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28. Ambiguous Qur'an

Objective Rebuttal

Analysis/Comments-28

 

The message in a standard Qur’an is difficult to decipher

Comments:

Qur’an answers:

“He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves - and these are the essence of the divine writ - as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer - albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.” (Qur’an;3:7)

Divine Guidance:

First of all the reader should understand the real nature of the Qur'an. Whether one believes it to be a revealed book or not, one will have to consider, as a starting point, the claim that is put forward by itself and its bearer, Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him), that this is the Divine Guidance. During their respective terms, the Messengers [some mentioned by name in Bible and Qur’an like; Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses and Jesus] fulfilled their mission admirably well. But it is a pity that the majority of the people were not inclined to accept their invitation and even those who joined their community gradually became corrupt. So much so that some of these communities totally lost that Guidance and others tampered with the Commandments of Allah and mixed them up with false things.

Then the Lord of the Universe sent Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) as His last Messenger to fulfill the same mission for which Messengers had been sent before him. He extended his invitation to all the human beings, including the corrupt followers of the previous Messengers and asked them lo follow the Right Way. He organized all those who accepted the Divine Guidance in to one community which in turn , was required to re-establish its collective way of life based on the Guidance and to exert its utmost to reform the world which had gone astray. The Qur'an which was revealed to Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) is the Book which contains that Invitation and that Divine Guidance.

Central Theme:

The Subject of Qur’an is; Man: it discusses those aspects of his life that lead either to his real success or failure. The Central Theme that runs throughout the Qur'an is the exposition of the Reality and the invitation to the Right Way based on it. It declares that Reality is the same that was revealed by Allah Himself to Adam, and to all the Messengers after him, and the Right Way is the same that was taught by all the Messengers. It also points out that all theories contradictory to this Reality invented by people about God, the Universe, Man and his relations with God and the rest of His creation, are all wrong and that all the ways of life based on them are erroneous and lead to ruinous end.

The Aim and Object of the revelations is to invite Man to that Right Way and to present clearly the Guidance which he has lost because of his negligence or has perverted by his wickedness.

If the reader keeps these basic things in mind, he will find that in this Book [Qur’an] there is no incongruity in the style, no gap in the continuity of the subject and no lack of interconnection between its various topics. As a matter of fact, this Book is not irrelevant anywhere with regard to its Subject, its Central Theme and its aim. From its very beginning to its end, the different topics it deals with are so intimately connected with its Central Theme that they may be likened to the beautiful gems of the same necklace, despite their different colors and sizes.

Background:

One cannot fully understand many of the topics discussed in the Qur'an unless one is-acquainted with the background of their revelation. One should know the social, historical or other antecedents or conditions which help to explain any particular topic. For, the Qur'an was not revealed as a complete book at one and the same time; nor did Allah handed over a written copy of it to Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him) at the very beginning of his mission and command him to publish it and invite people to adopt a particular way of life. More over, it is not a literary work of the common conventional type that develops its central theme in a logical order; nor does it conform to the style of such a work. The Qur’an adopts its own style to suit the guidance of the Islamic Movement that was started by Allah's Messenger under His direct command. Accordingly, Allah revealed the Qur'an gradually [step by step] to meet the requirements of the Movement in its different stages.

1)      Makki Surahs [610-622 C.E]: Chapters Revealed in 13 years Mission at Makkah: 

2)      Madani Surahs [622-632 C.E] :Chapters Revealed during Last 10 years:

Style:

It must have become clear from the above that the revelation of the Qur'an began simultaneously with the beginning of the Islamic Movement [610 C.E] and continued for twenty-three years [632 C.E]:-

1         The different portions of the Qur'an were revealed according to the requirements of the various phases of the Movement; it is thus obvious that a book like this cannot have the kind of uniformity of style which is followed in formal books on religion and the like.

2        It should also be kept in mind that the various portions of the Qur'an, both long and short, were not meant to be published in the form of pamphlets at the time of their revelation but were to be delivered as Discourses and promulgated as such. Hence they could not be in the style of a written work.

3        Moreover, these Discourses were necessarily of a different nature from that of the lectures of a professor; therefore their style would naturally be different from them also.

4        The Holy Prophet was entrusted with a special mission and had to appeal both to the emotions and to the intellect; he had to deal with people of different mentalities and cope with different situations and various kinds of experiences during the course of his mission. Such a person has to do all that is required for extending a message and for leading a movement.

5        The Prophet had to impress the different aspects of his message on people's minds in order to change the established world of ideas, and to appeal to the feelings and emotions in order to counteract the forces of his opponents.

6        The Prophet also had to train and reform his followers and to imbue them with spirit and courage, and to refute the arguments of opponents and to expose their moral weaknesses and so on. That is why the style of the Discourses that Allah sent down to His Messenger had to be what suited the requirements of a Movement. It is, therefore, wrong to seek the style of a formal book or that of college lectures in the discourses of the Qur'an.

