Sign 3 of Ibrahim: Sacrifice

The great prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) had been promised a son in the previous Sign. And Allah had kept his promise. In fact the Taurat continues the account of Ibrahim (PBUH) to describe how he got two sons. In Genesis 16 the Taurat tells how he got his son Ishmael with Hagar and then later Genesis 21 tells how he got his son Isaac with Sarai about 14 years later. Unfortunately for his household, this resulted in a great rivalry between the two women, Hagar and Sarai, and ended with Ibrahim sending Hagar and her son away. You can read here how this happened and how Allah blessed Hagar and Ishmael in another way.

The sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim: Basis for Eid al-adha

So with only one son left in his household Ibrahim (PBUH) encounters his greatest test but it is one that opens for us a greater understanding of the Straight Way. Please read the account from Taurat and Qur’an concerning the test of the sacrifice of his son here.  This story from the Books is the reason why the Eid al-adha is celebrated.  But this is not just a historical event.  It is more.

We can see from the account in the Books that this is a test for Ibrahim (PBUH), but it is more than just that. Since Ibrahim is a prophet this test is also a sign for us, so we could learn more about God’s care for us. In what way is this a sign? Please note the name that Ibrahim gave to the place where his son was to be sacrificed. This part of the Taurat is shown here so you can read it directly.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place ‘The LORD Will Provide’. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:13-14)

Allah had provided a ram so that his son would not have to be sacrificed.  But notice the name that Ibrahim (‘Abraham’ in the Taurat) gave to that place. He named it ‘The LORD will provide’. Is that name in the past tense, present tense or future tense? It is clearly in the future tense. And to be even more clear the comment which follows (which Musa – PBUH – inserted when he compiled this account into the Taurat about 500 years later) it repeats “…it will be provided”. Again this is in the future tense and looking to the future. Most people think that Ibrahim is referring to the ram (a male sheep) which was caught in the thicket and was sacrificed in place of his son. But when Ibrahim names the place the ram is already dead, sacrificed and burnt. If Ibrahim is thinking of the ram – already dead, sacrificed and burnt – he would have named it ‘The LORD has provided’, i.e. in the past tense. And Musa (pbuh), if he was thinking of the ram that took the place of Ibrahim’s son would have commented ‘And to this day it is said “On the mountain of the LORD it was provided”’. But both Ibrahim and Musa clearly give it a name in future tense and therefore are not thinking of the already dead and sacrificed ram.

So what are they thinking about then? If we look for a clue we see that the place where Allah told Ibrahim to go at the beginning of this Sign was:

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (v.2)

This happened in ‘Moriah’. And where is that? Though it was a wilderness area in Ibrahim’s day (2000 BC), a thousand years later (1000 BC) the famous King Dawood (David) established the city of Jerusalem there, and his son Suleiman (Solomon) built the Temple there. We read in the Zabur about this that:

Then Solomon (Suleiman) began to build the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David (Dawood) 2Chronicles 3:1

In other words, ‘Mount Moriah’ in the time of Ibrahim (and later Musa) was an isolated mountain top in the wilderness but 1000 years later with Dawood and Suleiman it became Jerusalem (Al Quds), the central and capital city of the Israelites where they built the Temple to the LORD. And to this very day it is a holy place for the Jewish people.

Isa al Masih and the sacrifice on Mount Moriah

And here we find a direct connection to Isa al Masih (PBUH) and the Injil. We see this connection when we know about one of the titles of Isa. Isa had many titles given to him. Perhaps the most well-known is the title ‘Masih’ (which is also ‘Christ’). But there is another title given to him that is very important. We see this in the Injil when the prophet Yahya (John the Baptist in the Injil) says:

The next day John (i.e. Yahya) saw Jesus (i.e. Isa) coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is the one I meant when I said ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’”. (John 1:29-30)

An important, but lesser known title of Isa (PBUH), given to him by Yahya was ‘The Lamb of God”. Now consider the end of Isa’s life. Where was he arrested and sentenced for execution?  It was in Jerusalem (which as we saw is the same as ‘Mount Moriah’). It is very clear stated during his arrest that:

When he [Pilate] learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at the time.’ (Luke 23:7)

In other words, the arrest, trial and sentencing of Isa happened in Jerusalem (= Mount Moriah).

Back to Ibrahim. Why did he name that place in the future tense ‘The LORD will provide’? He was a prophet and knew that something would be ‘provided’ there. When he is tested, the son of Ibrahim is saved from death at the last moment because a lamb dies in his place. Two thousand years later, Isa is called ‘Lamb of God’ and is arrested and sentenced to death on the same spot!

Jerusalem Timeline
Timeline of events at Jerusalem / Mt Moriah

The Sacrifice ransomed Ibrahim: from death

Is this important to us? I note how this sign of Ibrahim ends. In ayah 107 from the Qur’an it says of Ibrahim (PBUH) that

And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice

What does it mean to be ‘ransomed’?  To pay a ransom is to make a payment for someone who is held as a prisoner to set the prisoner free.  For Ibrahim (PBUH) to be ‘ransomed’ means that he was a prisoner of something (Yes even a great prophet!).  What was he a prisoner of?  The scene with his son tells us.  He was a prisoner of death.  Even though he was a prophet, death held him as a prisoner.  We saw from the Sign of Adam that Allah had made Adam and his Children (everyone – including the prophets) mortal – they were now prisoners of death.  But somehow in this drama of the sacrificed lamb Ibrahim (PBUH) was ‘ransomed’ from this.  If you review the sequence of signs (Adam, Cain&Abel, Noah, Ibrahim 1) thus far you will see that animal sacrifice was almost always practiced by the prophets.  They knew something about this that maybe escapes us.  And we can see that because this act also points forward into the future to Isa ‘the Lamb of God’ that it has something to do with him.

