by Mohamed Nathani Takim (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Qur’an in Ramadhan
hat can we extract from the very obvious moral-ethical behaviour universally advocated? Here are a few (figures represent sura/ followed by ayat number) It is not a translation, but lessons we should be drawing, randomly selected, to give a glimpse and excite our imagination to read more of the glorious Qur’an.
Is the Qur’an monotonously telling us only to fear God and be God-conscious, to pray, fast, and give Zakat? Certainly, a lot more- like interpersonal relations, how to talk, how to seek a living, how to enter someone’s house, how to evangelize, how to eat, and some startling scientific facts known many centuries later.
1. Respect & Honour All human beings irrespective of varied backgrounds. Allah (SWT) has honoured the children of Adam ([17/70]2.
Do not shout. Lower your voice; refers to the most hateful of voices as the braying of an ass -“sawtul hamir” [31/19]3.
Do not turn your face from people in contempt.
Do not walk exaltingly. Allah (SWT) likes not a conceited person [31/18]4.
Seek your provision only by fair means, do not swallow other people’s property. [29/17, 2/188]5.
When you are greeted, answer with a better greeting or at least return the greeting [4/86]6.
Do not enter houses other than your own until you have familiarised yourself and sent greetings to the inmates [24/2)7.
Treat kindly your parents, relatives, orphans, needy, neighbour, the wayfarer...[4/36) 8.
Call people to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful exhortation. Reason with them in the best manner. 16/125]
There are many more such instructions, “injunctions” if you like. And scientific facts? Yes, about the Sun and the Moon – the Sun is not stationary, but “swimming”, moving along together with our planetary system, all in one direction. Is the Universe expanding? Yes, said the Qur’an 14 centuries ago. Science says so now. The Qur’an taught us factual statements about astronomy and the cosmos, proven to be so by present-day astronomers and astrophysicists.
What about other sciences?
Ayats like 24/35, that “God is the light of heavens and the earth…….” would have inspired readers to research light and optics, reflection and refraction, a matter of physics, just as curiosity was aroused when the Sun and the moon were described as Sirajan ( luminous light) wa Muniran ( light of beauty). Traverse the earth and see how creation was started. Traverse the earth and witness the consequences of those who lived before you- do such verses not lead readers to talk about geography and anthropology? Then there is of course embryology, wherein the Qur’an describes the inner protective structure of an embryo, stages of turning into a foetus, and development inside a womb of a baby-to-be, all accurately described, never known by science until recently.
How is beauty viewed in Islam?
For a start, “Allah is beautiful and he loves things of beauty??? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ) ? ). Allah is perfect, and whatever he creates, reflects beauty. What does the Qur’an say about beauty? “He Who has made everything which He has created most good (32:7). Most good is a translation for al-husn, reflecting beauty. For Allama Tabatabai, in his commentary, a thing becomes good because it is created by Allah; and everything created by Him is good. “Every creature is good and beautiful because Allah has made it so; and every good and beautiful thing is created by Allah, attributed to Him.” Humankind was created in the best stature (fi ahsani takwim); the root word “husn” appears many times in the Qur’an, emphasising beauty as an intrinsic quality of Allah and whatever he creates. In reference to the stars and the galaxies in the Universe, the Qur’an talks of “adorning” “embellishing” the skies, and asks the gazer if they do not find the spectacle awesome.
We saw earlier that the Qur’an inspired the Muslims to use the faculty of the intellect, to ask, ponder, explore, develop the spirit of inquiry, as a result of which Muslims developed the natural sciences; the Qur’an also encouraged the creation of beauty in whatever we do, including arts and calligraphy. So whilst the Qur’an refers to beauty in moral behaviour, in character, it does not exclude beauty in what appeals to the senses in humans, like artistic beauty. And for a life of beauty, goodness is as desirable in this life as it is in the hereafter. Don’t we all implore Allah in Qunoot to give us the good in this world and the good in the next? (Rabbna atina fi-ddunnya hasanatan wa fil akhira ta hasanatan….), an ayat from the Qur’an? (2;201)
Qur’an emphasizes on rational beauty of parts of the world. For instance, there are some combinations in Quran like beautiful life, beautiful hereinafter world, a beautiful loan, beautiful advice, beautiful commentary, beautiful narration, beautiful interpretation, and beautiful stories that express rational beauty. There is beauty in speech, and manners, even in disputing with non-believers. It is said a woman’s beauty reflects the beautiful attribute of Allah, just as the power of a man reflects His Might (in a mystical sense?)