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THE QUR’AN AS DIVINE BOOK

The Qur’an appears to be a book just like any other book. But the Qur’an is a book with a difference. Scholars maintain that it requires almost eighty disciplines to understand the Qur’an, but more important than all these disciplines is sincerity. Without great sincerity, no one can understand the Qur’an, no one can penetrate its wisdom. No one can understand its deeper meaning.

What is sincerity? Sincerity is only another name for objectivity, without which one cannot comprehend the deeper meaning of the Qur’an. Most people are obsessed with different kinds of prejudices. And prejudices are the greatest hindrance to understanding the Qur’an. It is only if you rid your mind of them that you will be able to understand their meaning.

The Qur’an, relatively speaking, is a modest book and its language is also very simple. To appreciate the Qur’an, you don’t need to understand it from A to Z. Although there is a comprehensive theme that covers all the chapters of the Qur’an, at the same time every single verse of the Qur’an has an independent meaning. One can learn some very important lessons from pondering over just a single verse. One scholar has rightly said: “One verse a day keeps the Devil away.”

The verses of the Qur’an total approximately six thousand three hundred. These are arranged in the form of one hundred and fourteen chapters, some long, some very short. Every chapter, except one, begins with the words: “In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate.” All the statements of the Qur’an relate to God Almighty, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. In the Qur’an, God Almighty directly addresses man saying: ‘O man! This is your God addressing you. Listen to Me and follow it. This is the path of success for you.’ Some of the teachings of the Qur’an are eternal, such as zikr, that is, remembrance of God. Then there are a number of provisional teachings like jihad. It is very important to differentiate between the two kinds of verses. Without keeping this principle in mind, you are likely to misinterpret the scriptures.

There are occasions when the Qur’an refers to particular events that occurred during the Prophet’s lifetime, but it should be borne in mind that the themes are universal. Here, in giving a particular reference, it is the intention of the Qur’an to give a common message. This principle is also very important, for without keeping it in mind, no one can properly interpret the real meaning of the Qur’an. ‘Qur’an’ is an Arabic word. Its literal meaning is ‘to be read’. This means that the Qur’an is a book of study. In one sense, the Qur’an is a very comprehensive book, including as it does many references from history, astronomy, physical events, and natural phenomena. But the majority of these references are expressed not in detail but in the form of allusions or hints. The reader must supply the details from his own knowledge and experience. Having done so, he can understand the comprehensive meaning of the Qur’an.

The Qur’an also records the history of the prophets. It refers to more than two dozen prophets of different times and different races. Every prophet was sent into different situations, and each one bore some specific message. In this sense, all the prophets are equal; every prophet is a source of guidance. One who wants to understand the prophetic mission must study all the prophets and not just any one of them at random.

‘Qur’an’ is an Arabic word. Its literal meaning is ‘to be read’. This means that the Qur’an is a book of study. Indeed, the Qur’an suggests that every man and woman should read and study and explore the truth. Since the study, to be successful, must be imbued with the spirit of inquiry, the message of the Qur’an is: Be a seeker, study, and contemplate. Analyze knowledge in an unbiased manner. And then you will reach the truth. According to the Qur’an, this is the sirat-e-mustaqeem (straight path) (1:6). One should follow this straight path and then one will certainly reach the final destination, that is, success in both the periods of life—in the pre-death period and in the post-death period.

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