7        This also explains why the same things are repeated over and over again in the Qur'an. A Mission and a Movement naturally demand that only those things should be presented which are required at a particular stage and that nothing should be said about the requirements of the next stage. That is why the same things are repeated over and over again as long s the movement remains in the same stage, no matter whether it remains there for months or for years. Of course, these things have been differently worded and styled to avoid monotony and couched in a beautiful and dignified language to make them effective and impressive. Moreover, it repeats at suitable places its basic good aspects and principles in order to keep the Movement strong at every stage. That is why those Chapters [Sarah] which were revealed at a particular stage of the Movement generally deal with the same topics, though, of course, in different words and in various forms. Moreover, all the Sarah of the Qur’an contain references to the basic creed i.e. the unit of Allah, His attributes, the Hereafter and accountability, punishment and reward, Prophethood, belief in the Book etc.... They all teach piety, fortitude, endurance, faith and trust in Allah and like, just because these virtues could not be neglected at any stage of the Movement. If any of these bates had been weakened at any stage even in the least, the Islamic Movement could not have made any progress in its true spirit.

Order of Chapters:

This has been exploited by the opponents to create misunderstandings about the Qur'an and make ridiculous conjectures about the present arrangement of the Chapters. They are of the opinion that "Muhammad's (peace be upon him) followers published it, without any discernible order as to chronology or otherwise; merely trying; as would seem, to put the longest chapters first ---". A little thinking in the light of the difference between the Makki and the Madani Surahs will also answer the question why the Chapters [Surahs] of the Qur'an were not arranged in the sequence in which they were revealed

Such conjectures are based on ignorance of the wisdom underlying the order of the Qur'an. Though it was to be the Book for all times, it had to be revealed gradually, step by step in twenty-three years according to needs and requirements of the different stages through which the Islamic Movement was passing. It is obvious that the sequence of the revelations that suited the gradual evolution of the Movement could not in any way be suitable after the completion of the Qur’an. Another order, suitable to the changed conditions, was needed. In the early stages of the Movement the Qur'an addressed those people who were totally ignorant of Islam and, therefore, naturally it had first of all to teach them the basic articles of Faith. But after its completion the Qur'an was primarily concerned with those who had accepted Islam and formed a community for carrying on the work entrusted to them by the Holy Prophet. Obviously, the order of the complete Book had to be different from its chronological order to suit the requirements of the Muslim Community for all times.

Moreover the Qur'an first of all had to acquaint the Muslims thoroughly with their duties concerning the regulation of their lives. It had also to prepare them for carrying its message to the world which was ignorant of Islam. It had also to warn them of the mischief and evils that appeared among the followers of the former Prophets so that they should be on their guard. Hence Al-Baqarah and similar Madani Surahs, and not AI-'Alaq and similar Makki Surahs, had to be placed in the beginning of the Qur'an.

In this connection, an other aspect should also be kept in view, that it does not suit the purpose of the Qur'an that all the Surahs dealing with similar topics should be grouped together. In order to avoid one-sidedness at any stage of its study, it is essential that the Makki Surahs [the part of Qur’an, revealed during initial 10 years] should intervene between the Madani Surahs and that the Madani Surahs should follow the Makki Surahs, and that the Surahs revealed at the later stages so that the entire picture of the complete Islam should always remain before the reader. That is the wisdom of the present order [sequence].

It should also be noted that the Surahs of the Qur'an' were not arranged in the present order by his successors but by the Holy Prophet himself under the guidance of Allah. Whenever a Surahs was revealed, he would send for one of his amanuenses and dictate it word by word and direct him to place it after such and such and before such and such a Chapter. Likewise in this case of a discourse or passage or verse that was not meant to be an independent Sarah by itself, he would issue directions about the exact place where it was to be put in the Sarah of which it was to form a part. Moreover he used to recite the Qur'an during the Salah (prescribed prayer) and on other occasions in the same order and direct his companions to remember and recite it in the same order. This is the established fact the that the Surahs of the Qur'an were arranged in the present order on the same day the Qur’an was completed by the one whom it was revealed under the guidance of the One who revealed it.

Qur’an is not a Normal but The Unique Book of Divine Guidance:

Before the reader begins the study of the Qur'an, he /she must bear in mind the fact that it is a unique Book, quite different from the books one usually reads. Unlike conventional books, the Qur'an does not contain information, ideas and arguments about specific themes arranged in a approach to it, one is baffled when he does not find the enunciation of its theme or its division into chapters and sections or separate treatment of different topics and separate instructions for different aspects of life arranged in a serial order. On the contrary there is something with which the reader has not been familiar before and which does not conform to the normal conception of a book. He finds that it deals with creeds, gives moral instructions, lays down laws, invite; people to surrender their will to God [Islam], admonishes the disbelievers, draws lessons from historical event, administers warnings, give good tidings, all blended together in a beautiful manner. The same subject is repeated in different ways and one topic follows the other without any apparent connection. Sometimes a new topic crops up in the middle of another without any apparent reason. The speaker and the addressees, and the direction of the address change without any notice. There is no sign of chapters and divisions anywhere. Historical events are presented but not as in history books. The problems of Philosophy and Metaphysics are treated in manner different form the textbooks on the subjects.  Man and the Universe are mentioned in a language different from the natural sciences. Likewise it follows its own method of solving cultural, political, social and economic problems and deals with the principles and injunctions of law in a manner quite different from that of the sociologists, lawyers and jurists. Morality is taught in a way that has no parallel in the whole literature on the subject.

