Recommendations for Study:
Finally, here are a few recommendations for the study of the Qur’an with understanding. As different people turn to the Qur’an with different aims and objectives, it s not possible of offer any general advice about the method of its study so as to fulfill the requirements of all. Here focus is only on those people who want to understand it and seek guidance from it for the solution of human problems. Therefore, some suggestions are offered which may help satisfy their needs and remove their difficulties:-
1 The one pre-requisite for understanding the Qur’an is to study it with an open mind. Whether one believes it to be a revealed book or not, one should, as far as possible, free one’s mind of bias in favor of an or against it and get rid of all pre-conceived opinions and then approach it with the sole desire of understanding it. Those people, who study it with preconceived notions of their own, read only their own ideas between its lines and cannot, therefore, grasp what the Qur’an wants to convey. It is obvious that this method of study can never be fruitful even with other books but it is utterly fruitless when applied to the study of the Qur’an.
2 If one wants to have merely a cursory acquaintance with the contents of the Qur’an, then perhaps it might suffice for him to read it once. But, if one wishes to have a deep knowledge of it, one will have to go through it several times and each time from a different point of view.
3 Those who desire to make a through study of the Qur’an should read it at least twice with the sole purpose of understanding, as a whole, the system of life it presents. One should also try to find out its fundamentals and the way of life it aims to build on them. During this preliminary study, if some questions occur in his mind, the reader should note them down and somewhere in the Qur’an itself. If he finds answers to his questions, he should note them down along with the questions. But if he does not find an answer to any question in his first reading, he should patiently make the second reading. In the light of experience it is found that in the second reading hardly any question remains un-answered.
4 After getting a general insight into the Qur’an in this way, one should begin its detailed study and take down notes of the different aspects of its teachings. For instance:-
a. One should note down what pattern of life it approves and what it disapproves.
b. One should note down the qualities of a good man and those of a bad man, side by side, in order to bring both the patterns clearly before his mind simultaneously.
c. Similarly, one should note down, side by side, those things which lead to the success and salvation of man and those which lead to his failure and ruin.
d. In the same way, the reader of Qur’an should put down, under different headings, the teachings and instruction of the Qur’an about creed, morality, duties, obligations, civilization, culture, economics, politics, law, social system, peace, war and other human problems. These notes should be consolidated to form a complete sketch of each aspect of the teachings and then fitted together to form a complete system of life.
5 Then, if one desires to know the Qur’anic solution of a certain human problem he should first make a study of the relevant literature, both ancient and modern, and then note down the basic issues. He should also make use of the research so far made into the problem and note down the points at issue. He should then study the Qur’an with a view to finding out the answers to those issues.
6 One will find an answer to it even in those verses which one had skipped over without ever imagining that it lay hidden therein.
7 It is suggested that each paragraph of Commentary of Qur’an, may be made the unit of study. At first it should be studied from the original Arabic Text with the help of some literal translation and then with the help of the commentary of Qur’an. It is expected that the meanings of the Qur’an will surely become clear by the grace of God.
But in spite of all these methods, one cannot grasp the inspiring spirit of the Qur’an unless one begins to put its message into practice, for the Qur’an is neither a book of abstract ideas and theories which may be studied in an easy chair nor is it a book of religious enigmas which may be unraveled in monasteries and universities.
Qur’an is a Book that has been sent down to invite people to start a movement and to lead its followers and direct their activities towards the achievement of its mission. One has, therefore, to go to the battlefield of life to understand its real meaning. That was why a quiet and amiable person like Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to come out of his seclusion and start the Islamic Movement and fight against the rebellious world. It was the Qur’an that urged him to declare war against every kind of falsehood and engage in conflict with the leaders of disbelief without any consideration of the consequences. Then it attracted good souls from every home and gathered them under the banner of its leader in order to strive against the upholders of the old order who organized themselves into a gang to oppose them. During this long and bitter struggle between right and wrong, truth and falsehood, which continued for twenty three years or so, the Qur’an went on guiding the Movement in every phase and at every stage, until it succeeded in establishing the Islamic Way of life par excellence.
It is thus obvious that one cannot possibly grasp the truths contained in the Qur’an by the mere recitation of its words. For this purpose one must take active part in the conflict between belief and unbelief. Islam and un-Islam, truth and falsehood. One can understand it only if he takes up its Message, invites the world to accept it and moves on and on in accordance with its Guidance. Thus by yourself will you experience and understand all that which happened during the revelation of the Qur’an. You will meet with the same conditions that were experienced at Makkah, Ta’if and Habash and pass through the same kind of fire that had to be passed through at Badar, Uhd, Hunain, Tabuk [expeditions of war] etc. You will meet many people like Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab [bitter opponents of Islam] and come across hypocrites and the double-faced. In short, one will come across all types of people mentioned in the Qur’an. Incidentally, this is a wonderful experience of its own kind and worth the trial.
While passing through any one of these stages of this experience, one will find some verses and some Surahs of the Qur’an, which will themselves tell that they were revealed at such and such a stage and brought such and such instructions for the guidance of the Movement. In this way the Qur’an will lay bare its spirit even though one might not be able to understand all the lexical meanings of its words and solve all the intricacies of grammar and rhetoric. The same formula applies to its Commandments, its moral teachings, its instructions about economics and culture and its laws regarding different aspects of human life. These things can never be understood unless they are put into practice. It is thus obvious that those individuals and communities, who discard it from practical life, cannot understand its meaning and imbibe its spirit by mere lip-service to it.
The true knowledge is with Allah; we should have full trust in Him and turn to Him for true guidance. As it is not intended to discuss in this short guide, all the problems which might arise during the study of the Our’ an, many have been purposely left untouched those questions that might arise during the study of some verses or Surahs, are dealt in commentaries on the Qur’an at their proper places. Only those questions and problems which pertain to the general study of the Qur’an as a whole have been mentioned here. The reader is, therefore, requested to defer giving his final judgment on such questions till he has read the whole of Qur’an with commentary by renowned scholars like; Syed Abul A’ala Maududi, Muhammad Asad, Muhammad Shafi, Abdullah Yousaf Ali, F.M.Malik, Pickthal and alike.
Qur’an can not be understood without Key, The Hadith & Serah:
The basic doctrines of Islam is monotheism, which is the message of all previous scriptures and prophets, the verses are very clear on commandments:
“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)
The basic legal issues of day to day life of Muslims [muamlat], the second part of Shari’a are also mentioned in Qur’an. For detailed comprehension of legal issues one has to study much more, the job of scholars. In this age of computers and internet, one can easily find all the verse on a given topic at one place, with references and cross references with in Qur’an and Hadith. Qur’an has to be read and understood in totality, by an individual, the commentaries are there for assistance. The important matter of Faith can not be left in casual way. Qur’an can not be understood properly through commentary by a non believer:
“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. Who believe In the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what we have provided for them; and who believe In the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before Thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper. As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether Thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe.”[Qur’an;2:2-6]