Sunday, June 10, 2012
Names of the Glorious Qur’an and their Implications (III)
Written by –M. U. Ndagi, University of Abuja Friday, 27 January 2012 05:00
Al-Furqan (The Criterion):
The Arabic word “Al-Furqan” literarily means “that which distinguishes between right and wrong”. An English word that explains “Al-Furqan” is “Criterion”. Allah (SWT) mentions in Qur’an 2:185 “…And clear (signs) for Guidance and Criterion (between right and wrong)…” Allah’s revelation and the expression of His will, is certainly, the true standard of right and wrong.
The Glorious Qur’an distinguishes between good and evil; between truth and falsehood; between bliss and punishment; between kindness and wickedness; between knowledge and ignorance; between light and darkness; between believers and disbelievers. It explains the distinction between divine and human; between natural and artificial; between life and death; between here and the hereafter; between righteousness unrighteousness, between obedience and disobedience; between paradise and hell; and between Islam and paganism. Allah (SWT) asserts in Qur’an 25:1 “Blessed is He who sent down the Criterion to His servants, that it may be an admonition to all creatures”.
Al-Furqan tells us that while the path to guidance leads to heaven, the devil’s path leads to Gods’ wrath and punishment. Al-Furqan reminds us that whoever does an atom’s weight of good shall see it (and will be rewarded for it); and whoever does and atoms’ weight of evil shall see it (and will be rewarded for it); accordingly (8).
The Arabic word “Tanzeel” means “Revelation”, which is one of the names by which the Glorious Qur’an is called. There are three ways or means by which Allah (SWT) sends down revelation to mankind. The three modes of revelation are:
i. Inspiration (for instance, in a dream; where it is related that prophet Ibrahim (AS) received guidance in a vision while asleep, to sacrifice his soul);
ii. Speech hidden away (where for example, it is related that Allah spoke to Prophet Musa) (9);
iii. Words or speech sent through a special messenger, An Angel, from Allah (where it is related that Allah sent Angel Jibril to reveal His message to Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
The sense in which Tanzeel is used in several verses of the Qur’an defines the Holy Book as a revelation that came in stages from Allah (SWT) to Muhammad (SAW); and that (as a divine revelation) it could not have emanated from other than Allah (SWT); the Creator of the universe. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 36:5 “It is a revelation sent down by (Him), the Exalted in might, most Merciful”. Other verses that speak of the Qur’an as a revelation that truly came from Allah (SWT) for the guidance of man include Qur’an 69:43; Qur’an 32:2; Qur’an 20:4; Qur’an 41:2; and Qur’an 56:80.
Allah (SWT) challenges whosoever doubts the Glorious Qur’an as a revelation (Tanzeel) from Him to author an equivalence of a Surah (Chapter). Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an 2:23 “And if ye are in doubt as to what we have revealed from time to time to our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true”. This is surely a challenge that no creature from among mankind, Jinn and the Angels shall ever be able to meet up with. Allah (SWT) asserts in Qur’an 10:37 “This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah…”
There are various reasons to explain why the Glorious Qur’an was sent in stages. They include the need to strengthen the heart of the Prophet (SAW) by addressing him continuously and whenever the imperative for guidance arose. It was also out of consideration for the Prophet (SAW) since revelation was a very difficult experience for him. The progressive revelation of Qur’an (in stages) was to make the understanding, application and memorization of the revelation easier for the believers. Similarly, the stage-by-stage revelation of the Qur’an was to further guarantee the gradual implementation of Allah’s laws (Ahmad Von Deffer, 1989, 28). The laws banning intoxicants were, for instance, revealed sequentially. The initial injunction that came as contained in Qur’an 4:43 admonished believers not to approach prayers with a mind befogged until they can understand all they say. Later, Qur’an 5:93 was revealed to completely make the consumption of intoxicants haram (forbidden) for believers.
The word “awha”, from which “wahyu” (inspiration) is derived occurs in a number of shades of meaning in the Glorious Qur’an, each denoting the underlying idea of inspiration. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 53:4 “It is no less than inspiration sent down to him”.
Three factors make the Glorious Qur’an a divine inspiration. First, the inspiration came to an un-lettered (Ummi) prophet who could neither read nor write. The inspired prophet was not a scholar and not a historian. Neither was he a philosopher nor a scientist. Yet, he recited chapters and verses of the Qur’an in which he told stories about earlier prophets, earlier scriptures and earlier events. Second, the inspirations received by the Prophet (SAW) contained prophecies which are only possible with the knowledge of the unseen world. One of such prophecies concerns the historical victory of the Romans over the Persians, shortly after the Romans had been defeated by the Persians; and this prophecy was fulfilled during the lifetime of the Prophet (SAW). The defeat of the Romans had taken place in 614AD when Jerusalem was taken by Persians, while the defeat of the Persians began only seven years later when the Romans won the battle at Issus in 622AD. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 30:2-3 “The Roman Empire has been defeated; in a land close by; but they (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious”.
Third, the Glorious Qur’an which revelation spanned across two decades in short and longer parts, on numerous occasions and in a variety of circumstances; is free from any contradictions. If the Qur’an were a human product, some contradictions would have been found therein.