That is why the unwary reader is baffled and puzzled when he finds all these things contrary to his pre-conceived conception of a book. He begins to feel that the Qur'an is a book without any order or interconnection between its verses or continuity of its subject, or that it deals with miscellaneous topics in an incoherent manner, or that it had been given the form of a continuous book though it was not a book in the commonly accepted sense of the word. As a result of this, its opponents raise strange objections against the Qur'an and its modern followers adopt strange devices to ward off doubts and objections. They either resort to escapism or put forward strange interpretations to ease their minds. Sometimes they try to create artificial connections between the verses to explain away the apparent incoherencies and as a last resort, they even accept the theory that the Qur'an deals with miscellaneous topics without any order or coherence. Consequently verses are isolated form their context and confusion is produced in the meanings.

This happens when the reader does not take into consideration the fact that the Qur'an is a unique book. It does not, like other books, enunciate at the very beginning the subject it deals with and the object it intends to achieve. Its style and method of explaining things are also quite different from those of other books one commonly reads and it does not follow any bookish order. Above all it is not a book on religion in the sense this word is generally understood. That is why when a reader approaches the Qur'an with the common notions of a book, he is rather puzzled by its style and presentation. He finds that at many places the background has not been mentioned and the circumstances under which a particular passage was revealed have not been stated. As a result of these things, the ordinary reader is unable to benefit fully from the most precious treasures contained in the Qur'an, though occasionally he may succeed in discovering a few gems here and there. Only those people become victims of such doubts who are not acquainted with these distinctive features of lie Qur'an. They seem to find miscellaneous topics scattered all over its pages and feel difficulties about its meanings. Nay, even those verses, which are absolutely clear, appear to them to be quite irrelevant in the contexts they occur.

The reader may be saved from all these difficulties, if he is warned beforehand that;

The Book he is going w study is the only book of its kind in the whole world: that its literary style is quite different form that of all other books: that its theme is unique and that his preconceived notions of a book cannot help him understand the Qur'an.

Nay these may even become a hindrance. He should, therefore, firs! of all free his mind from preconceived notions and get acquainted with the distinctive features of this Book. Then and then alone can he understand it.

In order to understand the Qur’an thoroughly it is essential to know the nature of this Book, its central idea and its aim and object. The reader should also be well acquainted with its style, the terms it uses and the method it adopts to explain things. He should also keep in view the background and circumstances under 'Which a certain passage was revealed.

Authenticity:

The Qur'an, which is now in use all over the world, is the exact copy of the Qur'an which was compiled by the order of Abu Bakr and copies of which were officially sent by Uthman to different places. Even today many very old copies are found in big libraries in different parts of the world and if anyone has any doubt as to whether the Qur'an has remained absolutely safe and secure against every kind of change and alteration, he can compare any copy of the Qur'an with any of these copies and reassure himself. Moreover, if one gets a copy of the Qur'an from a bookseller, say, of Algeria in Africa in the West and compares it with a copy obtained from a bookseller, say, in Java [Indonesia] in the East, one will find both the copies to be identical with each other and also with the copies of the Qur'an made during die time of Uthman.  If even then anyone has any doubt left in his mind, he is advised to take any copy of the Qur'an from anywhere in the world and ask anyone, out of the millions of Huffaz  [who have memorized the Qur'an by heart] to recite it word by word from the beginning to the end. He will find that the recitation conforms verbatim to the written text. This is a clear and irrefutable proof of the fact that the Qur’an which is in use today is the same Qur'an which was presented to the world by Muhammad (peace be upon him).

A septic might entertain a doubt about its revelation from Allah, but none can have any doubt whatsoever regarding its authenticity and immunity and purity from any and every kind of addition or omission or alteration, for there is nothing so authentic in the whole human history as this fact about the Qur'an that it is the same Qur'an that was presented by the Holy Prophet to the world.

The reading of the Qur'an (with a few minor variations) is the same as practiced and taught by the Holy Prophet. All the scholars and Qurr’a [plural of Qari, an expert in recitation] of the Qur'an have been unanimous in asserting that only that reading will be authentic which;

(a)  Conforms to the script of the copy circulated by Uthman.

(b)  Complies with the lexicon of Arabic, its usages idioms and grammar, and above all; is traceable by genuine and continuous links to the Holy Prophet himself.

That is why there are only a few variations in its reading and those are not contradictory in their meanings but enlarge their scope and make them more comprehensive. Thus there is absolutely no doubt that the Holy Prophet himself practiced those various readings in the instance which exit today, and they make the meanings more comprehensive.

