By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
31 May 2016
Why reform and what is meant by reformation? The Quran is the word of God. For a Muslim, that is a given and not a word from the Quran can be changed or its meaning altered. The question is whether the word of God in the Quran is understood correctly or has the meaning been distorted through “interpretations”. If it is distorted, and if the correct meaning can be established through a rigorous process using the Quran itself, and if the correct meaning so established addresses the issues that we face today, then reform is simply a matter of discarding the distortions and adopting the correct meaning. Reform is then going back to the pristine Islam of the Quran. Fortunately this is the case which makes reform easy provided the Muslims agree to the “correct meaning” established through a rigorous process.
Why is reform necessary? Islamic societies are in a state of disequilibrium. Islam put the Muslims ahead of Europe by a thousand years in every way. Europe has however caught up learning from the Muslims initially,and then applying reason to all that made the Muslims excel, and then outpaced the Muslims in almost every field and are ahead by at least fifty years. The advanced world is ahead in individual freedoms, gender equality, human rights, science and technology and the behavioral sciences. This state of disequilibrium has forced the Muslims to look into the causes for their great decline in relative terms. Added to that is their political subservience to the US either “voluntarily” or their subjugation through war. The deep chasm between a glorious past and the current reality of his abject existence, has made him cling on more tightly to patterns of behavior that are the cause of his failures rather than adopt the right behavior even though the Quran says:
13:11 Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change themselves.
8:53 Allah will never change the grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in themselves.
From verse 8:53, it should be clear to the Muslims, that the grace that Allah once bestowed on them in the past, has changed because they changed what is in themselves. This change came about gradually over the centuries through a very systematic corruption of Islamic theology. It is true that the Muslims are in their current state because they have gone far away from the pristine Islam of the Quran. It is Islam that made the early Muslims practice religious tolerance and liberated the people who came under their political control from the religious persecution that they suffered under the previous regimes. Today it is the Muslims who have become oppressors of the minorities and religious persecutors. The Prophet (pbuh) fought battles only to end religious persecution and the Quran refers only to the oppressors and religious persecutors as “Kafir” and this word is not used in general for people of any faith. Today it is the Muslims who need to be fought against to end their persecution and they have become the “Kafirs” of this age. The example of those who are successful is before us. Can we learn from their example? Yes, we can, if we do not shut our minds to it.
The Quran, although the most widely read, is the least understood. There are very few Muslims who read the Quran to understand what it says. Most read it only for liturgical purpose to earn “rewards”. Those who do read, restrict their thinking only to what they have been taught to understand, rather than comprehending the real meaning of the words in front of them. This is evident when one considers their understanding of key Quranic words and passages. They understand only what they have been taught to understand in madrasas, through sermons, or commentaries. In other words, their understanding of the Quran is not so much based upon what the Quran actually says, but upon what they have been taught that the Quran says.
Attributes of the Quran that help in establishing its meaning
(27:1) These are verses of the Qur´an,-a book that makes (things) clear;
(18:28) (It is) a Qur´an in Arabic, without any crookedness (therein): in order that they may guard against Evil.
(4:82) Do they not consider the Qur´an (with care)? Had it been from other Than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy.
(18:69) We have not instructed the (Prophet) in Poetry, nor is it meet for him: this is no less than a Message and a Qur´an making things clear:
(39:23) Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful Message in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in manifold forms): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah´s praises. Such is the guidance of Allah: He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide.
(10:82) "And Allah by His words doth prove and establish His truth, however much the sinners may hate it!"
(9:125) But those in whose hearts is a disease,- it will add doubt to their doubt, and they will die in a state of Unbelief.
The important points to note are:
That the Quran is not a book of poetry. Poets use key words in such a fashion that the word can take all or several of its many meanings and yet the verse remains intelligible or the same word is used in a single verse with different meanings. This is a characteristic of poetry. The Quran makes it clear that it is not a book of poetry and therefore it uses words to make the meaning clear and not to confuse or allow different interpretations. The key takeaway here is that one should not interpret the Quran as one would interpret poetry and debate about the different meanings that its verse can take but should take the simple and straightforward meaning communicated by it and as consistent with the rest of the Book. This is especially so when it concerns the ‘Muhkamat’ verses that instruct a Muslim in the right practice or conduct. As it concerns the allegorical verses, these are capable of being taken either literally or allegorically without affecting the manner in which a Muslim is required to conduct his affairs.
