“ Muhammad s.a.a.w.” : Arabic name meaning “ the Praised One ”; he is the Chosen, Unlettered Prophet, the servant and Messenger of Allah, the Awaited Seal of Prophethood after whom there will be no more prophet sent.
Any inter-faith discussion has to firstly contend with the issue of proving, with evidence and reasoning, the basis for acceptance of a “ Book said to be from God ”, before assigning it as the authority for reference regarding doctrines.
To regard that a “ Book is from God ” requires that we have to provide for certain reasoning or rationale (criteria) for accepting that conclusion.
The objective question to consider firstly is, “ How can we agree that a particular book can be relied upon as authoritative? ”
“ What would you insist that such a Book must have, to convince you that it is indeed of Divine authorship?”
“ And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto ; and call your witness or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true”
“ This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah. On the contrary it is a confirmation of revelations that went before it, and a fuller explanation of the Book wherein there is no doubt - from the Lord of the Universe”
And standard of Arabic language used by people had declined since that golden era. Thus it would become near impossible for any to respond to this challenge ever again.
One well known poet at the time, Walid ibn Mughirah (himself a respected leader of the Quraysh), even admitted to his peers, after hearing Muhammad’s recitation of a portion of the Qur’an saying, that these could not be the work of mortals - whether it be of man or spirits – echoing precisely a verse in the Qur’an:.
If one is truly objective (in the sense of seeking justice) and is sincere in analysing the history of the Arabs and in comparing their condition before with that after the revelation of the Qur’an, it would become obvious that their society underwent a drastic change – one that was quite revolutionary.
Their customs, trends, worldview and accepted norms were in fact overturned and replaced with fundamental principles quite unknown to them before this, and since then it has continued to be adhered to even till today.
And today, the dangers of alcoholism, substance abuse and drug addiction are well acknowledged scourge, whereas the Qur’an has, not only explicitly warns mankind against it since 1400 years ago, it has since then started a movement towards eradicating this menace and has been successful in producing the biggest society of teetotallers with an uncompromising stance towards it – “ shun them ” totally, not even imbibing of even a drop of it.
Today, over 1.5 billion Muslims as the rule, abstain from every alcoholic drink and intoxicant on religious grounds, because it has been forbidden by God (as Haram ), explicitly recorded and preserved in the original religious text or scripture.
Although there may be few exceptions of disobedient Muslims, yet no other religion has been as successful as Islam in advocating sobriety as a religious obligation .
“ Truly did Allah fulfil the vision for His Messenger: Ye shall enter the Sacred Mosque, if Allah wills, with minds secure, heads, shaved, hair cut short, and without fear. For He knew what ye knew not and He granted besides this a speedy victory. It is He who has sent His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it over all religion: and enough is Allah for a Witness.”
This verses were revealed when Muslims were a disregarded group, oppressed and weak, living in Madinah after being forced to migrate there, and then had to face several invasions by the Quraish. Yet the prophecy came of the Prophet’s imminent entrance into Makkah, as well as the conquest and triumph of Islam over the Makkans.
“ Alif Lam Mim. The Roman Empire has been defeated― In a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious. Within a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the Past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice―”
“ Perish the hands of Abu Lahab (the Father of Flame)! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth, and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of blazing Flame! His wife shall carry the (crackling) wood ―as fuel!― A twisted rope of palm-leaf fibre round her (own) neck!”
Our understanding of empirical science and human discovery in nature is that of the inevitable outcome of man’s reflection of God’s signs (aayat) In the universe, and would not lead to any definitive contradiction in terms of scientific facts.
But, in the case of the Qur’an, what we can show is that, as man discover new things in nature, it would not make the statements in the Qur’an redundant, but rather only enhances mankind’s understanding of them.
“ In time We shall make them fully understand Our messages [through what they perceive] in the utmost horizons [of the universe] and within themselves, so that it will become clear unto them that this [revelation] is indeed the truth. [Still] is it not enough [for them to know] that thy Sustainer is witness unto everything?”
“ It appears that Human knowledge had, at one time contradicted some of the facts brought by Islam on some aspects of reproduction. It is also realised that as man discovers new facts, he finds himself repeating what had already been stated by the Qur’an and the Hadith.”
