One of the prophets that God has honored in the Quran is Abraham, so much so, that God even calls him a beloved friend.
[4:125] Who is better guided in his religion than one who submits totally to GOD, leads a righteous life, according to the creed of Abraham: monotheism? GOD has chosen Abraham as a beloved friend.
(١٢٥) وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ وَاتَّبَعَ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَاتَّخَذَ اللَّهُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلًا
God further distinguishes him by stating that in addition to being a beloved friend he also was never an idol worshiper.
[3:67] Abraham was neither Jewish, nor Christian; he was a monotheist submitter. He never was an idol worshiper.
(٦٧) مَا كَانَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ يَهُودِيًّا وَلَا نَصْرَانِيًّا وَلَٰكِنْ كَانَ حَنِيفًا مُسْلِمًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
And one unique aspect of Abraham’s history was that he was committed to God alone and debated with his people even as a youth.
[6:74] Recall that Abraham said to his father Ãzer, “How could you worship statues as gods? I see that you and your people have gone far astray.” [6:75] We showed Abraham the marvels of the heavens and the earth, and blessed him with certainty: [6:76] When the night fell, he saw a shining planet. “Maybe this is my Lord,” he said. When it disappeared, he said, “I do not like (gods) that disappear.” [6:77] When he saw the moon rising, he said, “Maybe this is my Lord!” When it disappeared, he said, “Unless my Lord guides me, I will be with the strayers.” [6:78] When he saw the sun rising, he said, “This must be my Lord. This is the biggest.” But when it set, he said, “O my people, I denounce your idolatry. [6:79] “I have devoted myself absolutely to the One who initiated the heavens and the earth; I will never be an idol worshiper.” [6:80] His people argued with him. He said, “Do you argue with me about GOD, after He has guided me? I have no fear of the idols you set up. Nothing can happen to me, unless my Lord wills it. My Lord’s knowledge encompasses all things. Would you not take heed? [6:81] “Why should I fear your idols? It is you who should be afraid, since you worship instead of GOD idols that are utterly powerless to help you. Which side is more deserving of security, if you know?” [6:82] Those who believe, and do not pollute their belief with idol worship, have deserved the perfect security, and they are truly guided.
Abraham had such strong faith that he was willing to give his life for his belief. This was most notably demonstrated when he destroyed the idols that his people were worshipping.
[21:51] Before that, we granted Abraham his guidance and understanding, for we were fully aware of him. [21:52] He said to his father and his people, “What are these statues to which you are devoting yourselves?” [21:53] They said, “We found our parents worshiping them.” [21:54] He said, “Indeed, you and your parents have gone totally astray.” [21:55] They said, “Are you telling us the truth, or are you playing?” [21:56] He said, “Your only Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth, who created them. This is the testimony to which I bear witness. [21:57] “I swear by GOD, I have a plan to deal with your statues, as soon as you leave.” [21:58] He broke them into pieces, except for a big one, that they may refer to it. [21:59] They said, “Whoever did this to our gods is really a transgressor.” [21:60] They said, “We heard a youth threaten them; he is called Abraham.” [21:61] They said, “Bring him before the eyes of all the people, that they may bear witness.” [21:62] They said, “Did you do this to our gods, O Abraham?” [21:63] He said, “It is that big one who did it. Go ask them, if they can speak.” [21:64] They were taken aback, and said to themselves, “Indeed, you are the ones who have been transgressing.” [21:65] Yet, they reverted to their old ideas: “You know full well that these cannot speak.” [21:66] He said, “Do you then worship besides GOD what possesses no power to benefit you or harm you? [21:67] “You have incurred shame by worshiping idols beside GOD. Do you not understand?” Profound Miracle [21:68] They said, “Burn him and support your gods, if this is what you decide to do.” [21:69] We said, “O fire, be cool and safe for Abraham.”
Notice at this time that Abraham was carrying out these acts he had not even received the Salat, Zakat, Hajj, or Sayem (fasting) yet, or even had access to the Quran. How was it possible that someone like Abraham was able to have such faith without any of these resources we have today?
