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April 5, 2013

Book Review of Major Themes of the Qur’an of Fazlur Rahman

Quran is a direct address of God with human being and its major theme is to establish the faith of omnipotent God. The fact is as one start reading verses from Quran, feels that each verse is a unique script. Before we actually start reviewing the Quran in light of the given book, it is important to know that without the knowledge of circumstances in which a verse was revealed, it is impossible to understand the theme of that particular verse.

With respect to its subjects, verses can be divided into seven groups. Each group starts with a verse revealed in Mecca and ends with one or two verses revealed in Medina. Another dominant feature in Quran is that most of the verses are in pairs (e.g. Al-Baqarah and Aal-e-Imran) but seldom it is seen that there are groups of more than two verses. Quran claims itself that it is revealed to guide the mankind. ‘Allah’ is the proper name of God. Apart from that there are 99 other names mentioned in Quran and each represents a quality of His.

First Quran wants the believers to accept Allah as the all mighty, all merciful, the only creator of the universe and asks to believe on the unseen. Quran is termed as a ‘reminder’. A revelation to remind that

(1) since everything is created by Allah so each and every creation is Allah’s dependant
(2) despite all powers are in His expense, Allah is the most merciful
(3) there is the relation between God and man, a relationship of master and servant.

Once these three ideas are understood then we understand the absolute presence of God in this universe. Now it is easy to accept that the aim of Quran is to guide man and help to avoid astray from the divine path. As the writer mentioned that “The only straight path leads to God—[all] other paths are deviant” (16.an-Naħl:9, pg 10). So it is to accept that there is a creator of this system and can not leave it on ‘nature’. Also there is no equal sharing of resources or powers between the ‘Creator’ and the ‘created’.

It is also important to note that God creates everything with a purpose and not just for the sake of pastime. So it asks to say that “Our Lord! You have not created all this in vain” (3.Āli ‘Imrān:191, pg 12). Hence it is important for one to start believing that this universe is created with a purpose and is not merely an accident or a result of a sport. The purpose is to serve and obey God. God also created resources helpful for the existence. He sat standards of what is ‘bad or evil’ and what is ‘god’. In order to test His creation God created temptations. If the true believers follow the commandments and serve the God, reward is ready in the form of ‘Jannah’ or heaven in the life hereafter. If one chooses to be associated with ‘evil’ or commits bad deeds or sins, there is a punishment for that on the Day of Judgment. God showed his mercy and love to His creation by sending messengers; most of them reiterated their predecessors but some with new divine commandments or Holy books. The writer sees the whole chain from creation to preservation to guidance to judgment. So the God’s role in this is the Creator and the judge and the rest two parts are His mercy.

Now the question is what He wants from us to do. God wants us to believe on His existence with all the might. Later He asks us to bow before him since He is the creator and owner of our lives. He created nature to help us to pray. He also invites us to discover the natural laws that He has created and use it for the benefit of mankind. By telling the creation process of man He shows that He is he one who created us and explains the fertilization process, the maternal life in the womb who finally comes out of it as a perfect human. He wants us to follow “al-nafs al-mutma’inna”(Pg. 20) means “the satisfied soul”. After creating Adam, with clay, He ordered His all other creations including Angels and ‘Jinn’ (created with fire) to bow before him and thus put the mankind on top of his creations. Man is unique in his creation having been granted a free will and fulfill his duty as “God’s vicegerent” (Pg. 20) n earth and create a society based on principals described in Quran. In order to be successful in the eyes of God, man has to prove both quality and quantity struggle and then God becomes his ‘willing parter’ (Pg. 22). If God, through Quran, does not introduce the sense of meaningfulness of the human life then the very essence of his creation becomes purposeless. The only difference between all other creations and man is that all follow the nature and man follows his. That is why he is the only who will be judged hereafter. The acts that man performed are subjected to its purity and willingness without any hidden false intentions. He wants us to uphold justice. If a man does something that is good for his people but has adverse effects in general which is against the teachings of Quran, then That deed will be rejected and he will be penalized. Man is obligated to to serve the purpose of his creation i.e. the service of God and in reality if does so it is beneficial for him because God does not need his obedience, there are many others who are devoted for that.

It is nothing but one’s self-deception to believe that someone else will answer for his sins. It negates the common sense. Of course on a number of occasions it is mentioned in Quran that Prophets and even their righteous followers will be allowed to request God’s ‘Rahmah’ or mercy but that will also be allowed only by His allows them to do so. The writer has outlined three types of knowledge to understand the sole purpose of his creation and to know exactly what our creator wants from us. They are Knowledge of nature or physical science, knowledge of history and geography to know the reasons of rise and fall of civilizations before him. Lastly, the knowledge of himself and that is scientific knowledge based on proven principals and theories that will.<…>

Quran demands with Muslims to create a “just moral-social order” (Pg. 51) in the world. To do that it asks to do ‘jihaad’, by contributing wealth and life, against people who do not accept the God’s supremacy. Such an endeavor is not possible with ‘jihaad’. There are three types of ‘jihaad’ that fazal-ur-Rehman has written in is book.

Quran is the last book revealed by God upon Muhammad (Peace Be Up on Him) and is the same religion that started with Adam. That’s why it recognizes Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Muhammad also was recognized by Jew and Christian religious leaders of his time as the true messenger. For every nation a messenger was sent for their guidance, but Quran is revealed for the entire humanity. The writer concludes the discussion and demand in the end to accept Muhammad as the last prophet and says “Disbelief in him would be equivalent to disbelief in
All …” (Pg. 121).

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