MAULANA NAEEMUDDIN ISLAHI, senior teacher of Qur’ān at Jamia-tul-Falah, Bilaria Ganj, Azam Garh, in an interview with ZILLUR RAHMAN HAIDER said the Qur’ān is the only guidance for peace against all kinds of atrocities, injustice and exploitation of the modern world. Excerpts:
You are a senior teacher of the Qur’ān. Please enlighten us about the teachings of the Qur’ān and how are they relevant to the modern world?
The most important teaching of the Qur’ān is that only one God controls the whole universe. It is called Tauheed (belief in the oneness of God). The teaching of Tauheed is spread all over the Qur’ān. The second dominant teaching of the Qur’ān is the concept of Akhirah (belief in the Day of Judgment). According to this concept, this world is not eternal; one day it will come to an end like the death of human beings. After death, reawakening will take place. Then every human being will be brought to God for the final judgment of his or her actions of worldly life. There will be reward for the right doers, and wrong doers will be punished on the Day of Judgment. The third important teaching of the Qur’ān is Risalah (belief in prophethood). It is the chain of messengers, who came from time to time to the people for their guidance. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) was the last Messenger of God to all mankind and the Qur’ān is the last revealed book. All these three teachings are very much dominant in the Qur’ān.
The modern world is full of atrocities, injustice and exploitation. The Qur’ān is the panacea. If in today’s world human beings follow the Qur’ānic teachings, peace and justice is possible. The relationship of the Qur’ān to the modern world is very clear. The Qur’ān is the last revealed book to the world. Its message is universal without limitation of time and space. All mankind has been addressed by the Qur’ān without ethnic, cultural and gender discrimination and national differences. It is for black and white, backward and forward, male and female and for Arabs and non-Arabs. This book is the guidance for all mankind. In the first chapter of the Qur’ān it has been said that He is the Lord of the Universe (Alhamdulillahi- rabbil- a’alamin).
What are the most important characteristics of the Qur’ān?
The most important characteristic of the Qur’ān is that it recognises other revealed books such as the Bible, Torah and Zaboor, etc. Several messengers have been sent to every community. The Qur’ān said that God revealed so many books from time to time for the guidance of people. The Bible is the book of God, Torah is the book of God and Zaboor is the book of God. But nothing has been said in these books that they are for all mankind. It is only with the Qur’ān that it is for all humanity and now for all times to come.
The second important characteristic of the Qur’ān is that of all the revealed books only the Qur’ān is safe from adulterations. The Qur’ān is in its original form. Enemies of Islam also agree to this point of view that the Qur’ān is as it was at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). They deny only its revelation by God and maintain that the Qur’ān is written by Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him).
The third important characteristic is that it is for all times. The Bible, Torah, Zaboor and all other previous books were limited to their respective periods. But this is not the case with the Qur’ān. The Qur’ān claims that it is for all times; no other book will be revealed after the Qur’ān and no messenger will come after Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). The Qur’ān was revealed at a time when human mind was fully developed and is now in its last stage of development. There is no need of other books to be revealed for the guidance of human beings. The Qur’ān is enough.
One more important characteristic of the Qur’ān is that it is propitious. The Qur’ān is the most virtuous and most auspicious of the revealed books and total goodness is related to it. The ‘light’, the ‘guidance’ and ‘blessed’ are the words used in the Qur’ān for the Bible, Torah and Zaboor. But the word ‘Mubārak’ is used only for the Qur’ān. The Bible, Torah and Zaboor all have been adulterated but the Qur’ān is protected from any adulteration. That is why Mubarak is not the feature of those books.
The Bible, Torah and Zaboor are some of the Semitic books. Do you think that these books were revealed for all humanity or these were limited to a particular community or locality?
Nowhere it has been mentioned that these books were for all human beings and that they are for times. That is why it was for a particular locality and for a particular community. Generally these books have interacted only with Bani Israil (sons of Israil). But it is a fact that some prophets also interacted with nearby communities and localities, such as Moosa (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) interacted with the Qibti community. After all with all these realities all messengers gave the sign of the Last Messenger. Every Semitic religious community was waiting for this particular messenger.
Is there any remote indication in the Qur’ān for any Messenger of God who came for Indian subcontinent or any religious scripture of India which can be traced to be a revealed book?
The Qur’ān doesn’t talk about a particular nation or country. It has generalised the term and talked about the essentials. The Qur’ān has said that God has sent messengers to every nation and for every community (likulle qaumin haad). India is an ancient country and there is every possibility that some messengers might also have come for the Indian subcontinent. But the Qur’ān has not declared the name the books and messengers who came to India. There is no sign of it in the Qur’ān.
While teaching the Qur’ān, you once told us that Zulkifl means one who belongs to kapilvastu and that it might be the indication of Buddha.
A great scholar of the Qur’ān from Deobandi school of thought Maulana Munazir Hasan Gilani has said about Zulkifl. It means kapilvastu and it is related to Buddha but he is not very much sure about it. Even if Buddha was the messenger of God, the followers of Buddha, like Christians and Jews, have perverted the teachings prescribed by him.
