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Approaching the Quran

The noble Qur’an is the word of Almighty Allah, which started to be revealed to humanity in the blessed month of Ramadan through His Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

The major themes of the noble Qur’an are:

– Allah’s transcendent sovereignty,

– our mission as Allah’s vicegerents on earth, and

– the guidance offered to humans out of Allah’s infinite mercy.

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Two Sources of Knowledge

Knowledge can be divided into two broad categories: knowledge of the perceptible world (Ash-Shahadah), and that of the imperceptible world (Al-Ghayb).

All our sciences give us knowledge of the world, nature, history, and arts; such knowledge is called the knowledge of Ash-Shahadah. But humans can never acquire the knowledge of spiritual realities beyond the world of our senses unless Almighty Allah Himself reveals such knowledge. These belong to the world of Al-Ghayb.

We should always remember that Allah is not only the Creator, but He is also the Sustainer and the Disposer of all the affairs of the whole creation:

{ Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is the Guardian and Disposer of all affairs. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth, and those who reject the Signs of Allah, it is they who will be in loss.} (Az-Zumar 39:62-63)

This means that the whole of human progress through history, which humanity proudly claims as its achievement, would not have been possible if Allah had not helped and guided it at every step. Allah says, {But Allah has created you and your handiwork} (As-Saffat 37:96)

While we, for all practical purposes, have been given the ability to make decisions and to work in  our own ways toward attaining freely chosen objectives, Almighty Allah is in control, and humans, as well as all other creatures, are never free from Allah’s overriding power and sovereignty:

 {And you shall not will, unless (it be) that Allah, the Lord of the worlds, wills}  (At-Takwir 81:29)

From this, we should realize that Allah guides us in our affairs in ways that are mysterious, and we are utterly helpless without His guidance, even in those things where we presume to be self-sufficient. Sadly, most people are unaware. This is Allah’s guidance acting, at one level, upon the affairs of the human race and controlling the course of history.

At another level, we have the noble Qur’an before us, and we (as individuals as well as communities) are asked to choose the divine guidance in the Qur’an to manage our day-to-day affairs. It is up to us to accept or reject this divine guidance, as there is no coercion in religion. But most of us are unaware, and this unawareness is a deficiency that can be rectified by means of humility, because this latter is the first step toward knowledge and wisdom.

Also, unawareness is often coupled with arrogance, which is a trait of Satan, and we are easy victims of the guiles of Satan. Thus the dangerous combination of unawareness and arrogance leads people to ignore divine guidance and to adopt whatever expedient courses available to them for the gratification of their immediate desires and for the attainment of their short-term goals.

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About Professor Shahul Hameed
Professor Shahul Hameed is an Islamic consultant. He also held the position of the President of the Kerala Islamic Mission, Calicut, India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.