Many faiths, world views and ideologies exist in the world that we live in. Some of these ideologies are based on belief in God, while others on no God. Many of those who have a system of belief in God claim exclusivity and possessing the truth. In this scenario how is a person to distinguish a true way of life that is based on reality from those that are based on falsehood?
The answer is EVIDENCE. What is the evidence to support the claim that is being made. God has given us the faculties to think and ponder and analyze. This is what distinguishes us from the animals. Thus we must use our brain, our intelligence to judge the evidence on rational and scientific basis, in order to reach the truth.
Quran makes the claim that it is a revelation that God revealed to His last last and final prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Although it acknowledges there were some previous revelations from God bringing down the same basic message, It claims to be the final Word of God to humanity.
[Quran 39:001] The revelation of this Book is from God, the Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom.
This article aims to provide some of the evidences for this claim. So as rational beings, let us analyze these evidences and judge for ourselves.
Makes People think and not blindly believe
Since God has given us a brain to think and made us intelligent being, if any guidance comes from God then it cannot ask the humans to keep their thinking capacity away and blindly believe. A revelation from God containing guidance will ask its readers to make use of the faculty of thinking to distinguish truth from falsehood. This is exactly what the Quran does in numerous places. It asks its readers to think and ponder and reflect on the guidance that has come to them, and analyze the evidence that has been presented to them
[007:184] Do they not reflect? Their companion is not seized with madness: he is but a perspicuous warner.
[030:008] Do they not reflect in their own minds? Not but for just ends and for a term appointed, did God create the heavens and the earth, and all between them: yet are there truly many among men who deny the meeting with their Lord (at the Resurrection)!
[034:046] Say: “I do admonish you on one point: that ye do stand up before God,- (It may be) in pairs, or (it may be) singly,- and reflect (within yourselves): your Companion is not possessed: he is no less than a warner to you, in face of a terrible Penalty.”
[045:013] And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: Behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.
[035:003] O men! Call to mind the grace of God unto you! is there a creator, other than God, to give you sustenance from heaven or earth? There is no god but He: how then are ye deluded away from the Truth?
The Quran goes on to strongly condemn those who do not use their faculty of reasoning and prefer to blindly follow their ancestors without any valid reason
[008:022] For the worst of beasts in the sight of God are the deaf and the dumb,- those who understand not.
[002:170] When it is said to them: “Follow what God hath revealed:” They say: “Nay! we shall follow the ways of our fathers.” What! even though their fathers Were void of wisdom and guidance?
[005:104] When it is said to them: “Come to what God hath revealed; come to the Apostle”: They say: “Enough for us are the ways we found our fathers following.” what! even though their fathers were void of knowledge and guidance?
[002:018] Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path).
[006:050] Say: “can the blind be held equal to the seeing?” Will ye then consider not?
[040:058] Not equal are the blind and those who (clearly) see: Nor are (equal) those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and those who do evil. Little do ye learn by admonition!
Concept of God
The Concept of God as presented in the Quran is completely compatible with the concept that we derive from the scientific evidence for God. To be more specific, we derive from the origin of Universe that the Universe has a transcendent cause, who is Eternal, and outside time and space. This we know from the Big Bang theory, theory of relativity and other rational evidences. Also we know that He is One, as we do not multiply Causal Entities without necessity. That this being is a Wise and intelligent Being as he designed the Universe and Life in it.
This is the exact description in the Quran as well. Unlike many other religions which believe in God being present in every atom and molecule of the creation, Quran clearly describes God as Transcendent Being who is beyond His creation, is eternal and is Wise and Powerful.
[002.117] Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.
[002:209] …then know that God is Exalted in Power, Wise.
112.001 Say, “He is God, [who is] One,
112.002 God, the Eternal Refuge.
112.003 He neither begets nor is born,
112.004 Nor is there to Him any equivalent.”
This has been explained here
Many people make predictions about future happening. Some of them are accurate while some are not. However making a general prediction about something that is going to happen in the future and the Quranic evidence for divine guidance has a very subtle difference.
The Quran, for example, in the chapter titled ‘The Romans’ makes a startling prediction. It says
[030:002] The Romans has been defeated-
[030:003] In a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious-
[030:004] Within a few years. With God is the Decision, in the past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice-
[030:005] With the help of God. He helps whom He will, and He is exalted in might, most merciful.
The Arabic word that has been translated as ‘Within a few years’ is ‘Biđ`I’. It literally means a period of 3 to 9 years or less than 10 years. The Arabic language has a word for single year, two years and a third grammatic form for three to nine years. It is the third form that is used in the Qur’anic verse.
