The Qur’an and Revelation

REVELATION AND SCRIPTURE BEFORE THE QUR’AN

God’s Communication with Man

God communicated with man. This is the key concept of revelation upon which all religious belief – if more than a mere philosophical attempt to explain man’s relationship with the great ‘unknown’, the ‘wholly other’ – is founded. There is no religious belief, however remote it may be in time or concept from the clear teachings of Islam, which can do without or has attempted to do without God’s communication with man.

Man denies God

God’s communication with man has always accompanied him, from the earliest period of his appearance on this planet, and throughout the ages until today. Men have often denied the communication from God or attributed it to something other than its true source and origin. More recently some have begun to deny God altogether, or to explain away man’s preoccupation with God and the communication from Him as a preoccupation with delusion and fantasy. Yet even such people do not doubt that the preoccupation of man with God’s communication is as old as man himself. Their reasoning is, they claim, based on material evidence. Following this line of thought they feel that they should deny God’s existence, – but are at the same time compelled to concede the point- for material evidence is abundant- that man has ever been pre- occupied with thinking about God and the concept of God’s communication with man.

Empiricism and Realism

Their general approach – to emphasize material evidence – in the search for reality and truth, is surely commendable. Not only empiricist philosophy but also commonsense tell us that one should accept as real and existent what can be grasped empirically, that is, by direct experience, by seeing, hearing, touching and so on. While there may be in other systems of thought, other criteria for the evaluation of reality, at present it is a materialistic philosophy that rules the day, and though many people (especially the ‘religious’ type) are saddened by this and wish back the ‘old days of idealism and rule of the creed’, I personally think that we have to accept the present state of affairs – not as ideal and unchangeable, but as our point of departure – and moreover that doing so is of some advantage to us.

Creation is Material Evidence for God

Many now accept empiricism as their guiding principles and God gives ample evidence, material evidence, capable of verification by all empiricists, for His being and existence. The wide earth, the whole universe of creation, are evidence, material evidence, for God. No empiricist would deny that the earth and the universe do exist. It is only that he does not always perceive them as ‘creation’, for then he would have to argue from the material evidence that he has to a mighty and puissant cause, to reason and purpose behind it. Such an argument would by no means be in contradiction with his empiricist, rational and scientific line of thought, rather in perfect agreement with it.

Man’s Pride

I do not wish to discuss here in any detail why then, despite this, man denies God and disregards His communication with man. Suffice to say that the cause must be seen in man’s self-perception, his arrogance and false pride. Having discovered that he and his kind constitute the peak of ‘creation’, he thinks himself autonomous, self-dependent, absolutely free and fully equipped to be master of the universe. Somehow, this self-perception too has been with man from his early days. He has always thought himself better than anything else. (1)

Guidance for Man

Muslims, referring to the Holy Qur’an, also conclude that from the beginning of his life on earth, man has received communication from God, to guide him and protect him from such self-perception and deceit:

‘We said: Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you guidance from Me, whosoever follows My guidance on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve’ (2:38) (2)

This message and promise has been communicated by God to all mankind, all children of Adam, as the Qur’an explains:

‘O ye children of Adam! Whenever there come to you apostles from amongst you, rehearsing My signs unto you – those who are righteous and mend (their lives) – on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve’ (7:35).

THE MESSENGERS

The guidance from God comes through the apostles or messengers, and they bring with them the scripture from God:

‘We sent before time Our apostles with clear signs and sent down with them the book and the balance (of right and wrong) that men may stand forth in justice …‘ (57:25).

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