Date: 24th June 2016; 18th or 19th & Ramadan 1437;
ISLAMIC AL-JUMUAA REMINDER AND LEGACY GROUP (http://aljumaareminder.com/), know about the Quran
This week’s reminder and is long. The reason is as follows:
- Since it is the month of Ramadan we elongated the number of pages so that people can read when free. For example Muslims now have more free time than the other months. The time they used for breakfast and lunch are now free time.
- Every other Islamic group this month (Ramadan) is working extra to give out more Islamic materials. We as Muslims are told to compete in good things so we want to adhere to this and ensure we are not left behind.
The Prophet (SAW) said, “Race to good actions as fast as you can. What are you waiting for except delayed poverty, oppressive wealth, debilitating illness, trembling old age, a swift death or the Dajjal? Or are you waiting for an unseen evil, or the Last Hour? The Last Hour will be most bitter and terrible.” [at-Tirmidhi, Riyadh as-Salihin]
Introduction to the Quran A, http://www.qurangarden.com/content.php?content=r&ayah=1&id=2#
All thanks are due to God lord of creation, and his blessings may be on the prophet Mohammed and his family. I have been known among my peers regarding my reflections upon the Quran. These reflections are not meant to explain the Quran. Rather they are a collection of moments of clarity that a believer might have regarding a verse or few verses of the Quran.
If the Quran were to be fully explained, then the Prophet Mohammad would have been the foremost authority to explain it because it was revealed to him. However, the Prophet explained to his companions what was appropriate for their time. He clarified all the responsibilities, duties, and rights of a Muslim that result in reward if properly carried out or punishment if mishandled. So all the believers, since the time of the prophet, had equal and clear access to this knowledge. However, when it came to all the other matters regarding the creation, and the secrets and treasures of the Quran, the prophet shared from his knowledge as much as the minds of his time could comprehend and value.
The purpose of the revelation of the Quran was not to reveal scientific explorations or to explain the secrets of creation. These matters remain hidden in its verses and are revealed in their proper time. It is when the scientific minds are active in search and study of such areas that God makes these verses shine with their true meaning. This makes each scientific revelation in the Quran more appropriate for its time and more impactful as it is delivered when the scientific minds are ready for it. The prophet left the explanation of the Quran, which is not related to matters of duties and religious law, to be revealed by time.
The Quran is God’s words, and God calls its verses آياتwhich -in the Arabic language- mean “signs”. It is the same word “آيات” that God uses to describe his creation in the universe (such as the sun, stars, life in all its forms and so on). God Almighty Says:
“In the creation of heavens and Earth, and the alternation of the night and day, and the ships which sail the seas to people’s benefit, and the water which God sends down from the sky-by which He brings the Earth to life when it was dead and scatters about in it creatures of every kind-and the varying direction of the winds, and the clouds subservient between heaven and Earth, there are Signs for people who use their intellect. (Chapter 2: Verse 164)
So these signs are present both in God’s creation and in his book – the Quran- and with time one will explain and compliment the other.
Now, let’s look into the meaning of the word Quran. In the Arabic language “Quran” is derived from the verb “read”. It means “the read” or “the recited”. The use of the word “Quran” is restricted to God’s revelation to his Prophet Mohammad for the purpose of guidance and proof. God also refers to the Quran as “the book”. The Quran is always preserved in the minds of those who memorize it, and on the pages of the holy text. So when relating to the revelation in its read form it is called the “Quran”, and when relating to it in its written form it’s called “the book”.
Historically, as the Quran was being collected and written down in its book form, two rules were implemented for writing down each verse: the first rule required that two people who have memorized the verse be present, and the second rule required that the verse was also found written down by one of the prophet’s companions. These two conditions were met for each and every verse in the Quran except for one. This one verse was found written down, however it was only memorized by one companion. So according to the rules, this verse should have been excluded from the book.
But here comes an incident that shows the wisdom and mercy of God Almighty. This particular verse was memorized by a man named Khuzaima (خزيمة), and no one else. The scribe who was writing down the Quran remembered that the prophet peace be upon him said “Whomever Khuzaima testified for, it should suffice”. The prophet had given Khuzaima’s testimony the weight of two testimonies. This was based on an event that happened while the prophet peace be upon him was alive. The prophet had borrowed money from a man, and then repaid him the debt. After some time the man came back to the prophet asking for his money back. The prophet told the man that he had already repaid him the debt in full. So this man asked the prophet to bring forward a witness that saw the transaction. However, no one was with a prophet at the time he repaid the debt. This is when Khuzayma came forward and said “I was present when the prophet repaid you the money”. After the man left, the prophet turned to Khuzayma and said “I know you were not present when I repaid my debt, no one was there. how could you say that you were with me?”. Khuzayma looked at the prophet and said “How can I believe you in all the Revelations you brought from the heavens, and then disbelieve you about a few coins”. Khuzayma, through his wisdom, saw that the prophet who is the most honest and truthful man he knew, could not be dishonest about a small worldly matter when he was honest in delivering God’s message. When the prophet saw Khuzayma’s deep understanding and belief, he was very pleased and said “whomever Khuzaima testified for, it should suffice”.