The point here to be noted is that the claim being made here in the name of God is for a very short time, and that too from a man who has no control over the situation as he is not involved in the war. Also it is being made to predict the victory of the losing side of the battle. So if the claim goes on to be not fulfilled, the person claiming to be a prophet of God will be proved to be a liar within his own lifetime. A person who is lying and basing his entire mission on being a messenger from God will not be such a fool to make such a claim. However what we find is that the Muhammad (PBUH) told the people that God has revealed to him that the romans will be victorious against the persians in Biđ`I’ years.
Amazingly, this is exactly what happened. The persians were defeated by the Romans within this time period. The period between the loss of Jerusalem (614–15) by the Romans and their victory at the Battle of Issus (622) was seven years. Refer to ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ by Edward Gibbon and Heraclius’ campaign of 622 (wikipedia)
Complete explanation of Purpose of Life, including the reason of evil and suffering, etc in a manner that appeals to a rational mind.
If God created us, then He must have had a purpose behind it. If that purpose needs to be fulfilled then this needs to be communicated to us. Also we see so much evil and suffering around us. There needs to be a proper explanation of why the world is created in this manner. The Quran gives the rationale behind this type of creation.
[Quran 4:082] Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than God, they would have found within it much contradiction.
Quran was revealed in a period of 23 years, yet does not consider a single contradiction when read in its proper context.
The Quran is comprehensive with regards to Divine guidance to make the society better. It seeks to establish a just society by providing guidance from individual discipline, to family laws, to societal laws, to national laws.
Quran provides guidance to individuals, in whatever position, to be just, even if it is against self-interest. God says
[004:135] O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well- acquainted with all that ye do.
[005:008] O ye who believe! stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.
But the Quran does not stop here, it then goes on to stablish laws for society. The rights and the wrongs, the punishment for law breakers, the rules for governance. All of these put together form the basis of establishing a just society.
The author of the Quran understands the human psychology very well. Therefore it uses all psychological means to discipline the individuals. These include igniting the love of God, and explaining His authority over creation and linking it with obedience to His messenger.
[006:102] That is God, your Lord! there is no god but He, the Creator of all things: then worship ye Him: and He hath power to dispose of all affairs.
[015:086] For verily it is thy Lord who is the Master-Creator, knowing all things.
[039:062] God is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs.
[040:062] Such is God, your Lord, the Creator of all things, there is no god but He: Then how ye are deluded away from the Truth!
[003:031] Say: “If ye do love God, Follow me: God will love you and forgive you your sins: For God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
The Quran reminds people that they will have to make sacrifices in life to live a just life. It reassures them that the doers of good will be rewarded immensely. Since the author of the Quran understands the human desires very well, the rewards promised are not limited to spiritual benefits but include the material benefits which they may have to sacrifice in the world.
[002:025] But give glad tidings to those who believe and work righteousness, that their portion is Gardens, beneath which rivers flow. Every time they are fed with fruits therefrom, they say: “Why, this is what we were fed with before,”for they are given things in similitude; and they have therein companions pure (and holy); and they abide therein (for ever).
[003:198] On the other hand, for those who fear their Lord, are Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath; therein are they to dwell (for ever),- a gift from the presence of God; and that which is in the presence of God is the best (bliss) for the righteous.
[004:057] But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, We shall soon admit to Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath,- their eternal home: Therein shall they have companions pure and holy: We shall admit them to shades, cool and ever deepening.
[018:031] For them will be Gardens of Eternity; beneath them rivers will flow; they will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade: They will recline therein on raised thrones. How good the recompense! How beautiful a couch to recline on!
[036.057] For them therein is fruit, and for them is whatever they request [or wish]
As for those who would still not obey, there is a threat of harsh punishment. The punishments described are deliberately kept harsh as God wants people to obey.
[002:039] “But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein.”
[004:010] Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a Fire into their own bodies: They will soon be enduring a Blazing Fire!
[046:020] And on the Day that the Unbelievers will be placed before the Fire, (It will be said to them): “Ye received your good things in the life of the world, and ye took your pleasure out of them: but today shall ye be recompensed with a Penalty of humiliation: for that ye were arrogant on earth without just cause, and that ye (ever) transgressed.”
Quran addresses different people in different times. Its Multi-Layered. Especially when it talks about verses that God wants you to think about, like man, life and the Universe. The purpose of these verses is establish the authority of God and make people submit to His will. There is not a single verse of the Quran that contradicts established science. However God, in His divine wisdom, has used such specific Arabic words that have multiple meaning so that it can address people of different times resulting in obedience to God.
Let me give you an example. Take the word ‘Alaqa’ used in the Quran to describe embryonic development. This word has five classical and academic meanings.
