This Book is a compendium of all that is good, lasting and imperishable in the teachings of former revealed Scriptures, with a good deal more which these Scriptures lacked, but which the human being needed for his spiritual, moral and mundane progress.
This book provides us guidance, answering the innate questions that press on us: What exactly is the human being? From where has he come? Where shall he go after death? What is righteousness? What is evil? How can we acquire good and shun evil? What are the physical, moral and spiritual conditions of the human being? What is his state in the Hereafter? What is the real object of his existence and what are the means of its attainment? What is the effect of actions in the present life and the life to come? What are the sources of Divine Knowledge? What is worship? How and whom we should worship? How should we organize our life? Such are the questions which demand answers, and if no convincing and decisive answer is provided, we will be in a state of moral and behavioral crisis. This Book answers such questions and much more. It gives the laws of a society and guidance for our Nafs Ammârah (- self that incites to evil), for our Nafs Lawwâmah (- self-accusing soul) and for our Nafs Mutma'innah (- the soul that rests in peace). It ranks amongst the greatest masterpieces of world literature whence the scholars derive their authority for meanings, grammar and syntax by referring to its verses. It is the most widely read book in the world. Its teachings formed the basis of the Islamic civilization and it still guides and inspires millions of Muslims all over the world. It is the final authority in matters of faith and practice for all Muslims and the most reliable source of information for the biography of Muhammad, the Holy Prophet of Islam (Peace be upon him).
1. A book which is meant to be read.
2. A book which is meant to be conveyed to the mankind.
3. A book which comprehends all the truths and in which are gathered together the Divine Messages of all other books.
In the very early revelations (2:2) the Holy Writ is called Al-Kitâb. The word Kitâb is derived from the root word Kataba which means `he wrote', `he brought together' and `which is complete in itself.' The application of this word to the Holy Writ in the very early revelations and the use of the name shows clearly that the Qur'ân was, from the first, meant to be a complete Book, and one that existed not only in the memory of people but also in visible characters on writing material. The Holy Writ is also called Al-Dhikr - the Book which makes provisions for eminence, fame, renown, honour and reminding, and Al-Furqân (25:1) - the Book which distinguishes between right and wrong and which is divided and revealed in portions, as the root word Firqah also means portions.
There are other names by which the Holy Book is designated in the Revelation itself. It is called Al-Hikmah (17:39) - the Wisdom; Al-Hudâ (72:13) - that which guides and makes one attain the goal; Mubârak (6:93) - Blessed; Al-Mukarramah (80:13) - the Honoured; Musaddiq (6:93) - confirming (the truth of previous Scriptures); Al-Mauizah (10:57) - the Admonition; Al-`Azîz (41:41) - the Mighty; Al-Hukm (13:37) - the Judgment; Al-Shifâ (10:57) - that which heals; Al-Tanzîl (26:192) - the Revelation; Al-Rahmah (2:105) - the Mercy, Al-Rûh (42:52) - that which gives life and is living; Al-Khair (3:103) - the Goodness; Al-Bayân (3:137) - that which explains all things; Al-Ni`mat (93:11) - the Favour; Al-Burhân (4:175) - the clear Argument; Al-Qayyim (18:2) - the Maintainer; Al-Muhaimin (5:48) - the Guardian; Al-Nûr (7:157) - the Light; Al-Haq (17:81) - the Truth; Hablallâh (3:103) - the Covenant of God; Al-Mubîn (12:1) - that which explains; Al-Karîm (56:77) - the Holy; Al-Mâjîd (50:1) - the Glorious; Al-Hakîm (36:2) - the one full of Wisdom; Al-Marfû`ah (80:14) - the Exalted; Al-Mutahharah (80:14) - the Purified; Al-`Ajab (72:1:) - the Wonderful. All these names are attributes and characteristics of the Holy Qur'ân.
The Holy Qur'ân was revealed through the medium of Arabic, which, unlike Latin, old Greek, or Sanskrit, is a living language, still spoken, written and understood in several countries of the world and by millions of people. Its grammar, vocabulary, idiom, pronunciation and script remain unchanged. It claims to be the mother and source of all other languages.
The word `Arabiyya is derived from `Ariba. `Arib al-bi'ru meaning `the well containing a lot of water.' `Arub al-rajulu means `the man spoke clearly, plainly and distinctly, he was brisk and lively'. Thus the word `Arabiy conveys the sense of fullness, abundance and clearness. Arabic is so called because its roots are innumerable and are full of meanings and because it is most expressive, eloquent and comprehensive. The expression Qur'ânan `Arabî'yan (12:2), therefore, would mean that the Holy Qur'ân is a Book which can express its meaning in a clear, eloquent and comprehensive language (Lane).
The Arabic alphabet contains 28 letters. Each trio of letters, in any order, is capable of giving a root word. A triliteral is a very economical word. It is a golden means between a long and a short word and is easy to pronounce and hear. The triliterals are the most common words in Arabic. They are easily conjugated and are the foundation of the quadrilaterals. Arabic does not attach much importance to words containing more than three letters (Al-Khasâis, p.380.). An attempt was undertaken by Khalîl bin Ahmad (d.175 A.H.) to compile an Arabic lexicon (Kitâb al-`Ain) on the basis of permutation and combination of 28 letters of Arabic alphabet. The number of words formed ran into hundreds of thousands. So Khalîl was unable to complete the work.
All these roots are pregnant with a vast variety of meanings. `In Arabic', says Titus Burkhardt, `the tree of verbal forms, of derivations from certain roots is quite inexhaustible. It can always bring forth new leaves, new expressions to represent hitherto dominant variations of the basic idea or action. This explains why this Bedouin tongue was able to become the linguistic vehicle of an entire civilization, intellectually very rich and differentiated' (Art of Islam, Language and meaning, p. 43). Even the letters of Arabic possess clear and definite meaning. For instance, the letters Lâm, Mîm, Kâf in any combination, express the idea of power and strength, which is more or less common to all the words that are formed with these letters or are derived from this root. Its grammar is very advanced and an example are the I`râbs by which it can distinguish the logical categories of speech with great clarity. There is a complete order of verbs and nouns where similar verbs are mutually related with similar nouns in a scientific way. By using simple signs like Al or Tanwîn or by changing the order of words it conveys an idea which some languages may express in many sentences. Like the number and order of letters, the accent and the spelling of a word are rigidly fixed. The slightest change of accent will yield a different root and meaning. This is a marked contrast with other languages which have been reforming their spelling from time to time. Compare this aspect of Arabic spelling with the following sarcasm of Bernard Shaw. As an example of the English spelling he constructed the word Ghoti. He pointed out that the 'gh' combination was to be pronounced like the 'f' in cough; the vowel 'o' like short 'ai' in women and the'ti' combination like 'sh' in nations. He concluded that ghoti should be pronounced fish.
