Allah’s Eternal Word
Honoring Allah’s Word
We have just looked at evidence from both the Quran and from history proving that the Taurat, Zabur and Injil have been neither corrupted nor abrogated. It is thus clear why people of Allah have always held these Scriptures as the foundation for their faith. Yet, this leads us to another matter of equal importance – how should Allah’s eternal and unchanging Word be honored? It is the universal consensus of Allah’s people that Scripture deserves and requires the highest honor and respect. Yet, throughout the ages, different people and groups have given different answers as to exactly how that honor should be given.
It is generally agreed that one respects the Word by observing bodily cleanliness when handling that Word. Thus, many believe that one should never touch Allah’s Word unless washing of purification has been performed first. It is also generally agreed that Holy Scripture should never touch the feet or be placed in a position lower or on the same level with the feet. Further, to show respect, it is stored wrapped in cloth and frequently kissed on taking out and on replacing.
Yet, are these practices the primary or most important means of respecting and honoring Allah’s Word? Similarly, is to neglect these practices the greatest dishonor we can show Scripture? In fact, as we shall see, the greatest respect one can show Scripture is to use it for the purpose for which Allah originally gave it. Conversely, to reject that purpose is the ultimate and greatest dishonor imaginable. It is the dishonor compared to which all other customs and practices of honor or dishonor pale into insignificance. Before looking more closely at this matter, let us consider a fictitious story.
In a certain land there once lived a very poor man. Without land, profession or trade, he suffered greatly from poverty. His plight, however, was noticed by a very rich and kind landowner who lived in the nearby village. The landowner’s heart being touched, he determined to save the man from his pitiful state. He summoned the man to his house, presented him with a gift of one hundred thousand dollars and said, “I have seen your poverty and your suffering, and I have determined to save you. Take this money; buy food and clothing. Use it wisely and it will both save you and bring me much happiness and a good name.”
How did the poor man respond? He was overjoyed! Thanking the man profusely, he took the money and, wrapping it carefully in a cloth, he left for his home. Arriving home, the man carefully made a small box of wood for storing the money. He wrapped the money up in his best cloth, placed it in the box and closed the lid. He then placed it on a shelf high up in his little room. Each day he carefully took the box down, unwrapped the money and lovingly counted it. Then, just as carefully, he would replace it on the high shelf.
The man, however, never spent a penny of his treasure. As a result, he continued growing weaker and weaker with each passing day. Finally, he was too weak to even take down his treasure. Shortly thereafter he died.
Now, what is your opinion of the poor man? Was there ever a bigger fool? True, he recognized and valued the treasure given to him. He was grateful to the kind landowner for his generosity. Yet, in his foolishness, he did not use the treasure for the purpose for which it had been actually given. As a result, it did him no good – he still died of starvation. Further, while outwardly showing great respect and honor to the gift presented to him, he actually dishonored and disgraced both the gift and the giver. Had he used it for its real purpose, he would have been saved and the kind man’s fame and renown greatly spread. Instead, he starved to death and the rich man became a laughing stock for attempting to help such a fool.
The above is only a story. Unfortunately, it has all too many similarities with real life and our treatment of the Scriptures, Allah’s treasure entrusted to us. In the story the merciful landowner is much like Allah. In his mercy the landowner sought to save the poor man by giving him a gift of great value. In much the same way, Allah the merciful and almighty has given us a gift of far greater value – His eternal Word. Sadly, how like the poor fool we often are! We give Allah’s gift great external honor. Yet, we do not use if for the real purpose for which it was given. As a result, we actually dishonor both Allah and His Word and ultimately destroy ourselves.
It is thus extremely important that we discover Allah’s primary purpose in giving us His Word. Unless we discover that purpose, we will never be able to truly honor Allah’s Word or receive the great benefits from it that Allah desires. To that end, let us look briefly at what the various Scriptures of the various prophets have to say about the purpose of Allah’s Word.
In the Taurat given to the Prophet Musa it is recorded:
Hear, O Israel: Allah our God, Allah is one. Love Allah your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all our strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
At the time of Musa’s death, the following Scripture was given to his successor, the prophet Joshua, as an encouragement and inspiration:
Do not let this Book of the Taurat depart from your mouth: meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Many years later these words were given to the prophet Dawud:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your Word. I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
Zabur, Psalm 119:11,105
After Dawud’s death, his son, the prophet Sulayman, was given these verses extolling the benefits of Allah’s Word:
(Allah’s Word is for) attaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding words of insight, for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair, for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.
