By Sister Mary
Some of us have no trouble accepting that God exists, or are open to the possibility that He does. But some of us have difficulty venturing beyond that and reject organized religion because of the notion that religion is man-made. And then there are those of us who have been automatically following a particular faith because we were born into it but have not considered if we are upon the Truth. So how do we know if a particular faith we have chosen is in fact from God and not the product of humans?
This question is one that is crucial to be asked because:-
- If the teachings of a particular religion are the product of humans, then (notwithstanding that it may be attractive, intelligent or otherwise appealing) it will not bring us towards fulfilling the purpose that God has set for us because it is not from Him but merely from His creations, formulated based on their limited human capacity and to serve their personal purpose.
- The time and effort that we spend living by these man-made rules and principles would be wasted because we would have ultimately been barking up the wrong tree.
- If we have conviction that the teachings we are following are from God, our motivation for adherence to the teachings will be to please God and not blind-following without understanding or aimless/empty practices done for the sake of pleasing other people. (How many of us perform certain rituals but have absolutely no idea why it’s done or where it came from?)
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PATH
Let’s assume that several paths lie ahead of us, one of which will lead us to our dream destination. The other paths will take us elsewhere, to places we don’t want to go. And once we reach the destination, there’s no turning back. Some paths may be laden with beautiful gardens along the way, and others may take us through thorny bushes, while some may have a mix of both. Clearly, it would be pointless to choose the path with beautiful gardens if the destination is ultimately wrong, no matter how much fun we have along the way. On the other hand, the path that leads us to our dream destination will be worth taking even if we have to endure some thorny bushes along the way. Ultimately, it’s the destination that matters and our choice should be made based on what gets us to our dream destination and not based on which path looks more attractive, interesting or convenient.
How then, do we determine if the religion we are following is from God and that it’s the right path that will lead us to the right destination?
THE MAP - SCRIPTURES
Muslims believe that the purpose of life and the map that leads to the right path have been communicated by God to humans throughout human history, beginning from the very first human being that ever lived, Adam. These communications were in the form of revelations made to selected human beings chosen by God, known as Prophets and Messengers. Prophets and Messengers will be discussed in the following lessons, insyaaAllah.
Unlike what many non Muslims may think, Muslims do not believe the Quran to be the only scripture revealed by God. They believe that it is the last and final scripture revealed to mankind, after which there will be no more divine revelations from God, but they also believe in other scriptures sent down by Allah. In fact, belief in all scriptures sent down by God is compulsory for a Muslim.
Muslims uphold and respect the following scriptures:
(i) The Quran itself, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
(ii) The Gospel (Injeel in Arabic) revealed to Prophet Jesus
(iii) The Torah (Tawrah in Arabic) revealed to the Prophet Moses.
(iv) The Psalms (Zaboor in Arabic) of David.
(v) The Scrolls (Suhuf in Arabic) of Moses and Abraham.
as they were originally revealed. Islam affirms that God revealed the Quran as a witness over the previous scriptures and as a confirmation of them, because He says in the Quran:
"And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) the Book (the Quran) in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it and trustworthy in highness and a witness over it (the collection of old scriptures)…" (Quran 5:48)
Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of God revealed to all of mankind as a guidance for them (the map that shows the right path) and that it represents the final communication from God and that the Quran doesn’t denounce, but supercedes, all previous scriptures. A Muslim’s life is dedicated to upholding and implementing the FINAL revelation, the Quran.
How do Muslims know that the Quran is a revelation from God and not man-made? Look out for the next lesson where we will explore the divine origin of the Quran.
[Islam 101 is specially brought to you by sister Mary, Vice President of MRM]