Completion of Religion
"This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed
My favor on you and chosen for you Islam as a religion."
This verse has been referred to as complementary to verse 33:40 which describes Muhammad (PBUH) as being the "Seal of the prophets", in that the two verses support the notion that Islam is the final religion. Verse 33:40 has been addressed in other pages on this site.
As we look at the topic of the completion of religion in the light of the whole Qur'an, we find that religion is described as being completed, in quite a few verses (in addition to verse 5:3).
For instance, we find that God's favor was completed at the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph:
And thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the interpretation of
sayings and make His favor complete to you and to the children of Jacob,
as He made it complete before to your fathers, Abraham and Isaac; surely
your Lord is knowing, wise.
We also find that God completed His favor through Moses:
Moreover, We gave Moses the Book, completing (Our favor) to those who
would do right, and explaining all things in detail,- and a guide and
a mercy, that they might believe in the meeting with their Lord.
According to the Qur'an, the completion of the favor is also conditional upon the individual's success in obeying and fearing God:
And from whatsoever place you come forth, turn your face towards the
Sacred Mosque; and wherever you are turn your face towards it, so that
people shall have no accusation against you, except such of them as are
unjust; so do not fear them, and fear Me, that I may complete My favor
on you and that you may walk on the right course.
Some argue however, that while "completion" of the favor may not be unique to Muslims, "perfection" of the religion is.
This is a matter of interpretation, and it certainly is the prerogative of the translators to have chosen the word "perfected" for the Arabic word "akmaltu". For Arabs (and others familiar with the language) however, while the word definitely conveys the meaning of perfection, and wholeness, it is also very often used to mean "completion" as we find in verses: 2:185, 2:196, 2:233, and 16:25 among others.
This same theme has also caused followers of other religions to believe that their religion was complete, not only for the duration it was destined, but for all times. For example we see that for the Christians, the favors of God were also completed on humanity through Jesus:
"And ye are complete in Him [i.e. Jesus] , which is the head of
all principality and power"
"Epaphras, who is [one] of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you,
always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect
and complete in all the will of God."
It is also necessary to remember, that both completeness and perfection are among God's attributes, integral to His Essence (magnified be His name). It would be blasphemous to doubt that any of His actions and doings or favors, would be anything but complete and perfect :
It is Allah Who made out of the things He created, some things to give
you shade; of the hills He made some for your shelter; He made you garments
to protect you from heat, and coats of mail to protect you from your (mutual)
violence. Thus does He complete His favours on you, that ye may bow to
His Will (in Islam).
Question: If God has always supplied us with all provisions and needs for every journey we have undertaken, does this in any way preclude His aid and assistance in future journeys? Does it preclude the possibility itself of future journeys?
As to the mention of Islam as the chosen religion in the same verse (5:3), it is important to remember that while Islam happens to be the religion of "Muslims", it is also described in numerous verses in the Qur'an as the religion of submission to God, a term much more general , and includes all who submit themselves and will to God.
Let us also take the Qur'an as a whole entity, and remember the verses which explain that there is a set time for every nation and a set book. Let us also remember to examine the verses which tell us that the words of God are endless and can not be encompassed in one book.
Let us not forget either the verses that speak of Messengers to come.