Sunday, February 17, 2008



Surah al-Anfal (The Spoils of War)

Chapter 8: Verse 24 (Partial)

"O you who believe, respond to Allah and
His messenger as they call you to that
which gives you life"

The Quran came to change the beliefs,
behavior and outlook of all who are
astray. It came to guide them to the
true happiness and the way of life that
one should follow in this life.
Al-Suddi, an early commentator on the
Quran, stated that this verse means that
Islam gave the Companions true life
after they were truly dead in disbelief.

The difference between faith and
disbelief is truly comparable to the
difference between life and death.
Knowing the Quran, that source of life
to which Allah and His Messenger (peace
be upon him) is calling every human, as
opposed to not knowing it is also
comparable to the difference between
life and death.

The effect of the Quran can clearly be
seen in the first generation of Muslims.
These were the people who were given
life by the Quran. They were taken from
darkness into light. The example they
set is the example that all later
generations who believe in the Quran
must aspire to.


Perhaps one of the best descriptions of
the change that took place among the
Muslims can be seen in the famous
statement of the Companion Jafar ibn Abu
Taalib who was asked by the Negus of
Abyssinia about the mission of the
Messenger. He told him:

O king, we were an ignorant people,
worshipping idols, eating carrion and
indulging in sexual pleasures. We teased
our neighbors, a brother oppressed his
brother, and the strong devoured the
weak. At this time a man rose among us,
who had already been known to be
truthful, noble and honest. This man
called us to Islam. And he taught us to
give up worshipping stones, to speak the
truth, to refrain from bloodshed, and
not to defraud the orphans of their
property. He taught us to provide
comfort to our neighbors and not to
bring a slander against chaste women. He
enjoined upon us to offer prayers,
observe fasts and give alms. We followed
him, gave up polytheism and idolatry and
refrained from all evil deeds.

That generation, in turn, took the
message to the rest of the world. They
were clearly a people who were taken
from darkness into light and to the
straight path of Allah. When asked by
the Emperor of Persia what brought the
Muslims to their lands, two different
Companions answered in similar terms:
"Allah has sent us to take whoever
wishes from the servitude of mankind to
the servitude of Allah and from the
tightness of this world to its expanse
and from the injustice of the ways of
life [in this world] to the justice of


The reason why the Quran does not have
the same effect today has nothing to do
with the essential nature of the Quran
as it will always be the true guidance
that is ever available to take mankind
from darkness into light. The source of
the problem is in the way that many of
today's believers approach the Quran.
The possible reasons for this kind of
situation could be many. In general,
though, four, which were mentioned in
the introductory chapter, stand out

(1) Some Muslims emphasize secondary
aspects of the Quran while ignoring its
more important primary aspects;

(2) Too many Muslims do not recognize
and understand the primary goals of the
Quran; therefore they read it but do not
get out of it what it desires

(3) In addition, some Muslims do not
approach the Quran in the proper manner,
missing the essential link between what
it teaches and how it is to affect
mankind; and

(4) Even when the above obstacles or
problems are overcome, still some
Muslims do not interpret the Quran in
the proper manner and, hence, although
they read it they do not get its correct
teachings from it.


How to Approach and Understand the
Quran - Jamal ad din Zarabozo