We can see that although the text of the original scriptures of Islam (Quran and Sunnah) is preserved, a veil of interpretation has formed over it through the commentaries and interpretations. Therefore misconceptions in Islam ensue. However all is not lost for a seeker of truth. All that he needs to do, therefore, is to rediscover Islam from its original sources – the Quran and Sunnah to find out the true face of Islam. We have to take a look at each aspect of the teachings of Islam in light of its original sources and not in the light of what the Muslims are doing. Just as if we want to know what is the ideology of democracy, we will study the constitution of a democratic state and not observe the acts of the citizens of the nation; in the same way, to understand Islam we have to understand what is in its original Scriptures and not judge it based on the acts of certain Muslims. What is in the Quran and the Sunnah is Islam and Muslims are merely people who claim to follow Islam. A Muslim may claim to follow Islam, but be wrong. I, therefore, emphasize on the need to differentiate between Islam and Muslims to rediscover Islam in its true form through the Quran and the Sunnah – both of which were transmitted to us through the last Messenger of God: Muhammad bin Abdullah.
1. The Quran
The Qur'an is a book containing the literal Word of God. It was transmitted from God through Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad. The Qur'an covers a wide variety of topics, including evidence to support its claim of being the Word of the Creator, stories of earlier generations, rules and information about the Hereafter. The claim of the Qur'an that it is protected from change is confirmed by the fact that in its 1400-year history, not even one of its verses has been proven to be wrong in spite of the coming of the scientific era. The earliest copies and the latest copies are still exactly the same. (for details read, Quran: An Abiding Wonder)
As explained earlier, the Qur’an is no new heavenly scripture. It is only an authentic edition of the previous heavenly scriptures. In this respect, the Qur’an is a book for all human beings, of all nations. It is the expression of God’s mercy for one and for all. It is a complete message sent by God for every one of us. The Qur’an is a light of guidance for the entire world just as the sun is the source of light and heat for the entire world.
Its contents in a nutshell are: belief in one God, and considering oneself answerable to Him; well-wishing for mankind; and firm belief that the guidance sent by God through the Prophet Muhammad is the truth and that man’s eternal salvation rests thereon.
2. The Sunnah
The Sunnah or Hadith can be described as the sayings and the actions of the last Prophet of God: Prophet Muhammad. Through the Sunnah, we obtain examples from the life of the prophet, who is a model for a believer. Whatever the prophet did, said, or approved of is a source of Islam just as much as the Qur'an. The Prophet's role is not overemphasized: his life was dictated by what the Creator desired, and the Messenger did not add or subtract to Islam according to his own personal whim.
Throughout history, God's prophets came to the world to make this chosen path plain to us. In their words and deeds, they showed us how to live in accordance with the will of God. It is this way of life, which is known in Islam as the Sunnah or the path of the prophets. It covers every aspect of life, from personal matters to social reform and nation-building. Those who earnestly seek to be included amongst God's chosen servants must follow the path of the Prophet in all respects. In no walk of life should they consider themselves free to tread another course.
The most important practice of the Prophet's personal life was preaching the word of God. A study of his life shows that his greatest concern was to bring people to the path of the Lord. That his concern had turned to anguish is clear from this verse of the Qur'an:
You will perhaps fret yourself to death on account of their unbelief. (Qur'an, 26:3)
The Prophet said that one who disregarded his Sunnah was not one of his community. Just as this remark applies to the marriage contract and other such social obligations, so does it equally apply to the duty of calling people to the path of God? Only those have the right to be called true followers of the Prophet, who, along with other obligations enjoined by him, adopt this all-important practice of the Prophet as well.
In the Qur'an, these words have been addressed to the faithful:
You have a good example in God's Apostle for anyone who looks to God and the Last Day and remembers God always. (Qur'an, 33:21)
It is clear from this verse that, in the life of the Prophet Muhammad, there is a good example for every human being. But the only real beneficiaries will be those whose apprehension of God is already profound, whose hopes and aspirations centre on God, whose lives are lived in fear of the punishment of the Lord. Those who cherish the thought of eternal bliss and truly yearn for it with every fibre of their beings will be the ones to learn from the Prophet's example.
Why is this so? The reason is that one has to be sincere in one's search for truth if one is going to find it. If one "looks to God and the Last Day," one will be sincere with regard to them. Sincerity will enable one to see the life of the Prophet in true perspective, and draw the right lessons from it. This is the relevance of the Sunnah for a believer.
Through the Quran and the Sunnah, one can be led to the truth by rediscovering Islam from its original sources.