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Fatwas: Part Twenty-Six
Fatwas: Part Three
À propos de notre émission YouTube «Quranic Moments»: Un appel addressé à nos chers coranistes
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Fatwas Part One-Hundred-and-Seventy-Two
An Article Commenting on our Previous One Titled "Would Hurricanes Striking the USA Be Considered as Signs of the Divine Wrath?!"
The Big Criminals, or Clergymen of Satan, Are the Taghut and an Abomination Which Must Be Avoided
Satan and the Wrong Assumptions of Human Beings
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Kaddafi and Ourselves: A Testimony for the Sake of History
Islam Is the Valuable Religion of Higher Values, Unlike the Vile, Lowly, Man-Made Religions of the Muhammadans
“Appointment with Education”
The Night When Muhammad Died
Syrian Refugees and the Lost Right of Travellers
The Qur'an-the specific feature of Islam
What the power of Islam is based on

                                  What the power of Islam is based on

It was always a fundamental Christian misunderstanding of Islam to think that the Prophet occupied the same position in Islam as Jesus Christ in Christianity. This misunderstanding was emphasized by the designation of Islam as 'Mohammedanism' and the Muslims as 'Mohammedans'. Muslims rightly repudiate such designations. In Christianity one can say, with the words of the Prologue of the Gospel of John, 'The Word has been made f1esh; God's Word and Wisdom has 'incarnated' itself in a human being, Jesus of Nazareth.

However, in Islam one cannot say this sort of thing about the Prophet Muhammad, and no Muslim has. Here, rather, God's Word has become a book. That, by way of anticipation, gives the basic answer to the question of the cen¬tre of Islam: for Muslims the specific character of their religion is that the Qur'an is God's word.

 The Qur'an-the specific feature of Islam
'In the name of God (bi-smi llah), the Most Gracious (ar-rahman), the Dispenser of Grace (ar-rahim). All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds, the Most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace, Lord of the Day of Judgment! You alone do we worship; and unto You alone do we turn for aid. Guide us the straight way-the way of those upon whom You has bestowed Your blessings, not of those who have been condemned, nor of those who go astray.

So runs the first chapter (surah) of the Qur'an, 'the opening' (al-fatihah), which also regularly introduces Muslim mandatory prayer. Some classical and contemporary Muslim authors see in it the foundation, the sum and the quintessence of the Qur'an: 'It (the opening) contains, in a condensed form, all the fundamental principles laid down in the Qur'an: the principle or God's oneness and uniqueness, of His being the originator and fosterer or the universe, the fount of all life-giving grace; the One to whom man is ultimately responsible, the only power that can really guide and help; the call to righteous action in the life of this world; the principle of life after death and of the organic consequences of man's actions and behavior; the principle of guidance through God's message-bearers and, flowing from it, the principle of the continuity of all true religions; and, finally the need for voluntary self-surrender to the will of the Supreme Being and, thus, for worshipping him alone.

The Qur'an-an Arabic, living, holy book
The Qur'an (al-Qur'an) is the centre of Islam. The Qur'an is the origin, source and norm of all that is Islamic, all Islamic faith, action and life. It is given the high¬est, absolute, authority. Western sociologists, political theorists, philologists and historians must take seriously what the Qur'an means in the lives of believing Muslims.
For Muslims the Qur'an is not a relic of the past. It is a living, holy book in Arabic. Every word in this description is important.
The Qur'an-an Arabic, living, holy book
The Qur'an (al-Qur'an) is the centre of Islam. The Qur'an is the origin, source and norm of all that is Islamic, all Islamic faith, action and life. It is given the high¬est, absolute, authority. Western sociologists, political theorists, philologists and historians must take seriously what the Qur'an means in the lives of believing Muslims.
For Muslims the Qur'an is not a relic of the past. It is a living, holy book in Arabic. Every word in this description is important.
- It is a book. That has the advantage that every believer knows where he is.
Here is everything that God has revealed directly. Here one can unequivocally hold on to what God wills. So nothing can be changed here. On the contrary, the Muslim is to stamp everything on his memory as early as possible, as a school child. This book proclaims 'Islam', 'submission to God'; it regulates the life of Muslims and teaches them their obligations.
- It is one book. Unlike the Hebrew Bible, the Qur'an is not a collection of very different writings which to the outsider initially seem to have no common denominator. Nor is it like the New Testament, which offers its message in four very different Gospels that contradict one another in many details and are confession of faith is spoken in their ear, to their last hour, when the words of the Qur'an accompany them into eternity. By hearing, memorizing and reciting, Muslims both confess God's revelation and make it their own. Some Muslims, who began learning as children, know the whole Qur'an by heart; they have the honorary title 'guardian, preserver' (hafiz).

When the Qur'an is presented beautifully with dedication it can fascinate a Muslim, much as the words of a good preacher can fascinate a Christian or the singing of a gifted can¬tor can a Jew. Anyone who hears the German translation of the famous chapter (surah) 97 about the sending down of the Qur'an, poetically assimilated to the Arabic text by Friedrich Ruckert, can have some inkling of the aesthetic quality of Qur'anic Arabic:

