WHY WE EXIST?
THE GRAND DESIGN OF CREATION !
By: Aftab Ahmad Khan
“And We created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, in play.”(Qur’an;44:38). “We shall surely test your steadfastness with fear and famine, with loss of property, life and produce. Give good news to those who endure with patience.” (Qur’an;2:155)
God created the universe and what ever is in it as a part of His Grand Design, He says: “And We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them in vain. That is the opinion of those who disbelieve. And woe unto those who disbelieve, from the Fire!”(Qur’an;:38:27). He is capable of doing anything in the Heavens or in the Earth, because of His perfect knowledge and power: His creation is not dependent on time, or instruments or means, or any conditions whatsoever. Human require some material to make some thing i.e. a carpenter requires tools, wood and other material to make furniture. Allah, Most High creates things out of nothing, He has knowledge of them in pre-eternity, before their creation. Existence waits on His Will, or Plan, or Intention. The moment He wills a thing, it becomes His Word or Command, and the thing forthwith comes into existence. "Indeed His command, when He desires a thing, is only to say to it 'Be' and it is" (Qur’an;36:82). He is free from weariness and weakness, because of His infinite power: "Surely, We created the Heavens and the Earth and all that is between them in six aeons (very long periods), and no weariness touched Us"(Qur’an;50:38).
The Biblical narrative of creation is similar but with some differences; It is more mythological than scientific, undermines the ‘All Mighty, Powerful’ attributes of God by stating: “God rested on 7th day” after creating universe in six days. In brief it is narrated: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis;1:1), He called into being, all things out of nothing. This creative act on the part of God was absolutely free, and for infinitely wise reasons. The cause of all things exists only in the will of God : “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”(Exodus;20:11). “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”(Isaiah;65:17),“Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.” (Isaiah;40:26), “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. (Psalms;104:24). “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”(Hebrews;11:3). The fact that he is the Creator distinguishes Jehovah as the true God (Isaiah;37:16; 40:12-13; 54:5; Psalms;96:5; Jeremiah;10:11-12). The one great end in the work of creation is the manifestation of the glory of the Creator (Colossians;1:16; Revelation;4:11; Romans;11:36). God's works, equally with God's word, are a revelation from him; and between the teachings of the one and those of the other, when rightly understood, there can be no contradiction.
THE GRAND DESIGN :
The creation of the universe and humanity may be understood as a part of His ‘Grand Design’, which is based upon balance, Justice and Mercy. He has granted freedom of choice to the human through guidance, intellect and reason, resulting in individual responsibility and accountability. However He accepts repentance of sinners and forgive them as He has decreed mercy upon Himself but those who die as rebellious disobedient to Him will be punished in hereafter : “To Him you shall all return. Allah's promise is true. He is the One Who originates the process of Creation and repeats it (will bring it back to life) so that He may justly reward (hereafter) those who believed in Him and did righteous deeds. As for those who disbelieved, they shall have boiling fluids to drink and shall undergo a painful punishment because they rejected the truth.”(Qur’an;10:4). “We have created you from the earth, into it We shall return you and from it We shall bring you back to life once again.”(Qur’an;20:55).
Orderly Creation of Universe in Proportion :
It has been described in Qur’an: “Moreover He Comprehended in His design the sky and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come ye together willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together) in willing obedience." (Qur’an;41:11) “Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of Creation) before We clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” (Qur’an;21:30). "Who hath created and further given order and proportion” (Qur’an;87:2). “The One Who created the seven heavens, one above another, you will not see any flaw in the creation of the Compassionate. Look once again, do you see any flaw? Then look still another time, yet again your sight will come back bewildered, and feel exhausted.”(Qur’an;67:3-4). “The One Who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six eons, and is firmly established on the Throne of authority; the Compassionate (Allah): as to His Glory, ask the one who knows.”( Qur’an;25:59). The narrative of creation of universe and humanity is mentioned at Bible (Genesis;Chapters:1-3) with some similarities but it contain many unscientific variations.
Creation Narrative of Qur’an is Based on Scientific Facts not Myths : The Qur’an is the book of guidance not of science, however in the context of creation, its narratives are based on scientific facts not myths. Allah says; “Soon shall We show them Our signs in the universe and in their own selves, until it becomes clear to them that this Qur'an is indeed the truth. Is it not enough that your Lord is a witness over everything?”(Qur’an;41:53). Qur’an speaks about hundreds of things that were not known fourteen hundred year ago, at the time it was revealed; but they have been scientifically proved recently, some of them are referred here: The creation of the universe by ‘The Big (Qur’an;21:30, 41:11). The shape of earth; “And the earth, moreover, hath He made egg shaped.” (Qur’an;79:30). Moon has reflected light and sun has its own light; "And (who) made the moon a light (nur, reflected light) in their midst and made the sun as a (Glorious)Lamp(siraja-own light).(Qur’an;71:16). The Sun Rotates:” It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: All (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.” (Qur’an;21:33). “It is not permitted to the sun to catch up the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: Each (just) swims along in (its own) orbit (according to Law).” (Qur’an;36:40). The other examples are: The sun will extinguish;(Qur’an;36:38,13:2). The expanding nature of universe; (Qur’an;51:47). Atoms can be divided;(Qur’an;10:61). Mountains are like tent pegs firmly fixed providing stability; (Qur’an;78:6-7,21:31,79:32). Darkness in depths of ocean; (Qur’an;24:40). The water cycle;(Qur’an;39:21, 30:24,23:18). Plants & Fruits have male and female; (Qur’an;20:53, 13:3). The bee and its skills; (Qur’an;16:68-69). Lifestyle and communication of ants; (Qur’an;27:17-18). Honey has healing for humankind; (Qur’an;16:69). Creation of man from water;(Qur’an;25:54). Creation of living being;“ We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?” (Qur’an;21:30). Importance of fingerprints: (Qur’an;75:3-4) and the existence of pain receptors in the skin: (Qur’an;4:56). Embryological stages; (Qur’an;23:12-14, 75:37-39,82:7-8). Embryo partly formed and partly unformed; (Qur’an;22:5). First sense of hearing developed then sense of sight; (Qur’an;32:9,23:78). Sex determination factor for child; (Qur’an;53:45-46,75:37-39).
Human Creation, Superiority of Knowledge and Acceptance of Trust:
"Behold thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth " They said "Wilt thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not.”(Qur’an;2:30).; “Behold! thy Lord said to the angels: "I am about to create man from sounding clay from mud molded into shape; "When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit fall ye down in obeisance unto him."(Qur’an;15:28-29); “We have indeed created man in the best stature;”(Qur’an;95:4). "We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains: but they refused to undertake it being afraid thereof: but man undertook it he was indeed unjust and foolish”(Qur’an;33:72). “And He (God) imparted in to Adam the knowledge of the names of all things ; then He placed them before the angels and said: "Tell Me the nature of these if ye are right. "Glory to You," they replied, "we have no knowledge except what You have taught us: in fact You are the One who is perfect in knowledge and wisdom." Allah said: "O Adam! Tell them the names." When Adam told them the names, Allah said: "Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of the heavens and the earth and I know what you reveal and what you conceal?". And when We said to the angels: Make obeisance to Adam, they did obeisance, not so Iblis, he refused and-was haughty and he was of the: rejecters” (Qur’an;2:31-34). “I (Iblis) am better than him (Adam), you created me from fire and created him from clay” (Qur’an;7:12).
"Satan said: Give me respite till the Resurrection Day. Allah said: Be you among those who are given respite. He said: Because You have thrown me out of the way, Iwill certainly lie in wait for them (human) on Your Straight Path. Then will assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left, nor will You find most of them grateful”(Qur’an;7:14-18) . “Then We said: "O Adam! verily this is an enemy to thee and thy wife: so let him not get you both out of the Garden so that thou art landed in misery. "There is therein (enough provision) for thee not to go hungry nor to go naked. Nor to suffer from thirst nor from the sun's heat. But Satan whispered evil to him: he said "O Adam! shall I lead thee to Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that never decays? In the result they both ate of the tree and so their nakedness appeared to them: they began to sew together for their covering leaves from the Garden: thus did Adam disobey His Lord and allow himself to be seduced. But his Lord chose him (for His Grace): He turned to him and gave him guidance. He said: "Get ye down both of you all together from the Garden with enmity one to another; but if as is sure there comes to you guidance from Me whosoever follows My guidance will not lose his way nor fall into misery. But whosoever turns away from My Message verily for him is a life narrowed down and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment." (Qur’an;20:117-124). "Satan’s plan is to incite enmity and hatred among you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and regular prayer. Will you not then abstain?”(Qur’an;5:91). In the first creation, Allah created all the humans spirits: “When thy Lord drew forth from the children of Adam from their loins their descendants and made them testify concerning themselves (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?” They said: "Yea! we do testify!" (This) lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: "of this we were never mindful.” (Qur’an;7:172).
Biblical Account of Creation of Adam: The Biblical account of creation of Adam, though generally similar to Islamic traditions, but with some glaring differences. In the Bible, there are two accounts of their creation. According to the Priestly history of the 5th or 6th century BC (Genesis;1:1-2:4), God on the sixth day of Creation created all the living creatures: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”(Genesis;2:7); “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”(Genesis;1:27) [“We have indeed created man in the best stature;”(Qur’an;95:4)]. God then blessed the couple, told them to be "fruitful and multiply," and gave them dominion over all other living things. According to the lengthier Yahwist narrative of the 10th century BC (Genesis; 2:5-7, 2:15-4:1, 4:25), God, or Yahweh, created Adam at a time when the earth was still void, forming him from the earth's dust and breathing "into his nostrils the breath of life." God then gave Adam the primeval Garden of Eden to tend but, on penalty of death, commanded him not to eat of the fruit of the "tree of knowledge of good and evil." Subsequently, so that Adam would not be alone, God created other animals but, finding these insufficient, put Adam to sleep, took from him a rib, and created a new companion, Eve. The two were persons of innocence until Eve yielded to the temptations of the evil serpent (Islam does not blame eve alone) and Adam joined her in eating the forbidden fruit, whereupon they both recognized their nakedness and donned fig leaves as garments. Immediately, God recognized their transgression and proclaimed their punishments; for the woman, pain in childbirth and subordination to man, and, for the man, relegation to an accursed ground with which he must toil and sweat for his subsistence. (Islam does not subscribe to the award of punishment, rather Adam repented, was forgiven and with eve sent on trial to the earth, where their progeny were doomed to live as enemies; but, being merciful, Allah offered Adamand his progeny eternal guidance if they would follow only him, not Satan.According to Islam, Adam's sin was his sin alone and did not make all men sinners; Adam was responsible for his own actions, as his progeny were for theirs.)
Freedom of Choice Through Guidance, Intellect and Reason:
Allah does not want to force the belief upon human:“If your Lord had so willed, He would have certainly made mankind one single nation but that is not what He wants, so they will continue to differ except those on whom He has bestowed His mercy; (and that very freedom of choice and action is) the whole purpose of their creation. That is how the Word of your Lord, that He will fill Hell with jinns and human beings all together, will be fulfilled.”(Qur’an;11:118-119); “If it had been the will of your Lord that all the people of the world should be believers, all the people of the earth would have believed! Would you then compel mankind against their will to believe? Notwithstanding that no human being can ever attain to faith otherwise than by God’s leave, and (that) it is He who lays the loathsome evil (of disbelief) upon those who will not use their reason?(Qur’an;10:100). “O Muhammad, you will perhaps fret yourself to death with grief because they do not believe. If We wanted, We could send down upon them a sign from the heaven before which they would bend their necks in submission, but that is not what We want.”(Qur’an;26:3-4).Man has been provided with natural inspired guidance and endowed with intellect, so that he can use his reason and freedom of choice: “by the soul and Him Who perfected it and inspired it with knowledge of what is wrong for it and what is right for it: indeed successful will be the one who keeps it pure, and indeed failure will be the one who corrupts it!”(Qur’an;91:7-10)"Who hath ordained laws and granted guidance;” (Qur’an;87:3); “It was not We that wronged them: they wronged their own souls:”(Qur’an;11:101) ;“O Muhammad, declare: "O mankind! The truth has come to you from your Lord! He that follows guidance (Right Way) follows it for his own good, and he that goes astray does so at his own risk; for I am not a custodian over you.”(Qur’an;10:108); “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Qur’an;2:256), "Truth has come and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood by its nature is bound to perish.”(Qur’an;17:81). “This is Paradise; you have inherited it by virtue of your past deeds.”(Qur’an;43:72).