Qur’an and Abrogation:

There is no abrogation of verses in Qur’an; this issue has already been explained above [17]. The principle laid down in the passages at Qur’an;16:101 & 2:106 are relating to the supersession of the Biblical dispensation by that of the Qur'an.. Apart from the fancifulness of this assertion - which calls to mind the image of a human author correcting, on second thought, the proofs of his manuscript - deleting one passage and replacing it with another - there does not exist a single reliable Tradition [Hadith] to the effect that the Prophet [pbug] ever, declared a verse of the Qur'an to have been "abrogated". The root cause of the so-called "Doctrine of Abrogation" may be the inability of some of the early commentators to reconcile one Qur'anic passage with another: a difficulty which was overcome by declaring that one of the verses in question had been "abrogated".

Alleged Abrogated Verses are not Doctrinal: Now lets take the other view, some scholars consider that the doctrine of abrogation also applies to Qur’an. According to prolific Egyptian scholar, Suyuti [d 1505] there are 21 instances in the Qur'an, where a revelation has been abrogated and replaced by another. He also indicates that there is a difference of opinion about some of these: e.g. 4:8, 24:58, etc. Some scholars have attempted to reduce the number of abrogation in the Qur'an even further, by explaining the relationships between the verses in some special ways, e.g. by pointing out that no legal abrogation is involved. Shah Waliullah (d. 1759) the great Muslim scholar from India only retained the following five out of Suyuti's twenty one cases as genuine.

1)      Instructions to leave ‘Will’ before death, and ratio of share of rightful heirs. [2: 180 considered to be abrogated by 4: 11, 12]:

2)      Maintenance allowance to the widow and residence for 1 year, she may remarry if she desires after waiting period of four 4 months and ten days.[Verse; 2:240 considered to be abrogated by 2: 234]

3)      Raising morale of the believers for combat, being  superior to unbelievers.[Verse; 8:65 considered to be abrogated by 8:66  ]

4)      Regarding restriction on marriage and number of wives of Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] [Verse; 33:50 considered to be abrogated by 33: 52]

5)      Offering charity [Sadiqah, to poor] before privately consulting the Prophet [pbuh], offering prayer [Salah] and Zakah [obligatory] alms.[ Verse 58: 12 considered to be abrogated by 58: 13]

It may be noticed that even in these five cases last two [33:50 & 58: 12 ] are specific to the private person of Prophet are part of history. Hence in real terms we are left with only first three cases [2: 180, 2:240 & 8:65] of supposed abrogation on the subject of:  1) Inheritance, 2) welfare of Widow and 3) Superiority of believers in combat. These are minor in nature and do not involve any change in the Fundamentals of Faith, or doctrines of Islam and practices.

Conclusion: Application of “Doctrine of Abrogation" with in Qur’an has neither, scriptural support nor historical evidence, hence must be rejected. However Qur’an clearly abrogates all the previous scriptures. Qur’an is the final book of divine guidance for the humanity, catering for all situations, probabilities, different cultures, environments for all times, hence applied accordingly by the experts well versed in the knowledge. All the verses weather they emphasize the peaceful coexistence, tolerance, justice or use of force remain applicable in diverse situations.

“A DIVINE WRIT [is this], with messages that have been made clear in and by themselves, and have been distinctly spelled out as well- [bestowed upon you] out of the grace of One who is wise, all-aware,  so that you may worship none but God”.[Qur’an11:1-2]

“The Words of your Lord have been completed with credibility and justice; there is no way to change His Words. He is the Hearer, the Knower”[Qur’an;6:115].

“There is no changing the Words of Allah that is the Supreme Triumph”.[Qur’an;10:64].

The "Doctrine of Abrogation" has no basis whatever in historical fact, and must be rejected. The abrogation relates to the earlier divine messages and not to any part of the Qur'an itself. All the verses of Qur’an remain valid and be applied according the prevailing situation and context.

Universality:

Everyone knows that the Qur'an claims to provide guidance for the whole of mankind, but when one reads Qur’an; it is found that it is mainly addressed to the Arabs, who lived at the time of its revelation. Though at times it also addresses other people and mankind in general, it mainly discusses those things which appealed to the taste of the Arabs and were linked with their environment, history and customs. This naturally gives rise to the question:

Why does the Qur'an contain so many local and national sentiments of the period in which was revealed, when it was meant of the guidance of the whole mankind?

Those who don’t understand the wisdom of this, begin to argue that: The Qur’an was really meant for the reform of the Arabs of that period but later on somehow or other, the claim was made that it was guidance for the whole of mankind and for all ages.

If one does not raise this objection merely for the sake of objection but really wants to understand the matter, he is advised to:

1         Read the Qur'an and mark the parts which give rise to this doubt. He should then point out any tenet, idea or principle therein that might have been meant particularly for the Arabs of that period only.

2        He should lay his finger on any moral principle, practical rule or regulation that is not of universal application and was meant only for the Arabs of that period, time and place. The mere fact, that the Qur'an refutes the blasphemous creeds and condemns the evil customs of a particular people, living at a particular time and place and bases arguments for the unity of God on the material gathered from their environment, is not a sufficient proof to establish the allegation that its invitation and appeal was local and temporary.