Another unique feature of Arabic is that it tends to express a thought twice in slightly different forms. This parallelism is often used to express completeness. In such cases we should not look for a different meaning in each half of the parallelism. Both expressions, in reality, express one truth. The repetition in the parallelism has the function of embellishing the statement, making it more beautiful for the sake of clarification and for further imprinting it on the hearer's memory. In one form of parallelism the same truth is put first in the positive and then in the negative form, this expresses the desire to exclude all other possibilities.
One way of bringing out the unity of an idea in writing is for passages to begin and end with the same thought. This form of speech is called `Inclusions' since one particular thought or statement includes, grasps or embraces the intermediate phases. It is also known as rising constructions. We find numerous examples of such constructions in the Holy Qur'ân. The language, thus, possesses a store of words which faithfully and completely depict most subtle thought and feeling of the human being. It expresses more meaning in a few words. It is a facsimile of the book of nature as regards the names of elements, vegetables, animals, minerals, human links and numbers, and because of the richness of synonyms, it is possible for Arabic to achieve a precision of expression and thoroughness unequaled in any other language. It is the only language which can accurately describe the attributes of God.
The final revelation, the last and complete Book of God could not, possibly, have been expressed in a language of human creation. A finite mind could not make words sufficiently wide in their connotations to convey an Infinite mind. The language of the Holy Qur'ân was the only proper vehicle to convey the message coming from God, for it is imbued with qualities which lie outside all our frames of reference and all our limiting definitions, as the Qur'ân says:
to produce the like of this Qur'ân, they would never be able to
produce anything like it, even though some of them might
be the helpers of others' (17:88).
The style and diction of the Holy Qur'ân have been universally praised. A. J. Arberry in the preface to his translation of the Qur'ân says, `Whenever I hear the Qur'ân chanted it is as though I am listening to music, underneath the flowing melody there is sounding all the time the insistent beat of a drum. It is like the beating of my heart.'
In the text the verses are divided according to the rhythm of the language, when a certain sound which marks the rhythm recurs there is a strong pause and the verse ends naturally, although the sentence may go on to the next verse or to several subsequent verses. `It is inimitable symphony, the very sounds of which move men to tears and ecstasy' (M. M. Pickthall, translator's Foreword, p. 1).
E. H. Palmer says (pages lxvi - lxvii in the Introduction to his translation of the Holy Qur'ân), `The language of the Qur'ân is universally acknowledged to be the most perfect form of Arabic speech ... the language is noble and forcible. Muhammad speaks with a living voice, his vivid word-painting brings at once before the mind the scene he describes.' The sublime simplicity, piercing force, enchanting beauty and melody of verses of the Holy Qur'ân and its poetical and spiritual aspects are not possible to be reproduced. Friend and foe alike pay ungrudging tributes to the linguistic style of the Holy Qur'ân and see in its beauty and majesty the nobility of its call, the magnanimity of its message and a sign and a miracle in this Handiwork of God.
Like everything in the nature the Holy Qur'ân has baffled all human efforts to produce another book like it (17:88). This challenge stands for all times to all people who deny the Divine origin of the Holy Qur'ân. A similar challenge is contained in verses 2:23; 10:38; 11:13; 52:33. The challenge remains unanswered to this day, as it is based on absolute truth. Whatever comes into being by exercise of God's perfect Power, whether it is a part of creation or a Book, revealed by Him, it is necessary that it should possess the quality that no one out of His creation should have the power to produce its like.
Apart from its teaching, the Holy Qur'ân has kept a permanent hold on Arabic. No other book in the world can be credited with keeping a language alive for fourteen centuries. The Qur'ân has done this. Those who have compiled books of Arabic literature admit that the language and diction of the Qur'ân surpass and excel the whole Arabic literature most preeminently. Even the Christian scholars, one and all, derive authority for their meaning, grammar and syntax by making references to the verses of the Holy Qur'ân. If the Book had been deficient and defective with regard to any of these points, they would have made it the object of their satire and rejoiced in bringing before the world its errors, weaknesses and mistakes. On the contrary, these lexicologists and writers, without any exception, acknowledge the elegance of language and eloquence of the Qur'ân. They quote its verses over and over again in support of the meaning put forth by them and thus enhance the value and worth of their own writings. No letter of it lacks wisdom, not one word is out of place or not in accord with appropriateness, and not a single phrase of it is such, as is not surely needed for the reform and spiritual uplift of mankind.
Consistency and Freedom from Contradiction
anyone other than Allâh, they would surely have found a
good deal of inconsistency therein (4:82).
The Holy Qur'ân was revealed piecemeal and at intervals. The revelation began in 610 of the Christian era when the Holy Prophet was 40 years of age. It was destined to continue during the twenty three years of his ministry and to end shortly before his death on June 8, 632 A.D., yet there is no inconsistency and contradiction anywhere in the Holy Book.
arrangement lies on Us (75:17).
The whole Qur'ân, complete in every respect, was available in the Holy Prophet's life time (Kâtâni, 2:384). The Companions of the Holy Prophet say, `We used to write down the Holy Qur'ân in the time of the Holy Prophet' (Hâkim: Al-Mustadrik, 2:611). The arrangement of chapters and verses in the copies of the Holy Qur'ân at present in our hands does not follow the chronological order of revelation and their arrangement is Tauqif i.e. effected by the Holy Prophet under the guidance of Divine revelations (75:17-18). It is also said in the Holy Qur'ân:
And (in spite of the fact that it has not been revealed all at once,)
We have arranged it in an excellent (form and order of)
arrangement (and free of all contradictions) (25:32).
There was an arrangement followed by the Holy Prophet and we know that many Companions of the Holy Prophet committed the Holy Qur'ân to memory and could recite it in the recognized order as followed by the Prophet. This shows that there was a connection of its verses and chapters, and there was a recognized division of the Book and a fixed form and sequence. The chapters were distinctly marked out and their number was determined. Without a known order and sequence of verses, the Qur'ân could not have been committed to memory. The present arrangement of the Qur'ân does not differ from that followed by the Holy Prophet. There are several sayings of the Holy Prophet from which this can be inferred. The Holy Prophet said, `Whoever reads the last two verses of the chapter entitled Baqarah on any night, they are sufficient for him' (Bukhârî; 64:12). This shows that the Holy Prophet followed an arrangement which he had made known to his Companions. If such had not been the case he could not have referred to two verses as the `last' two verses of a certain chapter. According to another saying of the Holy Prophet he told his Companions to recite the first ten and last ten verses of the chapter entitled Al-Kahf at a particular occasion. Had there been no sequence of verses, `the first ten verses and last ten verses' would have been a meaningless phrase. Not only the verses of the Holy Qur'ân but even its chapters were arranged by the Holy Prophet himself. This is afforded by the following saying of Anas: `At the time when the Banû Thaqîf accepted Islam I was in that delegation. The Holy Prophet said to us, "When you people came to meet me, I was reciting my portion of the Holy Qur'ân which I used to recite daily, so I decided not to go out until I had finished it." Thereupon we questioned the Companions of the Holy Prophet as to how they divided the Holy Qur'ân into portions for reading. They said, "We observe the following divisions, 3 chapters, 5 chapters, 7 chapters, 9 chapters, 11 chapters and 13 chapters, and all the remaining chapters beginning with chapter entitled Qâf"' (Fath al-Bârî, 9:39). This form of reading divided the Qur'ân into seven portions or Ahzâb, each portion to be recited in one day and, thus, the recital of the whole Qur'ân (114 chapters) was finished in seven days. This report of Anas shows an arrangement of chapters which is observed to this day by the whole Muslim Ummah. This and many other reports by the Companions of the Prophet give conclusive testimony to the fact that the form and arrangement of the chapters of the Holy Book was brought about by the Holy Prophet himself, and that the present arrangement does not differ in the least from the original of the time of the Prophet.
