The Glorious Qur'an is a Book whose verses are firmly arranged then distinguished from the All-wise, the All-aware. (Qur'an, 11 :1)
Almighty Allah has revealed to His servant and messenger (peace be upon him and his progeny) that he may be a warner to the worlds.
A Book We have sent down to thee that thou mayest lead men out from the darkness into the light, by their Lord's permission, to the way of the All-mighty, the All-laudable. (Qur'an, 14:11)
The Glorious Qur'an is Allah's eternal message, His clear testimony, final argument, undeniable proof and His eternal living miracle which He has given to the last of His messengers and the Best of His creatures - Muhammad ibn `Abdillah (peace be upon him and his progeny) -as an evidence verifying his prophethood, a proof of his apostleship and a light guiding mankind to the firm religion of Allah and a guide leading towards the right path.
If you be in doubt about what We have sent down to Our servant (Muhammad) then produce a chapter like it, and call your witnesses other than Allah, if you be truthful. (Qur'an, 2:23)
This booklet -The Living Miracle -has been written by Br. Yusuf Fadhl in English, dealing with some subjects to do with the miracles of the Holy Qur'an and with some virtues of the everlasting message of Allah in a very appropriate form. His reason is to write as it may be understood by the English readers, taking into account their present way of living, their circumstances, affiliations and their educational and religious needs as is obvious from the explanation. And this is a straight presentation.
This booklet was first published in England, and our Organization has reprinted it many times; and during this period we received a criticism of it from Br. I. M. Noorani of Karachi (Pakistan). He pointed out to us the errors, ambiguity and obscure point appearing in it.
In this edition, we have tried to make corrections as far as possible in consideration of the size of the booklet and its general printing.
We would like to thank the learned brother for his eager sincerity towards the religion and knowledge.
Now we reprint this booklet in modified and revised edition. Finally, it is Almighty Allah, from Whom we rely for success, achievement, help and support, for surely He is the best Lord and the best Helper.
WORLD ORGANIZATION FOR ISLAMIC SERVICES,
(Board of Writing, Translation and Publication)
Muharram 1, 1400 A. H.
November 24, 1,979 A. D.
Many Muslims seem unaware of the potential of the Qur'an. It is usually read every day without fail but its content is frequently neglected in our reading. The Qur'an reading to the average Muslim today is a formal or traditional custom to which he adheres because of social obligations. It is read in the funeral ceremonies or at the opening of meetings despite the fact sometimes these meetings may be against Islam! The Qur'an is losing ground in the lives of Muslims because of lack of comprehension or misunderstanding. This dangerous trend has been devised by the enemies of Islam and exploited to its furthest extent. The same people have began to belittle the Qur'an and cast doubts on its authenticity and glory.
This phenomenon has done catastrophic damage to society and contributed incalculably to its instability. Many Muslims whether through ignorance or weakness or hypocrisy have been allured by one means or another to join in the battle against Islam. And although some of them still call themselves Muslims, when Islam is mentioned they turn silent or withdraw.
There has been a desperate need for a systematic and thoroughly studied programme to popularize Islamic religious literature. Indeed, there are many obstacles in the way of conscientious Muslims in the Muslim countries towards achieving this goal, for there are neither enough experts to carry out this great task, nor sufficient means and financial support to fulfil this objective. Consequently, the battlefield is strewn with Muslim victims either slaughtered or dispossessed or persuaded to abandon Islam and sometimes to join forces with the enemy.
One of the most basic requirements is to show to Muslims of inquiring mind that the Qur'an is the revelation of Almighty Allah to our Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and his progeny).
Every prophet is granted the power of performing miracles in order to give proof of the authenticity of his message, that it proceeds in fact from the Creator of the universe. A miracle is an act that cannot be performed by the aid of learning and practice.
Miracles must invariably conform to the mentality of the society in which a prophet is sent. Hence, the miracle of Moses (peace be upon him) was magic, because Pharaonic Egypt was expert in magic. Jesus (peace be upon him) cured the leper and the blind from birth, and quickened the dead by the will of Allah. This kind of miracle appealed because his society expected such act as proof of prophethood. Similarly our Prophet emerged amongst the Arabs who were experts in language and literature, and challenged them in their own art.
There is one important difference between Muhammad's miracle and the other prophets' miracles. It is the continuity of our Prophet's miracle and its standing challenge for all times and places. In other words, it is alive while other miracles are temporary or dead. Hence, the latter might be questioned or doubted but not our Prophet's miracle. It should be noted that the art of language is not the only miraculous aspect of the Qur'an, and other aspects will be dealt with in sequence.
