Islam’s Holy Books
Islamic holy books are the texts which Muslims believe were authored by Allah via various prophets throughout humanity’s history. All these books, in Muslim belief, promulgated the code and laws that Allah ordained for those people.
Muslims believe the Quran to be the final revelation of Allah to man, and a completion and confirmation of previous scriptures. Despite the primacy that Muslims place upon the Quran as Allah’s final word, Islam speaks of respecting all the previous scriptures, and belief in all the revealed books is an article of faith in Islam.
Among the books considered to be revealed, the four mentioned by name in the Quran are the Tawrat (Torah) revealed to Musa (Moses), the Zabur revealed to Dawud (David), the Injil (Gospel) revealed to Isa (Jesus), and the Quran revealed to Muhammad.
- Quran: The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (الله, Allah). The Quran is divided into chapters (surah in Arabic), which are then divided into verses (ayah). Muslims believe the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE, when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632, the year of his death. Muslims regard the Quran as the most important miracle of Muhammad, a proof of his prophethood, and the culmination of a series of divine messages that started with the messages revealed to Adam and ended with Muhammad. It is widely regarded as the finest work in classical Arabic literature.
- Tawrat or Torah: According to the Quran, the Torah was revealed to Moses (Musa) but the Quran argues that the current Torah has suffered corruption over the years, and is no longer reliable. Moses and his brother Aaron (Hārūn) used the Torah to preach the message to the Israelites (Banu Isrā’īl).
- Zabur: The Quran mentions the Zabur, often interpreted as being the Book of Psalms, as being the holy scripture revealed to King David. Scholars have often understood the Psalms to have been holy songs of praise. The current Psalms are still praised by many Muslim scholars, but Muslims generally assume that some of the current Psalms were written later and are not divinely revealed. Quran 21:105 and Psalm 37:29 are direct counterparts.
- Injil or Gospel: The Injil was the holy book revealed to Jesus (Isa), according to the Quran. Although many lay Muslims believe the Injil refers to the entire New Testament, scholars have pointed out that it refers not to the New Testament but to an original Gospel, given to Jesus as the word of God. Therefore, according to Muslim belief, the Gospel was the message that Jesus, being divinely inspired, preached to the Children of Israel. The current canonical Gospels, in the belief of Muslim scholars, are not divinely revealed but rather are documents of the life of Jesus, as written by various contemporaries, disciples and companions. These Gospels, in Muslim belief, contain portions of the teachings of Jesus, but neither represent nor contain the original Gospel from God, which has been corrupted and/or lost.
The Quran also mentions two ancient scrolls and another possible book:
- Scrolls of Abraham (الْصُّحُفِ إِبْرَهِيم “aṣ-Ṣuḥufi Ibrāhīm” and/or الْصُّحُفِ ٱلْأُولَى aṣ-Ṣuḥufi ’l-Ūlā – “Books of the Earliest Revelation”): The Scrolls of Abraham are believed to have been one of the earliest bodies of scripture, which were given to Abraham (Ibrāhīm), and later used by Ishmael (Ismā‘īl) and Isaac (Isḥāq). Although usually referred to as “scrolls”, many translators have translated the Arabic suhuf as “books”. The Scrolls of Abraham are now considered lost rather than corrupted, although some scholars have identified them with the Testament of Abraham, an apocalyptic piece of literature available in Arabic at the time of Muhammad. The verse mentioning the “Scriptures” is in Quran 87:18-19 where they are referred to “Books of the Earliest Revelation”.
- Book of John the Baptist (Kitāb Yaḥyā): There is an allusion to a Book (Kitāb) of John the Baptist (Yaḥyā). It is possible that portions of its text appear in some of the Mandæan scriptures such as the Ginza Rba or the Draša ḏ-Iahia “The Book of John the Baptist”. Yahya is revered by the Mandæans and by the Sabians.
- Scrolls of Moses (الْصُّحُفِ مُوسَى “aṣ-Ṣuḥufi Mūsā” and/or الْصُّحُفِ ٱلْأُولَى aṣ-Ṣuḥufi ’l-Ūlā – “Books of the Earliest Revelation”): These scrolls, containing the revelations of Moses, which were perhaps written down later by Moses, Aaron and Joshua, are understood by Muslims to refer not to the Torah but to revelations aside from the Torah. Some scholars have stated that they could possibly refer to the Book of the Wars of the Lord, a lost text spoken of in the Old Testament or Tanakh in the Book of Numbers. The verse mentioning the “Scriptures” is in Quran 87:18-19 where they are referred to “Books of the Earliest Revelation”.
- Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, Cyril Glasse, Holy Books
- Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2007). “Qurʼān”. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
- Lambert, Gray (2013). The Leaders Are Coming!. WestBow Press. p. 287. ISBN 9781449760137.
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- Quran 17:106
- Peters, F.E. (2003). The Words and Will of God. Princeton University Press. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0-691-11461-7.
- Margot Patterson, Islam Considered: A Christian View,Liturgical Press, 2008 p.10.
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- Alan Jones, The Koran, London 1994, ISBN 1842126091, opening page.
“Its outstanding literary merit should also be noted: it is by far, the finest work of Arabic prose in existence.”
- Arthur Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, London 1956, ISBN 0684825074, p. 191.
“It may be affirmed that within the literature of the Arabs, wide and fecund as it is both in poetry and in elevated prose, there is nothing to compare with it.”
- Quran 53:36
- “Torah – Oxford Islamic Studies Online”. www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- “Zabur – Oxford Islamic Studies Online”. www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- Encyclopaedia of Islam, Psalms
- Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary
- Martin Lings, Mecca; Abdul Malik, In Thy Seed
- “Psalms – Oxford Islamic Studies Online”. www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 2018-07-26.
- Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary, Appendix: On the Injil
- Encyclopaedia of Islam, Injil
- Quran 87:19
- Marmaduke Pickthall, The Meaning of the Glorious Koran
- Quran 19:12
- Numbers 21:14
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