The Sacrifice: A Blessing for us

And the sacrifice of the lamb on Mount Moriah is important for us as well.  At the end of the exchange Allah declares to Ibrahim that

“…and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me” (Genesis 22:18)

If you belong to one of the ‘nations on earth’ (and you do!) this has to concern you because the promise is that you then can get a ‘blessing’ from Allah himself! Is that not worthwhile?! How does this connection of Ibrahim’s story with Isa make a blessing to us? And why? We note that Ibrahim (PBUH) was ‘ransomed’ and this is a clue for us, but apart from that the answer is not readily apparent here so we will continue with the Signs of Musa (he has two) and they will clarify these questions for us.

But here I just want to point out that the word ‘offspring’ here is in the singular. It is not ‘offsprings’ as in many descendants or peoples. The promise of a blessing was through an ‘offspring’ from Ibrahim in the singular – singular as in a ‘he’, not through many people or a group of people as in ‘they’.  The Passover Sign of Musa will now help us understand further.

Sign 2 of Ibrahim: Right-ness

What is it we all need from Allah? There are several answers to that question, but the Sign of Adam reminds us that our first and greatest need is righteousness. There we found Words addressed directly to us (The children of Adam).

O you Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness – that is the best. Such are among the signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition. (Surat 7:26)

So what is ‘righteousness’? The Taurat (in Deuteronomy 32:4) tells us about Allah that

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.

This is the picture of the Righteousness of Allah given in the Taurat. Righteousness means that one is perfect; that all (not just some or most but all) one’s ways are just, that one does no (not even a little) wrong; that one is upright. This is righteousness and this is how the Taurat describes Allah. But why do we need righteousness? We jump ahead to a passage in the Zabur to give the answer. In Psalm 15 (written by Dawood) we read:

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent…

When it is asked who may live on Allah’s ‘Holy Mountain’, that is another way of asking who may be with Allah in Paradise. And we can see from the answer that the one who is blameless and ‘righteous’ (v2) – that person can enter Paradise to be with Allah. This is why we need righteousness. Righteousness is required to be with Allah since He is perfect.

Now consider the second sign of Ibrahim (PBUH). Click here to open the passage from the Books. We see in the reading from the Taurat and Qur’an that Ibraham (PBUH) followed ‘his Way’ (Surat 37:83) and in so doing he obtained ‘righteousness’ (Genesis 15:6) – the very thing that the Sign of Adam told us we need. So the important question for us is: How did he get it?

Often I think that I get righteousness in one of two ways. In the first way (in my thinking) I get righteousness by believing in or acknowledging the existence of Allah. I ‘believe’ in Allah. And in support of this thinking, didn’t Ibrahim (PBUH) ‘believe the LORD’ in Genesis 15:6? But with more reflection I realized that this did not mean he only believed in the existence of one God. No Allah had given him a firm promise – that he would receive a son. And it was that promise that Ibrahim (PBUH) had to choose whether to believe or not. Think about it further, the devil (also known as Shaytan or Iblis) believes in the existence of Allah – and he certainly does not have righteousness. So simply believing in the existence of Allah is not what ‘the Way’ is about. That is not enough.

The second way I often think I can get righteousness is that I merit it or earn it from Allah by the good and religious things I do. Doing more good things than bad things, prayers, fasts, or doing a certain kind or amount of religious work allows me to deserve, earn or merit righteousness. But notice that is not what the Taurat says at all.

Abram believed the LORD, and he [i.e. Allah] credited it to him [i.e. Ibrahim] as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

Ibrahim did not ‘earn’ righteousness; it was ‘credited’ to him. So what is the difference? Well, if something is ‘earned’ you worked for it – you deserve it. It is like receiving wages for the work you do. But when something is credited to you, it is given to you. It is not earned or merited.

Ibrahim (PBUH) was a man who believed deeply in the existence of one Allah. And he was a man of prayer, devotion, and helping people (like helping and praying for his nephew Lut/Lot). It is not that we are to discard these things.  But ‘the Way’ described of Ibrahim here is so simple that we can almost miss it. The Taurat tells us that Ibrahim (PBUH) was given righteousness because he believed in a Promise given to him by Allah. This overturns the common understandings that we have about obtaining righteousness either by thinking that belief in Allah’s existence is enough, or by doing enough good and religious activities (prayers, fastings etc.) that I can earn or merit righteousness. This is not the way that Ibrahim took. He simply chose to believe the promise.

Now choosing to believe in this promise of a son was perhaps simple but it definitely was not easy.  Ibrahim (PBUH) could easily have disregarded the promise by reasoning that if Allah really had the desire as well as the power to grant him a son then He should have done so by now. Because at this point in his life, Ibrahim and Sarai (his wife) were old – well past the age of getting children. In the first Sign of Ibrahim that he was already 75 years old when he left his home country and went to Canaan. At that time Allah had promised him that he would get a ‘great nation’. And many years have passed since then so Ibrahim and his wife Sarai are now old indeed and have already waited a long time. And they still do not even have one child – and certainly not a ‘nation’. “Why has not Allah already given us a son if he could have done so”?, he would have wondered. In other words, he believed the promise of a coming son even though he probably had unanswered questions about the promise. He believed the promise because he trusted Allah who gave the promise – even though he did not understand everything about the promise. And to believe in that promise (a son coming past the age of child-bearing) would require believing that Allah would do a miracle for him and his wife.

Believing the promise would also demand active waiting. His whole life was, in a sense, interrupted while he was living in tents in the Promised Land of Canaan waiting (still many years) for the coming of the promised son. It would have been much easier to disregard the promise and return home to civilization in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) that he had left many years earlier where his brother and family still lived. So Ibrahim had to live with the difficulties of continuing to believe the promise – each and every day – for the many years while he waited for the promise to be given. His trust in the promise was so great that it took priority over normal goals for life – comfort and well-being. In a real sense, living in anticipation of the promise meant dying to normal goals of life. Believing the promise showed both his trust in and love for Allah.