Nay, but it is a Glorious Qur'an, in a guarded tablet. ( Qur'an, 85:21-22)
No impartial learned person denies that the Qur'an has not undergone any alterations whether additions or omissions. It is a well-established fact that the Qur'an was written down as soon as it was revealed and that many Muslims learned it by heart. The principal way in which the enemies of Islam try to cast doubts on the authenticity of the Qur'an is by referring to the story of different readings in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Medina at the time of the Caliph `Uthman ibn `Affan. Before passing a judgement on this particular story, let us survey briefly the conditions and events that led to this sad incident.
As is well known, the Islamic State extended its borders to remote areas where there were huge populations. The time taken to conquer these areas was short and did not suffice for cultural assimilation; for instance, the language difficulties of non-Arabs who could not comprehend Islam at the time, but who contributed to the deterioration of spoken Arabic. Not to mention the Arabs themselves who fought Islam after the Prophet's death! This shows that Islam was rooted firmly at Medina only.
We all know that the policy of the Caliph `Umar ibn al-Khattab was to keep the companions of the Prophet at Medina. But this meant that the conquered lands were empty of the sources of Islamic knowledge. Nor need we dilate on the difficulties of communication and the inefficient ways of learning and propagation. In the light of these historical facts we can confidently say that the different readings at Syria, Iraq and Egypt were not reliable. The only reading and copy which can be regarded as reliable is the Medina copy which was the original one. It was Zayd ibn Thabit one of the original transcribers of the Qur'an at the time of revelation and a committee of learned companions, who supervised the great task of compilation.1
There is no doubt whatsoever that most of the companions who stayed at Medina learned the whole or large portions of the Qur'an by heart. It is also worth noticing that there was no dispute at Medina about this particular topic. Hence even non-Muslims can be sure and confident that the Qur'an is integrally preserved on the ground of these facts. We Muslims believe that the Qur'an has been preserved by Allah. If someone tried to change anything of it, then his attempt would be exposed to all Muslims so that such mischief would prove futile.
It is We who have sent down the Reminder (Qur'an) and We are its Guardian. (Qur'an, 15:9)
The Qur'an was revealed 1,400 years ago at Mecca and Medina. The Arabs used to worship idols of stones of which the most important ones were enshrined in the Ka'bah. The Arabs lived a simple life, though it was savage in many aspects such as the exposure of children because of poverty. They were proud of their language and justifiably so since Arabic is a very rich and sophisticated language. Poets and orators were almost the idols of their tribes. Poems were read and learned by rote, and annual poetry competitions were held at a place called Suq `Ukaz. Thus, the Arabs became past masters at the art of literary competition. The Qur'an came and its miracle was language and art. The Qur'an was a challenge, challenging them to produce a similar Qur'an.
Say: "If the whole of mankind and jinn were to gather together to produce the like thereof even though they collaborated with each other. " (17: 88)
The whole of mankind in co-operation just to produce one book! It is a humiliating challenge and a glaring one. Still the challenge was reduced to ten surahs (chapters) in order to prove to the whole of mankind the unique quality of this book.
Or do they say: "He forged it?" Say, "Bring you then ten surahs forged like unto it, and call (to your aid) whomsoever you can other than Allah, if you speak the truth. " (11:13)
The people of Arabia could not face the humiliating challenge again, and it was further reduced to one surah only. One surah may be one line. Still the proud and eloquent Arabs could not face the divine challenge.
Or do they say, "He forged it? " Say: "Bring then a surah like unto it, and call (to your aid) anyone you can, besides Allah, if you speak the truth. " (10: 38)
You can see the logic of reasoning and the rational approach to convince people of its miraculous quality. A surah may be one line, but the Arabs and non-Arabs could not succeed in their efforts to meet this standing challenge. The beauty of the Qur'an, the music2, its strength of conviction, logic, simplicity, depth, and wisdom are much above of what the Arabs and non-Arabs knew or could wholly conceive.
When the Qur'an was being recited by Muslims, idolators usually closed their ears; some produced noise-whistling and shouting - in order not to hear the Qur'an and be bewitched. Many unbelievers were caught by Islam through simple chance when listening to it whilst passing by.
The leaders of the unbelievers were filled with fear and could not provide any plausible explanation of the irresistible beauty and power of the Qur'an.
However, they had to find some way to put people off and justify their own behaviour. They invented lies and falsehoods.