How can the Qur’ān be explained to the younger generation of society in an easy way?
It is necessary for every age-group either old or young, men and women, to read and teach the Qur’ān. After all, young generation is the important part of our community. That is why Qur’ānic education is essential for them. Mother tongue is the easy way to impart the teaching of the Qur’ān to every individual. It is worthwhile to mention here that Jamaat-e-Islami has tried to translate the Qur’ān into every living language. It is the big achievement of the Jamaat that translations and interpretations of the Qur’ān are available in 14 languages of India. There is no excuse and language bar for younger generation to understand the Qur’ān. The Qur’ān should be taught in the mother tongue. It will be enough for guidance.
Which tafseer book is more feasible for general people to understand the Qur’ān?
Tafheem-ul-Qur’ān of Maulana Maudoodi is much feasible to the general people, because it is in easy-to-understand language.
What are the basic requirements of in-depth study of the Qur’ān?
For deep understanding of the Qur’ān, comprehensive knowledge of Arabic is necessary. The person should be fond of Arabic literature. He should try for in-depth study of Islamic history, pre-Islamic history of Arab and biography of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). If one tries, God will open the door and the understanding of the Qur’ān will become easier.
Does it guide man to live a complete and full-fledged life?
Yes the Qur’ān guides people to live a complete life. Every aspect of life has been discussed in the Qur’ān, whether it is political, economic and social issue, individual and collective, of war or peace. In every sphere of life the Qur’ān guides people clearly.
Some Muslims consider that the Qur’ān is very difficult to understand. It cannot be understood by common man. For him mere recitation is enough. Your comments.
Earlier it was so. But now the tendency of such thinking has gone. The community or organisations which were thinking in that direction now know the reality that without understanding the Qur’ān and without implementing it in every sphere of life the world affair can not work properly. That is why, now, they are organising seminar and symposium on the Qur’ān. Now they are also inviting some non-Muslim fellows in their programmes to convey the message of the Qur’ān to them. The world scenario is changing day by day. Against the conventional approach towards understanding the Qur’ān, they want to implement it in every walk of life.
Is there a need of rigorous studies to understand the Qur’ān and only Madrasa students have the ability to do so?
Obviously, there is need of rigorous study for deep understanding of the Qur’ān. But for superficial study and understanding of the Qur’ān, there is no need of deep knowledge. The subject matter of the Qur’ān is very easy. It is the invitation for the righteous people in an easy manner. The message is very clear. The Qur’ān said that indeed we have made the Qur’ān easy for those who seek guidance. According to the Qur’ān, if one wants to follow the right path, Allah guides them onto the right path and one who chooses the wrong path on his own, Allah never pressurises them for the right path. There is no compulsion in Islam.
Do you think that the Qur’ān is a miracle and a literary challenge to the human beings?
Yes, the Qur’ān is a miracle and it has been challenging people for about 15 hundred years. It is a fact that no precedence of such kind of literature has appeared till now, nor will come in the future.
In what way is it a miracle?
The Qur’ān revealed to the world extremely high class of literature. It challenged the community that was proud of its literature and its contribution to it. They were fond of a very literary society. At that time the Arab community denied that the Qur’ān is a revealed book and said that it is written by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). Then the holy Qur’ān challenged the entire community and the whole world that if you don’t believe that the Qur’ān is a revealed book of God then produce such sentences and even a single sentence of that of the Qur’ān. But they were not able to produce even a single sentence of that sublimity.
Why was it revealed in Arabic?
At the time of revelation of the Qur’ān, the people of every civilized nation such as Greece, Iran and India were intelligent. They were argumentative and fond of logical reasoning. They strayed from the right path because of philosophical thinking. The Arab people were simple and were living in pure natural environment. They were pious in nature, very brave and having command on language. Some of the distinctive qualities also exist only in this society such as benevolence, charities and fulfilment of their promises. That is why I think God revealed the Qur’ān in Arabic. And the Arab community has been selected by God. They were the only able persons of their time for this noble cause.
Do you think the Qur’ān doesn’t like Philosophy?
The subject matter of the Qur’ān is (Dawah or invitation towards God. It is not a philosophical scripture although the Qur’ān has solved many philosophical complexities.
What is the message of the Qur’ān to the people of different faiths?
The Qur’ān invites all human beings towards God and says that God sent His messengers to every community. He also revealed books for their guidance. But the Qur’ān is the last book and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) is the last messenger. All previous teachings have been adulterated by their followers. So, it is necessary for everyone to follow the Qur’ān only to get success in this life and in the hereafter. All previous education of different messengers has been replaced by the last message of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him).
Why is the Qur’ān not bringing about the desired change in society as it could during the days of its revelation?
The community that believes in the Qur’ān is the biggest hurdle in bringing the desired changes in society. If believers of the Qur’ān make themselves a living example of the Qur’ān then no hindrance will occur in the acceptance as well as dissemination of its teachings.