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Lesson 9

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Lesson - 9


"I, Allah, am the best Knower. This Book, there is no doubt in it, is a guide to those who keep their duty." — The Holy Quran, 2:1–2.

In my previous lesson, I had discussed the significance of the name Al-Baqara (The Cow), and its relationship with the ills of the modern age. The words, "I, Allah, am the best Knower (Alif-Laam-Meem)," and "This Book (Dhalik-al-Kitabu)," were also discussed.

Authenticity of the Holy Quran

Today we will learn about the remaining part of this verse:

"This Book, there is no doubt in it".

This statement is a parenthetical clause as it relates to "This Book" and also to the subsequent words, "is a guide to those who keep their duty."

Let us first consider what having "no doubt" about the Book means. It is mandatory for a revealed book to tell us who it was revealed from, the mode of revelation, who the recipient of the revealed word was, the language of revelation, the time of revelation etc. We observe that no other scripture fulfils these criteria. For example, the Bible does not tell us who it was revealed from. The current four gospels do not give us a clue to this. In fact they are named after the names of their authors, and are clearly the record of events in the life of the Messiah. They were translated from books existing in Greek and Latin which were not the mother tongues of Jesus or his people. If they were revealed in his language, they would have been either in Aramaic or Hebrew. From amongst the four gospels which have information contradicting each other, one cannot decide on the authenticity of any one of them. In fact, none of them can be authentic. In addition to being translations, they cannot be the revealed word of God in their present form, because they were authored by human beings, and present different versions of the life history of the Messiah.

On the contrary, the Holy Quran has left no doubt about itself regarding these matters. It meets all the requirements that I had outlined earlier in this discussion. For example, in the verse I recited in the beginning of our lesson today, we are informed that Allah is the One revealing this book. These questions have been answered with further clarification in the following verses of the Holy Quran:

"And surely this is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. The faithful spirit has brought it, on thy heart that thou mayest be a warner. In plain Arabic language." (26:192–195)

Before commenting on these verses, I would like to cite a few more references from the Holy Quran:

"Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel — for surely he revealed it to thy heart by Allah’s command." (2:97)

This verse is addressed to the Israelites now professing enmity to the Angel Gabriel, who had brought revelation to the prophets of Israel for two thousand years, because he was now bringing it to Holy Prophet Muhammad. It is pointed out that he was now descending upon the heart of the Holy Prophet Muhammad only by the command of Allah. Likewise, in the following verses it is stated:

"And believe in that which has been revealed to Muhammad." (47:2)

"The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed."(2:185)

"Surely We revealed it on the Night of Majesty." (97:1)

All these verses prove that Allah, Who is the Lord of the worlds (Rabb-ul-alameen), is the One revealing the Holy Quran. The Quranic message is, therefore, for all nations, and is meant to advance them spiritually from a lower to a higher state of development in this life, and the life Hereafter; the Angel Gabriel being the one bringing this message from Allah to the heart of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. It is revealed in Arabic which has been chosen because it can express the wisdom and knowledge of Allah in a most comprehensive and easily understandable manner. The Holy Quran was revealed in the month of Ramadan on the Night of Majesty (Lailat-ul-Qadr). Thus there is not a single detail about its revelation which is left out. Where mention is made of the Holy Quran being revealed to the blessed heart of Prophet Muhammad, it is stated, "So that you can become the warner." Why is this so? This is because the heart upon which such a powerful revelation descended, itself trembled with humility due to the awe inspired by the Divine word. The Holy Prophet on his return from the cave of Hira, a distance of four or five miles from Makka, was still trembling after having received the first revelation. According to Bukhari (book of the Sayings of the Holy Prophet), the muscles in the neck and shoulders of the Holy Prophet were still trembling with fear, and he asked his wife Hazrat Khadija to cover him up. In spite of being covered up he remained tremulous for quite a while. The same condition re-occurred at the time of the second revelation. According to his wife, Hazrat Ayesha, even afterwards when he became more accustomed to it, he would still break out into a sweat on a cold day. Only the heart of a person who is greatly impressed by the power and dignity of the Divine word is thus capable of warning the rest of humanity.

