What is truth and where does it come from?It is rare for even two or three people to agree on the truth of a matter. If the rich and powerful define truth, their truth will exclude or disadvantage the poor and vice versa. Truth cannot be decided by majority vote, for truth is truth regardless of how many people vote for it. Truth is—and can only be determined by—the Truth, another name for God, Who created humanity and the universe. Our task is to discover that truth and abide by it.
Of course there are some universal truths, such as honesty, generosity, altruism, truthfulness, helpfulness, and compassion. These are essentially reflections of our true nature. Created by the One, Who is All-Wise, All-Generous, All-Compassionate, every person has an innate inclination toward these virtues. Therefore they are confirmed and established by Islam, which was revealed by God through His Prophets to show humanity how to resolve all of its psychological and social problems.
While constant change is observed in nature, there is an underlying aspect of permanence in everything. For instance, a seed germinates underground and grows into a tree without the laws of germination and growth changing. Likewise the essential purposes of all people, regardless of any external material or other changes in their lifestyles, as well as their impact on our lives and environment have remained unchanged since the creation of Adam and Eve. All of us share certain general conditions of life and value: we are born, mature, marry, have children, and die; we have some degree of will and common desires; we share certain values, such as honesty, kindness, justice, courage, and so on.
Thus all Prophets sent by God were sent with the same message concerning God’s Absolute Oneness and Absolute Transcendence: He does not beget nor is He begotten, for He is Eternally Self-Existent. Each created being naturally depends on his or her Creator. Only the Creator is Self-Existent, unique and single, and not composite, subject to change, or contained by time or space. Belief in such a Divine Being constitutes the primary foundation of the Divine religion preached by all Prophets. Its other pillars are belief in the Resurrection, all Prophets without distinction, angels, Divine Scriptures, and Divine Destiny (including human free will).
Through sincere faith and worship, as well as adherence to the Prophets’ pristine teachings, we can attain the highest degree of elevation, even becoming worthy of heaven. There is no other escape from the snares of worldly life, the oppressive ignorance of false human-made systems, or the tyranny of self-appointed clerical authority.
Those who do not use their free will to discipline themselves face the danger of enslavement by their passions. Such lack of self-discipline causes us to wrong others, for the goal of such behavior is to satisfy our desires. Since the Divine religion does not allow such wrongdoing, those who pursue it try to corrupt religion in order to justify their whims and fancies. This causes disorder, oppression, unending conflict, and destruction. God wills mercy for His creatures, not oppression or injustice, and that they live in peace so that justice prevails. However, history relates that the followers of all earlier Prophets split into opposing factions and tampered with the religion to serve a given sect’s local cultural preference or interest.
All previous Prophets were sent to restore the Divine religion to its original purity by purging the innovations and deviations added by its adherents. This is why Prophet Muhammad was sent after Jesus to preach the same pillars of faith. God revealed to him the Qur’an, which contains the eternal principles for our individual and collective life. Since God decrees that the Qur’an is absolutely and permanently preserved, Prophet Muhammad is the last Messenger.
Unfortunately, Judaism and Christianity rejected the Divine Messages and Prophets that came after the ones sent to them: The Jews rejected Christianity and Jesus, as well as Islam and Muhammad, and the Christians rejected Islam and Muhammad. So these two religions finally became so exclusive that Judaism took on the form of a national religion and Christianity presented itself as the only true religion. However, Islam honors the religious experience of those who came before its revelation, because Islam confirms and completes what is true in those religions. Given this, Muslims say that Prophet Abraham and all other Prophets were Muslim. Such an outlook explains why Islamic civilization, from its very beginnings, was and remains tolerant, plural, and inclusive. It has always been this way, except for the rarest of exceptions.