3        One should examine the question closely and decide whether what it says regarding the blasphemous people of Arabia is or is not equally true of every period and every place, and whether we can or can not use every where, with minor changes, the same arguments that the Qur’an puts forward for the Unit of God. If the answer to these questions is in the affirmative, then there is no reason why such a universal revelation should be dubbed as local or temporary, simply because it was addressed to a particular community and during a particular period. There is no philosophy, no way of life and no religion in the world which expounds, from the beginning to the end, everything in the abstract without making any reference to particular cases or concrete examples, for it is simply impossible to build a pattern of life merely in the abstract. Even if we suppose, for the sake of argument, that it were possible to do so, most surely such a system will always remain merely a theory on paper and will never take a practical shape.

Moreover, it is neither necessary nor useful to start any ideological movement form the very outset on international lines that is meant to be ultimately international. The only right method of beginning this will be to start the movement in the country of its origin, present and practice its theories and fundamental principles which are to form the basis of the required system of life, with full force. Then its exponents should impress these things on the mind of their own country and prove their worth by evolving a happy and successful system of life. This will naturally attract other nations, and their intelligent people will themselves come forward to understand the movement and start it in their own countries. Thus a certain ideological system does not become national simply because it was at first presented to a particular nation and its arguments were a national from an international and a temporary from a permanent system is this:

1         A national system aims either to establish its own superiority over other nations or presents principles and theories which, by their very nature cannot be applied to other nations.

2        On the other hand, an international system grants equal status and equal rights to all human beings and puts forward principles of universal application.

3        Moreover, the principles of a temporary system become impracticable with the passage of time while the principle of a permanent system is applicable to all times.

If one studies the Qur'an in the light of the above, one will come to the conclusion that its teachings are of universal application.

Complete Code:

Another aspect that causes mental confusion is the often repeated assertion that the Qur'an is a complete code of life. But when one reads it, one does not find detailed rules and regulations regarding social, cultural, political and economic problems etc... One is therefore, baffled to see that it does not contain any detailed regulations even about Salah [Prayer] and Zakat [Alms] which are such important obligatory duties that the Qur'an itself lays great emphasis on them over and over again. That is why a casual reader cannot understand how this Book can be called a complete code. This confusion is caused because the objector loses sight of the fact that Allah did not only send down the Book but also appointed His Messenger to demonstrate its teachings by putting them into actual practice.

To illustrate this aspect, take the case of the construction of a building. If only a plan of the proposed building is laid down and no engineer is appointed to supervise and direct its construction, then every detail must be supplied. But if an engineer is also appointed along with the plan to construct the building on the spot, obviously there is no need for a detailed plan. In that case only a sketch with its essential features will be quite enough. It would, therefore, be wrong to find fault with such a plan as being incomplete. As Allah sent His Messenger along with the Qur'an, only general principles and absolutely essential instructions were needed and not their details.

Hence the main function of the Qur'an is to present clearly the intellectual and moral bases of the ‘Islamic Way’ and reinforce them with arguments and appeals to the heart. As far as the practical side of the building of the Islamic Way of life is concerned, it only defines the limits and bounds of every aspect of life without giving detailed rules and regulation. Moreover it fixes sign-posts for guidance at certain important places to show how those parts are to be constructed in accordance with Allah's will. The actual work of building the ‘Islamic Way of life’ in accordance with the instructions contained in the Book was entrusted to he Holy Prophet. He was specially sent to set up the pattern of life for the individuals, the society and for the Islamic State according to the principles of the Qur'an. Thus the Qur’an is a complete code in the sense that it is to be taken along with the Sunnah [Traditions] of the Holy Prophet.

Divergence in the Interpretations:

Another question which troubles the minds is that of divergence in the interpretation of the Qur'an. People say that on the one hand, Qur'an condemns very severely those who create differences in the Book of Allah and cause division in their religion; on the other hand, so many different interpretations of the injunctions of the Qur'an have been made that there is hardly to be found any command with an agreed interpretation. And it is not that the people of the later periods alone who differ with one another but even the great scholars of the early period, including the companions of the Holy Prophet and their followers, all did not agree in every detail in regard to Commands and Prohibitions.

1)      Do all these people then deserve the condemnation pronounced in the Qur'an for making different interpretations?

2)     If this is not so, then what kind of differences of opinion have been condemned in the Qur'an?

The issue is too big, requiring in-depth exclusive deliberations. Suffice it to say here that the Qur'an is not against healthy difference of opinion in the interpretation of its injunctions provided that:-

1)      There is agreement on the basic principles of Islam among those who differ and that they remain united within the ambit of the Muslim Community.

2)     The Qur'an condemns that kind of divergence which is against the unity of God, involving glorification of individuals leading to worship, polytheism, crookedness resulting in to disputes and sectarianism.

As the two kinds of divergence are neither alike in their nature nor in their results, they should not be placed in one and the same category. The first kind of divergence is essential for the progress and is the very soul of life and every community of intelligent and thinking people must encourage it, Its existence is a sign of life and only that community can afford to repress it which desires to have only blockheads in it. The second kind of divergence as everyone knows, disintegrates the community which nourishes it: therefore its appearance in a community is not a sign of health but a symptom of disease and it can never produce good results.