In the Injil we find the following statement:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of Allah may be equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
Now, what have we seen in the above passages? It is a testimony to the universal and unchanging nature of Allah’s Word that each passage, though revealed over a period of thousands of years to many different prophets in different places agrees totally and completely in its testimony. In addition, we find that the Quran agrees with the testimony of the preceding passages:
And when Allah laid a charge on those who had received al-Kitab (He said): Ye are to expound it to mankind and not to hide it. But they flung it behind their backs and bought thereby a little gain.
Lo, we did reveal the Taurat, wherein is guidance and a light. And We caused Isa, son of Maryam, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was revealed before him, and We bestowed on him the Injil wherein is guidance and light, confirming that which was revealed before it in the Taurat – a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off evil.
It is thus very clearly taught that Scripture was given as a gracious act of Allah. Mankind, the descendants of Adam, had followed their forefather Adam in sin and rebellion against Allah. They rejected a life of peace and happiness in submission to Allah, preferring to live in futility and strife following their own perverted and disobedient desires.
Allah the merciful, however, did not desert them to their own just rewards. Instead, He sent His Word to convict mankind of their sin and to reveal to them the true path. Scripture was sent to instruct and guide, to teach and direct. Allah’s purpose was that mankind should live in humble obedience to His Word. By reading, diligent study and careful obedience to its teaching, man might live under true Islam – in submission to Allah and at peace with other men.
Now what do the passages we have just seen have to say about respecting Allah’s Word? If, as is clear, Allah’s Word was given as a guide and light for disobedient men, then the greatest dishonor one can show is to refuse to read, study and obey that Word. Without such understanding and obedience, all our external honor is of no value. External honor without the true honor of the heart is hypocrisy and hateful to Allah. Let us look at an actual historical example of such empty and hypocritical honor.
The Jews are a people with a long and intimate relationship with Allah. To them were sent the greatest prophets, men such as Ibrahim, Musa and Dawud. And to them was given the Scriptures such as the Taurat and the Zabur. Some had great regard for Allah’s Word. They eagerly read and studied it, and diligently sought to apply its teaching to their own lives.
Gradually, however, many lost their desire to understand and obey Allah’s Word and to please Allah. Instead, their concern shifted to fulfilling their own lusts and desires. Their main goal was to become wealthy, important and respected by other men. Yet, while they had no desire to obey Allah or His Word, these Jews still wanted to be known and respected as religious people and people of Allah.
They were able to achieve their goal by some very simple acts of hypocrisy. For example, we looked above at a passage from the Taurat where stress was put on teaching and obeying Scripture. Scripture is to be always in one’s thoughts and conversation as if it were bound to one’s hands and forehead. To show to others their religiousness, many Jews began to literally bind Scripture onto their forehead and arms. They made leather pouches and put small parchments inscribed with Scripture passages into them. They then tied the packets to their foreheads and arms for all to see.
Many Jews, therefore, stopped reading, studying and obeying Allah’s Word and instead their emphasis shifted to an external honoring of Allah’s Word. They wanted an honoring which other men could see and duly appreciate. Similarly, they loved to be seen at religious meetings, to discuss and debate technicalities of their Jewish Hadith (Talmud), and to carry Allah’s Word around for all to see. But they had no desire to actually open Scripture, read it and obey it. Their hollow and empty respect for Allah’s Word fooled many men, but it failed to fool Allah. Allah understood their hearts. The outward show of honoring Allah’s Word while actually having no interest in reading and obeying it was more abhorrent to Allah than the pagan’s honest unconcern for Scripture. Allah pronounced His judgment on those hypocritical Jews through the Prophet Shaya:
Allah says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from Allah.”
Allah condemns the hypocrisy of the Jews in similar words through the prophet Dhul-kifl as follows:
My people come to you as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.
Because of their hypocrisy, Allah declared His judgment:
I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end, and the mountains of Israel will become desolate so that no one will cross them. Then they will know that I am Allah, when I have made the land desolate because of all the detestable things they have done. Dhul-kifl 33:28,29
The Jews’ signs of devotion and respect for Allah and His Word were empty rituals only. Their worship and devotion were mere words memorized and repeated to impress other men. But they had no true longing to actually know and obey Allah. Such hypocrisy often brought great honor and respect from men, but Allah’s opinion of such is made clear in the Quran as follows:
The likeness of those who are entrusted with the Taurat of Musa (the Jews), yet apply it not, is as the likeness of the ass carrying books.