Therefore proclaim the praises of your Lord for by the grace of your Lord, you are not (vulgar) soothsayer, nor are you one possessed. Or do they say: "A poet! we wait for him some calamity (hatched) by time." (Qur'an, 52:29-30)
That was the only excuse they could find to their failure and helplessness. A non-Arab may rightly pause and ponder the truth of this claim. He may not grasp what it is all about. He cannot read Arabic and did not have the chance to read the Book. This miraculous aspect might not appeal to non-Arabs and even to some extent to the uneducated Arabs. The reason for the latter case is because of the deterioration of spoken Arabic and its deviation from the classical norms.
It is true that we need a miracle in science, telling us what is in the heavens and ourselves during this era. The Qur'an although not a scientific text, reveals many secrets of the wonders in the universe as part of its call to believe in the Creator.
Any person, now, who wants to be a biologist, physicist or astronomer needs to study for at least twenty years aided by sophisticated machines, tools, expert supervision and libraries.
Then he might be able to break through and discover some of the hidden facts of nature. The Qur'an uncovers many secrets of the universe and these are not confined to any special sector of science.
See you not how Allah had created seven heavens in harmony? And has made the moon a light therein and made the sun a lamp? (71:15-16)
The moon is a solid opaque object that reflects light, hence it is a light. But the sun is a source of heat and light so it is a lamp. The sun and the moon follow courses exactly computed. (Qur'an, 55:5)
The sun is not static but moving in a path computed. Remember the once widespread belief that the earth was the centre of the universe and it was flat. Remember that for these beliefs scientists were burned alive and some imprisoned for their observations and research!
The Qur'an declared these facts some 1400 years ago.
And the sun runs this course for a period determined for it. That is the decree of Him the Exalted in Might, the All-knowing. And the moon, We have measured for it mansions to traverse till it returns like the old and withered lower part of a date stalk. It is not permitted to the sun to catch up the moon, nor can the night outstrip the day: each swims along in its own orbit according to law. (36:38-40)
Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: "Come both of you, willing or loth." They said: "We come obedient" ( Qur'an, 41 : 11)
The heaven was smoke, which means it was dark, containing gas and solid objects: an exact description of the nature of the heavens as the most reliable of recent theories show.
Allah it is who raised the heavens without visible supports, then mounted the Throne, and compelled the sun and the moon to be service, each runs unto an appointed term; He orders the course; He details the revelations that haply you may be certain of the meeting with your Lord. (Qur'an, 13:2)
The invisible supports most probably means the forces of gravitation, magnetic and others that exist in the universe which hold the planets apart and in relation to each other.
And if We opened unto them a gate of heaven and they kept mounting through it, they would say: "Our sight is wrong nay, but we are folk bewitched. " (Qur'an, 15 :14-15)
Anyone hearing this verse for the first time might exclaim. "Is this really in the Qur'an which was revealed 1400 years ago giving clues to people to travel to the heavens and telling them beforehand of the wonders there and telling them of unusual phenomena and unfamiliar scenes and facts that the world of today is still puzzled by.
O' company of jinn and men, if you have the power to penetrate all the regions of the heavens and earth, then penetrate them ... (Qur'an, 55:33)
This verse provides undoubted encouragement to people and other creatures to explore and travel through the heavens. Here one should pause to reflect on the kind of society in which the Prophet used to live in. The means of transport were camels, horses and donkeys; they lived in tents, and prior to the advent of Islam they worshipped idols. They did not have cars or engines of any kind. Flying was not even thought of. How can the Qur'an be so daring as to encourage people not merely to fly but to travel to other planets? In materialistic thinking this is impossible, because as they say: "human thinking is a reflection of one's material environment."
The only possible conclusion, even by using materialistic logic, is that the Qur'an is from Allah.
And among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the living creatures that He has scattered through them: and He has the power to gather them together when He wills. (Qur'an, 42:29)
He said: "My Lord knows what is spoken in the heaven and the earth. . . " (Qur'an, 21:4)
And We pried unto the secrets of heaven; but found it filled with stern guards and flaming fire. We used, indeed, to sit there in hidden stations, to steal a hearing; but any one who listens now will find a flaming fire watching him in ambush. (Qur'an, 72:8-9)
When the Qur'an was being recited in the lifetime of the Prophet certain beings had occasionally a chance to listen to it. Some of those creatures disbelieved, but others believed and were fascinated by the Qur'an and the Islamic Message.