These kinds of ‘Divergence of Opinion’ may further be illustrated by the following:

Supposing there are two scholars or two judges, who agree, on principle, that Allah and His Messenger alone are entitled to obedience and that the Qur'an and the Sunnah are the final authority to determine all laws and regulations. They may then differ in the details or in the decision of a case, provided that neither of them makes his opinion as the criterion of Islam or un-Islam nor declares the other to be outside its fold on account of such a difference of opinion. They may put forward to the public or to the highest court, if it is some judicial matter, or to the legislative body of the community, if it concerns them. Then either one of the two different opinions will prevail or both will be accepted.

But it should be noted particularly that no difference can be allowed in the basic principles of Islam nor in such matters as may lead to the scholar or a jurist or a saint or a leader should form an opinion about some matter (which Allah and His Messenger do not consider to be basic) and declare it to be the basic principle of  Islam and then denounce all those who differ from him to be outside its fold, and then on this basis, proceed to form a community of his own followers saying;

"This is the real Muslim Community and all outside it are doomed to Hell. Therefore, if you are a Muslim, come and join it, otherwise you are not one."

It is this kind of difference of opinion which the Qur'an condemns. As regards the first kind of difference, several instances of it occurred during the time of the Holy Prophet himself. He not only permitted it but also spoke well of it, for it was a healthy sign, which showed that intelligent people of the Community were busy thinking and making research. This also showed that the intelligent people of the Community were taking interest in Islam and its teachings and were trying to find solution; for the problems of life within Islam and not outside it. It also provided a proof of the golden rule that while the Community should remain united on principles, it should at the same time, grant freedom of research to its thinkers within due limits so that the doors of progress should remain open.

Recommendations for Study:

Finally, here are a few recommendations for the study of the Qur'an with understanding.  As different people turn to the Qur’an with different aims and objectives, it s not possible of offer any general advice about the method of its study so as to fulfill the requirements of all. Here focus is only on those people who want to understand it and seek guidance from it for the solution of human problems. Therefore, some suggestions are offered which may help satisfy their needs and remove their difficulties:-

1         The one pre-requisite for understanding the Qur'an is to study it with an open mind. Whether one believes it to be a revealed book or not, one should, as far as possible, free one's mind of bias in favor of an or against it and get rid of all pre-conceived opinions and then approach it with the sole desire of understanding it. Those people, who study it with preconceived notions of their own, read only their own ideas between its lines and cannot, therefore, grasp what the Qur'an wants to convey. It is obvious that this method of study can never be fruitful even with other books but it is utterly fruitless when applied to the study of the Qur'an.

2        If one wants to have merely a cursory acquaintance with the contents of the Qur'an, then perhaps it might suffice for him to read it once. But, if one wishes to have a deep knowledge of it, one will have to go through it several times and each time from a different point of view.

3        Those who desire to make a through study of the Qur’an should read it at least twice with the sole purpose of understanding, as a whole, the system of life it presents. One should also try to find out its fundamentals and the way of life it aims to build on them. During this preliminary study, if some questions occur in his mind, the reader should note them down and somewhere in the Qur'an itself. If he finds answers to his questions, he should note them down along with the questions. But if he does not find an answer to any question in his first reading, he should patiently make the second reading. In the light of experience it is found that in the second reading hardly any question remains un-answered.

4        After getting a general insight into the Qur'an in this way, one should begin its detailed study and take down notes of the different aspects of its teachings. For instance:-

                               a.      One should note down what pattern of life it approves and what it disapproves.

                               b.      One should note down the qualities of a good man and those of a bad man, side by side, in order to bring both the patterns clearly before his mind simultaneously.

                               c.      Similarly, one should note down, side by side, those things which lead to the success and salvation of man and those which lead to his failure and ruin.

                               d.      In the same way, the reader of Qur’an should put down, under different headings, the teachings and instruction of the Qur'an about creed, morality, duties, obligations, civilization, culture, economics, politics, law, social system, peace, war and other human problems. These notes should be consolidated to form a complete sketch of each aspect of the teachings and then fitted together to form a complete system of life.

5        Then, if one desires to know the Qur’anic solution of a certain human problem he should first make a study of the relevant literature, both ancient and modern, and then note down the basic issues. He should also make use of the research so far made into the problem and note down the points at issue. He should then study the Qur'an with a view to finding out the answers to those issues.

6        One will find an answer to it even in those verses which one had skipped over without ever imagining that it lay hidden therein.

7        It is suggested that each paragraph of Commentary of Qur’an, may be made the unit of study. At first it should be studied from the original Arabic Text with the help of some literal translation and then with the help of the commentary of Qur’an. It is expected that the meanings of the Qur'an will surely become clear by the grace of God.

But in spite of all these methods, one cannot grasp the inspiring spirit of the Qur'an unless one begins to put its message into practice, for the Qur'an is neither a book of abstract ideas and theories which may be studied in an easy chair nor is it a book of religious enigmas which may be unraveled in monasteries and universities.

