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Keys To Understanding the Quran And Its Relevance In Modern Times

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Quran must be read in context of modern-day problems. The key to many of our Financial and social problems must be searched in this glorious book. As Allah himself says “Quran is guidance for all mankind” (2:185)

Sameer Ahmed Siddique

As any convent graduate, I was introduced to depths of Quran extremely late but by that time I had already cleared India’s most prestigious exam of UPSC which involved subject expertise, a very in-depth assessment and analysis of various streams and disciplines such as Economics, History of India and world, Geography, International Politics, Current affairs etc.
By Allah’s grace and blessings, I have worked extremely hard on these subject and had achieved quite mastery so while I reached into my late 30s when I started reading Quran it used to speak with so much depth that Alhamdullilah many Ayahs use to reflect the present context.
Also being a history and Geography professor, every word and every sentence use to convey a very deep meaning sometimes more glorious than its original understanding. But I was also fearful and extremely sensitive to the fact that while drawing the analogy and anecdotes Allah forbids, I shall not change its original meaning or tear down the Ayahs from their original context.
Because of my extreme cautioning I never use to publish paper or give references of Quran in my speeches and writings. Although I use to make large number of notes. But slowly all that old phenomenon started changing when I started answering present day burning questions from Quran and Hadeeth. Interrelating modern noble prize winning research on autophagy with Ahkaam of Roza some of these researches had more than 65 million downloads on Facebook and YouTube. I was still extremely apprehensive and was not ready to quote my understandings and analysis because of fear of changing some of its original meaning. Before giving a single verse I used to read its Tafseer at least 200 times from Tafseers of more than 6 scholars but recently I came across a beautiful book called as keys to Al Kahaf written by Abdur Rashid Siddiqui in Leicester in which he improvises and talks about 1980s when Brother Khurram Murad (may Allah rest his soul in peace) presented a seminar paper entitled ‘A Study of al-Kahf in Relation to Our Times’ at the Islamic Foundation, then based at 223 London Road, Leicester.
In this he attempted to present the Qur’ān as a living reality, which even after fourteen hundred years is still relevant. It is indeed one of the beautiful researches which have now been converted into a book by the same name following are the summary and highlights of that paper which would enlightened you further as to how Quran is still key and the most comprehensive answer to manty of modern problems
The scholars need to explain at length that although the Qur’ān was revealed at a certain point in time and naturally reflects its own historical setting and the then state of man’s social and technological progression, nonetheless we have, by now, traversed a long distance and considerable technological and social changes have taken place in human society.
Many of these Rules they resonate with what I believe is the best way of reading the Quran and I want to be followed by my coming generations and myself
I hereby present some excerpts from that beautiful book which you should ponder, think, reflect, and teach your generations.
Quran must be read in context of modern-day problems. The key to many of our Financial and social problems must be searched in this glorious book. As Allah himself says “Quran is guidance for all mankind” (2:185)
We need to understand that new modes in human understanding, expression and action have emerged.
Moreover, many people cannot be expected to absorb the idioms and metaphors of the Arabic language, so essential to exploring the depths of the Qur’ān.
Yet its guidance, by its own claim, has an eternal relevance for all people, being the Word of Eternal God.
Scholars have maintained that to uphold the truth of this claim, it must be possible for us to receive, understand and experience the Qur’ān, as its first recipients did, at least in some measure and to some degree.
We are all granted the inherent capacity to receive God’s Grace in all its fullness, richness, and joy. In other words, despite the historicity of its revelation, because of the eternity of its message, the Qur’ān should be capable of being as much a part of our lives now as it was to its first recipients. In this respect, it still has the same urgent bearing upon our age and radiates the same deep relevance to our concerns and experiences.
Yet how is this possible? To put it very forthrightly, only if we approach the Qur’ān as if it were being revealed, now and today, translating each word of it in terms of our contemporary setting and bringing it to bear upon our own realities by breaking through the barriers of time, culture, and change.
What has changed is not the essence of man, which is permanent, but only his externalities – the forms, the modes, the degrees, and the technologies.
