The Qur'an to be Read, Understood and Followed
Among the Suras in which Allah pointed out His blessings to mankind is the Surah of al-Rahman, The whole Surah is devoted to presenting the numerous favours which Allah has given us in this world and intends to give in the world to come. Allah pointed out the main aspects of His mercy which He manifests to us in many ways. On the top of the list in surah ar-Rahman and the first to be mentioned after His name is His making known the Qur'an:Ar-Rahman, allama al-Qur'an, khalaqa al-insaan - The Beneficent One, He has taught the Qur'an He has created Man.This making known or teaching the Qur'an comes even before mentioning the creation of Man and his ability to understand and to learn the Qur'an. It is indeed the greatest favour which both Mankind and Jinn have received from Allah. For, from the Qur'an only can they both find the straight path, the path of happiness in both worlds-this one and the world to come.
"Surely this Quran' guides to the way that is straightest and gives good tidings to the believers who do deeds of righteousness, that theirs shall be a great reward.' (17 : 11)
.... And We sent down, of the Qur'an, that which is a healing and mercy to the believers . . . .' (17 : 82)
But, although it is at our disposal, we still need to exert effort before we can enjoy its fruits -those of this life or of the real ones in Paradise. This effort that we should make is an easy one; we merely have to understand this Qur'an, to think of the great mercy which it contains, and to act righteously according to it. One and perhaps the most important blessings given us by Allah, is making the Qur'an easy for us to read, understand, and follow; Allah says:'We have made the Qur'an easy for Remembrance; is there any that will remember?' (54: 17)
The real loss to mankind is to forget the Qur'an, or to neglect its guidance. That was the attitude of the unbelievers when it was first revealed in Meccah:"The unbelievers say: 'Do not give ear to this Qur'an, and talk idly about it: so that you will gain victory'."
The answer to this as was given by Allah, is:'So We shall let the unbelievers taste a terrible chastisement, and shall recompense them with the worst of what they were working. That is the recompense of God's enemies-the Fire, wherein they shall have the abode of eternity as a recompense, because they denied Our signs.' (41: 26)
That is indeed the reward for their denial and neglect of the signs of Allah and their abandon of the Qur'an. Such a recompense was not only promised to those unbelievers at the time the Qur'an was first revealed, but the same holds true for those who follow their steps .... they are walking blindly to the Hell.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, had complained to Allah of this great sin of mankind, that is, their shunning of the truth and the revelation of Allah. The Messenger says:'0 my Lord, behold, my people have taken this Qur'an as a thing to be shunned . . .'
It is those people who neglect the Qur'an and abandon it whom Allah described as being enemies of his Messengers and said about them:'Those who shall be mustered to Hell (Jahannam) upon their faces -they shall be worse in place, and gone further astray from the way". (25;30)
When we think about the Qur'an, as the very word of Allah, sent down through Jibril to the last Messenger Muhammad, peace be upon him, we feel the greatness of the words of the Qur'an, and the great favour which Allah has given us-the words which Allah describes as follows:"if we had sent down this Qur'an upon a mountain, thou wouldst have seen it humbled, split asunder out of the fear of Allah'. (59, 21)
These are not words of a poet who imagines things, but the words of Allah who knows the truth of everything - mountains, rocks, sands, every thing:"The seven heavens and the Earth, and whosoever in them is, extol Him; nothing is that does not proclaim His praise, but you do not understand their extolling . . ." (17 : 44)
This is what the Qur'an is; it is not just another book on the shelf, but it is the words of Allah to everyone of us. It is the direct contact of each of us with Allah Himself. This is what we all should remember when we read the Qur'an or think about it.
It is well to remember the words of the great poet of Islam Muhammad lqbal, in which he said that his father taught him that he should read the Qur'an as if it was revealed unto him. When some Muslims asked Hasan al-Banna about the best Mufassir, his answer was simply: 'It is your heart'.
Unless Muslims feel this very close attachment to the Qur'an, they will never feel its greatness or discover its wealthy treasures.
There are three facts which are to be taken into account when speaking about the Qur'an:
- al-'Uluhiyah, i.e. Divine power which has entire control of the all Being, which also organised and decided the fate of all Being, this power as being of Allah alone.
- Secondly, the purpose of the creation of Mankind which is, in Islam, to live in this world and worship Allah alone and live according to His laws, and thirdly, the Qur'an as the law of Mankind which guides him in his life and organises his relations with his Creator, his fellowmen, and his life on this earth. The message of the Qur'an is to be understood in this context. And the following points are to be considered when trying to understand the Message of the Qur'an.
- The Qur'an is the final word from Allah to mankind, therefore it is for all mankind. It is also a continuation of the light which was sent down by Allah through His Prophets to mankind:"And We have sent down to thee the Book with the truth, confirming the Book that was before it, and assuring it."
So the truth and final judgement in any case which is alone the judgement of Allah is that of the Qur'an, and all other Books are not valid any more after the revelation of the Qur'an and they in any form they exist today do not represent the true Message of Allah.
Allah had promised that He will keep the Qur'an and preserve it from any human change or alteration. So as long as earth and heavens exist the Qur'an will exist as it was revealed:"it is We who have sent down the Qur'an and We watch over it." (15:9)
The Qur'an is a system of life; a complete system which should be adopted altogether as a whole. Dropping or neglecting any part of it is infidelity, and denying any letter of it is plain shirk. It is the everlasting system according to which human existence on this earth is to be formed. In Islam the divine system builds the community, and not human experience which organises and lays down the system. In this respect the example of the Prophet and the community which he established with the care and the guidance of Allah is the model.
In fact, the changes which took place in the course of human civilisation affected the material side in some ways only, and nothing of it contradicted the system of the Qur'an, or will contradict it at any time.
The Qur'an was revealed in Arabic, so it is to be interpreted according to the rules and the nature of the Arabic language. Being revealed in the language of Arabs it does not give any advantage to Arabs or impose on them any responsibility which is not imposed on other Muslims. For, since the moment in which the Qur'an was revealed, Arabic became the language of all Muslims. The example designed and took place in the first community of Islam provides us with such men as Suhaib al-Rumi (the Greek), Bilai al-Habashi (the Abyssinian) and Salman al-Farisi (the Persian),may Allah be pleased with them all, who mastered the language of the Qur'an and carried the burden of teaching it to Arabs and non-Arabs.
May their example be upheld and carried forth with faith, enthusiasm, understanding and vigour.
January - February 1971