The Meaning of Belief in the Divine Books
This means firm belief that Almighty Allah has sent down some divine books to some of His messengers, and that they contain the speech of Allah which must be thought of in a manner that suits His majesty. These books also contain the truth, light and guidance for people in both this world and in the hereafter.
Belief in the divine books is one of the six pillars of faith, as the Qur’an states, “O you who believe, believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book which He has revealed to His Messenger and the Books which He revealed before.” (Soorat An-Nisaa’, 4:136)
In this verse, Almighty Allah commands the believers to believe in Him and His Messenger and the book which He revealed to His Messenger r, namely, the Qur’an. He also commands them to believe in all the books He revealed before the Qur’an.
Defining faith (eemaan), the Prophet ﷺ once said, “It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day and to believe in the divine decree, both good and bad.” (Saheeh Muslim: 8)
What does Belief in the Divine Books Include?
- To believe that they were truly revealed by Allah.
- To believe that they contain the speech of Allah ﷻ.
- To believe in the divine books which Almighty Allah has named, such as the Qur’an, which He revealed to our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the Torah (At-Tawraah) which He revealed to Moses (Moosaa) u and the Gospel (Al-Injeel) which He revealed to Jesus (‛Eesaa) u.
- To believe the authentic stories mentioned in them.
The Unique and Distinctive Characteristics of the Qur’an
The Holy Qur’an is the Speech of Allah, which He revealed to our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Therefore, we ought to venerate it, read it, ponder its verses and strive hard to abide by its instructions.
Suffice it to say that the Qur’an is our guide in this life and will be the cause of our salvation in the hereafter.
The Holy Qur’an has numerous unique features which distinguish it from the other revealed books. These include the following:
- The Glorious Qur’an provides a summary of divine rulings. It also came to support and confirm the command to worship Allah alone contained in the previous divine books.
The Qur’an says, “And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, confirming the books before it and with final authority over them. (Soorat Al-Maa’idah, 5:48)
This verse makes it clear that the Qur’an agrees with and confirms the truth, statements and beliefs, amongst other things, contained in the previous divine books and serves as a witness over them.
- All people, regardless of their language or race, must adhere to the Qur’an and act according to its dictates, no matter how far removed they may be from the time the Qur’an was revealed, as opposed to the previous scriptures which were revealed for particular peoples at specific times. The Qur’an says, “This Qur’an has been revealed to me so that I may warn you by it, and anyone else it reaches.” (Soorat Al-An‛aam, 6:19)
- While many additions and deletions have crept into the other divine books, the Qur’an has remained intact because Allah the Almighty has taken it upon Himself to protect it, as the Qur’an says, “We have sent down the Reminder, and We will surely guard it [from corruption].” (Soorat al-Hijr, 15:9)
What is Our Duty Towards the Qur’an?
- We must love and venerate the Qur’an. We must also value its importance because it is the speech of Almighty Allah I, which is unquestionably the best and most truthful speech.
- We must read it, recite it and ponder its verses. We must also reflect on its spiritual guidance, statements and stories and take it as a criterion in our lives whereby we distinguish between truth and falsehood.
- We must act on its dictates, obey its commands and make them our way of life.
When ‛Aa’ishah ~, one of the Prophet’s wives, was asked about the character of the prophet ﷺ, she replied, “His character was the Qur’an.” (Musnad Ahmad:24601; Saheeh Muslim: 746)
In other words, the prophet ﷺ was the practical embodiment of the Qur’anic injunctions in all his actions and worldly life. Indeed, he followed the guidance of the Qur’an in its entirety and provided an excellent example for us to follow, as the Qur’an states, “You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who hope for Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much.” (Soorat Al-Ahzaab, 33:21)
What is Our Stance regarding the Contents of the Previously Revealed Books?
A Muslim believes that the Torah, which was revealed to Moses u, and the Gospel, which was revealed to Jesus u, were the truth from Allah ﷻ. He also believes that they comprised rulings, guidance and lessons and news which had guidance and light for people in their worldly life and the life to come.
However, Almighty Allah informs us in the Holy Qur’an that the People of the Book, that is the Jews and the Christians, had distorted their divine books through alteration, omission or addition to the original text, and are thus not as authentic as Allah first revealed them.
The Torah, that is available today, is not the same Torah revealed to Moses u, because the Jews corrupted the original text by altering it and changing numerous rulings in it, as the Qur’an states, “Some of the Jews distort the true meaning of words.” (Soorat An-Nisaa’, 4:46)
Similarly, the Gospel available to us today is not the same Gospel revealed to Jesus u, for the Christians distorted it and altered a large number of its rulings. Concerning this, the Qur’an says: “Among them is a group who distort the Book with their tongues so that you think it is from the Book when it is not from the Book. They say, ‘It is from Allah,’ but it is not from Allah. They tell a lie against Allah and they know it.” (Soorat Aal ‛Imraan, 3:78)
“We also made a covenant with those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ and they too forgot a good portion of what they were reminded of. So We stirred up enmity and hatred between them until the Day of Rising when Allah will inform them about what they did.” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah, 5:14)
The Holy Bible available to the People of the Book today, which consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament, has numerous wrong beliefs, misleading misconceptions and false statements and stories. We believe those statements and reports which are shown by the Qur’an or the sound Sunnah to be true, and we disbelieve those ones which are shown by the Qur’an and Sunnah to be false. As for the rest of the statements and reports, we must neither believe nor disbelieve them, because they are not proven in the Qur’an or Sunnah to be either true or false.
Despite all this, a Muslim ought to respect these books and must not demean or desecrate them, for they may still contain some of Allah’s speech which has not been distorted.
Benefits of Belief in the Divine Books
Belief in the divine books has a number of benefits, including the following:
Awareness of Allah’s great care and immense mercy for His slaves for sending for every people a divine book to guide them, help them achieve happiness in this life and enjoy eternal bliss in the hereafter.
Awareness of Allah’s absolute wisdom contained in his laws, for legislating for every people what perfectly suits their general circumstances and personalities, as the Qur’an states, “For each [community to which a Messenger was sent with a Book] have We appointed a law and a practice.” (Soorat Al-Maa’idah, 5:48)
Showing gratefulness to Allah for sending down such books which contain light and guidance for us in this life and in the hereafter. Indeed, this is a great blessing for which we ought to offer thanks to Allah.