Feb 9, 2009, 3:57 AM
SINCERE APPROACH TO THE QURAN
The Quran is meant to be guidance for those who are spiritually hungry and sincere, the “muttaqin”, and who are open to Faith believing in “ghayb” (the reality beyond human grasp and therefore embraceable only by the “heart”), who beseech their Lord, share their wealth with others and apart from believing in the Quran, believe as well in other Divine revelations bestowed before he Quran itself. Says the Quran in attestation of the messenger who bore it, and those who were his close companions:
The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from His Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in God and His angels and Hid books and His messengers; [And they say:] “We make no difference between any of His messengers”…. (2:285)
For the believer the Arabic Quran is the purest from of Holy Scripture. It is the un-altered word of God. In the word of God is Certainty, Truth, Grace and the immutability of a living message, ripe with relevance to a person’s time and condition. It bears a message that is adaptable across the diversity of culture as it is across the chasm of time:
A good word is as a good tree. Its root is firm; its braches are in Heaven. It gives forth its fruit at all times, by the permission of its Lord. (14:24-25)
The believers also hold that just as Muhammad validated the prophethood of his predecessors, (many of them being mentioned in the Quran itself), his predecessors made corollary testament of those who would in turn follow them. Divine guidance is based on spiritual continuity through a preordained brotherhood between the prophets. The prophets are committed to his brotherhood:
And, Lo, God accepted, through the prophets, this solemn pledge [from the follows of earlier revelation]: “if, after all the revelation and the wisdom which I have vouchsafed unto you, there comes to you an apostle confirming the truth already in your possession, you must believe in him and succor him.” “Do you”-said He-“acknowledge and accept My bond on this condition?” they answered: “We do acknowledge it.” Said He: “Then bear witness [thereto], and I shall be your witness.” (3:81)
Martin Lings, an enlightened Islamic Sufi, who rested in Islam after his spiritual journey within and into Catholicism, Buddhism and Hinduism, cites the following text in
I have ye many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things so ever he shall hear, these shall he speak; and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come.
The Quran is the last Word of God, revealed to the last prophet. Those who quibble with this belief must contend with the historical absence of another book or credible prophet since the advent of Islam. Indeed speaking to those who doubt the Quran, the Quran itself lays open the challenge to produce an equivalent book.
Say: “Verily, through mankind and the jinn should assemble to produce the like of this Quran, they could not produce the like thereof though they were helpers one of another.” (17:88)
The equivalency to the Quran does not mean another book equivalent in words or verses or chapters or rhythm or grammar. It must meet the equivalency of beauty, inspiration, living relevance, and a million other intangibles. It must make grown men break down and cry, make violent men drop their swords, make young and old women want to cover their heads and kiss it, and it must make you want to wash your hands and rinse your soul before you touch it. The equivalent book must transform hearts and change the world as the Quran did, is doing, and will continue to do. The equivalent book must be miraculously committed to the heart of its unlettered reciter and it must inspire other words and books and deeds until the seven seas, and then some more, if they were ink, could bear no more. The Mathnawi of Rumi, the world’s best known inspired book by the best known ancient-poet of the modern world, is inspired by the Quran. It is called by some as the Persian Quran. But make no mistake; the Quran is not of it. The Mathnawi is of the Quran. The Quran inspired the Mathnawi. The Mathnawi cannot inspire a Quran-equivalent. Rumi would be the first one to say that. The Truth of the Quran verse about the inimitability of the Quran could be better understood by the non-Muslim western mind if the challenge was made to produce the like of Prophet Jesus; “If all mankind and Jinn should attempt they could not produce the like of Jesus”. This should bring home another point unique to the Quran. If Jesus were amongst us today, he, Jesus, would be the prime if not singular source of spiritual renewal for his followers. Today, in his stead, is the church and the clergy. It cannot but be a poor substitute. The Quran, on the other hand, is amongst us today and to a Muslim it is the prime and supreme source of spiritual renewal. It dose not warrant, nor does it allow for a substitution.
THE QURAN IS A LIVING COMPANION OF THE SINCERE
The Quran has both an exoteric and an esoteric content. Says the Quran of itself:
He it is who has bestowed upon thee form on high this Divine Writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves and these are the essence of the Divine Writ-as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hears are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the Divine Writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; But none save God knows its final meaning. (3:7-8)
The exoteric content holds plain and unambiguous guidance. This guidance establishes the principles of ethics and conduct. There are five basic principles often called the five pillars of the conduct of Faith; Testament of Faith in One God and the Seal of his prophets, Muhammad, Daily prayers and prostrations, fasting, sharing of wealth, and based on affordability, once-in-a life-time pilgrimage to the Kabah. The sincere believer, trying to live within the matrix of the “clear message”, will find in the esoteric content an invitation to reflection and contemplation. Contemplation is the food of the spirit. It changes the person from the inside out. For those who embrace the Quran in its totality anchored in its “unambiguous guidance”, the contemplative ground is fertile as it is limitless, because “But none save God knows its final meaning.” These verses have a depth and not without meaning. It is quite the opposite. These verses have a depth and richness of meaning. The meaning is limited by the capacity and sincerity of the seeker and therefore has a personal and indigenous characteristic. It cannot and must not be boxed into a dogma.
And whatever there is, its storehouses are with Us; And We only distribute it in allotted measures. (15:21)
THE QURAN SPEKS TO THE MANY WITHIN ONE SOUL
There are terms used by the Quran to make a distinction between humans based on the state of their heart or the level of their spiritual consciousness. Terms such as “zalimin”, “kafirin”, muslimin”. Mu’minin” has no similar English synonyms and neither should they. The rich symbolism of these terms can only conform to the receptacle of understanding. The form and color of a liquid conforms to the form and color of the vessel. A translated equivalent not only limits the symbolism but is also molded in the shape of the vessel. The term zalimin for example is used in the story of Adam
O Adam dwell thou and thy wife in the garden and eat both of you, whatever you may wish, but do not approach this tree, lest you become zalimin. (7:19)
To be continued.