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Books and Documents (05 Mar 2015 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Preface and Contents of the Book 'Essential Message of Islam' by Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

 

By Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

 

March 05, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREFACE

The Arabic Qur’an

For Muslims the world over the Qur’an is the infallible Word of God - a divine litany of unparalleled beauty and grandeur. They read, recite and memorize the Qur’an – partly or even wholly, to please God, to experience the transcendent, and to seek peace and tranquility. However, they seldom make any attempt to study the Qur’an to comprehend its message. There is a tradition that “one who discusses about the Book of God, (the Qur'an) makes a mistake, even if he is correct.”1

The non-Muslim scholars of Arabic in the Christian West also acknowledge the extra-ordinary literary merit of the Qur’an,2 but they often find its contents confusing and even alienating. Even secular Arab Muslims reading the Qur’an out of context may find it very challenging. This is due to some unique features of its text as summarily illustrated below.

The Qur’an engages a wide range of subjects and themes, which, barring a few exceptions, appear repeatedly either in their entirety, or in bits and pieces across the text, without any apparent order or organization. Thus, diverse themes may be interwoven in the same paragraph without any logical order.3

The Qur’an is an oratorical discourse with God as the speaker. However, God’s mode of address shifts from first person singular and plural forms (I and We) to third person singular: He, Your Lord, al-Rahman(the Benevolent). It also constantly switches between its addressees: thus, a passage may open with an address to the Prophet, but the subsequent verses may be addressed to his followers, the People of the Book (Christians and Jews), the pagans, the disbelievers who persistently denied the revelation, and humankind in general.4

The language and style of the Qur’an also changes abruptly. Sometimes it is very clear and precise, sometimes it is condensed and elliptic, and sometimes it is highly context–specific. Besides, some of the Qur’anic passages, especially those from an early period of the revelation have a cosmic perspective, and are deeply mysterious, while others evoke God’s transcendence and are profoundly mystical. There are many evocative passages in the Qur’an where “what is left unsaid is as important as what is said,”5 and the reader is left wondering what the Qur’an really means by such and such example or pronouncement.6

Moreover, the Qur’an evolves the various elements of its broader message in stages, and therefore, reading any passage in isolation can be highly misleading.

Thus, the Arabic Qur’an can be very challenging and can even disorient and misguide a casual reader, not aware of its subtleties, nuances and various contexts. However, the Qur’an leaves sufficient clues for the reader to help comprehending its guidance and broader message. Thus, the Qur’an affirms that it contains some clearly stated verses that form ‘the essence of the Book’ (3:7).

“He is the One who has revealed to you (O Muhammad,) the Book which contains (some) clear verses that (form) the essence of this Book, while others are allegorical. As for those with perversity in their hearts, follow that which is allegorical seeking confusion and seeking an interpretation. No one knows its interpretation, except God. Those, who have knowledge, say: ‘We believe in it; it all comes from our Lord;’ yet none is mindful of this, except the prudent”(3:7).

Furthermore, the Qur’an spells out its role and credentials, loud and clear, luring the seekers of knowledge and challenging his intellect to probing it. Thus, it claims to be:

        A book of wisdom7 that is made clear and distinct,8 with all kinds of illustrations,9 and explanations.10

        An Arabic recital (Qur’an) for those who have knowledge, and use their reason.11

        Guidance and mercy for those who believe in God,12 and who do good.13

        Guidance for the heedful (muttaqi) ;14 and truth, guidance and message for humanity.15

        The divine criteria of right and wrong,16 and the balance of justice for humanity.17

        Verifier of a part of the Scripture that came before it.18

The Qur’an however asserts that only those stand to benefit from it, who approach it with a pure heart,19 probe into its verses,20 and seek the best meaning in it.21 

The Translated Qur’an

The Arabic Qur’an is generous with idioms, metaphors, allegories and similes and features a complex construction of words, and therefore, its literal translation can hardly be meaningful. This, together with its extraordinary textual features, makes it almost impossible to render without grievous distortion in the meaning of many of its expressions, passages and themes. Traditionally, Muslim scholars have inserted additional words into the text to attain a meaningful rendition, and added explanatory notes in the margins to explain the message of the Qur’an in historical and thematic context. However, dictated by the traditional principle of taqlid (blind conformity with the works of the past scholars), practically all Qur'anic exegetes have referenced the work of an exegete of their choice as their primary source material, and embellished and adapted it to their immediate circumstances and world view. The traditional interpretative works (tafsir) have therefore been influenced by the personal and doctrinal background of their authors, and their choice of mentors, leading inevitably to varying interpretation of the Qur’anic message. 

The Objective of this work

This book attempts to interpret the various facets of the Qur’anic message by drawing explanations primarily from its (the Qur’an’s) own text. Thus, the meanings of the critical words, idioms, figures of speech, and phrases of the Qur’an have been derived from their usage across its text. Likewise, the essence of its guidance and its criteria of right and wrong, permissible and forbidden have been derived primarily from its own illustrations to provide the reader with a broad moral trajectory of the Qur’an.

The work is thus designed to eliminate the influence of the personal, educational, and doctrinal backgrounds of its authors and their choice of source materials. This is consistent with the Qur’an’s claim of representing the best interpretation.22 Accordingly, many Qur’anic scholars have advocated it since the early centuries of Islam. However, it never gained popularity, first because the orthodoxy was fully satisfied with the traditional exegetic discipline, and secondly because this approach is inherently more difficult and challenging than the classical exegesis. The long-outstanding need for a clear understanding of the essential message of Islam, independent of personal exegetic influences, and the scope of using computer database for comprehensive and accurate scrutiny of the Qur’anic text as adopted in this work, provide the impetus and background for the compilation of this volume.

