The Quran frequently refers to issues relating to Truth and lies; distinguishing between them is critical, in many ways the defining point of guidance. In fact, faith itself is predicated on that distinction, the purpose of the Quran and other divine revelations being to guide us to the truth and, as a part of that guidance, to help us recognize and avoid falsehood.
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? Continue reading
The days of Ramadan are flying by with so much to do, so little energy, and no time to write about it. Time and its fleeting nature is a topic the Quran discusses with some frequency, most often in reference to spending some of that time with thikr Allah, thinking about Allah, how we will meet Him in the Hereafter, and what we are doing to be better people, more compassionate and responsible. The difference between faith and denial is enormous——yet manifested in small ways, perhaps the change from one to the other could move a mountain, a change of mindset that may take a matter of seconds… Continue reading
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.Continue reading
The first Sura of the Qur’an is al-Fatiha, or “the Opening.” It is short, consisting of 29 words arranged in seven ayat. Note the word for “verse,” when referring to the Qur’an, is aya (singular) or ayat (plural), and means “sign” or “signs.” This carries the sense of “miracle” as it does in English.Continue reading
Note on 114 chambers: this stands for the 114 Suras of the Qur’an, which we shall see, during the course of this study, are arranged in the Qur’an in a very meaningful way. One can think of them, roughly, as chambers such as one sees in the chambered nautilus shell. This graphic comparison can be used as an aid to memorization as well as a gateway to comprehension and appreciation of the meaning and magnificence of this revelation, this message.
For Ramadan, I’ve decided to write an entry every day from my analysis of what I call Qur’anic architecture, that is, the structure and “design,” as well as what one could call “style,” of the Qur’an. As a revelation from Allah in Arabic to all humankind, the approach to this subject shall be one of reverence, but also intense interest in the deeper meaning of its content. Because for a book of this nature, style and content are necessarily closely related, this study is important, especially as I haven’t seen it done before.
The study will begin with some overall, general observations about which there is no issue or controversy, such as the general (and not strictly regular) decrease in length of the Suras from beginning to end, and the repetition of certain words and phrases. We will examine the significance of these and other structural elements carefully, bearing in mind that in this book, all elements are significant, especially the most prominent structural features. And where this will take us can only be, as we shall see, breathtaking.