First thoughts on the Qur’an

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In how far do general thoughts on faith apply to the faith of which I like to share thoughts with the reader, namely my own: Islam. Islam literally means peaceful submission and surrender: willing obedience to God and His rule. The Qur’an is the main scripture of Islam and is left to us by the Arabian prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, after completion in 632 AD. However, Islam is not named after him, the name refers to a state of mind: glad submission to the one God. It’s mission is completion and correction of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, in order to provide the faithful with a clear and consistent idea of who God is, the history of His messengers and of previous believers, the future of mankind in the afterlife and the psychological dimensions of faith and disbelief. The main issue of the Qur’an deals with the tension between freedom of faith and expression for both the individual and religious community versus divine sanctioning on obedience and truthfulness in faith and expression. Is it possible to combine a proper truthful faith with freedom to make one’s own choices? Is there only one way to this truthful faith or are there any acceptable alternatives? Is it ‘allowed’ to switch between religions or leave the faith altogether and who has any say in this? Also today faithful communities are struggling to find a proper answer to satisfy both answers within the community, but also with other communities of different creeds as an important background, as the Islamic umma is by no means walking alone in this world. The Qur’an is, unlike the Bible, not written as one chronological story, but as a compilation of verdicts and narrations compressed in rhyming sentences and short sayings which may be read without specific order, but not entirely independently, as the compilation as a whole is a complete set of rules and regulations. Some verses, also named ayat, signs, apply to specific situations that may only then be valid, others are better understood in combination with others. For a good understanding it is necessary to regularly read Qur’an as a whole. Another aspect is the use of time and people. Sometimes Qur’an refers to different time periods and different individual persons or groups of people in one verse, at other places every reader may feel spoken to, even when it may very well be the case that only the prophet Muhammad is referred to. An example is the People of the Book. Sometimes learned people in general are meant, sometimes Jews and Christians only and as a community, sometimes the followers of the three monotheistic religions, also Islam. The Qur’an is, in my opinion, a self explanatory text, however, if it were that easy, not so much was going on about it and not many shelves with commentaries had been filled… the human factor is important and sometimes spoils much of the fun here.

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