Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Qur'an: a Scripture that is to be Examined in aFull Manner

“So [know that] Allah is the exalted, King, the Ultimate reality. And be not in haste with the Qur’an while it is coming to you. And say “O My Lord, increase my knowledge.” [Qur’an 20:114]

The Qur’an [the word itself being a verbal noun, denoting something that is put together piece by piece, and part by part] is a Divine revelation, given to the Prophet Muhammad over a twenty-three year period. It is arguably the most widely read, memorized, and studied religious text in the world. Often, we assert that the Qur’an is ever relevant, examining its contents in light of current realities, one could make a mistake in saying it came in our own period, rather than fourteen centuries ago!

The verse above, which also adorns one of the walls outside at Toledo Masjid Al-Islam, is a striking example of that situation. God is the one who is above and beyond any of our limiting conceptualizations. He is that ‘ultimate reality’ [or Al-Haqq, as the original Arabic wording states] which has ‘always’ existed, that has no beginning nor ending. This Divine source of truth and light sends down to mankind guidance in the form of scripture, prophets and messengers. The verse is telling us, via the lips and mouth of God’s messenger and Last Prophet [Muhammad, peace and blessings be on him] that the process of revelation should not be sought after in a hurried fashion. It is also telling us that random quotes and sentences, citing them in order to win arguments or to make points, is inappropriate when dealing with most things, but especially so with the words of God! Thus, we read “And be not in haste…and say: “O My Lord, increase my knowledge.”

The latter supplication is a prayer that has become a part of the Muslim liturgy and tradition. It decorates the entrances to universities, classrooms and even Mosques. Surely, it is understandable that this has occurred. Yet, as we can see, its focus is not limited to secular knowledge. Indeed, we could easily apply the message of the entire verse to our interactions with others, other religions, politicians and their statements, our friends and foes alike. Anyone can take a random quote or statement and apply some meaning not intended by the speaker, and this has happened in many quarters with the Qur’an itself! Yet, God wants us to see the entire picture, to make decisions and judgments based on complete information, rather than one piece of something. This style of presentation is found throughout the Qur’an. Another verse that is relevant is “O believers! When a ‘Faasiq’ {an immoral person who breaks the rules of normal behavior] comes to you with information, investigate it before acting upon it, lest you harm a people unknowingly and afterwards have regrets. [Q 49:6]

Let us take this Qur’an in a full way, even for those not believing in it. At least know the whole story.

[ Shamsuddin Waheed is Imam at Toledo Masjid Al-Islam, 722 East Bancroft street, Toledo Ohio 43604.]

1 comment:

Shamsuddin Waheed said...

My apologizes for the picture coming out in a distorted fashion. It is of the verse in question, decorating the street side of our Masjid. Some of our readers can see this picture on facebook, and floating around elsewhere on the Internet as well.