Now that we know how the Quran came to be written. Let’s take some time to define the Quran. If one was to give the most complete and accurate definition of the Quran, one would say “The Quran is” and then would recite the Quran from the very first verse until the very last one. Here is the short definition of the Quran given by the scholars: the Quran is the words of God that were revealed to the prophet Muhammad for the purpose of guidance and as a proof of his message.
In some sense, the Quran resembles all the holy books that were revealed previously, such as the Torah and the bible. These books were revealed for the purpose of guidance and to clarify God’s message. The Quran on the other hand, carries two purposes: the first is to offer guidance and to clarify God’s message, and the second is to be a lasting Miracle and proof of the prophet’s message. The Torah delivered God’s message and set of laws, while Moses’ staff was his miracle. The bible was the book of guidance of prophet Jesus. Jesus’ healing of the blind and the sick was his miracle. The Quran combined both the message of God and the miracle of prophet Muhammad.
You may ask: why does this difference exist in the revelations? It is because God’s previous messages were meant for a certain period of time, and meant for a specific people; the message of the Quran, on the other hand, is meant for all humanity and all time until the day of judgment.
Therefore, its miracle should be ever present. Any of the prophet’s followers should be able to say -at any point in time- that Mohammed was the messenger of God and this here is his miracle. One might say that Jesus is the prophet of God, however, he or she cannot point and say this here is his miracle. The miracles of the previous prophets were like a flame that lit brightly. Whoever saw that flame, witnessed the miracle. Once the flame extinguished, its power and light could only be transferred by storytelling. We believe in all these miracles because they’re mentioned the Quran, however, none of us and none of the prophet’s companions saw these miracles firsthand. Since the miracle of the Quran is to last through the end of time, then it’s revelations should continue till the end of time. It is the gift that keeps on giving and continues to shine through the ages. This requires that not all parts of the Quran be explained at the time of the prophet. God says in the Quran:
“We will show them our signs on the horizon and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth” (41:53)
The word “It” in this verse eludes to the Quran. So scientific discoveries will come and continue to come to prove that the Quran is the truth.
Introduction to the Quran B, http://www.qurangarden.com/content.php?content=r&ayah=2&id=2#.V2V_qfl97IU
Let’s look at the Quran from a literature point of view.
God wanted the Quran to be a miracle and a proof. It was sent as challenge for the nonbelievers; and If you want to challenge someone to prove superiority, you must challenge them in something they excel at. You cannot challenge a weak or disabled person in weightlifting -that will prove nothing-. You have to challenge a weightlifter. So when the Quran came and challenged the Arabs in their own language and prevailed, it did not mean that the Arabs at that time were weak in the language arts. To the contrary, it is a testimony that they excelled and mastered their language at a high -Shakespearean- level. So, when the Quran prevailed over them linguistically, it became a true triumph.
The Arabs at the time of the prophet, especially in the vicinity of Mecca, excelled in language arts. From poetry to storytelling and literature, they used to attract the best of the best. Fame and fortune came to those who mastered literature. So, Where did Mohammad – a resident of Mecca- stand among these poets and literature elites? Mohammad lived among Meccans for 40 years before he received the Quran and the message of Islam. During that time he was virtually unknown in the circles of poetry and language arts. when the Quran was revealed to the prophet, God wanted it to be a literary work and a linguistic challenge that came from a person who was not known to have any of these fine skills. Meccans had to know that this speech did not come from Muhammad. After all, the talent and genius of a person typically appears in their twenties or early thirties, talents do not manifest in the person’s forties and fifties.
Mohammad at the age of 40 was illiterate, he did not know how to write and had not composed any poetry. When, all of a sudden, he started reciting verses of the Quran that were revered by the elites of the poets and the masters of the language of his time, the question was: where did all of this come from? It didn’t make any sense that he had this talent all along, kept it to himself until he was 40, and then decided to use it. If he had this talent, He could have used it to gain status in his community. More importantly, he could not have known that he would live to be 40 in a society where many people died young. This had to mean that he never possessed this ability, rather the holy text was revealed to him.