Qur’an is a Book that has been sent down to invite people to start a movement and to lead its followers and direct their activities towards the achievement of its mission. One has, therefore, to go to the battlefield of life to understand its real meaning. That was why a quiet and amiable person like Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to come out of his seclusion and start the Islamic Movement and fight against the rebellious world. It was the Qur'an that urged him to declare war against every kind of falsehood and engage in conflict with the leaders of disbelief without any consideration of the consequences. Then it attracted good souls from every home and gathered them under the banner of its leader in order to strive against the upholders of the old order who organized themselves into a gang to oppose them. During this long and bitter struggle between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, which continued for twenty three years or so, the Qur'an went on guiding the Movement in every phase and at every stage, until it succeeded in establishing the Islamic Way of life par excellence.

It is thus obvious that one cannot possibly grasp the truths contained in the Qur'an by the mere recitation of its words. For this purpose one must take active part in the conflict between belief and un­belief. Islam and un-Islam, truth and falsehood. One can understand it only if he takes up its Message, invites the world to accept it and moves on and on in accordance with its Guidance. Thus by yourself will you experience and understand all that which happened during the revelation of the Qur'an. You will meet with the same conditions that were experienced at Makkah, Ta'if and Habash and pass through the same kind of fire that had to be passed through at Badar, Uhd, Hunain, Tabuk [expeditions of war] etc. You will meet many people like Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab [bitter opponents of Islam] and come across hypocrites and the double-faced. In short, one will come across all types of people mentioned in the Qur’an. Incidentally, this is a wonderful experience of its own kind and worth the trial.

While passing through any one of these stages of this experience, one will find some verses and some Surahs of the Qur'an, which will themselves tell that they were revealed at such and such a stage and brought such and such instructions for the guidance of the Movement. In this way the Qur'an will lay bare its spirit even though one might not be able to understand all the lexical meanings of its words and solve all the intricacies of grammar and rhetoric. The same formula applies to its Commandments, its moral teachings, its instructions about economics and culture and its laws regarding different aspects of human life. These things can never be understood unless they are put into practice. It is thus obvious that those individuals and communities, who discard it from practical life, cannot understand its meaning and imbibe its spirit by mere lip-service to it.

The true knowledge is with Allah; we should have full trust in Him and turn to Him for true guidance. As it is not intended to discuss in this short guide, all the problems which might arise during the study of the Our’ an, many have been purposely left untouched those questions that might arise during the study of some verses or Surahs, are dealt in commentaries on the Qur'an at their proper places. Only those questions and problems which pertain to the general study of the Qur'an as a whole have been mentioned here. The reader is, therefore, requested to defer giving his final judgment on such questions till he has read the whole of Qur’an with commentary by renowned scholars like; Syed Abul A'ala Maududi, Muhammad Asad, Muhammad Shafi, Abdullah Yousaf Ali, F.M.Malik, Pickthal and alike.

Qur’an can not be understood without Key, The Hadith & Serah:

The basic doctrines of Islam is monotheism, which is the message of all previous scriptures and prophets, the verses are very clear on commandments:

“He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves - and these are the essence of the divine writ - as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer - albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.” (Qur’an;3:7)

The basic legal issues of day to day life of Muslims [muamlat], the second part of Shari’a are also mentioned in Qur’an. For detailed comprehension of legal issues one has to study much more, the job of scholars. In this age of computers and internet, one can easily find all the verse on a given topic at one place, with references and cross references with in Qur’an and Hadith. Qur’an has to be read and understood in totality, by an individual, the commentaries are there for assistance. The important matter of Faith can not be left in casual way. Qur’an can not be understood properly through commentary by a non believer:

“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. Who believe In the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what we have provided for them; and who believe In the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before Thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper. As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether Thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe.”[Qur’an;2:2-6]

[Allah knows the best]

 

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Conclusion:

Historically the strong empires and kingdoms of old times and colonial, Super Powers of present age have been subjugating the other weaker nations for exploitation and oppression. The adventures of Alexander of Macedonia till the ambitions of Hitler did not die with these individuals their legacy survives. The US lead wars started initially as a covert operation against communist USSR in Afghanistan in eighties is still on with switching of sides of belligerents. The Muslim had to establish themselves against the Byzantine and Persian mighty super empires of 7th century C.E for their survival. Soon the Desert Storm smashed the mighty powers, by middle of 8th Century C.E they were knocking at the door of France after liberating Iberian peninsula, north Africa, later the Byzantines were expelled form middle East, crossed Iran and entered the central Asia, the rest is history. They laid the foundation of Islamic Civilization which for next millennium kept the world and Europe in defensive. Amazingly no Muslim force landed at the shores of Indonesia [the larges Muslim nation on earth] and other Far Eastern countries, they were reverted to Islam by Arab traders. Surprising even after conquering such vast lands, people were not forced to convert to Islam. Had it been so, 800 years later they would not have been expelled form Spain unceremoniously. What ever conversion took place it was through preaching by devoted and pious people and traders. Some odd incidence of coercion here and there can be ignored as individual act not as an official policy.

