by Abdur Raheem Kidwai
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House, Mumbai
Price: (Paperback) `327
Dr. Mohd Haris Bin Mansoor
Sir Syed Fellow, Sir Syed Academy
Aligarh Muslim University
The Quran Speaks To You, authored by Prof. Abdur Raheem Kidwai, is an erudite discussion of Islam with non-Muslims in the backdrop of bridging the yawning gulf between the Muslims and the non-Muslims, engineered through various deliberate works written by nasty and power-greedy people. As mentioned in the book, the recent acts of terrorism performed under the so-called banner of Islam have caused substantial damage to the fair image of Islam. This predicament has led to skepticism of the very existence of Islam and has raised several questions about its characteristics, confirming whether they are aligned with the social fabric or not. Therefore, in such a hostile era, the work under review elaborates the true essence of Islam profoundly.
The book is divided into three broad segments, which are further processed into the fruition of sixty great lessons from the Qur’ān. In the table of contents, “What to believe, How to lead your life and The Afterlife”, are the three pillars around which the book’s argument is built. The Islamic doctrines reiterate a lot on the precise belief system, for it is the pivot, and in the absence of it, the whole life is considered futile. Subsequently, to be steadfast in those beliefs, it is imperative to know the do’s and the don’ts and their appropriate execution. In the end, for a Muslim, the ultimate destination is the Afterlife. Without having faith in it, he will not be considered a Muslim. Every claim and explanation in the book is supported by the Holy Qur’an and Hadith.
In the first part, questions related to God’s attributes, His doctrines, creative wonders, and similarly, the traits of believers, their required attributes, and conduct are also addressed at length. The author asserts that the Qur’ān is not a book of science, social science, mathematics, or politics; essentially, it is a book of guidance. The Book of Allah not only binds man to a set of rules and regulations and encourages him to shun what is contrary to those rules. However, it guides us in every aspect of life, from the most important, such as ruling over the world, to the most insignificant, related to our routine, everyday life.
The book then advances towards discussing how the universe is man-centric. It illustrates several facts in the defence of the above statement, saying that whatever is there in the world is created for human beings. However, what one is supposed to take into consideration is that his belief system should be subservient to the doctrine of monotheism. Islam in no way compromises with its monotheistic nature, and its accountability is the most weighty of all.
In one of the chapters of the same section, the book elucidates the purpose behind the creation of this world and its most important part, human beings. The author emphasises on multiple occasions that God sent man on earth so that he might see Allah’s signs and reflect upon them. His signs are worth exploring and researching, which further forges fresh avenues of knowledge. The importance of the family system is also debated in the book. Islam believes in the concept of collectivism and hierarchy. The family system exemplified by Islam is the perfect paradigm of a collectivistic society which is not cursed with the venom of anarchy. Further, morality is discussed at length, which is, of course, an offshoot of a perfect family system. Where there is no family system, there is degeneration, immorality, and indecency. Therefore, to prevent a man from falling into the clutches of lewdness, a considerable focus is given to maintaining family ties and all that is related to them; viz., relatives, neighbours, etc.
The first segment concludes by claiming that the Qur’ān creates a faith-centred global community regardless of ethnicity, colour, race, or region. In the eyes of Islam, there is no discrimination based on societal norms. Nobody is superior to the other in terms of faith.
The second part of the book, which is the longest one, talks about topics, such as the rights of God (Huqooq Allah), the rights of fellow beings (Huqooq-al-Iba’ad), the right of inheritance, the sufferings bestowed by Allah, the importance of charity, etc. It hammers the fact that God is always seeing us. Consequently, achieving God’s consciousness is the utmost duty of any Muslim. It, then, discusses the religious duties imposed on all believers, amr bil ma’roof (enjoining the good) and nahi anil munkar (forbidding the evil). However, Muslims must conduct moral policing in a decent and approachable manner while adhering to the high etiquette prescribed by Islam.
A lot of focus is thumped towards huqooq-al-iba’ad (rights of the fellow humans), wherein, man is taught how to maintain his relationship with his parents, offspring, neighbours, elders, wife, husband, poor, etc. On top of that, Islam also strictly commands its believers to respect other religions and not to revile their gods. The credence strongly emphasises the concept of peaceful co-existence and pluralistic society.
The unprecedented doctrine of justice in Islam is so eminent that it has commanded the believers to do fairness even with their enemies. This contradicts all the other major dogmas, where enemies are at the receiving end of intemperance. The author argues with the backing of the Qur’ānic verses that emotions must never overwhelm a Muslim while treating an enemy, and thus, the wrong-doer must be inflicted only for the wrong he has caused.
Moving forward to the concept of free-will, which is in itself an extraordinary virtue granted to man, God says that man is solely responsible for all his actions. The Qur’ān is a living guide for him, where every good has been marked and every evil has been selected. Now, it depends on him which path to choose, where God has not put any restraints because of the trial period for which he has been sent down to earth. The chapter also discusses the ill effects of arrogance and boastfulness and how such attributes have annihilated great personalities around the world. For, it is only the omniscient, omnipotent, and almighty God Who is the greatest of all.
In the light of authentic reports of Prophet ﷺ and the Qur’ānic verses, the author has elaborated on the topic of the world and the after-world and how to find the balance between them. Many people, in the pursuit of finding religion, renounce the world, which is totally against the temperament of religion. Islam has always focused on finding moderation in every aspect of life and shunning the ideas of extremism and fanaticism. Therefore, praying and earning bread is equally important. In the end, the importance of charity, rightful inheritance, treating orphans, and other topics are discussed. Also, Islam has rejected favouritism, prejudice, and bias of any nature while establishing justice.
In the end, the afterlife, which is the vital truth of Islam, is discussed. Salvation is the ultimate goal of any Muslim. He believes in the concept of resurrection, the Day of Judgment, Paradise, and Hell. Life in this world is nothing, but a period of trial for every Muslim. The day of reward and the day of reckoning is the final Day of Judgment.
Prof. Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s work merits the title The Qur’an Speaks To You. The sixty lessons drawn from the Qur’ān are direct narrations of Allah where he addresses mankind and speaks with them about the sheer truth of the life of this world and the hereafter, so that they may reflect on it.