Les quatre saisons
The present arrangement of the Quran is not the work of later generations, but was made by the Prophet under God’s direction. Whenever a chapter was revealed, the Prophet summoned his scribes, to whom he carefully dictated its contents, and instructed them where to place it in relation to the other chapters. The Prophet followed the same order of chapters and verses when reciting during ritual Prayer as on other occasions, and his Companions followed the same practice in memorising the Quran. It is therefore a historical fact that the collection of the Quran came to an end on the very day that its revelation ceased. The One who was responsible for its revelation was also the One who set its arrangement. The one whose heart was the receptacle of the Quran was also responsible for arranging its sequence. This was far too important and too delicate a matter for anyone else to dare to become involved in.
Since Prayers were obligatory for the Muslims from the very outset of the Prophet’s mission, and the recitation of the Quran was an obligatory part of those Prayers, Muslims were committing the Quran to memory while its revelation continued. Thus, as soon as a fragment of the Quran was revealed, it was memorised by some of the Companions. Hence the preservation of the Quran was not solely dependent on its verses being inscribed on palm leaves, pieces of bone, leather and scraps of parchment – the materials used by the Prophet’s scribes for writing down Quranic verses – instead those verses came to be inscribed upon scores, then hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands of human HEARTS, soon after they had been revealed, so that no scope was left for any devil to alter so much as one word of them.
The Quran is a Book to which innumerable people turn for innumerable purposes. It is difficult to offer advice appropriate to all. The readers to whom this work is addressed are those who are concerned to acquire a serious understanding of the Book, and who seek the guidance it has to offer in relation to the various problems of life. For such people we have a few suggestions to make, and we shall offer some explanations in the hope of facilitating their study of the Quran.
All who really wish to understand the Quran, irrespective of whether or not they believe in it, must divest their mind, as far as possible, of every preconceived notion, bias and prejudice, in order to embark upon his study with an open mind. All who begin to study the Quran with a set of preconceived ideas are likely to read those very ideas into the Book. No book can be profitably studied with this kind of attitude, let alone the Quran which refuses to open its treasure-house to such readers.
For those who want only a superficial acquaintance with the doctrines of the Quran one reading is perhaps sufficient. For those who want to fathom its depths even several readings are not enough. These people need to study the Quran over and over again, taking notes of everything that strikes them as significant. Those who are willing to study the Quran in this manner should seek to obtain a broad understanding of the system of beliefs and practical prescriptions that it offers. In this preliminary survey, they should try to gain an overall perspective of the Quran and to grasp the basic ideas which it expounds, and the system of life that it seeks to build on the basis of those ideas. If, during the course of this study, anything agitates the mind of the reader, he should note down the point concerned and patiently persevere with his study. He is likely to find that, as he proceeds, the difficulties are resolved. Experience suggests that any problems still unsolved after a first reading of the Quran are likely to be resolved by a careful second reading.
Only after acquiring a total PERSPECTIVE of the Quran should a more detailed study be attempted. Again the reader is well advised to keep noting down the various aspects of the Quranic teachings. For instance, he should note the human model that the Quran extols as praiseworthy, and the model it denounces. It might be helpful to make two columns, one headed -praiseworthy qualities-, the other headed -blameworthy qualities-, and then to enter into the respective columns all that is found relevant in the Quran. To take another instance, the reader might proceed to investigate the Quranic point of view on what is conducive to human success and felicity, as against what leads to man’s ultimate failure and perdition. An efficient way to carry out this investigation would be to note under separate headings, such as -conducive to success- and -conducive to failure-, the relevant material encountered. In the same way, the reader should take down notes about Quranic teachings on questions of belief and morals, man’s rights and obligations, family life and collective behaviour, economic and political life, law and social organisation, war and peace, and so on. Then he should use these various teaching to try to develop an image of the Quranic teachings in vis-à-vis each particular aspect of human life. This should be followed by an attempt at integrating these IMAGES so that he comes to grasp the total scheme of life envisaged by the Quran.
