Religious text

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A scripture of Islam, Holy Quran - National Museum, New Delhi, India Holy Quran - National Museum, New Delhi.jpg
A scripture of Islam, Holy Quran - National Museum, New Delhi, India
The Rigveda (Vedic chant) manuscript in Devanagari, a scripture of Hinduism, dated 1500-1000 BCE. It is the oldest religious texts in any Indo-European language. Rigveda MS2097.jpg
The Rigveda (Vedic chant) manuscript in Devanagari, a scripture of Hinduism, dated 1500–1000 BCE. It is the oldest religious texts in any Indo-European language.
A page from Codex Vaticanus in the Greek Old and New Testament Codex Vaticanus B, 2Thess. 3,11-18, Hebr. 1,1-2,2.jpg
A page from Codex Vaticanus in the Greek Old and New Testament

Religious texts, including scripture, are texts which various religions consider to be of central importance to their religious tradition. They often feature a compilation or discussion of beliefs, ritual practices, moral commandments & laws, ethical conduct, spiritual aspirations, and admonitions for fostering a religious community.

Contents

Within each religion, these sacred texts are revered as authoritative sources of guidance, wisdom, and divine revelation. They are often regarded as sacred or holy, representing the core teachings and principles that their followers strive to uphold. [1] [2] [3]

Sacred Scriptures of Different Religions

Islam

Quran: The Quran is the most important scripture in Islam. [4] It was revealed by the great Creator Allah to the last prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH), for the entire humanity. It consists of 30 sections and 114 chapters. It is the primary and most fundamental source of Islamic law.

Hadith: Hadith, also known as Sunnah, is the second most important source of knowledge in Islam. [5] After the Quran, this branch of knowledge is given the most importance in Islam. Hadith or Sunnah is the words, actions and approvals of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In a word, everything related to his prophetic life is Sunnah. It is the second primary source of Islamic law.

Hikmah: Hikmah is a word that refers to the acceptance and application or creation of any subject of knowledge or science by verifying its truth or reliability through reasoning, strategy, thought and research. The Quran and Hadith encourage and approve of Hikmah. Islam encourages Muslims to reach appropriate or correct decisions through thought and research. Here, collective decisions or original research or decisions are also accepted on the basis of merit. Through this, the acceptance, promotion or discovery of anything beneficial is allowed. However, innovation, i.e. the discovery, support or propagation of new forms of worship or methods of worship and superstitions is strictly prohibited in Islam. [6]

Previous Heavenly Books: In Islam, it is obligatory to believe in all previous heavenly books along with the Quran. Believing in over 100 previous heavenly books, including the Torah, Psalms and Gospel is one of the most fundamental aspects of Islam. [7] Apart from this, there is no prohibition in Islam to accept the previous divine signs existing in the world if they are not contradictory to the Quran and authentic Hadith. However, Muslims believe that the previous heavenly books are not currently in their original form on earth, and that previous nations have made additions, deletions or changes to them for personal gain. Moreover, the Quran, Hadith and Hikmah are considered sufficient in Islam for guiding the life of humanity.

Christianity

Bible: The Bible is the holy book of Christianity. It is divided into two testaments: the Old Testament and the New Testament. [8]

Judaism

Torah: The Torah, also known as the Tawrat, is the holy book of Judaism. It is believed by Muslims, Jews and Christians to have been revealed by God to Moses. [9]

Authority of religious texts

The relative authority of religious texts develops over time and is derived from the ratification, enforcement, and its use across generations. Some religious texts are accepted or categorized as canonical, some non-canonical, and others extracanonical, semi-canonical, deutero-canonical, pre-canonical or post-canonical. [10]

"Scripture" (or "scriptures") is a subset of religious texts considered to be "especially authoritative", [11] [12] revered and "holy writ", [13] "sacred, canonical", or of "supreme authority, special status" to a religious community. [14] [15] The terms sacred text and religious text are not necessarily interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of the belief in some theistic religions such as the Abrahamic religions that the text is divinely or supernaturally revealed or divinely inspired, or in non-theistic religions such as some Indian religions they are considered to be the central tenets of their eternal Dharma . In contrast to sacred texts, many religious texts are simply narratives or discussions pertaining to the general themes, interpretations, practices, or important figures of the specific religion.

