After hearing so much horrific news about happenings in the Muslim world, particularly the oppressive actions of dictators who torture Innocent citizens— men, women, and children — and prevent Muslims from worshipping in mosques, as well as the slaughter of innocent civilians and destruction of their homes and lives by armies, police, and whole governments, I paced for hours in a state of unbearable rage, until the time came for salat al-asr (afternoon worship).
How divine revelations are sent to humankind is very clearly elucidated in the Qur’an, and is in stark contrast to the idea of “inspiration.” It begins with the powerful and very physical “sending down,”
Here we come to a crucial element of the Qur’an: the significance of these two names, Al-Rahman — The Almighty — and Al-Raheem — The All-Merciful, two names that are in a sense opposite in meaning, but dynamically interrelated in the context of the One who alone fits these names altogether, Allah.
One of the controversial points regarding Islam these days is the name Allah. Perhaps one could say, not that “there is more than meets the eye,” but that “there is more *in* what meets the eye.”
The Qur’an is usually interpreted and studied based directly on the meanings of the ayat, just as one interprets any other book. Style, appearance, frequency of occurrence of specific phrases and words, the appearance of individual letters at the beginning of some Suras (“Quranic Initials”), and even the more symbolic meaning of certain narratives, such as the lives of prophets, and “graphic” elements such as the physical appearance of letters or size of Suras, are rarely studied with an eye to discover their importance or meaning in the Qur’an.
After looking at Al-Fatiha, the first Sura of the Qur’an, it’s time to go back to the overall structure, to see if we can find meaning and purpose in it.
Continuing from Day 1 of Ramadan with al-Fatiha, we shall begin to look at the structure of this Sura, guided by its unique significance and characteristics.