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Qur'an: The Final Book on Religion
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

The Qur’an is the last and final and not the first book of the religion it presents. The history of this religion is that when God created man on this earth, the basic realities of religion were ingrained in his nature. He was then communicated the following facts through his earliest ancestor Adam:

Firstly, he has a creator who has created him; He alone is his Lord, and as a natural corollary to this, He alone should be worshipped by him.

Secondly, he has been sent in this world to be tried and tested, and, for this, he has been given a clear awareness of good and evil; he has not only been given the freedom to exercise his will, he has also been given sovereignty on this earth. This trial of his will continue till his death. If he is successful in this trial, he will be given the Kingdom of Heaven where he will be free from the regrets of the past and the fears of the future.

Thirdly, the Almighty, at various times, will keep sending His guidance according to man’s needs. If he obeys this guidance, he will not go astray, and if he evades it, he will be eternally doomed in the Hereafter.

Consequently, the Almighty fulfilled His promise and provided guidance to mankind by selecting people from among them and through them delivered His guidance to mankind. This guidance contained both al-hikmah and al-shari’ah. The former obviously did not require any change, while the latter was revealed as per the needs of a people until the time of Abraham (sws) when its directives crystallized in the form of a sunnah for all mankind. In the time of Moses (sws), when a formal state of the Israelites had been established, the Torah was revealed and directives of the shari’ah regarding the collectivity were also revealed. During this time, when certain aspects of hikmah did not remain before the eyes of people, they were made evident to them through the Psalms and Gospels. When the original texts of these scriptures became extinct, the Almighty sent the last of His messengers and gave him the Qur’an:

وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمُهَيْمِنًا عَلَيْهِ فَاحْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءهُمْ عَمَّا جَاءكَ مِنَ الْحَقِّ لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَجَعَلَكُمْ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَـكِن لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَآ آتَاكُم فَاسْتَبِقُوا الخَيْرَاتِ إِلَى الله مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ  (٥: ٤٨)

And [O Prophet!] We have revealed to you the Book with the truth in confirmation of the shari’ah before it, and standing as a guardian over it. Therefore give judgement among these [People of the Book] according to the guidance revealed by God and do not yield to their whims by swerving from the truth revealed to you. For each of you, we have ordained a shari’ah and assigned a path, and had God pleased, He could have made of you one community: but it is His wish to try you by that which He has bestowed upon you. So, compete with each other in good deeds. To God shall you all return. Then He shall disclose upon you all your differences. (5:48)

This is the history of religion. Consequently, keeping it in consideration, the following precede the Qur’an:

i. Innate Guidance

ii. The Sunan of Abraham (sws)

iii. The Scriptures of the Prophets

The first of the above mentioned things relate to the basics of faith and morality. In the terminology of the Qur’an, a major portion of this is called ma’ruf and munkar. The former refers to things which are regarded to be good by human nature and the latter refers to things which are regarded to be evil by it and which it evades. The Qur’an does not give a comprehensive list of these things; on the other hand, it says that a person is innately aware of these and is able to fully distinguish the two on this basis. It thus demands that a person accept ma’ruf and shun munkar:

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ  نهَِي عَنِ المُنْكَر (٧١:٩)

And true believers, both men and women, are friends to one another. They urge one another to what is good and forbid what is evil; (9:71)

If there arises a difference of opinion in determining the ma’ruf or the munkar, then the inclination of the progeny of Abraham (sws) shall be regarded as decisive in that particular matter. The reason for this is that for the past many centuries, prophets were sent to them and it is as if their inclination of the ma’ruf and the munkar has been ratified by the prophets.

The second of the above mentioned things is called by the Qur’an as millat-i ibrahimi. The prayer, the fast, the hajj and the zakah are all directives of this millat-i ibrahimi. The addressees of the Qur’an were fully aware of them and to a great extent practiced them the way they were. In the narrative which depicts Abu Dharr’s (rta) acceptance of faith, he explicitly says that he would diligently offer the prayer even before Muhammad (sws) had declared his Prophethood.1 It is known that the Friday prayer was not unknown to the addressees of the Qur’an.2 They would offer the funeral prayer3 and would fast in the very manner we fast today.4 Zakah too was known to them as a specific share in their wealth the way it is now.5 Regarding the worship rituals of hajj and ‘umrah, every knowledgeable person knows that though the Quraysh had added some religious innovations to them, the rites of these worship rituals which they offered were virtually the same as they are today. In fact, it is evident from certain narratives that people were even aware of these innovations. Consequently, there is a narrative in Bukhari that the hajj offered by Muhammad (sws) before his prophethood was offered without these innovations of the Quraysh in the very manner it was offered ever since the time of Abraham (sws).6

