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"O mankind! There has come to you a good advice from your Lord (ie, the Qur’an), and a healing for that (disease of ignorance, doubt, hypocrisy and differences, etc) in your breasts,-a guidance and a mercy for the believers."

Holy Qur’an 3:83



What is The Qur'an ?

The Qur'an is the last scripture that has been revealed to mankind by the Lord Creator and Protector. It was through the last messenger, Muhammad (pbuh), that the world first heard of it. It certainly the Divine scripture that is to be accepted by all, up to the very last man.

The term ‘Qur'an’ has the meanings of ‘the recitation’, or ‘that which is to be recited’ and of ‘that which is recited.’ Indeed, the Qur'an itself has employed the connotation ‘the scripture that is recited’ in connection with this term (13:31). Unlike the earlier scriptures, the Qur'an is never a compilation of legal pronouncements or code of laws (Taurat), or hymns (Zaboor) or a collection of Gospel of good news (Injeel). It is highly probable that the Qur'an has been named as the last scripture because each one of its words is to be repeatedly read by thousands upon thousands of its believers and is to be so etched into their hearts as to mould their very lives according to its guidelines. As for the actual reason, it is the Lord Who sent it Who knows the answer thereof.

As far as its believers are concerned, the Qur'an is but the criterion to distinguish truth from falsehood. They understand that all that has been commanded therein constitute the good and all that has been prohibited therein constitute evil. In fact, the Qur'an introduces itself as Furqaan (2:53, 2:185, 3:4, 25:1) which means ‘the criterion to distinguish between truth and falsehood.’

The Qur'an also describes itself as Kitab (book), Dhikr (guidance), Burhaan (evidence), Shifa (cure), Kayyim (that which is pure), Muhaymin (that which preserves the previous scriptures) and the like. Through these attributes the reader of the Qur'an is exposed to the clear picture of the morality enshrined within. What is the meaning of ‘Book of Vedas’? The term Veda is a sanskrit word which means knowledge, learning etc. According to the vedic vision, the Vedas signify Shruthi (or ‘that which is heard’). It is believed that the contents of the Vedas comprise the words of the Lord Creator as heard by the Rishis. The RigVeda states that the Vedas originate in the Parampurush (10:90:9). In any event, the term Veda has been used in India to mean Divine Scripture. In due course of time, even the followers of the semitic religions in India have tended to describe their own religious scriptures as Vedas.

The term which the Qur'an has employed to refer to revealed scripture is Al-Kitab which, in turn, simply means ‘the Scripture’. The Qur'anic view is that the religious scripture consists of the revelations made to the messenger by the Lord Creator Himself. Divine revelations have been referred to as Wahy and as far as a revealed scripture is concerned, it contains wahy alone. However, it is not necessary that all Wahy made to all messengers should find mention in the scripture. In fact, it is only that portion of the Wahy which has been received with the special command for its inception in the scriptural text, that ultimately finds expression in it.
 


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What is the purpose of the Revealed Scripture?

The Qur'anic view contends that the primary purpose of revealed scripture is to unite mankind. Look at what the Holy Qur'an has to say: ‘Mankind was one single nation. And Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Book in truth, to judge between people in matters wherein they differed.’ (2:213)

It becomes evident from this that religious scriptures were revealed in order that a divine ruling, of a final nature, may be made in the matters in which mankind differed. Thus, the Qur'an declares that it, too, was revealed so that mankind may be freed of the dissensions that were rife amongst themselves. ‘And We sent down the Book to thee so that That thou shouldst make clear to them those things in which they differ, and that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe.’ (16:64)

In order that the fate of the people of the book, who had boasted of their own high status, by which they were ultimately led to dissension and anarchy, not fall upon its believers, the Qur'an exhorts them to stick fast to the last of the scriptures as well as to its practical manifestation as enshrined in the life and conduct of the prophet. "And hold fast, All together, by the Rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves." (3:103) The commentators are unanimous in their opinion that the ‘rope of Allah’ mentioned here indicates the Qur'an.

In short, therefore, the first and foremost duty of the Scripture is to lead people unto the truth and to eliminate, thereby, all dissension and anarchy.

 


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What does the Qur'an say about the Scriptures that preceded it?

The Qur'an recognizes all the scriptures that had been revealed before its own time. However, the Qur'an does not, in an explicit fashion, state the total number of all such revealed scriptures. There is only the mention of the names of four other scriptures in the Qur'an. These include the Taurat which was revealed to the prophet Moosa (a), the Zaboor which was revealed to the prophet Dawood (a) the Injeel which was revealed to the prophet Isa (a) and the Qur'an itself which was revealed to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The Qur'an further highlights the fact that besides these four scriptures, other edicts, too, were revealed by the Lord Creator.

