RABI-UL-AWWAL / RABI - U - THANI
Volume 17-05 No : 209
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By Dr. Zakir Naik
THE QUR’AN IS NOT LIKE A STORY BOOK:
Unlike other religious scriptures, the Qur’an is unique and distinct from the human pattern of narration. Every religious book (with the sole exception of the Glorious Qur’an) follows a narration style and pattern that is similar to story books. The pattern and style of story books is somewhat like, ‘Once upon a time .… or ‘the fox and the grapes … the wolf and the lamb’, etc.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth”.
“In the beginning, was the word”.
“Now it came to pass”
These are similar to typical story book style: ‘so it happened once upon a time’.
All religious scriptures have a beginning and an end and a human narration style sequence through out the scripture. The narration presents historical facts and events in a chronological order. This is how humans speak and write.
The Qur’an is a unique book. The first few verses of the Qur’an that were revealed are the Divine Command “Read. Read in the Name of Thy Lord Who Created Humankind”. The Qur’an does not start its narration in a story book form. These verses that were first revealed constitute the 96th chapter of the Qur’an.
The first chapter of the Qur’an states:
“In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful.
(All) praise is (due) to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
Most Gracious Most Merciful.
Sovereign of the Day of Recompense.
It is You we worship and You we ask for help. 21
Guide us to the straight path
The way of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those whose have evoked (Your) anger or those who are astray.”
The second chapter of the Qur’an states:
“Alif Laam Meem.
This is the Book; about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who fear Allah.
Who believe in the Unseen, establish prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them.
And who believe in what has been revealed to you, (O Muhammad), and what was revealed before you, and of the hereafter they are certain (in faith).
Those are upon (right) guidance from their Lord and it is those who are successful.
Indeed, those who disbelieve – it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them - they will not believe.
Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing and over their vision is a veil; And for them is a great punishment.”
No other religious book on the earth follows this Divine Pattern and style that is so distinct.
Even the previous revelations from Almighty God are not present with us in their original pristine form in which they were revealed.
The Qur’an is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Arch Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It was memorized by Muhammad (pbuh) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. Not one word of its 114 chapters, Surahs, has been changed over the centuries, so that the Qur'an is in every detail the unique and miraculous text that was revealed to Muhammad (pbuh) fourteen centuries ago.
The Qur’an is the last revealed Word of God. It deals with all the subjects that concern us as human beings: wisdom, doctrine, worship, and law, but its basic theme is the relationship between God and His creatures. At the same time it provides guidelines for a just society, proper human conduct and an equitable economic system.
The Qur’an provides guidance for all humankind. It appeals to your mind as well as to your heart. The Qur’an is addressed to the whole of humankind. The invitation of the Qur’an is not addressed to the people of any particular area, race, tribe, colour or language. The Qur’an always calls upon the "progeny of Adam" or "humankind" to accept Islam. The specific instructions and injunctions are meant for those who have come to believe in Islam, and they are always addressed as "those who believe".
The purpose of the Qur’an is to guide and not to tell stories, tales or history. It encourages its readers to ponder, to think. It covers and includes percepts of belief and conduct, moral directives, legal prescriptions, exhortation, persuasion, advice, commandments and admonition, glad tidings and words of encouragement for those who accept the Truth and undergo sacrifices to upheld it in their lives and who preach it. It provides arguments and evidence to support its message and the beliefs and teachings propounded by it. It also has condemnation of evil-doers, warnings to those who reject the truth, references to past events and civilizations and to signs of God in the Universe as visible to humans.
MUHMMAD (PBHU) CANNOT BE A LIAR AND A CRAZY PERSON AT THE SAME TIME:
A large group of people after doing a lot of research say that, “One thing we known for sure, that man, Muhammad (pbuh) he thought he was a Prophet, he was crazy!” They are convinced that he was somehow deceived. And in the end of the same group will tell you “Because of this evidence, one thing we know for sure, that man, Muhammad (pbuh), was a liar!” (God forbid). They start by telling you the man was crazy or deranged and conclude by saying he was a liar. They never seem to realize a person can never be both, you can either be one of them, crazy or a liar or none of them, never be both crazy and liar at the same time.
