Islam and the Quran

The Book and The Wisdom

Contrary to popular belief, God granted all prophets (nabi) Book and Wisdom.  God mentions 18 prophets from Noah to Jesus [1] in Surat al-An’am verse 83 and following verses: “And likewise We elected for Our cause and guided on to a straight way their fathers and their descendants and their brethren.”

After addressing all prophets (nabi), God says:

“Those are the ones to whom We granted the Book, and the judgment and the prophethood (nubuwwat).” (Al-An’am/ The Cattle 6:89)

Traditionally, it is believed that only four divine books were sent down. These are The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Psalms, and The Quran.  It is alleged that 10 pages were given to Adam, 50 pages to Seth, 30 pages to Idris, and 10 pages to Abraham, 100 pages in total, based on a quote from Prophet Muhammad.[2] It adds up to 8 prophets who were given books. However, the verses above remark that each and every prophet (nabi) was granted a book and the ability of making correct inferences out of that book.  This ability is called ‘The Wisdom’ in this verse:

“And recall when God took oath from the Prophets: ‘This is the Book and the Wisdom which I have granted you. Should a messenger come to you confirming that (book) which is with you, you shall believe in him and shall help him. So saying, God asked: ‘Do you agree and accept to take up the burden of the oath?’ They answered: ‘We agree,’ He said: ‘Then bear witness; and I will be with you among the witnesses.” (Al-e-Imran/ Family of Imran 3:81)

Duty of prophets was making the book that was sent to them prevail in their society:

“In the beginning all the people followed the same way. Then God sent the Prophets (nabi) to bring glad tidings and to warn. And He sent down with them the Book based on the Truth so that it should judge between the people concerning in which they differ. Those who differed over It were those very people who had been given It (the Book).[3] It happened – after those clear proofs came to them- because they wanted to tyrannize over one another. Then God, by His leave, guided those who believed to the Truth about which they had differed; God guides whoever exerts the effort for it. [4] (Al-Baqarah/ The Cow 2:213)


High-ranking people of a society which a book was sent down to must rule the community by that book. God says:

“Surely We revealed the Torah, wherein there is guidance and light. Thereby did Prophets – who had submitted themselves (to God) – judged for the Jewish folk by it; and so did the scholars and the wises. They judged by the Book of God, for they had been entrusted to keep it, and bear witness to it. So, do not fear people but fear Me, and do not barter away My signs for a trivial [5] gain. Those who do not judge by what God has sent down are indeed those who conceal (their faith).” (Al-Ma’ida/ The Feast 5:44)

Wisdom is correct ruling.[6] Our prophet made inferences from the Quran; made judgments with them and taught us the method. This constitutes his Example. The perfect harmony between the Book and the example of the Prophet can be seen if the method that is decribed in the Qur’an in detail is considered.

There are two types of God’s signs: The first type is that which He created. It is “nature”, which is the source of all sciences. If scientists learn the existing information well and follow a correct method, they can reach the Wisdom that resides in the created signs.

The word we translated as “wises” in the verse above is “ahbar”, plural form of ‘hibr’.[7] Hibr means a scholar who has a work. These can easily reach the wisdom if they evaluate the created and brought signs of the God, because wisdom is the common ground between religion and science. God defines His religion as “fitra/nature” and says:

“Set your face steadily to that religion, the fitra[8] of God, in which He has created the mankind. There is nothing to replace the creation of God. That is the righteous religion, but most people do not know.” (Ar-Room/ The Romans 30:30)

It is remarkable that the firstly revealed verses are related to the creation law:

“Read, in the name of your Lord Who created; created man from alaq [9].  Read! Your Lord is Endlessly Generous, Who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know.” (Al-Alaq 96:1-5)

In another verse it is stated:

“… And He taught Adam the names – all of them.” (Al-Baqarah/ The Cow 2:31)

Majority of Quran draws attention to natural signs. We have done several studies with people who have advanced knowledge of Quran, Arabic language and verses about the nature (fitra). We have seen that this method guides the positive sciences.