Moreover, all wishing to study in depth the Quranic viewpoint on any particular problem of life should, first of all, study all the significant strands of human thought concerning that problem. Ancient and modern works on the subject should be studied. Unresolved problems where human thinking seems to have got stuck should be noted. The Quran should then be studied with these unresolved problems in mind, with a view to finding out what solutions the Quran has to offer. Personal experience again suggests that all who study the Quran in this manner will find their problems solved with the help of verses which they may have read scores of times without it ever crossing their minds that they could have any relevance to the problems at hand.
It should be remembered, nevertheless, that full appreciation of the SPIRIT of the Quran demands practical involvement with the struggle to fulfil its mission. The Quran is neither a book of abstract theories and cold doctrines which the reader can grasp while seated in a cosy armchair, not is it merely a religious book like other religious books, the secrets of which can be grasped in seminaries and oratories.
On the contrary, it is the blueprint and guidebook of a message – mission – movement.
As soon as this Book was revealed, it drove a quiet, kind-hearted man from his isolation and seclusion, and placed him upon the battlefield of life to challenge a world that had gone astray. It inspired him to raise his VOICE against falsehood, and pitted him in a grim struggle against the standard-bearers of unbelief, of disobedience to God, of waywardness and error. One after the other, it sought out everyone who had a pure and noble soul, mustering them together under the banner of the Messenger. It also infuriated all those who by their nature were bent on mischief and drove them to wage war against the bearers of the Truth.
This is the Book which inspired and directed that great movement which began with the preaching of a message by an individual, and continued for no fewer than twenty-three years, until the Kingdom of God was truly established on Earth. In this long and heart-rending struggle between Truth and Falsehood, this Book unfailingly guided its followers to the eradication of the latter and the consolidation and enthronement of the former. How then could one expect to get to the heart of the Quranic truths merely by reciting its verses, without so much as stepping upon the field of battle between faith and unbelief, between Islam and Ignorance? To appreciate the Quran fully one must take it up and launch into the task of CALLING people to God, making it one’s guide at every stage.
Then, and only then, does one meet the various experiences encountered at the time of its revelation. One experiences the initial rejection of the message of Islam by the city of Makkah, the persistent hostility leading to the quest for a haven of refuge in Abyssinia, and, the attempt to win a favourable response from Ta’if which led, instead, to cruel persecution of the bearer of the Quranic message. One experiences also the campaigns of Badr, Uhud, Hunayn and Tabuk. One comes face to face with Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab, with hypocrites and with Jews, with those who instantly respond to this call as well as those who, lacking clarity of perception and moral strength, were drawn into Islam only at a latter stage.
This will be an experience different from any so-called mystic experience.
I designate it the Quranic mystic experience.
One of the characteristics of this experience is that at each stage one almost automatically finds certain Quranic verses to guide one, since they were revealed at a similar stage and therefore contain the guidance appropriate to it. A person engaged in this struggle may not grasp all the linguistic and grammatical subtleties, he may also miss certain finer points in the rhetoric and semantics of the Quran, yet it is impossible for the Quran to fail to reveal its true spirit to him.
Again, in keeping with the same principle, a man can neither understand the laws, the moral teachings, and the economic and political principles which the Quran embodies, nor appreciate the full import of the Quranic laws and regulations, unless he tries to implement them in his own life. Hence the individual who fails to translate the Quranic precepts into personal practice will fail to understand the Book. The same must be said of all people that allow the institutions of their collective life to run contrary to the teachings of the Quran.
Modèle, déviations et réponse islamique
A more basic question raised by Mawdudi, in this respect is – can Islam be regarded a religion like Hinduism, Judaism or Christianity? Referring directly to the Quran, he holds the view that the Arabic term -mazhab-, synonymous with the English word -religion-, is not used even once in the Quran or in the Prophetic Tradition. The Quran, invariably, in about ninety-eight places uses the term دين in its comprehensive connotation of commands, directives and teachings dealing with personal and family life, worship, social relations, economy, political system, law and financial accountability. This leaves no ambiguity in the mind of a perceptive reader of the Quran and Tradition about the supremacy of Law or sovereignty of Allah the Exalted.
The term –religion- in its traditional Eastern and Western connotation bears little relevance to Islam. Islam is a complete WAY of life, with its own cultural, ethical, legal-social, political and economic system as it has its own distinct form and expression for prayer, worship and devotion.