The efforts of some European scholars such as Well, Nöldecke, Muir, Rodwell and others such as N. J. Dawood to rearrange the Holy Qur'ân are misleading and are unworthy of being considered as scholarly.
(Inscribed) in a Tablet well-guarded (against corruption,
distortion and destruction) (85:21-22).
The Qur'ân is admitted by friends and foes alike to be the very Book presented by Muhammad (peace be upon him), and it has maintained its purity all along. Amongst all the Divine Scriptures it is the only one which enjoys the distinction of having its original text intact. Contrary to the Holy Bible and the Vedas, this Holy Writ, through all the centuries since it was revealed, and all over the world and among the numerous contending sects, has maintained only one text.
It is an established fact that the present text of the Holy Qur'ân is the same that was presented by the Holy Prophet. Every verse of it was put into writing in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, before his own eyes and under his orders. Since the Book was revealed in parts during a period of twenty three years, the practice was that when a verse or a part of a chapter was revealed the Holy Prophet, under Divine guidance, specified the place of the revelation. Thus, the arrangement of verses in each chapter was entirely the work of the Holy Prophet himself. Similarly the arrangement of the chapters (Surâhs) was also the work of the Holy Prophet under Divine guidance. In one of the earliest revelations the Holy Qur'ân speaks of its collection as well as its arrangement as being a part of the Divine scheme.
(- the Qur'ân); and it is We Who are, most certainly, its Guardian (15:9).
1. Putting into Writing:
The first and the most important point which assisted in the preservation of the text of the Holy Qur'ân is that its every verse was put into writing in the life time of the Holy Prophet, before his own eyes. The Holy Qur'ân itself furnishes abundant evidence that it existed in a written form. Again and again the Divine Writ calls itself a Kitâb, which means a book or a writing which is complete in itself. The application of the word Book to the Holy Writ also occurs in very early revelations and this use shows that the Holy Qur'ân was destined, from the very beginning, to be a complete Book. The Holy Qur'ân is also designated as Suhuf (80:13) which means written pages. There are many other references in the Holy Qur'ân showing that it will exist in a written form. It is said:
that he has got written down and now they are read out to him
morning and evening.' (25:5).
The Holy Prophet used to say, `Do not write from me anything except the Qur'ân.' This direction was meant as a precautionary step against any confusion with regards to the Holy Qur'ân. This saying also suggests that the Holy Prophet took it for granted that the Holy Qur'ân was to be written down. The above conclusion is corroborated by another report from the Companions of the Prophet. They were forbidden to travel to the enemy's land with the Holy Qur'ân. This is also a conclusive proof that written copies of the Holy Qur'ân existed in abundance and Muslims were forbidden to take such copies to the enemy's country lest they should treat them with disrespect or try to make changes in them.
The Holy Prophet was very conscious about the dictation of the Qur'ân. In a period and in circumstances when few people were able and even fewer available to read and write in the whole of Arabia, he had a sufficient number of the scribes at hand to write down the revelation of the Holy Qur'ân, as the Holy Qur'ân says:
are greatly honoured, (which are) ranked high (and) are rid
of all impurities, which are in the hands of Scribes;
Noble and Virtuous (80:13-16).
The first person to write down the first revelation of the Holy Qur'ân for the Holy Prophet was `Osmân, (Ibn al-Kathîr's Fadzâil al-Qur'ân, p.5). Some Scribes besides Zaid bin Thâbit, who did, by far, the greatest part of the work of writing of the Holy Qur'ân, are: Abû Bakr, `Omar bin Khattâb, `Alî bin Abî Tâlib, Zubair, `Abd Allâh bin Sa`d, Khâlid bin Saîd, Abbân bin Saîd, Ubayya bin Ka`b, Mua`iqab bin Abû Fâtimah, `Abd Allâh bin Arqam, `Abd Allâh bin Rawaih. It was Hamzah bin Rabîa's duty to make sure that at least one or two scribes were present at all times so that no handicap, no delay, no shortcoming in any form in writing down of the revelations was caused due to the absence of the scribes.
The importance given to the writing down of the Qur'ânic revelations as they came down to the Prophet Muhammad was so great that in the Migration of the Holy Prophet from Makkah to the Madînah, pen, ink-pot and writing material were included in the essentials of the journey. There were many other men and women who made copies of the Holy Qur'ân for their own use. There is another real and authentic proof of committal of the Holy Qur'ân to writing and its compilation, to which Kâtâni says, 'The whole Qur'ân from the beginning to the end, complete in every respect, was available in the time of the Holy Prophet (Kâtâni, vol 2, p384). It is in this very direction that Hârith al-Muhâsibî alludes to in his explicit account about a collection of the complete Holy Qur'ân in the household of the Holy Prophet. This, however, was an unbound original text. Zaid bin Thâbit bound it together with the help of a tag made of string under the order of Abû Bakr.
The text of the Holy Qur'ân was recorded in the Holy Prophet's life time on a variety of writing materials such as leather, parchment, papyrus, limestone, slates, shoulder blades, etc. (Ibn Nadîm: Kitâb Al-Fihrist; ed. G. Flugel, Leipzig 1871, p. 21; N. Abbot: The Rise of the North Arabic Script; Chicago, 1939 p. 45). A copy of the Holy Qur'ân prepared by the Holy Prophet himself was written on a fine parchment (Raqq) as the Holy Qur'ân testifies in the verses 52:2-3. Among the Companions of the Prophet who had put the Holy Qur'ân in writing during his life time, the names of `Osmân, `Alî, `Abd Allâh bin Mas`ûd, `Abd Allâh bin `Amar bin `Âs, Sâlim, the freed slave of Hudhaifah, Muâdh bin Jabal and Ubayy bin Ka`b have been specifically mentioned.
Several hundred Companions of the Holy Prophet learnt the whole Qur'ân by heart (the Huffâz). Some Huffâz were killed in the Battle of Yamâmah. `Omar bin Khattâb concluded that it was not safe to depend exclusively upon those who had learnt the Qur'ân by heart and, thus, decided to take necessary steps to preserve the several copies of the Holy Qur'ân in a book form. Abû Bakr (the First Caliph of Prophet Muhammad) after the death of the Prophet, agreed to the proposal and took the task of copying of the Qur'ân in hand. He entrusted this work to Zaid bin Thâbit who was best qualified for this work, for he had frequently acted as an amanuensis to the Holy Prophet, and was among the scribes, `noble and virtuous' (80:16), and was one of those Companions of the Prophet who had learnt the Holy Qur'ân and its arrangement by heart directly from him. Moreover, he had also been present on the occasion when the Holy Prophet had recited the whole of the completed Qur'ân, shortly, prior to his death.
