Has anybody ever come across a book that contains a preface where its author mentions its infallibility from any single error? Has anyone ever heard of any author who talks with such confidence and authority? This is the Quran; it was revealed to one human being named Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and its Author is Allah, the Lord and Sustainer of the Universe.
At a time when the world sank to its lowest, oppression and tyranny exceeded all limits, human beings were enslaved by arrogant kings and emperors, and women lost their human dignity on earth, a night in the month of Ramadan was destined to determine the course of human history from then on.
Fourteen hundred years ago, Allah, the Lord, decided to bring back humanity from the disgrace of slavery into the position of Allah's emissary on earth. That was Laylat Al Qadr (the Night of Power); the night when Angel Gabriel, on the command of Allah, made an eternal link between the heaven and the earth. That was a night that shaped the destiny of humanity.
This is the Quran that:
- transformed a nation that stooped in chaos
- revolutionized them and elevated them to the peak of human perfection
- changed people's hearts
- molded their characters
- uprooted their ignorance
- reconstructed their societies in a noble and divine fashion
Within 10 years, the tiny oasis of Yathrib, just named Madinah, became the blessed land where a comprehensive code of life evolved from nothing. Madinah became the center of a divine civilisation, the center of inspiration for humanity. Those were the Arabs who were on the verge of self-destruction because of their lawlessness, vulgarity, stupidity, and, to use the Quranic terminology, jahiliyyah (ignorance). They were the people despised by the two super powers of the time, the Persians in the east and the Romans in the west, to the extent that neither of these two powers was even interested in taking over these barbaric and lawless territories.
Yet, the Quran was revealed to them, which is a proof that Allah can easily change the fate of a nation if He wishes. But Allah's sunnah (typical way or principle) is not simply to guide people without any reason; they have to acquire guidance with their own action and endeavor. Only then, Allah may confer his favor and help on them, as He, the Almighty, says in the Quran,
"Say, "O Allah, the Lord of Power (And Rule)! You give power to whomever You will, and You strip off power from whomever You will, and You endue with honor whomever You will, and You bring low whomever You will. In Your hand is all good. Verily, over all things You have power." (3:26)
The heavenly revelation has been termed as:
- huda (guidance)
- bayyinah (clear sign of guidance)
- furqan (criterion to discern the true from the false)
- bayan (clear explanation)
- maw`idhah (admonition)
Revealing some of these terms about the Quran, Allah, the Exalted, says,
"Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment between right and wrong." (2:185)
He also says,
"This is a declaration for mankind, a guidance, and an admonition unto those who ward off evil." (3:138)
Connecting the Heaven With the Earth
The hearts of the Arabs expanded to such an extent that those barbaric people grasped the true meaning of the message and learnt how to live as the best nation on earth.
It is dhikr (a reminder) and the kalam (word) of Allah. Allah showered His mercy on humanity in the form of a direct communication with His Messenger for 23 years in the barren Arab land. Within 10 years, the tiny oasis of Yathrib, just named Madinah, became the blessed land where a comprehensive code of life evolved from nothing. Madinah became the center of a divine civilisation, the center of inspiration for humanity.
This is because of the Quran's miracle and the unique person that received and memorised it by heart, namely, the last Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH); the heart that received the full weight of divine love for humanity, leading it with the Quranic message.
It was the weight that no other creation would ever have dared to bear, as it was revealed in the Quran itself,
"Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, you would certainly have seen it falling down, splitting asunder because of the fear of Allah." (59:21)
The Quran's Impact on Arabs
The Quran elevated the Arabs, who produced a miracle within only one generation. The hearts of the Arabs expanded to such an extent that those barbaric people grasped the true meaning of the message and learnt how to live as the best nation on earth. The fountain of love and universal brotherhood created the "best people" on earth. Praising the Muslim Ummah in the Quran, Allah, the Almighty, says,
"You are the best of the nations raised up for the benefit of men; you enjoin the right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah." (3:110)
This (best of the nations) was reformed by the Quran, as the Quran:
- Created a world where a young woman could travel alone between two distant places of Arabia without any fear for her safety
- Created minds that willingly surrendered to Allah to such an extent that a sinner would rush to the Prophet to be punished in this world rather than suffering from the Hellfire in the hereafter
- Created compassionate hearts that cared for other living beings and the natural world
- Promised prosperity and victory for those who abide by it
- Created generations that grew up with the Quran kept in their hearts, that they could override mountains and oceans in their fight to establish a just world
- Created a Quran-oriented generation that left behind a legacy prevalent for more than one thousand years
The shining Quran is still alive and waiting for people who would adhere to it and change the fate of the whole world. It is rekindling the hearts of millions and demanding action from them.
What a marvel! While other heavenly books are either lost or corrupted, the Quran is still preserved in its pristine form, either as a mushaf (a book) or as a code of beliefs in Muslims' hearts. That is because Allah promised to protect it; He, the Exalted, says,
"Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardian." (15:9)
Whenever a Muslim recites the Quran, Allah is speaking to him. Allah reminds us to think, to reflect on and look for His signs around us and even inside ourselves, to learn from the past, to follow His guidance, to serve humanity, and to look after His creation. Do we understand Him, His call, and His message? And if we understand, do we respond? And if we respond, do we act wholeheartedly?
Are we prepared to take the challenge? "Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition." (13:11)
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari was born in Bangladesh in 1953, and he studied at Chittagong University. Later, he moved to the United Kingdom. He is currently the chair of the East London Mosque and the London Muslim Center.
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