Holy Quran Is a Complete Code of Life
All praise is for Allah Who sent down the Qur'an to His servant and messenger Prophet Muhammad (saw) so that he may be a warner to the worlds. Blessings be on Prophet Muhammad (saw) who was sent as a witness, and a bearer of good news and a warner, and as one inviting to Allah by His permission, and as a light-giving torch through Quran. Blessings be on his progeny (Ahlulbayt), from whom Allah kept away the uncleanliness and whom He purified a thorough purifying, and whom Allah made the true interpreters of the Glorious Quran after the Prophet (saw)
The Quran-e-Majid is the Word of Allah as revealed to His Prophet Muhammad (saw) for man’s guidance. The Qur'an comprehends the complete code from the Almighty Creator, for the human beings to live a good, chaste, abundant and rewarding life in obedience to the commandments of Allah, in this life and to gain salvation in the next. It is indeed the "chart of life" for every man, and it is the "constitution" of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
Quran is for mankind, a "compass" in the turbulent voyage of life, as it has explained itself in the following verses: “. . . Indeed, there has come to you light and a clear book from Allah; With it Allah guides him who fill follow His pleasure into the ways of safety and brings them out of utter darkness into light by his will and guides them to the right path.” (5:15-16)
Historically, it is Qur'an which transformed the simple shepherds and wandering Bedouins of Arabia into the founders of empires, the builders of cities, the collectors of libraries. If a system of religious teachings is evaluated by the changes which it introduces into the way of life, the customs and beliefs of its follower, then Qur'an as a code of life is second to none. It is not strange then, that more studies on Quranic topics, translations and more commentaries of the Holy Qur'an have been published, than that of any other book claimed to be the Divine Revelation.
What is Holy Quran?
However, before dealing with any other topics in the Quranic studies, e.g. its authenticity as the word of God, it is of paramount importance to have a glimpse towards better understanding of the book itself: The Glorious Quran. What is Quran? What is this book about? What are its contents? How is it a miracle? Why millions of believers still take this 14 centuries old book as their source of guide and salvation in their lives? How is it different from any other thousands of books penned by different authors? What is so unique about Quran? Is the Quran a book of history, or of poetry? Or is it a book about science and natural phenomena? Is it a book about Social manners and spirituality or a book about God’s Creation? Is it a book of Law? What is its general theme?
Holy Quran Describes Itself
Let us start by reflecting upon what Quran has to say about itself. The Qur'an introduces itself as the guidance for the worlds (3:96); and the manifest light (4:174).
According to Quran, Allah has laid down solution of every human problem in the Quran very clearly. Quran says: “and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything (16:89)
Also He has described the Qur'an in these words: “ ....... a guidance for mankind and clear evidence of guidance and discrimination (between wrong)”. (2:185)
The Qur'an is, accordingly, a guidance, an evidence, a discrimination between right and wrong and a manifest light for the people to guide them aright and help them in all their needs. Is it imaginable that it would not guide them aright in its own matter, while it is their most important need? Again Allah says: “And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them onto Our ways”. (29:69).
Which striving is greater than the endeavor to understand His Book? And which way is more straight than the Qur'an? “Lo! this Qur’an guides to that which is most upright”. (17:9)
The Holy Quran is a book which by sound reasoning bestows insight upon man. It shows the right path to man by giving the accounts of the Prophets and the nations. It motivates him through parables, exhortations and admonitions. “Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto you, before this neither you nor your people knew them. So persevere patiently, for the end is for those who are righteous”. (11:49)
The Qur'an describes its other function as the presentation of the Prophetic mission, which is aimed at guidance of humanity, by delivering it from darkness and leading it towards light: “A Book We have sent down to you so that you may bring forth mankind from the darkness into the light......”. (14:1)
What is the meaning of darkness mentioned in the above ayah? Without doubt the darkness of ignorance is one of the vices from which the Qur'an emancipates humanity and leads it towards the light of knowledge and wisdom. However, if merely ignorance were regarded as darkness, then the philosophers could have accomplished this job. But there exist other evils more dangerous than the vice of ignorance, and to subdue them is beyond the power of sheer knowledge. Among them are the vices of worship of material benefits, egoism, enslavement to desires, and greed, which are considered to be personal and moral vices. Social vices like oppression and discrimination manifest the spiritual darkness of a society. In Arabic, the word zulm (injustice and oppression) is derived from the same root as zulmah (darkness), which shows that injustice is a form of social and spiritual darkness. To struggle against such forms of darkness is the responsibility and mission of the Qur'an and other heavenly books. Addressing Prophet Musa (as), the Qur'an says: “That you may bring forth your people from the darkness into the light ...” (14:5)
This darkness, this shadow, is the darkness of Fir’aun’s oppression and injustice and that of his clique. The light is the light of justice and freedom.
