The Islamic Garden
The Qur’an Is not Just a ‘Book’
By Naseema Mall
If the title suggests blasphemy, that is not the intention. The title was to get your attention.
Yes, the Qur’an is a book, but not a book like any other. It is not a book that we pick up when we are “in the mood” or only in Ramadan. It is not something that we read when there is nothing else to read. It is not a storybook yet it contains some of the most beautiful stories.
Many a Muslim would profess to lead his/her life according to the teachings of the Qur’an. But when we take a good look around and observe the state of Muslims today, one can’t help but ask, do we really abide by the teachings?
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but Muslims around the world, with a few exceptions, don’t have a favorable reputation. Surely, we must take a hard look at ourselves and contemplate the reasons and devise a strategy to make positive changes.
So what does the Qur’an mean to Muslims? On the one hand, we recite it as a form of ‘ibadah (worship) to gain nearness to Allah and to attain rewards. But equally important, if not more so, is that we are supposed to apply the teachings in our lives, and not just certain aspects of our lives but every aspect.
Applying the teachings is not just praying five times a day, fasting in Ramadan, paying Zakah and going for Hajj. These are the foundations upon which we establish ourselves as strong Muslims. When we look at the very first chapter of the Qur’an, Sura Fatiha, we realize that it is also a du`a (supplication), where we are asking Allah to guide us to the straight path. That supplication is answered in the beginning of the very next chapter, Sura Baqarah, where Allah says (what means), “This is the book: in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah.”
Islam is a holistic way of life. We are created as both spiritual and intellectual beings. Thus, when we obey Allah’s commands we do not do so by only fulfilling the spiritual requirements, such as praying, fasting and going for Hajj. We often ask ourselves, “What is expected of me?” Well the answer to that is clear in the Qur’an.
What is expected from us is the application of the intellectual teachings of the Qur’an, not just the spiritual. So what are we talking about when we say the intellectual teachings? As mentioned above Islam encompasses all areas of life. Let’s take a look at what some of these are:
1. In Islam cleanliness and purity are of utmost importance. This is why we perform ablution (wudu’) and the ritual bath (ghusl). The two purify us physically and spiritually. This cleanliness and purity should extend to our homes, our place of work, our streets and our environment.
2. The things that we eat – there are certain things that are specifically prohibited like pork and alcohol. Bear in mind that this is not because Allah wants to deprive us of anything, but as our Creator He knows what’s good for us and what is harmful. This is from His love. Knowing what is clearly prohibited, we should realize that our bodies are an amaana (trust) from Allah and we must take extremely good care of it. The prohibitions should extend beyond, thus we should not consume other substances that are harmful, such as excessive junk food and cigarettes. Logically, why infuse your body with things you know will be harmful?
3. The way we dress – this is often a sensitive and heated issue, particularly when it comes to women. Islam has advisedly prescribed the manner in which men and women should carry themselves. Again, this comes from Allah’s ultimate wisdom. When we say, “Why should I? I am free to do what I want”, that is true, we have been given freedom of choice. But whatever decision is made, make sure that what you’re doing will be of benefit to you and not harm you. When it comes to dressing there are things that are permitted and prohibited for men and women. Men are not allowed to wear gold and pure silk, as these are the adornment of women. Women must cover themselves to retain their dignity and be kept safe from rumors and malicious gossip.
These are just some examples of how to implement the teachings of the Qur’an, but it contains a lot more. The Qur’an tells one to treat each other with compassion and to always be just; to take care of the environment; to treat the orphans well; to show respect to parents. Every injunction in the Qur’an is for our benefit, for our prosperity. We stand to lose a lot by not following the teachings. We already have lost a lot, if we just look around us. These days we argue mostly about who’s right and who’s wrong; who is on the right path and who has strayed. We have become judgmental of each other instead of focusing on the important things that Allah has asked us to do. He placed us on this planet to know Him, to take care of each other, to protect the world He created for us; for all humanity.
What can we say for ourselves? What will we say when Allah asks us why did we not do what He entrusted us to do?
Naseema Mall is a free lance journalist based in
Basics of Islam