Oftentimes people think what makes them righteous is because they have the Quran, Salat, Zakat, access to information, etc. that they are automatically deemed more righteous than others who do not have these blessings. But while these items can get us more access to being righteous, they are not righteousness in themselves, meaning someone can meet all the requirements to make it to Paradise without any of these blessings.
[2:62] Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in GOD, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالنَّصَارَىٰ وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
God has already equipped every human being with everything we need in order to be able to obtain salvation.
[7:172] Recall that your Lord summoned all the descendants of Adam, and had them bear witness for themselves: “Am I not your Lord?” They all said, “Yes. We bear witness.” Thus, you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, “We were not aware of this.”
(١٧٢) وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِنْ بَنِي آدَمَ مِنْ ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ شَهِدْنَا أَنْ تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَٰذَا غَافِلِينَ
[30:30] Therefore, you shall devote yourself to the religion of strict monotheism. Such is the natural instinct placed into the people by GOD. Such creation of GOD will never change. This is the perfect religion, but most people do not know.
(٣٠) فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَتَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا لَا تَبْدِيلَ لِخَلْقِ اللَّهِ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
[91:7] The soul and Him who created it.
(٧) وَنَفْسٍ وَمَا سَوَّاهَا
[91:8] Then showed it what is evil and what is good.
(٨) فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا
The problem is that most people’s connection with God quickly becomes corroded as they go through life and they are inundated with satanic viewpoints. Eventually, they may grow to accept these counter ideas and this will cause the instinctive knowledge that God placed in them to become corrupted, and cause them to fail to be able to distinguish correctly right from wrong. But for those who are able to preserve their integrity, like Abraham, they will be able to recognize the truth from God and act on it naturally.
So what distinguishes someone who has this ability compared to one who has lost it? A clue is given to us in the following verse from above about Abraham in his youth:
[21:51] Before that, we granted Abraham his guidance and understanding, for we were fully aware of him.
(٥١) وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ رُشْدَهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا بِهِ عَالِمِينَ
There is only a single requirement that a person needs in order to receive guidance from God, and that is sincerity. If our hearts are sincere, then God will guide us by virtue of our faith.
[10:9] As for those who believe and lead a righteous life, their Lord guides them, by virtue of their belief. Rivers will flow beneath them in the gardens of bliss.
(٩) إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ يَهْدِيهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ بِإِيمَانِهِمْ تَجْرِي مِنْ تَحْتِهِمُ الْأَنْهَارُ فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ
This guidance will allow us to be able to recognize the truth and justice when we see it.
[22:54] Those who are blessed with knowledge will recognize the truth from your Lord, then believe in it, and their hearts will readily accept it. Most assuredly, GOD guides the believers in the right path.
وَلِيَعْلَمَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ فَيُؤْمِنُوا بِهِ فَتُخْبِتَ لَهُ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَهَادِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ
[2:146] Those who received the scripture recognize the truth herein, as they recognize their own children. Yet, some of them conceal the truth, knowingly.
(١٤٦) الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ يَعْرِفُونَهُ كَمَا يَعْرِفُونَ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ وَإِنَّ فَرِيقًا مِنْهُمْ لَيَكْتُمُونَ الْحَقَّ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ
Someone who is sincere in their faith when presented with the Quran will recognize the truth and wholeheartedly accept it without objection.
[56:77] This is an honorable Quran. [56:78] In a protected book. [56:79] None can grasp it except the sincere.
But there are people that accept the Quran, yet lack sincerity. We should all fear that we could possibly be in this camp. While I can cite verses from the Quran to show the criteria of a sincere person, the problem with this approach is who is to say that I am sincere and I am understanding these verses correctly. So what I want to do is look at some high-level questions that we can ask ourselves to gauge our sincerity.
Q1: Have you read the Quran from cover to cover in a language you understand?
It is interesting how many people argue about the Quran despite never having read it from cover to cover in a language they understand. One would think if a person believes that this Quran is from God and that this is God’s communication to mankind that the person would be eager to open it and read it religiously in a language they understand.
It is worth pointing out that the first revelation of the Quran is to read, and that God teaches by means of the pen.