Coverage

The book covers about a fourth of the Qur’anic verses, partly rendered, and partly referenced/implied. It attempts to review, by topic, the Qur’an’s clearly stated verses that constitute its core message (3:7 above). However, the listing of its repetitive exhortations under any topic can appear dull and flat, and therefore, in all such cases only a few verses are rendered to illustrate the Qur’anic message, while the rest of the verses are indicated in the footnote for the inquisitive to consult in their copies of the Qur’an.

The portion of the Qur’anic text that is not covered in this exposition relates to various Qur’anic illustrations, God's glorification, stories of the past prophets, fate of some of the ancient tribes, and tales and parables. This, however, does not undermine the scope of the work to any significant extent, as the lessons embraced in such verses are largely covered in the clearly spelled out directives, which the Qur'an commands its believers to follow (3:7).

Layout and Organization   

The book is divided into 48 chapters, organized as follows:

Chapters 1-2 cover the salient features of the revelation and the text of the Qur’an.

Chapter-3 attempts to evolve a biography of the Prophet by drawing primarily on the Qur’anic allusions (some 250 verses) to contemporaneous events – an exercise that is designed to give a far more accurate representation of the Prophetic mission than the classical biography. 

Chapters 4-14 relate to the Qur’anic reflections on the creation of the physical world, humans; its warnings about the Day of Judgment, and other concepts and notions of a universal nature.

Chapters 15-42 focus on the various facets of the Qur’anic guidance and message.

Chapter 43 recapitulates and summarizes all Qur’anic precepts relating to the rights and duties between all human relationships under a modern heading, ‘Principles of human rights’.  

Chapters 44-48 review the canonical five pillars of Islam, specifically for the Muslim readers. This has been placed towards the end as the Muslims are fairly familiar with them and need to have a better understanding of the broader message of the Qur’an, as covered earlier in the book, to derive greater benefits from the Islamic rituals.

The ordering of the topics, however, is somewhat arbitrary. As the Qur'anic message must be comprehended as a whole, there is no basis to give any ranking to its various elements.

Some critical issues and developments that have led to distortion of the Qur’anic message or confusion in religion have been covered in the Enclosures (four topics), and the book is concluded with an Afterword that evaluates two current issues: the relevance of Islamic (Shari‘a) law in today’s multi-religious societies, and Sectarianism in Islam, in light of the Qur’anic message, and ends with a general appeal to both the Muslims and non-Muslims.

The Common Era has been used throughout the book, while in many places Islamic calendar is also noted, separated by a slash.

Last but not least, the classical division of the revelation into Meccan period (610-622) and Medinite (622-632) period has been maintained corresponding to the venue of the revelation (Mecca and Medina), and the chronology of Qur’anic chapters (Suras), where mentioned, is based on Noldeke’s grouping,23 which are generally agreed among the scholars.

Lingual Etiquette/ Nuances

A number of things that may sound somewhat academic but could be contentious need clarification:

1. Muslim scholars differ on whether Allah, the Supreme Diety of the Qur’an, can be rendered as ‘God’, and whether sanctifying adjectives should be used while referring to the Qur’an. We have followed Yusuf Ali, Thomas Irving (Talim Ali), Ahmed Ali and Muhammad Asad in using the English word ‘God’ for Allah - across this book, and excluded the sanctifying adjective ‘Holy’ while referring to the Qur'an.

2. The oratorical nature of the Qur’an reflects in the following dialectical nuances that may be noted for easy reading of the rendition of the verses presented in the book.

        ‘Say' means God is asking the Prophet to announce to his people.

        ‘You' may mean the Prophet himself or his Arab audience, by implication the reader himself, depending upon the Arabic verb-form (singular or plural form).

        ‘They', ‘them', refer to the Prophet’s followers or opponents depending upon the text.

3. The Qur'an features a rich vocabulary for different shades or categories of ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’,24 with each word contributing to the lyrical harmony of its text. Any attempt to capture the different shades of meaning of the Qur'anic words for ‘good’ and ‘bad’ could compromise with the literary merit of translation. Therefore, in many places, the commonplace words ‘good/kind’ and ‘evil’ are used to convey all shades of  ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’.  

4. For want of a common gender second person pronoun, the masculine form (‘he’/‘He’) is adopted as per normal usage, without any gender bias, and likewise the generic word ‘man,’ is used, where appropriate, to denote both the sexes.    

Finally, as a prelude to this exposition, a key mystical passage of the Qur’an is listed below to help the readers meditate on the Author (God) of the Arabic Qur’an.   

“God is the Light of the heavens and the earth. A likeness of His light is a niche that has a lamp in it, and the Lamp is in a glass, and the glass is (dazzling,) as it were, a radiant star. (The Lamp is) lit from a blessed olive (tree), neither of East nor of West; its oil almost glows, though fire has never touched it. Light upon light! God guides to His Light anyone He Wills, and God gives people examples, for God is Cognizant of everything”(24:35).

 Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

Finalized, June 18th, 2009

----

Al-Azhar al-Sharif

Islamic Research Academy

General Department

For Research, Writing & Translation

Cairo, Egypt.

 

Shaikh: Al-Sa'eed Abdelhafez Mohammad Ghars El-din

Assalamu Alaikum,

Based on your request to check and review "The Essential Message of Quran"

Authored by Ashfaque Ullah Syed & Muhammad Yunus, we believe that the mentioned book has no conflict with Islamic faith (Aqeedah). There is no reason to stop publishing it at your expense.

We strongly recommend that you be very careful in writing the Qur'an Verses (ayat) and hadith. You are also committed to provide our library with 5 copies upon publishing.

 

We wish you all the success from Allah.

