Qur’an: Key to World Peace
A Book Called Reading
How the world has changed!
Practically, everyone who is anyone in the world today is talking about that book – the book that we all know as the Qur’an.
The Qur’an is a book that holds in its divine words the key to world peace. It is a book that teaches human beings the eternal principles of mutual respect; honesty; and justice and equality, which are the required foundation for all peace and tranquility in the world.
It is a book that teaches – going back 14 centuries – that all human beings are created equal; that no one should abuse, exploit or oppress anyone; that all must fear God and love one another; that women have the same rights as men; and that tyranny and oppression in all forms and against anyone are the greatest crimes against humanity and the worst and most heinous sins against God.
Sins so terrible and wrongs so egregious that God does not even forgive them till they are first forgiven by those who were made the victims of abuse, aggression, oppression, exploitation, injustice and cruelty.
This Qur’an is a book that warns the world against Zulm – a comprehensive concept that covers all forms of wrong, injustice, aggression, violence, cruelty and oppression perpetrated on anyone by anyone for any reason or using any pretext.
It is a book that promotes and promulgates the basic principles of “Islam,” a system of thought, belief and behavior whose very core is “Peace“: peace within yourself; peace with your fellow human beings; peace with God’s entire creation on earth; peace with God’s vast universe; and peace with God Almighty.
It is a book that teaches human beings to greet one another in the name of “Peace” and joy and felicity for all; that brings to them greetings of “Peace” and joy from God Almighty; that tells them that the very name of God is “Peace” – Assalaam; and that asks them to prepare for an eternal life in the next world whose essence is “Peace,” bliss, joy, felicity and everlasting contentment, pure and sublime.
Practical “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Attaining Peace
This Qur’an is that book that shows human beings the actual “do’s” and “don’ts” for attaining peace and harmony in this world, saying people must say nice things to and about each other; avoid demonizing and maligning each other; eliminate mutual suspicion, prejudice and hate; and stay away from committing acts of aggression against one another, for, surely it is a recipe for violence and war.
It is a book that tells people to observe a sense of strict balance and proportionality even when they are defending themselves against aggression and violence committed by others. It is a book that tells its adherents not to abuse other people’s gods, and the things they hold dear and sacred, lest it should create conflict and provoke other people to abuse and insult God Almighty.
The Qur’an is a book that asks people to speak the truth at all times, for truth is a foundation for peace, at both micro and macro levels, while falsehood is a foundation for injustice, conflict and war among individuals, groups, nations and societies. It is a book that tells people to ward off evil with good, and stop meanness with kindness, for that may lead to better relations and mutual friendship among people.
It is a book that says that people must give others their due – whatever is owed to them; whatever is theirs by right; whatever is taken from them unfairly and unjustly; whatever they have been wrongfully deprived off and forced to give up through violence, fraud and deception – for that paves the road for mutual harmony, respect and coexistence. A book that defines good people as those who, when provoked by bad people, walk away from confrontations and conflict situations with a pronouncement of “Peace” on their lips.
Peace: The Default Option
This Qur’an is a book that makes peace the default option and preferred choice in all human affairs. A book that permits war, not to satisfy the runaway ambitions, the limitless greed and the insatiable lust for power and wealth of the princes, the potentates, the rich, the powerful, the corrupt, the crooked, the self-seeking politicians and the profiteers without conscience, but only as a means of last resort for purposes of legitimate self-defense and in the defense of the most moral and just causes and principles that affect the deepest well-being of all humanity.
It is a book that imposes, even in the heat of battle, the most stringent laws and requirements not to harm the women, the children, the aged, the infirm, the sick, the unarmed, the noncombatants, the civilians as well as the clerics, priests and the leaders of other religions and faiths.
All This Not Today or Yesterday, But 1400 Years Ago
All this, not yesterday or today, or a mere hundred or two hundred years ago, but all of 1400 years ago!
In other words, this is the book that taught human beings the most civilized, just and fair laws of war before the rest of the world reluctantly and grudgingly woke up to them, more than 1000 years later, to enact the various Geneva Conventions, which it is only too willing to tear up and forget all about at the whimsiest of pretences.
So, where is the surprise if everyone everywhere today is talking about this book? For, every single one of the teachings and passages of this book has been a miracle for the past 14 centuries. And it is by following the teachings of this book that the world has found peace and by violating them that the world sinks into the abyss of war and violence.