Say: "It was revealed to me that a company of the jinn heard (the Qur'an) and said: `We have heard a wonderful Recital. ' (Qur'an, 72:1)
A brief survey of a few Qur'anic verses enables us confidently to affirm that there is about the Qur'an something altogether unique.
Read in the Name of thy Lord, Who created, He created man from a blood clot. (Qur'an, 96: 1 -2)
As we know, a clot is a microscopic entity.
You see the mountains and think them firmly fixed. But they shall pass away as the clouds pass away. . . (Qur'an, 27:88)
This refers to the spinning of the earth on its own axis and gives the real picture of these huge mountains moving as clouds move.
Those who disbelieve Our revelation, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed, We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. Lo! Allah is everMighty, Wise. (Qur'an, 4:56)
Nerves in the skin that feel the pain and the torture!
There are numerous other verses of scientific content and many are the volumes dealing with them.
The Qur'an contains numerous stories of past nations, their prophets and the response to the call, and then concludes with advice and warnings.
And all that We relate unto you of the story of the messengers is in order that thereby We may make firm your heart. And herein had come unto you the truth and exhortation and a reminder for believers. (Qur'an, 11: 120)
The stories in the Qur'an reveal description and details of events that did not find a mention in any previous book. The acquisition of such knowledge is not possible by any person whether learned or otherwise. It is only the Creator who knows all things, He who has revealed them to our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny).
It is a well-known fact that the Prophet was an illiterate man (ummi - of course, before the proclamation of his prophethood), living in an uncultured society. It has been alleged that he acquired his knowledge from a priest or a rabbi, according to whether the writer is a Christian or a Jew. But this assertion can be refuted immediately by reviewing their books and the available knowledge of the time. In the Torah (chapter 3) there is an account of Adam and Eve at the beginning of creation. The following are quotations from the story.
"Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God has made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil . . . And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? . . . And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." (Genesis, 3)
Many questions and objections can be raised against the logic and wisdom of every part of the story. The first objection is the unnatural deeds and intentions attributed to God. Why did God tell Adam and Eve that they will die if they eat of the tree when that was not the case? To put it bluntly, God is a liar in the Torah's view!
Secondly, what has the serpent got to do with this anyway?
Thirdly, how is it possible to visualise God or limit His existence to any place or time?
Fourthly, how can man be like God? Fifthly, was God afraid that Adam and Eve might eat of the tree of life?
Lastly, where is the wisdom and purpose in God's deeds? Or is man better than God in wisdom by having a purpose and a plan to arrive at it.
The Qur'an narrates this event thus:
And when thy Lord said to the angels, "I am setting in the earth a viceroy," they said, "What, wilt Thou set therein one who will do corruption there, and shed blood, while we proclaim Thy praise and call Thee Holy?" He said, "Assuredly I know that you know not. "And He taught Adam the names, all of them; then He presented them unto the angels and said, "Now tell Me the names of these, if you speak the truth. " They said, "Glory be to Thee! We know not save what Thou taught us. Surely Thou art the All-knowing, the All wise. " He said, `Adam, tell them their names. "
And when he had told them their names, He said, "Did I not tell you I know what you know not? And I know what things your reveal, and what you are hiding. " And when We said to the angels, "Bow yourselves to Adam; "so they bowed themselves, save Iblis; he refused, and waxed proud, and so he became one of the unbelievers. And We said, "Adam, dwell thou, and thy wife, in the garden, and eat thereof easefully where you desire; but draw not nigh this tree, lest you be evildoers. "
Then Satan caused them to slip there from out of that they were in; and We said, "Get you all down, each of you an enemy of each; and in the earth a sojourn shall be yours, and enjoyment for a time. " Therefore Adam received certain words from his Lord, and He turned towards him; truly He turns, and is All-compassionate. We said, "Get you down out of it, all together; yet there shall come to you guidance from Me, and whosoever follows My guidance, no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. As for the unbelievers who cry lies to Our signs, those shall be the inhabitants of the Fire, therein dwelling forever. " (2:30-39)
There is mention of the same story in other parts of the Qur'an which touches other aspects of the subject. Briefly the purpose of the creation of Adam and Eve was so that man might live on this planet, and all that happened to them was intended as a trial. This story is closely connected with the overall philosophy and the meaning of this life. It explains that this worldly life is a training period for people to achieve a higher standard compatible with the next life. In other words, it shows man his weakness and exhorts him to amend it.
