by Zafar Bangash (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 2, Sha'ban, 1443)
Ramadan is not only the month of fasting but also the month of the Qur’an. It was in this month, some 1450 years ago, that Allah (swt) sent down the Qur’an from the Lawhun Mahfuz (the Well-guarded Tablet) into its earthly form and then the first few ayats were revealed to the noble Messenger (pbuh) in the Cave of Hira on Jabal al-Nour (Mount of Light).
Allah (swt) tells us in the noble Qur’an:
“It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was [first] made accessible from on high as a guidance for people and a self-evident proof of that guidance, and as the standard by which to discern the true from the false…” (2:185).
Several points are highlighted in this ayah. Allah made the Qur’an accessible from on high as guidance not just for Muslims but for all people. Further, it is self-evident proof of that guidance, as well as the standard by which to discern the true from the false. Implicit in this ayah is the fact that in order to be guided and to discern truth from falsehood, we must understand what is being communicated.
This is where some (or even many) Muslims fall short. They recite the Qur’an with great fervor; listen to its melodious recitation in the month of Ramadan but without understanding or an even an attempt to understand. The purpose is lost. This is truly tragic. How could we achieve guidance if we do not understand what we are reading or hearing?
We all know that the Qur’an is our guide from the womb to the tomb. Guidance, however, is conditional upon understanding and the escalating self-assurance that comes from implementing that guidance. Regrettably, Muslims have lost touch with the noble Qur’an because we have become alienated from the Arabic language. We are not referring to colloquial Arabic; millions of people speak the colloquial. We are talking about the Arabic of the Qur’an. There was a time when standard Arabic was the dominant language of the world. Unfortunately, this is not the case today.
The situation need not be so bleak provided Muslims make the effort to learn Qur’anic Arabic. Barring that, the message of the Qur’an must be presented in a language that is widely spoken and understood worldwide: English.
This poses its own dilemma. English has been secularized and cannot render many Qur’anic words such as taqwa, ihsan and Imaan, accurately. Further, the Qur’anic language is highly poetic and stylistic and imbued with multiple layers of meanings. Hence, it cannot be accurately translated into any other language.
Such challenges, however, can be overcome through sincere effort and dedication. In addition to emphasizing Allah’s tawhid, as all translations do, the latest translation by Imam Muhammad al-Asi highlights some important aspects that have been heretofore missing, chiefly Allah’s power and authority so as to integrate those who yield to Allah’s command and counsel into the power-grid of Islam.
Throughout life, we strive to earn the pleasure of Allah and to protect ourselves against His corrective justice. To be able to don the mantle of protection, prevention, and precaution, i.e., have taqwa, we must learn to live the Qur’an. Being part of the Qur’anic culture is an “acquired taste”. It requires effort, commitment, and ultimately full confidence and reliance on Allah’s guidance and the methodology of His final Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh).
The principle of social justice is front and center in the Qur’an. Through this translation, readers will learn to develop a keenness and a sense of responsibility to confront and overcome the widespread injustices in the world today. Understanding Allah’s power and authority and yielding to it will enable us to overcome the many challenges the Muslims face today.
In the 23-year period between the first revelation that the Prophet (pbuh) received and his final moments on earth, there emerged a generation shaped by the Qur’an. It went on to set the pace for the inhabitants of the world who had been mangled by superstitious beliefs and cowed by the promulgations of emperors, kings, popes, and philosophers.
Guided by this final Testament, subsequent generations of Muslims set out to shape the destiny of humanity for nearly 1,000 years. For this Qur’anic generation no challenge was too great and no price too steep. It did not seek the material possessions or comforts of this dunya, but the pleasure of Allah (swt) in the akhirah.
Their mission and struggle were directed at saving errant humanity from its deviant beliefs and practices that were leading to its destruction. Ending gross injustices was the most important dimension of their mission. Islam imbued the early generations of Muslims with the spirit of self-sacrifice to Allah so that social justice on earth would be a reflection of absolute justice in the realm of forever.
The Qur’an also inspired a new potency in the quest for knowledge and the evolution of scientific inquiry throughout the expansive landmass under the sway of Islam. It was the knowledge that Europeans acquired in Islamic institutions of learning that led to Europe’s Renaissance.
Even while Muslims are not in the driving seat of history, this should not lead to despondency. Islam has the regenerative power to enable Muslims to re-emerge in their natural dominant role in the world. The building blocks of this regenerative process are none other than a proper understanding of the noble Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah and Seerah.
This new, contemporary translation of the Qur’an by Imam Muhammad al ‘Asi is meant to develop the contemporary Qur’anic generation. It is presented in a captivating style and is available in beautiful, hard-bound edition.
Muslims should not only get a copy for themselves but also gift it to relatives and friends, especially in the month of Ramadan.
Hard-bound edition: US$45 plus shipping
To order your copy, please contact us at: email@example.com