Individual Responsibility, Accountability & Repentance:
God is very fair and Just: “The fact is that Allah does not do injustice to mankind in any way: but men are unjust to their own souls.”(Qur’an;10:44). In Islam there is no concept of original sin or inherited sin, man is born free of sin. Adam (peace be upon him) committed the first sin, repented and forgiven by God: “..thus did Adam disobey His Lord and allow himself to be seduced (by Satan). But his Lord chose him (for His Grace): He turned to him and gave him guidance.”(Qur’an;20:121-122). Qur’an stress upon the individual responsibility of man, however if he repents, Allah is Forgiving, most Merciful: “No bearer of a burden will bear another's burden, and if a heavy laden person cries out for help, none will come forward to share the least of his burden, even though he be a close relative. O Prophet! You can only admonish those who fear their Sustainer - though they cannot see Him - and establish Prayer. He that purifies himself does so for his own good. To Allah is the destination of all.”(Qur’an;35:18, also at Qur’an;17:15 & 6:164). “When those who believe in Our revelations come to you, say: "Peace be upon you. Your Lord has decreed mercy upon Himself. If anyone among you commits evil because of ignorance and thereafter repents and mends his ways; you will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;6:54); “He is the Forgiving, the Loving, (Qur’an;85:14); “If they do not believe you, say: "I am responsible for my actions and you are for yours! You are not accountable for my actions, nor I am responsible for what you do.”(Qur’an;10:41). “Those who desire the life of this world and its splendors, they are given full reward of their deeds therein and shall not be diminished. They are the ones who will have nothing in the hereafter except Hellfire. There they shall come to know that their deeds were fruitless and their actions were worthless.”(Qur’an;11:15-16). “If they do not believe you, say: "I am responsible for my actions and you are for yours! You are not accountable for my actions, nor I am responsible for what you do.”(Qur’an;10:41)
Bible also emphasizes the individual responsibility: “The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.”(Ezekiel;18:20-21). “I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”(Isiah;43:25); “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.”(Jermiah;31:34); “that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”(Jermiah;36:3); “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness;”(Daniel;9:9); “But there is forgiveness with thee, That thou mayest be feared”(Psalms;103:4).
The Vicegerent :
Allah appointed man, as His vicegerent on earth: “It is He Who has made you (human) vicegerent on the earth. Whoever disbelieves, bears the burden of his disbelief; ..”(Qur’an;35:39). Human being enjoys a special high ranking status in the hierarchy of all known creatures. Man occupies this distinguished position because he is gifted with rational faculties and spiritual aspirations as well as powers of action. Man is not a condemned race from birth to death, but a dignified being potentially capable of good and noble achievements. Every person is born Muslim (obedient to God by following His natural laws). Every person is endowed by Allah with spiritual potential and intellectual inclination that can make him a good Muslim Every person's birth takes place according to the will of Allah in realisation of His plans and in submission to His commands. Every person is born free from sin until he commits it by freedom of choice provided to him. When a person reaches the age of maturity and if sane, he become accountable for all his deeds and intentions. There is no inherited sin, No Original Sin, Adam committed the first sin, he prayed to Allah for pardon and Allah pardoned him: “…Adam disobey His Lord and allow himself to be seduced. But his Lord chose him (for His Grace): He turned to him and gave him guidance…”.(Qur’an;20:121-122). People are created equal by the God, there is no superiority for one race over another: “O mankind! We created you from male and female, and made you into nations and tribes that you might get to know one another. Surely the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous. Allah is All-Knowledgeable, All-Aware.(Qur’an;49:13). No one can claim that he is better than others. It is only Allah Who knows who is better, the criterion being the piety and righteousness. The mankind was chosen collectively to be Vicegerents: “.. I will create a vicegerent on earth..”(Qur’an;2:30); Yet some among mankind fall pray to evil, due to their own wrong choice hence, they will suffer the punishment in hereafter.
Purpose of Creation:
The purpose of creation may summed up as, to test the human during limited life span on earth, those who obey Him by their free well and live according to His guidance, will be rewarded for good deeds and those who disobey will be punished in hereafter. It is mentioned in Qur’an: “Our creation of the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them is not a play”(Qur’an;21:16). “He is the One Who gave the sun (source of) its radiant light and the moon its (reflected) light, established her phases that you may learn to compute the years and other such counts (days, weeks, months). Allah created them only to manifest the truth. He has spelled out His revelations for people who want to understand.”( Qur’an;10:5); “The One Who created death and life, so that He may put you to test, to find out which of you is best in deeds: He is the All-Mighty, the All-Forgiving.”(Qur’an;67:2). “We have adorned the earth with all kinds of ornaments to test the people and to see which of them do the best deeds.”(Qur’an;18:7). “Your (non believer transgressor’s) behavior is just like those who have gone before you. They were mightier than you in power and more flourishing in wealth and children. They enjoyed their portion of this worldly life; thus have you enjoyed your portion as did those before you; and you have entered into vain discourses as they did. Consequently their deeds were fruitless in this world and in the Hereafter, and they are the ones who are the losers.”(Qur’an;9:69). “We shall surely test your steadfastness with fear and famine, with loss of property, life and produce. Give good news to those who endure with patience; who, when afflicted with calamity, say: "We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return." Such are the people on whom there are blessings and Mercy from Allah; and they are the ones that are rightly guided.”(Qur’an;2:155-157).“Your God is One God; as for those who do not believe in the hereafter, they have faithless hearts and are puffed up with arrogance.”(Qur’an;16:22). “The parable of this worldly life (which you love so much that you have even become neglectful of Our signs) is like the water which We send down from the sky; it mingles with the soil and produces vegetation which becomes the food for men and animals. Then, at the very time when the crops are ripened and the land looks attractive, the people to whom it belongs think that they are able to cultivate it, and there comes Our scourge upon it, by night or in broad day, and We mow it down thoroughly as if nothing existed there yesterday! Thus do We spell out Our signs for those who are thoughtful.” (Qur’an;10:24).
“Your behavior is just like those who have gone before you. They were mightier than you in power and more flourishing in wealth and children. They enjoyed their portion of this worldly life; thus have you enjoyed your portion as did those before you; and you have entered into vain discourses as they did. Consequently their deeds were fruitless in this world and in the Hereafter, and they are the ones who are the losers.”(Qur’an;9:69).
On their first creation, the humanity affirmed, Allah as the only Lord, which is ingrained in the human conscious (Qur’an;7:172). He sent the man in this world (full of blessings and temptations) temporarily for a trial (Qur’an;20:117-124), “Do you think that you will enter paradise without going through the trial? Allah has not yet tested you to see who among you strive hard for His cause and who show patience for His sake.”(Qur’an;3:142). He appointed him as His vicegerent, granting wisdom and freedom of choice to obey, or disobey by following the evil temptations induced by Satan (Iblis) (Qur’an;35:39). He also sent the messengers and scriptures from time to time to all the communities as reminder and further guidance, (Qur’an;16:63, 10:47 ) prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final, the last messenger (Qur’an;33:40) hence Qur’an, the final book of guidance for the humanity till the Day of Judgment. The final reward for His obedience or disobedience will be in the hereafter. Thus the purpose of life is to obey and worship Allah alone (Qur’an;51:56). Each individual in the posterity of Adam had a separate existence from the time of Adam, and a Covenant was taken from all of them, which is binding accordingly on each individual descendants of the Children of Adam(all humanity), born or unborn, without any limit of time (Qur’an;7:172). Adam's seed carries on the existence of Adam and succeeds to his spiritual heritage. Humanity has been given by Allah certain powers and faculties: “Say: "It is He Who has brought you into being, gave you the faculties of hearing, seeing, feeling and understanding: yet you are seldom thankful.” (Qur’an;67:23). This creates special spiritual obligations which must be discharged faithfully. These obligations may from a legal point of view be considered as arising from implied Covenant, that man must acknowledge that Allah is the Creator, Cherisher, and Sustainer: therefore man acknowledge his duty to Him: when he so testify concerning himself, the obligation is as it were assumed by him; for it follows from his very nature when it is pure and uncorrupted. The latent faculties in man are enough to teach him the distinction between good and evil, to warn him of the dangers that beset his life. But to awaken and stimulate them, a personal appeal is made to each individual through the "still small voice" within him. This in its uncorrupted state acknowledges the truth and, as it were, swears its Covenant with Allah. There is, therefore, no excuse for any individual to say, either (1) that he was unmindful, or (2) that he should not be punished for the sins of his fathers whom he followed blindly, because his punishment (if any) comes from his personal responsibility, because he was granted conscious, wisdom, freedom of choice and guidance through scriptures and messengers of Allah, but he chose to reject the faith and the higher spiritual influences.
He says in Qur’an; "I have created the jinn and humankind only for My worship (yabudun- service)"(Qur’an;51:56). Allah is the source and centre of all power and all goodness, the human progress depends upon putting themselves into accord with His Will. This is His service or worship. Hence the purpose of life is; ‘Willingly Obedience to Allah’. However, the Almighty is not in need of human worship. He did not create human beings out of a need on His part If not a single human worship Allah, it would not diminish His glory in any way, and if all of humankind worship Him, it would not increase His glory in any way. Allah is perfect. He alone exists without any needs. All created beings have needs. Consequently, it is humankind that needs to worship Allah. To understand why human beings need to worship Allah, one must first understand what is meant by ‘yabudun’ it is derived from world ‘abud’’ means ‘slave’ who surrenders to the command of his master or worshiper. The English term 'worship' comes from the Old English “weorthscipe” meaning 'honor.' Consequently, worship in the English language is defined as 'the performance of devotional acts in honor of a deity: According to this meaning, man is instructed to show gratitude to Allah by glorifying Him, In the Qur’an, Allah says; "Glorify the praises of your Lord " (Qur’an;2:185). Worshipping (serving) Allah does not mean we spend our entire lives in constant seclusion and absolute meditation. The true service (worship) to Allah is to live life according to His commands, not to run away from it. Worship is to obey what He desires and refrain from what He forbids. To know Him, to love Him, to obey His commands, like a slave follows commands of his master, implement His laws in every aspect of life, to serve His cause by doing right and shunning evil and to be just to Him, to ourselves and to our fellow human beings. Thus; “Thee (alone) we worship; Thee alone we ask for help.”(Qur’an;2:5). The complete obedience to Allah makes every action performed as per His will as worship, be it doing honest business, looking after destitute, speaking truth, be kind to parents, neighbours and fellow human being so on and so far.
"Say: "My Lord hath commanded justice; and that ye set your whole selves (to him) at every time and place of prayer and call upon him making your devotion sincere as in his sight: such as he created you in the beginning so shall ye return. "(Qur’an;7:29). Faith is a matter of personal conviction, and does not depend on worldly motives. Worship should depend on pure and sincere Faith, but often does not: for motives of worldly gains, ancestral custom, social conventions, imitative instincts, or a lethargic instinct to shirk from enquiring Into the real significance of solemn acts and the motives behind them, reduce a great deal of the world's worship to sin, selfishness, or futility. Symbolic idols may themselves be merely instruments for safeguarding the privileges of a selfish priestly class, or the ambitions, greed, or lust of private individuals. Hence the insistence of Islam and its Prophet on the pure service which include worship and obedience of the One True Allah alone.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) firmly resisted all appeals to worldly motives, because this world's attractions; power, glory, wealth, children, status and all that men scramble for, are but a fleeting show and a trial; thus he stood firm to his Message of eternal Unity: “Let neither their (non believer’s) wealth nor their children dazzle you. Through these Allah wants to punish them in this world and let their souls depart while they are still disbelievers.”(Qur’an;9:85), “Let not the Unbelievers think that Our granting of respite is good for their souls. We grant them respite so that they may add more to their sins. They shall have a disgraceful punishment.”(Qur’an;3:178), “You should know that your wealth and your children are, in fact, a test for you, and that Allah is He with Whom is your mighty reward.”(Qur’an;8:28). The possession or want of them does not indicate a man's real value or position in the coming world, the world which is to endure. Yet they have their uses. They test a man's sterling quality. He who becomes their slave loses rank in the next world. He who uses them if he gets them, and does not fall into despair if he does not get them, shows his true mettle and quality. His conduct proclaims him. “It is He Who has made the earth manageable for you so traverse ye through its tracts and enjoy of the Sustenance which He furnishes: but unto Him is the Resurrection.”(Qur’an;67:15). In describing Allah's gifts and mercies and watchful care in this temporary sojourn of human on this earth, it is made clear that the ultimate end is the Hereafter. The real Beyond, which is the goal, is the life after the Resurrection. If people feel safe on land, it is because Allah has made this earth amenable, manageable and serviceable to them.
