Let us now come to religion. Scholars have generally believed that in the search for truth, the most reliable source is religion. That is why in every age the majority of human beings have been associated with one religion or the other. And today, this is still the case.
Why is it that people take religion to be a reliable source of truth? The reason is that the teachings of religion are based on a special source such as no other discipline enjoys. This special source is that of divine revelation. 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 or His messengers 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. 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.
It is important to understand that all these religions brought by God’s messengers were originally one and the same. That is to say that 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 Prophet Muhammad – the final prophet.
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 lifetime 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.