`Omar publicly announced that whoever possessed any portion of the Qur'ân, received directly from the Holy Prophet (for some Companions had written these on paper, tablets, palm-stem and shoe horn of leaf), should bring it for comparison. Zaid, with the cooperation and help of those Companions of the Holy Prophet who had helped in the documentation of the Qur'ân and who had committed it to memory, prepared a copy of the Book. This version was checked, word by word and hyphen by hyphen, and all the written pages compared with each other for verification. Zaid would not take down any thing in his copy unless all of the sources tallied with one another and with the manuscript of the Holy Prophet.
This copy by Zaid was kept in the custody of the Caliph of Prophet (Abû Bakr), then in the Custody of `Omar(second Caliph), then in the custody of learned Hafsah, wife of the Holy Prophet and `Omar's daughter. And it was announced that anyone who so desired, might make a copy of it or compare with it the copy he already possessed.
It is a great mistake to think that either Abû Bakr or `Osmân was the compiler or collector of the Holy Qur'ân, though both of them did very important work in connection with the dissemination of the authentic and standard copies of the sacred text, to which everyone had access. Abû Bakrdid not order Zaid bin Thâbit the writing of anything new which was not already written in the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. `Osmân then asked Zaid, `Abd Allâh bin Jâbir, Sa' ad bin Al-`Âs, and `Abdul Rahmân bin Al-Hârith to make seven copies of the one original in the custody of Hafsah daughter of ` Omar. These copies were forwarded to the chief cities of the Islamic world - Makkah, Kûfah, Basrah, Yemen, Bahrain and Damascus. One copy remained at Madînah. `Osmân in consultation with other Companions of the Prophet also decided that the use of all other copies in any other dialect or idiom or written without proper care should be prohibited. As a precautionary measure he had all such copies burnt to foreclose any possibility of future confusion and misunderstanding. For instance, some of the Companions had noted down explanatory words and comments on the margins of their copies and it was feared that these might get mixed up with the original text of the Qur'ân. It was of course, an act of most prudent foresight to make the Holy Qur'ân safe and secure against any possible alteration in the future. The Qur'ân, which is now in the hands of all Muslims and in use all over the world is the exact copy of the Qur'ân dictated and written by the order of the Holy Prophet before his eyes and of the copy written by the order of the first Caliph Abû Bakr, copies of which were officially sent by `Osmân to different places. Of the copies originally made by the order of `Osmân one can still be found in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and another in TopeKapi, Turkey.
`Osmân not only sent an authenticated copy of the Qur'ân to the different centers of the Islamic world but also sent a Qârî, one who is well versed in the correct reading and knowledge of the Holy Qur'ân, along with it, in order to preserve the correct reading which was taught by the Holy Prophet. When `Osmân began to make copies of the Qur'ân from Abû Bakr's copy in the custody of Hafsah, thousands of the Companions were still living, and no change in the sequence of the verses could have remained unnoticed. There is not a slightest trace in the historical record of any form of protest or mention that anything in the text or in the arrangement was altered.
Efforts of some European scholars to prove the existence of later interpolation in the Qur'ân have failed. The utter failure of Dr. Mingana to find fault with the purity of the Qur'ânic text, on the contrary, sets the seal on the truth that among all the revealed Scriptures Qur'ân alone has remained completely immune from any interpolation or tampering. L. V. Vaglieri observes in his book `Apology for Islam:' `The proof of the divinity of the Qur'ân is the fact that it has been preserved intact through the ages since the time of its revelation till the present day.' In his book `The Messenger' R. V. C. Bodley writes, `What is important is that the Qur'ân is the only work which has survived for fourteen hundred years with an unadulterated text. Neither in the Jewish religion nor in the Christian is there anything which faintly compares to this.'
Many centuries have passed since the revelation of this wonderful Book and one can find its copies in countries which have long remained isolated from the rest of the world and among various Muslim sects, which for centuries have remained deadly enemies, yet the Holy Qur'ân has remained exactly the same unaltered Book in spite of the differences of time, lands, culture and customs. The reader can well calculate the miraculous nature of this Glorious Book of God.
2. Memorizing of the Holy Qur'ân
The memorizing of the Holy Qur'ân has also assisted in the preservation of its text. Whenever any portion of the Holy Qur'ân was revealed to the Holy Prophet, he committed it to memory and continuously recited it from one end to the other. Thus, he always carried the whole of the revealed Qur'ân in his memory. The Holy Prophet used to stress the merits of committing the Holy Qur'ân to memory so much that he said that if a person committed the Qur'ân to memory he would be saved from the torment of Hell. When he made this announcement, a large number of his Companions began to commit the Holy Qur'ân to memory. The Holy Prophet also took pains to supervise the recitation of the Holy Qur'ân and was anxious to see that no errors crept into the process.
Since the time of `Omar (the second Caliph), it has become customary to recite the whole text during Tarâwîh (late night) Prayer in the month of Ramadzân. Memorizing of the Qur'ân is still considered highly noble, and the memorizing of the Surâhs and small texts is still the first stage of informal education among millions of Muslim families. No human-written book of this volume can ever be memorized wholly by any single human being, not even by its author. It is only the Holy Qur'ân that, today, stands as the singular Book memorized and recited wholly by hundreds and thousands of men, women and, even, children. It is the fulfillment of God's promise that the Holy Qur'ân is easily memorized. It is worth mentioning at this point that the author of this translation, Allâmah Nooruddîn, was the eleventh consecutive son in his family to become a `hâfiz', (a person who memorizes and knows the whole Qur'ân by heart).
3. Living Language of the Holy Qur'ân
The third factor which assisted in the preservation of the text of the Holy Qur'ân is its language -Arabic. Arabic is a living language spoken, written and understood by millions of people, Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. Its grammar, vocabulary, idioms, pronunciation and script have remained unchanged from the time of the revelation of the Holy Qur'ân.
4. Spread of the Qur'ân
Another factor for the preservation of the Holy Qur'ân was that its message spread very quickly right from the start of its revelation to different regions of the world. The Holy Prophet was still in Makkah when the Qur'ân reached the second largest city of Yathrib (Madînah) where it attracted people to read, write and learn it by heart and act upon its teachings. Thousands of Companions of the Holy Prophet were still living when the Holy Book crossed the bounds of Arabian peninsula and reached the people living in Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Egypt, Tunis, Algiers, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Abbyssinia and many other parts of Africa. On the other side it travelled to central Asia, Punjâb and Sindh in the Indian subcontinent and reached as far as China and southeast Asia. This, too, was one of the means which led to the preservation of the Holy Book and made it impossible to be altered by any powerful party, a nation or a king.