Allah (SWT) mentions in Qur’an 10:57 that the Holy Qur’an is a Shifa’u (Healing) for believers. Those who do wrong and transgress the limits set by Allah (SWT) have a disease in their hearts, which will cause their spiritual death. Allah (SWT) through the verses of the Glorious Qur’an provides a healing for their spiritual disease. If they accept faith, that would be a remedy for their spiritual ill-health; and would find themselves on the path of guidance.
The Qur’an, in addition to healing spiritual diseases, also heals infectious ailments. The Qur’an, for example, tells us about the healing powers of honey. Allah (SWT) explains in Qur’an 16:68-69 “And thy lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on tress, and in (men’s) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a sign for those who give thought”.
It is because of the chemical components of honey that it is used (either alone or in combination with other substances) in the treatment of several ailments. It is used in the treatment of fresh and old wounds, ulcers and sore throat. Burns treated with honey heal without leaving scars on the skin. Honey is used for the prevention of anemia, low blood pressure, coughs, colds, asthma and constipation (10).
The entire subject of the Glorious Qur’an is admonition intended for the guidance of man. Allah (SWT) mentions in Qur’an 10:57 “O mankind! There has come to you an admonition from your lord…” It admonishes man against evil and abominable acts. The Glorious Book, for instance, warns in Qur’an 17:32 against getting close to anything that could lead to adultery/fornication. It warns in different verses: “Do not squander wealth” (as in Qur’an 17:26); “Do not kill your children for fear of want” (as in Qur’an 17:31); “Do not take a life which Allah has made sacred except for a just cause” ( as mentioned in Qur’an 17:33); “Do not pursue that which thou has no knowledge of” (as stated in Qur’an 17:36); “Do not walk on the earth with insolence” (as cautioned in Qur’an 17:37) because the arrogant can neither rend the earth asunder nor reach the mountains in height. The “Do not…; Do not…;” are numerous in the Qur’an; all in the spirit of admonishing man against treading the devil’s path.
The Glorious Qur’an is a Mercy for believers. Allah (SWT) mentions in Qur’an 10:57 “O mankind! There has come to you …and for those who believe, a Guidance and a Mercy”. The Glorious Qur’an informs us of those virtuous deeds that would earn us mercy, love, blessings and comfort from Allah (SWT).
The Glorious Qur’an, for instance, tells us that the regular observance of the daily obligatory prayers restrains believers from engaging in forbidden and sinful acts. Allah states in Qur’an 29:45 “Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to thee, and establish regular prayer; for regular prayer restrains from shameful and unjust deeds; …” In another instance, Allah (SWT) gives details of the categories of meat, which He (SWT) has made their consumption forbidden for us; because of the harm such will cause to our health. Allah (SWT) clarifies in Qur’an 2:173 “He has forbidden for you dead meat, and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that on which other than Allah’s name has been invoked…” It is part of Allah’s mercy that we are told in the Qur’an about the food and drink that we must avoid for the good of our own health.
It is also out of Allah’s infinite mercy to have mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an that His doors to forgiveness and mercy are open to all and for all categories of sin except that which involves associating partners to Him (SWT). Allah (SW) asserts in Qur’an 4:48 “Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed”.
Bushrah (Glad Tidings):
The Glorious Qur’an is called Bushrah (Glad Tidings) because of the volumes of good news it contains. Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an 27:1-2 “Taa. Sin. These are verses of the Qur’an, a Book that makes (things) clear; A Guide; and Glad Tidings for Believers”. The Glorious Qur’an gives good news about forgiveness, about the achievement of salvation and about life in paradise; to mention a few.
Allah (SWT) confirms in Qur’an 46:12 “…And this Book confirms in the Arabic tongue; to admonish the unjust and as Glad Tidings to those who do right”. The Glorious Qur’an tells us about life in paradise and about the bliss that has been prepared for the pleasure and enjoyment of its prospective inhabitants. The portions of the Qur’an dealing with these Glad Tidings are meant to captivate man to the path of guidance. While describing the nature of women in the Garden of Bliss, Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 56:35-38 “We have created (their companions) of special creation; And made them virgin, pure, (and undefiled); Beloved (by nature), equal in age; for the companions of the right hand”.
The Qur’an also speaks of the good that awaits those who die or were killed in the cause of Islam. Allah (SW) affirms in Qur’an 3:169-170 “Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s cause as dead. Nay, they are alive, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; they rejoice in the Bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (martyrs); glory is in the fact that on them is no fear nor have they (any cause to) grieve”.
This paper has attempted to identify names of the Glorious Qur’an as mentioned in its text; explaining their respective implications. It is evident from the discourse that the Glorious is not only the constitution from which believers are to seek guidance on all matters concerning their life (public & private) but also the Encyclopedia for all that mankind needs to peacefully survive on earth and achieve greatness in all human endeavours.
It is the prayer of this paper that contemporary Muslims, having found themselves between the rim and the axis as manifest in the civilizational crisis between the East and the West; would make the Qur’an their best companion with a view to achieving mutual, modest and decent interaction in a complex, multi-cultural and fast changing world of vast information and communication technology.
–M. U. Ndagi, University of Abuja