The following discussion has been taken from the Discussion
Forums of Studying Islam (http://www.studying-islam.org),
one of our sister sites. While Jhangeer Hanif is the moderator of this
discussion, Siddiq Bukhari has compiled it for publication in the journal
Jhangeer Hanif: Why do humans
need divine guidance? Even the atheists or the agnostics profess morality and
faith. What does then the divine guidance contributes to the intellectual and
spiritual aspect of human life?
kaz5sam: In the module one of
“Revelation of Qur’an” under the heading of “Need for a Final Revelation” it has
been stated that “Originals did not survive”. None of the previous Divine Books
survived in their original form and language. Only translations existed.
Can I ask for a clarification because
Bible is present in Hebrew, whilst we believe not in its original form but
language? So does this statement sound correct?
Khan: I have studied
“Revelation of Qur’an” course last year and found its design interesting and
different than I thought.
Checking from the notes I made and what I understood, I find that one of the
reasons for need for final revelation was that originals of previous revelations
did not survive; only translations did.
What you mentioned about Hebrew is true
but then whatever was left in Hebrew was not original, it was all altered.
Besides, the Bible was initiated 40 years after Jesus
(sws) was raised, therefore, even if some parts of Hebrew survived, we do not
expect them to be necessarily a part of revelation. This is as per my humble
understanding explanation of the point that you raised.
Jhangeer Hanif: The fact that the
Holy Qur’an was revealed is because the earlier scriptures were not preserved in
their original form. The Last Book makes several allusions to the changes which
were incorporated in the previous divine scriptures. Therefore, I do not believe
that the Torah or Injil are preserved as such. What I do not accede is that
these scriptures are completely devoid of haq (truth). We should appreciate that
the Holy Qur’an has only pointed out only some major mistakes in the previous
scriptures; and it also repeals only some part of the previous shari‘ah.
Otherwise, it relies on the concept/practices instituted among the previous
Hischam Khan: As I understand it,
we do not have a Gospel from Jesus (sws). This means that we do not even have
the revelation given to him. Not at all; whether in Aramaic, Hebrew, or Greek!
What we do have are collections made by people (I don’t know what you would like
to call them; perhaps “historians”) many decades after the Christ (sws). These
are collections of the events that were supposed to have taken place, which also
included reports of his sayings (by the way; his sayings make up only about 10%
of the New Testament). These sayings are not quoting him but are the narrators’
own words that explain what Jesus (sws) might have said. The following are two
ways in which this is noticeable:
1) The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and
John) give accounts of the same events and sayings of Jesus (sws) but with
2) The words in the Gospels are believed
to have been written in Greek by the writers whereas Jesus (sws) spoke Aramaic
(meaning that they are only translations)
If the Gospel writers refer to the same
sayings of Jesus (sws) but not with the exact same words, then this clearly
indicates that just like the ahadith they are words ascribed to Jesus (sws) as
understood by the narrators. We are not told who narrated these reports to the
collectors (the authors of the Gospels) which is a disadvantage. Now that they
are also translated, it puts them even further from being his actual words. In
short, they are words ascribed to him and translated. So this I hope will
suffice to clarify that we do not have the original revelation of God to Jesus (sws)
at all. However, we may have the message of God in certain places among the
Gospels. In my opinion, it would be a far stretch to say that they contain the
words of God since they clearly are not; they are only interpretations and
translations of those words. Nevertheless, these can still contain valuable
The Christian addressees of the Prophet
Muhammad (sws) had, as I understand it, a different book to the general
Christians. They had an Aramaic Gospel which is sometimes referred to as “the
Gospel according to the Hebrews”. This Gospel, since it is in Aramaic could
contain words of the original revelation given to Jesus (sws) which the Qur’an
seems to refer to. However, they too seem to have contained errors, additions
and deletions by humans etc. It is unfortunate that we do not have this Gospel
As for there being writings in Hebrew,
some authorities claimed that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in
Hebrew but contemporary scholars deny this. The Old Testament is in Hebrew but
is very far from being the words revealed to the Prophets to whom they are
ascribed. For instance, the first five Books known as the Pentateuch (in Greek)
or the Torah (in Hebrew) are ascribed to Moses (sws). But scholar’s nowadays are
agreed that the actual writers of these Books are “unknown”. See the “Revised
Standard version of the Bible” as an example. Furthermore, a study of the dates
of the Books and when they were written shows that it was long passed the time
of Moses (sws); many hundreds of years in fact. So, we may have books ascribed
to prophets in Hebrew, but not from the time that they were revealed and we know
that over time languages change. Thus, although both are in the same language
(i.e. Hebrew), I would imagine that the original revelation given to Moses (sws)
would have been quite a bit different. It would be a bit like the Arabic in the
time of the Prophet (sws) compared to the Arabic of today. Nonetheless, even if
the language of both was totally the same, it wouldn’t make much of a difference
as it would still not be the original revelation.
Coming back to the original question of
this thread my answer is as under:
Divine Guidance serves as reminders of
the “faith” and “morality” that every person should indeed have in them.
Sometimes, we lose touch of these, maybe due to our environment and emotions
taking control. For example, belief in One God that is Omnipotent, Omniscient
and Benevolent is seen according to Islam as part of man’s inherent knowledge.
However, the environment in which he lives can cause him to deviate from this.
The same goes for “faith” and “morality” which any person should have. Our
emotions and biases can sometimes obscure our reasoning faculty which would
normally stop us from committing indecencies (immorality) and thus, revelation
serves as a vehicle that brings us back to the straight path. Better still, it
reminds us before it’s too late. Thus, when all else fails to convince us to do
well (e.g. if our inner goodness fails) then revelation is there to remind us.
It is no wonder then that the Qur’an is called “The Reminder”. It reminds us of
our inner nature and then also develops on it.