The Biblical account of creation of Adam, though generally similar to Islamic traditions, but with some glaring differences. In the Bible, there are two accounts of their creation. According to the Priestly history of the 5th or 6th century BC (Genesis; 1:1-2:4), God on the sixth day of Creation created all the living creatures and, "in his own image," man both "male and female." God then blessed the couple, told them to be "fruitful and multiply," and gave them dominion over all other living things. According to the lengthier Yahwist narrative of the 10th century BC (Genesis; 2:5-7, 2:15-4:1, 4:25), God, or Yahweh, created Adam at a time when the earth was still void, forming him from the earth's dust and breathing "into his nostrils the breath of life." God then gave Adam the primeval Garden of Eden to tend but, on penalty of death, commanded him not to eat of the fruit of the "tree of knowledge of good and evil." Subsequently, so that Adam would not be alone, God created other animals but, finding these insufficient, put Adam to sleep, took from him a rib, and created a new companion, Eve. The two were persons of innocence until Eve yielded to the temptations of the evil serpent and Adam joined her in eating the forbidden fruit, whereupon they both recognized their nakedness and donned fig leaves as garments. Immediately, God recognized their transgression and proclaimed their punishments--for the woman, pain in childbirth and subordination to man, and, for the man, relegation to an accursed ground with which he must toil and sweat for his subsistence.
“And verily We have raised in every nation a messenger, (proclaiming): Serve Allah and shun false gods. Then some of them whom Allah guided, and some of them (there were) upon whom error had just hold….”(Qur’an;16:36).
The guidance has been provided to humanity by Allah through various means like; Natural Guidance, Signs and through His Messengers.
Natural Guidance :
Each individual in the posterity of Adam (all humanity, born or unborn, without any limit of time) had a separate existence from the very beginning and a Covenant was taken from all of them, which is binding accordingly on each individual. “When thy Lord drew forth from the children of Adam from their loins their descendants and made them testify concerning themselves (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?" They said: "Yea! we do testify!" (This) lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: "of this we were never mindful."(Qur’an;7:172). “We had taken a covenant from Adam before, but he forgot. We did not find in him firm determination.”(Qur’an;20:115). Adam's seed carries on the existence of Adam and succeeds to his spiritual heritage, this covenant being part of his nature. Humanity has been given by Allah certain powers and faculties (intellect) whose possession creates on them special spiritual obligations which they must faithfully discharge. “Say: "It is He Who has created you (and made you grow) and made for you the faculties of hearing seeing feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give.”(Qur’an;67:23). The Covenant is completed by human to acknowledge that Allah is the Creator, Cherisher, and Sustainer, therefore they should acknowledge their duty to Him. When people so testify concerning themselves, the obligation is as it were assumed by them; for it follows from their very nature when it is pure and uncorrupted.
Knowledge of right and wrong is ingrained in human nature : “by the soul and Him Who perfected it and inspired it with knowledge of what is wrong for it and what is right for it: indeed successful will be the one who keeps it pure, and indeed failure will be the one who corrupts it!”(Qur’an;91:7-10). “He said: "Our Lord is He Who gave to each (created) thing its form and nature and further gave (it) guidance."”(Qur’an;20:50).“But nay! I call to witness the accusing voice of man’s own conscience (nafs al- lawwaamah)!”(Qur’an;75:2). “Therefore, stand firm in your devotion to the upright faith - the nature made by Allah, (hanefa fitr’ah) the one on which mankind is created - and the laws of Nature ordained by Allah cannot be changed. That is the ‘Standard True Religion’, but most among mankind do not know.”(Qur’an;30:30). The true nature (hanefa fitr’ah), "true" is used in the sense in which it is said, "the magnetic needle is true to the north." Those who have been privileged to receive the Truth should never hesitate or swerve but remain constant, as men who know. As turned out from the creative hand of Allah, man is innocent, pure, true, free, inclined to right and virtue, and endued with true understanding about his own position in the Universe and about Allah's goodness, wisdom, and power. That is his true nature, just as the nature of a lamb is to be gentle and of a horse is to be swift. But man is caught in the meshes of customs, superstitions, selfish desires, and false teaching. This may make him pugnacious, unclean, false, slavish, hankering after what is wrong or forbidden, and deflected from the love of his fellow-men and the pure worship of the One True God. The problem before the Prophets is to cure this crookedness, and to restore human nature to what it should be under the Will of Allah. The "standard True Religion," or the Straight Way is thus contrasted with the various human systems that conflict with each other and call themselves separate "religions" or "sects". Allah's standard Religion is one (Islam), as Allah is One.
The intellectual power of rational thinking and reason, given to human to distinguish between good and evil is further facilitated by the teachings of the great Messengers or teachers sent to every nation. It is mentioned in Qur’an: "…And there never was a people, without a Warner having lived among them (in the past)."(Qur’an;35:24). Where such teachers do not come into personal contact with an individual or a generation, the true meaning of their teaching can be understood by means of the ‘Intellect and Reason’ which Allah has given to every human soul to judge by. It is the failure to follow a man's ‘inner light’ sincerely that leads to his degradation and destruction. And yet, such is the human self-will, who use these faculties for wrong purposes and thus show ingratitude to Allah, resultantly he would find himself among the Companions of the Blazing Fire in hell, but his repentance will then be of no vain, “They will further say: "Had we but listened or used our intelligence we should not (now) be among the Companions of the Blazing Fire!”(Qur’an;67:10). Whoever disbelieves thereafter is therefore changing and altering that primordial nature, and whoever believes and assents is conforming and strengthening it. Abu Huraira, narrated that the Prophet said, "Every child is born with a true faith (i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone) but his parents convert him to Judaism or to Christianity or to Magainism, as an animal delivers a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?" Then Abu Huraira recited the holy verses: "The pure Allah's Islamic nature (true faith i.e. to worship none but Allah Alone), with which He has created human beings." (Qur’an;30:30). (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith, 2.440, Narrated by Ibn Shihab).
Signs and Miracles:
There are numerous signs of existence of Allah; in the heavens and earth, in the alternation of day and night and the natural phenomena, for the people who think and ponder. These event though marvelous but due to routine are not commonly noticed. Miracle is an event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God, operating without the use of means capable of being discerned by the senses, and designed to authenticate the divine commission of a religious teacher and the truth of his message (John;2:18; Mathew;12:38). It is an occurrence at once above nature and above man. It shows the intervention of a power that is not limited by the laws either of matter or of mind, a power interrupting the fixed laws which govern their movements, a supernatural power. The suspension or violation of the laws of nature involved in miracles is nothing more than is constantly taking place around the world. One force counteracts another: vital force keeps the chemical laws of matter in abeyance; and muscular force can control the action of physical force. When a man raises a weight from the ground, the law of gravity is neither suspended nor violated, but counteracted by a stronger force. The same is true as to the healing of lepers by Christ, the stick of Moses turning in to snake, creating safe passage for the Israelites through sea, while destroying the Pharaoh and his army. The simple and grand truth that the universe is not under the exclusive control of physical forces, but that everywhere and always there is above, separate from and superior to all else, an infinite personal will, not superseding, but directing and controlling all physical causes, acting with or without them. God ordinarily effects his purpose through the agency of second causes; but he has the power also of effecting his purpose immediately and without the intervention of second causes, i.e., of invading the fixed order, and thus of working miracles. An atheist or a pantheist must, as a matter of course, deny the possibility of miracles; but to one who believes in all powerful Supreme God, who in his wisdom may see fit to interfere with the ordinary processes of nature, miracles are not impossible, nor are they incredible. Miracles are performed with the power of God: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:”(Acts;2:22); “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.”(John;10:25);“The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.”(John;3:2, also Exodus; 8:19; Act; 14:3; 15:12; 19:11). Thus the possibility of miracles is affirmed, the possibility of a higher hand intervening to control or reverse nature's ordinary movements.
Hence miracle is an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of Allah as sign of His existence. The peculiar feature of Muslim theology is that, it did not accept the idea of nature as an entity operating according to fixed laws ordained by the Creator. Because the universe is constantly being re-created by Allah in successive time atoms, natural regularity is nothing but the regularity of Allah's habit in re-creating the universe. Thus, a miracle is the omnipotent Allah's departure from his habit but no different, in principle, from the latter. When people do see a miracle, they are more likely to believe in Allah and worship Him, as He should be worshipped. Therefore, a miracle may be the short cut for making people believe in Allah and implement His law. However, historical facts show otherwise. When miracles were given to earlier prophets, their communities accused them of sorcery and were even more determined to reject the faith preached by those prophets. Allah says: “To Moses We did give nine Clear Signs: ask the Children of Israel: when he came to them Pharaoh said to him: "O Moses! I consider thee indeed to have been worked upon by sorcery!”(Qur’an;17:101); “They said: Moses, have you come to us with your sorcery to drive us out of our land? We will certainly come up with sorcery equal to yours. Fix, then, a date for us to be attended by us and you in a mutually suitable place."(Qur’an;20:57-58). In another statement reported by the Qur'an; “They swear their strongest oaths by Allah that if a miracle (sign) were shown to them, they would indeed believe in this (divine writ). Say: Miracles are in the power of God alone. And for all you know, even if one should be shown to them, they would not believe.”(Qur’an;6:109). Jesus is attributed to have said: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”(Mathew;24:23). Bible mentions that the wonders can also be performed through the power of the devil (2Thessolosions; 2:9; Revelation; 16:14); Wrought in support of false religions (Deuteronomy;13:1-2); By false Christs (Mathew;24:24);By false prophets (Mathew;24:24; Revelation;19:20). The examples of the Witch of Endor (1Sa 28:7-14); Simon Magus (Acts;8:9-11) and Magicians of Egypt ( Exodus; 7:11; 8:7) have bee mentioned, the last event is mentioned in Qur’an; “(Moses was told by God) Throw that which is in thy right hand! It will eat up that which they have made. Lo! that which they have made but a wizards artifice, and a wizard shall not be successful to whatever point (of skill) he may attain”(Qur’an;20:69).
Therefore the miracles are not the answer for people's rejection of the faith. People can be shown the clearest of signs and miracles and yet they continue to deny Allah and His message. But Allah does not give people the challenge of a miracle out of mercy and grace. He has established a rule, which is applicable to all people. According to this rule; when ever a community is shown a miracle through their Messenger on their demand but they continue to disbelieve in Him and His Messenger after He has shown the miracle they asked for, the community will be destroyed forthwith. That is because they actually condemn themselves to destruction by their continued rejection. “Hath not the fame of those before them reached them the folk of Noah, Aad, Thamud, the folk of Abraham, the dwellers of Midian and the disasters (which befell them)? Their messengers (from Allah) came unto them with proofs (of Allah's sovereignty). So Allah surely wronged them not, but they did wrong themselves.”(Qur’an;9:70). After the last Messenger (peace be upon him), rather than putting people to this test, Allah has granted them an extended chance to believe in Him. The means to win them over to faith are already in place. He has provided them perfect guidance embedded in the Qur'an. They need only to approach the Qur'an with clear mind to accept its argument and believe in its message. At any time in man's life there are moments of clear vision. If a person makes use of such a moment, he is sure to accept Allah's guidance and believes in Him.
Miracles are present in the world all around at every moment in life. One need only reflect on what takes place in the universe, in human life, and within himself. Allah says in the Qur'an: “Verily in the heavens and the earth are Signs for those who believe”(Qur’an;45:3).The birth of every child reflect on the process of conception, creation and development of a human being from the moment a female egg is fertilized by a male's sperm to the moment of birth, it continue reflection to encompass man's life in this world. The miraculous aspects are so numerous and clear that one has to acknowledge Allah's works, other aspects of human existence and the existence of the world around. The fine balance, which Allah has created to make sure that the life continues without one side overwhelming the rest, all this is miraculous.
