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QUR'AN A GENERAL INTRODUCTION
by the late Dr. Haider Hussain Shamsi
al-Qur'an is the Last Testament of God, Allah (swt). It is the Word of Allah (swt) revealed to Man through The Last Prophet, the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed (sawa). Qur'an is the Holy Book of Islam, revered with full enthusiasm by all sects of the Faith, in all lands, throughout time, and with no reduction in its status from revelation to modem times. Muslims have derived inspiration from it, quoted from it to strengthen their statements, enhance their language of presentation, governed their spiritual and material lives, and explained the physical and metaphysical aspects of Life through it. The language of the Qur'an is Classical Arabic, which is simple, eloquent, concise, precise and all encompassing. It was collected by the faithful right from the start and was written down on materials available to them at that time. Its compilation occurred during the life of the Prophet himself, since he was the one receiving the wahyee and the only one who knew which portion of the revelation belonged to which chapter. It is popularly known that the Qur'an we know today was compiled by Uthman (ra). The reality is that the only version presented to the Ummah and published in this form was adopted during his caliphate. There are no editions, revisions or other versions of it. Its translations, interpretations and commentaries are available in almost all languages and found in the homes of over one billion faithful throughout the world. Right from the beginning, it is preserved and presented in its entirety, in its intact form, unaltered in any way, and with promise by Allah (swt) to protect its contents from Man's hands till the end of Time.
The Qur'an is not a narrative story book, yet it has stories illustrating the conducts of bygone people and deriving lessons for mankind for current times and for the future. It is not a book of history, yet there are accounts of the times from Adam (as) to Mohammed (sawa) comparing and contrasting the development of human intelligence for guidance for nations present and future. It is not a book of poetry, yet the language has a poetical rhyme and balance in it, making it a musical treatise. It is not an encyclopedia, yet it claims to contain all that relates to "wet and dry" in the universe. The compact content of each verse can be expanded to volumes of interpretation, an exercise undertaken by scholars of Islam, and the non-Muslim throughout history.
The Book has been studied intensely in an attempt to obtain its maximum value by the Muslim scholars, and scrutinized intensely by the non-Muslim scholars to find fault in its references or contents or-flow. As the scholars delved deeper into its contents, their bias evaporated. The Muslim scholars rose to new heights of wisdom, and some non-Muslims became enlightened to embrace the true religion, Islam, the religion favored by Allah (swt).
The language of Qur'an is Arabic, yet it is so simple and sweet that even the children of non-Arabic origin learn to read it quickly and even memories its entire contents at tender ages. A small verse may convey a random meaning in its superficial context, yet it may allude to volumes of inspiration by those with wisdom who could ponder over its depths. In fact the Qur'an repeatedly encourages the reader to ponder, and explore the deeper depths of its meanings.
Although the Qur'anic themes are generally derived from Middle Eastern history, especially that connected with the progeny of Ibrahim (as) and the Jewish people, their application is universal. It is claimed by Allah (swt) in the Qur'an that there are no people in the universe that have not received His Message through specially appointed messengers throughout
The revelation of the Qur'an to Mohammed (sawa) is a miracle of Allah (swt). The wisdom of the Word is so stupendous that it cannot be created by any human intelligence, and least of all, its revelation to Mohammed (sawa) who attended no worldly university or school of his time. The Prophet of Islam established his trustworthiness amongst a brutal society by his personality and conduct. The Word was revealed through the mediating Archangel Jibrael in the form of Wahyee. The sayings of Mohammed (sawa) are not part of the Qur'an. His sayings are called Traditions or Ahadith. In fact the Qur'an claims that the Prophet of Islam does not say any thing or do any act that is in contradiction to the Word of Allah (swt).
The Qur'an is not a collection of lectures or sermons, but its style is authoritative, unwavering, firm and stem. There are indications for forgiveness to those who admit fault and are prepared to amend their ways, and painful punishment to those who deny or defy the Divine Orders. The Divine Orders are the Laws of Allah (swt) for the Muslim community, however the Qur'an is not a book of religious jurisprudence. Certain items are not self explanatory and require careful interpretation. This was done by the Prophet himself during his life, and before his departure from this world, he told his Ummah that if he were considered to be the City of Knowledge, then Ali (as) could be considered as the gateway to it. And at another occasion he said that he was leaving two things for his Ummah for guidance, one was the Qur'an and the other his Ahle Bayat (as), "follow them and you will not go wrong". Thus the explanation to some of the orders are obtained from the
lives and conduct of the Imams, and in the absence of the Twelfth Imam (al Mahdi), his representative (the Marja'e Taqleed).
As the Qur'an is the Word of the Creator Himself, we are instructed to handle it with respect, and be clean. As we are also instructed to read it at all times to obtain guidance and instructions for piety, it implies that the faithful shall remain clean at all times.
Cleanliness makes one aware of ones responsibility to oneself, and to those with whom one interacts at all times. Purity of conduct for personal and societal benefit in this life, and purity of the soul for the eternal life are the goals of these instructions.
We are also instructed on how to read it. Extreme care must be taken in phonetics, pronunciation, delivery of the words, and appropriate areas for pauses and stops. The word Qur'an does not mean The Book, rather the particular way for the recitation of the Word. There are several ways the Word is referred to by the Author Himself, and the word Qur'an is only one of these names.
Other contents of the Qur'an are educational and informational in nature. Investigators have devised methodology to approach this Book. Voluminous literature is available on how to approach the Word of Allah (swt). In fact the volumes on methodology and interpretations far exceeds the actual text of the Qur'an. Similarly, there are books written on the scientific discourses in the Book. The devotee has an ocean of wisdom to draw from, and why not, for it comes from the One who knows all and is the Creator of it all, and the Author of it all. To develop a passion for it and to dissolve in it is only to emerge as a soul satisfied with the glimpses of Divinity.
THEMES OF THE QUR'AN
The Doctrine of the Unity of God :
He is the Universal God, the Creator of the Entire Universe
He is indivisible, and has no partners, parents or progeny
All praises belong to Him alone
Belief in other created Spiritual Beings :
Believe in Angels, the Devil and Jinns
Believe in Spirit and the Soul
Reasons for Creation :
Exposition of a "Hidden Treasure"
He created the Laws of Nature
He created Time
He created the Universe with all that is in it with a purpose
The Creation of Man:
Elite of the Order of Creation
His Representative on Earth
Granted Intelligence to choose and plot his course of action
Guidance for Man on Earth:
The Prophets and The Book
The Imams and the Saints
The Pious and Rightly Guided Rulers
The Learned Fellow Human Beings
The Endowed Intelligence and the Power of Discretion
The Destiny of Man:
The Book and The Balance
The End of Time
The Day of Judgement
Discipline of Mankind:
Appropriate mode and etiquette for Worship
Total Submission to Allah(swt),the Prophet,and The Book
Washing, Bathing, and Ablution as prescribed
Eating and Drinking only the wholesome foods and drinks
Marriage and procreation
Divorce and Inheritance
Adequate rest after work for body and mind
Respect and Brotherhood
Tolerance and Interdependence
Observance of the Laws of the Society
Avoidance of Exploitation of Fellow Human Beings
Avoidance of Waste
(Excerpts from a treatise, " Islam, the monotheistic faith "
by the late Dr. Syed Haider Hussain Shamsi, the co-founder of Al-Huda Foundation.
Please recite a sura fateha for his eisale sawab).
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