If a person is crazy he is of unsound mind and he actually believes that he is a prophet, therefore he need not lie and all his actions and words are unintentional. If a person is a liar, he is usually of sound mind and lies intentionally for certain benefits. Even if a crazy person says something incorrect, you cannot call him a liar because he himself is unaware of the fact. Thus a person cannot be both.
MUHAMMAD (PBUH) CAN NOT BE DELUDED AND A FORGER AT THE SAME TIME:
Similarly another group of people say that the Prophet was deluded and whenever somebody asked him a question, he thought that an angel put words in his ears. Later the same group of people would gather enough evidence to explain that he was a forger. These people fail to realize that a person can either be deluded or a forger or none of the two but he can surely never be both at the same time.
A person who is deluded and thinks he is a prophet, will never hunt for the answer or enquire with other people, when he is asked a question. He will think that an angel will put words in his ears and thus reply immediately irrespective of whether the answer is right or wrong. A forger on the other hand will search for the best possible answer or even copy from other sources to prove that he is not a fake prophet. These critics of the Prophet and of Islam fail to realize that they are going in circles.
If you ask them what the origin of the Qur’an is, they will tell you it came from the imagination of the Prophet’s mind. If you further ask that how can a man get the sort of information, which no one knew before, they will say that some foreigner may have given him the information and he lied that he was the Prophet. On further enquiry that how can a liar have so much confidence, when he mentions things which were unknown with so much accuracy, then again they reply that he was crazy. Thus, they go in circles.
In response to all such criticism and allegations, the creator states and reminds the critics and skeptics thus in the Glorious Qur’an in Surah Al-Aaraf Chapter 7 Verse 184: “Then do they not give thought?
There is in their companion (i.e. Muhammad) no madness.
He is not, but a clear warner”.
In surah Al-Qalam chapter 68 verse 2:
“You are not, (O Muhammad), by the favour of your Lord, a madman”.
In surah Al-Taqweer chapter 81 verse 22:
“And your companion (i.e. Muhammad) is not (at all) mad.”
MUHAMMAD (PBUH) SUFFERED FROM MYTHOMANIA:
Another people of group come up with a theory that Muhammad (pbuh) was suffering from mythomania. This is a psychological disorder in which a person tells lies and then believes in them. The Qur’an talks facts – things that you can go and look and see that they are true, things you can verify. The mythomaniac cannot do this. Facts are a problem for him. Therefore psychologists treat a man suffering from mythomania by confronting him with facts. If a man is mentally ill and says “I am the King of England”, the psychologist does not say to him ‘you are crazy’. The psychologist confronts him with facts:
“You say you are the King of England, please tell me where is your queen?” The mythomaniac tries to make excuses. “The queen has gone to her mother’s house.”
“Where is your Prime Minister?”
“Where are your guards?”
The mythomaniac, due to his inability to deal with facts, is eventually cured if you keep putting enough facts in front of him. Finally he faces the reality and says “I guess I am not the King of England”.
Similarly, the Qur’an approaches its readers by confronting them with facts and thus heals them of their delusions. The Qur’an poses questions: “O human being – you say so and so, but then what about such and such? Do you say this when you know that . . .?” Thus the Qur’an forces you to face reality and thus heals your delusions.
UNKNOWN INFORMATION IN THE QUR’AN:
The Qur’an has a unique way of informing its reader that “you did know this before”. There is no other scripture which I know of that has this unique style. There are ancient writings and scriptures that give a lot of information but they tell you where the information came from. The Qur’an on the other hand says “Here is the information which you did not have before. Check on it, you will see that it is true”. For example see Surah Hud chapter 11 verse 49:
“That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, (O Muhammad). You knew it not, neither you nor your people, before this. So be patient; indeed the (best) outcome is for the righteous.”
Similarly Qur’an says in Surah Yusuf chapter 12 verse 3: “We relate to you, (O Muhammad), the best of stories in what We have revealed to you of this Qur’an, although you were, before it, among the unaware.”
It is interesting that no one ever stood up and said “you are grossly mistaken, O Muhammad (pbuh). I am an Arab like you and I knew about these stories and these facts even before this revelation”.