Miraculous signs (mu’jizat) bestowed on the Prophets are established as true, and so too ennobling wonders (karamat) made manifest through the saints (auliya). As for apparently miraculous and wondrous deeds performed by Allah’s enemies, like Iblis, the Pharaoh and the Dajjal, (anti Christ) whatever is mentioned in tradition as having been performed by them in future, is neither miraculous nor wondrous. Rather it is a question of their needs being fulfilled by Allah Most High; this he does in order to lead them toward destruction and to chastise them, but they are deceived. They increase in rebelliousness and unbelief. All of the foregoing is possible and contingent on Allah’s will. Belief in the Messengers of Allah is appreciation of Allah's mercy and care for His people for sending those great messengers to guide them to the straight path. It is reflection of love and respect of the prophets and their praise in what they deserve, because they are Allah's messengers and His choice among His people. They worshipped Allah according to the best of their abilities, conveyed His message to mankind, gave sincere advice to the people, and bore patiently whatever hurt they received. Allah says in Qur’an: “And We refrain from sending the Signs (miracles) only because the men of former generations treated them as false: We sent the She-camel: to the Thamud to open their eyes but they treated her wrongfully: We only send the Signs by way of terror (and warning from evil).”(Qur’an;17:59). It has been the normal practice, that if the people demand the miracle and even after it is performed by the messenger, they decline to believe, then they are entitled for the Divine punishment in the form of destruction either through natural calamities or other means.
Allah due to His Mercy, has bestowed His guidance through revelation on especially chosen men, called Messengers. He revealed His guidance to them so that they could convey and further warn the people: “it is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration of from behind a veil or by the sending of a Messenger to reveal with Allah's permission what Allah wills: for He is Most High Most Wise”(Qur’an;42:51). Three ways are mentioned: (1) Wahyun, Inspiration; (2) from behind a veil; and (3) by the sending of a Messenger, angel Gabriel: “And the angel answering said unto him (Zechariah), I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.”(Luke;1:19, similarly in Qur’anl;3:39); also Daniel; 8:16; 9:21-23; 10:11 & 12:6-7; Isaiah;42:19; Haggai;1:13). It was Gabriel, who announced the birth of Jesus to the Mary(Luke;1:26-35, also Qur’an;3:45). Inspiration, is interpreted to be of two kinds: (1) a suggestion thrown by Allah into the heart or mind of man, by which man understands the substance of the Message, whether it is a command or prohibition, or an explanation of a great truth; and (2) verbal or literal inspiration, by which the actual words of Allah are conveyed in human language. Vision is also an other method (Qur’an;17:60, 48:27), which also mentioned in Bible: “And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.”(Numbers;12:6);“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”(Genesis;15:1);“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,”(Hebrews;1:1). Allah says: “We have sent thee (O’ Muhammad) inspiration as We sent it to Noah and the Messengers after him; We sent inspiration to Abraham Ishmael Isaac Jacob and the Tribes to Jesus Job Jonah Aaron and Solomon and to David We gave the Psalms. Of some Apostles We have already told thee the story; of others We have not; and to Moses Allah spoke direct.”(Qur’an;4:163-164).
It is through these forms that He reveled His scriptures to the Prophets who were sent throughout the history for the guidance of mankind; “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.”(Qur’an;10:47). "Who hath ordained laws. And granted guidance;” (Qur’an;87:3). They were "bringing good tidings and warning, so that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the Messengers. Allah is All-mighty, All-wise" (Qur’an;4:165). The messengers were required to convey the message only, they were not required to force the people: “Obey Allah and obey His messenger; but if ye turn away, then the duty of Our messenger is only to convey (the message) plainly.”(Qur’an;64:12). “O children of Adam! Whenever there come to you Apostles from among you and recite to you My revelations, those who will become righteous and mend their ways will have nothing to fear or to regret;”(Qur’an;7:35). This aspect is further highlighted in Qur’an: "Mankind was one single nation and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings; and with them He sent the Book in truth to judge between people in matters wherein they differed; but the People of the Book (Jews & Christians) after the clear Signs came to them did not differ among themselves except through selfish contumacy. Allah by His Grace guided the believers to the truth concerning that wherein they differed. For Allah guides whom He will to a path that is straight.”(Qur’an;2:213).'Who so shall follow My Guidance, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. But those who will disbelieve and treat Our Signs as lies, they shall be the inmates of the fire and they shall abide therein.” (Qur’an;2:39, 40). There is freedom of choice available to man; as such he can not blame any one but himself for making a choice of evil against truth: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from (way of) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all hearing, all-knowing” (Qur’an;2:256). "If We had so Willed We could certainly have imposed Our guidance upon every soul but (We have not willed it thus-and so, to let them exercise freedom of choice) that word of Mine has come true: “Most certainly will fill hell with jinns as well with humans, all together!”.(Qur’an;32:13). “If We wanted, We could send down upon them a sign from the heaven before which they would bend their necks in submission, but that is not what We want.”(Qur’an;26:4). "And if it were Our Will We could make angels from amongst you succeeding each other on the earth.” (Qur’an;43:60). “to you be your religion (Din), and to me mine.”(Qur’an;109:6). The Qur’an alludes to the inevitability of dissension among human beings: in other worlds, it is the will of God that their way to the truth should be marked by conflicts and trial by error.
(Qur’an is) a message sent down from the Lord of the worlds” (Qur’an;69:40-3). “Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture (Qur’an) unto His slave (Muhammad), and hath not placed therein any crookedness, (But hath made it) straight, to give warning of stern punishment from Him, and to bring unto the believers who do good works the news that theirs will be a fair reward, Wherein they will abide for ever.(Qur’an;18:1-3). "To thee (Muhammad) We sent the Scripture in truth confirming the scripture that came before it and guarding it in safety; so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed and follow not their vain desires diverging from the truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so Willed He would have made you a single people but (His Plan is ) to test you in what He has given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.”(Qur’an;5:48). “Say obey Allah and obey the Apostle: but if ye turn away he is only responsible for the duty placed in him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him ye shall be on right guidance. The Apostle ‘s duty is only to preach the clear (Message).” (Qur’an;24:54). "Verily, this is my path, leading straight, so follow it. And do not follow the (other) paths for they will scatter you about from Allah's path. That is His command to you in order that you may be conscious of Allah.”(Qur’an;6.153). "Surely Allah’s religion is Islam.”(Qur’an;3:19). “Glorify the name of thy Guardian-Lord Most High. Who hath created and further given order and proportion; Who hath ordained laws. And granted guidance.”(Qur’an;87:2-3).
The process of Creation has been summarized by Qur’an: First, He brings the man into being. Secondly, He endows him with forms and faculties exactly suited to what is expected of him, and to the environments in which his life will be cast, giving due order and proportion to everything. Thirdly, He has ordained laws and decrees, by which human can develop themselves and fit into His whole scheme of evolution for all His Creation. He has measured exactly the needs of all, and given instincts and physical predispositions which fit into His decrees. Fourthly, He gives guidance, so that human are not the sport of mechanical laws, they use their intellect for reason and exercise their will, such that may reach the higher destiny of man. Fifthly, the reward for those who made right choice and punishment for those who fell pray to evil.
Surrendered to God: All the Messengers and Prophets of Allah are to be believed by a faithful Muslim, without any discrimination: “Say ye: We believe in Allah and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Isma’il Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord we make no difference between one and another of them and we bow to Allah (in Islam)"(Qur’an;2:136). “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee(Muhammad) and that which We enjoined on Abraham Moses and Jesus: Namely that ye should remain steadfast in Religion and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).”(Qur’an;42:13). All Messengers came with the same message and the same teachings. It came from one and the same source; the One Allah, and It requires the people to submit to His will, worship no one but Him alone, do not associate partners with Him and to obey His law; i.e. to become a Muslim. Later with the passage of time the people misunderstood, misinterpreted and corrupted the Divine message of guidance.
Mortal Humans : Historically there is tendency among the followers of Apostles to exalt the messengers to the level of divinity thus becoming unbelievers (kafir). This has been mainly due to many factors like, ignoring, misunderstanding the teachings of their Messenger, over enthusiasms in the love and affection of the Messenger. The example of Christians is well known, who raised Jesus (peace be upon him), the son of Mary as son of God and then a Divine. Islam dispels this tendency in strictest terms and declare that all messengers were mortals, human beings: “Nor did We give them (messenger) bodies that ate no food nor were they exempt from death.”(Qur’an;21:8). They were endowed with Divine revelations and appointed by Allah to guide their communities in the mankind. They did not possess any divine qualities, however at times they perform miracles (super natural acts) with the grace of Allah as His signs. They were chosen and exalted among the human being as Messenger of Allah, He tells His prophet; “Say: "I am but a human (ana bashar um misl u kum) like yourselves (but) the inspiration has come to me that your Allah is one Allah: whoever expects to meet his Lord let him work righteousness and in the worship of his Lord admit no one as partner."(Qur’an;18:110).Noah told his people : "I do not say to you, 'I possess the treasures of Allah.' I do not know the unseen, and I do not say 'I am an angel"' (Qur’an;11:31). “And they (pagans) say: What sort of an apostle (Muhammad) is this who eats food and walks through the streets? Why has not an angel been sent down to him to give admonition with him?”(Qur’an;25:7). During the battle of Uhad (625 C.E), the Muslims got demoralized and started dispersing in panic on hearing the rumor that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been martyred, God declared: “Muhammad is no more than an Apostle: many were the Apostles that passed away before him. If he died or were slain will ye then turn back on your heels? ..”(Qur’an;3:144). At the time of death (632 C.E) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) some very close companions got furious, Abu Bakar Sidique recited the same verse (Qur’an;3:144) which put them at ease and restored sanity and calmness . Allah directed Muhammad (peace be upon him), who is the last among them, to say: "I do not say to you I possess the treasures of Allah, nor do I know the unseen, and I do not say to you I am an angel" (Qur’an;6:50); and: "I have no power to hurt or benefit you. Say none can protect me from Allah, nor can I find any refuge besides Him"(Qur’an;72:91-2).
Blessed Servants of God: The messengers are among Allah's servants. He blessed them with the message and described them as servants, in the context of praising and honoring them. He says about Noah, the first among them: "You are the descendants of those whom We carried with Noah, he was a truly thankful servant"(Qur’an;17:3). Allah said about the last among them, Muhammad, (peace be upon him): "Blessed be He who sent down the Qur'an to His servant, that he may warn mankind" (Qur’an;25:1). As for some other messengers, he said: "And mention Our servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, men of might and vision" (Qur’an;38:45); "And remember Our servant David, who was a mighty and penitent man" (Qur’an;38: 17); "And to David, We gave Solomon, he was an excellent and penitent servant" (Qur’an;38:30)."He (Jesus, son of Mary) is only a servant whom We blessed and We made him an example to the children of Israel"(Qur’an;43:59). Allah concluded all messages with the message of Muhammad (peace be upon him) to all people, because He said: "Say, 'O mankind, I am Allah's Messenger to you all. To him belongs the Kingdom of the Heavens and the Earth; there is no god but He. He ordains life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet who believes in Allah and His words. Follow him so that you may be rightly guided"(Qur’an;7:158). Allah took covenant from all messengers: “O Muhammad, remember the Covenant which We took from all the Prophets - from you as well as from Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa and Isa (Jesus) son of Maryam - We took that solemn Covenant from all of them, so that He may question the truthful concerning the Truth (that they were entrusted with): as for the unbelievers, He has prepared a painful punishment.”( Qur’an;33:7-8). The prophets, peace and blessings be upon them, are free of all sins, major and minor, of unbelief, and of all that is repugnant. It may be, however, that they apparently commit insignificant lapses and errors in secular matters but not in spiritual matters or faith (din).