- Blood in the general sense.
- Blood clot
- Clay that sticks to the hand
- Leech or a Worm
- Something that clings
Now, interestingly, a seventh century Arab, may take its meaning as a blood clot, because when you look at dissections and abortions, it looks bloody. This was in line with Greek Physicians like Galen, who referred to it as a blood filled fleshy thing. So God used a word that addressed the mentality of the time, so a person reflects on it and realizes that God formed him from it and therefore deserves to be worshipped. That is the point of these verses.
When we fast-forward to the twentieth century, when we invented the microscope. We now have the capacity to look at the embryo around day 20 to 30, and we found that it looks like a leech. So today we can reflect on the verse and realizes that God formed him from it and therefore deserves to be worshipped.
The verse can also have a non-scientific meaning. If we reflect on these verses, God might be telling us that like a leech, which is a parasite and drains the resources of its host, we also were doing the same in our mother’s womb. We drained her resources. Its as if God is telling us,lower the wings of humility before your mother because she sacrificed for you willingly. Be compassionate and loving towards her.
Worship of God and not human
There are so many sects, cults, religions, philosophies, and movements in the world, all of which claim to be the right way or the only true path of God How can one determine which one is correct or whether, in fact, all are correct? One method by which the answer can be found is to clear away the superficial differences in the teachings of the various claimants to the ultimate truth, and identifies the central object of worship upon which they call, directly or indirectly. False religions all have in common one basic concept with regard to God they either claim that all men are gods, or that specific men were God, or that nature is God, or that God is a figment of man’s imagination. Thus, it may be stated that the basic message of false religion is that God may be worshipped in the form of His creation. False religions invite man to the worship of creation by calling the creation or some aspect of it God. For example, prophet Jesus invited his followers to worship God, but those who claim to be Jesus’ followers today call people to worship Jesus, claiming that he was God.
If the divine guidance is from God, the Only Creator and Sustainer of the world, then He will not ask some people to worship other people or other parts of His creation. Rather God will command people to direct all their acts of worship and ultimate obedience to Him alone. This is exactly what God does in the Quran
“For we assuredly sent amongst every people a prophet, with the command Worship Me and avoid false deities.” [Qur’an 16:36]
All the prayers, which is the essence of worship, is also to be directed towards Him alone
“And you Lord says: ‘Call on Me and I will answer your (prayer).’” [Qur’an 40:60]
If divine guidance comes from God for all humanity, then it must be flexible enough so that it can be universally applied. For example, a way of life that attaches vegetarianism to virtue and non—vegetarianism as sin, cannot be from God as we know that there are places on earth where vegetarian food is not easily available.
The Quranic laws have the flexibility of universal application.
Not based on a particular man or area
The first thing that one should know and clearly understand about Islam is what the word ‘Islam” itself means. The Arabic word “Islam” means the submission or surrender of one’s will to the only true God. One who submits his will to God is termed in Arabic a “Muslim”. The religion of Islam is not named after a person or a people, nor was it decided by a later generation of man, as in the case of Christianity which was named after Jesus Christ, Buddhism after Gautama Buddha, Confucianism after Confucius, Marxism after Karl Marx, Judaism after the tribe of Judah and Hinduism after the Hindus.
‘Submission to the will of God’ is the religion which was given to Adam, the first man and the first prophet of God, and it was the religion of all the prophets sent by God to mankind. Further its name was chosen by God Himself and clearly mentioned in the final scripture which He revealed to man. In that final revelation, called in Arabic the Qur’an God states the following:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam (submission to God) as your religion.” [Qur’an 5:3]
“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to God), never will it be accepted of Him.” [Qur’an 3:85]
Hence, Islam does not claim to be a new religion brought by Prophet Mohammed into Arabia in the seventh century, but rather to be a re-expression in its final form of the true religion of Almighty God, as it was originally revealed to Adam and subsequent prophets.
Explains past events and origin of other faiths in a general sense
While Islam claims to be the only true religion from God, while presenting its evidences, it also explains the origin of other faiths in a general sense.
If Submission to God (Arabic: Islam) is the Only True Religion, then what about other religions? How did they originate? Are they completely false?
Although some may be completely false arising from people claiming to be holy men or incarnations of god for material benefits, there are others that in their original form had a Devine origin.
God sent down many revelations and Prophets, which contained laws relevant to their times.
“For each period Is a Book (revealed) (Quran 13:38)
To every people (was sent) an apostle: when their apostle comes (before them), the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged [Quran 10:47]
However as time passed, people moved away from the teachings of the prophets. They innovated practices in religion and some even changed the scripture.