In some religions (e.g. Christianity), the canonical texts include a particular text (Bible) but is "an unsettled question", according to Eugene Nida. In others (Hinduism, Buddhism), there "has never been a definitive canon". [16] [17] While the term scripture is derived from the Latin scriptura, meaning "writing", most sacred scriptures of the world's major religions were originally a part of their oral tradition, and were "passed down through memorization from generation to generation until they were finally committed to writing", according to Encyclopaedia Britannica . [13] [18] [19]

In Islam, the Sunnah are the traditions and practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad that constitute a model for Muslims to follow. The sunnah is what all the Muslims of Muhammad's time evidently saw and followed and passed on to the next generations. [20] According to classical Islamic theories, [21] the sunnah are documented by hadith (the verbally transmitted record of the teachings, deeds and sayings, silent permissions or disapprovals attributed to Muhammad), and alongside the Quran (the book of Islam) are the divine revelation ( wahy ) delivered through Muhammad [21] that make up the primary sources of Islamic law and belief/theology. [22] [23] However sects of Islam differ on which hadiths (if any) should be accepted as canonical (see Criticism of hadith).

Religious texts also serve a ceremonial and liturgical role, particularly in relation to sacred time, the liturgical year, the divine efficacy and subsequent holy service; in a more general sense, its performance.[ citation needed ]

Etymology and nomenclature

According to Peter Beal, the term scripture – derived from "scriptura" (Latin) – meant "writings [manuscripts] in general" prior to the medieval era, then became "reserved to denote the texts of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible". [24] Beyond Christianity, according to the Oxford World Encyclopedia, the term "scripture" has referred to a text accepted to contain the "sacred writings of a religion", [25] while The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions states it refers to a text "having [religious] authority and often collected into an accepted canon". [26] In modern times, this equation of the written word with religious texts is particular to the English language, and is not retained in most other languages, which usually add an adjective like "sacred" to denote religious texts.

Some religious texts are categorized as canonical, some non-canonical, and others extracanonical, semi-canonical, deutero-canonical, pre-canonical or post-canonical. [10] The term "canon" is derived from the Greek word "κανών", "a cane used as a measuring instrument". It connotes the sense of "measure, standard, norm, rule". In the modern usage, a religious canon refers to a "catalogue of sacred scriptures" that is broadly accepted to "contain and agree with the rule or canon of a particular faith", states Juan Widow. [27] The related terms such as "non-canonical", "extracanonical", "deuterocanonical" and others presume and are derived from "canon". These derived terms differentiate a corpus of religious texts from the "canonical" literature. At its root, this differentiation reflects the sects and conflicts that developed and branched off over time, the competitive "acceptance" of a common minimum over time and the "rejection" of interpretations, beliefs, rules or practices by one group of another related socio-religious group. [28] The earliest reference to the term "canon" in the context of "a collection of sacred Scripture" is traceable to the 4th-century CE. The early references, such as the Synod of Laodicea, mention both the terms "canonical" and "non-canonical" in the context of religious texts. [29]

History of religious texts

One of the oldest known religious texts is the Kesh Temple Hymn of ancient Sumer, [30] [31] a set of inscribed clay tablets which scholars typically date around 2600 BCE. [32] The Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumer, although only considered by some scholars as a religious text, has origins as early as 2150 BCE, [33] and stands as one of the earliest literary works that includes various mythological figures and themes of interaction with the divine. [34] The Rigveda, a scripture of Hinduism, is dated 1500 BCE. It is one of the oldest known complete religious texts that has survived into the modern age. [35] [36]

There are many possible dates given to the first writings which can be connected to Talmudic and Biblical traditions, the earliest of which is found in scribal documentation of the 8th century BCE, [37] followed by administrative documentation from temples of the 5th and 6th centuries BCE, [38] with another common date being the 2nd century BCE. [38]

High rates of mass production and distribution of religious texts did not begin until the invention of the printing press in 1440, [39] before which all religious texts were hand written copies, of which there were relatively limited quantities in circulation.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bible</span> Collection of religious texts

The Bible is a collection of religious texts or scriptures, some, all, or a variant of which are held to be sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, Islam, the Baha'i Faith, and many other Abrahamic religions. The Bible is an anthology, a compilation of texts of a variety of forms, originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek. These texts include instructions, stories, poetry, and prophecies, among other genres. The collection of materials that are accepted as part of the Bible by a particular religious tradition or community is called a biblical canon. Believers in the Bible generally consider it to be a product of divine inspiration, but the way they understand what that means and interpret the text varies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hadith</span> Collections of sayings and teachings of Muhammad

Hadith or Athar refers to what most Muslims and the mainstream schools of Islamic thought believe to be a record of the words, actions, and the silent approval of the Islamic prophet Muhammad as transmitted through chains of narrators. In other words, the ḥadīth are attributed reports about what Muhammad said and did.

Islamic eschatology is a field of study in Islam concerning future events that would happen in the end times. It is primarily based on sources from the Quran and Sunnah. Aspects from this field of study include the signs of the final age, the destruction of the universe and Judgement Day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prophet</span> Intermediary between humanity and the divine

In religion, a prophet or prophetess is an individual who is regarded as being in contact with a divine being and is said to speak on behalf of that being, serving as an intermediary with humanity by delivering messages or teachings from the supernatural source to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Revelation</span> Communication with a deity or other supernatural entity

In religion and theology, revelation is the disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity (god) or other supernatural entity or entities.

