Objection # 28
The message in a standard Qur’an is difficult to decipher
“He it is who has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ, containing messages that are clear in and by themselves – and these are the essence of the divine writ – as well as others that are allegorical. Now those whose hearts are given to swerving from the truth go after that part of the divine writ which has been expressed in allegory, seeking out [what is bound to create] confusion, and seeking [to arrive at] its final meaning [in an arbitrary manner]; but none save God knows its final meaning. Hence, those who are deeply rooted in knowledge say: “We believe in it; the whole [of the divine writ] is from our Sustainer – albeit none takes this to heart save those who are endowed with insight.” (Qur’an;3:7)
First of all the reader should understand the real nature of the Qur’an. Whether one believes it to be a revealed book or not, one will have to consider, as a starting point, the claim that is put forward by itself and its bearer, Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him), that this is the Divine Guidance. During their respective terms, the Messengers [some mentioned by name in Bible and Qur’an like; Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Moses and Jesus] fulfilled their mission admirably well. But it is a pity that the majority of the people were not inclined to accept their invitation and even those who joined their community gradually became corrupt. So much so that some of these communities totally lost that Guidance and others tampered with the Commandments of Allah and mixed them up with false things.
Then the Lord of the Universe sent Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) as His last Messenger to fulfill the same mission for which Messengers had been sent before him. He extended his invitation to all the human beings, including the corrupt followers of the previous Messengers and asked them lo follow the Right Way. He organized all those who accepted the Divine Guidance in to one community which in turn , was required to re-establish its collective way of life based on the Guidance and to exert its utmost to reform the world which had gone astray. The Qur’an which was revealed to Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) is the Book which contains that Invitation and that Divine Guidance.
The Subject of Qur’an is; Man: it discusses those aspects of his life that lead either to his real success or failure. The Central Theme that runs throughout the Qur’an is the exposition of the Reality and the invitation to the Right Way based on it. It declares that Reality is the same that was revealed by Allah Himself to Adam, and to all the Messengers after him, and the Right Way is the same that was taught by all the Messengers. It also points out that all theories contradictory to this Reality invented by people about God, the Universe, Man and his relations with God and the rest of His creation, are all wrong and that all the ways of life based on them are erroneous and lead to ruinous end.
The Aim and Object of the revelations is to invite Man to that Right Way and to present clearly the Guidance which he has lost because of his negligence or has perverted by his wickedness.
If the reader keeps these basic things in mind, he will find that in this Book [Qur’an] there is no incongruity in the style, no gap in the continuity of the subject and no lack of interconnection between its various topics. As a matter of fact, this Book is not irrelevant anywhere with regard to its Subject, its Central Theme and its aim. From its very beginning to its end, the different topics it deals with are so intimately connected with its Central Theme that they may be likened to the beautiful gems of the same necklace, despite their different colors and sizes.
One cannot fully understand many of the topics discussed in the Qur’an unless one is-acquainted with the background of their revelation. One should know the social, historical or other antecedents or conditions which help to explain any particular topic. For, the Qur’an was not revealed as a complete book at one and the same time; nor did Allah handed over a written copy of it to Muhammad (Allah’s peace be upon him) at the very beginning of his mission and command him to publish it and invite people to adopt a particular way of life. More over, it is not a literary work of the common conventional type that develops its central theme in a logical order; nor does it conform to the style of such a work. The Qur’an adopts its own style to suit the guidance of the Islamic Movement that was started by Allah’s Messenger under His direct command. Accordingly, Allah revealed the Qur’an gradually [step by step] to meet the requirements of the Movement in its different stages.
1) Makki Surahs [610-622 C.E]: Chapters Revealed in 13 years Mission at Makkah:
2) Madani Surahs [622-632 C.E] :Chapters Revealed during Last 10 years:
It must have become clear from the above that the revelation of the Qur’an began simultaneously with the beginning of the Islamic Movement [610 C.E] and continued for twenty-three years [632 C.E]:-
1 The different portions of the Qur’an were revealed according to the requirements of the various phases of the Movement; it is thus obvious that a book like this cannot have the kind of uniformity of style which is followed in formal books on religion and the like.
2 It should also be kept in mind that the various portions of the Qur’an, both long and short, were not meant to be published in the form of pamphlets at the time of their revelation but were to be delivered as Discourses and promulgated as such. Hence they could not be in the style of a written work.
3 Moreover, these Discourses were necessarily of a different nature from that of the lectures of a professor; therefore their style would naturally be different from them also.
4 The Holy Prophet was entrusted with a special mission and had to appeal both to the emotions and to the intellect; he had to deal with people of different mentalities and cope with different situations and various kinds of experiences during the course of his mission. Such a person has to do all that is required for extending a message and for leading a movement.