 

14/Sha'ban/1423

19/10/2002

 

Director General,

Dept of Research, Writing & Translation

Seal of Al-Azhar General Directorate

Of Research, Writing & Translation

14/Sha'ban/1423

19/10/2002

Signature

 

CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT..........................................-. XXXI

GLOSSARY........................................................... XXXIII

PREFACE............................................................. XXXVII

1.     THE QURANIC REVELATION AND COMPILATION.............. 1

1.1.       Social and moral setting of pre-Islamic Arabia......................................... 1

1.2.       The Qur'anic revelation............................ 2

1.3.       Genesis, literary grandeur and consistency................................................ 3

1.4.       Memorization / recording during the Prophet's lifetime.......................... 4

1.5.       Final compilation and authentication......................................................... 5

1.6.       Historical accuracy of Qur'anic records..................................................... 6

2.     THE TEXT OF THE QUR’AN.......................... 10

2.1.       Essence of Faith................................... 10

2.2.       Reference to past and Biblical Prophets / Scriptures............................. 11

2.3.       Qur’anic guidance is broad based and universal................................... 12

2.4.       Qur’anic commandments are not gender biased...................................... 14

2.5.       The Transformative human language of the Qur’an............................... 14

2.6.       Manual handling of the Arabic Qur’an..................................................... 15

2.7.       The Qur’an’s clue to its mysterious character.......................................... 16

3.     MUHAMMAD AND THE PROPHETIC MISSION.......................................... 21

3.1.       Meccan Period (610-622)................ 22

3.2.       Medinite Period (622-632).............. 26

3.3.       Battle of Badr (625).......................................... 28

3.4.       Battle of Uhud (625)................................ 30

3.5.       The Hypocrites.................................... 32

3.6.       The Native Jews.................................32

3.7.       Battle of Confederates (The Trench war) (627)....... 34

3.8.       Hudaybiyah Peace Treaty (628)................ 36

3.9.       Peace treaty with the Jews of Khaybar (629)...... 37

3.10.      Mecca Reconciled (630)............. 38

3.11.      The battle of Hunayn (630)................ 39

3.12.      Tabuk Expedition (631).................. 39

3.13.      Year of deputations (631)................. 41

3.14.      The Qur’an constantly guides and assures the Prophet......................... 42

3.15.      The Prophet’s status in the community............ 44

3.16.      The noble persona of the Prophet............... 45

3.17.      Extraordinary features of the Prophetic mission..... 48

4.     QUR’ANIC REFLECTIONS ON NATURE....... 64

4.1.       Movement of heavenly bodies in orbits........... 64

4.2.       Creation of Heaven and Earth............... 65

4.3.       Earth's geography................... 66

4.4.       Wind, rain and water cycle................. 66

4.5.       Plant and animal world............... 67

4.6.       God has created everything in pairs........... 67

4.7.       Human Embryology............................ 68

4.8.       Mysteries of nature that have come to light only in recent times......... 69

4.9.       Summing Up.................. 70

 

5.     CREATION OF HUMAN BEING............ 73

5.1.       Creation of Adam as God’s deputy (khalifah) on earth..... 73

5.2.       Man's Creative evolution from the elements....... 75

5.3.       God inspires humans with divine spirit............. 75

6.     THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT................... 78

6.1.       Qur’anic description of the Day of Judgment....... 78

6.2.       Qur'anic description of Paradise and Hell.......... 79

6.3.       The relevance of punishment in the Qur’anic discourse... 80

6.4.       Qur'anic explanation of its description of Paradise and Hell........... 81

6.5.       The Qur’an’s reminder on the recreation of human being..................... 82

7.     THE BROADER NOTION OF DIN AL-ISLAM......... 85

7.1.       Service to humanity as the essence of din al-Islam...... 86

7.2.       Corroboration from Islamic and secular sources........ 87

8.     THE BROADER NOTION OF TAQWA  (HEEDFULNESS)................... 89

8.1.       Universal notion of taqwa (heedfulness)............. 89

9.     UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD OF HUMANITY........... 91

9.1.       Diversity of race, color and language.......... 91

9.2.       Religious Tolerance........................... 92

9.3.       No discrimination against non-Muslims........ 93

9.4.       Plurality of Faiths.......................... 93

9.5.       Good deeds as a common criterion for divine approval.. 95

9.6.       God may pardon those who had no means of guidance......................... 95

9.7.       Brotherhood of humanity................ 96

9.8.       The Case of Apostasy................... 97

10.        UNIVERSALITY OF KNOWLEDGE.................. 100

10.1.      Division of knowledge in medieval Islam.......... 101

10.2.      Significance of scientific knowledge in Islam........................................ 102

11.        THE UNIVERSAL NOTION OF JIHAD........ 105

11.1.      A broad definition based on Qur’anic illustrations............................. 105

11.2.      Jihad of the Prophet’s followers in Mecca............................................. 105

11.3.      Jihad of the Medinite Muslims........... 106

11.4.      The role of the greater struggle (jihadn kabir)...................................... 107

11.5.      The demise of the notion of greater Jihad in Islam............................... 108

12.        NON-VIOLENCE AND DEFENSIVE WARFARE............................. 110

12.1.      Qur’anic model of non-violence............... 110

12.2.      Resistance to persecution................... 110

12.3.      Permission to fight against oppression....... 111

12.4.      Exhortations to fight an attacking army.......... 112

12.5.      Fighting is condemned but justified on specific grounds.................... 113

12.6.      The ultimate goal is peaceful coexistence.............. 114

12.7.      The Qur’an does not approve of violent acts......................................... 115

12.8.      Read in isolation, verses on contemporary battles can be misleading 116

12.9.      Fighting against the People of the Book................................................ 117

12.10.    The broader notion of Jizyah..................... 117

13.        THE QUR’AN AND THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK......... 121

13.1.      Historical context of inter-faith relation................................................ 121

13.2.      The Qur’an approves of some of the People of the Book..................... 122

13.3.      On dealing with the People of the Book.................................................. 123

13.4.      There is no Qur’anic basis to hate Christians and Jews or any community                 125

14.        ONLY GOD KNOWS THE RIGHTLY GUIDED........ 128

14.1.      None can claim spiritual superiority............ 128

15.        THE PROPHET AS A ROLE MODEL............... 131

 

