The Learnings Of The Glorious Quran

The Learnings Of The Glorious Quran

The Necessity of Utilizing the Qur’an As Amirul-Mu’minin ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S.)[1] said: “The outside of the Qur’an is elegant and its inside is deep.”[2] The Qur’an is a limitless ocean whose depths cannot be fathomed except by the Ma’sums (A.S.).[3] Nevertheless, both the Qur’an and the Ma’sums advise the people to contemplate the […]

  • Hujjatul-Islam wal-Muslimin Misbah Yazdi
The Learnings Of The Glorious Quran
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    The Necessity of Utilizing the Qur'an As Amirul-Mu'minin 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S.)[1] said: "The outside of the Qur'an is elegant and its inside is deep."[2] The Qur'an is a limitless ocean whose depths cannot be fathomed except by the Ma'sums (A.S.).[3] Nevertheless, both the Qur'an and the Ma'sums advise the people to contemplate the ayahs [verses] of the Qur'an. The Qur'an says: "A Book We have revealed to you, blessed, that they may ponder over its ayahs..."[4] Not satisfied with that, it even rebukes those who do not ponder over it, saying: "Do they not, then, ponder over the Qur'an, or are there locks on the hearts?"[5] Likewise, the Prophet (S.A.)[6] and the (twelve) pure Imams (A.S.) had frequently advised that the Qur'an should be referred to and meditated upon, especially when the general ideological situation gets obscure and confused, and when there appear among the Muslims dubieties which may cause ideological and doctrinal deviations. It is advised that in such conditions the Muslims are to refer to the Qur'an: "When ordeals become ambiguous to you, like lumps of a black night, refer to the Qur'an."[7] How to Utilize the Qur'an According to many narrations, the complete knowledge of the Qur'an was with the Prophet (S.A.) and with the pure Imams (A.S.), and it was they who were the real teachers and interpreters of the Qur'an. The Qur'an itself presents the noble Prophet as its teacher and explainer.[8] At the same time we realize that the noble Prophet (S.A) as well as the pure Imams (A.S.), stress that people should refer to the Qur'an, and that when the truthfulness of a narrative was doubted, it must be compared with the Qur'an. There is a chapter in the narrative books called "Comparison with the Book", which also comes in the books of Usul under the title: "Equality and Preference." One of the preferences, or the conditions, for accepting a narrative as true, is whether it is in conformity with the Qur'an or not. So, when we want to make sure whether a narrative is in conformity with the Qur'an or not, or whether it is, at least, preferable to other ones, we must first know the meaning of the relevant ayah in order to see if the narrative conforms to it or not. If it is such that the ayah has to be in conformity with the narrative, there we will have a cycle. Therefore, the dubious saying that, "No one has the right to deliberate the Qur'an and to utilize it, without referring first to the narratives", is but a groundless one. It is our duty, according to the very command of the Qur'an, the affirmations of the noble Prophet (S.A.), and the recommendations of the pure Imams (A.S.) to contemplate the ayahs of the Qur'an and understand them. Unfortunately, there have been many shortcomings in this respect. Classes on explaining and interpreting the Qur'an among the religious students circles became so weak and negligent, until the late professor 'Allamah Tabataba'i succeeded in animating the classes on this subject. This was one of his great noble deeds, and we are all indebted to him. At present, one of the greatest authorized Islamic reference books is his honoured 'Al-Mizan fi Tafsir Al-Qur'an [=The Balance in .Interpreting the Qur'an] as one of the best exegeses of the Qur'an, which had been written. May Allah associate him with his pure ancestors, and help us to follow the path of our professor, and we offer our gratitude to him and his like. However, we have to ponder and think about the Qur'an so as to be benefited by its precious gems and treasures. Thank God, today our people have realized the importance of learning the Qur'an and its meaning. The people's reception of the interpretation is unprecedented. Although we are glad to know about it, yet we should be cautious lest some deviation might appear in the interpretation of the Qur'an which besides not bringing the facts of Islam any nearer, it also opens the roads to satanic goals. Unfortunately, we do know of such instances that had already happened. Today, there are groups of different identities who think that they are taking advantage of the Qur'an by way of conforming- their ill-thought ideas to the ayahs of the Qur'an. some of these groups are already known, while some others are not yet known well enough, though their activities in this respect are effective. As we rejoice at the people's - especially the youths' - advance towards understanding the Qur'an, we must be on the alert lest the deviational methods find their way in the interpretation of the Qur'an, and change -God forbid- the course of the society. Naturally, the burden of this responsibility lies on the shoulders of the