But the transgressors changed the word from that which had been given them; so We sent on the transgressors a plague from heaven, for that they infringed (Our command) repeatedly. [2:059]
And so new religions came into existence as people moved away from the True Religion.
When humanity reached the stage to receive the Final Law that will last till eternity God sent down His final revelation, through His final messenger, and since it was to be the final revelation, God preserved it.
We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption) [Quran 15:9]
However, even though people corrupted the earlier scriptures, God saw to it that the relevant information, of Oneness of God and prophecies of His last messenger remains in some of these scripture, so that people can arrive at the truth.
Encourages Scientific method of discovery
We know as a scientific fact that The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best overall setting for making scientific discoveries. Those things that make the planet habitable also make that planet the best place for making scientific discoveries. (refer to the booklet ‘Faith & Reason’ by Rational Thinkers Café, available with us).
This being the case, its obvious that the One who created the Universe wanted us to make discoveries. Therefore when the Creator reveals guidance it is expected that He will encourage discovery and scientific reasoning. This is exactly what the Quran does. It encourages people to research, discover, examine, reflect, learn, educate and progress.
[040:021] Do they not travel through the earth and see what was the End of those before them?
[088:017] Do they not look at the Camels, how they are made?-
[045:013] And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: Behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.
Recite in the name of your Lord who created –
Created man from a clinging substance.
Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous –
Who taught by the pen –
Taught man that which he knew not. [96:1-5]
Life of the prophet
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) claimed prophet- hood over 1400 years ago. His message was simple:
‘There is none to be worshipped but God and he (Muhammad) was the Messenger of God’.
To test whether this claim is true we must rationally investigate the historical narratives and testimonies concerning the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Once we do this, we will be in a position to come to a balanced conclusion in this regard.
This has been done in this article.
Tools of Interpretation
Since the purpose of revelation is guidance for Humanity, God cannot leave the message to be left to any interpretation that the reader wants. Therefore God has layed down the tools of interpretation inside the Quran itself. Therefore there can only be one correct understanding of all the basic guidance in the Quran.
For example God says
[003.007] It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is unspecific, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]. And no one knows its [true] interpretation except God. But those firm in knowledge say, “We believe in it. All [of it] is from our Lord.” And no one will be reminded except those of understanding.
In this verse God commands the believers to make the precise verses as the foundations to build faith and not argue about the details of unspecific ones.
[004.115] And whoever opposes the Messenger after guidance has become clear to him and follows other than the way of the believers – We will give him what he has taken and drive him into Hell, and evil it is as a destination.
In this verse the Quran emphasizes that the only correct understanding of the Quran is the understanding of the messenger and the believers with him (his companions). It is not permissible to interpret Quran in any other way.
Has the capacity to bring change in society as historically evident
Sixth Century pre-Islamic arabia was a barbaric, tribal, polytheistic unjust society. The revelation of the Quran started when the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was 40 Years old. The prophet passed away at the age of 53 years. In this period of only 23 years, the complete Arabian Peninsula was transformed. Polytheism and idolatry was removed and Monotheism was established. The arabs left the tribal culture and were mostly united under a single ruler. System of justice based on Quranic law was established. Progress in various fields. Including science and education was encouraged. The evil practices like burying of the girl child, exploiting the poor, etc were abolished. This is the effect that Quran had on the arabs.
Belief in the Unseen and not the irrational
Science has progressed a lot in the last few years. We have discovered a lot of things that were unknown to us about a few hundred years ago. These include living creatures like the virus, bacteria, etc. However we still have a long way to go.
The Quran informs us of many unknown things, which include places as well as living creatures. These include the ‘seven heavens’, the angels, the ‘jinns’ (which literally means unseen, not to be confused with aladin and jinn stories, which are a work of fiction). We are informed about them as they can have influence on us physically as well as spiritually. Ofcouse we are also informed that no harm can come about except by the permission of God and so we need not fear them but fear God alone. Therefore any paranormal activity we may experience are a result of these creatures that we cannot perceive through our senses and not out of thin air.
God also informs us that the ‘miracles’ performed by prophets as evidence for their people were a result of direct intervention of God Himself in His creation and that no human possesses any supernatural power.
When we combine all of the evidences above we realize that the Quran is factual in its statements as it does not contradict reality. It rationally explains our world. It is a perfect guidance that we humans are in need of. This should lead a rational mind to no other conclusion except that the Quran has divine origins and that it is the Word of God. In conclusion I would like to end with the following verse
[010:108] Say: “O ye men! Now Truth hath reached you from your Lord! those who receive guidance, do so for the good of their own souls; those who stray, do so to their own loss: and I am not (set) over you to arrange your affairs.”