What is a True Revelation? If God did send us a revelation how would we know if its true?
I was conversing with someone and I was told, “science has proven now that we live in a galaxy with about 5 billion stars like our sun and there are billions and billions of galaxies in the observable universe. Hopefully, the next few religious texts that come up will include this fact.”
The poor representation of God by many religious texts has caused a lot of people to lose faith in them. This is a natural reaction to our modern mindset which opposes superstition and wants to see the truth. It is as clear as day to many that those religious texts could not have been authored by God and were written by Men. This realization is desirable in order to recognize the real revelation of God. But in the process of denial we make the common mistake of generalizing all religions into one and see all religious texts from the same perspective as being “old, outdated & man-made”.
Me being a Muslim will talk about the Quran and I of-course am not liable to the texts of other religions which may have brought down your confidence in religion. The first thing I would ask you is not to club the Quran along with the religious texts you are familiar with. Let us be fair. Why should we judge something of which we have no knowledge? With this as a baseline let me rephrase the approach and ask, ‘If God does exist and if he does send a revelation to us what should it contain to make us believe?‘ i.e What is a true revelation?
A true universal revelation is that revelation which caters to people of all epochs of time, to all people, without undergoing any change necessitated by personal lifestyles, nor was changed even a bit from the time it was revealed. It remains valid no matter what level of scientific knowledge we achieve and in fact gets validated by us as conforming to truth as we keep uncovering the secrets of science. This is one of the definitions of a true revelation which has forced the religious texts which you are familiar with to failure. But the matter of Quran is different altogether and let us give it a chance before Judging.
How did God convince us about his revelation 2000 years ago?
When God sends his revelation to us, he also sends us convincing proofs that it is indeed he who has sent it. 2000 years ago God sent Jesus with guidance to mankind and the message that there is only one God. When Jesus walked the earth there were many miracle workers and people believed in them. It was the time of superstition. Hence in order for God to prove to such people that it was indeed he who sent Jesus was to give Jesus such phenomenal miracles which no ordinary miracle worker could perform. The difference was of such a degree that it was impossible for others to even match a single miracle of his. The other miracle workers were fake, but what Jesus did was the real thing.
Quran 5:110 -‘[On The Day of resurrection] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity; and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission; and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission; and when you brought forth the dead with My permission; and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, “This is not but obvious magic.”
Notice how many times God says that Jesus did miracles ‘By my permission’. But unfortunately the superstitious and ‘hero-worshiping’ people made a God out of Jesus and later even idolatry crept into many sects of Christianity after it was influenced by Greek philosophy. Nevertheless, as the true message of gospel got corrupted, the standard protocol that God follows is to re-instate the message by sending another Prophet and that was Prophet Muhammad. The only difference this time was Prophet Muhammad would be the final messenger to mankind and the Quran would be the final message as God himself has taken the responsibility of protecting it from corruption till the last day.
Quran 15:9 -‘We (Allah) have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption).’
How did God convince us about his revelation 1400 years ago?
Now 600 years after Jesus Christ, the trend changed. The Quran was revealed in Arabia at a time when the Arabs were producing literary master pieces. Literature and poetry was the measure by which people gained superiority. And the way God chose to prove to us that he indeed has sent a book was for him to give a book that was beyond the literary capability of the people and it was given to Prophet Muhammad who was unlettered. i.e he did not know to read or write- A literary masterpiece which stands unrivaled to this day. That is the Quran.
How does God convince us today about his revelation?
But now the age is of science and technology. The way to convince a person of science would be to confront him with scientific evidences. A true revelation from God should be capable of standing the test of time and solve the riddle of being perfectly applicable for all times -meaning, in our current context it should have scientific evidences along with being a literary masterpiece. The Quran is full of such scientific evidences which are called as ‘miracles’ because they could not have been known to us 1400 years ago when it was revealed. Again, these miracles have the purpose of guiding mankind towards God and not to explain us details of the scientific phenomenon or teach us science. The topic of scientific miracles of the Quran is a separate topic, a major one, which can be discussed one by one.