5. Dissent in the Ummah
There is a famous saying of the Holy Prophet that the difference of opinion among the people of his community (Ummah) will bring many blessings in its wake. The importance of this dissension with regard to the preservation of the Holy Qur'ân can well be judged by the fact that the Muslims fell into parties soon after the demise of the Holy Prophet. Had one party only remained in power there was the possibility of their faith having faltered, which would have led them to bring about some changes and alterations in the Sacred Book to satisfy their ends and purposes. However, their mutual differences created a situation wherein the opposing groups kept a constant watch over one another. If one group had ever tried to effect a change in the Holy Qur'ân the other group was there to keep them in check.
6. Protection of the Ummah from General Destruction
The Muslims became a powerful nation in a very short period and, thus, the Book they carried was saved from its enemies. During the course of history, in spite of many vicissitudes of time, defeats and occupations, Muslims were saved from complete destruction. Had the Muslims been completely destroyed by universal earthly or heavenly disasters, the Holy Qur'ân would not have remained preserved. If God intends to keep His Book alive for ever, it is obvious that He will save Muslims in the future from complete destruction. What else was the cause of the destruction of the Zoroastrian Zynd and its commentary Avista, except that the followers of this religion were first attacked by Alexander and then completely wiped out by the Parthians, thus, Scriptures given to these people were all lost, without any trace. God in His Wisdom, always protected the Muslims from general destruction and if a calamity ever visited them in one part of the world, they remained safe in another and became the means of the preservation of the Holy Book.
7. The great love:
The general love towards this Heavenly gift was another factor which assisted in its preservation. A Muslim, no matter how ignoble of character and averse to piety, will find that his heart is always full of reverence, respect and regard for the Glorious Qur'ân. These feelings are preserved in every believer in Islam, irrespective of his age and degree of knowledge and no one dares to bring about any change or alteration in the text of the Holy Book.
Another cause of the Holy Qur'ân being safe and secure is that no being has the ability to make even a single verse like the verses of the Qur'ân. A single word omitted from a Qur'ânic verse will cause it to lose its orderly arrangement, a word shifted from its original position, or exchanged with a synonym will have the same effect. The beauty of the verse will vanish, there will be no congruity left and the result will appear as if a fine silken brocade had been patched with a rough jute sack.
send it down but according to a proper and prescribed measure (15:21).
The safeguarding of the Holy Qur'ân not only means that its text should be preserved but, also, that its benefits and influence are for all times. The Almighty has, therefore, laid down in this everlasting Book, the Holy Qur'ân, some universal rules, all embracing and lasting principles, beyond the limits of which the varying circumstances of the human being can never go. It has, then, left their detailed application to be determined according to changing times and the new needs arising from this change. It has, however, commanded us not to transgress the limits prescribed by these all embracing principles, it says:
limits imposed by Allâh, indeed does injustice to himself (65:1).
One may object that Islam is a religion from a Book, something fixed and final, while the soul of humanity is marching on and human knowledge is ever increasing. This is an age of rapid scientific and technological discoveries and the Qur'ân was revealed hundreds of years ago. No dead hand should be allowed to check the progress of humanity. Who can assure us that the principles and enactments which were established during a period of time long gone still have the potential for growth and renewal? Is Islam sufficiently suitable for application to other periods with different values and circumstances?
The objection seems to be sound if the religion taught in the Book is husk and gravel, a dogma, priest-craft, symbolism and ritual, if it hinges upon stories and certain supposed events in the life of its master. Then, of course, it is not a lasting religion but a superstition and a myth. It is a fog which cannot stand in the strong rays of the sun of reality and is sure to ramify into sections. Each advancement in science, culture and knowledge will shake it and its apologists will change it into something new.
The Holy Qur'ân will not change. It is from the All-Knowing, All-Wise God (11:1), Who created the human being and Who knows what suggestions the human mind makes (50:16), Who is the Originator and Nourisher to perfection of the universe, Knower of every thing. He has prescribed guidelines in the light of which the human being is free to determine his path. These are bounds set by God and he who transgresses the bounds set by God, indeed, does wrong to his own soul (65:1); as the `word of God' and the `work of God' should prove to be in accord.
It is a fact that Islam has not given detailed, fixed rules for all incidental questions, but only those fundamental laws which do not change, as the principles of Mathematics, Physics, Algebra and Geometry. With this comprehensiveness and elasticity the Holy Qur'ân guarantees growth and renewal of its derived subsidiary laws for ages to come. The jurists of Islam have, since then, applied the Qur'ânic verses by making analogies and deductions to enable the injunctions of the Qur'ân to answer the problems which arise in the society from time to time.
The call of the Qur'ân is to examine our stored-up resources and to acquire the knowledge of its all-embracing fundamentals before we resort to a precipitate imitation of the alien and foreign theories and laws which have no historical basis in our lives and by adopting which our individuality will be lost to the point that we will become the rear of the caravan of humanity, whereas the Holy Qur'ân calls on us to be always in its van (2:143, 3:110).
Islam allows freedom of opinion and private right of judgement. It has preached democracy in religion as well as in politics. Its laws are, no doubt, unchangeable and everlasting, but so are all such laws that rule the world and keep it healthy, morally and ethically. These laws are broad enough to cover all contingencies, however, one has to draw a line between freedom and licence.
The power of thinking is a Divine gift and to think is to differ, therefore, Islam always respected difference of opinion. `Difference of opinion in my followers is a blessing of God', so says the Holy Prophet, and this approval of the Holy Prophet has opened a healthy avenue for the fair play of private judgement.
As truth is absolute; two and two never make five nor ten times ten ever make one hundred and one, so shall remain, forever, unchangeable and unalterable all those colossal and stupendous rules given in the Holy Qur'ân to govern human affairs. Adequacy can be maintained through `Ijtihâd' (exercising judgement) and a continuously progressive interpretation of the Qur'ân from time to time in accordance with the progress of human experience. All the teachings put together make the Divine guidance contained in the Holy Qur'ân adequate for the future moral and spiritual progress of the human race for all times. A saint said once:.
`I round the globe in search of heaven did roam
returned and found my heaven was here at home'.
No doubt that it is perfectly legitimate for Muslims to borrow from other circles what is in fact already theirs by right, their `straying camel'. But nothing that has its roots in agnosticism, or contrary to the Qur'ânic principles can be incorporated into its interpretation without poisoning the whole system.
Has Islam not had a shining record of science and civilization? Does the West not owe to Islam much of its scientific discoveries? In the fifth and the sixth Century A.D. the great civilization which had taken four thousand years to construct was on the verge of disintegration. The sanctions created by Christianity were working division and destruction instead of unity and order, at this critical time the Holy Qur'ân was an indispensable means to unite the whole known world of the East and the South. `From a new angle', writes H.G. Wells, `and with a fresh vigor it (the Arab mind) took up that systematic development of positive knowledge which the Greeks had begun and relinquished. If the Greek was the father, then the Arab was the foster-father of the scientific method of dealing with reality. Through the Arabs it was and not by the Latin route that the modern world received that gift of Light and Power' (The Outline of History, London, p.192).
