GUIDANCE FROM THE HOLY QUR’AN( 57)
GUIDANCE FROM THE HOLY QUR’AN (57)
- Ali Mohammad Naqvi
SURA AL-BAQARAH VERSE 77
HIDING THE TRUTH OF THE SCRIPTURE : METHOD OF OLD GUARD TO ARREST THE SPREAD OF A MOVEMENT:
2:77: Do they not realise that Allah knows what they conceal and what they proclaim?
The immediate argument applies to the Israelites of Madīnah. The expression a party of them refers to the scholars and religious doctors of that community. The Word of God here signifies the Torah, the Psalms (Zabūr) and other Scriptures, Distortion denotes the attempt to twist a text.
The more general interpretation holds well in all ages. Faith and Unfaith are pitted against each other. Faith has to struggle against power, position, organisation, and privilege. The opponents use all kind of foul means, so that they may arrest the spread of the true faith. But they fail in their attempt. Once a dawn takes place, its light is bound to spread and dispel all darkness.
2:78: THERE ARE AMONG THEM ILLITERATES WHO KNOW NOT THE SCRIPTURE EXCEPT THEIR OWN FALSE NOTIONS. THEY DO NOTHING BUT MERE GUESSING.
Religion is corrupted by the combination of the two factors, unawareness and ignorance of the masses and selfishness and lack of real and genuine religiosity in political and religious leaders and the clergy.
The previous verse refers to the first factor and this verse refers to the second factor.
The state of the masses was, and always is, that they are ignorant of the Scriptures, They fabricate a whole religion out of their desires and fancies, living in a paradise built on false hopes and illusions. This is the religion od superstitious ignorant masses, which is at many times, at variance with the teachings of their own Scripture and its real import.
The word translated here as ‘ignorant is ‘ummiyyūn’, plural of ummî, which signifies one who neither writes nor reads (Rāzī.). The word is, therefore, generally applied to the Arabs, of the pre-Islamic period, who were unacquainted with reading and writing, except in rare cases. It is, however, applied here to the ignorant Jews. But is true of followers of all religions, including some ignorant Muslim masses. Their religion is a caricature of their own real religion. The Quran says: They know not the scripture except their own false notions. They do nothing but mere guessing.
They knew not their own true Scriptures but read into them what they wanted, which were at best their conjectures.
The word amānîy is plural of ‘umniyyah’ which means a desire and also carries the significance of lying because desire leads to lies (Rāzī). Some understand by it the repetition of words without knowing their significance.
What is said here about the Jews of Madina, is to a very large extent true about ignorant masses of other religions as well, especially during the period of their decadence?
Even this is the fate of Muslims during the period of decadence. In the early days of Islam, every individual Muslim, man as well as woman, sought light directly from the Holy Qur’an. It is not true about Muslims during the decadent phase, who depend entirely on their learned men and suspend their own judgment. They read the Holy Qur’an but look upon mere recitation as a meritorious deed without trying to learn what it says, and change their ways accordingly. In Islam, the society is not divided between the clergy and laymen. All have the duty to understand and practice religion.
The same was the plight of all other religions during their decadence period.
In Christianity, to understand and interpret the Holy Book, became the monopoly of the church They claimed sole right to understand and interpret religious dogma, while the Divine Guidance and the Grace of Jesus were for all. Thus, there was a revolt of Luther and Calvin.
In Hinduism, after passing the golden Vedic Age and the glorious age of Upanishad and Gita, there came a long period when only the class of Brahmins was entitled to recite Scripture and to interpret it, while Veda was the Divine knowledge for all.
It has happened with all religions.
But who has corrected it? A Swami Vivekananda, a Sri Auribindu, a Sai Baba, a Gandhi, the Hindu Swamis and Munis, They changed the discourse and understanding from inside, c not people of other religions. The same has happened and is happening and has to happen in Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and all
DUE TO THE PERVERSION OF RELIGION BY EXPLOITING POLITICIANS AND PRIESTS AND BY IGNORANCE OF MASSES, IN EVERY RELIGIOUS FAITH THERE ARE TWO OR THREE PERSPECTIVE, SO ANY GENERALIZATION ABOUT A RELIGIOUS FAITH IS DANGEROUS AND BEFORE DOING SO, ONE SHOULD APPLY THE METHODOLOGY OF LOOKING INTO MIRROR
That is why inside every religion there are so many versions and perspectives. Some times the perspective of ignorant masses which sums up religion in rituals and a few dogmas, and the version of power-oriented clergy political and religious leaders who want to exploit the name of religion for spreading conflict, hatred and grab power becomes more prominent.
But what is the duty of religious leaders-genuine clergymen and real saints? They have to lead masses lovingly towards the real religion and towards a deeper understanding of their Scriptures.
WE should not forget: religion is destroyed in the name of religion, not by atheists, religion can be restored and the mindset of masses or those who use religion as s slogan for extremism, also by saints and religious people not by liberal atheists. We should not forget that in history there was not so much clash between religion and atheism than between one version of the religion with the other version of religion, between different discourses about religion, often inside one religion and followers of one Faith.
So if someone says there is an extremist discourse about say Hinduism only, the Hindu saints and reformers can correct it not the outsiders, if someone says there is an extremist discourse in some Islamic circles, only the Muslim ulama and religious thinkers can change it by changing the discourse or reviving the real meaning and spirit of religion and by correcting the discourse of ignorant masses or even some clergymen whom the Quran so beautifully says: They know not the scripture except their own false notions. They do nothing but mere guessing.
If you ponder just with the Methodology of looking into a mirror, you will find all four, five or six points of extremism can be easily found in the work of the well-known theoreticians of extreme Hindutwa Movement, or among Evangelical Christian or Zionist Jew theoreticians, among Jews Jains and all.
Just think about their major books and works and you will realize.
There is no need, nor it is realistic and justified to deny that such an extremist notion exists, but we should realize in all Faiths.
At the same time, to say this is the perspective of the majority of churches, seminaries, madrasa, gurukul, ashram or shakhas is exaggeration and hyperbole.
Majority of Muslims, Hindus, Christians are not extremism. But they are a vocal minority.
But nevertheless that exist and unfortunately, in the last 30-50 years, extremism is on rising in all religions and nations. This should alarm all genuine religious persons. That is why all of us are endeavouring to replace discourse of conflict with the discourse of Love.
Always remember that in every religion, there is not one version but many versions (I am not speaking about Sects). The version that is some times more prevalent in which the Quran speaks of: that of ignorant people who do not have proper religious awareness.
The Quran says: They know not the scripture except their own false notions. They do nothing but mere guessing.