16.        GOOD DEEDS.......................... 134

16.1.      Verses on Good Deeds from early Meccan Suras 2................................ 134

16.2.      Verses from mid and late Meccan Suras 3................................................ 135

16.3.      Verses from Medinite Suras 4............. 136

16.4.      Cardinal Significance of Good deeds in Islam...................................... 137

17.        SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY............................... 140

17.1.      Qur’anic warning against selfishness.......... 140

17.2.      Broader social responsibilities............ 140

17.3.      Kindness to people of all faiths............. 141

17.4.      Kindness to parents.................................. 142

18.        SPENDING MONEY ON THE NEEDY.............. 145

18.1.      To spend in one’s lifetime 1................ 145

18.2.      To budget the charity within one’s means........ 146

18.3.      Charity may be given openly or secretly......... 146

18.4.      Not to hurt the recipient’s sentiments......... 146

18.5.      Ignoring ill feelings while helping others....... 147

18.6.      Giving only the good things in charity.......... 147

18.7.      Curbing one’s inborn greed and desires........ 147

18.8.      The recipient categories of charity............ 148

18.9.      The Qur’an discourages beggary............... 149

19.        MORAL ETHICS................................................ 151

19.1.      General moral precepts....................... 151

19.2.      Qur’anic broader notion of halal and haram......... 154

19.3.      Qur’anic broader notion of heedfulness (taqwa).................................. 154

20.        GENERAL BEHAVIOURAL NORMS........................................................ 157

20.1.      Restraining anger, forgiveness, courtesy, avoiding conflict, and self-reproach  .......157

20.2.      Arrogance, loud talk, and listening to whispers are condemned... 157

20.3.      Slandering, fault-finding, contempt and excessive suspicion are condemned            158

20.4.      Good conduct at places of worship......... 159

21.        ON JUSTICE............................................. 160

21.1.      Upholding of Justice is a binding instruction....................................... 160

21.2.      To guide others truthfully for Justice to prevail.................................... 161

21.3.      Criteria of Divine Justice................................ 161

21.4.      The primacy of Justice in the Qur’an....................................................... 162

22.        FRAUD, BRIBERY, CHEATING ARE FORBIDDEN.............. 164

22.1.      Usurping others’ property............................... 164

22.2.      Tampering of weight and measurement................................................... 164

22.3.      Fair payment for goods and services....................................................... 165

23.        AGAINST USURY AND OVER-PROFITEERING.............. 168

23.1.      The Qur’an forbids usury (riba)................................................................ 168

23.2.      On easing debt repayment and writing off debt.................................... 168

23.3.      Qur’anic notion of riba................................................................ 169

23.4.      Is Modern banking based on riba?.......................................................... 169

23.5.      The lawfulness of modern banking........................................................... 171

24.        ON DEBT AND CONTRACT..................................................... 174

24.1.      On the drafting of a commercial contract............................................... 174

24.2.      Why two women to substitute for one man for a witness?................... 175

25.        ALLOWABLES & FORBIDDEN FOR FOOD.......................................... 179

25.1.      The Qur’an abolishes the prevalent taboos............................................ 179

25.2.      The Qur’an allows all lawful and good things...................................... 179

25.3.      Food of the ‘People of the Book’.............................................................. 180

25.4.      The Qur’an forbids only a few things...................................................... 181

26.        INTOXICANTS & GAMBLING....................... 184

26.1.      Qur’anic exhortations against intoxicants and gambling.................. 184

26.2.      Supreme significance of deeds and heedfulness (taqwa)..................... 185

27.        THOUGHTLESS OATHS......................... 188

28.        ON PERSONAL CLOTHING AND MODESTY....................................... 191

28.1.      Significance of clothing for humanity................................................... 191

28.2.      Orthodox view on dressing norms for women........................................ 192

28.3.      Textual analysis of the Qur’anic injunction (24:31)............................ 192

28.4.      Qur’anic universal guidelines on modesty............................................. 194

28.5.      The Qur’an makes concession for elderly women.................................. 194

28.6.      Dressing guideline for the Prophet's household and other Muslim women                 195

28.7.      Influence of pre-Islamic heritage on women’s dress code................... 195

29.        BIDDING THE GOOD AND FORBIDDING THE EVIL......... 198

29.1.      To enjoin the good and forbid the evil.................................................... 198

29.2.      Admonitions against all forms of vices.................................................... 199

29.3.      The Qur’an is lenient with the repentant and stern to the arrogant.. 200

30.        THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY.................................. 203

30.1.      Phased abolition of slavery............................ 203

30.2.      Qur’anic positive phrase for slaves and bondmaids............................. 205

31.        PROTECTION OF ORPHANS / ORPHANED WOMEN....................... 209

31.1.      Qur’anic laws protecting orphans and women...................................... 209

31.2.      The Qur’an recommends monogamy as a social norm.......................... 211

32.        MARRIAGE ELIGIBILITY FOR MUSLIMS........................................... 216

32.1.      Wedlock with polytheist is forbidden...................................................... 216

32.2.      Muslim men and women to choose their spouses................................... 216

32.3.      Muslim men to marry any believing women............................................ 217

32.4.      The Qur’an abolishes Incest...................................................................... 218

32.5.      The Qur’an forbids extramarital cohabitation...................................... 219

32.6.      The Qur’an does not support marriage of minors................................. 219