That is why it is most timely and proper – and absolutely imperative – that at a time when violence and vitriol fill the world; when war drums roll down the horizons; when darkness and despair blanket the earth; and when poverty and hunger, dread and disease, confusion and chaos rule the lives of most of humanity, all of us need to take a few moments to read this book and become acquainted with its basic teachings.
For, this is a book that not only impacts the lives of more than a billion Muslims directly and the lives of the rest of humanity indirectly, but also holds in its divine pages the key to peace and justice throughout the world.
For, this is a book that not only shaped world events over the past 1400 years, but is also at the heart of a great deal of what is going on around the world right now – either because some people falsely claim to follow it or because many other people arrogantly disregard some of its most central and most human and civilized teachings.
For, this is a book that some people falsely and maliciously accuse of fanning the flames of hate and conflict, whereas in truth it is the book that has shown the people of the world for the past 14 centuries how to live in peace and harmony with one another.
That is why decent and civilized people everywhere cannot but love this book. And that is also why those who fear and hate truth, those who oppose fairness and justice, and those whose hearts are filled with prejudice, hate, lust, greed, evil, injustice and cruelty, find it necessary to be wary and fearful of this book.
Islam, Muslims and the Qur’an
This book is the reason everyone everywhere is saying things like “Islam is this,” “Islam is that” and “Islam is something else.”
And things like “Muslims are doing this,” “Muslims are doing that” and “Muslims are doing something else.”
When people say these things about Islam and Muslims, they are basically talking about that book: the Qur’an. For, that is where Muslims get much of their Islam from. They get it from the Qur’an.
At least they should. Otherwise it is not Islam.
So, let us talk a bit more about that book – the Qur’an. Let us take another peek at what the Qur’an is. And at what it is not. At what it does, and what it does not.
That the Qur’an is a book is beyond question. Because that is what the Qur’an calls itself: a book. It also refers to itself as “The Book.” And as “That Book.”
Centuries before the world in general woke up to the joy and power of reading, this book gave itself the name of “The Qur’an,” which in the Arabic language means “something to read,” or “that which is read” or simply “Reading!”
This is not its admirers and followers calling it, but the Qur’an itself referring to itself by these names. A most remarkable thing in itself.
An Illiterate Man Produces a Book? How Probable Is That?
And then add to this the fact that this book was given to us by a man who could not himself read or write, this book becomes all the more remarkable and intriguing.
It becomes a miracle.
For, how can an illiterate man produce a written compendium that he then proceeds to call The Book and The Reading? In other words, how can fire come out of water? And how can Not-A produce A?
So, that is what the Qur’an is: a miracle from God Almighty that God sent at the hands of an illiterate man to educate, teach, help and guide all of humanity. It belongs to anyone who would read it, reflect on it, believe in it, embrace it and claim it as his or her own.
Not a Book of, for and by Muslims
That means the Qur’an is not a book of the Muslims, for the Muslims and by the Muslims. But rather a book directly from God Almighty to all of his creation!
Nor is the Qur’an the work of Prophet Muhammad, may God’s blessings be upon him and upon all the prophets of God such as Moses, Jesus, David, Solomon, Jacob, Abraham and others.
But rather, the Qur’an is the book of God Almighty to all of his creation.
That is the first misunderstanding that must be cleared about the Qur’an: that it is a Muslim book or a human creation.
And it is an important distinction that people need to keep in mind – Muslims as well as non-Muslims: the Qur’an is God’s book for all creation.
And let us not forget that it is not a question of who makes what kind of assertions and statements about the Qur’an, but what the Qur’an itself says about itself. The Qur’an makes this point over and over again that it is directly from God.
And that it is guidance, light and blessing for all of humanity. And that it is a cure for all that ails the human heart.
In short, the Qur’an is the book of life from the maker of life on how human beings should spend their life on their earthly abode that God Almighty created for them.
Content of the Qur’an
Qur’an is about God and his creation and about God’s ways with his creation.
It is about the beginning and end of human life in this world and about its continuation in the next world. It is about what human beings need to know and do to live a rich, happy and meaningful life on earth; to continue their bliss, joy and felicity in the hereafter; and to earn and merit the pleasure, blessing and grace of their maker and master in both worlds.
Not in all the minute little details and specifics. But in big, broad principles.
Thus the overall content of the Qur’an is God and his creation. And it is about any and everything else, if you can think of anything else other than God and his creation, which naturally you cannot.