men of religion who will have to fill up this gap, and guide those who want to learn the Qur'an to the right path, since not all of the deviators have intentionally and purposely adopted enmity to Islam and the Islamic State. It may be that the majority of them have been dragged on this road as a result of misunderstanding, and incorrect teachings and inspirations. Yet, regretfully, some of them have received the support of some men of religion. Deviation in Interpreting the Qur'an The impact of this topic may better be realized in seeing that the affliction of "the deviational conformity of the Qur'an to one's own ideas and purposes", not comparing them with it, had befallen the Islamic society just after the demise of the noble Prophet (S.A.), causing a person like 'Amirul-Mu'minin, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib (A.S.) to complain. So, isn't there the danger that this deviation may expand, during our time of weak knowledge, to a more disastrous stage? That is why we must handle such matters with greater alertness than before, and follow the same path shown by the noble Prophet (S.A.) and the Imams (A.S.) There is no doubt, then, that one of the most important tasks of our men of religion is to try hard to explain correctly and accurately all the concepts of the Qur'an to the different people of common, medium and high levels, and to put their knowledge within the easy reach of everybody. This task is a must, as otherwise, other deviations should be expected. Today, most of the Muslim youths are deeply and eagerly interested in learning the concepts of the Qur'an. Some think that by referring to lexical and other similar books they can solve their problems. If we are to excuse them for this, how can we accept such an excuse from the elders who spent so many years in company with the scholars and studied hard the ayahs and the narratives together with the great researchers and versed men? We have to utilize the criterion which we received from the scholars and the interpreters of the Qur'an, and to do our best to obtain explicit concepts of the Qur'an to offer them to the society, so as to pay up our debt to Islam and the Qur'an. Yes, although it is not easy to understand the meanings and the interpretation of the Qur'an, yet, telling the one who desires to understand the Qur'an that one must keep studying for some thirty years before being able to comprehend the Qur'an, would mean disheartening one of being able to know the correct meaning of the Qur'an, or sending one into the arms of the perverted. It is true that understanding the Qur'an requires special efforts and certain faculties, but it is also true that a number of the talented should shoulder this burden and present its fruit to the others. What we offer are such subjects whose dependence on the Qur'an is unquestionable, and, at the same time, they are not irrelevant nor orderless, since, on the one hand, disarrayed thoughts are difficult to learn, and, on the other, the incorrect ideological orders cannot be counteracted by another ideological order made of scattered and irrelevant notions. The Necessity of Classifying the Islamic Learnings At a time when all the deviated schools of thought try to connect and join a series of matters into an orderly and coordinated whole and to present their incorrect thoughts as a coherent unit, we must be even keener in offering the learnings of the Qur'an systematically and in good order so that a researcher may start from a particular point and advance to connect the rings of the Islamic learnings into a joint chain so as to finally attain to the aim of the Qur'an and Islam. Therefore, we have but to sort out and classify the Qur'anic learnings and shape them in such forms that make it easy for the less attentive young people to learn them, and to be, at the same time, able to present them facing the other schools of thought. To classify the learnings of the Qur'an in accordance with an objective exegesis sorting out the Qur'anic concepts according to their subject matters, while observing their correlations, would incur some difficulties, despite its being necessary. The classification of the Qur'anic learnings requires a special systematic order. We are to pick out for each subject the relevant ayahs, arrange them together, then to think about them and coordinate our efforts to light up the possibly ambiguous points. That is, to explain the Qur'an by the Qur'an itself-the very method adopted by the great 'Allamah Tabatabai, in his Al-Mizan exegesis. Yet, it must be noted that when we take an ayah out of its context and consider it alone, disregarding the other ayahs before and after it, there can be the possibility of losing its real importance. In other words, the Qur'anic ayahs have contextual indications which are sometimes found in former or latter ayahs, or even in another surah. So, without taking these indications into our consideration, we may not get the real meaning of the ayahs. In order not to face such difficulties, and not to mutilate or dissect the ayah, or get away from its original meaning - such as just reading: 'There is no god," cutting off its second part: "but Allah" - we, must take care, when intending to put an ayah