[96:1] Read, in the name of your Lord, who created. [96:2] He created man from an embryo. [96:3] Read, and your Lord, Most Exalted. [96:4] Teaches by means of the pen. [96:5] He teaches man what he never knew.
That the third revelation of the Quran is a commandment to read the Quran from cover to cover (tartil).
[73:4] Or a little more. And read the Quran from cover to cover.
(٤) أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا
Almost daily there I engage with people who argue with me that my understanding is wrong regarding the Quran, which is fine because I might be wrong, but what is interesting is that more often than not these are people who never read the Quran a single time from cover to cover for themselves. More often than not they are just regurgitating what they heard or grew up understanding.
[2:170] When they are told, “Follow what GOD has revealed herein,” they say, “We follow only what we found our parents doing.” What if their parents did not understand, and were not guided? [2:171] The example of such disbelievers is that of parrots who repeat what they hear of sounds and calls, without understanding. Deaf, dumb, and blind; they cannot understand.
Q2: Are you looking at the Quran to confirm what you already believe, or are you looking to the Quran to learn what God said about the matter?
Oftentimes people will flip through the verses of the Quran to look for a verse to justify whatever it is that they already believe. So if the Quran only confirms all our pre-existing beliefs then it is probably a sign that we are probably not being sincere. It is worth pointing out that God informs us after commanding the believers to read the Quran from cover to cover the message is heavy.
[73:5] We will give you a heavy message.
(٥) إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا
If we finish reading the Quran and think that we understood everything and did not have the verses raise questions to our understandings then it is probably a sign we are not being sincere.
[11:12] You may wish to disregard some of that which is revealed to you, and you may be annoyed by it. Also, they may say, “How come no treasure comes down to him, or an angel?” You are only a warner; GOD controls all things.
فَلَعَلَّكَ تَارِكٌ بَعْضَ مَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيْكَ وَضَائِقٌ بِهِ صَدْرُكَ أَنْ يَقُولُوا لَوْلَا أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ كَنْزٌ أَوْ جَاءَ مَعَهُ مَلَكٌ إِنَّمَا أَنْتَ نَذِيرٌ وَاللَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَكِيلٌ
The reality is that reading the Quran should raise just as many questions as it has answers. The text contains infinite amount of information in its fixed volume
[20:114] Most Exalted is GOD, the only true King. Do not rush into uttering the Quran before it is revealed to you, and say, “My Lord, increase my knowledge.”
فَتَعَالَى اللَّهُ الْمَلِكُ الْحَقُّ وَلَا تَعْجَلْ بِالْقُرْآنِ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يُقْضَىٰ إِلَيْكَ وَحْيُهُ وَقُلْ رَبِّ زِدْنِي عِلْمًا
Q3: Are you judging the verses of the Quran or allowing the verses of the Quran to judge your behavior?
Once we confirm that the Quran is the book of God for all of mankind, then we must realize that the Quran is not here to be judged by us, it is here to judge us.
[4:105] We have sent down to you the scripture, truthfully, in order to judge among the people in accordance with what GOD has shown you. You shall not side with the betrayers.
إِنَّا أَنْزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِتَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِمَا أَرَاكَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَكُنْ لِلْخَائِنِينَ خَصِيمًا
[4:65] Never indeed, by your Lord; they are not believers unless they come to you to judge in their disputes, then find no hesitation in their hearts whatsoever in accepting your judgment. They must submit a total submission.
فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
Q4: Can you understand how someone else can come to a different position?
Often when I am discussing Quran with someone I ask them if they can understand from the evidence I provided how I came to my conclusion. I am not asking the person to agree with me or my position, but can they acknowledge they understand how I came to have this viewpoint. If we are incapable of putting ourselves in the shoes of others to try to see things how they see things, then we will really stunt our ability to expand our knowledge.
Let’s take a very extreme example that of Satan and his claim that God willed him to go astray. We know that this is a complete lie, but we can understand from his egotistical viewpoint how he came to convince himself of such an understanding. This by no means asserts that we are to agree with Satan on this point, but by understanding where he is coming from it helps us better understand God’s system.