In Islam, sunnah, also spelled sunna, are the traditions and practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad that constitute a model for Muslims to follow. The sunnah is what all the Muslims of Muhammad's time evidently saw and followed and passed on to the next generations. According to classical Islamic theories, the sunnah are documented by hadith, and alongside the Quran are the divine revelation (wahy) delivered through Muhammad that make up the primary sources of Islamic law and belief/theology. Differing from Sunni classical Islamic theories are those of Shia Muslims, who hold that Imams interpret the sunnah, and Sufi who hold that Muhammad transmitted the values of sunnah "through a series of Sufi teachers".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Quran</span> Central religious text of Islam

The Quran, also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation from God. It is organized in 114 chapters which consist of individual verses. Besides its religious significance, it is widely regarded as the finest work in Arabic literature, and has significantly influenced the Arabic language.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jesus in Islam</span> Penultimate prophet and eschatological figure in Islam

In Islam, Jesus is believed to be the penultimate prophet and messenger of God and the Messiah sent to guide the Children of Israel with a book called the Injīl.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Comparative religion</span> Systematic comparison of the worlds religions

Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices, themes and impacts of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religion yields a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophical concerns of religion such as ethics, metaphysics and the nature and forms of salvation. It also considers and compares the origins and similarities shared between the various religions of the world. Studying such material facilitates a broadened and more sophisticated understanding of human beliefs and practices regarding the sacred, numinous, spiritual and divine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Islamic mythology</span> Body of myths associated with Islam

Islamic mythology is the body of myths associated with Islam and the Quran. Islam is a religion that is more concerned with social order and law than with religious ritual or myths. The Oxford Companion to World Mythology identifies a number of traditional narratives as "Islamic myths". These include a creation myth and a vision of afterlife, which Islam shares with the other Abrahamic religions, as well as the distinctively Islamic story of the Kaaba.

The term Abrahamic religion groups three of the major religions together due to their historical coexistence and competition; it refers to Abraham, a figure mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Quran, and is used to show similarities between these religions and put them in contrast to Indian religions, Iranian religions, and the East Asian religions. Furthermore, some religions categorized as "Abrahamic" also share elements from other categories, such as Indian religions, or for example, Islam with Eastern religions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hindu–Islamic relations</span> Overview of relations between Hinduism and Islam

Interactions between Muslims and Hindus began in the 7th century, after the advent of the former in the Arabian Peninsula. These interactions were mainly by trade throughout the Indian Ocean. Historically, these interactions formed contrasting patterns in northern and southern India. While there is a history of conquest and domination in the north, Hindu-Muslim relations in Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been peaceful. However, historical evidence has shown that violence had existed by the year 1700 A.D.

Miracles of Muhammad are miraculous happenings attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Islamic holy books</span> Religious scriptures seen by Muslims as holy

Islamic holy books are certain religious scriptures that are viewed by Muslims as having valid divine significance, in that they were authored by God (Allah) through a variety of prophets and messengers, including those who predate the Quran. Among the group of religious texts considered to be valid revelations, the three that are mentioned by name in the Quran are the Tawrat, received by prophets and messengers amongst the Children of Israel; the Zabur (Psalms), received by David; and the Gospel, received by Jesus. Additionally, the Quran mentions God's revealing of the Scrolls of Abraham and the Scrolls of Moses.

A biblical canon is a set of texts which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as part of the Bible.

The Quran states that several prior writings constitute holy books given by God to the prophets and messengers amongst the Children of Israel, in the same way the Quran was revealed to Muhammad. These include the Tawrat, believed by Muslims to have been given by God to the prophets and messengers amongst the Children of Israel, the Zabur revealed to David (Dawud); and the Injil revealed to Jesus (Isa).

Prophets in Islam are individuals in Islam who are believed to spread God's message on Earth and serve as models of ideal human behaviour. Some prophets are categorized as messengers, those who transmit divine revelation, most of them through the interaction of an angel. Muslims believe that many prophets existed, including many not mentioned in the Quran. The Quran states: "And for every community there is a messenger." Belief in the Islamic prophets is one of the six articles of the Islamic faith.

Quranism is an Islamic movement that holds the belief that the Quran is the only valid source of religious belief, guidance and law in Islam. Quranists believe that the Quran is clear, complete, and that it can be fully understood without recourse to the hadith and sunnah. Therefore, they use the Quran itself to interpret the Quran, an exegetical principle known as tafsir al-Qur'an bi al-Qur'an.

References

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Further reading