God first taught the nature, namely information that He put into the beings. Because, the pronoun “ha” that points out “the names” is used to refer to non-conscious beings in Arabic. After Adam learned the information that exists in the beings, but which angels do not know, they were pointed out by the pronoun “hum”. This pronoun refers to conscious beings in Arabic. So, the sentence continued as: “…then He showed them (those sources of knowledge) to the angels.”  (Al-Baqarah/ The Cow 2:31)

Because, ‘mind’ also means ‘knowledge that people make use of’. [10] There existed knowledge which the angels did not know in the beings, thus the angels mistook them to be nonconscious. Since that information was not visible to the eye, God called it “ghayb-unseen” and addressed the angels: “Did I not tell you that I know the unseen of the heavens and the earth?” (Al-Baqarah/ The Cow 2:33)

God made the human superior to the angels by means of this knowledge, and they prostrated in front of Adam for this reason. This knowledge let the human be the one who makes science and civilizes. The most knowledgeable person ever was Adam. That knowledge was taught him by writing.
“…Who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know.” (Al-Alaq 96:4-5)


Ability to Judge Correctly

Ability to judge correctly is called ‘wisdom’, too:
“He bestows wisdom upon anyone who exerts the necessary effort, and he who is given wisdom is in fact given much good, but only those who are persevering [11] obtain this knowledge.”  (Al-Baqarah/ The Cow 2:269)

It is narrated that our Prophet said:

“Envy is permitted only in two cases: Of a man whom God gives wealth, and he makes use of it rightfully, and of a man whom God gives knowledge and he applies and teaches it.”[12]

Ibn Abbas narrated: “The Messenger of God  embraced me and said: ‘Oh God, teach him the wisdom.’”[13]

These verses and hadiths show that wisdom is a learnable ability to make correct judgment. Abraham’s prayer about Mecca folk after he constructed the Qaba stresses the same message:

“Our Lord, raise up from among them a Messenger who shall read Your signs to them; and teach them the Book and the Wisdom and improve them. You are The Strong and You judge rightly.” (Al-Baqarah/ The Cow 2:129)

The verse that notes his prayer was accepted is:

“Surely God conferred a great favor on the believers when He raised from among them a Messenger to recite them His signs, and to improve them, and to teach them the Book and the Wisdom. For before that they were clearly strayed.” (Al-e-Imran/ Family of Imran 3:164)

God commanded to Muhammad about drawing correct judgment from Quran as follows:

“(Oh Messenger!) We have revealed to you this Book in Truth so that you may judge between people in accordance with what God has shown you. So do not be an advocate for the traitors.” (An-Nisa/ The Women 4:105)

Every speech, practice and approval Muhammad did related to his duty is the interpretation he made from Quran. It is narrated he said:

“I was given the book and the similar one with it.”[14]

“Let me not find one of you reclining on his couch when he hears something regarding me which I have commanded or forbidden and saying: We do not know! What we find in God’s Book we follow.”[15]

The wisdom in Quran is like mine beneath the soil. Just like there is need for knowledge, tools and teamwork for mining, similar things are needed to reach the wisdoms of Quran. This method explained in Quran was forgotten in a short time. Muslims who solve problems and take science and civilization with them wherever they go were replaced with Muslims who produce problems and deadlocks. The reason why Muslims are still dominant wherever the companions of Muhammad went is that they had learnt the wisdom. But after them, only temporary dominations could be maintained, since wisdom could not be taken to there.

Wisdom–Sunnah and Sunnah-Revelation Relationships

Al-Shafi‘i said the example of Prophet Muhammad (Sunnah) is wisdom. An excerpt from his words:

“I heard from a person who I trust and has considerable knowledge of Quran and: The Wisdom is the example of God’s Messenger. God knows the best, but the Wisdom can be nothing but his example while it is subject to Quran, and learning the Book and the Wisdom is accepted as treat of God.” [16]

It is impossible not to agree with these words. Since one of the two things Muhammad taught his community is Quran and the other is its practice, Sunnah inevitably is the Wisdom. However, it is impossible to agree with Shafi’i’s following thought:

“ Sunnah explains the will of God on general and special conditions. God equalized the Wisdom of His Messenger with Quran and tied it to the Book. He did not do this for any other person. [17]

Verse 81 of Surah Al-e-Imran/ Family of Imran remarks that wisdom and book were given to all prophets, therefore the last sentence is opposite to this.