Adam and Eve, in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, is the original human couple, parents of the human race. Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) was the first human being, who was created to be God's vicegerent on earth, he was imparted the faculty of wisdom and knowledge. He was also the first Prophet, who built Ka’ba, the first house of worship of Allah. He taught his progeny to obey and worship one God. The Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) had left his progeny in a state of social and moral health but gradually they began to forget the teachings of Allah and adopted the evil path of Satan and indulged in corruption and depravity. They became mean, evil-doers and greedy. They cheated and hurt one another. They began to worship idols and forgot to pray to Almighty Allah. The entire society had been split up into different sections and this state of affairs had given birth to oppression and injustice. The Iblis(Satan) continue to misguide the humanity. According to Bible Adam was created in the image of God (Geneses;1;26-27,5:1), but an other place it is mentioned: “I am God, and there is none like me.”(Isaiah;46:9), “Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”(Exodus;20:4). Allah says in Qur’an:“We have indeed created man in the best stature;”(95:4). Islam reject to believe that Allah's attributes are similar to those of his creatures; or that Allah's attributes are like such and such because; “there is none like unto Him.”(Qura’n;112:4).
Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) is the well known Messenger of God after Adam. Qur’an refers to the narrative of Noah at many places to serve as a warning and lesson for the rebellious non believers: “We sent Noah and Abraham, and bestowed among their descendants Prophethood and the Book. Some of them adopted the right guidance, but most of them were transgressors. After them We sent other Messengers, one after the other, and followed them with Isa (Jesus) the son of Mary. We gave him The Gospel, and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers…... Yet We rewarded those among them who were true believers, but most of them are transgressors.”(Qur’an;57:26-27). Qur’an gives account of Noah at Chapter;11:25-49. Allah, the Most Merciful, wanted the people to be guided on true path. According to the Qur’anic narrative Noah, appears to have been sent as a messenger for the guidance of his nation: “We sent Noah to his people. Noah said: "I have come to warn you plainly,”(11:25, also at 11:30, 38:12, 71:1). He preached the obedience and worship of one God to this people for very long period but few followed him, the majority ridiculed him. Consequently Almighty Allah destroyed all unbelievers through great floods except Noah and few believers, rescued in the ark along with a pair of animal species. Thus prophet Noah (peace be upon him) becomes the father of humanity after prophet Adam (peace be upon him).
According to Bible, Noah appears in Genesis;5:29 as the son of Lamech and ninth in descent from Adam. After destruction of rebellious people through great floods, the entire surviving human race descended from Noah's three sons; Shem, Ham, and Japheth. After the floods, God renewed his commands given at creation but with two changes: man could now kill animals and eat meat, and the murder of a man would be punished by men. The Biblical version is almost identical to the Islamic account with some exceptions of blasphemous narratives which have been usually incorporated by the Israelites to degrade most of the pious messengers and prophets of God (Genesis;Chapter5-15, likewise Prophet Lot has been dishonored shamefully at Genesis;19:30-38). The cultivation of the vine is attributes, to Noah, and the shameless drunkenness of Noah does not accord well with the character of the pious Messenger of God. Noah's drunkenness and the disrespect it provokes in his son Ham, (or Canaan) result in Noah's laying of a curse on Ham and his descendants(Geneses;9:20-27) is nothing but character assassination of Noah.
There has been many messengers, prophets and apostles between Noah and Abraham for their respective nations, Allah says: “And there never was a people, without a Warner having lived among them (in the past)”(Qur’an;35:24). 'We did aforetime send apostles before thee: of them there are some whose story We have related to thee and some whose story We have not related to thee (Qur’an;40:78). According to Muslim traditions there has been more than 1,24,000 prophets sent to different nations at different times. Some of the known Messengers are: Prophet Adam, Nuh, Idris, Hud, Shu'aib, Ayyub, Salih, Yunus, Elijah (Elias),Lut, Ibrahim, Isma'il, Ishaq, Ya'qub, Yusuf, Musa, Harun, Dawud, Sulaiman, Dhul Kifl, Ilyas, Al-Yasa', 'Uzair, Zechariah, Yahya, 'Isa and Muhammad (peace be upon all of them). The status of three pious respectable persons i.e. Luqman (The Wise, sage), Dhul Qarnain (Two Horned Conqueror) and the one, referred as ‘one of his servants’ (Qur’an;18:65), customary called Khizar is unknown.
Finally Allah Chose Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and granted the leadership of the mankind to Abraham and true followers from his progeny. The chain of prophethood closed about two thousand years later at Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah says in Qur’an: “And verily We gave the Children of Israel the Scripture and the Command and the Prophethood, and provided them with good things and favored them above (all) peoples; And gave them plain commandments. And they differed not until after the knowledge came unto them, through rivalry among themselves. Lo! thy Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they used to differ. And now have We set thee (O Muhammad) on a clear road of (Our) commandment; so follow it, and follow not the whims of those who know not”.(Qur’an;45:16-18).
Muslims believe in all apostles and messengers mentioned in Bible and Qur’an up to Jesus, as they are also the prophets of Islam. All the prophets that came before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were only sent for their own people and were to be followed only for a particular period of time, like Jesus was prophet for the Children of Israel, not the gentiles, mentioned in Qur’an: “And (appointed Jesus) a messenger to the Children of Israel,” (Qur’an;3:49). Jesus said: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Mathew; 10:5-6, 15:24). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last and final messenger of Almighty God, hence the humanity has to follow him now.
Ancestor of Muslims, Christians and Jews : Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim, peace be upon him) is estimated to have lived round 1500 BC, at Ur (Mesopotamia) Iraq. He is the common ancestor and spiritual leader of Muslims, Christians and Jews alike also revered by people of other faiths. He discovered the existence of One God through his intellect, thought process and with grace of God, which is narrated in Qur’an: “When the night covered him over he (Abraham) saw a star: he said: "this is my Lord." But when it set he said: "I love not those that set." When he saw the moon rising in splendor He said: "This is my Lord." but when the moon set he said: "Unless my Lord guide me I shall surely be among those who go astray." When he saw the sun rising in splendor he said: "This is my Lord; this is the greatest (of all)." But when the sun set he said: "O my people! I am (now) free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah. "For me I have set my face firmly and truly toward Him Who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah."(Qur’an;6:76-79). Once he was appointed the Messenger of Allah, he was blessed with a special favour: “Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he mighty be of those possessing certainty:”(Qur’an;6:75). He invited people to Islam (submission to one God):" When his people started arguing with him, he told them: "Will you argue with me about Allah, whereas He Himself has guided me? I do not fear those whom you take for gods besides Him, none can harm me unless my Lord so wills, the knowledge of my Lord encompasses everything, why don't you get admonition?(Qur’an;6:80). "It is those who believe and confuse not their beliefs with wrong that are (truly) in security for they are on (right) guidance. That was the reasoning about Us which We gave to Abraham (to use) against his people: We raise whom We will degree after degree: for thy Lord is full of wisdom and knowledge.”(Qur’an;6:82-83).
Offers Sacrifice of Son: He was granted sons at old age, Ishmael, form his second wife Hager, and later Isaac (Ishaq) from his first wife Sara. The Qur’an records God's covenant with Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and his son, Ishmael, as well as the covenant with Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and his son by Sarah, Isaac. According to one tradition he left Ishmael at Makka while he was older enough. The other tradition narrates that he had to leave the infant Isma’il and his mother at a far off place in desert (Makka). They miraculously survived due to water of Zamzam. Abraham's faith was so great that later he went to obey God's command to sacrifice his only son (Ishmael). At the last minute, God permitted him to substitute a ram. Muslim tradition identifies the son to be sacrificed as Ishmael (Jewish traditions claim, Isaac) . He again came to rebuilt the first house of Allah, Ka’ba with Isma’il as a sign of God's covenant with them and established the rituals of pilgrimage (Hajj):“And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower.”(Qur’an;2:127).
A controversy has raged between the followers of the Bible and the adherents of Islam as to which of the sons of Abraham, Ishmael or Isaac was offered as a sacrifice. The Bible is quite clear in designating the offering: “And he (God Almighty) said, take now thy son, thine only son . . ., whom thou lovest, and et thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering . . .”(Genesis;22:2). If at anytime, an offspring of Abraham can be described as "thine only son: it could only be Ishmael, because for more than thirteen years, he was the only son and seed of Abraham. God Almighty acknowledges Ishmael as the "son and seed" of Abraham in no less than twelve places in the Book of Genesis alone. At no time was Isaac the only son and seed of Abraham. The false pen of the scribe was in the hand of the Jews who edited the Books of Moses, as the prophet Jeremiah lament: “How do ye say, We are wise, and the law (the Torah) of the Lord is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribe is in vain.”(Jeremiah;8:8). When the Jews are found to convert an Israelite into an Ishmaelite when no motives are involved, then how much easier for them to change the word "you only son Ishmael" to : your only son Isaac!"
Covenant - Leadership of Mankind, Not Passed to Evil Doer Decedents : Abrahamis the original monotheist, purifier of God's house, builder of the Ka’ba, and the Muslim, who preached against idolatry and sin. He destroyed the idols, he survived attempt by the king to be burnt alive. He was rewarded by God for his faith and given a position of spiritual leadership, to be passed down to his descendants but not the wrong doers, Allah says: “Remember that when Abraham was tested by his Lord with certain commands, he fulfilled them. God said: "Surely, I will make you the leader of mankind." "What about my offspring?" Asked Abraham. "My Covenant," said Allah, "will not apply to the evil doers.”(Qur’an;2:124). Here the claim of the children of Israel as “Chosen People of God” by virtue of their decent from Abraham, who was made “a leader of mankind” by God, has been totally negated. God makes it clear that the exalted status of Abraham was not something that would automatically confer a comparable status on this physical descendants, and definitely not on the sinners among them. God also took solemn pledge form the Children of Israel and those call themselves as Christians, but they broke it, God says: ““Remember Allah's favor to you and the covenant by which He bound you to Himself when you said: "We hear and we obey." Have fear of God; surely God knows the secrets of your hearts.”(Qur’an;5:7). “God accepted a covenant form the Children of Israel and appointed twelve chieftains from among them and said: "I am with you; if you establish Prayers (Salah) pay Alms (Zakah), believe in My Apostles, support them and give a generous loan to Allah (spend in charity), I will certainly forgive you your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which the rivers flow. However, if any one of you, after this, violates this covenant, he will indeed go astray from the Right Way. Even after that, they broke their covenant; as a result, We laid on them Our curse and hardened their hearts. They tempered with words out of their context and neglected much of what they were enjoined. You will always find most of them deceitful except for a few of them. Yet forgive them and overlook their misdeeds. Allah loves those who are kind to others.” (Qur’an;5:12-13). Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) settled at Palestine, he died at very old age and was buried in Hebron, near Jerusalem.
True Faithful: Allah says: “And who turns away from the faith of Abraham but such as debase their souls with folly? Him We chose and rendered pure in this world: and he will be in the Hereafter in the ranks of the righteous. Behold! his Lord said to him: "Bow (thy will to me)" He said: "I bow (my will) to the Lord and Cherisher of the universe." And this was the legacy that Abraham left to his sons and so did Jacob; "O my sons! Allah hath chosen the faith for you; then die not except in the faith of Islam." Were you present when death approached Jacob? He asked his sons: "Who will you worship after me?" They replied: "We will worship the same One God Who is your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, and unto Him we have surrendered.(Qur’an;2:130-133).
The Biblical Account: The narrative of Abraham is given in the book of Genesis, chapter 12-36. The childless septuagenarian receives promises. He gets a son, Ishmael, by Hagar, given to him as his wife by his wife Sara: “And Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to Abram her husband to be his wife.”(Genesis:16:3). Out of jealously Sara forces her to leave with young son Ishmael in to wilderness, where angel appears to tell her: “Arise, lift up the lad (Ishmael), and hold him in thy hand. For I will make him a great nation.”(Genesis:21:18). (According to Muslim account, Ishmael is settled at Makka and become the ancestor of Arabs and the last Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him).
Abraham is awarded with a covenant from God that his "seed" will inherit the land and become a numerous nation :“And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised.” (Genesis;17:7-10). However it is evident that Ishmael, though first borne son, has been deliberately excluded through concoction and fabrication from this covenant in subsequent verses: “And God said, Nay, but Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham. (Genesis;17:19-22).