under a certain subject, and take into consideration its connection with the ayahs before and after it, so as not to neglect mentioning any possible relevant indication. Nothing can prevent us from stating the ayah under discussion together with its relevant ayahs that come before or after it, putting them between parentheses. This will help us not to overlook the contextual indications when referring to the discussed ayah. Once again I repeat that we should always consider the indications before and after the ayah in question, as it had happened to the author of these lines. On occasion an ayah was considered and some remarks were written down, after some time, it was noted that in the former ayah there was an indication which escaped his attention, as otherwise he could have made more complete remarks, or even different ones. Now as we have but to classify the learnings and the concepts of the Qur'an, and, consequently, to classify the ayahs as well, and present the relevant ones to each chapter, we must decide the basis according to which they should be classified. We do know that the Qur'an is not classified like that which is used by the human beings. We seldom find a surah, even if it is of a single line, that deals with only a single subject. Actually, there are many ayahs each of which handles several subjects, and its content has many dimensions and features. For example, a single ayah can include ideological, moral, historical and other dimensions - another fact which makes it difficult to segment the ayahs, though not impossible. Each ayah can be repeated on diverse topics. A Plan for Grouping the Ayahs Finding a general headline for the content of a single or several ayahs is not a difficult task-such as the ayahs on the salat, the jihad, bidding the right and forbidding the wrong. But coining the headlines and placing them within the frame of a system is not an easy job. Suppose we looked into the Qur'an and managed to group its concepts under, say, a hundred headlines, but how can these headlines be arranged in a harmonious order? Take, for example, the first ayah of the Qur'an. It praises Allah. So, the first title may be "Praising Allah". The first ayah of Suratul-Baqarah is about those who are guided by Allah. Similarly the other titles can follow this wake. Now, is that the best plan for titling, or can these same titles be systematized, too, so as to have a starting point, and a natural and logical advance? The Plans In this respect we suggest three plans as specimens of the best opinions offered for the grouping of the learnings of the Qur'an. From among them we have selected the best. The First Plan It maybe that this plan is the most familiar to one's mind. It divides the religious contents into three groups: beliefs, ethics and precepts. Al-Mizan exegesis frequently refers to this classification. so, one way for grouping all the learnings of the Qur'an is to divide them into three groups: one group to cover the principal beliefs (monotheism, prophethood, resurrection, justice and Imamate), as well as their relevant details, such as the details of the Barzakh [the intermediate state of the souls after death up to the Resurrection Day]. The second group covers the ethics. The third group covers the precepts, whose division in fact, had been applied by our jurists in their books under a chapter titled: 'The Ayahs of the Precepts", such as Kanzul-'Irfan" and Zubdatul-Bayan." Criticizing the First Plan Although a good plan, it is nevertheless criticizable. First, forcing all the contents of the Qur'an into these three categories is difficult. Take, for example, those ayahs which concern the histories and episodes of the prophets, though some of these episodes refer to monotheistic, ethical and legislative matters, yet the collection of the episodes belongs to none of these categories. It should, actually, come under a separate coherent chapter which, if segmented, it can no longer be episodic. So, if somebody wants to look up the episode about Ashabul Kahf [the people of the cave], he will not know under which group it can be found, as there would be no clear indication to guide him. Another difficulty is that since these three categories have no obvious correlation among them, they may be regarded as forcibly imposed. These precautions are, however, unimportant, and, should there be no better alternative, it may be adopted. The Second Plan The second plan is based on the saying that the Qur'an is for the guidance of mankind: "A guidance to men, and, as man has different dimensions, such as the material, the spiritual, the individual, the social, the secular and the heavenly dimensions, the learnings of the Qur'an are also to be classified accordingly, taking man as the axis of the classification. Criticizing the Second Plan This plan is actually workable, as it has no serious problem, but it seems that its technical difficulties are more than those of the first one. This is because when we come to look deeper into the details of the concepts of the Qur'an we find out that to take man as an axis is not so much recommended by the Qur'an itself. It would be a kind of prejudice which takes man to be the centre around which everything else revolves. The Qur'an does not accept such partiality. We do realize that all the Qur'anic concepts, no matter what topic they deal with, whether ideological, moral, preachy, narrative, legislative, individual or social, they all revolve around a single axis - Allah the Exalted. When a law or a precept is enjoined, it is said that Allah had imposed it on you, and when a morality is explained it is said to be loved by Allah: Allah loves those who judge equitably",[9] "Allah loves the patient"[10] and Allah does not love the mischief-makers."