If Sunnah were the revelation that explains the will of God, the Prophet should have not made any mistakes. Because, God would not let him make mistake and then warn him.
This also proves that prophet Muhammad was not protected from sins, just like other prophets. Therefore, he can be a concrete model for all mankind who are not protected from sins; and his practice can be a concrete example for them.

One day, it was heard that a caravan was coming from Damascus under the leadership of Abu Sufyan. Our Prophet departed with a few of Muslims to follow the caravan. Meccans who heard this sent a corps to protect the caravan. God promised to grant either the caravan or the Meccan army to Muslims. Relevant verse is:

“And recall when God promised you that one of the two parties would fall to you, and you wished that the one without arms should fall into your hands. But God sought to verify the truth by His words and to (assign you the Meccan army to) annihilate those who conceal (their faith) to the last remnant. He wanted to prove the truth to be true and the false to be false, however averse the criminals might be to it.” (Al-Anfal/ The Spoils Of War 8:7-8)

Muslims missed the caravan and came across with Meccan army unexpectedly in Badr, but did not comply with the rules of God regarding war. The rule is:

“When you meet those deniers (in battle), smite their necks until you suppress them. Then cordon (the rest of) them off strictly; thereafter set them (the captives) free, either by an act of grace or against ransom. Do this, so that the burden of war is laid down.” (Muhammad 47:4)

“So if you confront them in battle, treat them dexterously as to disperse those who are behind them; haply they will remember.” (Al-Anfal/ The Spoils Of War: 8:57)

“And do not weaken in pursuit of the enemy. If you should be suffering, -so are they suffering as you are suffering-, but you expect from God that which they expect not. And God knows all and judges rightly.” (An-Nisa/ The Women: 4:104)

Muslims struck a big blow to the enemy in Badr with a deadly war. But they did not follow back the enemy who was drawing back and rout. Moreover, they got the spoils and a few captives, and returned. God warned that it was a crime:

“It behoves no prophet to take captives until he has sufficiently suppressed the enemies in the battlefield. You merely seek the temporary gains of the world whereas God desires for you (the good of the) Hereafter. God is The Strong and He judges rightly. Had there not been a previous decree from God (that you will have the victory), a stern chastisement would have afflicted you for what you have taken (the captives).” (Al-Anfal/ The Spoils Of War: 8:67-68)

The Prophet’s behavior here was not wise. God sought to prove by His words the truth to be true and to annihilate the unbelievers to the last remnant [18] but Muslims missed the opportunity to conquer Mecca because they did not stick with the Wisdom.

6th year of the Immigration, they regained this opportunity in Hudaybiyyah. Surah Al-Fath/ The Conquest which was revealed while returning from Mecca starts with:

“(Oh Prophet), indeed We have opened you the way for a clear conquest; so that God may forgive your previous sin and the one that followed, and may complete His boons upon you and guide you to straight way.” (Al-Fath/ The Conquest: 48:1-2)

The Prophet had another sin that was pointed out in Surah Abasa which is:

“He frowned and turned away that the blind [19] man came to him. How could you know? Perhaps he would improve himself, or he would acquire knowledge [20] and make use of it. And, when it comes to the man who needs you not; it is as if you are talking to a wall. It is not your concern if he would not improve himself. But he who comes to you eagerly, and fears (God), you pay no heed to him.” (Abasa/ He Frowned: 80:1-10)

God forbids ignoring who asks and wants something by His command: “Do not ignore that who requests or asks (something)”. [21] In addition, He commands:

“And do not drive away those who invoke their Lord in the morning and the evening, seeking His pleasure all the time. You are by no means accountable for them just as they are by no means accountable for you. If you still drive them away, you will become among the wrong-doers.” (Al-An’am/ The Cattle 6:52)

These sins mentioned in the verse so that God may forgive your previous sin and the one that followedshould be these.