Same is the case with animal sacrifice, i‘tikaf, circumcision besides some other customs and etiquette of Islam. All these things were already known and specified and the Arabs were aware of them as age old traditions transferred by one generation to another. Thus there was no need for the Qur’an to give their details. They fully knew what the Arabic words which referred to them meant. If the Qur’an asked them to pray and to fast and to offer the hajj and to pay zakah, they fully knew what these terms meant. The Qur’an never gave them the first directive about these. It only reformed and revived them and explained some aspect – and that too to the extent of what was essential. All this tradition of the religion of Abraham (sws), which in religious parlance is called Sunnah, is regarded by the Qur’an as the religion of God, and it asks of its followers to fully adopt it:

ثُمَّ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ أَنِ اتَّبِعْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ (١٢٣:١٦)

Then We revealed to you to follow the ways of Abraham, who was true in faith and was not among the polytheists. (16:123)

The third of these are the divine scriptures which are present in the Bible in the form of the Torah, the Gospels and the Psalms. Their recipients have lost parts of them to posterity and have also been guilty of modifications in them. However, still a rich treasure of the shari’ah and hikmah revealed by the Almighty is present in them in its vintage divine style. Students of the Qur’an know that it has referred to them at various places, has made concise allusions to the prophetic tales mentioned in them and has negated the modifications of the Jews and the Christians and criticized the history presented in them. The Qur’an has based its itmam al-hujjah (communicating the truth to the extent that nobody denies it) on these very scriptures and it unequivocally declares that its fountainhead and origin is the same as these scriptures:

نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ مُصَدِّقاً لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَأَنزَلَ التَّوْرَاةَ وَالإِنجِيلَ  مِن قَبْلُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَأَنزَلَ الْفُرْقَانَ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ بِآيَاتِ اللّهِ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَاللّهُ عَزِيزٌ ذُو انتِقَامٍ (٣: ٣-٤)

[O Prophet!], He has revealed to you the Book with the truth, in confirmation of the scriptures which preceded it; and before this He has already revealed the Torah and the Gospel for the guidance of mankind, and [after them] revealed this furqan. Indeed, those that deny God’s revelations shall be sternly punished; God is mighty and capable of retribution. (3:3-4)

 إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِن بَعْدِهِ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإْسْحَقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالأَسْبَاطِ وَعِيسَى وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَارُونَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا (١٦٣:٤)

O Prophet (sws)! We have sent revelations to you as We sent revelations to Noah and to the prophets who came after him, and as We sent revelations to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and his progeny and to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, Solomon, and We gave the Psalms to David. (4:163)

It is because of this background of the Qur’an that certain things should be accepted as a principle in interpreting the Qur’an.

Firstly, this religion stands completed with the awareness of good and evil which is found in human nature and which the Qur’an calls ma’ruf (good) and munkar (evil). This ma’ruf and munkar precede the directives and prohibitions of the shari’ah which are prescribed in the Qur’an, and are the foundations on which the latter stand. Any concept of the shari’ah which is devoid of the good and evil found in human nature will definitely be defective and against the purport of the Qur’an.

Secondly, the Sunnah does not succeed the Qur’an; it precedes it historically. Hence it shall be derived from the consensus and perpetual adherence of the ummah to it. They shall not be derived from the Qur’an the way some scholars of contemporary times have done so, and in this manner grossly misinterpreted the Qur’an.

Thirdly, in order to understand styles peculiar to divine literature, the history of the Jews and the Christians and accounts of the Israelite prophets and the allusions of the Qur’an to other similar topics as well as the details of facts it briefly refers to, the real source are the previous scriptures. They shall be regarded as the basis of debate and discussion. In this regard, the narratives which have been recorded in various exegeses of the Qur’an and which are mostly based on hearsay shall be disregarded. These narratives cannot be a substitute to the light which ancient scriptures caste on these subjects and the way the words of the Qur’an accept these details or bring to surface the real facts about certain aspects mentioned in them. Such narratives neither satisfy the intellect of the students of the Qur’an nor prove of any worth as an argument for the People of the Book. 

(Translated from Ghamidi’s Mizan by Shehzad Saleem)










1. Muslim, No: 2473.

2. Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-‘Arab, 1st ed., vol. 2 (Beirut: Dar Sadir, 1400 AH), 359.

3. Jawad ‘Ali, al-Mufassal fi Tarikh al-‘Arab qabl al-Islam, 2nd ed., vol. 6 (Beirut: Dar al-‘Ilm Li al-Malayin, 1986), 338.

4. Ibid., 344.

5. The Qur’an, 70:24.

6. Bukhari, No: 1581.

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