Maybe after a 1000 years from now the scene would change and the current trend would no more be ‘science’. A true revelation from God should remain unparalleled even then in this new aspect along with retaining it’s superiority over all previous aspects. The authority of such a book cannot be explained in a better way than this verse, Quran 17:88 -‘Say: “If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.’
This is the testification of the revelation by the revelation.
A religious book is not a manual of science
When taking up the topic of scientific miracles of Quran, I have been demanded by many, in their frustration ‘Show me such and such scientific information in your book, then I will believe’. It is not up to us to put words in the mouth of God. God is free to say whatever responsible things he wants to say to us, in a way he feels is best for us. I would like to ask, ‘does it make sense for God to mention only about things like specifics of a scientific phenomenon or a list of scientific formulas which he has enabled us to arrive at through observation and research?’ A religious book is not a manual of science, nor should it ever be. It should tell us about things which we are incapable of perceiving ourselves such as final judgement for our actions. In fact it should be the only foreign object on this earth, directly addressed to us, which should be capable of informing us about things which science can never tell. In short- It is what it is – A noble book from God to us explaining the things which we need to know and He knows best what need to know. Nobody will go to Hell if they don’t know that the Universe is made up of billions of galaxies and that each galaxy has a billion stars! But they will certainly go to hell if they fail in recognizing their Creator. There are bigger topics around this and this is addressed one way or the other in this website.
By the way, What should a book of God tell us to make us believe?
Whatever we spoke so far, all that is fine, but what do we need so that we be convinced that a book is from God? What sort of information should it give to convince us? If our mind provides us with some answers, even a little, then it means we are ready and open to learn the truth, but if the mind is blank then it means we are not ready for the truth and are living in stubborn denial for the sake of denial. When we ask this question seriously we will realize that demands of seeing a verse telling us about the billion galaxies containing billions of stars or a verse showing us a list of scientific formulas in order for us to believe will fade away.
What is the true way to recognize a message as being from God?
The true way to recognize a message as being from God is by looking at the message itself. A grand miracle performed by an angel may convince the small group of people witnessing the event but will fail to convince others. It is not right even to expect others to be convinced by a miracle that occurred a millennia ago – A problem which Christianity needs to address. The only way we can say that a book is from God is to look at its message. Among many other things, it must address the places where we, as mankind have gone wrong in matters related to God and must guide us to Him. It must exactly address this issue because this is the purpose of its existence. Would we need a revelation if we already had the right knowledge about God? No! It must convey the consequences of our actions boldly. It should not fear to say wrong as wrong even if the whole humanity believes that wrong to be right.
As a small example, check if the book asks you to worship a human figure as God or makes someone a relative of God or asks you to worship an Object as God. If it does any of these then there is something fishy going on.
What should a true revelation from God say about hero-worship?
So a large section of mankind took Jesus as God. So what should the reaction of the true God be? Think for a moment before proceeding. The True God sends a revelation with the following!
Quran 5:75 -‘Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah makes His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!’
This is the Quran. God asks “do you not see that Jesus walked and ate food like everybody else?” The fact that Jesus ate food is a logical evidence that he is not God and is a sign to us from God that Jesus cannot be God. This is how a true revelation logically argues with us. Allah says, ‘See how Allah makes His signs clear to them‘. But the creative minds of people are capable of concocting ways to justify anything as true. Hence God says, ‘yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!‘
What should a true revelation from God say about Idolatry?
A huge section of mankind worships inanimate objects and idols as gods. Can you think for a moment what should a true revelation from God do in such a case? Now look at the logical way Quran addresses this issue.