What a terrible pronouncement! Yet, how accurate. Such Jews were truly like donkeys. A donkey is physically able to carry books and Scriptures on his strong back. However, he will never be able to understand or obey those books. So also the hypocritical Jews condemned in Scripture. They rendered great external honor to Allah’s Word and bore it with them wherever they went. Yet, they understood not a word of it. And they had no real desire to understand and obey it. They carried it around and showed it great external honor merely to gain the applause and honor of men.
We come now to the really important point in our discussion. It has been said that man has the ability to discern the slightest fault in another while being blind to the most glaring wrongs in his own life. That is all too true in our matter under study. We are quick to see the error and hypocrisy of the Jews. Are we as quick to see the error and hypocrisy in ourselves? How easy for us to do the same. How easy to show an outward respect for Allah’s Word, to seem to hold it in the highest position. We may kiss it. We may wash before touching it. We may store it in an elevated and protected place. Such external honor is admirable. But is it enough? The obvious answer is – NO!
The real issue centers on whether or not we go beyond this external respect to the real respect of the heart. We spend hours each day discussing politics, business or simply telling stories. Do we spend five minutes reading Allah’s Word in our mother tongue in order to understand it? We like to be seen at religious meetings and engaged in worship of Allah. Are we at all concerned to actually understand and obey Allah’s Word? In other words, do we use Scripture for the real purpose for which it was given or do we use it only to gain prestige and respect from men for our religiosity? This is a question which we each need to ask ourselves in all honesty. In man’s eyes I may appear to be a devout follower of Allah. Yet, in Allah’s eyes, am I too merely a hypocritical donkey?
What should you do to avoid the same condemnation the Jew’s received? The only answer is to actually read Allah’s Word for yourself and honestly seek to understand and obey it. To do that, you will need to read it in your own mother tongue. We would sincerely urge you to do so. If we can be of any help to you in this responsibility, please contact us. We would be most happy to provide you with material to help you understand the Taurat, Zabur and Injil for yourself in your own mother tongue.
The first nine questions below are multiple choice. Simply press the button by the statement you feel best answers the question. Question ten asks you to put down your own ideas. Answer it truthfully and to the best of your knowledge.
1. What is the greatest honor we can show Allah’s Word?
a. Kiss it frequently.
b. Use if for the purpose for which Allah gave it.
c. Keep it wrapped up in cloth in a safe place.
2. The poor man in the story:
a. Showed no outward honor to the gift given him.
b. Was ungrateful for the rich of the kind man.
c. Outwardly honored the gift, but actually dishonored it by his foolish action.
3. The treasure the poor man received:
a. Saved his life because he used it well.
b. Did him no good because it was improperly used.
c. Eventually made him wealthy and famous throughout the land.
4. The real purpose for which Allah gave Scripture was to:
a. Teach us how to live and honor Allah.
b. Recite it when sick or in danger.
c. Use it in making amulets and charms.
5. What is the greatest disrespect we can show Allah’s Word?
a. Not to read, understand and obey it.
b. Not to keep it on a Scripture stand when reading it.
c. Not to listen quietly when it is being read.
6. Because some Jews gave outward respect to the Taurat but did not understand and obey it, they are compared in the Quran to:
a. Foolish men unaware of their folly.
b. A donkey bearing a load of books.
c. A fruit tree without fruit.
7. Those who show outward respect to Scripture but do not obey it:
a. Are praised in Scripture for their outward respect.
b. Are not mentioned in Scripture.
c. Are severely condemned in Scripture as hypocrites.
8. According to Allah’s Word, what is the result when a nation shows hypocrisy towards Allah’s Word?
a. The nation comes under Allah’s judgment and wrath.
b. The nation prospers.
c. Nothing happens.
9. According to Allah’s Word, what will bring prosperity?
a. To read Allah’s Word daily.
b. To meditate on Allah’s Word daily.
c. To read, meditate and obey Allah’s Word each day.
10. What have you personally done or are doing to read, understand and obey Allah’s Word? What more should you be doing?