ALLAH does not impose the belief in Him upon the heart of mankind. It is the individual’s heart that is either open to guidance or not. God’s messengers showed mankind the straight path. It is up to individuals to choose to follow the path or not. However, true guidance is not from the prophets, but from Allah alone.
The question is can someone who did not hear the message of any prophet, not be guided? Of course not! Mankind is unable to discern all that is right and wrong with his own intellect as hard as he may try.
The mission of the prophets was to convey the true message from their Lord and not their own minds or intellect. Among those who receive their message, some are guided, and some are not. This is when we delve into the core of the matter: It is the individual’s heart that is either open to guidance or not. Allah does not impose the belief in Him upon the heart of mankind — although the knowledge of His Oneness is imprinted in the heart of all mankind.
Reading the stories of various prophets of the Old Testament, all the way up to the last Prophet and Messenger of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him), we notice a common thread. Their message was one: “Worship your lord, God, and do not worship any other than Him.” This main message was followed by a series of commandments, most of which were very similar throughout religious history. Yet, religious rituals differed from one religion to others.
Thus, there is no contradiction when God says, “…verily, you (O Muhammad) are indeed guiding (mankind) to the straight path.” (Al-Shura, 42:52)
This means that Muhammad (peace he upon him) is indeed delivering the correct guidance and the straight path to Allah, but he is not forcing anyone to follow this path. Freewill is one of the tools for test Allah has chosen by which to know who is av true believer and who is not.
Why Follow Muhammad?
One may say, since there were many messengers and many holy books with guidance for all mankind, then why would following Muhammad (peace be upon him), and his message be any different than other religions? This is a common question asked by many who are not truly familiar with the fact that to this day, all Holy Books of God have either been destroyed or changed by the hands of mankind for various reasons. A true research into this matter will reveal the validity of this claim.
Although Muslims are required to believe in all the messengers and their books, they are also warned by God about the human’s interference with the Creator’s messages throughout time and changing many words of the scriptures from their original place, or writing with their own hands, claiming it is from Allah: “Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: ‘This is from Allah,’ to traffic with it for miserable price! Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:79)
A sincere research would reveal that Qur’an is the only Holy Book in existence that has not been changed by even a letter to this day. While Muslims, believing in other scriptures, they use the Qur’an to verify the validity of certain claims or commandments in such scriptures.
The following verses reveal this truth: Allah, the Exalted, says: “And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it).” (Al-Hashr, 59:7)
This of course, means his traditions, words, actions and orders, all of which were also in form of inspirations. However, the Qur’an was revelation bestowed on him through the Angel Gabriel: “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only a Revelation that is revealed.” (An-Najm 53:3-4)
God further commands Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to teach his followers that following him is an obligation ordained by Him: “Say (O Muhammad to mankind): If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e., accept monotheism, follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins.” (Al-Imran, 3:31)
Even following his character, one would find himself embracing the right path, as his path was the Qur’an and his way was the way of success and closeness to his Creator. “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day... .” (Al-Ahzab, 33:21)
For those who claim the Qur’an is sufficient, Allah warns that the Muslims are to take their Prophet as a judge in all disputes. Of course, after his death, the scholars refer to preserved traditions to understand his rulings on various issues, or may use some rulings to arrive at new, similar rulings. “But no, by your God, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.” (An-Nisa, 4:65). Disobeying Allah’s messenger becomes such a grave sin as disobeying Allah. “He, who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad), has indeed obeyed Allah.” (An-Nisa, 4:80); and “And verily, you (O Muhammad) are indeed guiding (mankind) to the straight path (i.e., Allah’s deen of monotheism).” (Ash-Shura, 42:52)
How much more warning does mankind need, if he believes in the Creator? He makes matters quite clear and His warnings are just and clear.
“And let those who oppose the Messenger’s commandment (i.e., his Sunnah — legal ways, orders, acts of worship, statements), beware, lest some fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant) should befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them.” (An-Nur, 24:63)
How would one know the authentic narrations of the Prophet? The science of hadith collection, narration, narrators and deciphering strong from the weak is a science that has been studied and practiced for centuries by the Muslim scholars. They would accept an unbroken chain of narration that ends with the Prophet (peace be upon him) through the companions who saw him.
All are valid as long as the chain is unbroken and the original narrator or anyone in the chain is not reported as being a liar, weak-minded or hypocrite. There are many other conditions, which this article will not suffice to explain.
Finally, one’s heart opens to love the Creator, only by getting to know Him, His ways, commandments and His abundant mercy on mankind.
— Raya Shokatfard is a freelance writer, based in US
n Courtesy of www.onislam.net
Reproduced from Arab News