Major Themes of the Quran
The Quran is the Scripture of the Muslim community, which now numbers one-fifth to one-quarter of the world’s population. It is a keystone of the great Islamic community in the modern generation. In fact, the Quran has been ranked among the most influential writings of all generations. It has, however, been little understood outside Muslim circles and still less appreciated. For many years, there was a paucity of serious Quranic studies in Western tongues. The material setting forth the Quranic message objectively, in detail, and clearly was simply not to be had. The situation reflected a broad disinterest in Islamic matters among Western scholars and even more among Western public.
There are several individuals who gave masterful and lucid analysis that offered an exposition of the Quran’s teachings that was unequalled at the time and is still among the best people have available in the present. There have been developments in communication and technology that have drawn the world closer together as well as specific events that have contributed to the burgeoning desire among the Western public for knowledge of Islam and the Muslim peoples. The scripture has also been used by Muslim brothers to brew peace among themselves and among all the other humans on the face of the earth. This goal has been attained by the lessons that are provided by the Quran. Nevertheless, in some sections of the world, the Quran is associated to terrorist activities. Most terrorists in the world are believed to be Muslims and this has brought forth a strong debate on the belief and teachings of the Quran on humanity. In respect to these, the main focus of this paper is the major themes of the Quran pointed out by Fazlur Rahman. One of the major themes that will be discussed in this paper is the relationship between people and God according to the Quran. Besides, the paper will discuss the main principles that God is highlighting in the Quran.
The Relationship between People and God
The Quran states that God and man exist in relationships. The relationship between God and man is more beneficial to man. For instance, the Quran points out that the son of Allah was Mohammed and his main purpose was to reunite God and man by bringing salvation. According to Fazlur Rahman:
“The Qur’an is a document that is squarely aimed at man; indeed, it calls itself ‘guidance for mankind’. Yet, the term Allah, the proper name for God, occurs well over 2, 500 times in the Qur’an (not to count the terms al-Rabb, The Lord, and al-Rahman, The Merciful, which, although they signify qualities, have nevertheless come to acquire substance). Still, the Quran is no treatise about God and His nature: His existence, for the Quran, is strictly functional- He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and of man, and particularly the giver of guidance for man and He who judges man, individually and collectively, and meets out to him merciful justice” (pg. 1).
In this respect, it can be concluded that the Quran puts it out that the relationship between God and man is that He created man and the universe and continues to sustain both. Besides, God gives guidance for man continuously in his day-to-day operations in the universe. Thus, without God, humankind would not have existed in the first place. On the other hand, without man, God would not have any other creature to guide and sustain (Rahman and Ebrahim 2).
The other relationship between man and God according to the Quran is that Allah has divine glory in everything including man as one of his several creations. Evidently, in the Islamic religion, the divine glory of God is in everything. In the Quran, God is also known as Rahman, a term that means beneficent. That is to say, God is one of the major factors behind all the beneficiaries that man enjoys on earth. The beneficiaries provided to man by God include good life and provision of the necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Without God, man would not be entitled to all these beneficiaries. In support of this fact, Fazlur Rahman in his book “Major Themes of the Quran” articulates that:
“God is that dimension which makes other dimensions possible; He gives meaning and life to everything. He is all enveloping, literally infinite, and He alone is infinite. All else carries in the very texture of its being the hallmark of its finitude and creatureliness: “Everything thereon (literally: ‘on earth’, but meaning the whole gamut of nature) is vanishing, there remaining only the Face of Your Lord, the Possessor of Majesty and Generosity”. “Say: If the ocean were to turn into ink (for writing) the (creative) Words of my Lord, the ocean will be expended before the Words of my Lord are- even if we were to bring another ocean like it.” In the nature of the case, there can be only one God, for whenever one tries to conceive of more than one, only one will be found to emerge as the First. “And God has said, ‘Do not take two gods for He is only one’. “ God bears witness that there is no god, but He.” “Say if there were other gods besides Him, as these people assert, they would all seek their way to the Lord of the Throne” (pg. 4).
The other relationship between God and man according to the Quran is that He as a divine being that has control over the prophet’s observations and experiences (Rahman and Ebrahim 3). This is because the holy men what others can see without the help of Allah. In most occasions, there are Holy Prophets that have their hands tied because they first have to believe in God in order to tell others about what their future holds. This opinion is also supported by Farzul Rahman as he articulates that:
“Allah is the God, other than whom, there is none; He is the knower of the unseen and the seen, the Merciful, the Compassionate. He is the God other than whom there is none, the Sovereign, the Holy, the One with peace and integrity, the keeper of the Faith, the Protector, the Mighty, and the One Whose Will is Power, the Most Supreme! Glory be to Him beyond what they associate with Him. He is the God, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner, to whom belong beautiful names; whatever is in the heavens and the earth sings glories, He is the Mighty One, the Wise One” (pg. 5).