At 100 years of age, Abraham gets a son Isaac, by Sarah, who is to be the heir of the promise. Yet Abraham is ready to obey God's command to sacrifice Isaac, a test of his faith, which he is not required to consummate in the end because God substitutes a ram. (Muslim traditions and internal evidence form Bible about age of child and timings support that it was Ishmael not Isaac, and place was near Makka and not MountMoriah). At Sarah's death, he purchases the cave of Machpelah near Hebron, together with the adjoining ground, as a family burying place. Abraham dies at the age of 175:“And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah”(Genesis;25:9). This place is venerated today in Hebron, at the Haram al-Khalil (Holy Place of the Friend), under the mosque. Abraham is pictured with various characteristics: a righteous man, with wholehearted commitment to God; a man of peace (in settling a boundary dispute with his nephew Lot), compassionate (he argues and bargains with God to spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah), and hospitable (he welcomes three visiting angels); a quick-acting warrior (he rescues Lot and his family from a raiding party); and an unscrupulous liar to save his own skin: “And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. And Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.”(Geneses;20:2). The incidence of Abraham passing off Sarah as his sister and letting her be picked by the Egyptian pharaoh for his harem, but she miraculously returns unmolested due to her piety and prayers accepted by God, along with Hagar given as gift, has also been Narrated by Abu Huraira in Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith 3.420 & 4.578. Here Abraham appears as both a man of great spiritual depth and strength and a person with common human weaknesses and needs.
According to Islamic traditions, Ishmael, the eldest son of Abraham was settled at Makka, at young age with his mother Hagar. Abraham invoked Almighty Allah: “0 our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in a valley with no cultivation, by Your Sacred House (the Kaba at Mecca); in order, 0 our Lord, that they may offer prayers perfectly , so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (0 Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks. 0’ our Lord! Certainly, You know what we conceal and what we reveal. Nothing on the earth or in the heaven is hidden from Allah.”(Qur’an;14: 37-38).
The biblical narrative is some what different, but it mentions: “And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.”(Genesis;16:15-16), “And the angel of the LORD said unto her (Hager), I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.”(Genesis;16:10-11). “And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.”(Genesis;13:18), “And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.” (Genesis;17:20), “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”(Genesis;16:12). The whole land of Arabia appears (Genesis;10:1-32) to have been inhabited by a variety of tribes of different lineage, Ishmaelites, Arabians, Idumeans, Horites, and Edomites; but at length becoming amalgamated, they came to be known by the general designation of Arabs. The modern nation of Arabs is predominantly Ishmaelite (decedents of Ishmael or Isma’il), their language Arabic, is the most developed and the richest of all the Semitic languages, and is of great value to the student of Hebrew.
Isma’il was also a messenger of God. He willingly offered himself to be sacrificed in obedience to the command of Allah to his father Abraham: “And he (God Almighty) said, take now thy son, thine only son . . ., whom thou lovest, and et thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering . . .”(Genesis;22:2). If at anytime, an offspring of Abraham can be described as "thine only son: it could only be Ishmael, because for more than thirteen years, he was the only son and seed of Abraham. Allah accepted the gesture and substituted ram instead. He assisted his father Abraham in building the Ka’ba: “And when Abraham and Ishmael were raising the foundations of the House, (Abraham prayed): Our Lord! Accept from us (this duty). Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower.”(Qur’an;2:127). He called the people around (Arabia) to prayer and charity. Isma’il became the ancestor of Arabs. Allah says: “We blessed him (Abraham) and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.”(Qur’an;37:1130). Once the progeny of Abraham through his second son Isaac deviated form the faith of Abraham, God shifted the honour of “Leadership of Mankind” to the decedents of Ishmael by appointing Muhammad (peace be upon him) as His last messenger and Qur’an as His last scripture.
“Say ye: "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah (in Islam)."(Qur’an;2:136). Prophet Isaac(Ishaq, peace be upon him) the second son of Prophet Abraham(peace be upon him) born from his first wife Sarah at old age as special blessings from God. He was father of Esau and Jacob (Yaqub) who is also known as Israel. Twelve Hebrew tribes, descended from twelve sons of the Prophet Yaqub (Jacob), peace be upon him, they became to be known as the Israelis. Prophet Jacob had settled at Hebron (Palestine) where his father Prophet Isaac and before him Prophet Abraham lived. For almost next fifteen hundred years God kept on sending messengers in the progeny of Jacob (Israel), Jesus (peace be upon him) being the last. The Biblical traditions attribute the offer of sacrifice of Isaac where as according to Muslim version Abraham offered his eldest son Ishmael for the sacrifice which was replaced with ram by God. In the Old and New Testaments, God is called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, (Ishmael conspicuously excluded?) because with them God's relationship of promise and purpose was fixed for all those who descended from them.
Jacob (called Ya'aqov in Hebrew and Ya'qub in Arabic, also called Israel) was a great messenger of Allah, Hebrew patriarch who was the grandson of Abraham, the son of Isaac and Rebekah, and the traditional ancestor of the people of Israel. Allah says: “And we gave (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob, and ordained among his progeny Prophethood and Revelation, and We granted him his reward in this life; and he was in the Hereafter (of the company) of the Righteous.”(Qura’n;29:27). Stories about Jacob in the Bible commence at Genesis;25:19. According to the Old Testament, Jacob was the younger twin brother of Esau, who was the ancestor of Edom and the Edomites. Jacob, by means of an elaborate double deception, managed to obtain his older brother's birthright from their father. Jacob then fled his brother's wrath, during journey Jacob received a special revelation from God; God promised Jacob lands and numerous offspring that would prove to be the blessing of the entire Earth. Jacob named the place where he received his vision Bethel ("House of God"). Then is the story of his love with cousin Rachel and substitution of her elder sister Leah, for Rachel at the wedding ceremony. Thus he was compelled to serve Laban for another seven years to get his beloved Rachel as his wife. Jacob then set out with his wives and children to return to Palestine. On the way Jacob wrestled with a mysterious stranger, a divine being, who changed Jacob's name to Israel, narrated in Bible: “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for, said he, I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”(Genese;32:24-30) [wrestling with God and prevailing ?]
Jacob then met and was reconciled with Esau and settled in Canaan. Jacob had 13 children, 10 of whom were founders of tribes of Israel. Leah bore him his only daughter, Dinah, and six sons--Reuben, Simeon, Levi (who did not found a tribe, but was the ancestor of the Levites), Judah (from whom a tribe and the Davidic monarchy were descended), Issachar, and Zebulun. Leah's maidservant, Zilpah, bore him Gad and Asher, and Rachel's maidservant, Bilhah, bore him Dan and Naphtali. Rachel's sons were Benjamin and Joseph (who did not found a tribe, but whose sons founded the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim). The story of Jacob's later years more properly belongs to the story of Joseph (also mentioned in Qur’an, in Chapter 12, named as Yousaf). Late in his life, a famine prompted Jacob and his sons to migrate to Egypt, where he was reunited with his son Joseph, who had disappeared some years before. Israel died in Egypt at the age of 147 years and was buried in Canaan at Hebron. The stories about Jacob's birth and his acquisition of the birthright (Genesis 25:19-34; 27) provide a thinly veiled apology for the relation between Edom (Esau) and Israel in Davidic times. Edom, the older nation, was made subject to Israel by David (2 Samuel;8:8). The Jacob stories assume and emphasize that all things occur by divine design. The divine objective is of overriding significance; it is God's will that Esau (Edom) shall live in the desert and be subject to Israel. Qur’an addresses his decedents as ‘Children of Israel’. Like Abraham, Jacob also advised his progeny to be obedient to God: “And this was the Legacy that Abraham left to his sons, and so did Jacob; "O my sons! Allah hath chosen the Faith for you; then die not except in the state of submission (to Allah).”(Qura’n;2:132).
Prophet Joseph (Yusuf) was the favorite son of prophet Jacob, as a child he was sold into slavery by jealous brothers. He spent years in an Egyptian Jail on false charges, however he was released once his innocence was proved. The Hebrews version of narrative of Joseph is given at in Bible (Genesis;Chapters:37-50). Qur’an mentions about his story at Chapter 12, named as ‘Yousaf’ (Joseph). According to Qur’an: “There is a lesson in these stories of former people for the men of understanding. This story of Joseph revealed in the Qur'an is not an invented tale, but a confirmation of previous scriptures - a detailed exposition of all things, and is a guidance and blessing for the people who believe.”(Qura’n;12:111).The Qur’anic story is similar to but not identical with the Biblical account but the atmosphere is widely different. The Biblical story is like a folk tale in which morality has no place. Its tendency is to exalt the clever and financially minded Jew against the Egyptians, and to explain certain ethnic and tribal peculiarities in later Jewish history. Joseph is shown as buying up all the cattle and the land of the poor Egyptians for the state under the stress of famine conditions, and making the Israelites “rulers” over Pharaoh’s cattle [Historically it is proved that they were Hyksos Kings, of Semites origin and not Egyptian Pharaohs: Qur’an rightly mentions them as king, and in case of Moses Pharaohs].The Qur’anic story on the other hand is less a narrative than a highly spiritual sermon of allegory explaining the seeming contradictions in life, the enduring nature of virtues in a world full of flux and change, and the marvellous working of God’s eternal purposes in His Plan unfolded on the wide canvas of history.
Allah says: “Verily in Joseph and his brethren are Signs (or Symbols) for Seekers (after Truth).”(Qura’n;12:7), “When Joseph attained his full manhood, We gave him power and knowledge: thus do We reward those who do right.”(Qura’n;12:22). Joseph was a handsome man, the wife of his master, (Egyptian high official-Aziz) tried to seduce him but he being a chosen servant of God, remained steadfast, and did not give in to evil emptations. Despite his innocence he had to spend years in jail, till taken out honorably. Through God gifted ability of interpretation of dreams, prophesies, prophetic wisdom, honesty, chastity and good management abilities he became trusted adviser of Hyksos King of Egypt: “Thus did we give established power to Joseph in the land, to take possession therein as, when, or where he pleased. We bestow of Our mercy on whom We please, and We suffer not, to be lost, the reward of those who do good.”(Qura’n;12:56). He saved the people form starvation during the famine with good management. Joseph adhered to the faith of his ancestors and preached to his people as prophet. He forgave his brothers and used his acquired position in Egypt to save them and his father from famine. His is quoted as an example of generosity, mercy, patience, chastity, compassion, and faith in God's control over events in life. Some Israelites settled in Egypt during this period. The Hyksos kings belonged to the Arab race, but had migrated from Palestine and Syria to Egypt in or about 2000 B.C. and taken possession of the country. Being aliens, they were not hostile to the Israelis.Jacob and his sons went down into Egypt (Genesis;45:17-25). This immigration took place probably about 350 years before the birth of Moses. The Israelis prospered until the Hyksos Kings were deposed in Egypt (1570 BC), thereafter once their influence in the court diminished they were persecuted as aliens and forced into slavery. It was Prophet Musa (Moses, peace be upon him), who delivered his people from Egyptian slavery in 13th Century B.C to be later reunited with other Hebrew tribes with whom they retained a sense of kinship.
Torch Bearer of Islamic Monotheism : Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) played an important role to keep the torch of Islamic Monotheism alight after Abraham (around 1300 B.C). He was named Moshe or Moses, being "Saved from the water" (Exodus;2:10), as his mother had to put him in water to save his life form being killed by soldiers of Pharaoh, who oppressed and persecuted the Israelites. Their lives were made bitter with hard bondage, and "all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor" (Exodus;1:13-14). Allah says: “Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron with Our Signs and authority manifest”(Qur’an;23:45). Moses and Aaron had a dual mission: Firstly for Pharaoh and his Court, which failed because of their Secondly to the Israelites, for whom the Law was received on Mount Sinai, but they repeatedly rebelled against Allah. “And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the criterion (between right and wrong) there was a chance for you to be guided aright.”(Qur’an;2:53). Qur’an, directly referrers to Moses at least seventy two times. Nine miracles were awarded to him by Allah: “And verily We gave unto Moses nine tokens, clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty). Do but ask the Children of Israel how he came unto them, then Pharaoh said unto him: Lo! I deem thee one bewitched, O Moses.”(Qur’an;17:101). In both cases there were miracles ("Clear Signs") and other proofs which showed that they came at Allah's command and were inspired by His authority. The Qur’an records him having been placed in a basket in the Nile, as a child, being taken into the house of Pharaoh, his appearance before Pharaoh, his encounters with court magicians, stick turning to serpent, shining of hand, the spread of plagues in Egypt when Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, the parting of the sea providing passage to Israelites but when Pharaoh followed, sea closed destroying Pharaoh's army, Moses’ forty days on the mountain, the Covenant at Mt. Sinai, where he received the Tablets of Law and the striking of his staff against a rock in the desert to obtain water for each tribe. Moses has the great honour and privilege:“..to Moses Allah spoke direct” (Qur’an;14:164) , hence he is also referred as (Kaleem Allah). In the Qur’anic account Moses sets down the tablets containing God's commandments, rather than breaking them, after discovering the Israelites worshiping the golden calf.
