“Worship the Almighty and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good… (Quran 4: 86)
Yes. Why these gaps between Muslims and the noble identities constructed about them in the Quran? Why do we read the Quran and yet encounter Muslims whose conduct and behavior are complete negations of the Quran? Here I refer to, for example, the gaps between the Quranic injunctions on good governance and the failure of Muslim politicians to deliver on their promises? Here I refer to the disconnect between the Ulama who call people to Islam and yet drive them away from the Din through their actions? I allude to the disconnect we see in Muslims who say Allahu Akbar in the mosque only for them to shout Money is Akbar while in office? I gesture to that trend among Muslims who say that they know that the possibility is there for them to expire any moment only for them to continue the pursuit of this world as if they have a destiny with eternity here on terrestrial earth? I am concerned about Muslims who know that the Almighty abhors murder and unwarranted violence and yet inflict terror on innocent people without let or hindrance. I call attention to Muslims who read the Quran on a daily basis and in fact with melodious voices but commit fornication and adultery? Dear sister, I know you would wonder with me about those so-called Muslims who would commit fornication late at night only for them to enter the mosque in the morning, join the Muslims for congregational prayer and raise up their hands while saying “He is the Greatest”. Brother!
A disclaimer is here urgent- I do not purport to envision a situation where Muslims, being humans, would become angels. I am acutely aware that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is reported to have said that “all sons (and daughters) of Prophet Adam (r.a) are prone to error but the best of them are those who seek forgiveness of their errors and inadequacies”. I am well apprised of this. I know that sometimes, a Muslim may act contrary to Quranic injunctions. In fact, many Muslims, like followers of other faiths, do so. Out of ignorance we could commit infractions against the divine will. Out of recalcitrance and willful disobedience, we sometimes challenge the Almighty to a battle. We do go against His will. But my grouse is directed at those who commit heinous crimes on the assumption that He the Almighty would surely forgive them; that a couple of visits to the Haram in Makkah is enough to ‘bribe’ the Almighty into acquiescence and indulgence (fal-iyaadh bihi).
Thus I asked: what is the Quran? I offer a response which is in itself the Quranic response to similar question- the Quran is the last testament from the Creator of the heavens and earth; it is the last message sent by the Almighty to the Jinns and humankind. It is an extremely engaging book which contains one hundred and fourteen (114) chapters and nothing less than six thousand groups of signs and symbols (aayaat), not verses.
What is the Quran? It is a book which with a beginning without and ending; it is a book with an introduction without a conclusion. Al-Kitab, by which the Quran is referenced, is the book with an opening chapter known as al-Fatihah but which, as it were, has no al-Khatimah. The Quran is a book which talks about itself the same way it talks about the world. It is a book which talks about the word and the world; it is a book which talks about how the world was made of out of the word.
Dear sister! What is the Quran? The Quran is the book of Islam, the encyclopedia of all divinely revealed books. Kenneth Craig, the Oxford Professor of Islamic Studies, refers to this book as the Islamically revealed book; he describes Islam as the Quranically guided religion. Reading the Tanzil links you up with Prophet Adam (a.s); pondering it connects you with Prophet Musa (a.s). The Quran incarnates the odyssey of Prophet Musa and the Israelites. Open the Quran if you desire to reread the history of histories. Read the Quran if you desire to answer the un-answered questions in such fields as theology, philosophy, geography, biology, chemistry and oceanography.
Now if we side-step the above in order to contemplate some of the questions I raised for resolution above, you would remember that when the Quran began to be revealed to the Prophet (s.a.w), the non-Muslim Qurayshite clan became seized of its magnificence and munificence even while they were immersed in a state of unbelief. Caliph Umar b. khattab (r.a) became awed by the awesome recitations of the Quran. He could not resist the immediate acceptance of the message of Islam. When the powerful heard the book being read, they could not but recognize their powerlessness in comparison with the majesty of the All-powerful. The Arabs in Makkah were a group of people who were not born into Muslim families but ended up being heroes of Islam. They had no pedigree of faith but ended up erecting pillars of faith for generations after them.
If that was their story why is it that ours is acutely inferior to them? Why is it that our hearts appear hardened and impervious to the wonders inherent in this wonderful and magnificent revelation even as we were born and raised in Muslim families? Why the disconnect between our lives as Muslims and the positive markers and labels of the Muslim we read about in the Quran?
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