Qur’an is the natural heir to all other divine books that God sent down through the prophets to all other nations, tribes, cultures and peoples in all other times and places – May God Almighty bless all his prophets and messengers. Thus, believing in the Qur’an means, and requires, believing equally in all the other books of God that were ever revealed and sent down in this world.
Thus, no one can be Muslim, or a believer in the Qur’an, without at the same time believing in all the other divine books, just as no one can be a Muslim or a believer in Prophet Muhammad without believing equally in all the other prophets of God – May God Almighty bless them all.
God Almighty is one, says the Qur’an. He has neither a parent nor an offspring, says the Qur’an. There is nothing and no one like him, says the Qur’an.
God is truth, says the Qur’an.
According to the Qur’an, God is love, beauty and grace, just as he is also a God of wrath, power and vengeance. He confers upon humans all they need. But he also holds them accountable for what they do or don’t do – both here in this world up to a point, certainly after death in full measure.
Sin, says the Qur’an, is individually earned by everyone, throughout one’s life, and not automatically inherited at birth by the entire human race. Therefore, says the Qur’an, the only way to God’s forgiveness is for individuals to turn to God directly in repentance, and not through the intermediacy or advocacy of other individuals like themselves, whether they are lay people or part of a priestly hierarchy.
God chose to communicate with human beings through the prophets – May God’s blessings be upon them! Abraham, Noah, Jesus, Moses, David, Solomon and Joseph, and many others in every land and culture and among every people of the world, were all prophets of God on earth. May God Almighty bless them all!
When they lived, they were the guides, teachers, role models and law-givers to their people. They were the way to God, the gateway to heaven. And no one could go to God except through them.
Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him!) was the last prophet of God and his audience was the whole world, for all times to come. His teachings, therefore, combine the timely and relevant teachings of all other prophets of God – May God bless them.
Therefore, to believe in Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him!) is to believe in all the prophets of God everywhere and in every age. Just like to believe in the Qur’an is to believe in every divine book that God ever sent down in this world at any time and in any place.
Not History or Science, yet a Sourcebook for Both
The Qur’an is not a history book, but it provides some of the best insights humanity has about the past. Nor is the Qur’an a science book in the ordinary sense, even though it gave us some of the most advanced laws of modern science as early as the 7th Century.
The Qur’an is not a legal treatise, but it provides the foundation for some of the most important laws by which humanity runs its life today. The Qur’an is not a political, military or economic manual or textbook. But based on all the important principles it lays out in all three of those subject areas, it might have been.
Based on what the Qur’an teaches and where the world was when the Qur’an first made its appearance into this world – over 1400 years ago – it is fair to say that the story of the world, ever since, has been pretty much a story of the world trying to catch up with the Qur’an, albeit reluctantly, grudgingly, at a snail pace and, sadly, without giving the Qur’an any credit or recognition.
Some Salient Teachings of the Qur’an
The Qur’an tells human beings to love God and at the same time also to fear and obey him. And it asks them to treat their parents with respect and their neighbors – even chance encounters – with kindness.
“Fulfill your obligations and contracts!” the Qur’an tells the believers.
The Qur’an commands people to tell the truth and be just and fair to all people under all condition.
The Qur’an says people must work together with others based on what may be common ground among them.
The Qur’an tells the people to cooperate with others in all good things, but refuse to give anyone any cooperation in all things that may be bad. “Do not give anyone your cooperation,” says the Qur’an, “in anything that may be sinful.”
Similarly, says the Qur’an, “Refuse to cooperate with anyone if it is about committing a sin or an act of aggression against others.”
“Read!” is how the Qur’an began its message to the world. Today, after the passage of 14 centuries, the world is living a reading and knowledge dream, if not in the quality at least in the quantity of what it reads.
“How can those who know and those who don’t know be equal?” asks the Qur’an.
“If you don’t know something, go ask those who do,” it says.
Qur’an Literacy: An Urgent Imperative of the Times
Therefore, in the present turbulent times when everyone is saying one thing or another about Islam and Muslims, and about the Qur’an itself, it makes perfect sense for people to pick up a copy of the Qur’an today and read it for themselves.
Since Islam and Muslims have become a world phenomenon in recent past – more than ever before – it is time for the world to become Qur’an literate.
And do so, as the Qur’an says, in the pursuit of truth, fair treatment and justice for all and not for the promotion of personal agendas or for committing verbal, mental, economic, financial, physical or military aggression on others.
© 2007 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.