It will be seen that the topic of the two stories is the same, but the first one is distorted and illogical, and contains disrespect to Allah.
The second story is pure and in perfect state, since human hands never interfered with it.
However, there are many differences between the Qur'an and other Scriptures, and to discuss all of them would require a book. We shall confine ourselves to a few examples.
The Torah, Exodus, chapter 32: "And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And the people brake off the golden earrings that were in their ears, and brought unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O' Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, tomorrow is a feast to the Lord."
King Solomon had built worshipping places for idols according to the Torah's account. Although King Solomon was an exalted Prophet of Allah! There are many other stories in the Torah that put an intolerable strain on the credulity of the reader.
The Qur'an relates in surah Taha:
"What has sped thee far from thy people, Moses?" "They are upon my tracks," Moses said, "I have hastened, Lord, only that I may please thee. " Said He, "We have tempted thy people since thou didst leave them. The Samaritan has misled them into error. . . " (Qur'an, 20:83-85)
Yet Aaron had aforetime said to them, "O' my people, you have been tempted by this thing, no more; surely your Lord is the All-merciful; therefore follow me, and obey my commandments!" (Qur'an, 20:90)
It was the Samaritan who led the Children of Israel astray. Aaron was angry at their deeds and tried to guide them but his efforts were in vain.
And We verily gave Moses and Aaron the Criterion of right and wrong, and a light and a reminder for the god Baring. (Qur'an, 21:48)
A prophet is a model for people to follow and be guided by. He is chosen because of his good qualities, for there would be no wisdom in sending a corrupted person. Indeed, they are plentiful on the earth, and there is surely no need for increasing corruption. Looking objectively at this subject will lead us to the conclusion that the act of sending prophets is an act of grace, so that people will have a greater chance to see the heavenly light in order to follow the straight path and achieve a state of perfection.
When there has come to them a Messenger from Allah confirming what was with them, a party of them that were given the Book reject the Book of Allah behind their backs, as though they knew not, and they follow what the Satans recited over Solomon's kingdom. Solomon disbelieved not, but the Satans disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery. . . (Qur'an, 2:101-102)
It is clear that the Torah as it stands at present is a distorted version of the original Torah that was revealed to Moses.
And there is a sect of them twist their tongues with the Book, that you may suppose it part of the Book, yet it is not part of the Book; and they say, "It is from Allah, " yet it is not from Allah, and they speak falsehood against Allah, and that wittingly. (Qur'an, 3:78)
Some of the Jews pervert words from their meanings saying, "We have heard and we disobey " and "Hear, and be thou not given to hear " and "Observe us, " twisting with their tongues and traducing religion . . . (Qur'an, 4:46)
Matthew claims that Jesus lay buried after being crucified, for three days and nights. But the other three Gospels state that he stayed in the tomb only the end of Friday and the whole of Saturday - some say Sunday night also. Whereas the Qur'an clarifies this confusion as follows:
... And those who are at variance concerning him surely are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge of him, except the following of surmise; and they slew him not of a certainty-no indeed; Allah raised him up to Him; Allah is All-mighty, All-wise. (Qur'an, 4:157-158)
Hence the legends of rabbis or priests cannot have a grain of truth.
Islam is not a mere relation between the Creator and man as religion is understood in the West. Islam is a complete and perfect system of life, arranging human relationships with Allah, and of people among themselves, in order that they may win the best of both lives. The Qur'an has not left a small or big, significant or insignificant subject without a code. Economy is adjusted to achieve fair and just transactions so as to preserve the dignity of every individual.
Politics is given special attention since the course and stability of society depends on the leader and administration. Social life is built and bonded strongly to achieve maximum co-operation and cohesion.
Human beings have been striving to live under a system of fair justice, security, dignity and happiness. But these fruits were never tasted under man-made systems. This may be attributed to the limited knowledge that any person would possess at any time. Hence the outcome was always an imperfect system.
Secondly, the influence of the self-interest of the law-giver has serious defects and drawbacks in any existing system.
The Islamic system is free of these defects because the law-giver is Allah. There is no limit for His knowledge whether of the seen or unseen. Secondly, egoism has no place here since Allah is in need of no one. Thus it can be safely concluded that the Islamic system is the best pattern for living.
Dealing with each part of the Islamic system is not an easy task, nor is it possible to give a sufficient account of it within the limited purpose of this survey, and discussion will be confined to a few examples. Generally speaking, the Qur'an dictates two kinds of laws. The first kind aims at immunising society against unfair and harmful transactions, such as gambling, cheating, usury, monopoly, etc.
