By Dr. AbdulGaniy Olusola Labinjo
The founding fathers of the Shooting Star of Islam in 1942 were confronted with the challenge of access to western education whilst retaining their faith. In addition they had to deal with intense discrimination and contempt for Islam as young boys and men. However,the challenges confronting the young Muslims today are probably worse. The grand propaganda from the Pentecostals, the negative narratives about Islam from the western media and the stigmatization arising therefrom, : terrorism and the global attempt to associate same with Islam either out of ignorance or sheer mischief;
the failure of some of our Islamic scholars,teachers and Imams to adequately address the concerns and curiosity of the youths as they relate to contemporary issues, coupled with the pervasive subtle and overt discrimination against the Muslim youths : all these compound the dilemma of today. This is not to mention the failure of some of our leaders to focus more and address these issues instead of dwelling on rather superficial and unnecessarily divisive mundane subjects . More often,such fundamental developmental issues like poverty,responsible parenting,drug addiction,abysmally poor school enrollment,illiteracy and malnutrition as these affect the Ummah are neglected.
This pose a challenge of identity to our youths of today .It is often a herculean task to make Islam attractive to some of the youths and we all have a responsibility to address this.
In dealing with this topic,I intend to adopt a tripartite approach .
First is to establish a nexus between Al Qurán and Islam in order to capture the import of the topic
Second is to examine the Holy Book and attempt to establish its sanctity and discuss its mysterious attributes; and also is to critically examine the dilemma and challenge posed by diverse interpretation .
As the world “progresses” and in the light of the technological advancement; it has become more than a temptation to interrogate Religion and the place of Allah in the scheme of things.Such tendency agitates the minds of both the youths and occasionally,the not so young; especially in times of adversity. It is necessary for us to examine this phenomenon at this critical time with a view to satisfying our curiosity,reinforce our EEMAN and for some of our youths ; to arm them with appropriate orientation with which to engage as the need may arise.
Islam as a way of life was prescribed for us by Allah (SWT) . Allah says in Quran…….. 5.3″This day have I perfected your religion for you,completed my favour upon you,and have chosen for you Islam as your religion”. Q;3;19 ; “The religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. And those who were given the scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them – out of jealous animosity between themselves and whoever disbelieves in the verses of Allah,then indeed Allah is swift in account.
Al Qur’an is the source,the anchor,the authority or the grundnorm (so to say) of Islam. That is indisputable to the believer,but only to the believer.
And I say so because it is a matter of faith : To a non-believer, the above quoted verses would provoke the question “ why should I believe the book which is the source of these statements?”
A foundational discourse in anchoring our faith therefore, is to examine and interrogate this noble book that delivers the injunctions and other clear messages and signs ; how did it come about? Who is the author? How do we prove the divine nature of Al Qur’an ? What differentiates this noble book from any other literature? How do we convince ourselves and others, that The Quran is indeed a genuinely divine message by deploying contemporary paradigm ?
These are valid questions that may agitate the mind and they need to be dealt with objectively;especially in order to assuage the critical minds of the youths of today.
It is not unusual for us to take our faith and our beliefs for granted,and I say this because most of us here present were born into Muslim homes , hence Islam has just been a matter of course .We have unquestionable faith or put differently,we have a desire to believe.
In this talk,I shall attempt in my little way to lead us on a journey to demonstrate the fact that a critical look at the contents of the Quran,would establish that it is indeed a unique book .
In doing this, I intend to adopt a very objective approach with the hope that at the end of the exercise,we should be able to agree that Al Qur’an is indeed a miracle of all times. It is a book like no other and it contains information hitherto unknown to man.
Once we are able to prove that the Holy Quran could not have been written by a human being 1400 years ago,no matter how intelligent such a person was, it should bring us nearer to accepting the fact that it is indeed a revelation,or to a cynic , at least an inspiration from a “Supernatural Source”.
Attributes And Uniqueness Of Al Qurán
Revealed over 1400 years ago,the holy book make categorical reference to activities that could not have been predictable by any human being at the time it was revealed. It speaks with authority and certainty that could not possibly have been the handwork of any human being . And its revelations are as true and relevant today just as they were 1400 years ago !
AL QUR’AN itself confirms its revelation through Malaika Jubril to the Holy Prophet (SAW) ,who was unlettered and who could not have produced such a literary work, and Allah promised to guide it from corruption.
Q15.9 where Allah says ; Lo! We,even We reveal the Reminder,and lo! We verily are its Guardian.
As a compendium:
The Quran was revealed over a total period of 23 years; about 12 years in Makkah and slightly over 10 years in Madinah and contains a total of 114 Chapters and 6236 verses.