"Say : We believe in Allah and what is revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and what was entrusted to Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord." (3:136)

"And this is in the Books of the earliest (Revelations), The Books of Abraham and Moses." (87:18,19)

The Qur'an attests the truth of all the previous scriptures. "It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Torah (Of Moses) and the Gospel (Of Jesus)." (3:3)

It is the compulsory duty of the Muslim to believe in all the scriptures that were revealed by Allah. Indeed, the Qur'an views the disbelief in the Divine nature of any of the previous scriptures as a gross perversion.

"O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His Messenger, and the scripture which He hath sent to His Messenger and the Scripture which He sent to those before (him). Any who denieth Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Judgment, hath gone far, far astray." (4:136)

 


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Are the Tauraat, the Zaboor, and the Injeel the Torah (Pentateuch), Psalmsand the Gospels mentioned in the Bible?

Tauraat is the scripture that was given to Moosa (a). Similarly, the Zaboor and the Injeel are the books that were given to Dawood (a) and Isa (a). The Qur'an introduces the scriptures as those that were revealed by the Lord Creator Himself. "It was We who revealed the Tarah (to Moses): therein was guidance and light." (5:44)

"And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Torah that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light." (5:46)

From this it is abundantly clear that these scriptures were all in fact, revealed by the Lord Creator Himself. But this is not the case with the books of the Bible. They were all written centuries after the messengers. Indeed, there is extant not even a single book in the Bible which can reasonably be believed to have been revealed to the messengers. It is the traditional belief of the Jews that Moses (a), himself, had written the Pentateuch (Torah); not that it was revealed by God. However, modern research indicates that even the traditional belief that Moses had written the Pentateuch is, in itself, baseless. It is the opinion of the scholars that since the death of Moses, and the events that followed his death, have been described in the Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 34:5-10), it can never be that Moses (a) had written the book himself. Similar is the case of the Book of Psalms. In actual fact, there is not in it, a single Psalm that can be authoritatively said to have been written by David. In the Gospels, too, although there is mention, therein, of the true Gospel of God which Jesus had actually preached (Mark 1:14,15), there is no clear picture about this Gospel in the four accounts in the Bible. As for the Gospel in the New testament, it was written at least five decades after Jesus. The gospels give but vastly differing and contradictory accounts of the life of Jesus. It is now clear that none of these was the true scripture that was revealed to Jesus. In short, therefore, even though the various books of the Bible do quote certain ideas from the Tauraat, the Zaboor and the Injeel, it cannot be said that they are present in the Bible in all their fullness and purity.

 


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What does the Qur'an say about the Hindu Vedas?

Messengers have been sent to all communities among mankind. The Qur'an makes it so explicitly clear as to leave behind not a shadow of a doubt, that "there has not gone by a single nation wherein a warner was not sent." (35:24) Therefore, as an ancient land in which had thrived a civilization and a culture, India, too, must have had been the destination of the messengers. Further, some among those messengers must have been the recipients of scriptures also. It is not for the Muslim to take any of these messengers or their scriptures lightly or with indifference. For the Qur'an has sternly warned against showing partiality with respect to the messengers (4:150). The Qur'an therefore reveres the messengers who had come to India, as also the scriptures which were revealed to them.

But can it be said that any of the existing books on the Shruthi (the vedic compilations, Brahmanas, Aaranyas, Upanishads) has been revealed to the messengers by the Lord Creator? It is believed that these have been referred to as Shruthi because they had been heard of from God Himself.

The concept of Shruthi makes it clear that it was also the belief of the Hindus that mankind does, indeed, receive messengers from God. Even though all the above mentioned books are all Shruthis in themselves, the question as to which amongst them forms the more authoritative text is one over which there is much difference of opinion. While Dayanand Saraswathi, the founder of the Aarya Samaaj, accorded the status of authority only to the four compilation of the Vedas, others like Swami Vivekananda gave prime importance to the Upanishad.

There were also scholars of Hinduism who opined that even the most authentic of the Books of Shruthi can be prone to error. The stand of Dr. Radhakrishnan that "the Vedas are neither infallible nor all-encompassing" (Indian Religions, Page 22) and of Swami Vivekananda that "To the extent that they are supported by sound reasoning all portions of the Vedas are acceptable to me. However, some portions of the Vedas are, at first sight, self contradictory" (Vivekananda Sahitya Sarwaswam vol. 4, Issue 55) will serve in breaking the spear-head of the claim that the Vedas comprise, in their totality, the Divine message.