O' believers, intoxicants and gambling, idols and divination by arrows are an abomination of Satan's handiwork: Eschew such abomination that you may prosper. Satan's plan is to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: Will you not then abstain? (5:90-91)
The second kind of law acts to lessen the accumulation of wealth in a few hands. The. Qur'an has imposed taxes on rich people, the revenue of which is spent on the needy and on social welfare.
. .. To give of one's substance, however cherished, to kinsmen, and orphans, the needy, the traveller, beggars, and to ransom the slave, to perform the prayer, to pay the alms . . . (2:177)
It should be noted that some of these laws are compulsory such as alms (zakat), while others are voluntary. However, for an exhaustive and comprehensive study of the economic system in Islam, the unique book Our Economics by the reputed Islamic scholar Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr, should be consulted.
In the political field the Qur'an takes a firm stand on the obedience due to the leader, but limits it by the obedience due to Allah.
The leader is elected in some form that shall ensure the healthy course of the society. At the present time election is satisfactory.
But the word `election' is very wide and can be interpreted or applied in many different ways. According to an eminent Islamic jurisprudent the leader of a Muslim society must be a scholar, a politician and, above all, pious and just. Furthermore, councils of known and widely recognized authorities on different subjects must approve of the leader's nomination.
In addition, Islamic groups ought to nominate him rather than have a person nominate himself.
And those who respond to their Lord, and establish (regular) prayer, and (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation . . . (Qur'an, 42:38)
The Islamic social system recognizes human nature in both its positive and negative respects. Islam declares that all people proceed from the same origin
O' people, We have created you male and female, and appointed you races and tribes, that you may know one another... (Qur'an, 49:13)
Moreover Islam has abolished all privileges that would result in serious social imbalance in the short or long run
.. . Surely, the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the most godfearing of you. . . (Qur'an, 49:13)
Therefore, the best people are those who fear Allah most, even if this entails no material reward in this world. Hence, social appreciation of this phenomenon has no effect on the assignments of people if they do not possess the required qualities. Thirdly, the family is considered as the natural unit of society.
And we have charged man concerning his parents -his mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning was in two years -Be thankful to Me, and to thy parents; to Me is the homecoming. (Qur'an, 31:14)
Islam has given the family the greatest attention, realizing the importance and weight that it will bear on the whole society. Marriage is formulated in such a way that the rights of both partners are restored and equality is observed. Duties of each member are clarified and the family unit is preserved by ideological forces that give it dignity and tranquillity.
Then, these units are bonded together. The Qur'an provides the bonds that will keep the society coherent and healthy. The orphans are looked after, widows are married, poor people are helped, wayfarers are enabled to reach their homes, old people are respected and looked after, children are treated tenderly and brought up in good conditions.
Turn not thy cheek away from men in scorn, and walk not in the earth exultantly; Allah loves not any, man proud and boastful. (Qur'an, 31:18)
The Qur'anic philosophy of life is that of co-operative and purposeful. Everything in the universe is meant to be of some service to the purpose of life.
... I am setting in the earth a viceroy. . . (Qur'an, 2 : 30 )
O' children of Adam! Take your adornment at every place of worship; and eat and drink, but be not prodigal; He loves not the prodigal. Say: "Who has forbidden the ornament of Allah which He brought forth for his servants, and the good things o f His providing? . . . (Qur'an, 7:31-32)
It is He who created for you all that is in the earth . . . (Qur'an, 2:29)
This is the feeling that the Qur'an implants in Muslims. We have to understand the forces of nature and instincts of beings so that useful communications and control is exercised between them.
Who assigned to you the earth for a couch, and the heaven for an edifice, and sent down out of heaven water, wherewith He brought forth fruits for your provision... (Qur'an, 2:22)
These are the seeds that germinate in the Muslim soul to produce the good fruit of harmony and peace. But the Qur'anic philosophy does not rule out the existence of evil, which should be fought and crushed. It is the Devil and his associates who spread corruption on earth. On the other hand, there are certain calamities which can be considered the result of misunderstanding the forces of nature, or which Allah meant to be a punishment for evildoers, or to correct peoples' conduct. The Islamic greeting is `Peace be upon you'. Our Prophet used to teach people to be kind even to trees and animals. Once he told a group of people, "Be kind to this tree, it is of kin to you." This stands in diametrical contrast to materialist philosophy that assumes continuous war among the forces of the universe.