The time of repentance regarding conquest was explained with following verses that were revealed before the conquest of Mecca [22]:

“When God’s help comes, and the way is opened for you, and you see people entering God’s religion in throngs, then exalt your Lord that He makes everything so beautiful  and ask for forgiveness from Him. For He indeed is ever disposed to accept repentance.” (An-Nasr/ The Help 110:1-3)

‘First correct the mistake you made and then appeal for mercy’; this is very important. These verses can revolutionize lives of Muslims. However, since the command to find out the wisdom inter-relating the verses was forgotten, the verses above have been profoundly misunderstood. For example, a translation of Quran with explanations, published in millions of copies by both Saudi Arabia and Turkey Diyanet Foundation, has an explanation for the first verses of Surah Al-Fath/ The Conquest. To better understand the explanation, let us see the meaning given to those verses:

“(Oh Prophet), surely We have granted you a clear victory so that God may forgive your previous and future sin, and may complete His favors upon you and guide you to the Straight Way, and that God may bestow upon you a mighty help.” (Al-Fath/ The Conquest 48:1-3)

The explanation exactly is:

“Blessings given to the Prophet Muhammad, who is far away from sins both in the past and in the future, appeared as conquest of Mecca and Taif, being honored in the world, being rewarded with triumph and aid, surrender of defiant ones.” [23]

They say he is far from sins in the past and in the future, although God says his sins will be forgiven. With this statement, are they correcting a mistake of God reminding something He does not know?

In addition, don’t they remember this verse while they are explaining the verse as ‘forgiving future sin of the Prophet Muhammad’? :

“Tell them: ‘I am not the first of the Messengers; and I do not know what shall be done with me or with you. I follow only what is revealed to me, and I am nothing but a plain warner.’ ” (Al-Ahqaf/ The Curved Dunes 46:9)

The sad thing is that these mistakes are not limited to those people.

Difference Between The Wisdom Of The Prophet and Other People

As can be seen in the verses related to Battle of Badr,  integrity of the prophet’s judgments were inspected by God, and mistakes were corrected. Then, all the rulings the prophet set, except that which were corrected by God, are the Wisdom. Muslims have to comply with them. God says:

[Oh Muhammad] But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you a judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find in themselves no resentment from what you have judged and submit in willing submission.” (An-Nisa/ The Women 4:65)

Since Muslims other than the prophet are not subject to such inspection, the judgments they make must be inspected by means of the Quran and the prophet’s practice. God says:

“Believers! Obey God and obey the Messenger, and those from among you who are invested with authority. If you were to dispute with them (the authorities) about anything, refer it to God and the Messenger if you indeed believe in God and the Last Day. That is better and turns out well.” (An-Nisa/ The Women 4:59)


[1] The order of the prophets in the verses is: “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Noah, Zakariyya, John, Jesus, Elia, Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, Lot”

[2] Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir al Tabari (il.310 AH), Tarih al-Umam wa wal-Muluk (Tarih at-Tabari) Beirut 1407, v. I p. 187; Az-Zemakhshari (467-538 AH); Al-Kashshaf, Exegesis of Surah Al-A’la.

[3] One cannot notice that he strayed without comparing his way to Quran. Some of those who realize this correct themselves while some others remain strayed knowingly and willingly.

[4] We assign the meaning ‘exerting the necessary effort’ to  ‘من يشاء  – man yasha’ in the verse. Because,شاء   means, “performed shay”. Every action and being is in the scope of ‘shay’; and every ‘shay’ takes place according to principles and laws. There are rules to perform good and bad deeds. Related rules must be observed to perform a prayer. There are also rules for theft. God commands performing the prayers and bans theft. It is God Who sets the measures of good and bad, and Who provides the conditions to perform either of them. That’s why the verb شاء  would mean ‘behaved according to measures’ when used for human beings.
It is God Who makes good and bad exist as distinct items. Therefore, the meaning of verb شاء with God being the subject, would mean “created the shay or the measure of the shay”. “Whenever He desires a thing, He just commands it ‘Be’, and then it forms.” (Ya-sin 36:82) If the actor of the verb  شاء is God, it means that God commands it “Be”, and it is absolutely going to “form/happen”.