5 The Prophet had to impress the different aspects of his message on people’s minds in order to change the established world of ideas, and to appeal to the feelings and emotions in order to counteract the forces of his opponents.
6 The Prophet also had to train and reform his followers and to imbue them with spirit and courage, and to refute the arguments of opponents and to expose their moral weaknesses and so on. That is why the style of the Discourses that Allah sent down to His Messenger had to be what suited the requirements of a Movement. It is, therefore, wrong to seek the style of a formal book or that of college lectures in the discourses of the Qur’an.
7 This also explains why the same things are repeated over and over again in the Qur’an. A Mission and a Movement naturally demand that only those things should be presented which are required at a particular stage and that nothing should be said about the requirements of the next stage. That is why the same things are repeated over and over again as long s the movement remains in the same stage, no matter whether it remains there for months or for years. Of course, these things have been differently worded and styled to avoid monotony and couched in a beautiful and dignified language to make them effective and impressive. Moreover, it repeats at suitable places its basic good aspects and principles in order to keep the Movement strong at every stage. That is why those Chapters [Sarah] which were revealed at a particular stage of the Movement generally deal with the same topics, though, of course, in different words and in various forms. Moreover, all the Sarah of the Qur’an contain references to the basic creed i.e. the unit of Allah, His attributes, the Hereafter and accountability, punishment and reward, Prophethood, belief in the Book etc…. They all teach piety, fortitude, endurance, faith and trust in Allah and like, just because these virtues could not be neglected at any stage of the Movement. If any of these bates had been weakened at any stage even in the least, the Islamic Movement could not have made any progress in its true spirit.
Order of Chapters:
This has been exploited by the opponents to create misunderstandings about the Qur’an and make ridiculous conjectures about the present arrangement of the Chapters. They are of the opinion that “Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) followers published it, without any discernible order as to chronology or otherwise; merely trying; as would seem, to put the longest chapters first —“. A little thinking in the light of the difference between the Makki and the Madani Surahs will also answer the question why the Chapters [Surahs] of the Qur’an were not arranged in the sequence in which they were revealed
Such conjectures are based on ignorance of the wisdom underlying the order of the Qur’an. Though it was to be the Book for all times, it had to be revealed gradually, step by step in twenty-three years according to needs and requirements of the different stages through which the Islamic Movement was passing. It is obvious that the sequence of the revelations that suited the gradual evolution of the Movement could not in any way be suitable after the completion of the Qur’an. Another order, suitable to the changed conditions, was needed. In the early stages of the Movement the Qur’an addressed those people who were totally ignorant of Islam and, therefore, naturally it had first of all to teach them the basic articles of Faith. But after its completion the Qur’an was primarily concerned with those who had accepted Islam and formed a community for carrying on the work entrusted to them by the Holy Prophet. Obviously, the order of the complete Book had to be different from its chronological order to suit the requirements of the Muslim Community for all times.
Moreover the Qur’an first of all had to acquaint the Muslims thoroughly with their duties concerning the regulation of their lives. It had also to prepare them for carrying its message to the world which was ignorant of Islam. It had also to warn them of the mischief and evils that appeared among the followers of the former Prophets so that they should be on their guard. Hence Al-Baqarah and similar Madani Surahs, and not AI-‘Alaq and similar Makki Surahs, had to be placed in the beginning of the Qur’an.
In this connection, an other aspect should also be kept in view, that it does not suit the purpose of the Qur’an that all the Surahs dealing with similar topics should be grouped together. In order to avoid one-sidedness at any stage of its study, it is essential that the Makki Surahs [the part of Qur’an, revealed during initial 10 years] should intervene between the Madani Surahs and that the Madani Surahs should follow the Makki Surahs, and that the Surahs revealed at the later stages so that the entire picture of the complete Islam should always remain before the reader. That is the wisdom of the present order [sequence].
It should also be noted that the Surahs of the Qur’an’ were not arranged in the present order by his successors but by the Holy Prophet himself under the guidance of Allah. Whenever a Surahs was revealed, he would send for one of his amanuenses and dictate it word by word and direct him to place it after such and such and before such and such a Chapter. Likewise in this case of a discourse or passage or verse that was not meant to be an independent Sarah by itself, he would issue directions about the exact place where it was to be put in the Sarah of which it was to form a part. Moreover he used to recite the Qur’an during the Salah (prescribed prayer) and on other occasions in the same order and direct his companions to remember and recite it in the same order. This is the established fact the that the Surahs of the Qur’an were arranged in the present order on the same day the Qur’an was completed by the one whom it was revealed under the guidance of the One who revealed it.
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