Land of Israel and Jewish heritage – 4

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Land of Israel and Jewish heritage

A series from the book written by Naveed Anjum

Qur’anic stories and Israiliyat, cont’d

Hadiths and Source Documents, cont’d

The question arises: Why is there a need for the Israiliyat? The simple answer is that they became essential to Islam. The Holy Qur’an discusses most of the Israelite prophets’ stories but does so incompletely and out of context. Readers have difficulty understanding those stories in the Qur’an, because they are neither in sequence nor in their proper context. The narrative of each prophet is not recounted within one consecutive passage of the Qur’an but rather found fragmented among a number of different Suras (chapters). To understand those stories referenced within the Qur’an, a person obviously needs to know its full context.

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Israiliyat do that. They give the full context of those Israelite prophets’ stories referenced in the Qur’an. For example, every Muslim knows that the name of Prophet Yousuf’s (Biblical: Joseph’s) wife was Zuleikha. However, in the Qur’an, her name is absent. So, what is the source of her name? Unfortunately, few Muslims would know that the source of Zuleikha’s name is the traditions recorded in the Jewish Talmud. However, Muslims have long accepted her name.

Likewise, readers cannot understand the story of Job from reading only the Qur’an. They must go to the Jewish scriptures to fathom the story of Job within its full, detailed context. These are but two examples. To understand every Israelite prophet’s story or part of their story that is introduced in the Qur’an, readers must refer to Jewish biblical and non-biblical resources. This is the reason Israiliyat were introduced into Islamic traditions. Jews who converted to Islam introduced most of these narrations to Islam to enable Muslims’ better and more accurate understanding of the stories of Israel’s prophets.

(To be continued…)

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