One must study the influence and blessing of the Holy Qur'ân and appreciate the great forward leap that humanity took with its help and under its guidance and the deep abyss from the bottom of which it lifted humanity to the lofty heights of social, moral and spiritual reinforcements in every age. Through the impetus given by the Qur'ân, one of the most dynamic scientific movements in the history of exact thought began soon after the advent of Islam. This movement rapidly gained momentum and the world saw the birth of some of the greatest scientists and philosophers of all times.
`One of the most deplorable things in history', says Dr. J.W. Draper, the author of `The Intellectual Development of Europe' `is the systematic way in which European writers have contrived to put out of sight their scientific obligation towards the Arabs'.
Islamic history has never known such hateful organized persecution of thinkers and scholars as was conducted by the `Inquisition Courts'. Never even for a single moment did the Qur'ân stand in the way of knowledge, science, civilization and progress. Where ever it has found its way among cultured and progressive nations, it has shown itself in complete accord with progressive tendencies and has assisted knowledge, culture and civilizations. The Holy Qur'ân says, `Consider the flight of time. Verily, a person who is unmindful of God and higher values of this life is pursuing a losing bargain. Different, however, is the case of those who believe (in the Qur'ân) and, accordingly, do deeds of righteousness and who exhort one another to accept and preach the truth and to abide by it with patience and perseverance (103:1-3). Thus the passage of time has no adverse effect on the Qur'ân and its teachings.
It is because of the everlasting character of the Holy Qur'ân that the great prophecy was made that the Qur'ân will, for all times, remain safe against all attempts to destroy it and from every kind of corruption (15:9) and the selection of Arabic, which is a living language, as a vehicle for the last and everlasting Book was made.
One index of modern progress is the unprecedented divorce rate, over emphasis on sex, liquor traffic, overwhelmed mental institutions due to the ever increasing number of nervous disorder problems, criminal delinquency among teens which is reaching new heights each year, boredom, insecurity, disturbed family life and tension among vast multitudes even among those who apparently have every thing to make life worthwhile. This frame of life of the modern age needs, for its remedy, a sense of direction, a deep satisfying assurance of the meaning, purpose and aim of life itself.
Social problems, national and international, are often just personal problems writ large. The race and color problem begins simply where one human being despises another. Employer-labor deadlocks are born of injustice or resentment in a lot of individual personal attitudes. International frictions start out as the greed of a few leaders or the personal harbored spite of many separate human beings. Hatred starts with individuals who hate, thus, the worries of society itself are, first of all, very personal problems of the people. What have science and technology done for the solution of such problems of the people? Dilemmas such as those of finance and wrong distribution of wealth are complex, knotty questions demanding abolition of interest, free enterprise, distribution of wealth after a generation and a sanction through which, at least, within 40 years, all the wealth of the over-privileged people must go to the underprivileged. These circumstances demand expert, solid thinking and cool planning according to the Qur'ân which is a tremendously constructive force in such perplexing conditions. We need smart people using their intelligence in an atmosphere made creative, sympathetic, good and Godly by the Qur'ân. Name any problem of the modern age for which there is no remedy in the Holy Qur'ân. Yes, the whole world is in a process of evolution. But all is not well with the world, it is a pattern of light and shadows, parts of which are pleasant, some definitely otherwise. However, it is not a case of `take it or leave it' we simply have to take it because we are here and we are quite capable of improving the art of living.
The real question is whether the human being remains dominated by his animal appetite or if he controls and keeps it in check. Has he by the scientific progress gained a capacity to rise above those blind passions or is he still a mere plaything in the hands of satan and his unruly passions? If he is still no better than a mere slave to them then he is far from having achieved any real progress or advancement or `Falâh' for which the Qur'ân was revealed. This is, indeed, a very disturbing picture of today's world. But still there is one redeeming factor, that is the Qur'ân.
It is obvious that the great merit of something is that it should fulfill the purpose for which it is fashioned and the true purpose of a Heavenly Book, and then of the Qur'ân, is to rescue humanity from a sinful life and bestow a pure life. This is the true salvation and the true `Falâh', as the Holy Qur'ân says:
And he, indeed, is ruined who corrupts it' (91:9,10).
Another purpose of the Qur'ân is to bestow such perfect understanding as if one can see God Who is the fountainhead of all good and joy. Love and understanding are the roots of salvation and `Falâh', they are the paradise on entering which all fatigue, bitterness, pain and torment is removed. Through them a person is drawn to God Who is hidden behind the beyond and He manifests Himself and informs of His existence by the affirmation `I am present'.
Of what use is a Book which cannot clean and purify a person, bestow such pure and perfect understanding as should make one hate sins, cut asunder the sinful ego, or draw one towards God? What should a seeker after truth do with a Book which does not fill these needs? It is not the Holy Qur'ân's chief purpose to teach people subjects of secular study and to instruct them in worldly instructions, these things are only the by-products of its teachings and no present or previous Book except the Holy Qur'ân possesses this quality. Just as it is not possible that we should be able to see without eyes, in the same way it is not possible that we should be able to behold the countenance of God without the Qur'ân. It contains a large quantity of the water of life. The God, presently, is not the one who is believed in on the basis of tales and stories and who resembles a dead being; it is useless to believe in such a God. If a person follows the Holy Qur'ân truly, he would see God in this very life. It guides one towards God through reason, experience and heavenly signs in a very easy manner. A believer who acts upon its teachings does not merely contemplate like a philosopher that there ought to be a Creator of the wonderful universe but he acquires a personal insight. Diverse types of blessings descend upon him and he experiences the commandments and doctrines as realities and certainties through visions and revelation.
Every century starts a new world, therefore, the God of the Holy Qur'ân manifests new signs for each new world. At the beginning of every century God raises a Reformer as the Holy Prophet said, `Surely God will raise for the good of this community (of Muslims), at the commencement of every century one who will reform their religion' (AD. 36:1) i.e. a Mujaddid, to shed new light on the great religious truths of Islam under new circumstances. God Almighty will speak to him face to face, as is said in the Holy Qur'ân, `Behold! As for those who say, "Our Nourisher to Perfection is God" and then remain steadfast and follow the straight path, the angels will descend upon them saying, "Have no fear nor grieve, rather, rejoice at the glad tidings of receiving the gardens of Paradise which you had been promised. We are your Patrons in the present life and in the Hereafter"' (41:30,31). Again the Holy Qur'ân says,
And from the time of the revelation of the Qur'ân there have appeared, in every century, such men of God. On the score of such heavenly and fresh signs, the Holy Qur'ân has not been put to shame in any age. The life and blessings which were initially cultivated by Islam will remain present till the end of the world for the promotion and welfare of mankind. Is there any other Book which can produce such testimony? A living Book has always the hand of the living God at its back and such a Book is the Holy Qur'ân.