God teaches the prophet to address this issue with the non-believers in the following verse
“Say: “Had God so wished, I would not have recited it to you nor would He have made it known to you. I lived among you for many years before it came. Will you not use your intellect?” ” (Chapter 10: Verse 16)
Moreover, Who would refuse to take the credit for such a great piece of work? The prophet was offered all the credit for the Quran and all the Glory that would come with it, but he declined as mentioned in the following verse:
“When Our Clear Signs are recited to them, those who do not expect to meet Us say, “Bring a Qur’an other than this one or change it.” Say: “It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I follow nothing except what is revealed to me. I fear, were I to disobey my Lord, the punishment of a Dreadful Day.”(10:15)
People love to take credit for things they have done and many even claim credit for things that they have not done. Here the prophet was offered credit, and said no, this is not from me.
The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) always welcomed questions from believers and nonbelievers alike. However, if you research the companions of the prophet, you will notice that none had asked him about verses in the Quran that did not carry any clear meaning to such as the verse (ألف لام ميم)ALM or (حا ميم) HM. Perhaps More interestingly, none of the nonbelievers -who came to the prophet with the purpose of debating and proving that his holy book was nonsense- questioned these verses. How could the non-believers -despite their deep knowledge of the Arabic language- have missed such an opportunity to attack the prophet? This cannot be unless deep down they understood the value of such speech. Even though they did not believe in the Quran, they did not find fault in these verses to use against the prophet. Moreover, when the nonbelievers returned to their tribes, they instructed their followers not to listen to the Quran. They knew that those who truly listened will find sweetness in its words and experience its influence in their hearts and minds. If they truly believed that the Quran was worthless, they wouldn’t mind who listened and who did not. The leaders of the nonbelievers took it a step further. They asked their followers to distract from the Quran while it was read. They understood that the Quran has true substance and deep influence. God Almighty says:
And those who disbelieve say, “Do not listen to this Quran and do make a noise in the midst of its reading that you may overcome it.” (41:26)
Now, let’s take a look at the different types of speech the prophet relayed to us:
First there’s the Quran; Second there are the prophet’s narrations (hadeeth), and finally there are the holy or sacred narrations (which is God’s speech that is not part of the Quran). All these types of speech came to us from the prophet, but each carried a very distinct literature style. In the same day, the prophet would relay a narration that is part of the Quran and another that would fall under hadeeth, and so on. Even the most talented of writers and poets throughout the ages have a distinct personal style spanning all their work. If the prophet was writing these narrations, then his style will creep up into all parts of speech regardless of how hard he tried to mask it. This is just another piece of evidence that it is from God and not from the prophet.
It is no surprise then that when God sent the message to the prophet, it caused bewilderment and turmoil among the nonbelievers. They wanted to discredit the Quran and the new message but did not know how. On some occasions, they accused the prophet of sorcery and said that he was a magician, to which we say, if he was such a brilliant magician how come he could not charm you? How come he could not affect you with his magic like he affected the others who believed in him. The fact that you are disbelieving, is in by itself a proof that he’s not a magician.
On other occasions the nonbelievers tried to claim that the prophet was insane, and what he said was just crazy talk. So, to answer that charge, let’s take a minute and a define insanity: “it is for one to behave in a manner that does not make sense”. An insane person acts irrationally and inappropriately in social situation. However, the prophet was well known in the entire community of Mecca for his great character and impeccable manners. Having good character and good manners -in essence behaving most properly- is the exact opposite of being insane. Having manners means that one acts appropriately and responds well to social situations. This was addressed by God in the following verses to answer those who alleged the prophet’s insanity.
“By the blessings of your Lord, you are not mad. You will have a wage which never-fails. Indeed you are truly vast in character”.(68:2-4)
Ironically, even while the disbelievers were trying to discredit the prophet and his message and accuse him of insanity, they used to trust him with their valuables when they traveled. He was one of a few people in Mecca, in which Meccans trusted to leave their wealth and valuables with when they traveled. When things truly mattered to them, when it concerned them at a personal level, they trusted this man.
The truth is, the disbelievers did not distrust the prophet as a person, nor did they dislike the Quran. What they truly hated was the fact that such great work was not revealed to them, the elites. They could not stand that the message was revealed to someone else, an ordinary person not from their ranks. Their hate and foolishness is shown clearly in what they said in this verse:
“And they say, ‘God, if this is really the truth from You, rain down stones on us out of heaven or send a painful punishment down on us. “ (8:32)
An intelligent sincere person would have said “God if this is a truth from you then please guide me to it”. Instead what they said was that if this is the truth: we would rather die than follow this man.
And in another verse in the Quran:
“They say, ‘Why was this Qur’an not sent down to one of the great men of the two cities?” (43:31)
They did not object to the Quran itself. They did not object to the message of the Quran. What the non-believers were most concerned with was the superficial issue of who the Quran was revealed to. They left behind the core of the matter, the true message.
Introduction to the Quran C, http://www.qurangarden.com/content.php?content=r&ayah=3&id=2#.V2V_rPl97IU
Let’s talk about revelation. Since God cannot be seen or heard, and because the nature and built of a human being can not receive directly from God, his message has to be delivered through revelation.