This view has far reaching consequences in society's structure and relations. Indeed, it may drive the world towards annihilation if people do not reject this false concept of life.
Another miraculous aspect of the Holy Qur'an is prophecy. For instance, the destiny of Abu Lahab and his wife was foretold to be Hell. They both died idolators.
Perish the hands of Abu Lahab, and perish he! His wealth avails him not, neither what he has earned; he shall roast at a flaming fire and his wife, the carrier of the firewood, upon her neck a rope of palm fibre. (Qur'an, 111:1-5)
In the Prophet's time a war broke out between the Byzantines and the Persians, and the Byzantines were defeated. It was revealed to the Prophet that the Byzantines would be victorious in the second round.
The Byzantines have been defeated in the nearer part of the land; and, after their defeat, they shall be the victors in a few years. (Qur'an, 30:2-3)
There are many other prophecies, some have been fulfilled while others still await fulfilment in due course.
Basically, the Qur'an is a book of preaching aimed at all people in order to convince them in its Message.
The Qur'anic way of preaching startles by its subtlety. To realize this one must study the Arabic language before one can respond fully to its appeal. However, the translation or interpretations available in English should suffice for our limited purpose.
The Qur'an has a style which is absolutely unique. The variety of topics even in one page fascinates every reader. The book is read again and again, and still the burning desire in the hearts of the believers ever increases.
How do you disbelieve in Allah, seeing you were dead and He gave you life, then He shall make you dead, then He shall give you life (again), then unto Him you shall be returned. (Qur'an, 2:28)
The argument is simple but strong, clear but deep, and truly convincing.
And they say, "Allah has taken to Him a son." Glory be to Him! Nay, to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and earth; all obey His will. (Qur'an, 2:116)
Surprise! Allah has begotten a son -- why and how? Is He in need of a son, and if He is, has He a wife? It is degrading and blasphemous to think of Allah in this way. Indeed, it is a puerile conception to imagine Allah as a human being only on a magnified scale. These are fairy tales fit only to cause a smile.
Truly, the likeness of Jesus, in Allah's sight, is as Adam's likeness; He created him of dust, then said He unto him, Be', and he was . .. (Qur'an, 3: 59)
Surely in the creation of the heavens and earth and in the alternation of night and day there are signs for men possessed of minds. Those who remember Allah, standing, sitting and on their sides, and reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth: "Our Lord, Thou hast not created this for vanity. Glory be to Thee! Guard us against the chastisement of the Fire. " (Qur'an, 3:190-191)
People possess the power of reasoning which helps them to arrive at some useful observations and conclusions. The world surrounding them is the first thing to impinge upon their sight and engross their attention. The sun, stars, moon, water, animals and air usually put people into a state of mediation. Such as remember Allah have productive thinking which results in glorifying the Lord. In the process of their thought they enjoy a glimpse of the meaning and purpose of the creation. Then they admit that this world is not created in vain, and beg Allah for forgiveness and mercy.
So behold the marks of Allah's mercy, how He quickens the earth after it was dead; surely He is the quickener of the dead, and He is powerful over everything. (Qur'an, 30:50)
Life is given to us as an act of grace, and we ought to be grateful, and Allah reminds of that. Then He solemnly tells of the Day of Judgement and portrays vividly His capacity to create.
Has not man regarded how that We created him of a sperm-drop? Then lo! he is a manifest adversary. And he has struck for Us a similitude and forgotten his (own) creation; he says: "Who shall quicken the bones when they are decayed? " Say: "He shall quicken them, Who originated them for the first time; He knows all creation, who has made for you out of the green tree fire and lo! from it you kindle. " (Qur'an, 36:77-80)
Ah, woe for those servants! Never comes unto them a Messenger, but they mock at him. What! have they not seen how many generations We have destroyed before them, and that it is not unto them that they return? (Qur'an, 36:30-31)
A grave warning, sorrowfully presented, that the lessons of past nations must not be forgotten. The many nations that have been destroyed because of deviation from the heavenly path are salutary warning of our own possible fate.
And when it is said to them, "Follow what Allah has sent down," they say: "No; but we will follow such things as we found our fathers doing. " What? And if their fathers had no understanding of anything, and if they were not guided? (Qur'an, 2:170)
This example is typical of the vigour and directness of Islam's approach. Those who have folded their minds and left them idle are disgraced for not reaching the level of human being! Indeed, it is the development that distinguishes man from animals, and paralysis of this power of imaginative thinking means levelling out both to the same degree.