33.        MAN, WOMAN, SEX AND MARRIAGE.................................................... 222

33.1.      Love and mercy between the sexes is a ‘sign’ of God............................ 222

33.2.      Sexual relation between the spouses....................................................... 222

33.3.      Women during their menstruation............................................................ 223

33.4.      Men to give women dower at the time of marriage............................... 224

33.5.      Women are entitled to independent income........................................... 224

33.6.      Role of men and women in wedlock......................................................... 225

33.7.      Qur’an’s worldview on women’s role in society.................................... 228

33.8.      The Qur’an overrules any notion of male superiority.......................... 229

33.9.      Paradox of linking Islam with misogynistic customs............................ 230

34.        DIVORCE PROCEDURES AND CONDITIONS....................................... 235

34.1.      Qur’an recognizes the emotional trauma of a divorce......................... 235

34.2.      Principles concerning a divorce initiated by a man............................. 236

34.3.      A woman can initiate a divorce unilaterally (khul).............................. 238

34.4.      Remarriage between spouses after irrevocable divorce...................... 238

34.5.      Maintenance of divorced pregnant wife, and the offspring................ 240

34.6.      Settlement of dower if neither marriage is consummated nor dower fixed                                                                             241

34.7.      Settlement of dower if marriage is not consummated, but dower is fixed                                         242

34.8.      Maintenance for a divorced woman........................................................ 242

34.9.      Clarification on the waiting period (iddah).......................................... 243

34.10.    The Qur’an forestalls any manipulative interpretation of its commandments             244

35.        STATUS OF WIDOWS..................................................................... 247

35.1.      Widows have same social status as unmarried women......................... 247

35.2.      Financial security of a widow................................................................... 247

36.        AGAINST UNLAWFUL INTIMACY........................................................... 251

36.1.      Sexual norms of pre-Islamic Arabia......................................................... 251

36.2.      Qur’anic punishment for adultery............................................................ 252

36.3.      Object of the Qur’anic punishment for adultery.................................... 254

36.4.      Qur’anic punishment for slandering against women........................... 254

36.5.      The case of the offspring of an unwedded mother................................. 255

36.6.      Establishing sexual offence against one’s wife,

 if there is no witness 255

36.7.      Broader Qur’anic message relating to adultery.................................... 256

36.8.      Sexual offences........................ 257

36.9.      The Qur’an condemns homosexuality...................................................... 257

37.        DRAWING UP OF WILLS............................................................................. 260

38.        LAW OF INHERITANCE................................... 263

38.1.      Broader logic and rationale of Qur’anic inheritance laws....... 263

38.2.      General principles of inheritance............................................................ 264

38.3.      Division of Inheritance among Survivors............................................... 264

38.4.      Rendition of the referred to verses:.......................................................... 265

38.5.      Why a daughter’s inheritance is half that of her brother.................... 267

38.6.      The Principle of Representati........... 267

39.        ABOLITION OF BLOOD VENDETTA...................................................... 269

39.1.      Law of Compensation for the loss of life................................................. 270

40.        EXEMPLARY PUNISHMENTS FOR MAJOR CRIMES............. 272

40.1.      Flexibility in the application of Qur’anic punishments....................... 273

41.        ALLUREMENTS OF WORLDLY LIFE.................................................... 276

41.1.      Man’s innate passion for wealth, women, glory and power................ 276

41.2.      Greed for allurements of life is the singular

promoter of poverty...... 278

41.3.      Recreations, Entertainment and Art forms.............................................. 280

42.        CONDUCTING COMMUNITY AFFAIRS.................................................. 282

42.1.      Consultation in conducting affairs.......................................................... 282

42.2.      Collateral forgiveness............................................................... 283

42.3.      Role of Muslims as witnesses to humanity.............................................. 283

42.4.      Notion of Islamic state............................................................ 285

42.5.      The birth and flowering of the Islamic Caliphate................................. 285

43.        PRINCIPLES OF ‘HUMAN RIGHTS’......................................................... 289

43.1.      The Qur’an is not an outcome of a charter of demands....................... 289

43.2.      Privileges and obligations of men and women as individuals........... 289

43.3.      Privileges and obligations of men and women as spouses.................. 290

43.4.      To avail of a minimal income and social benefits................................. 291

43.5.      To live peacefully, without any disturbance or threat......................... 292

43.6.      Privacy at home................................... 293

43.7.      Care and Support of the physically challenged.................................... 293

43.8.      The duty of grown up children to support their parents...................... 294

43.9.      General universal privileges.............................. 294

44.        THE FIVE PILLARS OF FAITH AND SHAHADAH............... 297

44.1.      Pillars of Faith.................................... 297

44.2.      The Shahadah - The Declaration of faith............................................... 298

45.        THE CANONICAL DAILY PRAYERS....................................................... 300

45.1.      Congregational prayer.............................. 301

45.2.      Introduction of prayer call, the Adhan.................................................... 302

45.3.      Significance of Salah....................... 303

 

 