But what is the meaning of revelation? Revelation is to inform someone secretly or quietly. When someone like a salesman comes to your door and you don’t have the time to meet with them, you might motion to a family member to let that person go. In essence, you have informed your family member quietly that you did not want to see that person, and revealed your wishes to them.
There are many forms of Revelations that were mentioned in the Quran. God has revealed to the angels, he also revealed to people other than prophets such as the mother of Moses, and to many of his creation as stated in this verse:
“Your Lord revealed to the bees: ‘Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect. “(Chapter 16: Verse 68)
Furthermore, the devils have revealed to each other and to human beings.
However when the word revelation is used, it usually takes the specific meaning of God revealing his message to his prophets. There are three forms that revelation may take as mentioned in the following verse:
“It is not fitting for a man that God should speak to him except by inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by the sending of a messenger to reveal, with God’s permission, what God wills: for He is Most High, Most Wise. “ (42:51)
Let’s take these forms one by one.
First: Inspiration:- When God inspires someone, he throws the idea into the person’s heart, the person would then act on it. However, as we know there are many ideas that pop into one’s head, or are felt in one’s heart. How do we know which one of them is true revelation?
When true inspiration comes from God to a person, the person finds him or herself completely content and at peace with that thought. A person would act on it without experiencing any objection or self-doubt. Even if such inspiration calls for an action that is typically against the thoughtful mind. Let’s take an example of this type of revelation from the Quran:
“We revealed to Moses’ mother, ‘Suckle him and then when you fear for him cast him into the sea. Do not fear or grieve; We will return him to you and make him one of the Messengers.’ “ (28:7)
What woman -in her right mind- would throw her baby into the sea when she fears most for his life? She would basically be throwing her baby from grave danger into certain death. Yet Moses’ mother felt completely at peace with this action when she was inspired by God.
Second: Revelation from behind a veil:- Every major religion, be it Judaism Christianity or Islam, had its message delivered partly by this method, for example when the prophet was commanded to start the five daily prayers, God spoke to him from behind a veil, the same way he spoke to Moses previously.
and third: revelation through a messenger sent from God:- The Quran was exclusively revealed by sending a direct messenger which was the angel Gabriel. The Quran was not revealed by inspiration to the prophet, nor was it though direct speech by God behind a veil. The Quran was delivered solely by the angel messenger, so there would be absolutely no doubt of its origin. The prophet used to hear a loud noise like the tolling of a bell before the angel Gabriel would come and become visible to him. The presence of the angel would take a heavy toll on the prophet; his face would change color…. if he was sitting next to one of his companions or resting his leg on them, that person would feel the prophet’s leg get so heavy… they would describe it as a boulder. If he was riding on a horse or on a camel, the animal would labor from feeling such intense weight.
Initially, these stressful encounters took their toll on the prophet (peace be upon him). Then, after the first few Revelations of verses, there was a period of pause and the angel did not return to the prophet for a while. During that time the prophet started to miss and long for receiving Revelations from God. Usually when you miss something, or when you do hard work and then take a period of rest you might start longing for the sweetness of hard work and achievement. This feeling makes the work easier for you when you return. You actually start looking forward to it. When you miss the pleasures you get from it, you can overcome the hard parts easily. God says in Chapter 94:
Have We not comforted your heart; Relieved you of the burden which had been a heavy weight upon your back and granted you an exalted reputation? So truly where there is hardship there is also ease; truly where there is hardship there is also ease. (94:1-6)
Let’s take note of yet another proof of the truthfulness of the message of the Quran. At times the prophet would receive a long chapter from the Quran in one meeting with the angel Gabriel. When the revelation session was over, the prophet would recite the new verses to his companions, who in turn would write them down. The new verses maybe long and may take 30 minutes or an hour to recite as the companions wrote them down; and then when the time for the next prayer comes, the prophet would recite the same verses verbatim as he lead the prayers. Anyone of us can speak for 30 minutes to an hour and ask others to record our speech. However, none can repeat their speech word for word and letter for letter an hour later. The fact that the prophet used to do exactly that is evidence that this was revealed to him and ingrained into his memory through a higher power.
There are verses of the Quran which are very similar to each other, there are even a few verses that differ by one letter only, which makes it clear that the prophet was not reciting casual speech or conveying a general meaning. He recited and repeated verses that were very specific and very difficult to memorize. It is not a matter of routine, and not a specific style in writing, the prophet had nothing to do with it. It is simply an issue of revelation as mentioned in the Quran:
“and neither does he speak out of his own desire: The Quran is nothing less than a revelation that is sent to him.” (53:3-4)122 - IARLG - INTRODUCTION TO THE QURAN; Date 24th June 2016; 18th or 19th Ramadan 1437 (51 downloads)
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