The First Question
I have started reading two translations of the Qur’an along with a biography of Mohammed’s life. I was curious as to how ‘convenient’ the Qur’an was to Mohammed. It seems that issues would be ‘revealed’ as they were personally needed by himself.
God is so great that it seems odd that God would ‘make it up as he went along.’
Please answer my sincere question.
The Qur’an, as you know, was revealed in portions over a period of twenty-three years. The revelation, as is clear from the book itself, was according to the requirements of the particular times. Now this fact could be interpreted by a mind as: “the Qur’an was very convenient to Mohammad”. Which really implies that the Qur’an was not God’s revelation. Had it been God’s revelation, it would have been completely revealed, at one time, because God’s revelation should not be hindered by any circumstances. The implication is that Muhammad (pbuh) made up the Qur’an himself, and because he was a human being, presented pieces of his Qur’an according to the circumstances and needs.
This objection is quite close to the one which was raised by the non-believers at the time the Qur’an was being revealed. The Qur’an has mentioned this objection in the following words:
Those who refuse to believe [in the Prophet] say: why is not the Qur’an revealed to him [i.e. the Prophet] all at once? (Al-Furqaan 25: 32)
The reason given by the Qur’an for the revelation of Allah’s guidance in parts, rather than all at once, is:
[We have revealed it] thus, so that We may strengthen thy heart thereby and [We revealed it] gradually with great care. (Al-Furqaan 25: 32)
At another place, the Qur’an says:
We have divided the Qur’an [in revealing it] so that you recite it to these people with deliberation. And We have revealed it with great care. (Al-Israa 17: 106)
Thus, if we look at these verses closely, we see that the Qur’an itself has given the reason for its revelation in segments. The reasons given in these verses may be summarized as:
The Qur’an was for the education and guidance of a people. Such education and training, like any other education and training program, required sequential training of the pupils. Every successful training program requires the trainer to show empathy towards the development potential of the trainees, and therefore has to be conducted in a sequential manner. Even though the trainer is in a position to give his pupils the final lesson on the very first day, yet no one would consider it a wise thing to do. The basics are to be taught first, and as the student progresses, he may then be exposed to details of the subject. This is what the phrase “We may strengthen thy heart thereby” means.
The Qur’an was revealed gradually, so that it would be easier for the people to understand it, and change their lives accordingly. It is difficult for the human mind, because of its inherent limitations, to grasp all the details of a newer concept in all its details in the first instance. This is the fact referred in the phrases “gradually with great care” and “so that you recite it to these people with deliberation”. A narrative ascribed to Hadhrat Ayesha (ra) (Bukhari, Kita’b Fadha’il al-Qur’an) explains the same idea. She is reported to have said:
“The revelations initially talked mostly about heaven and hell [to inculcate the belief in the life hereafter]. And when people started entering the folds of Islam, only then God revealed the directives regarding halaal and haraam (allowances and prohibitions). If God had started with the prohibition of wine, people [without the belief in the life hereafter] would, obviously, have refused to submit to this directive…”.
Besides these points, it seems logical that although Allah could have given the Qur’an, in its complete form, in one instance, but because the Qur’an was meant for the training and guidance of human beings, it had to be in such a form that would suit the understanding and comprehension of the human mind. It was because of this reason that, for instance, directives regarding an Islamic state were given only after the Islamic state of Medina was formed. Had these directives been given earlier, people would have been completely confused and these directives would have been of no use for them.
Moreover, not just the Qur’an, but all of God’s revelations, whether to Moses, Jesus or Mohammad (pbut), because they addressed human beings, were revealed in the same manner.
14th December 1998
The Second Question
Thank you for your reply. One other thing, according to Christians and Jews alike, Moses did receive the Ten Commandments written in stone from God at one time. Of course the writing of the first few books of the bible are attributed to Moses — as inspired from God, but not as a revelation.
And Jesus did not ‘reveal’ *any* book. He only preached God’s word & performed miracles. The Gospels were written several years after his death and were never attributed to him.
Thank you again for the answer to my question.
In my response to your previous question, I had mentioned that the Torah and the Gospel were also revealed over a period of time and not at once, in one go. In response to this, you state:
“Moses did receive the Ten Commandments written in stone from God at one time. Of course the writing of the first few books of the bible are attributed to Moses –as inspired from God, but not as a revelation.”
It is quite obvious that the Torah does not only consist of the Ten Commandments. Moreover, it is also quite obvious from the Qur’an that the Torah was revealed on Moses (pbuh). In my reply to your previous question, I had actually referred to these facts. The same is the case of “Injil” or the Gospel that was revealed on Jesus (pbuh).