Quran in our lives

Published July 21, 2023
The writer is an individual contributor with an interest in religion.
The writer is an individual contributor with an interest in religion.

MANY Muslims propagate the belief that the Quran is a practical handbook on how to live one’s life. There are two ways this belief can be implemented. One is to take the Quran as an instruction manual, assembling life as something to be put together according to specific steps, often using selective shortcuts. The other is to delve into the context, rationale and purpose of Quranic verses and extract principles, rather than rules by which to live. The former is the easier route and perhaps the reason for the widespread tendency to follow the form and not the substance of religion.

Following a principle means thinking of the ‘whys’ and then changing our attitudes and intentions. This requires acceptance of the fact that we have a choice and are accountable for how we spend our lives and why and which decisions we take. If the Quran could be understood as a guide to enhance the purity of our soul and inculcate moral values within us, many illnesses that beset the Muslim world could be overcome.

The Quran itself suggests several roles that it has been revealed for and that it can play if we let it. It is to be used as an overall guide and for assessment of right and wrong. Is a man who remarries while his wife lives because he believes the Quran allows him four wives on the right moral compass? Is a woman right when she accepts domestic abuse in the belief that the husband is superior? Are people who perform daily prayers and give much in charity on the right path even if they tell lies? People park their vehicles outside mosques blocking roads and consider this a righteous act. Are they entitled?

In each of these examples, has the individual been fair and just, truthful, kind and considerate to others, including to themselves? Above all, has the person avoided hypocrisy, which is much derided in the Quran?

The Quran is a softener of hardened hearts.

All previous scriptures mentioned in the Quran were sent for moral guidance, as a balance and scale to steer humans towards establishing justice within and among His creations (57:25). Verse 3:3 mentions the Quran as a criterion (between what is good and bad). How many Muslims judge themselves according to this criterion and recalibrate their moral scale regularly?

The Quran is a reminder (73:19) to the straight path to the Lord: a reminder, it says elsewhere, to the virtues ingrained in our fitrah (human nature) that we tend to ignore because of temptations and desires. It is the light that shows us that path (5:15) and that dispels the darkness of evil.

The Quran is an adviser and mentor (3:138) for those who are pious. It is both a mercy for humanity and asks its followers to be merciful. Many Muslims don the cloak of piety and religiosity, often without the necessary mercy and kindness. Millions of women and men obey religious instructions, pray, recite Quranic verses, fast, and all the while they oppress those they perceive to be weak: whether animals, women, children, even members of other sects or faiths.

Take a simple example. We take children to the mosque to perform five daily prayers. We frown if they want to play in the mosque. We make our religion seem harsh, stern and rigid, whereas the Quran is a softener of hardened hearts. Wearing religion on our sleeves, we cast disapproving eyes upon others whom we believe to have gone astray. The Quran, on the other hand, wants us to focus upon our own shortcomings.

Among the most significant roles that the Quran plays are those of “a healing, for the (diseases) in your hearts” (10:57), “a mercy to any such who believe” (12:111) and “glad tidings for those who believe” (2:97). The human soul is possessed of a wide range of ailments — greed, lust, jealousy, anger etc. In every sickness of the soul, the Quran comes to its rescue. It soothes, provides balm and bids the affectee to be patient and keep faith in the Lord. The harbinger of good news, the Quran brings calm and peace to a disturbed heart, provided the latter is ready to wait.

Many Muslims take it upon themselves to demand blind obedience to rituals and belief without questioning. God only asks humans to give thought: “… that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought” (16:44). According to Quran scholar Dr Farhad Shafti, among all scriptures he has read, there is none except the Quran that emphasises rationality and deliberation as much. Thinking is the quality that distinguishes humans from other species, and this is required for every action we take, every word that we utter, every decision we are called upon to exercise. Do we think?

The human soul yearns for beauty. This longing can be satisfied by the Quran. If we look for this satisfaction, we are likely to find it.

The writer is an individual contributor with an interest in religion.

nikhat_sattar@yahoo.com

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2023

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