If Muhammad was ignorant and others were aware of facts and events, it would be a suicidal risk to quote them in such a manner so boldly, challenging the enemies that they were ignorant about it. Yet no one challenged Muhammad (pbuh) about these verses.
THE QUR’AN IS A DECEPTION:
Those who cannot disprove that Qur’an is a revelation, came up with a bright idea that it is a deception. If it is a deception, what is its origin? What does it deceive us about? Wherein lays the deception? But none can point out a single deception. Because there is no deception!
WE MAKE FALSE DECISIONS AND FOOL OURSELVES BY STICKING TO IT:
Some people make a decision without thinking or reasoning. For example ‘I believe this man is my enemy, but I have no reason or proof for my belief. The moment I meet him, I treat him like my enemy. When he finds the way I treat him, he reacts and behaves like my enemy, then I tell myself, that I was right! See he acts like my enemy”. This is a sort of self-fulfilling reinforcement. It reinforces my belief. Here because of my initial wrong belief, I influenced certain things to take place which should not have them placed normally. Based on the things which took place, I falsely convinced myself that I was initially correct. In short we make false decisions and fool ourselves by sticking to them.
REVELATION IS COMPLEMENTED BY REASON:
According to the Qur’an, revelation is complemented by reason. The Qur’an says this is a revelation, as sure as the fact that you can discuss with one another i.e. talk and exchange views between the people. If revelation is superior to reason and logic, then how are we to decide which book that claims to be a revelation is true and which is false? Imam Ghazali rightly said “Faith and Reason should not come in conflict for both are given by Allah.”
THE QUR’AN ENCOURAGES DISCUSSION:
Many Muslims believe that the Qur’an does not encourage any discussion and thus refrain from any talk or conversations concerning Islam or the Qur’an. However the Qur’an encourages discussion and reasoning.
Surah Al-Nahl chapter 16 verse 125 states: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction; and argue with them in a way that is best.”
For most of the questions of doubt that humans can think of in relation to the claims and teachings of the Qur’an, the answers are given in the Qur’an. The Arabic word ‘Qaalu’ which means ‘they say’ is mentioned in the Qur’an 332 times and the Arabic word ‘Qul’ which means ‘say’ is also mentioned 332 times in the Qur’an.
EXHAUSTING THE ALTERNATIVES:
There is an approach that is known as ‘Exhausting the Alternatives’. The Qur’an says that it is a revelation from the Creator of all that exists. If for some reason you do not believe in it, then what is it?
You have to give some explanation. It is paper and ink, where did it come from? It says that it is a revelation. If not then what is its source of origin? Where did it come from? Whatever answers people have given since the time the Qur’an was revealed have all been disproved. Some may say Muhammad (pbuh) was the author, whether for material gains, power, glory, unity of the Arabs or for moral reformation. All these answers fail to prove their points. Some may say he copied the Qur’an from some other source, while other may say that he was a liar and a crazy person. All of these are ideas without a logical explanation. The alternatives have been exhausted.
The Qur’an earns your respect because you cannot disqualify it. The Qur’an gives the answer that it is a revelation from God Almighty. In Surah Al – Jathiyah, chapter 45 verse 1 and 2:
“Ha Meem. The revelation of the book is from Allah, the exalted in Might, the Wise.”
The Glorious Qur’an reconfirms that it is a revelation from Almighty God in several verses:
In Surah Al-Anam chapter 6 verse 19
In Surah Al-Anam chapter 6 verse 72
In Surah Yusuf chapter 12 verse 1 & 2
In Surah Taha chapter 20 verse 113
In Surah Naml chapter 27 verse 6
In Surah Al-Sajdah chapter 32 verse 1-3
In Surah Yasin chapter 36 verse 1-3
In Surah Al-Zumar chapter 39 verse 1
In Surah Ghafir chapter 40 verse 2
In Surah Jathiyah chapter 45 verse 2
In Surah Al-Rahman chapter 55 verse 1-2
In Surah Al-Waqiah chapter 56 verse 77-80
In Surah Al-Insan chapter 76 verse 23
(To be continued)
The author, Dr. Zakir Naik, is a well-known orator and scholar of Comparative Religion. He is the President of the Mumbai-based Islamic Research Foundation. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )
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