Contents of the Holy Qur'an
The inimitability of the Holy Qur'an from the viewpoint of its contents is a subject which requires such a vast discussion that for it a separate book would be needed. Anyhow, we may briefly discuss the preliminaries here. First of all we should know what kind of a Book the Holy Qur'an is. Is it a philosophical Book? Is it a Book of science, literature, or art?
The answer is that it is none of them. The Prophets are a distinct type. They are neither philosophers, nor scientists, neither men of letters, nor historians, neither artists nor craftsmen. Still they have all the good points of all of them with many things extra. The Holy Qur'an is a revealed Book. It is neither a Book of philosophy, nor of science nor of history nor of literature nor of art. But it has the good points of all of them with many additional merits.
The Holy Qur'an is a Book intended for the guidance of man. It may be called the Book of man - a man who has been created by Allah and for whose guidance and salvation the Prophets came and taught him how to know himself.
As it is the Book of man, it is also the Book of Allah, for man is the being whose creation began prior to the creation of this world and will end after the end of this world. From the viewpoint of the Holy Qur'an man is the breath of Divine spirit. He has to return to Allah. Hence the knowledge of Allah and the knowledge of man are interrelated. Man cannot know his Allah correctly unless he knows himself, nor can he have the knowledge of his reality unless he knows Allah.
The man of the school of the Prophets whose complete description is found in the Holy Qur'an is vastly different from the man whose knowledge can be obtained through science. The man of the school of the Prophets is far more extensive.
The man described by science exists only between the two points of his birth and his death. Darkness surrounds all that is before and after these two points, science has no knowledge of it. But the man of the Holy Qur'an is not so limited. He has come from another world and his future lies in that world. In this world he has to perfect himself. His future in the next world depends on the nature of his activity in this world and on the fact whether he makes right type of effort or not. Further, ordinary human beings do not know man even between the points of his birth and deaths as well as the Prophets do.
The man of the Holy Qur'an must know:
- From where has he come?
- Where is he going?
- Where is he at present?
- How should he be?
- What should he do?
His weal and prosperity in this and the next world will be ensured only when he gives practical answers to these five questions correctly.
To know from where he has come, man should know his Creator and to know his Creator, he should go deep into the world and man as His signs.
To know where he is going, he should reflect on and believe in what the Holy Qur'an has stated about Resurrection, torments of the Day of Judgement, recompensation and severe retribution which may in certain cases be eternal. He should believe that just as Allah is the point of the beginning of all existing things, He is also the point of their return.
To know where he is, he should study the world system and the laws operating in it. He should find out the position of man vis-a-vis other things and should rediscover himself. To know what he should be, he should acquire the knowledge of true human ways and manners and should build his habits and behaviour accordingly.
To know what he should do, he should abide by a certain code of individual and social rules and regulations.
In addition to all this the man of the Holy Qur'an must have a belief in the existence of certain imperceptible and invisible things described by the Holy Qur'an itself as the 'Unseen', and believe that they are the channels through which the will of Allah operates in the universe. He must also know that Allah, the Almighty has never left man without Divine guidance. He raised a large number of the selected people as the Prophets, who conveyed His message to mankind.
The man of the Holy Qur'an looks at nature as a sign of Allah and at history as a real 'testing ground' which proves the accuracy of the teachings of the Prophets.
So, that is the man of the Holy Qur'an, and these are some of the duties which have been prescribed by Islam for him.
The Holy Qur'an has discussed so many subjects that it is not possible to enumerate all the topics discussed by it. However at a cursory glance the following questions come to the view:
* Allah, His essence, His oneness, His positive and negative attributes, that is the qualities which we should believe that He possesses and the qualities which we should believe that He is free from them.
* The Hereafter, the Resurrection and the stages between death and Resurrection (Purgatory).
* Angels, that is the powers that are conscious of themselves and of their Creator and are the executors of the Divine will.
* Prophets or the men who received the Divine revelation in their hearts and conveyed it to other people.
* Exhortation to have belief in Allah, in the Hereafter, in the angels, in the Prophets and in the revealed Books.