Or do they say: "He has invented it?" Nay, but they do not believe. Then let them bring a discourse like it, if they speak truly.(Qur'an, 52:33-34)
A simple challenge that has been never faced, in clear words, that leaves no choice but to believe in the Qur'an.
Those (the People of the Book) to whom We have given the Book, recognize him (the Holy Prophet Muhammad) as they recognize their sons; but some of them conceal the truth and that willingly. The truth comes from thy Lord; then be not among the doubters. (Qur'an, 2:146-147)
These verses remove the last vestiges of doubt from the believers' minds by exposing the hidden truth of the People of the Book.
Further, it diverts attention from what these People say, because they argue for the sake of argument, and most of them are insincere.
Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily, you would (certainly) have seen it humbled itself and cleave asunder for the fear of Allah ... (Qur'an, 59: 21)
And they say: "None shall enter Paradise except that they be Jews or Christians!" Such are their fancies. Say: `Produce your proof, if you speak truly. "Nay, but whomsoever submits his will to Allah, being a good-doer, his wage is with his Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. (Qur'an, 2:111-112)
Have you not turned your vision to those who claim sanctity for themselves?. . . Behold! How they invent a lie against Allah! But that by itself is a manifest sin! (Qur'an, 4:49-50)
In this manner the People of the Book are refuted and their claims shattered. The method of argument is elegant, peaceful and reformatory.
Say: `People of the Book! Come now to a word common between us and you, that we serve none but Allah, and that we associate not aught with Him, and do not some of us take others as Lords, apart from Allah. " And if they turn their backs, say: 'Bear witness that we are Muslims. " (Qur'an, 3:64)
It belongs not to any mortal that Allah should give him the Book, the Judgement, the Prophethood, then he should say to men, `Be you servants to me apart from Allah. " Rather, "Be you masters in that you know the Book, and in that you study. " He never order you to take the angels and the prophets as Lords; what, would He order you to disbelieve, after you have surrendered? (Qur'an, 3:79-80)
Do they not consider the Qur'an with care? Had it been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy. (Qur'an, 4:82)
The Qur'an is a large book covering many subjects, and there is some repetition throughout because of the nature of the message aimed at all peoples. However, wherever the Holy Qur'an speaks of any subject it does so with a particular purpose and not merely with the aim of repeating the same matter. But in spite of that there are no contradictions among its passages at all.
Perhaps its most outstanding feature is that there is no weakness between its various parts. However, there is an important fact that must be noted before closing the discussion. The Qur'an can usually be interpreted after mastering the Arabic language. Then to make the interpretation meaningful, the history of the revelation must be known. But for Muslims these conditions are not enough. It is emphasized that the interpreter must be a believer; otherwise, Allah would not give him insight into the knowledge.
It is He who sent down upon thee the Book, wherein are verses clear that are the Essence of the Book, and others ambiguous.
As for those in whose hearts is swerving, they follow the ambiguous part, desiring dissension, and desiring its interpretation; and none knows its interpretation, save only Allah and those firmly rooted in knowledge, they say: "We believe in it; all is from our Lord;" yet none remembers, but men possessed of minds. " (Qur'an, 3:7)
- 1. This is the opinion of the writer, but the fact is that these readings are not mutawatir reliable. It is (now) generally agreed by Shiite (Islamic) authorities that the Holy Qur'an was collected during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet by his order. For further reference on these two subjects, see al-Bayan by as-Sayyid Abu'l-Qasim al-Khu'i, the great Shiite leader (Editor's note).
- 2. Here the intention (of the word `music') is that, the letters and tone of the words of the Holy Qur'an, together with the construction of the words, phrases and verses have a special cadence which cannot be found in any other Arabic neither in poetry nor in prose (Editor's note).
- 3. The right interpretation of the word "ulil amr" (those invested with authority), as it appears in the Holy Qur'an, applies only to the Imams and the vicegerents (caliphs) appointed by Allah through the Holy Prophet, in which appointment, people have no right (authority) to interfere. But when there is no "wali amr" (one invested with authority) among the people who has been appointed by Allah such as at the present time when our Imam is in seclusion, according to some of the `ulama ' (Muslims scholars) people can, as long as the requirements and conditions for being a Muslim leader are fulfilled (gathered together) in someone elect that person as their leader. Of course, this election should meet the approval of those who are learned in Islamic law (al fuqaha'). Perhaps the author intends to convey the same meaning here, but his interpretation seems to be somewhat difficult to understand.(Editor's note)