Generally speaking, the Shruthi form the books which present the actual and existing beliefs and practices that once prevailed in India. However, the dim light of the message of the prophets who were sent to India will may be seen in them. But the claim that these are completely Divine is, however, without foundation.


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What is the theme of the Qur'an?

The theme of the Qur'an is the salvation of man. As the only creation capable of independent action, man is to follow certain laws for his very survival and progress. All things in the universe follow the Divine laws of their own accord. Indeed, they do not possess the option of straying from this set course. In fact, the systemic functioning of the human body itself compulsorily follows the Divine laws. However, man has been granted freedom of action in certain limited domains. Even in these spheres he can attain salvation if, and only if, he obeys the Divine commandments.

It is to mankind that the Qur'an speaks. It is to his salvation that the Qur'an beckons. It convinces him of the existence of the Lord Creator by turning his attention to the varied and incredible phenomena of nature. It speaks to him of the impermanence of the life of this world and of the utter meaninglessness of wasting an entire lifetime in pursuit of the comforts herein. It makes clear to him the path which must be followed in order that he be of that blessed group which becomes worthy of the entry into Paradise as of the safety from the confines of Hell.

It invites his attention to the history of those who purchased the punishment of Hell in exchange for the comforts of this world. It tells him of those who were granted the entry into Paradise for having led a life of purity.

Briefly put, the Qur’an prepares man for attaining salvation both in this world and the next through obedience to the Divine commandments


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The Qur'an’s style of presentation....?.

The Qur'an contains within itself the words of the Lord Creator. Mankind is the subject of its exhortation and address. It is not the discursive style of the other ordinary books which the Qur'an adopts. The style the Qur'an does adopt is not merely the assertive style of scientific books or the discursive style of the history books or the expressive style of the books of literature. However, the Qur'an does accept all of these styles. The Qur'an does not assert the required point by elaborating on the branches and sub-branches of a selected central topic. The Qur'an’s has not been a method in which the subject is first determined on the foundations of which is then divided the various chapters and sub-tittles. It is in a very haphazard manner that a varied assortment of subjects are dealt within its pages.

It can be safely said that the style of the Qur'an is one by which it successfully communicates with those who are being addressed by it. The Qur'an teaches man the path of salvation. To that end, it does employ the lessons of science and history. Glad tidings as well as stern warnings - both find their way in between its other verses. It convinces one of the reward which is to be had in following the true path and of the dire consequences that ensue from going against it. It calls for man’s recognition of the truth of its message by way of his casting his eyes over his surroundings and of employing the faculties of his intelligence and reasoning. It is in an entirely mixed form that all of these injunctions have come together. It is in the interest of those who are addressed that the Lord Himself has adopted this style. Indeed, this style has proved effective in making its appeal felt within the human society which consists of both the intellectuals as well as the ordinary people. To approach the Qur'an as one would a book of science or history, without proper appreciation of this special and particular style, would be to do little justice to the satisfactory comprehension of its contents.


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On the wordings and chapters of the Qur'an...?

The Qur'an consists of 114 chapters. A chapter is called a Surah. Each chapter has been given a different name. The first wordings of certain chapters have been used to name the chapter itself. Other surahs derive their name from a particular reference somewhere in its middle portion. There are yet other surahs which are named after the main theme therein. Some other surahs have names which highlight the basic issue discussed in them.

There is also much difference in the size of each surah. Indeed, there are surahs which vary in length from three small verses to lengthy surahs which have nearly three hundred.

Each verse of the surahs is called an aayath. In the length of the aayaths, too, there exists much disparity. The aayaths range from very short ones, which comprise a combination of a few sounds, to very lengthy ones indeed. Many aayaths are in themselves complete words. Then there are other aayaths which form full sentences only if put together. Similarly, there are aayaths which are a combination of complete words. The structure and length of the aayaths have all been decided by God Almighty Himself.

 


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What are the evidences in favour of the Qur'an being a Divine Sripture?

Given below is a list of some of the evidences in support of the Divine nature of the Qur'an:

      1. It , itself, declares that it is a Divine Scripture

      2. It remains unchanged upto the Last Day.

      3. The path of right conduct that it prescribes is faultless.

      4. It is practicable.

      5. The history that it teaches is unadulterated and honest.

      6. Its literature is incomparable.

      7. The prophecies made in it can be seen to have come true.

      8. The references in it to the varied phenomena of nature, as representing the signs of God, are free of controversies.

      9. There is no reference, whatsoever, of an unscientific nature in it.

      10. It is free of all contradictions.

     11. None has been able to face the challenge it poses when it calls forth all, and any, to produce an equivalent of at least one of its chapters.

      12. The person who was appointed with it in the world was himself of a truthful and selfless nature.


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