The Qur’an and Revelation

The basic message of all prophets from God, and hence of all scriptures they brought, is one and the same message from God to man:’

‘And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): Serve Allah and shun false gods …’ (16:36).

The Names of the Prophet (s)s and their Number

The Qur’an mentions the following prophets by name: Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Isma’il, Ishaq, Lut, Ya’qub, Yusuf, Musa, Harun, Dawud, Sulaiman, Ilyas, Al-Yasa’, Yunus, Ayyub, Zakariya, Yahya, ‘Isa, Idris, Hud, Dhul Kifl, Shu’aib, Salih, Luqman, Dhul Qarnain, ‘Uzair, Muhammad.

This does not mean, however, that only these have been God’s prophets. Indeed the Qur’an is very clear that the number of prophets is much larger and that to each community from among mankind God has sent His messenger:

‘We did aforetime send apostles before thee: of them there are some whose story We have related to thee and some whose story We have not related to thee …‘ (40:78).

‘To every people (was sent) an apostle …‘ (10: 47).

The Names of the Scriptures and their Number

Just as there have been numerous prophets so there were numerous written records of their messages. The Qur’an mentions the following revelations in particular, which are some- times called sheets or leaves (suhuf) and sometimes book or scripture (kitab):

* The ‘sheets’ (suhuf) of Ibrahim and Musa

* The Torah (Tauraat) of Musa

* The Psalms (Zaboor) of Dawud

* The Gospel (Injeel) of `Isa

* The Qur’an of Muhammad

The Contents of the Former Scriptures

All the teachings contained in the former Scriptures that were meant to be of lasting value and importance are included in the Qur’an. The Qur’an also gives some specific accounts, although selective, of what the pre-Qur’anic scriptures contained and it is worthwhile to look briefly at this material:

A reference to the ‘sheets’ (suhuf) of Ibrahim and Musa:

‘But those will prosper who purify themselves, and glorify the name of their guardian Lord, and (lift their hearts) in prayer. Nay, behold, ye prefer the life of this world; but the Hereafter is better and more enduring’ (87: 14-17). (3)

A reference to the Torah (Tauraat) of Musa:

‘It was We who revealed the law (to Moses): therein was guidance and light …

We ordained therein for them: life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal, but if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity it is an act of atonement for himself and if any fail to judge by (the light of) what God has revealed they are (no better than) wrongdoers‘ (5: 47-8).

A reference to the Psalms (Zaboor) of Dawud:

And verily We have written in the Psalms, after the Reminder: My righteous slaves will inherit the earth‘ (21: 105).

A reference to the Gospel (Injeel) of ‘Isa:

‘Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. Thou (O Muhammad) seest them bowing and falling prostrate (in worship) seeking bounty from Allah and (His) acceptance. The mark of them is on their foreheads from the traces of prostration. Such is their likeness in the Torah and their likeness in the Gospel – like as sown corn that sendeth forth its shoot and strengtheneth it and riseth firm upon its stalk, delighting the sowers – that He may enrage the disbelievers with (the sight of) them. Allah has promised, unto such of them as believe and do good works, forgiveness and immense reward’ (48: 29).

The pre-Qur’anic scriptures, besides carrying the same basic message about Allah, the Master of the worlds, and man, His creation, also brought specific instructions addressed directly to particular communities of people at given points of time in history and in particular circumstances, such as the Jewish or Christian communities. Revelation before the Qur’an, and hence scriptures before it, were in many of their details situation-oriented in nature and therefore confined to their particular frameworks. This also explains the continuity of revelation. With changing circumstances and in different situations new guidance from Allah was required. As long as the revelation and scripture were not completely universal in nature, revelation would not reach its finality.

The Final Revelation

Muhammad was the last messenger from Allah to mankind, and he brought the final revelation from God to man. Therefore the scripture containing this revelation is the last of the Holy Scriptures.

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