The Main principles that God is highlighting in the Quran
The Quran is a holy book and Allah communicates to his creature through it. There are several principles that God highlights in the Quran. Shahada, which means faith, is highlighted in the Quran. This is a declaration of faith and trust among Muslim believers that Allah is the only God and no other god should be worshiped apart from Him (Rahman and Ebrahim 4). Farzul in his book “Major Themes of the Quran” is in support of this as he articulates that:
“In the very nature of the case, there can be only one God, for whenever one tries to conceive of more than one, only one will be found to emerge as the First: “And God has said, “Do not take two gods for He is only One”. “God bears witness that there is no god, but He”. “Say if there were other gods besides Him, as these people assert, they would all seek their way to the Lord of the Throne” (pg. 7).
The other principle highlighted in the Quran is Salat, also known as prayer. In the Quran, there are five prayers that should be done daily to the Sunna according to various times. The prayers include Fajr, which is a prayer done at dawn, dhuhr which is a prayer offered to the Sunna at noon, Asr a prayer offered in the afternoon, Maghrib offered in the evening and Isha which is a prayer offered to the Sunna at night. Allah emphasizes that man should be prayerful at all times in order to get the beneficiaries that God has for them. With prayers, according to the Quran, man has the ability of getting anything that they would wish to have. Through prayers, the Quran says that man will never forget God and will keep in touch with God. Farzul Rahman supports this when he says that:
“Do not be like those who forgot God and eventually God caused them to forget themselves.” And just as everything is related directly to Him, so is everything, through and in relation to other things, related to God as well. God, then, is the very meaning of reality, a meaning manifested, clarified, and brought home by the universe, helped even further by man. Several things in the world are signs of God’s creation” (pg.8).
Sawm or fasting is another important principle highlighted in the Quran. The Muslim community has ritual fasting that is meant to compensate for repentance. This is a principle that is emphasized in the Quran and is often scheduled to take place annually in the month of Ramadhan. During the holy month of Ramadhan, Muslims are always forced to refrain or stop from taking any kind of food. It is during this month that they are also forced to be wary of their sins. Fasting as an aspect is the process of purifying the soul and it is common in all divine religions. The records of the Hadith bear ample testimony to the fact that fasting as a practice was a common religious practice among the pre-Islamic Arabs too, and they used to observe fast on the tenth of Muharram because it was on this same day that Moses was saved from the capture of Pharaoh and his army. The Arabs and other people too were familiar with fasting as an act of penitence or of propitiation or a preparatory rite before some act sacramental eating or an initiation or a mourning ceremony (Rahman and Ebrahim 7).
Allah also highlights Zakat in the Quran as a practice that should be emphasized. This practice is in a way that people should give to charity based on the wealth that they have accumulated. According to the Quran, Zakat is the process of purifying growth with the aim of achieving balance. Besides, it also focuses on encouraging new growth among believers. It is believed that God is the provider of everything and that man should feel free to share their wealth with the poor in order to receive blessings from Allah. This practice is common among the Muslims as most of them are philanthropists who care about all the members of the society, be it the wealthy or the poor. As a result, Allah has showered blessings among various individuals due to their act of sharing their wealth with the poor (Rahman and Ebrahim 9).
The other principle of great significance highlighted in the Quran is the hajj. It is also known as Pilgrimage to Mecca. It is a practice that often occurs among the Muslims during the Islamic month of Dhu al Hijja to Mecca, which is given a description of a holy city among the Muslim communities. The Quran points out that all Muslims must make the trip to the holy city of Mecca and this is often advisable for both men and women in the Muslim communities. The pilgrimage is a process among the Muslims that is often believed to involve walking around the Kaaba for around seven times. The other ritual during the pilgrimage is that of touching the Black Stone that is also known as Istilam. The other rituals during pilgrimage include traveling seven times between two mountains that are known as Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and stoning the Devil in Mina that is also known as Ramee. The Quran points out that the Pilgrim is often an expression of the Muslims’ devotion to God (Rahman and Ebrahim 10).
In conclusion, the Quran is one of the most important religious scriptures globally. It entails a number of details including the relationship between people and God and a number of Islamic principles, such as Shahada, Salat, Sawm, Zakat and Hajj. In addition, the scripture has also played an integral role in promoting spiritual healing and ensuring that the Muslim community is brought together. Therefore, in the modern generation where the Islamic religion is facing opposition and resistance that are attributed to actions of terrorism, the Quran should be their main shield and they should refrain from revenging against other religions.
Rahman, Fazlur, and Ebrahim Moosa. Major Themes of the Qur’an. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009. Print.