Yes the Holy Qur'ân was revealed hundreds of years ago. Today we live in a modern scientific world, but the old serpent is still alive and the ancient problems of mankind are still present, requiring a solution. Although scientific advances and inventions have provided many conveniences and lightened the human being's work, yet they have not solved the ethical and spiritual problems of the human being. When has the need ever been so vital to learn how to live unitedly, to know how to forge strong and loving family ties, to hear a powerful word of peace in a world of military attacks and nuclear nightmares, to have wholesome food, drinks and proper dress and to know where one can obtain deliverance from sin and hear the sweet voice of God? The Qur'ân tells us how such vital needs can be satisfied. The Holy Qur'ân also focuses on the very purpose of life and the ways and means to acquire it. It also provides satisfying answers to such questions as, `Where did life come from? Why am I here? What is the purpose of my life? What does the future hold? What are the physical, moral and spiritual conditions of the human being?' The Qur'ân also provides the answers to questions about life after death and the sources of knowledge. Are such questions obsolete and their answers of no use or can we find their satisfactory answers in any other place?
Though the Holy Qur'ân gives the solution of all such problems of humanity, yet it is wonderfully laconic and concise. It has condensed the whole of its teaching in only about 1500 roots of Arabic and, thus, is a miracle in its diction and style. It is about two thirds the length of the New Testament.
Professor Hooking of Harvard University writes in his book `The Spirit of World Policies' `Can Islam produce fresh thinking, independent laws and relevant statutes to fit the new needs raised by modern society? Yes, and more, Islam offers humanity greater possibilities for advance than others can. In reality Islamic Shariah contains all the ingredients needed.'
In 1951 the Paris College of Law devoted a week to the study of the Islamic Canon Law. They called in experts from countries around the world. The head of the Parisian Languages Society chaired the conference and summed up at the end thus, `Whatever our earlier ideas, about Islamic law and its rigidity or incompetence in documenting transactions we have been compelled to revise them. Let me sum up the new insight, new I think to most of us, the conference has given us in this week devoted particularly to the Islamic Canon Law. We saw in it a depth of rock-bottom principle and of particularized care which embraces mankind in its universality and is, thus, able to give an answer to all the emergencies and events of this age. In our final communique we say, "Islam's Canon Law should be made one of the formalized elements of all new international legislation to meet present day conditions, since it possesses a legal treasure of stable universal values and pronouncements to cope with the exigencies imposed by the new forums of living arising in the modern environment".'
About the vitality of Islam Bernard Shaw (1856-1950 A.D.) observes as follows: `I have always held the religion of Muhammad in the highest estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilation capability to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him - the wonderful man - in my opinion far from being Anti-Christ, he must be called a saviour of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving the problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness. I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be accepted by Europe of today'. Bernard Shaw was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature.
Noah (to adopt), and which We have revealed to you, and it is
that (same faith) which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses,
Jesus, so keep the faith and do not differ in it. (He
ordains you) to establish obedience (to Allâh)
and not to be divided (into sects) therein.
and in that which had been revealed before you (2:4).
The Qu'rân, therefore, not only recognizes the truth of all the previous Divine Books and Prophets, but also makes it obligatory for Muslims to believe in the Divine origin of their teachings and thus it takes an effective step to promote peace and harmony with the followers of other religions. The Qu'rân does not, however, mention all the Prophets by their names as it says:
some of them whom We have mentioned to you and of them there
are many whom We have not mentioned to you (40:78).
Thus, the Qu'rân requires not only a belief in Divine revelation to the Prophet of Islam, but belief in Divine revelation to all the Prophets sent to all nations of the world in all times. This is one of the matters relating to faith (Îmân) and a fundamental principle of Islam. This broad doctrine is taught repeatedly in the Qu'rân (3:184; 13:4).
Some opponents of the Qu'rân say that Muhammad wrote the Qu'rân or had it written as an imitation of the Bible or other Scriptures. This attitude is as thoughtless as saying that Jesus (peace be upon him) himself duped his contemporaries by drawing inspiration from the Hebrew Scriptures or of Buddha during his preaching. The whole of Matthew's Gospel is based on the continuation of the Old Testament and Talmud. These fault finders are blind to the fact that the source of all Divine Scriptures is the same God.
Islam is not a new faith founded by the Prophet Muhammad but it is the same religion which was taught by all the Prophets, from Adam to Jesus (may Allâh be pleased with all of them) (cf.. 22:78), as we are commanded in the Holy Qu'rân:
in that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ismâîl and Isaac and
Jacob and his children and in that which was given to Moses and
Jesus and to all other Prophets from their Lord. We make no
distinction between anyone of them (in believing them)
and to Him alone do we submit' (3:84).
and, as the Book says, it is the the practice of the Creator that:
This is the major reason given by God to reveal His Book and His word through the channel of His Prophet. The Arabs questioned the necessity of a new Book in the presence of so many revealed religious and Divine Scriptures. The Qur'ân itself gives another reasons which necessitated its revelation.
1. The Qur'ân says:
2. All the previous Prophets brought certain laws of life from God, but most of these teachings had been lost owing to the vicissitudes of time. The Holy Qur'ân came and found all their Scriptures either extinct or corrupted by human interpolation. It renewed the old teachings and restored them to their original forms.
explain to the people things over which they differ (among themselves),
who would believe (in it) (16:64).
3. The revelation of the Holy Qur'ân is in fulfillment of the prophecies of previous Scriptures (for detailed discussion on this subject see Fasl al-Khitâb by Nooruddîn and Mîthâq al-Nabiyyîn by Abdul Haq Widyârthy). We read:
And (now) when a great Messenger (Muhammad) has come to them
from Allâh confirming that (Scripture) which is with them, a party
of those who were given the Scripture cast away the Book of
Allâh behind their backs, as if they know it not (2:101).
4. The prophetic eyes of the previous Messengers foresaw that their teachings were for their particular nations and periods and that they would later suffer in purity, and that coming generations would naturally need some new and complete revelation from on High. So all of them spoke of the coming Messenger and no one among them declared that his Message was the last, complete or universal, and that it would neither disappear nor suffer from human tampering. Only the Qur'ân makes this claim. The Holy Qur'ân came with an universal mission. It repeatedly speaks of the Holy Prophet of Islam, as having been sent., as a Messenger to all humanity in the earliest as well as the latter revelations (34:28; 25:1; 21:107; 2:185). The all comprehensiveness of the Lordship of God in the very first words of the Qur'ân is in consonance with the cosmopolitan nature of the Book. The Holy Qur'ân says that God is the Nourisher to perfection of the whole world. He would not have given any special status to any person or group. The message of the Holy Qur'ân is for all human beings who stand at par under the obligation to fulfill the Divine will, and are judged on an universal scale of justice which is absolute for all mankind.
The universality of the Qur'ânic mission arises also from its appeal to all mankind, irrespective of descent, race, colour or cultural environment. It appeals exclusively to our reason and hence does not postulate any dogma that could be accepted on the basis of blind faith. It is the exponent of that Divine system that is impressed on the human being's nature and is the religion of every human child that is born. We read:
Equality, fraternity and liberty are fundamental to the teaching of the Qur'ân. It is only through God, Creator, Sustainer, Nourisher to perfection of all and His Word, the Qur'ân, that we shall find the road to the unification of humanity, to the brotherhood of man which knows no boundaries of colour, caste, country, language and rank. Far from being threatened by any intellectual challenge from modern civilization, the Holy Qur'ân itself might be said to constitute a serious challenge to the declining standards and values and the increasing confusion of the world.
