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Article appeared Friday, June 28th, 2019 in The News Today, Bangladesh

The Revelation (576) yousuf mahbubul Islam, PhD


Muslims all over the world claim the Qur’an to be the Word of God – a guidance manual
for mankind revealed through His Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Given this fact, in modern
times, in what ways do Muslims use the Qur’an? What value do we give God’s Words?
Before considering answers to these questions, let us consider how other literature is
normally used. We have both non-fiction and fiction, including newspapers, scientific
writing, textbooks, novels and also product manuals made available by manufacturers.
How are these different types of literature read or used? Are any of these read without a
desire to know or derive the relevant meanings? Why do we, in fact, read any piece of
literature? For example, when we read newspapers, one may look for facts and reasons
behind the reported events. When reading scientific text, one may think of how findings
apply to human life or whether further research is necessary. And how do we consult
product manuals? One may have questions on the use of a product or for trouble
shooting purposes. Each piece of writing is utilized in its own relevant and meaningful
way.

Needless to ask, is any literature simply memorized and recited without the need to
understand and/or apply the meaning? For example, would we ask people to get
together and simultaneously recite various parts of a product manual and finish it in one
sitting? If we did such a thing, would it, in any way, please the manufacturer? If a
manufacturer found out about this kind of illogical use, what is he/she likely to say? In
contrast, how do Muslims treat the Words of God, the Qur’an? Being Verses sent by
God, do they want to understand and apply His Words? Or just simply recite the Verses
of the Qur’an at various occasions without any attempt to understand or relate the
meaning. Did God send the total of 6,236 Verses {1} for no purpose other than being
chanted and repeatedly recited? The article, on the importance of understanding the
Qur’an {2} at the website islamicity.org discusses this problem at some length.
“Millions of Muslims around the globe recite the verses of the Qur’an daily in their
prayers. In Ramadan, recitation of the entire Qur’an is completed in thousands of
mosques around the world. In some cases, the recitation of the entire Qur’an is
completed in three nights in the last ten days of the month of Ramadan…A global
Qur’anic recitation competition takes place every year. Tapes, CDs and the
Internet also provide Qur’anic recitation so people can hear it while on land, sea,
and air. Perhaps, it may be no exaggeration to state that the Qur’an is the most
recited but least understood of books.” {2}

In addition, people perceive benefit in reciting the entire Qur’an or a set of Verses at
various occasions, such as death anniversaries, either by individuals or a group of
people. Considering the fact that the Qur’an is a Guidance Manual, much like a product
manual, who is likely to benefit from recitation without meaning and, in what way – the
reciter, those who eavesdrop to listen, the person who has passed away or God
Himself? Would it be unreasonable to say that a manual is only useful when consulted
for the purpose of finding appropriate guidance? In his article, Mansoor Alam {2} has
tried to put reasons behind the popular use of the Qur’an in this way.
“A further obstacle in understanding the Qur’an is the susceptibility of human
beings to take shortcuts. If we believe that simply reciting the verses of the
Qur’an (without understanding them) is sufficient to bring lots of rewards – here
as well as in the Hereafter – then why should we struggle to understand the
Qur’an? Ingenious shortcuts to wealth, prosperity, good health, and multiple
rewards in the Hereafter through recitation of certain words, and verses, and
even by simply running one’s finger on the words of the Qur’an are commonplace
in the collective Muslim experience.” {2}

However, if we consult the Qur’an itself, on the necessity of understanding it, it says,
“Those to whom We have sent the book study it as it should be studied; they are
the ones that believe in it; those who reject faith in it the loss is their own.”
[2.121]

Not studying [2.121] and not reflecting [4.82] on the Verses of the Qur’an is therefore
tantamount to disbelief. If we simply keep on ignoring the Words of God which are
designed to bring mankind out from the darkness of ignorance [14.1] by distinguishing
right from wrong [25.1], the Prophet will say, on the Day of Judgment, as a warning
given in the Qur’an,
“Then the Messenger will say, “O my Lord, indeed, my people took this Qur’an
for just foolish nonsense.”” [25.30]

Where has such illogical use or thinking about the Words of God come from?

25.31 “Thus have We made for every prophet an enemy among the sinners:
but enough is your Lord to guide and to help.”
Man is the only creation that can question and analyze answers to come to a decision
regarding the truth. To do so, however, both truth and falsehood must exist side by side
to provide an opportunity for analysis and subsequently adopting the truth. To encourage
people use their intellect, therefore, whenever prophets delivered the Words of God,
Satan diverted people by injecting false use of the Words. To discover the truth, one
simply needs to turn to God and seek His Help to arrive at the truth. Those who do not
care to do an analysis by asking appropriate questions become prey to the evil
suggestions of Satan. For example,

25.32 “Those who reject Faith say, "Why is not the Qur'an revealed to him
all at once?" Thus (is it revealed) that We may strengthen your heart
thereby and We have rehearsed it to you in slow well-arranged stages
gradually.”
Verses were revealed in groups of Verses to provide guidance toward the prevailing
situation, conflict or question being asked by the followers of the Prophet. The
methodology of revelation allowed easy understanding of the purpose of each set of
Verses – almost like a guidance lesson each time.

25.33 “And no question do they bring to you but We reveal to you the truth
and the best explanation (thereof).”

25.34 “The ones who are gathered on their faces to Hell – those are the
worst in position and furthest from the path (leading to God).”
God’s punishment for not analyzing the facts to arrive at the truth and for spreading
falsehood will be severe. The position with previous Revelations from God is not much
different.

25.35 “Before this We sent Moses the Book and appointed his brother
Aaron with him as Minister;”
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{Notes}:
{1} https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80yah
{2} https://www.islamicity.org/14224/on-the-importance-of-understanding-the-quran/