Most people think of reason as associated with science and philosophy, not religion. Religion is associated with faith, which in turn is usually seen as opposed to reason, based on “leaps of faith” that circumvent reason or logical thought in order to jump to a religiously acceptable conclusion about important and basic questions that deal with the meaning and purpose of life. Yet here we find that the Quran enjoins Muslims to think, use their minds, to reason, and make an effort to comprehend. This is not a religion of blind faith.
The five pillars of Islam are widely known in the Muslim world to refer to first, a declaration (literally “I bear witness”) that there is no God but Allah, and that Mohammad is His Prophet. The name Allah is the Arabic Word for God and does not mean some other “deity.” The second pillar is the establishment of daily salat, referring to a form of worship often translated as “prayer,” but with specific protocols such as a direction to face and exact times of day to be performed. The third pillar is the zakat, which refers to a portion of one’s income to be paid to charity set aside specifically for the poor. The fourth is to fast for the month of Ramadan, and the fifth is performance of the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in one’s lifetime if able. But there is a sixth important pillar missing from this list: reading the Quran.
Although we may read from any part of the Quran we wish and take from it wisdom, the Quran is an inviolable whole in a more profound sense, which is important to take into account in trying to understand it. The Quran is unique in being utterly comprehensive in scope, free of contradictions or confusion, presented with great clarity for ordinary people to understand, easy to remember, and of the utmost integrity, both in the sense of being well-integrated and in the sense of being unimpeachable. If one thinks about it, these qualities are mind-boggling. But how can all this fit into a relatively small book, commonly printed at slightly over 600 pages of Arabic text?
Since the Quran is the final Revelation from God in the line of prophets from Abraham to Mohammad, including Solomon, Moses, and Jesus, it would follow that this book, sent with Prophet Mohammad to “al-aalameen” or “all the worlds,” is one we should attempt to understand. And since it is also the only revealed Book that still exists in the original language, in this case Arabic, it is also important to preserve the original and the understanding of its meaning. But there is a conflict here…