Thus ‘believing’ the promise went far beyond just mental agreement to it. Ibrahim had to stake his life, reputation, safety, actions in the present and hopes for the future on this promise. Because he believed he actively and obediently waited.

This Sign is how Ibrahim (PBUH) believed the promise from Allah of a son, and in so doing he was also given, or credited, righteousness. In a real sense Ibrahim submitted himself to this promise. He could have chosen not to believe and returned back to the land he came from (modern-day Iraq). And he could have disregarded the promise while still believing in the existence of Allah and still continuing in his prayers,fastings, and helping other people. But then he would have only maintained his religion but not been credited ‘righteousness’. And as the Qur’an tells all us children of Adam – “the raiment of righteousness – that is the best”. This was the Way of Ibrahim.

We have learned much. Righteousness, the very thing we need for Paradise is not earned but credited to us.  And it is credited to us by trusting the Promise of Allah.  But who then pays for righteousness? We continue with Sign 3.

Did Paul or other Bible writers corrupt the Injil?

This is a great question. The danger for all of us is that we can either ask it with a superficial answer already in our minds. “Of course Paul or one of the others corrupted it”, we can quickly answer without thinking too much about it, mostly because this is simply what we have heard. Or, we can think, “Of course not! What a silly idea”, again without really knowing why but mostly because we have been taught that way. This is the danger for all people who ask questions of sacred Books.  We either dismiss it out-of-hand (because how we have been taught to think it not sacred) or we dismiss the question out-of-hand (again because of how we have been taught differently).

New Testament Writes other than Paul

With these considerations in mind I want to share my thinking and reasons on this question. Let us start with the writers aside from Paul. These writers were the disciples of Isa (PBUH) – his companions. They were the ones who followed him, listened to him, discussed with him, about the things that he did and said, both privately and in public. Some of them, such as John, Matthew and Peter were part of the inner circle of Isa’s 12 closest followers. They wrote eight of the books in the New Testament. Others, such as Mark, were among his wider circle of followers. The remaining authors (outside of Paul) were his brothers James and Jude. They grew up with Isa (PBUH) and James became the leader of the disciples in Jerusalem after the passing of Isa (PBUH) from this world. James, in fact, is mentioned in the Jewish historical writings of the 1st century AD. In that century there was a great Jewish military historian, Josephus, who wrote several books of history to the Roman Emperors of his day. In one of his books, writing of events in Jerusalem in the year 62 AD (32 years after the passing of Isa) he writes of how James, Isa’s brother, was martyred by his fellow Jews. Here is how he puts it:

“Ananus [the high priest] was rash and followed the Sadducees, who are heartless when they sit in judgment. Ananus thought that with Festus dead and Albinus still on the way, he would have the opportunity. Convening the judges of the Sanhedrin [the Jewish ruling council] he brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law, and condemned them to be stoned to death” Josephus. 93 AD. Antiquities xx 197

Josephus is explaining that in 62 AD Ananus had just been made high priest in Jerusalem and there was a political confusion. Ananus used the opportunity to condemn James to death. His father (also called Ananus) had sentenced Isa (PBUH) to death about 30 years before and Ananus the son quickly took the opportunity to do the same with James. Thus James was a target for his years of leadership in Jerusalem with the followers of Isa al Masih (PBUH) his brother in Jerusalem.

What does the Qur’an say about these disciples of Isa (PBUH)?

So it is these men who wrote the books in the New Testament other than Paul’s books. To judge whether they corrupted the Injil we can first turn to the perspective given in the Qur’an. When I do that I find the following ayat:

When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: “Who will be My helpers to (the work of) God?” Said the disciples: “We are God’s helpers: We believe in God, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims. Our Lord! we believe in what Thou hast revealed, and we follow the Apostle; then write us down among those who bear witness.” (Surat 3:52-53 – Al-Imran)

And behold I inspired the Disciples to have faith in me and mine messenger (Isa): they said, “We have faith, and you bear witness that we bow to Allah as Muslims (Surat 5:111 – Table Spread)

These ayat tell us quite plainly that the disciples of Isa (Jesus – PBUH) were a) Isa’s helpers, b) Allah’s helpers, c) and inspired by Allah to have faith in Isa. These disciples spoken of here in the Qur’an include none other than Matthew, Peter and John who wrote eight of the books in the New Testament, two of which are gospel books (Gospels of Matthew and John).  And Mark, the disciple in the wider circle, wrote a third gospel. It would seem that if one believes in the Qur’an that one would also then have to accept the writings of these disciples. These writers certainly could not have corrupted the Injil.  When we study the written gospels we are reading the writings of the disciples which are confirmed by the Qur’an.  Paul did not write any Gospel account, rather he wrote sacred letters.

Now where I live in Canada few people readily believe that there are any books by Allah. Just because something is written in Qur’an or Bible (al kitab) does not mean that they would accept it. In fact they prefer secular historical sources because, in their eyes, they are less biased. But even from that point-of-view we have seen, from the writings of the historian Josephus quoted above, that there is a solid basis to accept the writings of James, and by extension, his other brother Jude.

So we find, whether from secular sources or from the Qur’an, logical reasons to accept the books of the New Testament that are not Paul’s.

The Witness of Isa (PBUH): the Taurat and Zabur are the first standards

But what about Isa himself? What did he give as the testimony we should accept?  Notice where he appeals for a correct and uncorrupted witness to himself and his message.

Here we see that Isa PBUH (who is speaking) is using the Taurat (Book of Moses) to correct error among the experts in Jewish Law (Sharia)

“Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” Mark 12:26-27

And here we see that Isa (PBUH) starts with Taurat and then continues with Zabur (‘Prophets and Psalms’) to teach about his role as the Masih.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)…

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”  Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44-45)

And here we see that Isa again starts with Taurat (Moses’ writings) as the basis to judge the role of the Masih.