Another factor from which the universality of the Qur'ânic mission arises is that the Holy Qur'ân is very easy to understand and to follow. God says in this Book:
and to understand, follow and remember (54:40).
This Book is in a language that is simple and clear. It uses only about 1500 roots of Arabic. Its language, unlike Latin, old Greek or Sanskrit, is spoken and understood by millions of people.
5. Another important object of the Holy Qur'ân is epitomized in the following verse,
This verse mentions four basic objects behind the revelation of the Holy Qur'ân,
a) To convey the signs and Messages of God.
b) To give the world a Scripture containing perfect and everlasting Law.
c) To explain the wisdom underlying these laws.
d) To lay down principles and rules of conduct which would bring about complete spiritual transformation in the lives of people, and would make its true followers a great and powerful nation, fit to lead the whole world.
These were the four objects for which Abraham prayed: `Our Lord! Do raise among them a great Messenger from among themselves, who may recite to them Your Messages and teach them the Book and Wisdom, and may purify them. You, indeed, You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.' (2:129), and there is no other Book in the whole world which can fulfill these four objects.
The Holy Qur'ân is not a book for dreamers and visionaries who live in Utopia, entirely divorced from the hard facts and realities of life. It is a practical system which guides us about what things to eat, how to clothe, how to wash, pray and fast. It also guides us in matters of divorce, marriage, sexuality, menstruation and hygiene. It prescribes methods of government, rules of inheritance and economics and tells us how, where, and how much to spend. There is no aspect of human life for which it has not laid down practical guidelines (for subject references see Index). It has been practised for centuries with great success and to the great astonishment of history. The Qur'ân informs us that true religions are neither theoretical nor formal, rather they are practical.
(to pure faith), turning away from all that is false. (And follow) the Faith
of Allâh to suit the requirements of which He has made the nature of
mankind. There can be no change in the nature (of creation) which
Allâh has made. That is the right and most perfect Faith (30:30).
The Holy Qur'ân is the mirror of the laws of nature and their true reflection. According to the Qur'ân, Islam is a natural religion and every human being possesses it by birth, which it calls Dîn-al-Fitrah (30:30), `natural religion or original religion'. Qur'ânic teachings are thus easy and well suited to human requirements, needs and aspirations and are meant for the development of the innate faculties of the human being to give him a sane steadfastness against the inevitable vicissitudes of life. The faith it teaches is the voice of human nature at the deepest and most profound level of its psychological make up. To discover Islam it is necessary to delve deeply into one's nature, so it is said:
So it was said by the Holy Prophet: `To understand one's Lord one must understand one's own self.' The Holy Qur'ân and the great phenomena of nature are twin manifestations of the Divine act. For the Holy Qur'ân the natural world in its totality is a vast fabric into which the signs of God are woven. It is significant that the Arabic word Ayât meaning signs is the same word that is used for the verses of the Qur'ân.
The Qur'ân does not teach us the inheritance of sin. How can it be that by the offense of one person, the whole humanity would become condemned? Each one has to bear his own burden (6:164; 17:15; 35:18; 39:2).
only against himself (4:111).
Sin is not in the human being's nature but only an individual's acquisition after birth. Just as it is acquired, it can be purged off. Peace be on Muhammad who raised the level of humanity to the highest zenith, saying that every human being is born with a clean slate and with perfect freedom of action. He also established the principle that every human being is his own redeemer and author of his own actions and as such solely responsible for his deeds; there is nothing predestined. This was the message of salvation and Falâh which gave the human being a new confidence as master of his own destiny. He could apply himself with renewed vigour, confidence and determination to shape his own life in this world and in the Hereafter.
The doctrine of forgiveness of sins by God is one of the most bounteous gifts of the Prophet of Islam to mankind. Sins are temporary deviations from the right path brought about by ignorance, mistake or forgetfulness, but the human being's deeper desire - his Nafs Lawwâma (- self accusing spirit) regrets his mistake and seeks pardon from God with a contrite heart. To be broken in spirit by a sense of guilt and to seek forgiveness from God shows the innate goodness of human nature. It is wrong to say that God cannot forgive anyone's sin. God is not just a judge who cannot forgive, rather He is the Master. The Master's actions are not to be measured by mere justice.
forgiveness of Allâh, will find Allâh Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful (4:110).
This Gospel of forgiveness of sins and of hope was a revolutionary message to despondent humanity condemned for ever by the guilt of original sin, reincarnation and past misdeeds. God's magnanimity to those who turn to Him for forgiveness is endless. How to acquire what our birthright gives us, avoid the degradation which our error in judgment or wrong discretion creates in us and get Falâh are clearly laid down in the pages of the Holy Qur'ân. In short, the Holy Qur'ân does not look upon mankind as a fallen hopeless creature, but as a perfect person capable of achieving the highest levels of righteousness.
come to you from your Lord (4:174).
Reason is a gift of God and it must be utilized to the full. We are not supposed to accept any thing at the expense of better judgement. Faith should not be, as the Holy Qur'ân says, a burden that we cannot intelligently bear (2:286). It is because of this fact that the Holy Book is neither dogmatic nor assertive. When it inculcates any principle or contradicts any doctrine it puts forth logical reasons to substantiate its assertions and sets forth its tenets in a way that appeal most readily to our intelligence. It repels with bright reasoning all evils that afflict people's doctrines, actions, words and works. In the course of its reasoning, physics, medicine, astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, logic, eloquence and the method of debate, all are brought into play in a most appropriate, easy and simple way. Compulsion is of no avail when logic and reason begin to rule the world. The Holy Book says the same when it lays down a golden principle in the matter of preaching its teachings. It says:
obviously distinguished from the way of error. Now he that shall reject
the transgressor and accepts Allâh (let such know that he) has laid hold
of a support firm and strong which knows no breaking (2:256).
Thus, there is a categorical prohibition of coercion in any form that pertains to the contents of religious laws, to our attitude towards the object of our worship and everything that pertains to Faith. Forcible conversion is, under all circumstances, null and void and any attempt at forcing a person to accept Islam is a grievous sin. For this reason, the Qur'ân equates Faith with light and disbelief with darkness. The contrast is brought out to the best advantage in verses 24:35-46. These verses also cite reasons as to why force should not be used for this purpose. If the path has been clearly reasoned out and found to be the correct, there would be no point in resorting to compulsion for its acceptance. We often read verses like 27:92; 41:46 or the following:
wishes (it) believe (in it) and let him who wishes
(otherwise) disbelieve (in it).' (18:29)
The logic of the principle lies in the fact that there should be reasoning with every injunction. We belong to an intellectual order and cannot believe in any thing which does not come within the scope of our perception or experience, or is unable to stand the test of logic and science. If a book or a truth claims to come from God, let it prove its claim by itself and advocate its own case. Why should it rely on the advocacy, ingen