46.        THE ZAKAT (OBLIGATORY CHARITY)............................................... 308

46.1.      Evolution of the institution of Zakat........................................................ 308

46.2.      Present day implications of the traditional model of Zakat................ 308

46.3.      The Qur’anic notion of zakah (pl. zakat)................................................. 309

47.        HAJJ – THE PILGRIMAGE TO MECCA................................................. 312

47.1.      Sacrifice of animal is symbolic – the goal is taqwa.............................. 313

48.        FASTING – IN THE MONTH OF RAMADAN......................................... 315

48.1.      General conditions on fasting................................................................... 316

48.2.      The stated goal of Fasting...................... 316

ENCLOSURES........................................................ 319

1.     ENCL.1   THE PROPHET'S EARLIEST BIOGRAPH...... 320

1.1.       Inherent limitations of early biographic accounts............................... 320

1.2.       Impact of early accounts on modern scholarship.................................. 321

2.     ENCL. 2  MUHAMMAD’S MARRIAGES......................................................... 329

3.     ENCL. 3  POLEMICS SURROUNDING THE PROPHET OF ISLAM..... 335

4.     ENCL. 4 SUNNAH OF THE PROPHET AND THE HADITH LITERATURE                   338

4.1.       Compilation of the current Hadith literature........................................ 340

4.2.       Effect of time on the screening process of the Hadith literature........ 340

APPENDIX........................................................... 345

1.     THEOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT IN ISLAM............................................. 346

1.1.       Founding of the sciences of tafsir and asbab al-nuzul [The first century of Islam].1 347

1.2.       Fundamental Juristic Principles and Notions [The first century of Islam]                  347

1.3.       Theological doctrines  [The second century of Islam]......................... 348

1.4.       Emergence of diverse juristic views [The second century of Islam].. 349

1.5.       Infallibility of the consensus (ijma‘) of scholars [The 2nd – 3rd centuries of Islam] 350

1.6.       The doctrine of precedence (taqlid) [3rd – 4th centuries of Islam]... 350

1.7.       The rise and fall of Mu‘tazila school and emergence of orthodox Sunni Islam [3rd –6th centuries].           351

1.8.       Broadening the scope of exegesis (tafsir) [The fourth century of Islam onwards]     352

1.9.       Summing Up........................................... 353

AFTERWORD..................................................... 357

1.1.       Today’s relevance of Shari‘a Law............................................................ 357

1.2.       Sectarianism and Islam.......................................................... 360

1.3.       Final note of appeal for Muslims............................................................. 362

1.4.       Note of reassurance for non-Muslims...................................................... 364

BIBLIOGRAPHY.................................................. 368

1.1.       Contemporary (20th century) exegetic scholars/website..................... 368

1.2.       Early Muslim religious scholars............................................................... 368

1.3.       Other contemporary / recent sources....................................................... 368

URL:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

During the nearly fifteen year span of development of this work, the authors have had informal discussions and exchange of views with people of differing backgrounds and age groups – from youngsters to the very old, and from the modernist to the ultra conservative. All these people contributed to the work, either through their enthusiastic support, or by word of caution and criticism. We would like to thank all of them without naming, as there are so many of them. However, the contribution of some of our contacts has been remarkable and deserving of special mention.

Dr. Murad Hofmann, the renowned contemporary Islamic scholar, reviewed the ‘draft in progress’ dating from 1996. His periodic comments led to a gradual upgrading of the work with minimization of faults and errors, expansion of resource base and improvement in the organization, layout and literary merit of the work. Professor Muhammad Abulaylah of al-Azhar University - whom one of the authors personally met inCairo (1997) with the first English draft, insisted on the need to attaining a high level of perfection. His suggestions precipitated in the deletion of some superfluous commentaries leading to a consolidation and improvement of the work, which in the initial stage lacked focus and scholarship. Sheikh al-Saeed Gharseldin of al-Azhar Academy (Canada) presented the improved draft to the office of Sheikh al-Azhar (1999),Cairo and actively helped its subsequent improvement, and inclusion of the Arabic script, through to its authentication and approval to proceed with the publication (2002). Dr. Jeffrey Lang (of the University ofKansas, USA, a contemporary Islamic scholar) read the final draft back-to-back (2000), and made encouraging comments that inspired the authors to press on with the work with their selfless zeal. Dr. Louay Safi, Director of Publications of the International Institute of Islamic thoughts, supported the work and offered to sponsor its publication if required (2003). Muhammad Arif critically screened the drafts in progress dating from the inception of the work (1993), and assisted in checking the verse numberings, cross references, and in detecting obvious flaws, and in the development of arguments and inferences as presented in the work. Tareque Mahmood Khan combed through the work minutely and detected flaws, and ‘gaps’ leading to finer and vital improvements in some of the chapters. Ashrafuddin Ahmed, a conservative Muslim of the older generation engaged in Qur’anic studies for over a decade went through the entire draft and gave a green signal. The work has also benefited from a computer based indexing exercise that one of the authors had conducted and published as this work was in progress. 

Last but not least, the authors are grateful to Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl (Professor of Law, University of California Law Academy, USA), for his invaluable help in guiding them by personally editing the first four chapters of the draft manuscript in long hand, assisted with taped commentaries (2004, 2009) on some salient features of the Prophet’s mission and Islamic Law. Dr. Fadl also appointed an editor, Afra Jalabi, a Syrian born, Western educated upcoming scholar of Islam, settled in Canada (2006). Fluent and scholarly in both English and Arabic and knowledgeable in the Qur’an which she teaches to international students, she went through the MS back-to-back and made many corrections, refinements, commentaries, and suggested a reorganization of chapters as now adopted in this book.

Finally, the authors also register their thanks and appreciation to their family members, relatives and friends for their consistent help and support.