Once Muslims slacked, the Mongol hordes smashed Baghdad in 12th century C.E. However they learned the lesson and revived to be again overwhelmed by European colonizers starting in 15th century C.E. The rise and fall of nations and empires is a natural process in human history. Who could imagine Jews getting a hold in Palestine after 2000 years!  However while other empires are part of history, Muslims survive as  dominant community in 57 countries. Effort to subjugate them continues because the oppressive Western Capitalism considers them to be a threat to their expansionist designs. Muslim lands are rich in energy and other natural resources strategically located at world population and communication centers. The huge human capital of 1.5 Billions, mostly youth, add to their strength, the ideology of Jihad [striving for self defence and cause of Allah, Not through Terrorism] acts as force multiplier. Hence plan to keep them embroiled in petty disputes, wars and conflicts with a view to exploit their resources and keeping under check through supporting the corrupt rulers. The strength lies in the ideology of Islam which is being targeted. Islam is being projected as a threat to Western civilization and human freedom. Shari’a is projected as a barbarian law to undermine the human freedom which West claims to jealously guard. The reality is that presently except Saudi Arabia, which has some form of Shari’a, no other Muslim country has Shari’a in real sense, so why create the bogy? To scare the nations around the globe through false alarm so as to retain domination of Western imperialism.

The anti Islam websites and blogs are unleashing steams of propaganda based on half truths, creating more confusion by misrepresenting Islam also being done by the terrorists. These Islamophobes engage in “mental reservation” when they mention half-truths about Islam.  Their methodology is to mix half-truths (50-70% ) with outright lies (the remaining 50-30%).  Effort has been made to provide short response to allegations leveled against Islam. It is not comprehensive, as I would have like it to be, but this study/rebuttal should serve as springboard for objective study and understanding of Islam. All the Muslims, and Muslims, are urged to read and understand, Qur’an, without any prejudice and preconceived ideas; they will not only benefit themselves but can also help others in understanding Islam. I recommend, following English Translations and commentaries of Qur’an, they can be downloaded form authentic Islamic websites free of cost.

1)        Muhammad Asad, ‘The Message of Qur’an’: https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B0Qfx8dX9TCvZWJjMjQ2ZjQtOWEzNS00MGIyLWJiZjItOTNmMWNiZTcyYWMw&hl=en

2)      Translation, Commentary  By Abdullah Yousaf Ali,

3)      The Meanings of Qur’an’ (Tafheem-ul-Qur’an)” by Syed Abul A'ala Maududi.

4)        A Quick Guide for the Study of the Qur'an:

       https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B0Qfx8dX9TCvZWJjMjQ2ZjQtOWEzNS00MGIyLWJiZjItOTNmMWNiZTcyYWMw&hl=en

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Allah knows the best

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Our Lord! Do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake”[Qur’an;2:256]

 


Exploring Faith

Dynamic Temporal & Spiritual Quests 

A Research Work in Pursuit of The Truth

 “Consider the sun and its radiant brightness, and the moon as it reflects the sun! Consider the day as it reveals the world, and the night as it veils it darkly! Consider the sky and its wondrous make, and the earth and all its expanse! Consider the human self, and Him Who perfected it and inspired it with knowledge of what is wrong for it and what is right for it: indeed successful will be the one who keeps it pure, and indeed failure will be the one who corrupts it!”(Qur’an;91:1-10); “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding”(Job;28:28); “Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?”(Jesus Christ, Luke;12:57)

Disquisitions

By: Brigadier (R) Aftab Ahmad Khan, MA,MBA,

1-The Quest [Dynamic Spiritual ]

·      The Creator

·      The Creation

·      The Guidance

·      Islam-A Perspective

2-Cognizance [Spiritual Trek]

·      Knowledge

·      Metaphysics

·      Philosophy

·      Women in Islam

·      Sectarianism

3-Veracity [Temporal,  Spiritual]

·      The Last Prophet (pbuh)

·      Jihad & Tolerance

·      Takfeer: Terror Doctrine

·      Khilafat: Relevant?

·      Hazards to Faith

·      Hand Book of Islam

4-Juxtaposition [Agnates]

·      Bible & Qur’an

·      Christianity- Doctrines

·      Jesus & Divinity

·      Impact of Islam on West

·      Palestine,  Qur’an, Bible

 

 

Peace4M ‘Peace Fourm’ is an informal, voluntary, e-Forum for ethical and spiritual peace, through conceptual insight to Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the light of Holy Scriptures. The Forum is managed by Brigadier (R) Aftab Ahmad Khan, MA, MBA, LADSC(USA),  a writer and freelance columnist involved in research on Semitic religions. His work is regularly published in monthly “DJ, Defence Journal Karachi”, also compiled in the form of books. The Forum is open to  all the rational people of any faith,gender or race. e-Books and articles are availabvle at Forum’s blogs & webpages for free download:

http://faithforum.wordpress.com

http://endeavour-peace.page.tl

http://www.esnips.com/web/faithforum-Islam

http://peace-forum.blogspot.com

http://groups.google.com.pk/group/FaithForum4Peace

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SMS: +923004443470

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