If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.  But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5: 46-47)

So we can see that Isa (PBUH) himself first appeals to Moses (which is the Taurat), then the Prophets and Psalms (which is the Zabur) to explain the role and purpose of the Masih. This is the reason I decided, both in my search, and now in this website, to start with the Taurat. If you look at the articles on the Signs of Adam, Cain&Abel, Noah, Lut, Ibrahim 1, 2, and 3 etc. you will see that the passages that support these articles all come from Taurat (and the Qur’an).

We are on safe ground if we start with the Taurat – Isa (PBUH) himself told us to. Here we are learning Signs that will help to unlock the mystery of the Injil. Then we will take what we have learned and compare it with the writings of the brothers and disciples of Isa – again staying on safe ground.

Considering Paul

And what about Paul’s writings? What are we to make of them? Once we have studied the Taurat and Zabur and learned the Signs that Allah has definitely sent us, and then when we have studied the books of the disciples and brothers of Isa (PBUH) we knowledgeable  enough so that if we turn to Paul we will notice if what he writes is different from what we have already studied. Without this background knowledge of the ‘safe books’ to inform us, it is impossible for us to really know if what Paul wrote is corrupted or not. But to keep our search on safe ground we will not start with Paul because his credentials are not unquestionable.

When I lived in Algeria I was surrounded by Arabic speakers and heard Arabic all the time. But because I did not know any Arabic I was not capable of deciding if what I heard was ‘correct’ Arabic or ‘corrupted’ Arabic. The limitation to make this judgment was in me – not the speakers around me.  I did not have enough knowledge to be a good judge. A few years ago I took a course in Arabic. All people from all sorts of positions told me that the person giving this course spoke ‘correct’ Arabic. His reputation told me I could trust him as a ‘correct’ teacher. Starting from this course – that I knew was correct – I began to learn a bit of Arabic. Unfortunately I was not able to continue, but if I had, I could see that one day I could be in a position to decide if other people spoke ‘correct’ Arabic or ‘corrupted’ Arabic – because I would now have an informed basis from which to judge.

We are using exactly the same safe process to develop a solid understanding of the Signs of Allah, starting from which everybody says is ‘correct’ (Taurat), and then the disciples, to develop the basis to better judge if something else (like Paul) is corrupt or not. The danger for all seekers of the Straight Way is that we either accept too easily as revelation that which should be rejected, or that we discard too quickly the books that Allah intends that we learn from. Proceeding in this way, in humility and prayer before Allah, asking for His guidance, will make sure that we fall into neither error and thus stay on the Straight Path.

Sign 1 of Ibrahim: Blessing

Ibrahim! He is also known as Abraham and Abram (PBUH).  All three monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam view him as model to follow. Arabs and Jews today trace their physical ancestry from him through his sons Ishmael and Isaac. He is also important in the line of the prophets because the later prophets build on him.  So we will look at the sign of Ibraham (PBUH) in several parts. Click here to read his first sign in the Qur’an and in the Taurat.

We see in the ayat from the Qur’an that Ibrahim (PBUH) was to have ‘tribes’ of people coming from him. These people were then to have a ‘great Kingdom’. But a man must have at least one son before he can have ‘Tribes’ of people, and he must also have a place before these people can have a ‘Great Kingdom’.

Promise to Ibrahim (PBUH)

The passage from the Taurat (Genesis 12:1-7) shows how Allah was going to unfold this double fulfillment of ‘tribes’ and a ‘Great Kingdom’ coming from Ibrahim (PBUH). Allah gave him a promise that was a foundation for the future. Let us review it further in detail. We see that Allah says to Ibrahim:

“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.

 

Greatness of Ibrahim

Many people today where I live wonder if there is a God and how one can know if He really revealed himself through the Taurat.  Here before us is a promise, parts of which we can verify.  The end of this revelation records that Allah directly promised to Ibrahim (PBUH) that ‘I will make your name great‘.  We sit in the 21st century and the name of Ibrahim/Abraham/Abram is one of the most globally recognized names in history.  This promise has literally and historically come true.  The earliest copy of the Taurat that exists today is from the Dead Sea Scrolls which date to 200-100 B.C.  This means that this promise has, at the very least, been in writing since that time.  At that time the person and name of Ibrahim was not well-known – only to the minority of Jews who followed the Taurat.  But today his name is great, so we can verify a fulfillment that has only come about after it was written down, not before.

This part of the promise to Ibrahim has definitely happened, as should be obvious even to unbelievers, and this gives us even greater confidence to understand the remaining part of this promise of Allah to Ibrahim.  Let’s continue to study it.

Blessing to us

Again, we can see the promise of a ‘great nation’ from Ibrahim and a ‘blessing’ to Ibrahim. But there is something else as well, the blessing is not only for Ibrahim because it says that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (i.e. through Ibrahim). This should make you and I sit up and take notice. Because you and I are part of ‘all peoples on earth’ – no matter what our religion, ethnic background, where we live, our social status, or what language we speak. This promise is for everybody alive today.  This is a promise for you.  Though our different religions, ethnic backgrounds and languages often divide people and cause conflict, this is a promise that looks to overcome these things that usually divide us. How? When? What kind of blessing? This was not clearly revealed at this point, but this Sign birthed a promise that is for you and me through Ibrahim (PBUH).  Since we know that one part of this promise has come true, we can have confidence that this other part that applies to us will also have a clear and literal fulfillment – we just need to find the key to unlock it.

We can notice that when Ibrahim received this promise he obeyed Allah and…

“So Abram left as the LORD had told him” (v. 4)

Map of Ibrahim’s journey

How long was this journey to the Promised Land? The map here shows his journey. He lived originally in Ur (Southern Iraq today) and moved to Haran (Northern Iraq). Ibrahim (PBUH) then journeyed to what was called Canaan in his day. You can see that this was a long journey. He would have traveled on camel, horse or donkey so it would have taken many months. Ibrahim left his family, his comfortable life (Mesopotamia at this time was the center of civilization), his security and all that was familiar to travel to a land that was foreign to him. And this, the Taurat tells us, when he was 75 years old!