[11] So, the axis of morality is Allah, the Exalted, too. Thus, it can be said that the Qur'anic ayahs are based on Allah centralization. The school of the Qur'an is Allah axial, not man-axial. So, taking man as an axis is almost a deviation. The axis of the learnings of the Qur'an must thus, be "Allah", and it should be preserved. Another difficulty is that the dimensional entity of man is obscure and it cannot be decided how many dimensions man has, so that we can according to them group the ayahs . On the other hand, there can be seen no obvious connection among the dimensions of the human entity at first glance.[12] The next problem is that grouping the learnings of the Qur'an according to man's dimensional entity is a futile attempt, because sometimes we see that Divine judgement or a characteristic praised in man does not belong to a particular dimension of human entity, as, actually, we realize that many of man's dimensions are connected to a precept, law or morality, such that one cannot positively say that his Qur'anic declaration undoubtedly belongs to a particular dimension of man's entity. The Third Plan Taking into consideration the problems of the former two plans concerning grouping the learnings of the Qur'an, this third suggestion is offered with "Allah" as the axis, and the grouping is done longitudinally, not crosswise. That is, we take the learnings of the Qur'an to be like a running stream, or a cataract, which flows down from the Divine source of abundance, saturating every region or stage it reaches: He sends down water from the sky, then the water flows in the valleys according to their capacities."[13] We must regard the learnings of the Qur'an as a flowing spring which advances from one region to another, representing the longitudinal groupings. It has a starting point from which it flows into a valley, then, having filled it to the brim, it runs to the second one, which is a branch of the first, not that it goes in parallel to it or as its partner. These longitudinal classifications gradually change into a delta with many tributaries. So, the basis of this plan is to longitudinally classify the Qur'anic learnings. This plan, in our view, is more recommendable than the other two, for the following reasons: First, its axis is "Allah", the Exalted, and besides Him nothing is introduced: He is the First and the Last and the Outward and the Inward", whereas in other classifications with some other axes, such as man, monotheism or beliefs, we shall have to share in ethics and precepts as well. In this plan we have but a single theme, with none to come along with it, as any other theme can be dealt with only after completely finishing our discussion about the first theme. Therefore, the first merit of this plan is that it is based on "Allah" being the axis, and all the classifications go around it. The second merit is that a logical arrangement among matters and groupings can be established. When these discussions are connected to one another chain-like, the previous topic will naturally have a kind of advancement over the later one- a clear and understandable advancement, unlike the classifications done diagonally, in which case the advancement of the one over another needs explanation, often constrained. For example, suppose that man's individual and social affairs are two dimensions of his entity. Now should we begin with his individual affairs or social affairs: should we give priority to other classifications, or should we begin with the material and spiritual affairs? Had there been a natural arrangement among the titles and the groups according to which the classifications could be carried out, there would have been an explicit reason for advancing or delaying the groups - a fact which would have offered a better coordinated system, free from the problems of the former plans. Consequently, it is better to take "Allah" as the axis for all the Qur'anic learnings, as it is completely compatible with the spirit of the teachings of the Qur'an. We are to begin with theology, then, through our study of the Divine Acts we are to study topics concerning ontology, anthropology and other dimensions of the human being by way of studying the Divine management and education. The result would be a harmonious system of the Qur'anic learnings whose axis is of real originality, and whose chain links are of obvious connection and arrangement. The Order of the Learnings of the Qur'an Therefore, the system of the Qur'anic learnings can be arranged as below: 1. Theology: It covers knowing Allah and studying monotheism and Allah's Divine Attributes and Universal Acts. 2. Ontology: It covers studying the universe: (The Earth, the heavens, and the