Does the Islamic Qur’an Foretell the Restoration?

By George Potter

In a statement issued by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 15 February 1978, the presiding officers of the Church stated that “The great religious leaders of the world such as Muhammad, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations…”

How much light was given to each of these leaders we are left to ponder. What we do know is that they were inspired by God, including Muhammed who headed the list. The Islamic prophet declared that he received the revelations of the Holy Qur’an from God, having had each revelation (Surah) dictated to him by the angel Gabriel. One of these revelations, Surah 3, includes these interesting lines describing a group of "people of the Book," or Bible, (who Muhammed taught were the Christians or Jews.)1 This group of Christians or Jews would believe in the Last Days and would be counted among the righteous:

Qur’an 3:113-115

113. Not all them are alike: Of the People of the Book

are a portion that stand (for the right): They rehearse

the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves

in adoration.

114. They believe in Allah and the Last Day;

They enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong;

and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works:

They are in the ranks of the righteous.

115. Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them;

for Allah knoweth well those that do right.2

I have presented these verses from the Qur’an to many Muslims, including a distinguished Islamic cleric. None of them could tell me who this group of Christians or Jews would be. To help us determine who it might be, let us read once again these verses, but this time adding commentary based on three somewhat different translations.

To make the comparison easier, I have placed the three translations in order by individual verse (Surah). Translation "A" is the one given earlier in this article by Yusif Ali. Translation "B" is the so-called Pickthal translation; and Translation "C" is the Shakir translation.

3:113:

A. (Yusif Ali)

Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (For the right): They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration.

B. (Pickthal)

They are not all alike. Of the People of the Scripture there is a staunch community who recite the revelations of Allah in the night season, falling prostrate (before Him).

C. (Shakir)

They are not all alike; of the followers of the Book there is an upright party; they recite Allah's communications in the nighttime and they adore (Him).

Comments:

Verse (Surah) 3:113.

1. References to "the People of the Book" allude to the Jews or Christians.

A. "the People of the Book …"

B. "the People of the Scripture …"

C. "the followers of the Book …"

2. The translations all describe the "People" in question with different words, but each one refers to a unique group of people that is clearly distinguishable from maintstream Christians and Jews.

A. "a portion"

B. "a staunch community"

C. "an upright party"

3. One of the features that sets this group apart from others is that they . . .

A. "stand for the right"

B. are "staunch"

C. are "an upright party"

If that is to be a distinguishing factor, it seems to imply that the other Christians and Jews are, at least in some appreciable degree, not standing for the right, or not promoting correct doctrine. Could these prophecies be referring to a group who have as an admonition to their members: "CTR: Choose the Right"?

4. Each translator refers in his own way to communication between this unique group and God:

A. "They rehearse [repeat] the Signs of Allah all night long"

B.  They "recite the revelations of Allah in the night season"

C. "They recite Allah's communications in the nighttime"

For a group of people to be engaged in such an activity, they obviously must believe in revelation and be actively involved in exercising their belief even during the night. It is prophesied, incidentally, that the LDS temples will operate all night long during the Millennium. And what better place to be repeating the "Signs" and "revelations" than in the temples.

5. The translators also have slightly different ways of referring to prayer:

A. "They prostrate themselves in adoration"

B. "They [fall] prostrate before Him"

C. "They adore [Him]"

Note that the act of prostration (bowing down or worshiping) is mentioned in connection with the repeating of the revelations of God. At our sacrament tables each Sabbath those who administer that sacred ordinance repeat the words of the sacramental prayers, which came to us in the form of revelation.

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3:114:

A. (Yusif Ali)

They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous.

B. (Pickthal)

They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and enjoin right conduct, and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works. These are of the righteous. 

C. (Shakir)

They believe in Allah and the last day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and they strive with one another in hastening to good deeds, and those are among the good.

Comments:

Verse (Surah) 114.

1. The reader will notice that each of the three translators whose works we are comparing, refer to the group as one who "believe … in the Last Day."

It is interesting that such a belief should be something special enough to the group in question to be a distinguishing feature. Surely the "Latter-day Saints" are even distinguished by their very name from other Christian denominations.

2. The translators refer to a People who can be recognized as a group that …

A. " enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works."

B. " enjoin right conduct, and forbid indecency, and vie one with another in good works."

C. " enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and they strive with one another in hastening to good deeds."

Certainly Latter-day Saints, like Muslims, forbid immoral behavior, immodest dress, and the use of tobacco, alcohol, tea, coffee, and mind-controlling drugs. They also strive to emulate [exemplify] doing good through their works, knowing that "by their fruits ye shall know them."

It might be well to mention here that those who have traveled or lived in the Middle East might object to the idea that Muslims forbid the use of tea and coffee; in most situations Muslims even offer these drinks to their guests as an act of courtesy or friendship.  Nevertheless, this tradition is indeed forbidden in Islam and was introduced only a few centuries ago by the Europeans. The Qur'an teaches that no stimulants, e.g., tea and coffee, are healthy for man. In 1526 a decree was made in Istanbul strictly forbidding coffee. Violators were to be placed within a leather bag, sewn up inside it, and thrown into the waters of the Bosporus.

3. Another trait or quality of the People referred to in the revelation is that they …

A. "They are in the ranks of the righteous."

B. " These are of the righteous."

C. " Those are among the good."

Although we in no way would claim to be the only people who might be described as good and righteous, that is an attribute that is typical of those who truly desire to be Saints of the latter days.

 

3:115:

A. (Yusif Ali)

 Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knoweth well those that do right.

B. (Pickthal)

And whatever good they do, they will not be denied the meed [reward] thereof. Allah is Aware of those who ward off (evil).

C. (Shakir)

And whatever good they do, they shall not be denied it, and Allah knows those who guard (against evil).

Comments:

Verse (Surah) 115.

Each of the three translators quoted seem to be in agreement regarding the ultimate reward of the righteous:

A. " Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them."

B. " And whatever good they do, they will not be denied the meed [reward] thereof."

C. " And whatever good they do, they shall not be denied it"

This sounds very familiar to those who are acquainted with the quotation from the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: "Whatsoever ye sow, that shall ye also reap; therefore, if ye sow good ye shall also reap good for your reward." D&C 6:33,

Summary

Perhaps it is not wise to interpret the sacred scriptures of other faiths. However, our leaders teach that Muhammed received inspiration from God, and it is easy to see how the portion of the light he received could have included a knowledge of the People through whom the restoration of the true faith has come to the peoples of the Earth.