"Truly my people took this Qur'an for just foolish nonsense"by Dr. Aslam Abdullah
During this month of Ramadan millions around the world have been listening to the Quran daily during the obligatory, supplementary and taraweeh (special Ramadan prayers) prayers as well as reading the actual text or enjoying the melodious recitation by experts in the art of reading. Millions have been benefiting regularly from the explanations given on every verse of the Quran after every prayer.
More than 7,000 exegesis of the Quran exist in different languages to help people discover the beauty and grandeur of the Quran and thousands of translations in almost every language of the world exist to remind people of the divine guidance.
Yet in Sura al-Furqan, we read a statement that is quite critical of all that is being done. It says: “Then the Messenger will say: “O my Lord! Truly my people took this Qur’an for just foolish nonsense.” (25:30)
In other words, the messenger will complain on the Day of Judgment that my nation had put the Quran into the shackles of self conceived ideas and instead of being guided by the Quran, the people made it subservient to their own beliefs and customs.
In fact, the verse highlights and cautions the believers of a problem persistent with almost every religious community that had previously received the divine message. It is the problem of turning the divine guidance into a ritual or magic whose mere chanting would lead people to salvation. The idea that words and not actions are essential to show commitment to the divine guidance has become so dominant that every aspect of life is tailored around it.
These paradoxes pointed out by the Quran exist every where. What is ironic is that while Muslims read and recite the divine verses day in and day out, many non-Muslims are the ones who put many of the ideals of the Quran into action without even knowing that.
For instance the Quran exhorts believers to explore the universe to ensure that everything that is created by the divine is made available for the use of humanity as a whole. Yet, we find contemporary Muslims lacking in this struggle of exploration and scientific progress. On the contrary, they are reminded that science is anti-Islam and technology is a manifestation of Shaitan (at least a few years ago, many scholars in the US deemed TV as an instrument of devil. Ironically, all such scholars now crave to be put on tv screen.).
The Quran asks the believers to ensure that they stop fighting during the four sacred months, yet in our recent memory, the worst killings of Muslims by Muslims took place in those months with the full blessings of the clergy. The Quran commands believers to work for the eradication of slavery, yet in our recent history, the slavery was prevalent in several Muslim countries.
The Quran demands from Muslims unity in faith, yet we find our scholars promoting the idea that differences among people are manifestations of the divine mercy.
The Quran reminds Muslims of their responsibility towards fellow human being by making their resources open to the needy and the poor, yet we find the wealth in Muslim lands concentrated in the hands of less than rive percent of the population.
The Quran prescribes justice as the cornerstone of a Muslim society, yet we find injustices inbuilt in every aspect of Muslim life from the level of the family to the level of state.
The Quran prescribes peace and peaceful resolutions to all the disputes among Muslims and with non-Muslims, yet we find violence often used to settle even minor scores.
The Quran demands the writing of the will before one leaves this world, yet our scholars nullify the will saying that the verse related to this act was abrogated.
The list is never ending. Why is this happening? There are several explanations but two are obvious. 1. Reducing the Book of Guidance to a book of magic, 2. giving precedence over Allah’s guidance to one’s own desires.
The Quran elaborates the two points.
About reducing the book to magic it says: “Do ye enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (To practise it) yourselves, and yet ye study the Scripture? Will ye not understand?” (2:44) Or The similitude of those who were charged with the (obligations of the) Mosaic Law, but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is that of a donkey which carries huge tomes (but understands them not). Evil is the similitude of people who falsify the Signs of Allah. and Allah guides not people who do wrong. (62:5)
About giving precedence to one’s desires it says: See you such a one as takes for his/her god his/her own passion (or impulse)? Could you be a disposer of affairs for him? (25:43) Then see you such a one as takes as his/her god his/her own vain desire? Allah has, knowing (him/her as such), left him astray, and sealed his/her hearing and his/her heart (and understanding), and put a cover on his/her sight. Who, then, will guide him/she after Allah (has withdrawn Guidance)? Will you not then receive admonition? (45:23)
Obviously, these paradoxes are in full knowledge of those who are considered part of religious establishment or scholarship. They have allowed this apathy towards the Quran as they have reduced the Quran into a book of recitation and not a book of guidance. For guidance, they have their own sectarian or factional schools of thoughts. So how should one respond to the challenge?
The only way to get out of the situation is to enable each and every Muslim to understand and develop personal relations with the Quran so that the truth may not be left to discretion of a few individuals. With the iron clutch of the clergy over the masses, this was unthinkable few years ago. But as knowledge is at the finger tips of individuals, it is possible that one can empower oneself with personal relationship with the Quran.