Special Honor: Almighty God speaks to Prophet Moses about coming of Muhammad: "I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not harken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him"(Deuteronomy;18:18,19). Prophet Moses and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have many common aspects. With the spread of Islam, Moses became and admired figure throughout the Muslim world. Today, some thirty three centuries after he lived, Moses is honored by Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike, and is even respected by many agnostics. How much Moses was revered by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is evident from a Hadith, Narrated by Abu Huraira: “Two persons, a Muslim and a Jew, quarreled. The Muslim said, "By Him Who gave Muhammad superiority over all the people!" The Jew said, "By Him Who gave Moses superiority over all the people!" At that the Muslim raised his hand and slapped the Jew on the face. The Jew went to the Prophet and informed him of what had happened between him and the Muslim. The Prophet sent for the Muslim and asked him about it. The Muslim informed him of the event. The Prophet said, "Do not give me superiority over Moses, for on the Day of Resurrection all the people will fall unconscious and I will be one of them, but I will be the first to gain consciousness, and will see Moses standing and holding the side of the Throne (of Allah). I will not know whether (Moses) has also fallen unconscious and got up before me, or Allah has exempted him from that stroke."(Sahih, Al-Bukhari Hadith:3.594)
Major Achievements : In general, there are three major achievements attributed to Moses. First, it is quite clear that the monotheism (Islam-submission to One God) preached by Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), would have diminished had it not been for Moses, and he unquestionably played the crucial role in its preservation and transmission. Second, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), which are often referred to as the “Five Books of Moses”, and which constitute the Jewish Torah (original scriptures were divinely revealed). These books include the Mosaic Code, the set of laws which in principle governed the conduct of the Jews in biblical times, and which include the Ten Commandments. The Torah as a whole and the Ten Commandments in particular have had the enormous influence on the three Abrahamic faiths. However, most biblical scholars agree that the books as available at present were apparently written by several authors, and the great bulk of the material was not put into writing until considerably after Moses’ death. Third, he is credited with being the political figure who led the Jews in the Exodus from Egypt. He could not lead them to enter the holy land (Jerusalem) because the people of Israel lacked in courage and faith, Moses remonstrated with them: “Remember Moses said to his people: "O my people! call in remembrance the favor of Allah unto you when He produced prophets among you made you kings and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. "O my people! enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you and turn not back ignominiously for then will ye be overthrown to your own ruin." (Qur’an;5:20-21).“They said: O Moses! We will never enter (the land) while they are in it. So go thou and thy Lord and fight! We will sit here. He said: "O my Lord! I have power only over myself and my bother so separate us from this rebellious people!" Allah said: "Therefore will the land be out of their reach for forty years; in distraction will they wander through the land: but sorrow thou not over these rebellious people. .”(Qur’an;5:24-26). The punishment of the rebellion of these stiff-necked people, rebellion that was repeated "these ten times" (Numbers;14:22). That generation was not to see the Holy Land. All those that were twenty years old and upwards were to die in the wilderness: "your carcasses shall fail in this wilderness." (Numbers;14:29). Forty years afterwards they crossed the Jordan opposite what is now Jericho, but by that time Moses, Aaron, and the whole of the elder generation had died. If Moses had not taken them out of Egypt, they would have continued to suffer the humiliation of slavery. Thereafter under Saul, the Israelites became truly united as a political entity and established in the promised land with him as the first Israelite king(11th Century B.C). Saul, defended Israel against numerous enemies, especially the Philistines. The idea of one true God, which Moses believed in and preached so passionately, has eventually spread through a large part of the world. In this, of course, lies his greatest importance, since Christianity and Islam, the two largest religions in the world, are both rooted to Abrahamic monotheism. The Hebrews version of narrative of Moses is mentioned in the book of Exodus in Bible with some distortions.
Prophet David (Dawud) succeeded King Saul. He reigned for about forty years (1000 to 962 BC), he established a united kingdom over all Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital. Allah says: “And We verily gave knowledge unto David and Solomon, and they said: Praise be to Allah, Who hath preferred us above many of His believing slaves!”(Qur’an;27:15). Prophet David, was a self-made king, who, against great odds, founded the Judean dynasty and carved out an empire from the border of Egypt to the EuphratesRiver. He was the shepherd, warrior, king, wise man, prophet, poet. Allah says in Qur’an: “..unto David We gave the Psalms.”(Qur’an;17:55). Prophet David (peace be upon him)was Israel's first successful king. He united all of the Israelite tribes, became the effective ruler over all, and was the founder of an enduring dynasty. Thus, he succeeded where King Saul had failed and attained a unique place in Israel's history and tradition. He established the city of Jerusalem as the centre both of Israel's political power and of its worship. Dawud as a youth, killed the giant Goliath with three pebbles and a slingshot. “So they routed them by Allah's leave and David slew Goliath; and Allah gave him the kingdom and wisdom, and taught him of that which He willeth. And if Allah had not repelled some men by others the earth would have been corrupted. But Allah is a Lord of Kindness to (His) creatures.”(Qur’an;2:251). Used as a paradigm as his story shows the faith, determination, and God's blessing are more important than size and strength: “And assuredly We gave David grace from Us, (saying): O ye hills and birds, echo his psalms of praise! And We made the iron supple unto him”(Qur’an;34:10).
In Israel's religious tradition the royal line, or "house," of David became a primary symbol of the bond between God and the nation; the king was the mediator between the deity and his people. The English word messiah is derived from hameshiach ("the anointed one"), the title of the kings of the line of David. Thus, in later times of disaster, Israel began to wait for a messiah, a new mediator of the power of God that would redeem the people and its land. By designating Jesus as the son of David, Christianity dramatized its conviction that this hope had been fulfilled. David lived in the memory of his people in a double way: as the great founder of their political power and as the symbol of a central facet of their religious faith. He was succeeded by his son Solomon who was also an obedient servant and prophet of God.
The biblical account of the era of David is covered in the First and Second Book of Samuel. The Book of I Kings, chapter 1, to chapter 2, verse 11 cover the last years of David and Solomon's succession to the throne. The biblical account is distorted, to tarnish the image of David, as normally done by the Israelites with the messengers, a shameful story is ascribed to David whereby he commits adultery (2 Samuel;11:4) with Bathsheba, the wife of David's Hittite general, Uriah and then wickedly caused the death of her husband (2 Samuel;11:6-25). She bore Prophet and King Solomon. David is also accused of shamelessly dancing naked: “How glorious was the king of Israel (David) to day, who uncovered (became naked) himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself”(2 Samuel;6:20). Allah says: “O David! We did indeed make thee a vicegerent on earth: so judge thou between men in Truth (and justice): nor follow thou the lusts (of thy heart), for they will mislead thee from the Path of Allah: for those who wander astray from the Path of Allah, is a Penalty Grievous, for that they forget the Day of Account.”( Qur’an;38:26).
Prophet & Great King : ProphetSolomon (Sulaiman, peace be upon him), the son of Prophet David (peace be upon him) succeeded his father. “..We inspired Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and as we imparted unto David the Psalms;”( Qura’an;4:163). Solomon was put on trial by God: “Behold, We also put Solomon to test and placed (himself like) a mere body on his throne (after sickness), then he turned to Us in repentance, and said "O LORD! Forgive me and grant me a kingdom similar of which may not be given to anyone after me. Surely You are the real Giver.”(Qura’an;38:34). Allah granted his wish. Allah says: “To David We gave Solomon, an excellent devotee! Who was frequent in returning to Us.”(Qur’an;38:30), “We bestowed knowledge (spiritual insight) on David and Solomon. They both said: "Praise be to Allah Who has exalted us above many of His believing servants."( Qur’an;27:15). “And Solomon was David's heir. He said: "O ye people! we have been taught the speech of birds, and on us has been bestowed (a little) of all things: this is indeed Grace manifest (from Allah.)”(Qura’an;27:16). He is also traditionally regarded as the greatest king of Israel, renowned for his wisdom, and builder of the Temple in Jerusalem. He maintained his dominions with military strength and established Israelite colonies outside his kingdom's borders. He Inherited both his father's kingdom and his spiritual insight and prophetic office. Legend makes much of a romance between the Queen of Sheba and Solomon, for his granting her "all that she desired, whatever she asked" (1Kings;10:13) has been interpreted to include an offspring. No one in the history has been blessed with the Kingdom like his. God had given him command even over the special creatures like jinns and the animal world and winds: “And unto Solomon (We gave) the wind, whereof the morning course was a month's journey and the evening course a month's journey, and We caused the fount of copper to gush forth for him, and (We gave him) certain of the jinn who worked before him by permission of his Lord. And such of them as deviated from Our command, them We caused to taste the punishment of flaming fire. They made for him what he willed: synagogues and statues, basins like wells and boilers built into the ground. Give thanks, O House of David! Few of My bondmen are thankful.” (Qur’an;34:12-13). Palestine was destined to be an important centre because of its strategic location for trade by land and sea. Solomonfulfilled the commercial destiny of Palestine and brought it to its greatest heights. The nature of his empire was predominantly commercial, it served him and friendly rulers to increase trade by land and sea. The joint merchant-marine expeditions of Solomon andthe Phoenician king Hiram of Tyre, sailed practically to the ends of the known world. The demand for fortresses and garrison cities throughout his homeland and empire made it necessary for Solomon to embark on a vast building program; the prosperity of the nation made such a program possible. He was especially lavish with his capital, Jerusalem, where he erected a city wall, a construction called the Millo, the royal palace, and the famous
The FirstTemple (Masjad Al Aqsa) was constructed during the reign of Solomon, and completed in 957 BC. After building the House of Worship of God, as fulfillment of desire of his father David, Solomon said: “..I have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel”(1Kings;8:20), “Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven;” (1Kings;8:22), he prayed: "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of thy servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, hearkening to the cry and to the prayer which thy servant prays before thee this day; that thy eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which thou hast said, `My name shall be there,' that thou mayest hearken to the prayer which thy servant offers toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant and of thy people Israel, when they pray toward this place; yea, hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place; and when thou hearest, forgive. ”(1Kings;8:27-30). Solomon's Temple which was to assume an importance far beyond what its dimensions might suggest, for its site became the only central shrine for Judaism, early Christianity and sacred to Islam.
Wisdom and Justice:
Solomon also became famous as a sage. Allah says: “at that time We gave Sulaiman insight to arrive at the right decision, although We had given wisdom and knowledge to both (David and Solomon) of them...”(Qur’an;21:79). There are numerous traditions which highlight his sense of wisdom and justice. Solomon was deemed wiser than all the sages of Egypt and the Middle East even wiser than some ancient paragons of wisdom. Solomon was also famed as a poet who composed 1,005 songs. The Biblical Song of Solomon is attributed to him: “The song of songs, which is Solomon's.”(Song of Solomon;1:1). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is mentioned by name in the Song of Solomon,: “His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is Muhammad-im (altogether lovely, im is added for respect in Hebrew). This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."(Song of Solomon; 5:16). [In Hebrew:"Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammad-im Zehdoodeh wa Zehraee Bayna Jerusalem."].
Distorted Biblical Account : The Bible narrate the reign of Solomon especially in 1 Kings 1-11 and 2 Chronicles 1-9. The biblical account of Solomon has inherent distortions, to tarnish the image of this great prophet and king, as normally done by the Israelites with their messengers. A shameful story is ascribed to Solomon whereby he is blamed to have committed idolatry by worshiping other gods. Consequently the dismemberment of the united monarchy was to be brought about by God: “For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ash'toreth the goddess of the Sido'nians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done."(1 Kings;11:4-7),“And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.” (1 Kings;11:9-11).
Solomon is cleared of any evil acts by Qur’an: “And follow that which the devils falsely related against the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon disbelieved not; but the devils disbelieved, teaching mankind magic and that which was revealed to the two angels in Babylon, Harut and Marut…”(Qura’an;2:102). He was an obedient servant of God: “My Lord! Inspire and bestow upon me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favors which You have bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds that will please You, and admit me by Your Mercy among Your righteous slaves.”(Qura’n;27: 17-19).