All are parts of an integrated SYSTEM.
The suggestion that the advent of kingship was a de-facto separation between religion and state, or a form of secularisation of state is out of tune with the reality of the Muslim experience and based on a total misunderstanding of the notion. To begin with, Islamic state is an IDEOLOGICAL state and as such, it cannot be religion-neutral. It is responsible for making it convenient for its citizens to live by the Islamic principles and teachings. The Quran explicitly states that – Allah will certainly help those who when We bestow upon them authority in land shall establish (system of) prayers, (system of) Alms, enjoin good and forbid evil (22:41) –
Here the Quran has specified four basic obligations and responsibilities of an Islamic state namely establishment of a system of public piety through prayer, a system of just and sharing economy through Alms; realisation of good an ethical behaviour in public policy and eradication and frustration of all evil and unethical practices.
Operationalisation of these four state obligations is called by the Quran:
establishing the Rule of Allah حاكمية
through social justice.
In the realm of Law, the Quran makes the political authority responsible for implementation of justice in civil as well as criminal matters. The Quranic political system makes no pleas for any privileged class based on divine right to rule; rather it is state alone which can implement criminal penalties and civil punishments. The political teachings of the Quran include how to dispense justice within the framework of the Law. Islamic laws relating to inheritance, family, economic transactions, crime and punishment are integral part of the directives and commands of the Quran and the Tradition or along with processes for dispensation of justice. With explicit commands in all these above areas of law, the Quran makes state and society equally responsible for implementation of an Islamic system of life. Enjoying good and forbidding evil is both public and private responsibility. It is in this sense that Islam has no separation between the so-called secular and the religious as Iqbal correctly remarks – the essence of Oneness as a working idea is equality, solidarity and freedom –
The state from an Islamic standpoint is an endeavour to transform these principles into space and time forces, an aspiration to realise them in definite human organisation; therefore the state in Islam is a theocracy.
All that is secular is therefore sacred in the roots of its being.
There is no such thing as a profane world.
All this immensity of matter constitutes a scope for the self-realisation of spirit.
All is holy ground.
As the Prophet states: The entire earth is a Masjid.
The state according to Islam is only an effort to realise the spiritual in human organisation.
Does it mean that if state is not religion neutral:
then non-Muslim citizens will face discrimination?
The Quran specifically in the context of non-Muslims directs believers to observe justice as it is – near to piety and Allah-consciousness (5:8) –
State has an obligation to PROTECT life, honour, property, rational behaviour, religions and cultural freedom of its non-Muslim citizens.
State cannot differentiate between a Muslim and a non-Muslim as members of civil society.
However, it does not mean that violating all norms of reason, logic and fairness a person by virtue of being a citizen may be appointed to perform a duty for which he may not meet requisite qualifications, for example, leading prayers in the mosque, or adjudicating Law matters without conviction, expertise, knowledge, skill and trust in it. Second, it is in line with the true spirit of democracy to allow the majority law reflect the values the community believes in.
At the same time, minority has every right to live according to its own guaranteed faith and values; however, minority has no right to dictate majority nor to legislate public law in keeping with the people’s will.
Genuine plurality is an integral part of the Islamic system:
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ
فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا
وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error:
Whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold,
that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.
The Islamic political order subsumes not only religious freedom but considers religious liberty within and outside the Islamic state as an inalienable RIGHT of its citizen.
The Quran declares (22:40) – (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right (for no cause) except that they say, our Lord is Allah. Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will).
By mentioning specifically the Four * places of worship namely, churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and monasteries, the Quran has left no ambiguity in the minds of its readers that if religious liberty is denied to the followers of other religions, it is for the Islamic state to take all necessary steps for the RESTORATION of their rights.
This protection of religious freedom is not a favour but the obligation of an ideological Islamic state. All who read the Quran and the Prophet’s Tradition will discover for themselves that the Prophet has gone to the extent of saying – Beware! Whosoever is cruel and hard on such people (non-Muslims), or curtails their rights or burdens them with more than they can endure, or realise anything from them against their free will, I shall myself be a complainant against such a person on the Day of Judgement –