Where am I coming from, where will I go? What is the meaning and purpose of my life? What is death like? Is it certain that there is life after death? Do Paradise and Hell exist? What is the origin of life? Where is our Creator? What does the Creator demand from us? How can I discern between right and wrong? Where do I find the answers to these questions?…
For ages, people have sought answers to these crucial questions, given serious thought to them and discussed them thoroughly. Yet, contrary to what is generally believed, in all ages, the most reliable answers to these questions have been provided, not by the philosophers, but by the "true religion" which is the revelation of God.
Many religions have attracted adherents throughout the world-Buddhism, shamanism and paganism to name but a few. However, none of these were the revelation of God. Therefore, they were nothing more than a philosophy or a movement. Some, having merely a symbolic or cultural meaning, provided no social or psychological solutions to problems. Those who developed these religions, too, thought over these crucial questions, yet they could never find reliable answers.
Nevertheless, there are some "righteous religions" which have to be evaluated separately from these false religions. The most important feature of righteous religions, which distinguishes them from false religions, is their origin: they all have their roots in revelation. God informs mankind in the Qur'an about the superiority of the religion of truth over all other religions, philosophies or sociological systems:
It is He Who sent His messenger with guidance and the religion of Truth to exalt it over every other religion, and God suffices as a witness. (Surat al-Fath: 28)
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the religions which have their roots in revelation. Originally, they were all revealed by God, yet after their respective messengers, Christianity and Judaism were corrupted.
Man made countless distortions in the Old and New Testaments-making additions and deletions-and as the original books disappeared in time, various forged Old Testaments and New Testaments appeared. Meanwhile, the originals were completely forgotten. Hence, followers of these religions deviated from the original divine religion, and founded their beliefs, rituals, worshipping and life styles upon a wholly distorted understanding of religion fabricated by clergy and rabbis. Today, these beliefs and interpretations still persist. Thus, these distorted religions are very far from providing answers to the questions mentioned above.
After the distortion of these religions, God revealed the last divine Book, which will remain unchanged until the Day of Judgment, and He will be the One Who will surely guard it against all distortions:
We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). (Surat al-Hijr: 9)
For 14 centuries, the Qur'an has remained unchanged, and free from corruption. Every single letter of the original hand-written copies of the Qur'an has a one-to-one relation to the current copies we have today. In every corner of the world, people read the very same Qur'an, which proves that the Qur'an is kept under the special protection of God.
Throughout history, God communicated His messages, either by His messengers or His books. The Prophet Adam (as), the first man God created on earth, was assigned the same duty by God. In other words, the first people who appeared on earth were fully aware of the existence of God. Then followed many other messengers and books all throughout world history. God recounts this fact in the Qur'an as follows:
Mankind was once a single community. Then God sent out prophets bringing good news and giving warning, and with them He sent down the Book with the truth to decide between people regarding their differences… (Surat al-Baqara: 213)
As is also stressed in the above-mentioned verse, God communicates His messages to man through His messengers and Books. Messengers always warn their people against the Day of Judgment and an eternal Hell, while they also give them the good tidings of an eternal bliss-Paradise. God, the One Who created man, is also the One Who surely knows the proper conditions in which man would feel most comfortable in this world. That is why the life style and moral values God demands from His servants shape a comfortable life on earth, as well as in the hereafter. In brief, by the mercy of God, religion is the system enabling man to attain an ideally structured life, both psychologically and sociologically.
Although bringing different commandments according to the different environments and conditions of the time they were revealed in, divine religions present to man essentially the same beliefs and moral examples. All divine religions convey fundamental facts about the existence of God. They explain the attributes of God, the purpose in the creation of man and all other living beings, how to be a decent servant of God, the ideal attitude and behaviour praised by God, the way to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad, how to conduct one's life to earn God's approval and how to attain Paradise.
From this standpoint, the truly righteous religion in the sight of God is Islam. The basis of all religions revealed to man since the time of Prophet Adam (as), is Islam, which means "submission to God." This fact is stressed as follows:
The religion with God is Islam... (Surah Al 'Imran: 19)
Although righteous religions were attributed to their individual messengers and accordingly called "Judaism" and "Christianity," the religions brought by these messengers were all the same righteous religion. In other words, in their time, they were all an Islam;
…He has selected you and not placed any constraint upon you in the observance of your faith-the religion of your father, Ibrahim. In this, as in former scriptures, He has given you the name of Muslims… (Surat al-Hajj: 78)
Those who received divine books (Christians and Jews), before the Qur'an was revealed, were actually Muslims. This fact is related in the Qur'an in the words of those who had true faith among the Christians and Jews:
Those to whom We gave the Book before this believe in it. When it is recited to them, they say, "We believe in it; it is the truth from our Lord. We were already Muslims long before it came. (Surat al-Qasas: 52-53)
When we refer to the Qur'an again, we see that, all through the ages, every prophet communicated the same fundamental system of worship and beliefs:
- The Prophet Zakarriya (as) that the angels called out to him "while he was standing in prayer" (Surah Al 'Imran: 39)
- The Prophet Shu'ayb (as) that his people called out to him saying, "Shu'ayb, do your prayers instruct you that we should renounce the gods our fathers worshipped or stop doing whatever we want to with our wealth? You are clearly forbearing, and rightly-guided!" (Surah Hud: 87)
The Prophet Isma'il (as) that "He used to enjoin upon his people worship (to do salat) and almsgiving (zakat) and his Lord was pleased with him." (Surah Maryam: 55)
- The Prophets Ishaq (as) and Ya'qub (as) that God "enjoined on them prayer (salat) and charity (zakat) and they worshipped none but Ourself." (Surat al-Anbiya': 73)
- The Prophet Musa (as) and his brother that God revealed His will to them, saying "...make your houses places of worship and conduct prayers (establish salat)…" (Surah Yunus: 87)
- The Prophet 'Isa (as) that he said: "He(God) has made me blessed wherever I go, and directed me to be steadfast in prayer (salat) and give alms (zakat) to the poor as long as I shall live." (Surah Maryam: 31)
- The Prophet Luqman (as) that he addressed his son thus: "My son, be steadfast in prayer (salat) and forbid what is wrong…" (Surah Luqman: 17) and "My son, serve no other deity besides God, for idolatry is a terrible wrong." (Surah Luqman:13)
- Maryam (as) that God commanded her thus:"Maryam, obey your Lord, prostrate yourself and bow down with the worshippers." (Surah Al 'Imran: 43)
These are examples of a few fundamental ways of worshipping and tenets of faith, and they can be further extended since essentially the same righteous religion was revealed to all prophets. The basic and immutable features of this righteous religion are repeated in the following verse:
They were ordered to worship only God, making their religion sincerely His as people of pure, natural belief, and to attend to their prayers (salat) and give alms (zakat)-that is surely the correct religion. (Surat al-Bayyina: 5)
Consequently, the religion with God is Islam. God relates this incontrovertible fact in the Qur'an as follows:
If anyone desires anything other than Islam as a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he will be among the losers. (Surah Al 'Imran: 85)2010-03-07 16:41:41