Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Speaking Tree Blog | January 23, 2023
The Quran appears to be a book just like any other book. But the Quran is a book with a difference. Scholars maintain that it requires almost eighty disciplines to understand the Quran, but more important than all these disciplines is sincerity. Without great sincerity, no one can understand the Quran, no on can penetrate its wisdom. No one can understand its deeper meaning.
What is sincerity? Sincerity is only another name for objectivity, without which one cannot comprehend the deeper meaning of the Quran. Most people are obsessed with different kinds of prejudices. And prejudices are the greatest hindrance to understanding the Quran. It is only if you rid your mind of them that you will be able to understand its meaning.
The Quran, relatively speaking, is a modest book and its language is also very simple. To appreciate the Quran, you don’t need to understand it from A to Z. Although there is a comprehensive theme that covers all the chapters of the Quran, at the same time every single verse of the Quran has an independent meaning. One can learn some very important lessons from pondering over just a single verse. One scholar has rightly said:
“One verse a day keeps the Devil away.”
The verses of the Quran total approximately six thousand three hundred. These are arranged in the form of one hundred and fourteen chapters, some long, some very short. Every chapter, except one, begins with the words: “In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate.” All the statements of the Quran relate to God Almighty, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. In the Quran, God Almighty directly addresses man saying: ‘O man! This is your God addressing you. Listen to Me and follow it. This is the path of success for you.’
Some of the teachings of the Quran are eternal, such as zikr, that is, remembrance of God. Then there are a number of provisional teachings like jihad. It is very important to differentiate between the two kinds of verses. Without keeping this principle in mind, you are likely to misinterpret the scriptures. There are occasions when the Quran refers to particular events that occurred during the Prophet’s lifetime, but it should be borne in mind that the themes are universal. Here, in giving a particular reference, it is the intention of the Quran to give a common message. This principle is also very important, for without keeping it in mind, no one can properly interpret the real meaning of the Quran.
In one sense, the Quran is a very comprehensive book, including as it does many references from history, astronomy, physical events and natural phenomena. But the majority of these references are expressed not in detail but in the form of allusions or hints. The reader must supply the details from his own knowledge and experience. Having done so, he can understand the comprehensive meaning of the Quran.
The Quran also records the history of the prophets. It refers to more than two dozen prophets of different times and different races. Every prophet was sent into different situations, and each one bore some specific message. In this sense, all the prophets are equal; every prophet is a source of guidance. One who wants to understand the prophetic mission must study all the prophets and not just any one of them at random.
‘Quran’ is an Arabic word. Its literal meaning is ‘to be read’. This means that the Quran is a book of study. Indeed, the Quran suggests that every man and woman should read and study and explore the truth. Since study, to be successful, must be imbued with the spirit of inquiry, the message of the Quran is: Be a seeker, study, and contemplate. Analyze knowledge in an unbiased manner. And then you will reach the truth. According to the Quran, this is the sirat-e-mustaqeem (straight path) (1:6). One should follow this straight path and then one will certainly reach the final destination, that is, success in both the periods of life—in the pre-death period and in the post-death period.