Mahboob Ilahi studies the barriers modern people face in extracting benefits from the Qur’ān and calls upon the concerned organisations to develop mechanisms for monitoring and providing methods to mitigate in terms of retaining the clarity in the Qur’ānic guidance.

The teachings of the Qur’ān are applicable to entire humanity and is valid until the Day of Judgement. Muslims assert that they have this guidance, feel superior and even claim for leadership but they need to assess if they truly grasp the Qur’ān’s teachings and whether they are capable of resolving ever-increasing issues of humanity with its help.

Are such claims accurate? Can the common Muslims play a role to spread the Qur’ānic guidance and utilise it to solve their own issues and the world’s problems? Is it necessary to spread the guidance or keep the book on the shelves of their homes and libraries? If it is necessary to spread the teachings, are Muslims able to solve their own community problems? Are there factors that are blurring the guidance or undermining the wisdom of utilising it especially when we talk about the majority of common people?

Although the Islamic scholars, educators and Da’ees are putting their efforts in their own limited spheres and capacities yet the efforts seem to be inadequate, considering the world population and the number of issues. In order to effectively reach out to everyone and engage every common Muslim to be part of the force, it is vital to conduct an evaluation in order to grasp contemporary issues and misconceptions.

Furthermore, with the advancement of IT, social media, and technologies, it is becoming more and more challenging for the majority of parents and elders to persuade the younger generation who is exposed to the modern way of life along with numerous misunderstandings and misconceptions. The fact is that the perspective of generations keeps on changing with time as it is dynamic in nature. New generation always comes in with different perspectives, the way of thinking and therefore draws different conclusions. As a result, it has become more difficult to instil values and perspectives in the next generation.

Or it is difficult to understand the logic behind the perspectives of young generations though they may not appear wrong within the guidelines of the Qur’ānic teachings. Or they might have adopted perspective totally against the principles of Islam. In simple words, there is a wider gap in the way of thinking of different generations which acts as a barrier to convey the universal message.

There is an information overload which results in confusion among common parents and children, and they are rather in a confrontation mode. Consequently, several Muslim youngsters are drifting away from the practice, and many are becoming atheists and agnostics openly or silently in some part of the world. If there is Qur’ānic guidance available and many people are in search of some guidance to solve their issues then what are the barriers which are diverting such people from reaching the guidance?

Let’s review a few facts and then consider a few situations to understand the barriers. How many Muslims pray five times a day? How many of them are praying, when it is convenient for them or in the presence of their parents, or if they are in such a set-up or gathering? What is the quality of their prayers as per the criteria of the teachings? Is there any awareness to think of the quality of prayers in common people? If someone wants to rate the quality of his prayers in his busy life, is there any easily available guidance without conflicts and confusions? Is there any importance and culture of thinking of the quality of prayers? If some scholars have written several books and articles, and made free videos, do these people have practically enough time and ability to understand these topics by themselves and solve their problems? Why some people adopt some alternative solutions like meditation in general and not the Islamic way of prayers and zikr?

Certainly, it is human tendency to run behind fancy and shiny stuff but this is also a fact that somewhere Muslims lost the quality practice. Hence, our prayers and worshipping have become culture and tradition. And the desired transformation cannot be witnessed by the humanity to be attracted towards it.

Let’s move to Zakat and charity, which is perhaps the most misunderstood and damaged pillar of Islam. Once after listening to a speech, one person from audience approached the Imam, who was an a’lim as well, to calculate Zakat for him. Surprisingly, the imam couldn’t calculate it as he was never an eligible payer of Zakat and he never learned how to calculate it. There is another example of a research scholar, who stated his understanding in a casual discussion on the Zakat system that “most Muslim individuals give Zakat to their relatives whom they know are in need”. The scholar is related with an International Islamic University and completed all his tertiary education there including his Ph.D.

There are several Madrasa, NGOs, and other organisations that have their justifications for Zakat collections and utilisation for free education, coaching for IAS, NEET, JEE, and medical care, etc. for the service of Ummah and social upliftment.