Animal sacrifices like previous Prophets

The Taurat also tells us that when Ibrahim (PBUH) arrived in Canaan safely:

“So he built an altar there to the LORD “ (v. 7)

An altar would be where, like Qabil and Noah before him, he offered blood sacrifices of animals to Allah. We see that this is a pattern of how the prophets worshiped Allah.

Ibrahim (PBUH) had risked so much so late in his life to travel to this new land. But in so doing he submitted himself to the Promise of Allah to both be blessed and to be a blessing to all Peoples. And that is why he is so important to us. We continue with the Sign 2 of Ibrahim next.

The Sign of Lut

Lut (or Lot in the Taurat/Bible) was the nephew of Ibrahim (PBUH). He had chosen to live in a city full of wicked people. Allah used this situation as prophetic signs for all people. But what are the signs? To answer this we need to pay close attention to the different people in this account. Click here to read the account in both Taurat and Qur’an.

In the Taurat and Qur’an we can see that there are three groups of people, as well as the angels (or messengers) of Allah. Let us think about each in turn.

The men of Sodom

These men were extremely perverse. These men were hoping to rape other men (that really were angels but since the men of Sodom thought they were men they were planning to gang-rape them). This kind of sin was so evil that Allah determined to judge the entire city. The judgment was consistent with the judgment given to Adam. Back in the beginning Allah had warned Adam that the judgment for sin was death. No other kind of punishment (like beating, imprisonment etc.) was enough. Allah had said to Adam

“…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)

Similarly, the punishment for the sins of the men of Sodom was that they also had to die. In fact the entire city and everyone living in it was going to be destroyed by fire from heaven. This is an example of a pattern that was later explained in the Injil:

For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)

Lut’s sons-in-law

In the account of Noah, Allah judged the entire world, and consistent with the sign of Adam the judgment was death in a great flood. But the Taurat and Qur’an tell us that the entire world then was ‘evil’. Allah judged the men of Sodom but they too were perversely evil. With only these accounts I might be tempted to think that I am safe from Allah’s judgment, because I am not that evil. After all, I believe in Allah, I do many good things, and I have never committed such evil acts. So am I safe? The sign of Lut with his sons-in-law warns me. They were not part of the gang of men who were trying to commit homosexual rape. However, they did not take the warning of coming Judgment seriously. In fact, the Taurat tells us that they thought ‘he (Lut) was joking’. Was their fate any different from that of the other men of the city? No! They suffered the same fate. There was no difference in outcome between these sons-in-laws and the evil men of Sodom. The sign here is that everyone must take these warnings seriously. They are not only for perverse  people.

Lut’s wife

Lut’s wife is a great sign to us. In both Taurat and Qur’an she also perished along with the other people. She was the wife of a prophet. But her special relationship to Lut did not save her even though she also did not practice homosexuality like the men of Sodom did. The angels had commanded them:

‘let not any of you look back’ (Surat 11:81) The Hud or

‘Don’t look back’ (Genesis 19:17)

The Taurat tells us that

But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26)

What exactly her ‘looking back’ means is not explained. But evidently she thought she could ignore even a small command from Allah and thought it would not matter. Her fate – with her ‘little’ sin – was the same as the men of Sodom with their ‘big’ sin – death. This is such an important sign for me to keep me from thinking that some ‘little’ sins are exempt from Allah’s judgment – Lut’s wife is our Sign to warn us against this wrong thinking.

Lut, Allah and the Angel Messengers

As we saw in the Sign of Adam, when Allah Judged he also provided Mercy. In that Judgment it was by providing clothes of skin. With Noah, when Allah Judged he again provided Mercy through the ark. Once again Allah, even in His Judgment is careful to also give Mercy. The Taurat described it:

When he (Lut) hesitated, the men (the angels that looked like men) grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. (Genesis 19:16)

What can we learn from this? As in the earlier Signs, the Mercy was universal but was provided only through one way – guiding them out of the city. Allah did not, for example, provide Mercy through also making a shelter in the city that could withstand the Fire from Heaven. There was only one way to receive the Mercy – follow the angels out of the city. Allah did not extend this Mercy to Lut and his family because Lut was perfect. In fact, in both Taurat and Qur’an we see that Lut was willing to offer his daughters to the rapists – not a noble offer. The Taurat tells us even that Lut ‘hesitated’ when the angels warned him. Even in all this, Allah extended Mercy by ‘grasping’ him and leading him out. This is a Sign for us: Allah will extend Mercy to us, and it does not depend on our merit. But we, like Lut before us, need to receive this Mercy in order for it to help us. The sons-in-law did not receive it and so they did not benefit from it.

The Taurat tells us that Allah extended this Mercy to Lut because his uncle, the great Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) had prayed for him (see the passage in Genesis here). The Taurat continues through the signs of Ibrahim with the promise from Allah that ‘all nations on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me’ (Genesis 22:18). This promise should alert us because no matter who we are, what language we speak, what religion we have, or where we live we can know that both you and I are part of ‘all nations on earth’. If Ibrahim’s intercession moved Allah to extend his Mercy to Lut, even though he did not merit it, how much more will the Signs of Ibrahim extend Mercy to us, who belong to ‘all nations’? With this thought we continue in the Taurat by looking next at the Signs of Ibrahim.

The Qur'an replaces the Bible! What says the Qur'an?

We have seen that both the Qur’an and the Sunnah confirm that the Bible (Taurat, Zabur and Injil that make up al Kitab) has not been changed or corrupted (see here and here).  But the question still remains whether the Bible/al Kitab is superseded, annulled, cancelled or replaced by the Qur’an. What does the Qur’an itself say about this idea?