If you ask any person, on their own, to list down possible names and adjectives to describe God in His sublime and transcendent glory, few can make a list up to twenty or there about; even rarely to reach fifty. Even with scholastic learning in religion (other than Islam), this feat would be stupendous.
Yet, in the Qur’an, the names of God are so numerously referred to, and Islamic scholars have counted them to number over a hundred and having such profound meanings befitting God’s majesty and glory; maintaining consistency without any possibility of confusion of His transcendence, that it cannot be the work of any mortal, but of God Himself. For instance in just three verses we can sample a number of these:
If God intends a Book to be for guidance of all mankind, then its relevance must continue to exist since the time of its revelation, without any period in history where it became hidden or completely lost its usefulness. It must always be openly known.
This criterion therefore would eliminate inclusion of such discoveries of later manuscripts which were lost but now found, or ancient book of wisdom discovered anew and popularized today.
To be sure, by this, we do not therefore deny previous revelations to Prophets of the past e.g. Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus (peace be upon all of them) etc. (which the Qur’an confirmed), - only that we regard the preservation of these revelations, if any, to be partial, and are known to have been tampered with or mixed with other writing, and much have already been lost.
Thus, we hold that these previous books have now been superseded by the Qur’an.
Any attempt to re-discover and re-compile these earlier revelations in any endeavour to restore it to their originals as a book, would be futile, since much of it were meant to be only for its time, sent for a particular people, and admittedly many have been irretrievably lost.
T he Qur’an attributes much of the error in their preservation of scriptures to subsequent people who tampered (by addition, alteration or omission) to their collection of writings and then claiming it to be from God:
“ Do they not know, then, that God is aware of all that they would conceal as well as all that they bring into the open? And there are among them unlettered people who have no real knowledge of the divine writ, [following] only wishful beliefs and depending on nothing but conjecture.”
“ Woe unto those who write down, with their own hands, [something which they claim to be] divine writ. And then say, ‘This is from God’, in order to acquire a trifling gain thereby; woe, then, unto them for what their hands have written, and woe unto them for all that they may have gained!”
Thus, many so called extant copies of ancient religious scriptures are in the language other than the original, or the usage of its language is considered to be no longer existing (on account of it being a dead language), with the only exception being the Qur’an.
With reference to many Biblical texts (Judeo-Christian), even this has been admitted by their respective scholars.
Many Muslims scholars understands this verse as a reference to him being like Moses a.s. - as prophesized and recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy 18 : 18
“ I will raise up for them a prophet like unto you (O Moses) from amongst their brethren; and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
He was brought to the presence of Allah by undertaking a journey up on Mount Sinai to experience the “ epiphany ” (beatific vision of God).
He was brought to the presence of Allah during the miraculous journey of Isra’ and Mi’raj – including the “ epiphan y ” - (but far greater than that experienced by Moses, as his journey transcends into the realm never traverse by except him – the beloved of Allah.)
His life and his people were threatened and oppressed, yet managed to bring his people safely out of the land of oppression through “ Exodus ”, and established a community, governed over them by the Law of God ( Torah ).
His life and his people were threatened and oppressed, yet managed to bring his people safely out of the land of oppression through “ Hijrah ”, and established a community, governed over them by the ( Shari’ah ) Law of God ( Qur’an and the Sunnah ).
He was victorious over the Pharaoh’s army with Allah’s direct Divine intervention which routed and vanquished this military force, a more superior to the Bani Isra’il who were lesser in numbers and equipments - drowning
He was victorious over the Makkan ( Quraysh ) army with Allah’s direct Divine intervention at the Battle of Badr , in which angels were sent to aid Muslims and they routed and vanquished their enemies who were more superior to them in numbers and equipments.
Had to face enemies within his community (the hypocrites) who introduced the ‘ golden calf ’ to undermine Moses teaching and authority. The ‘golden calf’ was then destroyed and the perpetrators exposed
He had to face enemies within his community – the “ munaa-fiqun ” (hypocrites). They build a mosque (“ masjid Dirara ”) to undermine Muhammad’s teaching and authority. The mosque was burned and destroyed; the perpetrator exposed and condemned by God.