The Noble Qur’an is the focal point of our lives, or so it deserves to be. The way we approach it, or lack thereof, on the other hand, falls miserably short of ideals. I’m currently teaching a self-help class entitled “Empower Yourself – Approaching and Understanding the Qur’an”, designed to reorient ourselves to the Book of Allah in a proper manner and providing useful tools and resources to developing a life-long relationship with it. It is my intention here, in a series of posts, to raise a number of significant issues that arise with respect to the Qur’an and our approach to it.
Broadly speaking, there are two approaches to a study of the Qur’an. The conservative, cautious approach predominates among Muslims and warns against misinterpreting the Qur’an. This approach is epitomized by the statement of Abu Bakr: What sky will shelter me and what earth will hold me, if I were to interpret one word of the Qur’an without proper knowledge? In other words, not for laymen is the task to understand or interpret the Qur’an. For that, one must refer to scholars-specialist s-jurists- muftis, and not just that, but those from approved institutions or madhhabs (legal schools). What exactly those are depends upon the one making the argument.
The other approach is a more liberal one, based upon the premise that the Qur’an was revealed to everyone and not just an elite group of specialists who hold the exclusive keys to it. Historically, it came down from the heavens to speak to the Bedouins and shepherds, the shopkeepers and merchants, children and adults, women and men, the illiterate and educated-in short, every type of common man. And so it must speak to us today.
There are points and counter-points, replies and counter-replies, between these two camps that can go on endlessly. That is not our purpose here. Nor are these two groups distinct entities, but two broad ranges of approaching the Qur’an, with all the spectrum of variation in between.
In my mind, at least, the approach that is most consistent with the spirit of the Qur’an is clear. But whatever your view happens to be, one thing should be unanimous: it’s high time we open our Qur’ans again. By Allah, we need it. And the world needs it. As Khurram Murad says in his classic work on the topic: “As you come to the Qur’an, you come to a new world. It is a journey that will take you through the endless joys and riches of the words that your Creator and Lord has sent to you and all mankind. Here you will find a world of untold treasures of knowledge and wisdom to guide you on the pathways of life, and to mould your thoughts and actions.”
Let’s spread the word. Facilitate the study of the Qur’an in our circles and communities. An “Open Your Qur’an” national day. A Qur’an literacy movement. Anything you can think of. But for Allah’s sake, let us open our Qur’ans.