It is absolutely impossible for a mere mortal to write a book over a period of approximately 23 years,that covers areas of such diverse scope as divine truths, all branches of knowledge including (but not limited to metaphysics,religious beliefs,sociology,justice,mortality,history,power,jinn,marriage, divorce,money ,widowhood,orphanage,) principles of happy life and Scientific facts — omitting no aspects of human life, and yet contains no contradictions. Q. 4:82 .Nisa. ;”Will they not then ponder about the Quran?If it had been from other than Allah,they would have found therein much contradictions”. The Qur’an itself boasts of no contradictions. SubhanaLlah!
In Qur’an ;2.23 ,Allah challenges mankind to produce the like thereof “And if you are in doubt concerning that which we have sent down,then produce a Surah of the like thereof and call your witness besides Allah if you are truthful”
It unveils mystery of man, mystery of creation and mystery of the universe. It details certain facts of creation that have just been recently established by advancement in scientific methods. And I shall elaborate on this shortly.
In addition to the splendor of its rendition,the Qur’an also boasts of depth of its meaning ,substance and profundity. The Holy book contains at least the principles of all branches of knowledge either in summary or in detail and NOT even a single piece of its contents has ever been controverted.
In this regards it is fascinating that on the wall of the Prestigious Harvard Law School is an inscription where
The institution actually describes the Qur’an as “the best book for seeking justice in any matter of Human life be it crime,dowry,domestic abuse and others”
Here it makes reference to Al Quran;. Chapter 4.135 and what does this ayat say; “O ye who believe!Be ye staunch in justice,witness for Allah,even though it be against yourselves or your parents or kindred,whether a rich man or a poor man,for Allah is nearer unto both. So follow not passion lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away ,then lo! Allah is ever informed of what ye do”. Imagine that this was revealed 1400 years ago!
Elevation of Arabic Language
The Qur’an ,apart from being a literary masterpiece, is a book of eloquence,rhythm and style.The recitation of the Qur’an moved the people tremendously by its eloquence,its sublime tone and extraordinary beauty. It elevated the beauty of Arabic as a language .
Hitherto,Arabic was restricted to the world of desert dwellers with very simple life. An unlettered rural Arab could not have revolutionized the language in his own wisdom. The revelation of Al Qur’an led to the discovery of Arabic as a rich and expressive language.
However,the choice of Arabic language was most likely based on the immediate audience of the Holy Prophet;although the message was for the entire mankind. We should bear in mind that the previous revelations were in the language of the location of the Prophets that brought each message; e.g Hebrew and Aramaic language respectively. Therefore,the fact that the Quran was revealed in Arabic confers no racial superiority,no special claim or authority on Islam on the Arabs. This was also clearly stated by the Holy Prophet in his last sermon on 9th Dhul hijjah 10 AH. So,there is a need for caution when we tend to assume that the Saudis are the best of Muslims
Depth Of Meaning ;The Holy book repeatedly calls for application of intelligence,contemplation and reflection in its own interpretation. This puts a lie to the erroneous propaganda that Islam is a religion based on dogmatism and rigidity. A thorough understanding of the Quran would prove that nothing could be further from the truth. However, all statements admonition,messages and predictions made in the Qur’an have proven to be sacrosanct and inimitable in the final analysis. It is universal ,appealing to all times and places. It is firm and uncompromising as regards creed and tenets but gives general guidelines and then allows flexibility in mundane matters. The rigidity of creed ensures consistency while the flexibility as regards mundane matters accommodates differences in time ,place and custom.
However,the application of intelligence and reasoning often pose a challenge to the interpretation of the text. Although,it is a settled fact of Shariah “Rule of Interpretation” that if an interpretation of a text conflicts with compassion,justice,wisdom and goodness it should not stand (The spirit of the text being far more important than the statement itself ; literarilly) , this flexibility in itself constitutes the second prong of my presentation i.e;the burden of diverse interpretation which we shall examine later.
Reproducibility of Al Quran; It is often said that if all the copies of the Qur’an are gathered and destroyed today,the Qur’an could be reproduced within a few hours…..Not Days. This is one of the mysteries of the Qur’an. No single book written by any author living or dead,no matter how popular and how engaging could be memorized the way Al Qur’an has been. Allah has made it easy for it to be memorizable.I challenge everyone here present to reflect and see if you can come up with a book that can be reproduced from memory word for word. This is an additional testimony to the mystery of the Holy Book. Allah has made it easy to be memorized.
Q 54.17 “Ánd in truth,we have made the Quran easy to remember but is there any that remembereth?”
Q;54.22 “ Hence indeed,We made this Quran easy to bear in mind:who then is willing to take it to heart”……..and this statement is repeated in; Q;54.32
Quran As An Impersonal Text
The Holy Quran,though delivered through Prophet Muhammed,SAW is neither his autobiography nor about his life. You would observe there is a whole Chapter on Maryam,in which the mother of Jesus,Prophet Issa is eulogized. The name of Prophet Issa is mentioned 25 times in the Qur’an whilst that of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is mentioned only 5 times. This lends some credence to the fact that there is a string that connects Maryam (mother of Prophet Issa) ,Prophet Issa himself and the Holy Prophet (SAW) .
