Published On:26 April 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

OPINION: Qur’an’s Collective Spirit & Today’s Context

By Wasim Ahmad

Pope John Paul II kissing the Holy Quran
It is an extremely important question and an uphill task. We as a people need to start the expedition of finding out that spirit. The collective spirit of Qur’an is lost as our focus is on individual verses. Our immediate quotes from Qur’an have done much harm. They have taken us farther and farther from the crux of it. When we quote one verse we forget all the remaining ones. This is why we do not move forward in our understanding of the Book. This is symptomatic of our collective life. We are lost in the details.

Qur’an is not concerned about numbers as much as it focuses on quality, for instance. Now this aspect of Qur’an needs to be contrasted with our outlook and our focus. If our focus is on numbers then it means that we need to review our outlook. We need to dwell on the concepts of ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ a bit more in the light of Qur’an.  If we keep focusing on the numbers disregarding the Qur’anic world-view then how will it be unjustified to say that our Right Hands are empty? Keeping this perspective of Qur’an in view we have to review the ‘minority character’. Here we need to stop for a while and reflect.

Qur’an assigns a lot of duties to its upholders. Imbibing this collective spirit of Qur’an the Believers should be more concerned about others than themselves. As opposed to this spirit of Qur’an we are busy talking about and demanding our rights. If our ‘Ulama, too, stand for ‘minority’ and ‘majority’ as it is perceived by the multitudes it is very much surprising. They were, in fact, expected to wean us away from ‘minorityism’. Here again we need to pause and ponder.

If Qur’an does not contradict itself and we keep contradicting ourselves without really worrying about it then how can we argue that we are holding Qur’an in the Right Hands? In my communication with many ‘modern’ educated Muslims through various Networks I have noticed that we contradict ourselves a lot. When we do that then I am not sure what we stand for. But Qur’an stands for something and this is precisely why it is consistent. If we want to be in harmony and consistent with Qur’an, we will have to stand for something. And that something we need to figure out.

Not trying to reach out to the collective spirit of Qur’an we have our priorities messed up. We don’t know what needs to be done and why and how. For instance, the focus of Qur’an is on giving and not on seeking. Now we need to contrast this focus of Qur’an with our own current focus. There is a need to review the resolutions passed in our conventions and symposia. With what message do the audiences leave the venues? They go back with a resolve to contribute or with the resolutions of demands. If they go back with the resolve to contribute are they aware about why and how will they do so?

In our efforts to reach out to the collective spirit of Qur’an we have to find out how much it focuses on community and how much on the individual. And then contrast it with our current focus. We have to review if we are aligned with the spirit of Qur’an in this respect. If someone argues that we are more focused on the collective entity or the community as opposed to the individual – disregarding the collective spirit of Qur’an – how will we react to this observation? Will we agree or disagree and why or why not?

Qur’an guides us to clear and higher purposes behind all our actions. It defines the final goals before the outset. In other words, it gives a clear vision. Contrasting it with our current focus we find that a lot many things that we do have no clear goals and no well thought out objectives behind it. We do things but we do not know why we are doing them. This approach of ours needs to be contrasted with the spirit of Qur’an. We need to reach to some conclusions in this regard and take corrective measures if the findings are not quite encouraging.

From the particulars we have to derive the universals. This is inductive reasoning, al-‘aql al-istiqraa’ee. And this is what Qur’an emphasises upon by constantly asking us to reconsider our preconceived notions shunning our casual approach. If, however, we as a people easily get carried away from the main subject then it clearly indicates that we haven’t grasped the inductive intellect well. We get lost in particulars without reaching to universals. This is proved by the fact that we start discussing a subject but do not worry about taking it to the logical conclusions. Hence, we do not reach to the idea in the real sense of the word. But still we keep lamenting about lack of implementation (of what?).

If Qur’an does not divide knowledge into ‘religious’ categories and ‘secular’ and it does not divide life into ‘deeni’ and ‘dunyaawi’ spheres and we keep dividing them, then how can we argue that we are in harmony with the collective spirit of Qur’an? We have dismembered Qur’an by focusing on the parts and ignoring the whole. By focusing less on its soul and more on the body. We need to make a (paradigm) shift here. We have to make maximum efforts to reach to the crux of the Book.

[Wasim Ahmad is Department Head of Islamic Studies, Preston University, Ajman, UAE. He can be contacted at malikwasimahmad@gmail.com or +971505363235]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on April 26, 2011. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on April 26, 2011. Filed under , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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