The exegetists of the Qur'an emphasize the point that whenever the Qur'an mentions darkness, it always uses it in the plural form although it always uses light in its singular form. This means that the word ‘darkness’ includes all sorts of darkness, all of the evil ways that lead towards darkness, and that ‘light’ signifies one single right path --the path of righteousness, whereas the ways of deviation and perversion are many. In Suurat al-Baqarah, the Qur'an says: “God is the Protector of the believers; He brings them forth from the darkness into the light. And the unbelievers --their protectors are taghut, that bring them forth from the light into the darkness ...” (2:257)
Thus the Qur'an determines its goal to be the breaking of the chains of ignorance, misguidance, moral and social corruption and destruction, or in other words, to dissipate all sorts of ‘darkness’ and to guide humanity in the direction of ‘justice, goodness and light’. “This is a declaration for humankind, a guidance and admonition to those who ward off (evil)”. (3:138)
In other places, the Quran describes itself as under: “This is the book, in it is guidance for sure without doubt, to those who fear Allah”. (2:2)
“They are invited to the book of Allah to settle their dispute”. (3:23)
“We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) in truth so that you might judge between men as guided by Allah”. (4:105)
“And this is a book which We have revealed as a blessing, so follow it and be righteous, that you may receive mercy”. (6:155)
“A book revealed unto you, so that your heart be not in any difficulty on that account, (so that) with it you may warn (the sinful) and teach the believers”. (7:2)
“This Quran is not such as can be produced by other than Allah, on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that were sent before it, and a full explanation of the book, wherein there is not doubt from the Lord of the worlds”. (10:37)
“And We sent down the book to you for the express purpose that you should make clear to them those things in which they differ, and so that it should be a guide and mercy to those who believe”. (16:64)
“We have revealed for you (O men) a book in which there is a message for you, will you then not understand”. (21:10)
“These are the verses of the book that make things clear”. (26:2)
“... A book which We have sent down unto you with full of blessings so that they may meditate on its signs and that man of understanding may receive admonition”. (38:29)
“Verily We have revealed the book to you in truth for instructing mankind. He that receives guidance benefits his own soul, but he that strays injures his own soul”. (39:4)
The Essentiality of the Study of the Holy Quran
The study and knowledge of the Qur'an is essential not only for Scholars and Philosophers, but for everyone: an ordinary person, a student, a worker, a trader, a learned person as well as for all faithful believers.
The study of the Qur'an is essential for every committed Muslim, since it is the main source and foundation of the religious thought and faith. Whatsoever gives meaning, essence and sanctity to his existence lies in the Holy Qur'an.
The Qur'an is not just like other religious books which are content to discuss the problems of existence of God and creation in cryptic tones, or like those which merely convey a series of simple moral advice and counsels, so that those who believe in them are hopelessly left to search for guidance in other sources. It is a book where all essential ingredients of life can be found.
Unlike other books, the Qur'an discusses and formulates all the ideas and views that are essential for a man’s life, beside communicating the tenets of faith. Since the Quran is book of life, it also lays down all the principles of life including that of moral and ethical values for the purpose of individual, social and familial existence. Unfortunately, the study of Quran has been left for Scholars and learned people only.
Is Qur'an Understandable?
But the important question which is often asked is whether the Quran is understandable by an ordinary reader, or it requires scholarly background to comprehend its meaning?
Has this book been introduced for the purpose of studying and understanding it, or whether it is just for reading and reciting and obtaining reward and blessing? The student of Quran, possibly, may wonder at raising of such a question. To him it may appear beyond doubt that the Qur'an is meant for the purpose of knowing and understanding it.