[5] The word قليلا  has two meanings. One is shortfall, the other is instability, impermanence, not settling aywhere. A person who does not stay anywhere for long time is called تَقَلقلَ الرَّجُل. (Ahmad b. Faris b. Zakariyya al-Kazvini, er-Radhi (d. 395 AH) Mujam Maqayis al-lugha, Tahqiq, Abdussalam Muhammad Harun, 1399/1979; v. V, p. 3.)

[6] Hikmat (الحِكْمَةُ), is from the root hukm -ruling- (حكم); and it means, ‘correct ruling (hukm)’.

[7] Translator Asim, Kamus Art.حبر

[8] Fitra expresses the main structure of beings together with the principles and rules of creation, change and development that form this structure.

[9] Alaq (علق), is the plural form of alaqa.  Alaqa (علقة); is fertilized ovum that adheres to uterus wall.

[10] Mufradat, Raghib Al-Isfahani

[11] ألَبَّ بالمكان، أي أقام به ولزِمه. Ismail b. Hammad al-Jawhari, as-Sihah, Tahqiq Ahmad Abdulgafur Attar, 3rd ed. Beirut

(لب). أصلٌ صحيح يدلُّ على لزومٍ وثبات، وعلى خلوص وجَوْدة. Root meaning is adhering; being pure and good. For a person that settles in a place it is said ألَبَّ بالمكان. For a person working on something patiently it is said رجلٌ لَبٌّ بهذا الأمر. Ferra said: ‘For a woman who loves her husband it is said امرأةٌ لَبَّةٌ . It means, she carries her love for her husband inside. (Mujam Maqayis al-lugha)

[12] Bukhari, Knowledge, 15.

[13] Bukhari, Companions of the Prophet, 24.

[14] Abu Dawood, Model Behavior of the Prophet 6 (ludhum as-sunnah). The narrators chain of this hadith is problematic. However, it is genuine in terms of meaning.

[15] Abu Dawood, Model Behavior of the Prophet 6 (4605).

[16] Imam Shafi’i (150-204 AH), ar-Risala,  Tahqiq and Sharh; Ahmad Muhammad Shakir, Beirut, n.d., Para.  252, 254, p. 78.

[17] Imam Shafi’i, ar-Risala, Para. 257, p. 79.

[18] Al-Anfal/ The Spoils Of War 8:7.

[19] The narration about the revelation reason of this Surah is as follows: Abdullah b. Umm Maktum came to the Messenger of God and said “Oh Muhammad, take me near you and teach me the knowledge that God has taught you.”  In the meantime, chiefs of Mecca were sitting in the Messenger’s assembly. The Messenger turned away and said to the Meccan chief: ‘Oh the father of …, do you find my words unfavorable?’ (Muwatta, Quran, 8; Tirmidhi, Tafsir al-Quran, 72.)

[20] The word translated as knowledge is “dhikr”dir. Dhikr is knowledge that is always on mind and ready to use. (Mufradat, Raghib al-Isfahani)

[21] Ad-Dhuha/The Heating Light 93:10

[22] This is the common consensus. See: Abussud al-imadi (d. 982 AH.), Irshad al-akl al-salim ila madhay al-Quran al-Karim, Beirut, v. IX p. 208.

[23] Hayrettin KARAMAN, Ali ÖZEK, Ibrahim Kafi DÖNMEZ, Mustafa CAGIRICI, Sadrettin GÜMÜS, Ali  TURGUT, Kur’ani Kerim ve Aciklamali Meali, TDV Yayinlari, Ankara 2005.

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