To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety… Surah 5:48 Al-Ma’ida (The Table)

And before this (Qur’an) was the Book of Moses as a guide and a mercy; and this book (Qur’an) confirms (it) in the Arabic tongue. Surah (46):12 Al-Ahqaf (The Dunes)

And this is a book (Qur’an) which We have sent down, bringing blessings and confirming (the revelations) which came before it.  Surah (6):92 Al-An’am (The Cattle)

That which We have revealed to thee of the Book is the Truth,- confirming what was (revealed) before it: Surah 35:31 (The Angels)

These ayat speak about the Qur’an confirming (not superseding, overriding or replacing) the earlier message of the Bible (al Kitab).  In other words, these ayat are not saying that believers should set aside the early revelation and only study the later revelation.  Believers should also study and know the earlier revelation.

This is also confirmed by the ayat that tell us that there is ‘no distinction’ between the different revelations.  Here are two such ayat that I have noticed:

The Apostle believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in God, His angels, His books, and His apostles. “We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles.” And they say: “We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys.”  (Surat 2:285 – The Cow)

Say ye: “We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to God (in Islam).” (Surat 2:136 – The Cow)

The first ayah tells us that there is no distinction between the apostles – they all should be listened to and the second says there is no difference between the revelations given by the different prophets – they all should be accepted.  In none of these ayat is there any suggestion that the earlier revelation should be disregarded because the later revelation has superseded it.

And this pattern fits with the example and teaching of Isa al Masih (PBUH).  He himself did not say the earliest revelations of Taurat and then Zabur were cancelled.  In fact he taught the opposite.  Notice the respect and continual and ongoing attention he pays to the Taurat of Musa in his own teaching in the Injil

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (i.e. Taurat) or the Prophets (i.e. Zabur); I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)

In fact, to properly understand his teaching he taught that one must first go to the Taurat and then the Zabur.  Here is how he taught his own disciples:

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses (i.e. Taurat), the Prophets and the Psalms (i.e. Zabur).” (Luke 24:44)

Isa al Masih (PBUH) did not attempt to bypass earlier revelation.  In fact he started from there in his teaching and guidance.  This is why we also follow his example by starting from the beginning of Taurat to give the foundation to understand the Injil.

Why are there four Gospel accounts for one Injil?

I am sometimes asked if there is only one Injil then why are there four Gospel books in al Kitab (the Bible), each written by a different human author?  Would that not make them of fallible (and contradictory) human origin and not from Allah?

The Bible (al Kitab) says about itself:

All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

So the Bible/al Kitab makes the claim that God is the final author since He inspired these human authors.  And on this point the Qur’an is in full agreement as we saw in the post on what the Qur’an says about the Bible.  We also saw here that Isa al Masih promised his disciples guidance from the Spirit of Truth when they would testify about the Injil.

But how to understand the four Gospel books for the one Injil?  In the Qur’an there are often several passages that recount one event, and taken together allow us to have a fuller picture of that event. For example, the scriptures for the Sign of Adam used Surat 7:19-26 (The Heights) to tell us about Adam in Paradise. But it also used Surat 20: 121-123 (Ta Ha). And this 2nd passage gave an extra understanding of Adam by explaining that he was ‘seduced’, which The Heights does not include. Taken together they gave us a more complete picture of what happened.  That was the intent – to have the passages complement each other.

In the same way, the four Gospel accounts in the Bible (al Kitab) has always and only been about one Injil.  Taken together they give a fuller understanding of the Injil of Isa al Masih – PBUH.  Each of the four accounts has some material that the other three do not.  Therefore, taken together they offer a more complete picture of the Injil.

This is why when the content of the Injil is talked about it is always in the singular, because there is only one Injil.  For example we see here in the New Testament that there is one single gospel.

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-13)

The Gospel is also written in singular in the Holy Qur’an (see The pattern of ‘Gospel’ in the Qur’an).  But when we speak of the witnesses or the books of the gospel there are four.  In fact in the Taurat, a matter could not be decided by the testimony of only one witness.  The Law of Musa required a minimum of ‘two or three witnesses’ (Deuteronomy 19:15) to testify about the one particular event or message of interest.  By providing four witness accounts the Injil is supported above the minimum requirements of the Law.

 

 

The Sign of Noah

We continue on in chronological order from the beginning (i.e. Adam/Eve and Qabil/Habil) and our next noteworthy prophet in the Taurat is Noah/Nouh (PBUH), who lived about 1600 years after Adam.  Many people in the West find the story of the Prophet Nouh (PBUH) and the flood unbelievable.  But the world is covered with sedimentary rock, which is formed by depositing of sediment during a flood.  So we do have physical evidence of this flood, but what was Noah’s sign that we should pay attention to?  Click here to read the account of Noah (PBUH) in Taurat and Qur’an.

Missing vs. Receiving Mercy

When I talk to Westerners about Allah’s Judgment, the reply I often get is something like, “I’m not too worried about Judgment because He is so merciful I do not think He will really judge me”.  It is this account of Noah (PBUH) that caused me to really question that reasoning.  Yes, Allah is merciful, and since He does not change he was also full of mercy in the days of Noah (PBUH).  Yet the entire world (apart from Noah and his family) was destroyed in that judgment.  So where was His mercy then?  It was in the ark.  As the Qur’an tells us:

We (Allah) delivered him (Noah PBUH), and those with him, in the Ark (The Heights 7:64)

Allah in His Mercy, using the prophet Noah (PBUH), provided an ark that was available for anybody.  Anyone could have entered that ark and received mercy and safety.  The problem was almost all people responded to the message in unbelief.  They mocked Noah (PBUH) and did not believe in the coming Judgment.  If only they had entered the ark they would have escaped the Judgment.

