The following paragraph is a brief extract of a translation from Urdu of Tazkirah (Man’s Destiny) by Allama Mashriqi. Tazkirah is a higher commentary on the Qur’an, which the author describes as the ‘last message of God to Man’, and an exhaustive exposition of the Divine Law or what he calls the ‘Religion of Nature’. Most of the material in this section is taken from the chapter of the ‘Unity of Divine Message’ in Tazkirah. The rest of this section deals with some of the well-known prophets in Qur’an. It demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt that the fundamental message preached by all the prophets was the same in spite of variations in customs and rituals throughout the different world communities. I quote Mashriqi:
The last of the Revealed books (the Holy Qur’an) gave a straight verdict on humanity’s present disintegrated form, in fact, on the reality of Religion, by declaring that customs and rituals are one thing but the FUNDAMENTAL REALITY another. ‘O ye human beings! We have appointed for each people an outward semblance of its worship of God and obedience to His Law, which it is following, but the Fundamental Law is the same for everybody (and it is unity). Thus, the people should not dispute with you on the Fundamental Law. You assemble the entire mankind on one point by inviting them to One God, and through this Tauheed unite the whole world. Verily, in establishing this unity between world communities you are on the Right Course’. (22:67). This shows that creation of conflict over God’s Law by disputing over rituals means abdicating the straight path and Religion.1
Thus, the basic message of all the prophets from Allah was to further the unity of mankind, along with guidance on how human beings should live in this world in order to bring peace and security, and hence ensure our survival and stability. This was the substance of the great news which the prophets received from the Almighty, and this is the essence of true prophethood. This, too, is the supreme knowledge and information, the greatest of revelations and disclosures.
The Prophets taught Man the proper way to live on the earth; they showed him the path to collective survival and stated the principles determining the rise and fall of nations. They demonstrated the Divine Administration’s complete sense of justice, and evaluated punishment in this world and recompense in the Hereafter. They explained what the individual’s conduct should be; they put their people on the right path and ensured their stability and survival for centuries to come, and they demonstrated how non-believers would meet their end. This was the Deen they brought, and it was the Deen (course of action) which God wanted mankind to adopt.
Thus, it is Man’s correct course of conduct in the world which, in fact, is his ‘religion’, and it is his bounden duty to comprehend the Immutable Law which governs the rise and fall of nations. The knowledge of this alone constitutes the science of religions and it is this course which is everybody’s most urgent need.
No prophet carved out a contrary course, a new Faith or a different religion. Each came with essentially one message. That message was the Divine Law. Humanity’s failure to follow that Law resulted in their periodic destruction. Subsequent generations mistook the exteriors and procedures which were only devices – or method – for following the Divine Law, as the fundamentals of the Deen; they accepted subsidiaries as the fundamental code and ignored the basic reality, becoming entirely concerned with the superficial and the conventional. People unduly exaggerated in the display of personal devotion and deference to their leaders, attaching increasing importance to the commandments of their own liking. They considered it a slant against their traditions and honour to give up the rituals of one prophet and enter the fold of a new one. Then, instead of following, through the prophets, the Divine Law and taking this Law as the true source of knowledge, they lined up on sectarian grounds behind the various prophets, thus becoming partisan. Instead of believing and submitting to the will of God and thereby becoming true Muslims they became Mosesites, Buddhists, Christians and Mohammedans. They considered it part-and-parcel of the Deen merely to heap praises on the prophets and idolise them in their activities. In this way, Religion came to denote only a few useless rituals and baseless customs; its significance completely disappeared.2