The message is repeated taking manifold forms that assist in understanding the intended message or the meaning of the verses. Any mistake in understanding a verse therefore gets easily corrected.
Any doubt regarding the correct understanding of the meaning of any verse of the Quran can be settled with reference to other verses of the Quran itself. The Quran is its best and most comprehensive commentary.
The consistency, clarity and lack of discrepancy that the Quran shows is phenomenal. It is a book of over 6000 verses and yet one would be hard pressed to find any word that takes two or more meanings across these 6000+ verses. The consistency is therefore not within a verse or surah alone, but across the Book. With such consistency, only someone who is careless can go wrong or someone “in whose heart is a disease” can go astray, or someone lacking faith in the wisdom of the Quran and wanting to replace the correct meaning with one that he thinks makes better sense!
However, the scholars “interpret” the Quran in a manner that has made the Book a book with much discrepancy. To deal with the contradictions, they incorrectly invoke the doctrine of abrogation which does not apply to the Quran at all but to the previous books of revelation because “for each period was a book revealed (13:38)”.
(2:106) None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah Hath power over all things?
If the Quran contains abrogated verses, then the claim that it is a Book without discrepancy, without crookedness, consistent with itself, and a Book that makes everything clear, becomes a false claim. The doctrine of abrogation therefore cannot apply to the Quran.
The Quran is a Book that enables us to understand the real meaning of every verse without ambiguity eliminating the need for interpretation. Those who merely interpret, fall short of the required discipline because they are unaware perhaps that it is possible to arrive at the true meaning. The true meaning of any verse is the meaning or interpretation that does not contradict the clear meaning any other verse. If the interpretation of any verse contradicts the clear meaning of another verse, then it is an incorrect interpretation and not the true meaning of the verse.
Take the verse 2:256 “Let there be no compulsion in religion” which by the way is a Medinian verse. No other verse can be interpreted in a manner that contradicts this verse and there cannot be another verse that negates this verse. Once such a discipline is followed, the whole of the Quran can be correctly understood by itself without relying on commentaries or the context or supported by the alleged sayings of the Prophet. To say that the Quran cannot be understood by itself, is to deny it’s oft repeated claim that it is a Book that makes things clear.
To say that the message of the Meccan Quran is inclusive and tolerant but the message of the Medinian Quran is warlike, intolerant and exclusive tantamount to saying that the Medinian Quran contradicts the Meccan Quran. There is no contradiction in the Quran whatsoever. The Meccan Quran contains very clear warning of what is likely to unfold for the religious persecutors in very clear terms. In my articles, I have covered the entire Prophetic mission of Muhammad (pbuh) covering both the Meccan and Medinian periods. There is no discontinuity in the message let alone the verse of an early period contradicting a verse of the later period. Please read the complete series:
Systematic Corruption of Islamic Theology
As to how our scholars have systematically corrupted Islamic theology, please read:
What Path Must Our Young take?
What can prevent our youth from being misguided by the charlatans? Or how can we channelize the idealism of the youth in the right direction? It is by informing them of what makes a good Muslim as per the authentic message of the Quran. This is covered in the article:
There are two very clear paths - One is of Allah’s guidance, His pleasure and success in both this world and the Hereafter and the other the path of perdition. In Surah Fateha we pray to Allah that He may show us the path of those on whom is Allah’s grace and not the path of those on whom is Allah’s wrath and those who go astray (Siraat al-Lazeenaan'amta 'Alaihimghayril-Maghdoobi 'Alaihimwa Lad-Daaalleen). Allah makes clear in verse 4:69 who these people are on whom is Allah’s grace. The article cited above covers the characteristics of people on whom is Allah’s grace.
(21:18) Nay, We hurl the Truth against falsehood, and it knocks out its brain, and behold, falsehood doth perish! Ah! woe be to you for the (false) things ye ascribe (to Us).
My articles seek to establish the truth and knock out the falsehood on which the terror mongers thrive. The problem however is that their ideology is not very different from the corrupted Islamic theology supported by the Ulema of all sects. In the past, Allah has punished entire nations for corrupting His message and scriptures and spreading mischief. If we fail to see the truth and take corrective steps, the history of other nations on which the wrath of Allah descended, will repeat for the Muslim Ummah.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com.
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