Even man’s physical form has remained the same for more than two million years, whereas his history of only 2000 years ago is hard to separate from mythology.
The pagans of Makkah may be no more; nor the Jews of Yathrib; nor the Christians of Najrān; nor even the ‘faithful’s’ and ‘hypocrites’ of the community at Madinah, but the same characters breathe all around us.
We are human beings exactly as the first recipients were, though we may find it extremely difficult to grapple with the very deep implications of this remarkably simple truth, but it is only because of our own inner psychic inhibitions.
Once we realize these truths, the Qur’ān may reveal to us, as it did to them; make partners of us, just as it did them. And only then, instead of being a mere revered fossil or a source of magic-like blessing, will the Qur’ān become a living force, impinging, stirring, moving, and guiding us to deeper and higher achievements, just as it did before.
To be able to do so, we need a suitable methodology. The goal may seem formidable, but the results will be rewarding.
And it need not prove so difficult a task in view of Allah’s assurance, at least to the extent of that part of the Qur’ān that relates to tadhkīr (reminder):
“We have made the Qur’ān easy for ‘dhikr’ (as a reminder). Is there, then, any who will take heed?” (al-Qamar 54: 17)
On this basis, Scholar Khurram suggested some general principles for the purpose of studying the Qur’ān:
1. There is an overall framework of Islam pertaining to its spirit, temper, concepts, codes, and systems as determined by the Qur’ān and the Prophet (pbuh) that we should always stay within.
2. Those Qur’ānic verses and sayings of the Prophet (pbuh) which pertain to any particular part of the Qur’ān should be brought to bear to the maximum possible extent on the understanding of that part.
For this purpose, guidance from the Qur’ān can be divided into two broad categories:
• Tadhkīr (reminder), which includes the imparting of understanding and generating responsiveness to truth; purifying inwardly and outwardly, intellectually, and spiritually, rationally, and emotionally. This has reference to tilāwah’ (recitation) and tazkiyah (self-purification).
• Taḥkīm (commands): mainly seeking codes and laws, systems, and institutions. This has reference to the ta’līm (teaching) of kitāb (scripture). In his view, one can take more liberty with the first category by translating it into new contexts without any grave risks to the overall framework of Islam.
3. Interpretation should not be stretched to include innovation and no meanings should be attributed that cannot be construed to have originally been intended.
4. No part or word should be torn away from its textual or historical context in translating and understanding it.
5. Language is mostly symbolic of human experiences and situations, which also shapes the mould and form of ideas and expressions. As situations and experiences change, it should be possible to translate the same language into a new context, without losing any of the narration’s original purpose.
6. Before any contextual or symbolic translation, the particular part should first be placed and understood in its original setting. Only then can the relationship with contemporary ideas, systems and other cultural, social, and technological phenomena be established.
7. It may be possible to employ alternate terminology to elucidate the real intent and import of the Qur’ān, but only so long as the bearings with the original are clearly maintained and understood.
8. Specifics may be transformed into generalities to facilitate their transposition and application to new perspectives, and, in a similar manner, generalities may be rendered into specifics.
In brief, the methodology would imply that we stay within the established framework yet discover new dimensions of meaning and experience by looking at our times through the Qur’ān and translating its meaning into contemporary contexts of man’s socio-technological progression and his cultural milieu.
The reason why the scholar chose al-Kahf was simply because he felt that this sūrah has a more obvious and easily comprehensible bearing on us, especially in view of some aḥādīth of the Prophet.
They devoted a considerable part of their paper to the phenomenon of Dajjāl (the Antichrist) as described in many aḥādīth that show the similarities and characteristics of our age with that of Dajjāl.
Both these works contend that the present materialistic and secular civilization is remarkably like that of the age of Dajjāl as described in many aḥādīth.
As the Prophet (pbuh) advised us to recite Sūrah al-Kahf to counteract and neutralize the deceptions perpetrated by Dajjāl and, thus, save us from his fitnah (trial), we should, therefore, devote our special efforts to understand this sūrah and implement the antidote provided therein; to save us from the onslaught of our present materialistic and secular civilization.
All these rules are more elaborately given in 1980s paper entitled ‘A Study of al-Kahf in Relation to Our Times’ at the Islamic Foundation, by Brother Khurram Murad (may Allah rest his soul in peace) presented a seminar paper entitled and it has beautifully improvised by Abdul Rashid Siddiqui’s Book ‘Key to Al-Kahaf’.

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