“The Holy Quran – Eternal Guidance Suited to All times and Climes
Al-Azhar Magazine – January 1971
Quran correctly interprets life, guides humanity in the right path and keeps the torch of progress burning ever-fresh and bright through all ages to come. When such a complete and well formulated Divine constitution guarantees preservation of its original purity there will be no longer be need for further revelation. The Holy Quran speaks clearly on this point in the following verses:
لٓمٓ (١) ذَٲلِكَ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبُ لَا رَيۡبَۛ فِيهِۛ هُدً۬ى لِّلۡمُتَّقِينَ (
It means: “Alif, Lam, Mim. This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance into those who ward off evil.” (2:1-2)
إِنَّ هَـٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ يَہۡدِى لِلَّتِى هِىَ أَقۡوَمُ وَيُبَشِّرُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَعۡمَلُونَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ أَنَّ لَهُمۡ أَجۡرً۬ا كَبِيرً۬ا
It means: “Lo! This Quran guideth unto that which is straightest and giveth tidings unto the believers who do good works that theirs will be a great reward” (17:9)
The Holy Quran is the first source of Islam and the fountain – head of its laws. It contains the fundamentals of the law of nature which governs man. The Quran and original nature are in perfect harmony because the true religion is denied in the clear verses of Quran as the Fitrat or Nature of God, the Quran says:
فَأَقِمۡ وَجۡهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفً۬اۚ فِطۡرَتَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِى فَطَرَ ٱلنَّاسَ عَلَيۡہَاۚ لَا تَبۡدِيلَ لِخَلۡقِ ٱللَّهِۚ ذَٲلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمُ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ
It means: “So set thy purpose for religion as a man by nature upright- the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is not altering (the laws of) Allah’s creation. That is the right religion, but most men know not.” (30:30)
If any conflict between Quran and Nature appears, it is not because of the conflict is real but because human study of Nature and if the Holy Quran is not perfect. Some people try to interpret Quran to adjust it with the Human interpretation of Nature. They claim that the knowledge of man is final and unfailing. This attitude definitely indicates the weakness of faith in the revelation of God.
The Holy Quran directly revealed from the Creator of Fitrat, and Will of God made manifest in His Creation. So the Quran would lead to discoveries of the secrets of Nature and a careful study will help the proper interpretation and understanding of the Quran. Whenever any contradiction between human knowledge and the Holy Quran arises, the human interpretation of Nature must be rejected as mistaken. As human knowledge increases the Quran unfolds itself gradually like flower leaf.
Quran is the Divine Guidance to all mankind. The guidance is alike for all without distinction of race, time, place, or color. It calls this Universal guidance Islam. It means complete and unqualified submission to God. The entire teachingof the Quran is based on this Cardinal principle. The Quran is not only laid down the law of relation of man to God but it also regulated the proper relation between man and his fellow beings. Besides the fundamental principles of faith and practical devotions, Quran distinctly defined the rules of transactions, punishments, moralities and political, social and economical systems.
It has been revealed to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) in parts of different times and occasions during a period of twenty-three years. The Quran was divided into thirty parts and one hundred and fourteen chapters. Sometimes a single verse, sometimes a few verses together and other times a complete chapter was revealed. The arrangement of the chapters and the order of the verses were made under the direction of the Prophet himself. All the chapters of the Quran had been recorded in writing before the death of the Prophet, and many Muslims had committed the whole Quran to memory in his life time.
The arrangement of chapters and parts and eves putting notations and punctuations-as it now-was done under the direct guidance and supervision of the Prophet. During the Caliphate of the third Caliph Usman, when the copies if the text of the Holy Quran were made in different parts if the Caliphate, apprehending that there may be dispute as to the accuracy and authenticity of these copies, verified them and made several authenticated copies of the Holy Quran based on Abu Bakr’s (the first Caliph) collection and the testimony of those who had the whole Quran by heart, and distributed these copies in different parts of his Caliphate.
The original copies of Usman have been very carefully preserved and millions of copies are produced to all parts of the world exactly in the form and order of those copies, which is regarded as the arrangement of the Prophet himself. The Divine guarantee of preserving the purity of the Holy Quran has survived the test over fourteen hundred years and civilization has reached a stage when it can be safely presumed that no future interpretation is possible.