The passage in the Holy Qur’an also tells us that one of Noah’s sons did believe in Allah and the coming Judgment.  The very fact that he was trying to climb a mountain shows that he was trying to escape the judgment of Allah (thus he must have believed in Allah and the Judgment).  But again there was a problem.  He did not combine his belief with submission and chose instead to decide to work out his own way to escape the Judgment.  But his father told him:

This day nothing can save, from the command of Allah, any but those on whom He hath mercy! (The Hud 11: 43)

This son needed the Mercy of Allah, not his own efforts to escape the Judgment.  His efforts to climb a mountain were futile.  So the result for him was exactly the same as with those who mocked the Prophet Noah (PBUH) – death by drowning.  If only he had entered the ark he would also have escaped from the Judgment.  From this we can know that merely a belief in Allah and Judgment is not enough to escape it.  In fact it is in submitting to the Mercy that Allah provides, rather than our own ideas, where we can be sure we will receive Mercy.  This is Noah’s sign to us – the ark.  It was a public Sign of Allah’s Judgment as well as His means of Mercy and escape.  While everyone could watch it being built it was that ‘clear sign’ of both coming Judgment and available Mercy.  But it shows that His mercy is only attainable through the provision that He has established.

So why did Noah find the Mercy of Allah?  The Taurat repeats several times the phrase

And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him

I find that I tend to do what I understand, or what I like, or what I agree with.  I am sure that Noah (PBUH) must have had many questions in his mind about Allah’s warning of a coming flood and his command to build such a big ark on land.  I am sure he could have reasoned that since he was a good man in other areas he perhaps did not need to pay attention to building this ark.  But he did ‘all‘ that was commanded – not just what his father had told him, not what he understood, not what he was comfortable with, and not even what made sense to him.  This is a great example for us to follow.

The Door for salvation

The Taurat also tells us that after Noah, his family, and the animals entered the ark that

Then the Lord shut him in.  (Genesis 7:16)

It was Allah that controlled and managed the one Door unto the ark – not Noah (PBUH). When Judgment came and the waters came, no amount of banging on the ark from the people outside could move Noah to open the door.  Allah controlled that one door. But at the same time those on the inside could rest in confidence that since Allah controlled the door that no wind or wave could force it open.  They were safe in door of Allah’s care and Mercy.

Since Allah does not change this also would apply to us today.  All the prophets warn that there is another coming Judgment – and this one by fire – but the sign of Noah (PBUH) assures us that along with His Judgment He will offer Mercy.  But we should look for his ‘ark’ with one door that will guarantee receiving Mercy.

Sacrifice of the Prophets

The Taurat also tells us that Noah (PBUH):

built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.  (Genesis 8:20)

This fits the pattern of Adam/Eve and Qabil/Habil of sacrificing animals.  This means, once again, that by an animal’s death and draining of blood was how the Prophet Noah (PBUH) prayed to, and was accepted by, Allah.  In fact the Taurat says that just after this sacrifice Allah ‘blessed Noah and his sons’ (Genesis 9:1) and ‘made a covenant with Noah’ (Genesis 9:8) to never again judge all people with a flood.  So it seems that the sacrifice, death, and the draining of the blood of an animal by Noah was crucial in his worship of Allah.  How important is this?  We continue our survey through the Prophets of the Taurat, with Lot/Lut next.

Why did Isa (PBUH) speak in Aramaic while the Gospels were written in Greek?

Isn’t that like the Holy Qur’an coming in Chinese though the Prophet (PBUH) spoke Arabic?

This is a great question.  And probably there is another one along with it.  Though we are asking ‘why’ we are also wondering if this in some way also negates or contradicts the idea that Allah inspired the Injil.  Because after all, this is different from how the Holy Qur’an was revealed.  So let`s discuss this in several steps.

First the analogy to Chinese-Arabic is not really accurate.  There is no real historical relationship between Chinese and Arabic.  Thus, revealing a Book in Chinese to an Arabic society would result only in nonsense.   No doubt Allah does have the power to do such a thing miraculously, but it would result in a book that no one could understand – even the Prophet (PBUH) himself.  And then the message of the Book would be useless, it would quickly be ignored (because it was not understood) and in a generation it would be forgotten – along with the memory of the prophet.  No, a prophetic message, if it is to have an impact on society (and this is the reason a message is sent to a prophet in the first place) must be understood by that society.

The intent behind the revelation of the Holy Quran was to give a warning in Arabic.  The following ayat tells us that:

We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an, in order that ye may learn wisdom. [Surah 12:2 Joseph]

Thus We have revealed it (Qur’an) to be a judgment of authority in Arabic… [Surah 13:37 (the Thunder)]

Thus have We sent by inspiration to thee an Arabic Qur’an: that thou mayest warn the Mother of Cities and all around her,- and warn (them) of the Day of Assembly, of which there is no doubt: (when) some will be in the Garden, and some in the Blazing Fire [Surah 42:7 (Consultation)]

We have made it a Qur’an in Arabic, that ye may be able to understand (and learn wisdom). [Surah 43:3 (Luxury)]

Yusuf Ali commentary on Ayah 7 of Surat 42 (Consultation) says that the ‘Mother of Cities’ is the City of Mecca and that “The point of the Qur’an being in Arabic is that it is plain and intelligible to the people through whom and among whom it was promulgated” (#4533).   So the purpose of was to give a warning so that Arabs, especially those in Mecca could be warned, learn ‘wisdom’ etc.  And for that to happen it had to be in Arabic.

But the Injil was a message not only to the Jews, but to all peoples.  In the time of the Prophet Isa al Masih (Jesus – PBUH) the world was basically Greek-speaking.  Because of the conquests of Alexander the Great some three hundred years before, most of the world (including the Romans who ruled in the time of Isa PBUH) had adopted the Greek language.  A rough analogy exists today with English.  Because of the past colonial power of Great Britain the international language of the world today is English.  The major power in the world today (USA) adopted the English language because of Great Britain and thus English is almost universal.  As one result, I, though Swedish origin, am writing this blog in English because my English has become better than my Swedish and I know that you could probably not read a Swedish blog.