Frequently, the adopted practices are debatable or questionable. Several times, it appears that the practices adopted are not in line with the Qur’ānic teachings. Who would consider the poor and needy whose relatives are likewise poor if there is a trend to offer Zakat to close relatives and educational institutions? If a widow has no source of income but has gold jewellery and a fixed deposit, she should be a Zakat donor by right, but, instead, her wealthy brothers are giving her their Zakat so she can maintain her lifestyle at par with theirs. Her children attend expensive private schools. One of her brother’s housekeepers, however, is unable to send her kids to school since her husband doesn’t have good enough earnings. This area itself is very vast and cannot be captured here. Similarly, there are many actions that do not appear in line with the Qur’ānic teachings regarding Ramadhan, Qurbani, Hajj and Umrah, etc.

Let’s come to the discussion of the Qur’ānic guidance. Muslims believe that the guidance of the Qur’ān is universal and for all times and for everyone. It is not for a selected group of Muslims but for the whole of mankind. The primary objective of reading is to understand it for practice and to comply with it in order to solve any problems in life. The Qur’ān has been given by Allah as guidance and one will climb up to higher levels, depending on practice and pondering. The doors of understanding will not open if one does not want to understand it.

There are several misperceptions and misunderstandings among common people as well as among learned people. Ulama and scholars have the responsibility to remove these misunderstandings, misconceptions and related malpractices. Although some of them are trying their best to help common Muslims and others yet the efforts seem to be insignificant like salt in flour.

A large number of Muslims read the Qur’ān without understanding it. Many of them read with the belief that the guidance will be revealed to their hearts from Allah. They do not practise the proper methodology which they follow to read an academic book or code for reference or even a novel. They do not put adequate effort to understand the guidance. In actuality, they read for the purpose of rewards from Allah and not for reference purposes to align their actions in their lives. They don’t read it for solving the problems and issues they face. Further, they do not have the ability to relate their actions in the light of the Qur’ān or they believe their good actions will outweigh their actions that are not in compliance.

And finally, a great misconception dwells deep in their minds that they would go to Jannah because of their deeds without being testified for the quality and compliance check. Therefore, a large number of Muslims follow cults, customs, and cultures in many things. The rituals, customs, traditions develop some habits and quick response to situations beside the learning during childhood and adolescent age. With so much internal memory and external advice and information, it is difficult to pick the correct one for the reflection when a response is required. In fact, common people are more confused and finally many people do what they like. Therefore, it is important to develop parallel but highly effective and efficient systems of teaching and learning the right guidance. It should be simple but methodical.

The Qur’ānic guidance is for entire humanity; therefore, it should reach every human being. Every human being is unique and very special. He has to delegate his responsibilities in the world within his capacity during his lifetime as a representative (vicegerent) of Allah. The guidance from Allah is available in the form of the Qur’ān and the Sunnah but if humanity is not able to benefit, an assessment is required to find out hinderances within the flexibility and the boundaries provided by the Qur’ān.

Many common and even learned people lack the desired clarity and are confused on several matters as a result of the information overload brought on by social media, websites, books, magazines, customs, traditions, etc. Consequently, the actions of many followers of the Qur’ān appear to be not in accordance with the teachings as they do not get the outcome which other human beings could follow. There is no way to control information in this era of IT advancement.

However, concerned organisations should be one step ahead. They should develop mechanisms for monitoring and providing methods to mitigate in terms of retaining the clarity in the Qur’ānic guidance through the same channels. They should utilise the energy of available, self-motivated, and innovative minds.

For example, many people make free posters and video clips for social media in a hope of reward, but they spread misleading information perhaps unknowingly. Many professionals, traders and workers are not able to relate their work with their responsibilities and with Islamic reward system, for example teaching Maths, science, engineering or any other so-called non-Islamic subjects. Then numbers of efforts and numbers of recipients of the messages are highly important to be effective in such a populace where the number of followers matters.

Standard self-paced educational programmes and awareness material should be generated not only for common people but for professionals like imams, preachers, social workers, university scholars and social figures, who become popular but they may not have right knowledge and practices in accordance to the Qur’ān.  So, these people could attain the right sense and courage to practise the right guidance. This will be a great service and care for humanity.

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