The Holy Quran is the last of all revealed Books from God to the guidance of mankind. Humanity has been receiving guidance from God directly, through revelation received by the prophets, since the birth of man on this earth. The office of Prophet hood was made final with the completion of revelations of the Holy Quran. The Quran calls people to believe not only in the Prophet hood of Muhammed (peace be upon him) and the revelation of the Quran but it enjoins the belief in previous revelations and prophets. Thus the belief in previous revelations and prophets is a fundamental of the Quranic call. Being the last revealed Book, the Quran contains universal and eternal truths previously revealed to mankind at various stage of its development.
It is the original source of Islamic theology, Jurisprudence culture and civilization. The Quran has stressed the universality of Divine guidance and it intended to unite mankind, not to divide them:
وَلَقَدۡ ضَرَبۡنَا لِلنَّاسِ فِى هَـٰذَا ٱلۡقُرۡءَانِ مِن كُلِّ مَثَلٍ۬ لَّعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ (٢٧) قُرۡءَانًا عَرَبِيًّا غَيۡرَ ذِى عِوَجٍ۬ لَّعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَّقُونَ (٢٨)
It means: “And Verily We have coined for mankind in this Quran all kinds of similitude, that haply they may reflect; a Quran in Arabic, containing no crookedness, that haply they may ward off (evil)”. (39:27-28)
The purpose of studying the Quran must be seeking knowledge and practical guidance in the aspects of life. The knowledge of Arabic language and literature is the key to the proper understanding and assimilation of the message of the Quran. But the translations and commentaries of the Quran, which are now available in different languages, will help, only to acquire some general knowledge of Arabic and life of the Prophet who was the practical example and the interpreter of the Quran.
وَأَنزَلۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ ٱلذِّڪۡرَ لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيۡہِمۡ وَلَعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
It means: “And We have revealed unto them the Remembrance that thou must explain to mankind that which hath been revealed for them and that haply they may reflect”. (16:44)
The Holy Quran is a composite whole and not a collection of unrelated fragments. Each verse, each chapter must, therefore, be studied with reference to the whole. The whys and wherefores of selection and use of particular word or expression for expressing a particular idea should be carefully ascertained and the greatest care and emphasis should be given to realize import of choice of divine attributes. Each verse must be read with reference to the context and verses immediately preceding and following it without losing significance of it sequence with its preceding verses. The Holy Quran is basically addressed to intelligent understanding and it invites man to look at everything in the universe and to reflect upon it carefully.The knowledge of the Holy Quran is the highest knowledge and to acquire this calm and quite surrounding, purity of faith and the highest concentration of the mind are necessary prerequisites. The following verses of the Quran give guidance to the purpose and the method of studying it:
وَإِذَا قُرِئَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ فَٱسۡتَمِعُواْ لَهُ ۥ وَأَنصِتُواْ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُرۡحَمُونَ
It means: “And when the Quran is recited, give ear to it and pay heed that ye may obtain mercy”. (7:204)
هُوَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن طِينٍ۬ ثُمَّ قَضَىٰٓ أَجَلاً۬ۖ وَأَجَلٌ۬ مُّسَمًّى عِندَهُ ۥۖ ثُمَّ أَنتُمۡ تَمۡتَرُونَ
It means: “They only are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when the revelations of Allah are recited unto them the increase their faith, and who trust in their Lord”. (6:2)
فَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانَ أَمۡ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقۡفَالُهَآ
It means: “Will they then not meditate on the Quran or are there locks on the hearts?” (47:24)
With a view to understanding the significances of the Holy Quran we should remember the following points:
– The original text of the Quran is still preserved in all its original language word by word. Records of revelation and order of revelation of the Holy Quran were to faithfully made that even today one can say with precision the actual time and place of revelation of each verse.
– The Quran was received by its followers through authentic and successive transfer from generation to another in writing and by heart.
– The language of the Quran is in living Arabic so that it can be safely presumed that no interpolation or change is possible. The case is not so with regard to old and extinct languages.
– The text of the Quran is not mixed with the traditions of the Prophet or with commentaries of the interpreters. So there is no fear of mixing the words of God with human interpretation. The Quran as a living miracle of Islam and the Prophet has retained its purity without the least change, for the last one thousand and four hundred years:
إِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا ٱلذِّكۡرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ ۥ لَحَـٰفِظُونَ
It means: “Lo! We even We, reveal the Reminder and Lo! We verily are its Guardian”. (15:9)