The Greek language was also adopted by the Jews of that day so most were bi-lingual.  In fact, the Jews started to use Greek so much that they translated the Taurat and Zabur into Greek about 200 years before Isa al Masih (PBUH).  This translation is known as the Septuagint.  The Septuagint became widely read by Jews and even by non-Jews of that day.  Please see here and here from my considerthegospel blog to learn more about the Septuagint.  The bottom-line effect of the Septuagint was that the Holy Books were read more in the Greek than in the original Hebrew by the time of the prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH)

Isa al Masih (PBUH) may have spoken some Greek himself because we find in the Injil several times where non-Jewish Greeks and Romans spoke with him.  However, he would have spoken in Aramaic to his disciples (companions) because that was the natural language of Galilean Jews of that day.

But the writers of the Injil were definitely bi-lingual and thus fluent in Greek.  Matthew was a tax collector by profession and thus was working with Greek-speaking Romans regularly; Luke was a Greek and thus Greek was his first language; John Mark was from Jerusalem (Al Quds) and thus was a Greek-speaking Jew; and John was from a wealthy family (thus educated) and lived for much of his life outside Palestine and thus was fluent in Greek.

They were transmitting the message of the Injil to the world.  Therefore, to make sure that the world of that day would understand it they wrote in Greek.  Because the Taurat and Zabur make the Injil clear (as I show in my post on the signs of Injil in the Qur’an) the writers of the Injil frequently quote from Taurat/Zabur and when they do so they quote from the Septuagint (the Greek Taurat/Zabur).  We know from history that this message did indeed explode across the Greek-speaking Middle Eastern world.  This shows it was almost expected to have scripture read in Greek in that day.

So this answers ‘why’ it was in Greek.  But could Allah still inspire these writers when they write down in a different language what Isa al Masih (PBUH) had said earlier in another language even if they were bilingual?  Isa al Masih (PBUH) himself had promised that Allah would send guidance to them.  Here are excerpts from a private discussion he had with his disciples just before his departure recorded in the Gospel of John.  You can read the entire discussion by clicking here.

15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth….25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning….I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. … and he will tell you what is yet to come.

So the promise was that the Counsellor, the Spirit of truth, would guide them in their writing and testifying so that what they wrote would be true.  2 Timothy 3:16 explains this further:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The point here is that what they wrote would be guided and indeed inspired by Allah himself so that the word they wrote would be ‘God-breathed’.  Thus the message would be safe and trustworthy – inspired by Allah.

So the way the Injil was revealed and made known was indeed different from how the Holy Qur’an was revealed.  But does that make it wrong, worse or obsolete?  I think to answer that we need to recognize that Allah has the right and the power to do different things in different ways.  Because the Prophet Musa (PBUH) received the Commands on Mount Sinai on tablets of stone that were written by the finger of Allah, does that mean that all later prophets must also receive their message from Him on stone tablets?  And only on Mount Sinai?  Because the first prophets were Jewish does that mean all prophets must be Jewish?  Because the Prophet Noah (PBUH) warned of a coming Judgment by water does that mean all judgments of Allah are by water?  I think we would have to answer ‘no’ for all these questions.  Allah has the power and the right, according to his sovereignty, to choose different prophets, methods and means to do His will.  Our part is to decide whether the message is really from Him or not.  And since the Holy Qur’an itself declares that the Injil was inspired by Allah, and Isa (PBUH) promised this same inspiration and guidance (per above) it would be foolish for us to argue otherwise.

In summary, the Injil was written in Greek so that it would be understood by the wider world of that day.  A promise was given that Allah would give guidance and inspire the disciples when they wrote the Injil – and this is confirmed by the Qur’an declaring that this was inspired.  This method of revelation is different from how the Holy Qur’an was revealed but it is not up to us to tell Allah what His limits are.  Throughout human history He has used different methods, prophets and means to communicate His message.

In what Languages were the Books of the Bible written?

The word Bible literally means ‘Books’.  We see it today as one Book and we often refer to it as ‘a Book’.  This is why the Qur’an calls it ‘al kitab’.  But it really is a collection of Books written by more than 40 prophets who lived through a time span of over 1600 years.  These prophets had very different backgrounds.  Daniel (whose tomb is in modern-day Iran) was a prime minister in Babylonian (Iraq) and Persian (Iran) Empires.  Nehemiah was an attendant to the Persian Emperor Artaxerxes.  Ezekiel was a Priest.  Dawood (David) was King of Ancient Israel as was his son Suleiman (Solomon), and so on.  Thus you can really think of the Bible (or al Kitab) as more like a library, in one volume, that has 66 books.

To help us better ‘see’ the prophets and their books through history I have placed some (not all because there is not enough room) on a historical timeline.  What stands out is the very long period of human history this timeline covers.  The ticks (or units) of time in this timeline measure centuries (years by the 100’s)!  The green horizontal bars show the  lifespan of that particular prophet.  You can see that Ibrahim (Abraham) and Musa (Moses) lived many years!

Timeline for Prophets of Bible
Bible Prophets in Timeline – When these Prophets lived in human History

Because these prophets lived in different time periods, different countries (or empires) and in different social levels (i.e. some were with rulers and others with peasants) the languages used varied.  The Taurat (books of Moses/Musa – PBUH) was originally written in Hebrew.  The books of David/Dawood (PBUH) and Solomon/Suleiman (PBUH) in the Zabur were also in Hebrew.  Other books in Zabur (parts of Daniel and Nehemiah – PBUH) were originally written in Aramaic.  The prophet Isa al Masih (PBUH) would have spoken in Aramaic and perhaps Hebrew.  The books of the Injil (they are not shown on this timeline) were originally written in Greek.

What is most interesting for us is that these original languages are preserved, accessible and even used to this very day.  It is just that these languages, not being European, are not used by Westerners so they do not get the attention that, say, English gets.  You can see the Taurat in Hebrew online by clicking here.  You will note that it reads right to left like Arabic.  You can see and hear a prayer of Isa in original Aramaic here.  You can also see the original Greek of the books of the Injil here.  Actually it is from these originals that scholars translate the books of the Bible into modern-day languages like English, French, Thai etc, similar to how scholars translate the Qur’an from Arabic into the many languages of today.