* Creation of the heavens, the earth, the mountains, the rivers, the plants, the animals, the clouds, the rain, the hailstones, the meteors etc.
* Call for the worship of Allah, the One, wholeheartedly and for not associating any person or thing with Him. The prohibition of the worship of anything other than Allah whether it is a man, an angel, the sun, a star or an idol.
* Remembering the blessings and the bounties bestowed by Allah in this world.
* Eternal favours of Allah to the virtuous in the next world and severe and sometimes eternal punishment meted out by Him to the evil-doers.
* Arguments in respect of Allah, Resurrection, Prophets etc. and some prophecies in this connection.
* Narration of the stories and historical events proving the truth of the mission of the Prophets and showing that happy was the end of those virtuous people who followed the Prophets and unhappy of those who repudiated them.
* Piety, virtuousness and self-purification, Attention to the danger of fiendish insinuations, self-delusion and incorrect thinking.
* Individual moral virtues such as courage, perseverance, patience, justice, charity, love, remembrance of Allah, love of Allah, expressing gratitude to Allah, fear of Allah, trust in Allah, resignation to the will of Allah, submission to the commands of Allah, prudence, knowledge, truthfulness, honesty and luminousness of heart as the result of piety, veracity and honesty.
* Collective moral virtues such as unity, urging each other to accept the truth, asking each other to be steadfast, mutual cooperation in the matters of virtue and piety, abstention from hatred and malice, exhortation to what is good, restraining from evil and sacrificing life and property for the sake of Allah.
* Rules of law regarding such matters as prayers, fasting, zakat, khums, hajj, jihad, vow, oath, sale, mortgage, hire, gift, marriage, rights of the husband and wife, rights of the parents and children, divorce, oath of condemnation, zihar, bequest, inheritance, retaliation, punishment, debt, evidence, wealth, property, government, consultation, rights of the poor, rights of society etc.
* Events and incidents which took place during the 23 years of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet.
* A description of the distinguishing features and high endowments of the Holy Prophet.
* Complete description of the three groups of the believers, the disbelievers and the hypocrites of every age.
* Characteristics of the believers, the disbelievers and the hypocrites of the time of the Holy Prophet.
* Invisible beings other than the angels, the jinn and the Devil.
* Characteristics of the Holy Qur'an itself.
* Glorification of Allah by all things existing in the world and their inner consciousness of the existence of their Creator.
* World, its laws, its transitoriness, and its unsuitableness for being the ideal of man. Only Allah, the Hereafter and the eternal world are fit to be the ultimate aim.
* Miracles of the Prophets.
* Confirmation of the former revealed Books, especially the Tawrat (Torah) and the Injil (Evangel). Rectification of the alterations and errors which have crept into these Books.
Vastness of Meanings
This was a brief description of the contents of the Holy Qur'an. Brief though it is, it can by no means be claimed to be even briefly adequate.
Even if we take into consideration these few subjects concerning man and his duties, the world and Allah, no human book about man, can be compared to the Holy Qur'an, especially in view of the fact that the Holy Quran was revealed through an illiterate person not conversant with the ideas of any thinker, or intellectual. The environment in which he lived was primitive and pagan. The people around him were mostly uncultured.
The Holy Qur'an for the first time introduced many vast and meaningful subjects, and presented them in such a manner that subsequently the philosophers, the lawyers, the jurists, the moralists and the historians were inspired by them.
It is not possible even for the most genius person to think of all these ideas at a level that they may impress the most eminent intellectuals. This is the position, if we suppose that what the Holy Qur'an has presented is of the same level as of that which has been produced by the human scholars. But we know definitely that in most cases the Holy Quran has opened absolutely new horizons.
Allah in the Holy Quran
Here we refer to only one topic. It is that of Allah and His relation with the world and man.
If we consider only how the Holy Qur'an has dealt with this question and compare what the Holy Qur'an has said in this respect, with the ideas put forward by the human beings, the miraculousness of the Holy Qur'an becomes crystal clear.