After Solomon: After the death of Solomonthe kingdom got divided. In the dissension that followed, Jeroboam was supported by Sheshonk I, king of Egypt, called Shishak in the Bible (reigned about 946-913 BC), who invaded and plundered the kingdom of Rehoboam and despoiled the Temple. There were many ups and downs. With the fall off Samaria in 722-721 BC, by the Assyrians the kingdom of Israel was destroyed. The exile of the Judeans to Babylonia in 586 BC was a major turning point in Israelite religion. Cyrus the Great, after conquering Babylon, permitted a repatriation of subject populations (539 BC) and a restoration of local temples. In 331 BC, Greek culture was introduced into the Middle East with the conquests of Alexander the Great. The Maccabean revolt (165-142 B.C); ended as a successful war for Judean political independence from Syria. Later Palestine came under the control of Romans, who accorded some religious freedom to the Jews. Israelites never lacked in the spiritual leaders and guides but they kept on transgressing the limits.
Prophet Zechariah and John The Baptist (Yahya):
“And Zechariah and John and Jesus and Elijah. Each one (of them) was of the righteous.”(Qur’an;6:85). Prophet Zechariah, peace be upon him was an illustrious Prophet of the Israelites and high priest mentioned in Bible and Qur’an. He was the patron of Mary, the mother of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). He kept the torch of Mosaic Law burning. Prophet Zechariah (peace be upon him), was issueless and old, according to Qur’an: “Then Zechariah prayed unto his Lord and said: My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring. Lo! Thou art the Hearer of Prayer.”(Qur’an;3:38). “Lo! I fear my kinsfolk after me, since my wife is barren. Oh, give me from Thy presence a successor. Who shall inherit of me and inherit (also) of the house of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, acceptable (unto Thee).”(Qur’an;19:5-6). Allah accepted his prayers and responded: ”O Zechariah! Lo! We bring thee tidings of a son whose name is Yahya (John); We have given the same name to none before (him).”(Qur’an;19:7). In accordance with his father's prayer Yahya (John), and Jesus for whom he prepared the way, renewed the Message of Allah, which had been corrupted and lost among the Israelites. John the Baptist did not live long. He was imprisoned by Herod, the provincial ruler under the Roman Empire, whom he had reproved for his sins, and eventually beheaded at the instigation of the woman. But even in his young life, he was granted: (1) Wisdom by Allah, for he boldly denounced sin; (2) Gentle pity and love for all Allah's creatures, for he moved among the humble and lowly, and despised "soft raiment"; and (3) Purity of life, for he renounced the world and lived in the wilderness. His grave still exist in Umayyah Mosque in Syria.
The Biblical Narrative: In Hebrew Zkaryah or Zek-ar-yaw ';[hy;r]k"z]]]] means Jehovah (God) is renowned or remembered. This has been mentioned as the name of twenty-nine Israelites, which include king, prophets, priests and others. The narrative of Zachrias and John the Baptist is also mentioned in Bible (Luke;1:12-17). The Bible mentions about another Zechariah, the prophet of Judah, the eleventh of the twelve minor prophets. Like Ezekiel, he was of priestly extraction. He describes himself (1:1) as "the son of Berechiah." In Ezra;5:1; 6:14 he is called "the son of Iddo," who was properly his grandfather. His prophetical career began in the second year of Darius (B.C. 520), about sixteen years after the return of the first company from exile. He was contemporary with Haggai (Ezra;5:1). His book is part of Old Testament. An other Zechariah was the son or grandson of Jehoiada, the high priest in the times of Ahaziah and Joash (837-800 B.C). After the death of Jehoiada he boldly condemned both the king and the people for their rebellion against God (2Chronicles;24:20), which so stirred up their resentment against him that at the king's commandment they killed him and he died "in the court of the house of the Lord" (2 Chronicles;24:21). Jesus Christ alludes to this deed of murder in Mathew;23:35; Luke;11:51. A prophet, who had "understanding in the seeing of God," in the time of Uzziah, who was much indebted to him for his wise counsel (2Chronicles;26:5). The Son of Jeroboam II, king of Israel (746 B.C) is also named as Zechariah. On the death of his father there was an interregnum of ten years, at the end of which he succeeded to the throne, which he occupied only six months, having been put to death by Shallum, who usurped the throne. "He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done" (2Kings;14:29; 15:8-12). In him the dynasty of Jehu came to an end. Besides these, there is a large number of persons mentioned in Bible bearing this name of whom very little is known.
John the Baptist, the son of Zacharias (a priest of the course of Abia) (1Chroniclaes;24:10), was the "forerunner of Jesus." The Gospels have fragmentary and imperfect accounts of him. His mother, Elisabeth, was of the daughters of Aaron (Luke;1:5). The mission of John was the subject of prophecy (Mathew;3:3; Isa 40:3; Malachi;3:1). His birth, which took place six months before that of Jesus, was foretold by an angel. Zacharias, deprived of the power of speech as a token of God's truth and a reproof of his own incredulity with reference to the birth of his son, had the power of speech restored to him on the occasion of his circumcision (Luke;1:64). After this no more is recorded of him for thirty years than what is mentioned in Luke;1:80. John was a Nazarite from his birth (Luke;1:15; Nu 6:1-12). He spent his early years in the mountainous tract of Judah lying between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea (Mathew;3:1-12). At length he came forth into public life, and great huge numbers from "every quarter" were attracted to him. The sum of his preaching was the necessity of repentance. He denounced the Sadducees and Pharisees as a "generation of vipers," and warned them of the folly of trusting to external privileges (Luke;3:8). "As a preacher, John was eminently practical and discriminating. Self-love and covetousness were the prevalent sins of the people at large. On them, therefore, he enjoined charity and consideration for others. The publicans he cautioned against extortion, the soldiers against crime and plunder." His doctrine and manner of life roused the entire south of Palestine, and the people from all parts flocked to the place where he was, on the banks of the Jordan. There he baptized thousands unto repentance.
The fame of John reached the ears of Jesus in Nazareth (Mathew;3:5), and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized of John, on the special ground that it became him to "fulfil all righteousness" (Mathew;3:15). John's special office ceased with the baptism of Jesus, who must now "increase" as the King come to his kingdom. He continued, however, for a while to bear testimony to the Messiahship of Jesus. His public ministry was suddenly (after about six months probably) brought to a close by his being cast into prison by Herod, whom he had reproved for the sin of having taken to himself the wife of his brother Philip (Luke;3:19). He was shut up in the castle of Machaerus (q.v.), a fortress on the southern extremity of Peraea, 9 miles east of the Dead Sea, and here he was beheaded. His disciples, having consigned the headless body to the grave, went and told Jesus all that had occurred (Mathew;14:3-12). Jesus Christ testified regarding him that he was a "burning and a shining light" (John;5:35).
Jesus, The Son of Mary: The last in the series of messengers for the children of Israel, is Prophet Jesus Christ, the son of Mary. He was miraculously born without father to the virgin Mary. The mission of Jesus is summed up in Qur’an: “And We caused Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow in the footsteps of those (earlier prophets), confirming the truth of what ever there still remained of the Torah; and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein there was guidance and a light, confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah, and as a guidance and admonition unto the God conscious.”(Qur’an; 5:46). Gospel and Qur’an are unanimous on the apostolic mission of Jesus (peace be upon him): "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know."(Acts;2:22). The Allah says in Qur’an: “The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how we make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away!”(Qur’an;5:75). “He was no more than a servant: We granted Our favor to him (miracles, wonders and signs) and We made him an example to the Children of Israel.” (Qur’an;43:59). Paul, the self appointed 13th disciple of Jesus, deviated from the prophetic mission and teaching of Jesus by systematically canceling the Law of Moses. The Jews often persecuted their prophets: “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” (2 Chronicles; 36:16) also Mathew; 5:12. They often imprisoned them (1Kings; 22:27, Jeremiah; 32:2,37, 15-16), put them to death (1Kings;8:13,19:10, Mathew;23:34-37) and repeatedly left without, on account of sin(1Sameul;3:1, Amos;8:11-12). Instead of following to the teachings and guidance, the Jews rejected and humiliated him. They even conspired to kill him, but God raised him up to Himself. Jesus is the only messenger of God who has been raised to the level of divinity by some of his followers. Lot of mysteries and controversies exists about his life, preaching and departure, his message has been distorted and corrupted, which is a separate subject of detailed study. Presently there are around two billion people claiming to be his followers, who call themselves as Christians. Jesus will return to dispel all the controversies about him.
The Last Messenger and Final Guidance:
Finally Allah sent Qur’an, the final and last message of guidance for the humanity under the protection of Allah, remains preserved in its original form from last 1400 years. Its practical implementation was demonstrated by the last Prophet Muhammad (570-632 C.E) (peace be upon him), which is also available in the form of the traditions of Prophet (Sunnah). His life and achievements require a separate study which will be covered exclusively. The question arises that after Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is responsible for preaching of this Message to the mankind? As per Qur’an; “We have given the Book (Qur’an) as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen, among them there are some who wrong their own souls, some follow a middle course and some, by Allah's leave, excel in good deeds; which is the supreme virtue.”(Qur’an;35:32). The custodians of the Qur’an after the holy Prophet are the People of Islam. They are chosen for the Book, not in any narrow sense, but in the sense that the Book is given for their age and they are charged to believe, read, understand, obey, preserve and propagate it, so that all mankind should receive the Message. But it does not follow that they are all true and faithful to their charge, as indeed it is observed too painfully to-day. Just as mankind was chosen collectively to be Vicegerents and yet some among mankind fell into evil,-even so, some in the house of Islam fail to follow the Light given to them, and thus "wrong their own souls". But some follow a middle course: in their case "the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak": their intentions are good, but they have much to learn yet of the true Muslim life and Muslim virtues. Then there is a third class: they may not indeed be perfect, but both their intentions and their conduct are sound, and they form an example to other men: they are "foremost" in every good deed. They are so, not by their own merits, but by the Grace of Allah. And they have reached the highest achievement, the salvation. In this present era of high-tech communication and media, with the efforts of believers this guidance is available to the increasing numbers of people every day, who are embracing Islam in great numbers. There is no doubt that this Message will remain available to the humanity till the Day of Judgment.
God created the universe and humanity as part of’ His Grand Design’, which is based upon balance, Justice and Mercy. He has granted freedom of choice to the human through guidance, intellect and reason, resulting in individual responsibility and accountability. However He accepts repentance of sinners and forgive them as He has decreed mercy upon Himself but those who die as rebellious disobedient to Him will be punished in hereafter . He sent messengers to guide the humanity. The message of all the massagers sent to different nations at different times had been same, to worship One God and follow His guidance for success in this life and hereafter. The messengers were required to convey the message only, they were not required to force the people: “Obey Allah and obey His messenger; but if ye turn away, then the duty of Our messenger is only to convey (the message) plainly.”(Qur’an;64:12). Allah says: “Or do ye say that Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes were Jews or Christians? Say: Do ye know better than Allah? Ah! who is more unjust than those who conceal the testimony they have from Allah? But Allah is not unmindful of what ye do!”(Qur’an;2:140). Due to the persistent disobedience and rebelliousness of the Children of Israel, corruption of original message of God, He changed the leadership role from the Children of Israel to the Children of Ishmael by appointing Muhammad, peace be upon him (an Arab, from the progeny of Ishmael) as His last messenger and reveled to him, Qur’an; the last book of guidance for the humanity. Allah Himself took the responsibility to protect His last scripture: “We have without doubt sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption)”.(Qur’an;15:9). Miraculously during last fourteen centuries, Qur’an is available in its original form and will continue to guide the humanity till eternity. The purpose of life can be summarized: To be a faithful Muslim (complete surrender to the Will of Allah), obey and worship Allah alone by leading the life according to the guidance provided by Qur’an and Sunnah of last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims as inheritors of Qur’an, should believe, read, understand, obey, preserve, propagate or assist in propagation of its message, so that all mankind should receive the Final Message.” The final reward will be in the hereafter.
Aftab Ahmad Khan MBA,MA,LADSC(USA)
Aftab Ahmad Khan MBA,MA,LADSC(USA)
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