So when someone comes with an understanding that I 100% disagree with, I have no problem trying to understand how they came to that understanding. And I do not feel like I am giving validity to the claim by simply acknowledging their thought process, but I see a lot of people fall into this misconception that acknowledging different viewpoints means that we are accepting or giving credence to them.
The reason I think a lot of good meaning people fall into this trap is that they conflate tolerance and compromise. The two concepts are not the same. I can be 100% tolerant and still 100% uncompromising. I can understand 100% how a person came to their position, and still hold 100% to my own understanding.
[7:198] When you invite them to the guidance, they do not hear. And you see them looking at you, but they do not see. [7:199] You shall resort to pardon, advocate tolerance, and disregard the ignorant. [7:200] When the devil whispers to you any whisper, seek refuge in GOD; He is Hearer, Omniscient. [7:201] Those who are righteous, whenever the devil approaches them with an idea, they remember, whereupon they become seers.
[72:13] “‘When we heard the guidance, we believed therein. Anyone who believes in his Lord will never fear any injustice, nor any affliction. [72:14] “‘Among us are the submitters, and among us are the compromisers.'” As for those who submitted, they are on the right path. [72:15] As for the compromisers, they will be fuel for Gehenna.
Q5: Is there any creteria that will convince you that you are wrong?
One of the tactics God uses in the Quran is to challenge people to prove their claims is to pose a challenge. If the challenge can be met then the hypothesis can be falsified, but if can’t be met then it must be considered true.
[22:73] O people, here is a parable that you must ponder carefully: the idols you set up beside GOD can never create a fly, even if they banded together to do so. Furthermore, if the fly steals anything from them, they cannot recover it; weak is the pursuer and the pursued.
يَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ ضُرِبَ مَثَلٌ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَدْعُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ لَنْ يَخْلُقُوا ذُبَابًا وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا لَهُ وَإِنْ يَسْلُبْهُمُ الذُّبَابُ شَيْئًا لَا يَسْتَنْقِذُوهُ مِنْهُ ضَعُفَ الطَّالِبُ وَالْمَطْلُوبُ
[28:49] Say, “Then produce a scripture from GOD with better guidance than the two, so I can follow it, if you are truthful.”
قُلْ فَأْتُوا بِكِتَابٍ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ هُوَ أَهْدَىٰ مِنْهُمَا أَتَّبِعْهُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
[2:23] If you have any doubt regarding what we revealed to our servant, then produce one sura like these, and call upon your own witnesses against GOD, if you are truthful.
وَإِنْ كُنْتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَىٰ عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُوا بِسُورَةٍ مِنْ مِثْلِهِ وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُمْ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
*It is worth pointing out that this claim occurs in 2:23, 10:38, and 11:13 which are all in initialed suras respectively A.L.M. and A.L.R. suras.
If we are fixed in our ways and never listen to other viewpoints then we will never grow in understanding.
[2:88] Some would say, “Our minds are made up!” Instead, it is a curse from GOD, as a consequence of their disbelief, that keeps them from believing, except for a few of them.
(٨٨) وَقَالُوا قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ بَلْ لَعَنَهُمُ اللَّهُ بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَقَلِيلًا مَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
We should not hold all our beliefs in the same standing. For every belief we have, there is a certain amount of confidence we should apply to the belief. But if we subscribe the same level of confidence to all our beliefs then we will never concede when we are wrong. For instance, my belief that there is a God, or that God is One, or that there will be a Day of Judgment should be absolute. But if I have that same certainty in these beliefs as I do that Shuaib and Moses’s father-in-law are the same person, or who was Zul-Qurnain, then I am either not putting enough certainty in my core beliefs, or putting too much certainty in less validated beliefs. Either way requires a recalibration in understanding.
As believers, we should be open to listening to all words and trust that if we are sincere God will guide us to the truth.
[39:18] They are the ones who examine all words, then follow the best. These are the ones whom GOD has guided; these are the ones who possess intelligence.
(١٨) الَّذِينَ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقَوْلَ فَيَتَّبِعُونَ أَحْسَنَهُ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَاهُمُ اللَّهُ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمْ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