GLOSSARY

Transliteration Notes:  

1.     Reference material: A Glossary of the Qur’an, Aurnag Zeb Azmi, New Delhi 2003.  

2.     Rendition of verses and transliterated Arabic terms are italicized, while those normally adapted in English (Qur’an, Hadith, Shari‘a, the Prophet’s Sunna, Sura, Ka‘ba), are in Roman, capitalized, and the terminal silent ‘h’ where present is omitted

3.     Extra-literal typographic symbols such as dots and over bars are avoided except for i) indicating the Arabic ayn (‘) - such as in ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab, ‘Uthman Ibn ‘Affan, and ii) the Arabic hamza or the glottal stop (’). The names of historical figures adapted in English, such as Umar, Uthman, Ali are, however, typed as such, except when giving their full Arabic names.

    

A.H. [After hijrah]: Islamic calendar (Lunar, 360 day-year), beginning the year, the Prophet migrated (did hijrah) from Mecca to Medina. It was introduced some 17 years after the Prophet’s death (by Caliph Umar) and the dates of all the preceding events were allocated backwards and represent the best judgment of the historians of the era.

x : y:    Classical numbering of Qur’anic verses. ‘x’ refers to the Sura (chapter) number, and ‘y’ refers to the ayah (verse) number.

- An underline under the Sura (chapter) number denotes the Medinite origin of the verses based on the generally agreed chronology of the revelation.

ahl al-kitab: ‘People of the Book’, notably, the Jews and Christians, and in a broader sense all religious communities who had received divine scriptures before the Qur’anic revelation.  

ayah (pl. ayat): The text of the Qur’an is made up of ayat (pl. form of ayah) – more than 6000 altogether. The Qur’an also connotes this word with a ‘sign’ or ‘message’ of God, depending upon usage. 

din: In the generic sense, religion; though the Qur’an also connotes it with judgment, divine law, law of the land, obedience or devotion, faith, and moral responsibility.

hadith: As a generic term hadith (pl. ahadith) is an account or narration that embodies a model or normative behavior or practice (sunnah).  

Hadith: The accounts or narration in the form of sayings of the Prophet Muhammad that were put together from oral accounts in circulation more than two hundred years after his death. The accounts are popularly referred to as ‘traditions.’ The earliest and most authentic of compilations is known as Sahih al-Bukhari - after the name of its compiler.

hajj: Muslims’ yearly pilgrimage to the Ka‘ba in Mecca.

halal:   Lawful, whether in food, in earning livelihood, or in other pursuits of life. 

haram: Normally connoted with ‘prohibition’ - such as Qur’anic prohibition against grave crimes, usury, swine’s flesh etc; the Qur’an also connotes this word and its other roots with ‘sacred’ or ‘binding’.

hijrah: Literally, ‘migration’, the term is the popular shortened form of ‘after hijrah’ (See A.H. above).

jihad:   An ongoing struggle to face the hardships and challenges of life, and to overcome the social, moral, material, intellectual and spiritual deprivations of the community. 

Ka‘bah [Ka‘ba]The cubicle shrine in Mecca that was originally built by Abraham and is regarded as the most sacred structure (house) in Islam.

kitab:   A book, divine writ, or a scripture. When used for the Qur’an or other revealed scripture in the text, it is capitalized, such as, ‘People of the Book’ for ahl al-kitab. [See above]

khalifah: A successor, heir, deputy or a viceroy. Its anglicized form is Caliph

kufr: Willful rejection or denial of any self-evident or irrefutable proposition. The Qur’an refers to its recalcitrant audience by the plural noun forms kafirunkafirin, which, for want of any appropriate English counterpart have been rendered as disbelievers or deniers as appropriate. The Qur’an also connotes kufr with canceling or effacing something (29:7, 47:2), being thankless or ungrateful (17:27, 76:24).

mu’min: One who has embraced the true faith; any believer in one God.

muslim: Anyone who submits his will and purpose (orients himself or herself) to God. It is capitalized in the text when specific to the followers of Islam (the Muslims).

muttaqi (pl. muttaqin, muttaqun): One who practices taqwa (See definition below.)

salah (pl. salat): The daily ritual prayer of the Muslims. The word and its other roots (SLH) also connote peace, protection, blessings etc.

Shaytan [Satan]: In the Qur’anic discourse Satan is the personification of man’s evil impulses - intrinsic to his nature or externally induced that drive him to defy the divine/universal moral tenets inspired in him as recipient of some of God’s breath, tempts him to commit evil.

Shari‘ah [Shari‘a]: A divinely ordained way or path covering all facets of life.   

Shar‘ia law/Shar‘iat: By definition, it is the Islamic law derived from the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet by use of reasoning, analogical deduction and consensus. In practical terms, it is a juristic tradition based on the discourses and traditions left by the jurists of different law schools of Islam.         

SAW: Acronym for the Arabic benediction for the Prophet (‘May God’s blessings and peace be upon him’)

surah [Sura]: Each chapter of the Qur’an is called a Surah (pl. Surat/Suras). There are 114 Suras in the Qur’an

sunnah: As a generic term, sunnah (pl. sunnat) means a normative or model behavior, or proven example or path, for others to follow.

Sunna: Denotes a sunnah that is specific to the Prophet Muhammad.

taqwaPiety, God consciousness, or heedfulness to God’s commandments, and in a broader sense, compliance with one’s universal social, moral, and ethical responsibilities, with faith in God and the Last Day.

ulama (pl. form of ‘alim): Religious scholars of Islam. 

wudu:  Ritual washing of hands, feet, face and symbolic mopping of head before performing a prayer (salah). 

zakah: The term zakah, and its different roots and plural form, zakat, are used in the Qur’an with the dual connotation of ‘spiritual purification’, and ‘care and concern for humanity.’ Traditionally, its plural form,zakat is however translated in a restrictive sense as charity.   

Zakat: The compulsory charity that the Muslims having income in excess of a threshold level are required to pay.

