The Twin Messages of Quran
The Qur’an is the transcendent word of The Transcendent God-Creator and Sustainer of all things. It reflects the absolute truth for all times, in all respects. Therein, we see the laws which govern the experiential, physical world as well as the subtle, hidden world.
The Qur’an was revealed on Prophet Muhammad (SAW) over fourteen hundred years ago when, in the words of Taylor (History of Mohammedanism), “barbaric pride and pontific luxury oppressed the West; effeminacy, meanness and treachery ruled in the East; Rome and Constantinople seemed equally incapable of reformation; and required violent exertion to break the fetters, which indolence, superstition and fraud had combined to impose on mankind,” The masses were given to idolatry, angelolatry, chrestomathy, trinity, dualism and polytheism. Some had even become naturalists and atheists.
Such were the distressing conditions when the monotheistic religion taught to Adam (AS) and fostered by various apostles who followed him, stood at the crossroads at the advent of Allah’s most beloved servant and Messenger, Muhammad (SAW). He not only reinforced, but perfected the religion (Islam) in its present form. He facilitated his mission, Allah imparted guidance to His Prophet as each occasion required, during 23 years, through revelations, which collectively make up the Qur’an known as Umm-ul-Kitab (The mother of all the books of knowledge and wisdom).
Allah created man “in the best of moulds” (At-Teen: 4) and bestowed upon him physical as well as mental faculties. Relying on his power of reasoning, he can exercise his free will-but to a certain extent. For some supra-sensory matters like the raison d’etre of the creation of the universe, mysteries shrouding the question of life and death, man’s role in the scheme of evolution, etc, he desperately needs Divine guidance to regulate his higher destiny. The Qur’an refers to this exalted favor thus: “Glorify the Most High who has created (everything) and then proportioned it. Who has measured, then guided (i.e. shown mankind the right as well as the wrong paths).” (Al-A’la 1-3).
The eternal message of the Qur’an revealed as guidance for human beings is two-fold, i.e. oneness (Wahdat) of God and unity (lttehad) of mankind. Oneness of God which the Qur’an repeatedly declares to the whole world is a belief to be ingrained in our beings, an explanation of human existence and a way of life in itself. It reflects the most fundamental fact of the great truth of Islam. This oneness is absolute and continues over-riding the presence of any equal. It envisages that there is no reality and no true and permanent existence than His. Moreover, every other being acquires whatever power it possessed from the effective power of Allah who rules over the world. None else whosever, plans anything for the world nor decides for that matter anything in it. The Qur’an maintains:
“…. And to Allah (alone) belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He creates what He wills. And Allah is able to do.” (5:17)
Belief in one God delivers human mind from the bondage to any other things in this world. When man believes in nothing but one truth, the truth of Allah, he is liberated from all shackles of earthly powers and from the confusions that mislead him in his life. This belief guides man to the path that makes him turn towards Allah alone and seek refuge in Him in times of need and fear, happiness and discomfort, luxury and hardship.
From Allah we receive our thoughts, outlook, values, criteria, legislations, institutions, systems, ethics and traditions. Such qualities must be obtained from the One and Permanent Being and the One Truth. Seeking to gain the consent of Allah, or asking for His help cannot be achieved worshipping other than Allah. It can be attained by serving Allah alone, glorifying Him and by performing the good deeds He has commanded us to do. The Qur’an manifests this fact: “You (alone) we worship and You (alone) we ask for help.” (1:4).
It is a sublime and lofty path by whose standards this world is so small, life is so short and its enjoyments are worthless. The breaking away from various hindrances to man’s flight to Hereafter then becomes a supreme wish and a great aim for humanity. But Islam is a unique blend of spiritual as well as mundane concept of life. It dose not require its followers to renounce this world altogether. Qur’anic teachings simply mean a sustained and sincere endeavor and an everlasting struggle to lead humanity to the submission of everything in life to Allah alone. The Qur’an teaches the believers to pray thus-“… O God! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good…” (2: 201).
The Qur’anic message about oneness of God strengthens the ties of love, brotherhood, mutual sympathy and responsiveness between all human beings. Believers in one God form a common bond with homogeneous ideas and ideals. That was why Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in his wisdom regarded the entire creation as the “family of Allah”. The second aspect that stems from the first one of the Qur’anic precept is therefore, unity of mankind.
Apart from this philosophical approach to unity, the Qur’an goes a step ahead to enforce it in biological terms as well. According to its teachings sons of Adam (AS) are all brethren and parts of the same body. Addressing all human beings (and not Muslims alone) the Qur’an holds that mankind has descended from one primordial pair of parents. Their tribes, races and nations are convenient labels by which we may know certain differing characteristics. Before Allah they are all one and he gets most honors who is the most righteous. The Qur’an asserts:
“Mankind, We have created you of a male and a female, and We have made your nations and tribes that you might know one another. Verily the noblest of you with Allah is the Most Pious of you…” (49: 13).
Thus, the Qur’an directly preaches specific unity of mankind and favors what in the language of anthropology is called “monogenism-man being one genus with one species-as opposed to the rival theory of ‘polygenism’ which affirms different groups as originating independently in different geographical areas and separate units. This strikes at the root of the caste system which maintains that human beings are not born equal, but in different stages of spiritual development. The divine commandment equally well demolishes the myth of a Master Race and completely supports the scientific finding that racial discriminations have no foundation in biological fact.
By holding rectitude of one’s character as the sole criterion of his place in the eye of Allah, the Qur’an has promulgated a new order of nobility, i.e. the division of mankind not between the princes and the peasants, not between the touchable and the untouchable, but between more moral and less moral. In the words of Prof. Arnold (Preaching of Islam), “It is this absence of class prejudices which constitutes the real strength of Islam in India and enables it to win so many coverts from Hinduism.”
Every other civilization can take pride in the renowned persons of only one nation (or race, or region). But on the basis of Qur’anic injunctions governing oneness of God and unity of mankind, Islam can take pride in all the distinguished scholars of all those nations and tribes who had joined hands in building the edifice of Islamic civilization. Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, lbn Rushd, Jalaluddin Rumi and many other renowned men, notwithstanding their alien racial and regional affiliations, were all regarded the sons of Islam who produced the best results and fruits of healthy thoughts before humanity for its abiding salvation.