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Friday, September 25, 2020

The greatest miracle: When the Quran talks about the Muslim Holy Book

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By Momodou Sabally

One of the things that amazes me is the beauty, and depth with which the Holy Quran talks about itself (the Quran). Here’s to one golden nugget from Verse 29 of Surah Sad, and all Praises are due to Allah: “(It is) a Book We have revealed to you abounding in good that they may ponder over its verses, and that those endowed with understanding may be mindful.”

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I have for long read the Quran for years, marking all verses in which Allah speaks to us about His Holy Book, the greatest miracle gifted to the greatest of all prophets sent by Allah, Muhammad (sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam). But the task can be overwhelming sometimes, especially if you are reading the Holy Book in the Arabic language in which it was revealed. That project is still on, but as I read the Quran this dawn and listen to its recitation/audio at the beginning of our daily fasting, this Ramadan of the year 2020, a few verses occur to me as if to draw my attention to the task I started some 6 years ago.

Without hesitation, let us consider the very first Pair of verses at the beginning of the chapter that succeeds the one labelled the foundation of the Quran. Surah Baqarah (The Cow) which comes immediately after the miraculous Surah Fatiha (The Opening) states a very emphatic truth without hesitation or prevarication. In verses 1 and 2 Allah tells us: “Alif Lam Mim. That is the Book, wherein is no doubt, a guidance to the godfearing”
Search through the literature of the world, East to West, North and South and across all generations, you will never find a scripture with such a unique and emphatic opening.
Indeed when I read the biography of American Founding Father and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson; and did further research about the potential sources of his genius/inspiration, I was not surprised to find out that he kept a copy of the Holy Quran (still kept in the US Library of Congress) and used it as reference for his legal studies and source of inspiration. In the words of Kevin Hayes, an eminent Jefferson scholar : “Wanting to broaden his legal studies as much as possible, Jefferson found the Qur’an well worth his attention.”

Surely the Quran will be well worth the attention of any serious scholar for the Muslim Holy Book provides an explanation for everything.
Consider this from the very last verse of Surah Yusuf, the very Surah in whose beginning Allah, emphatically celebrates the beauty of of His Glorious book thus, in verse 3: “We narrate to you the best of narratives, by Our revealing to you this Quran, though before this you were certainly one of those who did not know.”
Here’s verse 111 of the Surah about the most handsome human being to have ever trodden planet earth: “There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur’an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.”

But what about the exaltation in Surah Hashr at verse 21:
“Had We sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would certainly have seen it falling down, splitting asunder because of the fear of Allah, and We set forth these parables to men that they may reflect.”

Just as I type the above lines, my attention is drawn to verse 23 of Surah Zumar as the audio plays on my IPad. Now take a listen:
“Allah has sent down the best statement: a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who fear their Lord; then their skins and their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah by which He guides whom He wills. And one whom Allah leaves astray – for him there is no guide.”

And then the Greatest of all books proceeds in verses 27-28 of the same Surah:
“And certainly We have set forth to men in this Quran similitudes of every sort that they may mind. An Arabic Quran without any crookedness, that they may guard (against evil).”
These verses are all occurring to me at random as I type these lines; but there is a set of verses in Surah Isra that I find to be equally captivating. Here’s a selection from that menu from verses 88-89: “Say: If men and jinn should combine together to bring the like of this Quran, they could not bring the like of it, though some of them were aiders of others. And certainly We have explained for men in this Quran every kind of similitude, but most men do not consent to aught but denying.”

But prior to this pair in Surah Israh is yet another verse of great wisdom and instruction. In verse 78 Allah declares: “Keep up prayer from the declining of the sun till the darkness of the night and the morning recitation; surely the morning recitation is witnessed.”
And then, to conclude, for want of time, because I need to stop this to perform my Fajr prayers, here’s the end part of verse 41 and the whole of verse 42 of Surah Fussilat: “and most surely it is a Mighty Book: Falsehood shall not come to it from before it nor from behind it; a revelation from the Wise, the Praised One.”

Is this Holy Book not worth studying? Is it not a worthy cause to invest some time and energy in pursuit of some knowledge of this treasure trove of Wisdom? It is my contention that it is never too late to make an attempt to study the Quran. Young or old, just make the intention and start the effort right now if you are not already on that course. The effort would be well rewarded and the journey shall be smoothended as promised by Allah himself in several verses in Surah Qamar (the Moon):
“And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition?”
Alhamdulillaah. We praise Allah for the guidance of the Quran. We praise him for this and the multiple favours He has bestowed on us. And what better way to praise Him for anything related to the Quran than praise well articulated by Himself through his Book, in the very first verse of Surah kahf (The Cave): “(All) praise is due to Allah, Who revealed the Book to His servant and did not make in it any crookedness.”

Former Presidential Affairs Minister and erstwhile Director General of the state broadcaster, Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), Momodou Sabally is a prolific author and International Speaker.

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