Notes, Complimentary Verse references

1.       Sanan Abu Daud, Urdu translation by Wahiduz Zaman, Vol.3, Acc. 253, p. 118.

2.       Following are the quotations from some of the most eminent non-Muslim Arabic scholars of the modern era:

“It is by far the finest work of Arabic prose in existence” - Alan Jones, The Koran, London 1994, opening page.

“The sublime rhetoric of the Arabic Koran … its richly varied rhymes… constitute the Koran’s undeniable claim to rank among the greatest literary masterpieces of mankind.” - Arthur Arberry, The Koran Interpreted, London 1956, p. x.

(Its language is) “the richest and most harmonious in the world.”  -  Savary. Extracted from: Sliman bin Ibrahim and Etienne Dinet, The life of Muhammad, London 1990, p. 71.

“.. the recited Qur’an is a distinctively compelling example of verbal expression.” - Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur’an, 2nd edition, Oregon 2007, p. 2.

3.       For example, the passage 45:13-16, opens with a statement that God has made serviceable to humans whatever is in the heavens and the earth, (45:13), and this is followed in sequence by a bidding to the believers to forgive the disbelievers (45:14), a declaration on the individual accountability of humans to God subject to their deeds (45:15) and God’s favor on the Children of Israel.

4.       God’s opening address to the Prophet in the passage (5:67-71) is followed sequentially by the Prophet addressing the People of the Book (5:68), God promising reward to all adherents of monotheistic faiths subject to their deeds (5:69), and God speaking about the rebellious attitude of the Children of Israel (5:70).   

5.       Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur’an, 2nd edition, Oregon 2007, p. 45.

6.       Examples:

hawiyah (101:7). The 101st Sura (al Qari‘a) - a short lyrical composition, opens with a brief glimpse of the apocalyptic calamity (101:1-5), and then warns its audience that “whoever’s scales weigh light’ (101:8), his mother is hawiyah” (101:9). It then asks: “And what can tell you what she is” (101:10)?, and concludes with the answer: “narun hamiah (raging fire)” (101:11). Totally lost in foreign rendition, the term hawiyah, presented in the feminine mode (101:10), preceded by a powerful imagery of a cosmic cataclysm, evokes a sense of profound loss or agony and can mean ‘a fall into an abyss’ or ‘a woman bereft of her child.’ The sense of loss is stressed phonologically by the sound figure of the word and leaves the Arab audience wondering what the Qur’an really means by this term. The Qur’anic answer does not fully satisfy his curiosity as the expression narun hamiah is without the definite article al (the): narun hamiyah is not ‘the raging fire’, rather simply ‘raging fire’- Michael Sells,Approaching the Qur’an, Oregon, U.S.A, 1999, p.113.

sijjil (105:4). In the 105th Sura (al-Fil), the Qur’an alludes to the destruction of an army with elephants approaching Mecca by birds showering them with sijjil. This is a mysterious term that has been variously interpreted as ‘a writing’, ‘rock’, ‘baked bricks’, ‘rock-hard clay’, and, metaphorically, as ‘a writing on the wall’, something that had been decreed (by God). - Muhammad Asad, Message of the Qur’an, Gibraltar 1980, Chap. 105, Note 2.

7.       10:1, 31:2, 43:4, 44:4.

8.       12:1, 15:1, 16:64, 26:2, 27:1, 36:69, 43:2, 44:2.

9.       17:89, 18:54, 30:58, 39:27.

10.     7:52, 11:1, 41:3. 

11.     12:2, 41:3, 43:3.

12.     7:52, 16:64, 27:77.

13.     31:3.

14.     2:2, 3:138, 24:34.

15.     2:185, 10:108, 14:52.

16.     2:185, 25:1.

17.     42:17, 57:25.

18.     5:48.

19.     56:79. Literally, the verse states: “None but the pure (of heart) can touch it (the Qur’an)”, but given that the Qur’an was an oral revelation, the verse suggests that only those pure (of heart) can draw benefit from it.  

20.     38:29, 47:24.

21.     39:18, 39:55.  

22.     25:33.

23.     Noldeke’s classification is as follows, though some scholars place the opening Sura (1) in the Medinite period.

o   Early Meccan: 1, 51-53, 55-56, 68-70, 73-75, 77-97, 99-109, 111-114.   [48 Suras]

o   Middle Meccan: 15, 17-21, 23, 25-27, 36-38, 43-44, 50, 54, 67, 71-72, 76.  [21 Suras]

o   Late Meccan: 6-7, 10-14, 16, 28-32, 34-35, 39-42, 45-46. [21 Suras]

o   Medinite Suras, in (extrapolated) chronological order: 2, 98, 64, 62, 8, 47, 3, 61, 57, 4, 65, 59, 33, 63, 24, 58, 22, 48, 66, 60, 110, 49, 9, 5. [24 Suras]

Alan Jones, The Koran, U.K. 1994, [Reprint of the original translation of the Qur’an by J.M.Rodwell, 1861]; p. xx.

24.     Typically, the Qur’an uses the words sualehahkhayrahhasanah, taiyibah, birr for different categories of goodness, and the words, khabisahsharrsayyi’ahmunkar, fahishah for different categories of badness.

 Published by Amana Publications, USA, 2009 

Published on New Age Islam with permission

Related Article:

Introducing the Book 'Essential Message of Islam' by Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed

http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/introducing-the-book--essential-message-of-islam--by-muhammad-yunus---ashfaque-ullah-syed/d/101761

 

URL:  http://www.newageislam.com/books-and-documents/muhammad-yunus---ashfaque-ullah-syed/preface-and-contents-of-the-book--essential-message-of-islam--by-muhammad-yunus---ashfaque-ullah-syed/d/101823

 




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