The challenges of modern times, the fragmentation of knowledge on one hand, and the need for sustainable global solutions on the other hand, also require the contextualization of the Divine Message. This manuscript tends to offer alternative approaches to Holy Qur’anic exegesis through the application of the Design Thinking (DT) methodology. This approach maintains Holy Qur’anic coherence, but it also restructures and systematizes man’s relationship with the divine book. DT ensures the comprehensiveness and continuity of the methods and techniques of Holy Qur’anic exegesis to date, making the Holy Qur’an the only practical true approach to providing solutions to global challenges.
The process of globalization and the rapid technological development, population movement, and the challenges of time – SDG, virus, vaccine discovery have put a man on a global level, the one who fails to factorize as God’s vicegerent on Earth. Dynamism and the speed of events have faded the sensory element of man for his heavenly affiliation, turning him into a mechanical part of modern trends, far from offering Holy Qur’anic solutions. The voluminous exegesis of the Holy Qur’an, the ideological translations, the individual and limited approaches, the localized and fragmented approaches, the generalized and formally repeated exegesis, which as such offer no practical solution, have influenced the man of the 21st century to feel not included and alienated in relation to the Divine Revelation.
Viewed from this perspective, for the believer in the first place, as imperative and man in general, requires a necessary contextualization of divine revelation in accordance with contemporary circumstances and currents. The next step for a total and comprehensive contextualization, in accordance with the basic principles of divine revelation, for all and for all time, places the performer as an individual within the framework of limited conceptual views and competence. To fulfill this imperative of divine revelation, the “modern approach” again enters the vicious circle of limited conceptual contextualization and the inevitable pluralism of views. Occurring in the midst of a seemingly unresolved situation, this manuscript tends to offer alternative approaches to Holy Qur’anic exegesis through the application of the Design Thinking (DT) methodology. The application of DT as a model that is human-focused and oriented toward the achievement of ideas, and new and innovative approaches in various fields, is a powerful technique in elaborating the Holy Qur’anic content in accordance with the demands of the time and the challenges it faces in the world at large. This “third option” ensures the comprehensiveness and continuity of the methods and techniques of Holy Qur’anic exegesis so far but eliminates the conceptual limitation and non-functional fragmentation.
There is no definitive definition of what DT actually is depending on the approach of different authors, has been named with different terms such as culture, methodology, and philosophy but all the authors agree that DT aims to achieve the cognitive depth of an innovative, human-centered (human, user-centric approach) process that can be applied to business, engineering, education, and various academic levels. DT is a deeply human mechanism, in all human capacity, and relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, and construct ideas that have emotional meaning, as well as proper functionality. According to Roger Martin’s three-stage funnel, DT helps organize information from which new ideas are gained, solutions are offered, and the knowledge horizon is broadened. Viewed in practical terms, depending on the approach, the DT process is divided into three to seven stages, which in essence do not differ a lot. We consider that for this manuscript the most appropriate is the application of the five phases of DT.
Empathize – developing sensitivity to people, embodying their views and requirements, within the design context. Understanding their physical and emotional needs, and understanding what is important and least important to them, is very essential for this stage.
Define – aims to achieve clarity in understanding the problem, depending on the degree of sensitivity we have achieved from the first stage. This also defines the challenge, POV – “the point of view” that must be undertaken to meet the requirements, which challenges must be formulated as a clear and meaningful position.
Ideate – is the stage where the designer, based on compassion for the requirements and needs and the ability to invent, must provide creative ideas for innovative solutions to the submitted requirements. At this stage “brainstorming” is an important element, because the more ideas that can be generated, the more opportunities are created to see their functionality in solving the user’s problem.
Prototype – is a model, sketch, drawing, graph, initial flexible, with which the user can interact. This stage is of particular importance as it is the threshold that helps us move from the theoretical to the practical part, encouraging us to observe the functioning of the DT in reality and make the necessary changes for eventual deficiencies before the testing phase.
Test – is a re-manifestation of human sensitivity, when he sees the created prototype. Through this process, you fulfill or not, the feelings of the empathy phase at first. Testing is not a complete process in itself, but it is one more opportunity for design perfection and meeting requirements. Various authors, comparing the above stages, also mention the power of this story-telling as a very important factor in the DT process, as it includes the element of time, people, events, places, objects and thus awakens intuition, new models are formed, inspiration occurs, develops an environment for innovative ideas and offers solutions.
DT is a mechanism that helps us assess and understand complex connections between people, places, objects, events, and ideas. According to him, this is the most powerful provoker of innovation, which also drives long-term strategic planning. To this definition, if we add the element of telling (story) power, “storytelling”, in conceptual terms we get even closer to the idea that DT is a suitable methodology for commenting on the Holy Qur’an in modern times, which is inclusive of the whole tradition so far. The Holy Qur’anic narration, the stories of the prophets and their people, the dramatic events associated with individuals, the legal norms, the physical and metaphysical elements, the mysteries, the relativity of time, and the space of events, constitute a complex structure.
Empathy – Viewed from the current perspective of Holy Qur’anic exegesis, individual and limited approaches, localized and fragmented approaches, generalized and formally repeated exegesis, for fear of “going beyond the religious framework”, have drastically reduced the element of empathy. The contextualization of the Holy Qur’an is impossible without a sense of empathy. For the attentive reader, empathy is the most powerful element of temporal and spatial transference, relating it to the prophets, their people, objects, and related events. Through an amazing, rich, meaningful “storytelling” recitation, he lives with the dynamism of Holy Qur’anic events, feels, experiences, compares, sees, takes positions, and reflects. Only as such, by “standing in the shoes of others” can the reader offer solutions to the challenges of the time and contextualize the Holy Qur’an. But since we are talking about an inclusive “third option” of exegesis of the Holy Qur’an, at this stage all possible exegesis of the Holy Qur’an, hadiths, and other sources can be considered, which together would enable us to build a real connection between the Proclamation and current problems, which require solutions.
