God created the universe. He knows best its creation plan. He has full knowledge of which path in this world leads to success and which path leads to failure. Therefore, God-given guidance is entirely trustworthy.
After the creation of the universe, when man first inhabited the earth, God decreed that in every age and in every nation, there would be certain individuals who would be raised as prophets to guide mankind to the path of God. God, Who has absolute knowledge, sent His guidance to man. He did this by means of revelations which he bade the angels convey to the prophets in the form of divine books. These are the sacred books on which the religions of the world are based.
These religious books have guided man in all ages. In every era a large number of people have found in them light for their minds and solace for their hearts. The goal of religions has always been to give man a proper knowledge of His Creator, so that he may properly understand the universe and the purpose of human life in it.
The Qur’an and the Bible both tell us that, ever since the advent of man on earth, God has sent His Prophets to convey His message to mankind. About two-dozen Prophets have been mentioned in the Qur’an by name. According to a hadith, from Adam to Jesus Christ, more than one hundred thousand prophets have come to the world. Every prophet brought God’s religion and communicated it to his people. This divine scheme has continued in every age and in all places. However, with the exception of the Prophet Muhammad, no authentic historical record is available of any other prophet. But, in principle, we have to believe that God’s prophets came to every nation and in every age, whether or not we have any record of them.
All these religions brought by God’s messengers were one and the same – Islam. Originally there was no basic difference between one religion and the other. But it happened that none of the concerned peoples were able to preserve the teachings of their prophets. Either these religions survived in a distorted form, or they vanished without leaving any trace. Moreover, contemporary historians failed to attach any importance to these prophets or their teachings. For this reason few of these prophets found their place in the annals of history. The only exception is that of the final prophet, Muhammad, peace be upon him.
This blackout of history was so complete that even the prophets of later periods of history received scant mention in contemporary records. For instance, Jesus Christ came to the world two thousand years ago, and so little is known about his life that a western scholar was once constrained to remark: “Historically, it is quite doubtful whether Christ ever existed at all.”
Due to the paucity of reliable documentation, all the previous religious scriptures, except that of Islam, have lost their historical credibility. By rational standards all other religions have assumed the status of a set of dogmas rather than that of a chronicled event. One can believe in them only as a matter of faith and not as a fact of history. However, the position of Islam in this regard is totally different. Muhammad, the Messenger of Islam, as acknowledged by all well-known historians of the world, was born in the full light of history, and whatever he said or did in his life-time has been recorded in considerable detail.
The Qur’an, the last word of God, has been preserved just as it was first revealed to the Messenger of Islam. The textual originality and purity of the Qur’an is incomparable and unquestionable. Islam, as a whole, passes the strictest criteria of higher criticism and historical verification. So, when one opts for Islam, one does so as a matter of history, not simply as a matter of faith.
One can safely say, therefore, that for a seeker after the truth, there is no whole range of options. He has only one choice to make. And that is the choice of Islam: the only religion having true historical credibility.
For instance, according to our belief, Abraham and Moses were Prophets of God. Abraham was born in Iraq and Moses in Egypt. Yet the annals of the respective countries are devoid of any mention of these great prophets. We find no reference in the ancient history of Iraq to Abraham. Similarly, Egyptian history makes no mention of Moses.
In a similar way, as testified to by the Qur’an, Jesus was a prophet. Even Gautam Buddh is considered a prophet by his followers. But neither Jesus Christ nor Gautam Buddh come up to the strict standards of history. For example, there are long periods of Jesus’s life about which nothing is known, and the stories of the New Testament were not written until more than a century after his death. Three languages—Syriac, Greek and Hebrew—were prevalent during the time of Christ, yet we have no way of knowing, with certainty, about the language in which he communicated his message to his people.
In the times of Gautam Buddh, Pali and Sanskrit were in vogue. But there is no historical evidence as to which language he spoke. The actual words spoken by Gautam Buddh are not on record. There are some who claim to have proofs that Gautam Buddh spoke in Pali, but it has not been established by the scholars of Buddhism.
The reason is that, in ancient times, before the age of the press, the concept of historiography was very limited. At that period it was only a record of kings and generals; only events relating to victory and defeat were considered worth recording. All other incidents remained unrepresented and since the prophets or the reformers were not associated with events of a political nature, the historians did not consider their lives worthy of being immortalized.
The case of the Prophet Muhammad was exceptional in that is was quite different from that of the other prophets. Circumstances were such that he became involved in all kinds of political events, and he and his companions were able to usher in a revolution bringing about sweeping changes in the political and the social order of the time. Naturally the events of his life came to be recorded in the contemporary history and thus he became an essential part of history. In this way, by historical standards, the Prophet Muhammad became a historical personality, in the full sense of the word.
Because of non-existent documentation, all the other religions and their founders have come to be considered lacking in credence. One who examines these religions objectively feels that he is studying beliefs rather than history, for the personalities associated with these religions, their religious scriptures and their teachings have been demonstrated to be scientifically and historically unreliable.
An Encyclopaedia of the Hindu religion, published under the title Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, drew the comment from a scholar that it would be more aptly titled Encyclopaedia of Hindu Mythology. This is the case with all religions. All the faiths save Islam may be classified as mythologies rather than religions in the scientific and historical sense.
The subject matter of ancient alchemy and modern chemistry is one and the same. Yet we all know that there is a basic difference between the two. Alchemy was based on unproved speculations, while modern chemistry is based on facts proved by strictly scientific methods. This same difference is found between Islam and other religions, the latter being like ancient alchemy, whereas the former is like modern chemistry.
This difference is so evident that no one can fail to notice it. One who sincerely makes a comparative study of religions of both kinds will inevitably discover it. Hence Islam is the only choice for those who seek a religion with a credible historical base.
So Islam is not a religion that was brought by Prophet Muhammad in the first quarter of the 7th Century. It is the preserved form of the religion that God has sent through all His prophets since the dawn of human history on this earth.