, and all the scriptures that has been sent, all the books that has been sent to the Prophets are considered as one message in Islam. And this message is called the religion of Islam. So that means according to the Islam, whatever message Noah or Adam received, or Abraham received, or Moses received or Jesus received, are under the name of Islam. So therefore according to Islam, there is one religion. And that’s why Muslims are obligated to believe to all Prophets and to all Books.
Each Book confirms the Message preceded it, meaning that for example Bible confirms the message of Moses, meaning the Old Testament. The New Testament confirms and affirms the Old Testament. Likewise, Qur’an is the affirmation and confirmation of the Message of the Old Testament and the New Testament as well. That’s why Muslims are obligated to believe in the old texts and in old Prophets, preceding Prophets before Islam and before Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Despite their differences in central belief, in all of four Books are the same, meaning that essentially the Message is same. All the Books and all the Messengers came approximately with the same message; The Oneness of God, the Belief in Afterlife, How to Design the Worldly Life, and eventually after death situation, ending up in the Hell or in the Paradise. So this is the basic structure of Divine Books and of all the Prophets.
Each Holy Book is significant greatly to its own People, to its own time except for the Holy Book of Qur’an according to Islam. So therefore, when we see differences in the application of the orders, that is because most of the religions, except for Islam, are local and are significant for their own time and for their own region. So, a question raises, comes to mind, especially from the people of Book meaning from Christianity and Judaism. And the question is,
“If you believe that the previous Books are divine, and they are divine revelations from God, why do you need another one? And why don’t you just follow it?”
and that seems and sounds like a fair question. Yes it is a fact that Muslims are obligated to believe in the Holy Scriptures and there is no doubt about it. However Muslims believe that the previous Books like Bible, like the New Testament and Old Testament could not keep their original message or version and language. This is a very important part to understand. While talking about language, I think it is important to underline one thing. When Muslims say Qur’an, they mean the one that is written with Arabic letters. This is what we call Qur’an. Of course, in today’s world, Qur’an is translated into English, translated into Russian, translated into Turkish, translated into different languages. The translations are not the Qur’an. They are the translations of the Qur’an. What we call Qur’an is the one that is written in Arabic. So therefore, in order to be a Qur’an, it has to be, Muslims should be able to recite it in their prayers. So Muslims recite Qur’an in their prayers with its original form which is in Arabic text. That’s one of the reasons why we cannot recite Qur’an in our prayers with different languages. So Qur’an is the one that is written with Arabic.
So, when we look at the text of Holy Books, like in Bible, the Old Testament, the New Testament, we do have struggle to see the original language. That’s one of the reasons Muslim believe that Divine books, the previous Divine Books could not keep their original language. So, Muslims believe to the old texts, Muslims believe to the Old Books as they have revealed to the Prophets, as it was revealed to Moses (pbuh), as it was revealed to Jesus (pbuh). As you may know since we have different versions of the Holy Books, that’s why Muslims are having trouble to receiving the Divine Messages of all Scriptures as the Divine Message.
According to Islamic tradition, God’s revelations and sayings, this is another very important point that I have to underline, in Islamic Scripture, words of God, meaning the revelation is one thing and that is called Qur’an. The sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is called Hadith and that is another collection of book. Sayings of the interpreters or the sayings of Islam or very important people throughout the history who tried to interpret the Qur’anic verses are another thing. So we have the collection of revelation, only God’s words, which we call Qur’an. That’s one thing. And we have Hadith, sayings of the Prophet (pbuh), not only his saying, his applications, his approvals, is another collection called Hadith. And all the other interpretations are not mixed with Hadith and revelations. So we have three different categories. But when we look at the Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament, the revelation of God, and the sayings of Jesus (pbuh) for example, and the sayings of Moses (pbuh) and also sayings of the Saints are all gathered in one Book called Bible, or Divine Text. That’s why Muslims are having trouble identifying the God’s revelation in the Old Testament. I think that is another important aspect to keep in mind. In short, if we have to summarize everything that we have said, Muslims are obligated to believe in the Holy text as they are obligated to believe to the Messengers to the Prophets whom the Message was revealed and we cannot say as a Muslim, as a believer, that we do not believe in Bible, in Old Testament, in New Testament. It is part of our belief because those revelations have been mentioned in the Qur’an like as Bible, as Incil (Turkish word) or as Tevrat (Turkish word) as the Old Testament, and the all Messengers have been mentioned also in the Qur’an.
I hope that was helpful.