‘And rehearse to them (something of) Abraham’s story. Behold, he said to his father and his people: “What do you worship?” They said: “We worship idols, and to them we are very devoted.” He said: “Do they hear you when you call (upon them) or do they benefit you or harm you?” They said: “No, but we found our fathers doing so (what we do).” He (Abraham) said: “Do you then see whom you have been worshiping,- You and your fathers before you? For they are enemies to me; but not so- the Lord and Cherisher of the Worlds; Who created me, and it is He Who guides me; “Who gives me food and drink, “And when I am ill, it is He Who cures me; “Who will cause me to die, and then to life (again); “And who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the day of Judgment.
We can orchestrate various philosophies to justify object worship but the fact remains that objects can never be God and a true revelation sets this right. Read more on this topic here.
What should a true revelation from God say about Atheism?
Another huge section of mankind denies the existence of God altogether. They think that this Universe and life is nothing but a product of chance and there is no one capable of holding them accountable for their life long deeds. You will be surprised to know that this phenomenon of Atheism is not a product of scientific advancement but has existed since millennia. It has got nothing to do with science. A true revelation from God must certainly address the issue of atheism and confront to the deniers that he really exists and will certainly hold them and us accountable for our actions.
Quran 18:36-38 -‘(A man said) And I do not think the time for Judgement will ever come to pass; in case I’m turned to my Lord, I shall secure much better than what I have as a gracious return. Said to him his companion while conversing ‘do you disbelieve in Him who created you from dust then from a singled out sperm then proportioned you into a man. But for me He is Allah my Lord and never will I erect anything as a god with my Lord’. This verse rehearses a story which, the final Prophet – Muhammad was informed of; that the idea of being an agnostic has always existed in our history. The story above mentions the one who prided in his surplus and had no courtesy of thanks giving to Almighty God who had blessed him in abundance. This man when he enters his garden in arrogance forgetting his temporary state, he mutters what the present day Atheist flouts “if in case God resurrects me, I will find a better bounty with him”. God has thus frozen this argument in the Quran and has shown us the unfortunate situation in which the Atheists continue to grapple in their struggle to find solace with their theories. Read more on this topic here
A divine revelation complies with rational thought and addresses attitudes of people.
If God sends us a revelation, the revelation must construct attitudes of people beyond imbibing spirituality. It complies with rational thought – a premium characteristic for its recognition to be from God. A revelation must not be just to get a sense of spirituality. Spirituality can be realized even without a revelation. The Revelation should address the attitudes of people and clearly identify ways in which humanity can be uplifted. Take for instance the problem of Racism.
Quran 49:13 – ‘O mankind! We created you from a single [pair] of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other [not that ye may despise each other]. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is [he who is] the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted [with all things].’
One verse of this Quran drives the nail in the coffin for Racism. By declaring that all human beings are born from a single Prime parent, Universal brotherhood is decreed upon all mankind. The only criteria for superiority and honor in the sight of God is ‘the most righteous and noble of character among us’ and does not depend on the race or ethnicity of one’s father or mother.
A divine revelation solves the Problem of Evil
The problem of Evil formulated by Atheists drives to disqualify God by stating that God cannot exist because there is evil. So if God exists and happens to send a revelation, how should this issue be addressed in it? This article smashes this theory and answers with wisdom and deep thought that there is no problem of Evil at all.
So these are few of the answers to my original question- ‘What do we need so that we be convinced that a book is from God? What sort of information should it give to convince us?’. This is how we need to baseline our expectation rather than demanding to see God face to face, or to challenge for a specific scientific information to be present in a scripture in order to believe. We must mature beyond this if we hope to know the truth and do some sincere investigation into this matter before generalizing all religious text as man-made and hopping onto the bandwagon of Atheists.
This is but one article in an attempt to provide proper direction to our expectations, watch out for this space for more on Quran and logical reasoning.
Quran Addresses Atheism | Characteristics of a True Revelation | How to find if a Revelation is True? | Quran the True Revelation | Quran is unlike Other religious Texts | Quran addresses Atheism | Quran Solves problems of humans