SHAFAQNA- Let us start by reflecting upon what Qur’an has to say about itself.
The Qur’an introduces itself as the guidance for the worlds (3:96); and the manifest light (4:174).
According to Qur’an, Allah has laid down solution of every human problem in the Qur’an very clearly. Qur’an says: “and We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything (16:89).
Also He has described the Qur’an in these words: “ ……. a guidance for mankind and clear evidence of guidance and discrimination (between wrong)”. (2:185).
The Qur’an is, accordingly, a guidance, an evidence, a discrimination between right and wrong and a manifest light for the people to guide them aright and help them in all their needs. Is it imaginable that it would not guide them aright in its own matter, while it is their most important need?
Again Allah says: “And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them onto Our ways”. (29:69).Which striving is greater than the endeavor to understand His Book? And which way is more straight than the Qur’an?
“Lo! this Qur’an guides to that which is most upright”. (17:9)
The Holy Qur’an is a book which by sound reasoning bestows insight upon man. It shows the right path to man by giving the accounts of the Prophets and the nations. It motivates him through parables, exhortations and admonitions.
“Such are some of the stories of the unseen, which We have revealed unto you, before this neither you nor your people knew them. So persevere patiently, for the end is for those who are righteous”. (11:49).
The Qur’an describes its other function as the presentation of the Prophetic mission, which is aimed at guidance of humanity, by delivering it from darkness and leading it towards light:
“A Book We have sent down to you so that you may bring forth mankind from the darkness into the light……”. (14:1)
What is the meaning of darkness mentioned in the above ayah? Without doubt the darkness of ignorance is one of the vices from which the Qur’an emancipates humanity and leads it towards the light of knowledge and wisdom. However, if merely ignorance were regarded as darkness, then the philosophers could have accomplished this job.
But there exist other evils more dangerous than the vice of ignorance, and to subdue them is beyond the power of sheer knowledge. Among them are the vices of worship of material benefits, egoism, enslavement to desires, and greed, which are considered to be personal and moral vices. Social vices like oppression and discrimination manifest the spiritual darkness of a society.
In Arabic, the word zulm (injustice and oppression) is derived from the same root as zulmah (darkness), which shows that injustice is a form of social and spiritual darkness. To struggle against such forms of darkness is the responsibility and mission of the Qur’an and other heavenly books. Addressing Prophet Musa (as), the Qur’an says:
“That you may bring forth your people from the darkness into the light …” (14:5)
This darkness, this shadow, is the darkness of Fir’aun’s oppression and injustice and that of his clique. The light is the light of justice and freedom.
The exegetists of the Qur’an emphasize the point that whenever the Qur’an mentions darkness, it always uses it in the plural form although it always uses light in its singular form. This means that the word ‘darkness’ includes all sorts of darkness, all of the evil ways that lead towards darkness, and that ‘light’ signifies one single right path –the path of righteousness, whereas the ways of deviation and perversion are many. In Suurat al-Baqarah, the Qur’an says:
“God is the Protector of the believers; He brings them forth from the darkness into the light. And the unbelievers –their protectors are taghut, that bring them forth from the light into the darkness …” (2:257)
Thus the Qur’an determines its goal to be the breaking of the chains of ignorance, misguidance, moral and social corruption and destruction, or in other words, to dissipate all sorts of ‘darkness’ and to guide humanity in the direction of ‘justice, goodness and light’.
“This is a declaration for humankind, a guidance and admonition to those who ward off (evil)”. (3:138)
In other places, the Qur’an describes itself as under:
“This is the book, in it is guidance for sure without doubt, to those who fear Allah”. (2:2)
“They are invited to the book of Allah to settle their dispute”. (3:23)
“We have sent down to you (O Muhammad) in truth so that you might judge between men as guided by Allah”. (4:105).
“And this is a book which We have revealed as a blessing, so follow it and be righteous, that you may receive mercy”. (6:155).
“A book revealed unto you, so that your heart be not in any difficulty on that account, (so that) with it you may warn (the sinful) and teach the believers”. (7:2).
“This Qur’an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah, on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that were sent before it, and a full explanation of the book, wherein there is not doubt from the Lord of the worlds”. (10:37)
“And We sent down the book to you for the express purpose that you should make clear to them those things in which they differ, and so that it should be a guide and mercy to those who believe”. (16:64).
“We have revealed for you (O men) a book in which there is a message for you, will you then not understand”. (21:10).
“These are the verses of the book that make things clear”. (26:2).
“… A book which We have sent down unto you with full of blessings so that they may meditate on its signs and that man of understanding may receive admonition”. (38:29).
“Verily We have revealed the book to you in truth for instructing mankind. He that receives guidance benefits his own soul, but he that strays injures his own soul”. (39:41).
Adapted from: “Towards Better Understanding of the Qur’an” by: “Shaykh Muslim Bhanji”