The Holy Quran has described Allah as free from all defects and all qualities not worthy of Him. On the other hand it has ascribed to Him all high attributes and mentioned His most beautiful names. There are some 15 verses in which Allah has been declared to be free from defects and drawbacks, and more than 50 verses in which His high attributes and most beautiful names have been mentioned.
The Holy Qur'an is so precise in its description of Allah that its exposition has astonished the scholars of divinity.
This in itself is a clear miracle of an unschooled and illiterate person. The Holy Quran has suggested all possible ways leading to the recognition of Allah. They include the study of the world and man, self-purification, and deep and careful consideration of life and existence. The most eminent philosophers of Islam admit that their strongest arguments have been inspired by the Holy Qur'an.
According to the Holy Qur'an the relation of Allah with the world and the creation stands purely on the basis of monotheism. In other words, in regard to His actions and will Allah has neither a rival nor a partner. On the other hand all the actions, intentions and choices of all others are determined and destined by Him.
Man's Relation with Allah
The Holy Qur'an has most beautifully described man's relation with Allah. Unlike the deity of the philosophers, Allah of the Holy Quran is not a dry and spiritless being having nothing to do with mankind. Allah of the Holy Qur'an is closer to man than his jugular vein. His relation with man is that of 'give and take'. He gets pleased with man on reciprocal basis. He draws man to Himself and gives him solace. The Holy Qur'an says:
"Surely in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest." (Surah al-Ra'd, 13:28)
Not only man but all things want Him and call Him. All existing things from the inmost of their existence are in communication with Him. They praise Him and glorify Him:
"There is nothing that does not celebrate His praise, though you do not understand their praise." (Surah Bani Isra'il,17:44)
The deity of the philosophers, whom they call simply the 'First Cause' or the "Necessarily Existing Being", has nothing to do with man except that He has created him and put him in this world. But Allah of the Holy Quran is an object of love and the most wanted Being. He fills man with enthusiasm and induces him to make sacrifice. For His sake man often passes sleepless nights and restless days, for He becomes his most holy ideal.
Because of their familiarity with the Holy Qur'an, the Muslim philosophers were able to promote their theology to the highest level by introducing Qur'anic conceptions into it.
Is it possible that an unlettered, unschooled and an illiterate person should be in the matters of divinity thousands years ahead of such philosophers as Plato and Aristotle?
Quran, Tawrat and Injil
The Holy Qur'an confirmed the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible, but said that alterations had occurred in those Books and that betraying human hands had played with them. The Holy Qur'an has rectified some of the errors which had crept in these Books in the matters of theology, stories and some of the rules of law. An example of these errors is the story of the Forbidden Tree and the mistake (sin) of Adam as mentioned by us earlier.
The Holy Qur'an has repudiated such silly stories as that of the wrestling of God and has declared that the Prophets are free from the improper things ascribed to them in the former Books. This in itself is a proof of the truth of the Holy Quran.
The Holy Qur'an recounted some historical stories of which the people of that age knew nothing. Even the Holy Prophet himself was unaware of them. The Qur'an says:
"Neither you knew it nor your people." (Surah Hud, 11:49)
Not a single person among the Arab claimed that he knew the stories in question. While narrating these stories the Holy Qur'an did not follow the Bible, but gave a modified version of them. The researches of the modern historians in respect of the people of Sheba and the tribe of Thamud have confirmed the version of the Holy Quran.
The Holy Qur'an and Predictions
The Quraysh were very happy when in 615 AD Iran defeated the Romans. On this occasion the Holy Quran firmly said that in a period of less than 10 years the Romans would again defeat Iran. On this question some idolaters betted against the Muslims. But later events proved the truth of the Holy Qur'an and everything happened as was predicted by it. Similarly the Holy Qur'an firmly foretold that the man who calls the Holy Prophet 'without offspring' is himself 'without offspring'. At that time that man had seven children, but within two or three generations his offspring ceased to exist.
All this shows that the Holy Quran is miraculous and inimitable. There are a number of other remarkable points which prove its miraculousness on the intellectual level. They are related to natural sciences, philosophy and history.