Another matter in which there can be no doubt concerning the Holy Quran is whether this is the same book from the first to the last letter which was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The first point that I would like to mention in this regard is that the Holy Quran is the only scripture in which it has been written down that Allah Himself will protect this Book:

"Surely We have revealed the Reminder, and surely We are its Guardian."(15:9)

No other revealed scripture has made such a claim. The followers of other books now admit that their originals have been lost and what remains behind is only the translation. Interpolations have occurred in them, and even today changes are being made in them intermittently. Recently the editorial board of the well-known Readers Digest eliminated forty percent of the Bible in their edition. In comparison, even critics of Islam admit that no other book in the world is as well preserved today as the Holy Quran. This is because, besides the Divine promise of its preservation, the following measures were taken:

1. The Holy Prophet, as soon as he received a Quranic revelation, would call in one of the scribes, and instruct them to have it written down in its proper location under his own direction. Other revealed scriptures were not written down right away, but in most cases hundreds of years later.

2. The Holy Quran is the only revealed scripture that can be committed to memory, and since the time of the Holy Prophet hundreds of thousands of people have memorized it.

3. The Holy Quran is the only scripture copies of which were circulated worldwide, but no discrepancy can be found amongst the various copies in circulation. This could not have happened without Divine intervention and protection. Thus neither friend nor foe can doubt the authenticity and complete preservation of the Holy Quran.

Meaning of the word Taqwa

The Holy Quran "is a guide to those who keep their duty (hudal-lil-muttaqin)." The word taqwa (verbal noun of muttaqin) is mentioned frequently in the Holy Quran. It is therefore important to understand its meaning. In simple language the word taqwa means protecting the self from elements which are injurious, painful or detrimental to it. Such injury in case of the human soul is caused by evil and sinful behavior, therefore by definition of Quranic Law (Shariat), taqwa is defined as guarding against evil, muttaqi being one who is careful of, or has regard for, or keeps his duty. Sometimes it is understood as meaning fear, because sin is something one should be most fearful of committing. Harmful and injurious behavior, and bad habits are things that human intellect and nature dislikes. Why does man, then, get involved in these? One reason for this is lack of knowledge that such a path ultimately leads to suffering and fire (that envelops the heart in this life as discontent, and assumes the more palpable form of hell fire in the life Hereafter).

Guidance for the Dutiful

It is, therefore, essential that mankind should be given such knowledge. This is one meaning of ‘guidance for those who keep their duty.’ Guidance, however, is of no use unless it is followed. For example, a doctor instructs us to take a certain medication and follow certain dietary guidelines. If the patient does not act upon this advice, he cannot benefit from it. Matters relating to the inner self, or soul of man, are beyond his comprehension, unless knowledge in this regard is given by Allah, Who created the human spirit. This is the reason why the Holy Quran, in another verse, has been called "Light, guiding thereby" (42:52). Nur means the light which illuminates matters relating to the inner self.

Thus the Holy Quran not only gives guidance, but provides the inner light with the help of which man can follow the right path and reach his destination. It can protect him from going in the wrong direction, and warn him of pitfalls and dangers that lurk in the way. In fact, all human faculties of action are two-fold, i.e., we can utilize them to do good or evil. Let us, for example, take the faculty of speech which distinguishes mankind from the rest of creation. We can use the power of speech to tell the truth or lie, to abuse verbally, or to speak to someone with love. We can talk with it behind people’s backs or remember them for their good qualities. We can use it to disturb law and order, or to create peace and harmony among fellow beings. Thus all human faculties may be used for good or for evil. Therefore, for a person who is muttaqi i.e., wants to guard against evil, what greater beneficence is there that he is made aware of the difference between right and wrong in all of his actions. This is the meaning of guidance towards the right path. This Book provides guidance to, and distinguishes between, the right and wrong of every action.

Some people raise the objection that for someone who is already guarding against evil, what is the purpose of telling him about good and evil. As I have already stated, man despite his intention to guard against evil, falls prey to evil and wrongdoing because of incomplete and incorrect knowledge in this matter. For matters relating to the inner self of man, there is need for that inner light which can only be provided by the One Who has created the human spirit. Those who raise such objections are not familiar with the real meaning of the Arabic word hidayat or guidance. It means guiding one on the right path with pleasure and kindness till one reaches the desired destination. Muttaqi is the one who intends to, and wants to, guard against evil, but he has yet to walk on the right path and reach his destination. The spiritual wayfarer, who guards against evil, does not ever reach a point where he is not in need of guidance from the Holy Quran. After the broad and general directions, the Holy Quran also gives guidance in finer matters of spiritual purification.

As I have mentioned, every human faculty is capable of good or evil. Thus when man benefits from the light of Quranic guidance and guards against evil in all his actions, what remains behind is called righteous action (amal-i-salih), the reward for which is paradise (peace and contentment of the heart in this life and the more palpable heavenly blessings of the Hereafter).

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