stars), atmospheric phenomena: (thunder, lightening, wind, rain, etc.) and terrestrial phenomena: (mountains, seas, etc.), including, at the same time: Divine Throne, Divine Omniscience, angels, jinn and the Satan. Obviously, after studying the Universal Acts of Allah, which will be dealt with in the first section, the turn. will be for the study of the details of creation and management. Naturally, the study of the creation of the world comes before the study of the creation of man. 3. Anthropology: It covers the creation of man, the specialities of the spirit, man's dignity and honour, bearing responsibility and its conditions: (awareness, ability to work, freewill, etc.), the different dimensions of man's entity, divine laws for the management of the individual and the society, resurrection and the final destiny of man. It will be realized in this part that life in this world is a preliminary step to the Hereafter life, and is a stage in which man must himself choose, of his own free will, his way to happiness and make his own fate. The Divine management in this world revolves around securing the preliminary steps (affliction and trials) to be chosen. 4. Recognizing the way: That is, one is to obtain ordinary knowledge (different common intuitive and acquired knowledge), and extraordinary knowledge (inspiration, revelation, etc.). Questions like prophethood, the necessity of sending prophets, their objectives and their positions (as prophets, messengers and Imams), questions dealing with miracles, infallibility, and, finally, the succession of the prophets (Imamate in its particular meaning) will be dealt with. The connection between this section and the previous one is obvious, as, after knowing that man is a selective creature, and that he must freely choose his way, the topic of this section will be "the necessity of recognizing the way." 5. Recognizing the guide: It covers the history of the prophets, the merits of every one of them, the Books that had been revealed to them and their contents, ending with the history of the noble Prophet of Islam and the events that happened during his lifetime. Meanwhile, the history of the nations and other episodes mentioned by the Qur'an will be discussed therein. The depending of this section on the previous one is also obvious, as, having realized that there were revelation and prophethood, there would emerge the necessity of recognizing the persons who had been chosen to receive the revelation and convey it to the people. 6. Knowing the Qur'an: It covers knowing general information about the Qur'an and its characteristics, such as: the objective of its revelation, how it was revealed, its miraculous nature, its universality, its everlastingness, its style of expression (logical inference, preaching, argument, exemplification, narration, etc.). It is obvious that this section also depends on the previous one, as, after having discussed the old heavenly Books, the turn would be for the last revealed Book which is to remain eternal. 7. Ethics or the making of man by the Qur'an: This covers discussions about knowing oneself; the making of man, the good and bad in the freewill actions of man, and their relation to perfection and final happiness; the method of the Qur'anic education and purifieation (awakening of the motives for good deeds by warning and glad tidings); the role of faith and action and their connection to knowledge; and, at last, the details of virtues and evils. Consequently, this section comes after knowing the Qur'an, where we conclude that the objective of the Qur'an is purification [of the soul] and education. The purification requires discussing ethics and self-making. 8. The devotional programmes of the Qur'an: This covers studies on salat [Islamic ritual prayer], sawm [fasting], hajj [Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca], sacrifice, invocation and praising Allah, i.e. acts whose basic pillar is the strengthening of man's connection with Allah, though including many social interests. 9. The Qur'anic precepts concerning the individual: This covers discussing subjects such as: halal [the lawful] and haram [the forbidden] in respect of the eatables and the drinkables (food and drink), games, slaughtering, luxury and beautification. 10. The Qur'anic precepts concerning the society: This section covers social, legal, political and economic arguments which are divided into the following divisions: a. Civil laws b. Economic laws c. Judicial laws d. Penal code e. Political regulations f. International laws As an introduction to this section, the society will be dealt with from the Qur'anic point of view. In the last three sections, the Qur'anic practical programme, concerning relations with Allah, with one-self and with the others, are discussed with reference to the teachings of this heavenly Book in respect of each of them. Thus, the learnings of the Qur'an start from the very beginning of existence, then go forward to orderly deal with the stages of creation and Divine management, ending with explaining the merits of the ideal society. In all stages the connection with the original axis, Allah, is completely preserved. Source: alhassanain.com

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