Indeed,the message brought by Prophet Issa is from Allah;just as those brought by other Prophets of Allah. The Holy Prophet Muhammed SAW however, came to deliver the full and final part of the series of messages that previous Prophets delivered to their respective jurisdictions at different periods. The message of the Quran is for the entire mankind.
But you would not find any chapter in the Quran ; which celebrates the wife of the Prophet,Aisha or his daughter Fatimah .
Neither does it mention the hard events in the life of the Prophet . Hence,it can not by any stretch of imagination be described as an autobiography as it is sometimes misrepresented.
It would also be observed that the Holy Prophet was spoken to directly under specific circumstances and infact,corrected a number of times in the Qur’an.
Examples of these include Q;9.43 “May God pardon you (O Prophet)Why did thou grant them permission to stay at home ere it had become obvious to thee as to who was speaking the truth and ere thou camest to know who were the liars”
Q;9.113 “It is not (fit) for the Prophet and those who believe that they should ask for forgiveness for the polytheists,even though they should be near relatives,after it has become clear to them that they are inmates of the flaming fire”
Q; 9.84, “And never shalt thou pray over any of them that has died,and never shalt thou stand by his grave for behold ,they were bent on denying God and His Apostle,and they died in their iniquity”
Q;66.1 “O Prophet,! Why dost thou,out of a desire to please (one or another) of thy wives,impose (on thyself) a prohibition of something that God has made lawful to thee.
But God is much forgiving, a dispenser of grace.”
Q. 33.49 “And overlook their annoying talk,and put your trust in Allah”
This further underscores the fact that he was not likely to have been the originator.
MIRACLE OF NUMERICAL PATTERNS
A close observation would show that Al Qur’an is characterized by mathematical patterns and numerical correspondences that would take a sharp mind to follow and would require an uncommon interest in numbers. The number of times words occur relative to other words follow a mysterious mathematical pattern. I would give a few examples; 14.11.1.both Prophet Issa and Adam came into being under unique circumstances. Both names occur in the Qur’an 25 times (but only once in the same chapter). The words Satan and Angels occur 88 times each. Belief and disbelief 25 times each, 14.11.3. Khaira and Duniya occur 115 times each.
Miracle of Predictive Revelations.
Let us examine the aspect of Predictive revelations in the Qur’an.
Surah Lahab was revealed 10 years before the death of Abu Lahab,the prophet’s uncle and his wife. It said they would both die unbelievers and will be in hell fire.
How could the Holy Prophet have been so categorical that his uncle would die as unbeliever if he wasn’t sure that he was merely a conveyor of the word of Allah. (If we could not confirm his being in hell fire,at least it is recorded that he died an unbeliever)
b. Establishment of the State of Israel and gathering of Sephardic, Ashkenazi and the Jews of many different races in Israel. The State of Israel was proclaimed in 1948,but it was predicted almost 1400 years earlier in the Quran !
Q;17.104 And after him We said to the children of Israel.Dwell Ye in the promised land;and when the time of the promise of the latter days come,We shall bring you together out of various people.
14.14 SCIENTIFIC MIRACLE & PREDICTIONS OF THE HOLY QUR’AN ;
Allah says in Q.41.53. “We shall show them Our potent
on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the truth. Doth not thy Lord suffice,since He is witness over all things”
In chapter 11, verse 49,the Qur’an boasts that it is giving the reader new information; a piece of information that had not been known by anybody. “That is of the tidings of the unseen that we reveal to you,in no way did you know it,neither your people before this….”
Closely associated with the Predictive revelations are the Scientific statements. The Qur’an is in complete agreement with modern scientific knowledge . In fact,modern Scientific knowledge helps us to understand what was hitherto difficult to comprehend ,contemplate and interprete in the Quran. It could be said that the people of the time of the Holy Prophet and beyond,took a lot of the information by faith as quite a number of statements of scientific significance must have been confusing and controversial to them,to say the least ,in the light of their world at the time…..It is pertinent to imagine Saudi Arabia of 1400 years ago; with very little influence of rudimentary science and complete lack of modern scientific data. Some statements in the Quran must have been explained simply by “Allahu Alam’
Needless to say that some Quranic statements would certainly have been interpreted to either suit the limit of understanding of the time or the level of exposure of the individual.
Most of the discoveries that science brags about in areas of astrophysics,medicine,oceanography,geology,astronomy,nuclear physics etc have been mentioned in the Quran that was revealed 1400 years ago.
It may actually be said that science is an attempt by man to discover what has been in existence but remained hitherto unknown. …eg. gravity and other physical phenomena. Science did not create gravity,it merely discovers its existence and then goes further to manipulate and utilise such existing natural phenomena .As man continues to make its scientific discoveries ,it becomes evident that there is no contradiction with what has been in the Quran. On the other hand,it is not unusual for Science to reverse itself until it ends up validating the content of the Qur’an.
Dr. AbdulGaniy Olusola Labinjo, is the Vice President of Lekki Muslim Ummah.