Define – Defining in relation to the Holy Qur’anic exegesis is rather an intuitive and iterative process between the accumulated knowledge of what we hear or read. This stage makes the essential difference between the performer as an individual and the commentary of the Holy Qur’an as an institution, which should include experts of different profiles, who determine the POV that the institution will take regarding the problem. At this stage it is very important to define the terminology, the reason and time of the revelation of the Holy Qur’anic verses, the definition of the circumstances with the relevant elements (sociological, psychological, economic, cultural, . . . ), and other secondary elements, which bring us closer to defining the adequate solution in relation to the challenges that require solutions. Experts, depending on the impact of the empathy phase, need to build a framework of action for the later stages.
Ideate – It is a turning point in relation to the comments so far, as it provides a concrete idea for a concrete challenge that will not necessarily be adequate and accurate, as it will depend on the depth or degree of understanding of the teams from two preliminary phases. For this purpose, it is necessary to establish measurement mechanisms and evaluations. Even if the right results are not achieved, at this stage the ideas take concrete forms and these ideas send the institution to other research paths, opening new horizons. The Holy Qur’an is re-actualized in the plan of the idea, in relation to the requirements of the time, and as such becomes an important reference in providing solutions.
Prototype – is a work, a model attempt to solve a certain problem inspired by the Holy Qur’an, which has been achieved by a group of people of different professions through the DT process. The constructed model should serve as a logical explanation of the connection of the containing components, but at the same time should logically match the real requirements of the problem-solving. In the worst case, the proposed prototype can only perform the function of “touching the possible solution” and help achieve the functional, final prototype. In the best case, the prototype should ensure the long-term durability of the respective solution.
Test – is the most important and courageous moment of the whole process of exegesis of the Holy Qur’an, because it is obtained as a product that solves a certain human issue. This phase requires intensive work of experts in various fields, who are immersed in research work and should compare other models offered and prove whether the product offers partial or complete solutions to the given problem. The product, depending on the feedback of comparisons with other alternative solutions, if it is the best option, only then can it pass to the concrete piloting phase, where again depending on the feedback it will be applied or revised and remodeled further.
The application of DT as a technique that is used in providing solutions to challenges in various spheres is expected to strengthen the divine message as a dynamic and universal element for man and his future in this world. At this point, DT takes on a double dimension.
The Holy Qur’anic dimension – where performers must create empathy with Holy Qur’anic events, define certain issues, devise and provide models for solutions. At this point, the element of Holy Qur’anic “storytelling” is a powerful guide, as it connects us to the essence of the problem we are referring to.
Contextual dimension – where performers must create sufficient sensitivity to current human needs, defining them as concisely as possible, ideas and modalities most appropriate for their fulfillment in a sustainable way.
Viewed from this perspective, the exegesis is not an individual, but an institution with global responsibility, open and up-to-date, within the framework defined by the source itself, in this case, the Holy Qur’an. This methodology not only meets the hermeneutic criterion that “meaning is always dependent on the reader”, but creates a dynamic and hybrid duality. On the one hand, the Holy Qur’anic events are contextualized and on the other hand, the human challenges are compared to the prototypes of the Holy Qur’anic screening, which depending on the solution they offer can be applied or modified. Such an approach favors qualitative and practical exegesis and with the help of iteration excludes unfounded and non-functional interpretations. This closes the way for the generation of a voluminous material that does not help to solve concrete challenges. In the best case, when clear ideas and schemes are formed from the Holy Qur’an for solving the problem, the “adapted” or “hybrid” solutions can be used, where the solutions are obtained readily by known models and the same are used for situations for which solutions are required.
DT’s application for the commentary of the Holy Qur’an is an idea that seeks to contextualize the Divine Revelation, without removing any element from the current contribution of the work of scholars. On the contrary, with the application of DT, their contribution takes a unified and well-organized form, which is placed in solving global problems. This idea tends not only to strengthen the human being in facing challenges but individuals with the application of DT to rediscover the Holy Qur’an within themselves, reflecting on their daily lives. The change of this approach is accompanied by other implications as well, as the individual commentator goes into plan B, while the main role is taken by the competent institution of Holy Qur’anic commentary. This transition requires an extraordinary approach at the global level, as it seeks to become an institution with global responsibility, which has its source in the Divine Revelation. This complexity requires a serious approach to understanding and implementing all stages of DT in accordance with the solutions that are required or other ideas that can be generated, but again within the framework of Holy Qur’anic principles. Building a well-structured framework, which includes staff, forms of action, technical tools, activities, and feedback with measurable results is a challenge in itself, but also necessary. After all that has been said above, the question still remains open, whether and how DT can be applied to the continuous commentary and contextualization of the Holy Qur’an.
SOCIAL GOOD MESSAGE
Sparrows by morning, live in peaceful nests! Design shouldn’t dominate things, shouldn’t dominate people. It should help people. Don’t spend your time solving your favorite problems, solve problems that need to be solved, generically. A home is a place where you live, and society is a place where your story begins. Honesty shares honesty, as it is honesty’s nature. Stay always in Ablution and get back to the trust you have been, with.