Nevertheless, in view of various undesirable currents, which due to numerous reasons came into existence in the Muslim world regarding the question of understanding of the Qur'an, and which had an important role in bringing about the decline of Muslims, I shall discuss the necessity of studying and understanding the Quran in brief.
Is the purpose of Quran to obtain thawab only?
There are some people who think that the Qur'an is to be read merely for the purpose of obtaining spiritual reward (thawab) without need of understanding anything of its contents. They continuously recite the Qur'an, but if they are even once asked: "Do you understand the meaning of what you are reading?" they cannot answer. To recite the Qur'an is essential and good, being regarded as the first step necessary for comprehending its contents; and not merely as a means for gaining Divine reward.
Regrettably, the roots of those degenerate and dangerous notions still persist in our societies. So I consider it necessary to elaborate on this topic.
Qur'an must be read and studied with the intention of educating oneself. The Qur'an itself clarifies this point: “A book We have sent down to you, blessed, that men possessed of mind may ponder its signs end so remember”. (38:29)
One of the functions of the Qur'an is to instruct and to teach. For this purpose, the Qur'an addresses human reason and speaks in logical and demonstrative terms.
Infact, not only the believers and the faithful, but even the infidels are invited by it to contemplate over its verses. The Qur'an demands that it verses should be first contemplated over, before forming any adverse opinion against them. Addressing the opponents, it says, why they don't ponder over the Qur'an, what sort of hearts they possess, they are as if shut close and sealed:
“What, do they not ponder the Qur'an? Or is it that there are locks upon their hearts?” (47:24)
The Qur'an also says in one of its verses: “(This is) a Book We have revealed to you abounding in good, that they may ponder upon the verses”.
That is, We have not sent the Qur'an to be kissed, embraced and put on the niche to gather dust, but for men to read and to contemplate about its contents:
That those endowed with understanding may ponder its signs and so remember. (38:29)
Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari says: “Scores of verses in Quran emphasize the importance of contemplation in the Qur'an and interpretation of the Qur'anic verses, although not an interpretation based on personal caprices and bias, but a just, truthful and balanced interpretation free of all traces of selfish interests.
“If we try to comprehend the Qur'an in an honest and unbiased way, it is not at all necessary to solve all problems that we find in it. In this regard the Qur'an is similar to Nature. In Nature, too, a number of mysteries have neither been solved yet, nor can they be solved in present conditions, yet are likely to be solved in the future. Moreover, in studying and understanding nature, man has to tailor his ideas in accordance with Nature itself. He is forced to interpret Nature in accordance with its reality. He cannot define Nature in terms of his own caprices and inclinations.
“The Qur'an, like the book of Nature, is a book that has not been sent for a specific age and time. Had it been otherwise, all the secrets of the Qur'an would have been discovered in the past; this heavenly Book would not have presented its charm, freshness and vitality. But we see that the possibility of contemplation, reflection and discovery of new dimensions is inexhaustible in the case of this Holy Book”.
This is a point that has amply been emphasized and clarified by the Prophet and the Imams. In a tradition, it is related from the Prophet (saw) that the Qur'an, like the sun and the moon, will present its movement and continuity; that is, the Qur'an is not static or monotonous.
In 'Uyun akhbar al-Rida, from Imam Ridha (as), it is quoted that Imam Ja'far Sadiq (as) was asked about the secret of it that as the time passes and the more it is read and recited, the Qur'an increases in its novelty and freshness day by day. The Imam Sadiq (as) answered: “Because the Qur'an is not for an exclusive age or for an exclusive people”.
The Holy Quran is for all – the learned as well as the ordinary person
The Qur'an has been sent for all ages and for all human beings. It is so composed that inspite of changes in knowledge, outlook and approach through various times and ages, it surpasses all learning and knowledge in all ages. While it encompasses mysteries and abstruse intricacies for the reader of every age, at the same time it presents a great feast of meanings and ideas that can satiate the needs of every one and every time in accordance with the capacity of that particular age”.
Thus the Quran is for all : the learned as well as the ordinary reader. To make this concept clear, we can compare the Quran to an ocean. The less earned, like children, collect pebbles and shells from its shores. The Scholars and thinkers, like pearl divers, bring out from it the highest philosophy, wisdom and rules of perfect way of living.