97:1-5 “ We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power: And what will explain to you what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees. Peace until the rising of the dawn.”
- It is a holy book. The Qur'an is not a book like any other, that one can also touch with dirty hands and read in an unclean spirit. It is not a profane book, but sacred through and through and therefore omnipresent. Impressively aesthetic, written in different scripts, the copies of the Qur'an tower above all else; they are often housed in precious bindings and usually decorated with colored patterns. The Muslim house of God, the mosque, has no pictures-the calligraphy of the Qur'an is enough. Muslim worship has neither instruments nor choral singing-the recitation of the Qur'an is music enough. For Muslims the Qur'an is, in Christian terms, word and sacrament in one, a word which can be heard and seen, giving spiri¬tual guidance, warning and admonition and bringing about recollection and discernment-all this in an incomparable way, because it comes directly from God. It is not only 'inspired' by God but 'revealed' by God and therefore directly 'the words of God' (kalimat Allah).
How are we to think of a book on earth being God's word? Muslims see few problems here, at any rate far fewer than when Christians claim that a human being is God's word. To accept one or the other is ultimately a matter of faith, but for Muslims, as for Christians, it is a matter not of a blind faith but of an understanding faith.
The Qur'an-Gad's word We sometimes read that the Qur'an is the holy scripture of Islam, which con¬tains the revelations of the Prophet Muhammad. That is correct, but is ambigu¬ous for Muslims: does 'revelations of the Prophet Muhammad' mean that the Prophet is the subject and the author of this revelation? As the Qur'an under¬stands it, certainly not! The Prophet is nothing but an object, the one to whom this revelation is addressed, and the subject and author is the one God alone. The revelation indicates how this is to be thought of. At the beginning of the Joseph chapter (surah) God tells the prophet:
97:1-5 'These are messages of a revelation clear in itself and clearly showing the truth: behold, We have bestowed it from on high as a discourse in the Arabic tongue, so that you might encompass it with your reason. In the measure that We reveal this Qur'an unto you, We explain it to you in the best possible way, seeing that ere this you were not indeed among those who are unaware [of what revelation is”.
It is historically certain that between 610 and 632 Muhammad proclaimed the prophetic message set down in the Qur'an in the Arab trading cities of Mecca and Medina on the incense road. According to his own words-and here an appeal is made to faith-the Qur'an was transmitted to the Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel:

2:79 “….Jibrael (Gabriel), for indeed he has brought it (this Qur'ân) down to your heart by Allâh's Permission, confirming what came before it and guidance and glad tidings for the believers.”
The Muslim view, the original book the mother of the Book: (umm al-kitab), which is regarded as the original of all holy scriptures, is not kept on earth but in heaven, as one can read in the Qur'an itself:

56:77-80 “ Most surely it is an honored Quran, In a book that is protected, None shall touch it save the purified ones, A revelation by the Lord of the worlds.”

Thus God's word has become book: in the 'night of power' (laylat al-qadr )¬ solemnly commemorated in the fasting month of Ramadan-Muslims cele¬brate the revelation of the Qur'an, sent down by God to human beings for 'guidance'. Where in Christianity there is the divine Logos who has become human, in Islam there is the word of God which has become book:

2:185 “The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur’an was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction;, and as the stan¬dard by which to discern the true from the false.”

So the Qur'an manifests itself as the constant foundation of Islam that we have been looking for, its normative basic concept, its driving force. As the foundation document of God's final revelation, the Qur'an has deeply stamped all areas of Islam. What the Torah means for Jews and Christ for Christians, the Qur'an means for Muslims: 'the way, the truth and the life'.

Indeed for all Muslims the Qur'an is: the truth: the original source of the experience of God and piety and the mandatory criterion of right faith; the way: the true possibility of coping with the world and the eternally valid standard for correct action (ethic);
the life: the abiding foundation of Islamic law and the soul of Islamic prayer, already the material for the instruction of Muslim children, the inspiration of Islamic art and the all-permeating spirit of Islamic culture.

The Qur'an is at the same time a religious, ethical and legal-social codex, which however is only the way, the truth and the life to the degree that it is the word of God. That the Qur'an is the word of God has important consequences: it is marked by divine attributes. According to Muslim teaching, the Qur'an is:
- linguistically perfect: through the Qur'an, Arabic has attained the status of a divine language which is holy and exalted, without defect and unevenness’s, but not without mysteries which interpreters can never decipher completely;
- unique, inimitable and unsurpassable: for Muslims the Qur'an is a miracle which transcends human capacities. The Qur'an itself tells us that unbelievers could not produce any similar writing, not even ten chapters (surahs), indeed not even one. Therefore the Prophet does not need any miracles to authenticate himself, since the Qur'an itself is one great miracle of authentication;
- untranslatable: every young Muslim has to learn the Qur'an by heart in Arabic.
But as this is impossible in practice, translations have to be used, which people prefer to call interpretations or paraphrases. In fact, with its rhythm and rhyming words the Qur'an is extraordinarily difficult to translate. Translations by Muslims usually have the Arabic text printed in parallel;
- infallible and absolutely reliable: as the revelation was given to the Prophet word for word, it must be free from all errors and also free from all Muhammad as its recognized spiritual and secular head.

On the one hand these chapters (surahs) attack the polytheism of the pagans, but on the other they ward off the claims of Jesus and Christians. Stylistically they are not very different from the chapters (surahs) of the third Meccan period, but they contain numerous laws, ritual pre¬cepts and administrative ordinances. There can be no uncertainty as to what the central message of the Qur'an is, down the centuries and also today. Muslim faith is rooted in it.

The Qur' an as the Islamic constant
The Qur' an is more than a word that has been handed down orally and so can easily be changed. It is the written word set down once and for all, which therefore cannot be changed. Being fixed in writing has ensured the Qur'an an amazing constancy in the changing and varied history of Islam from century to century, from land to land, from gener¬ation to generation, from person to person. What has been written remains written.

Although it was shaped by the Muslim community, the Qur'an in fact created that community and remains the foundation-stone of its faith and its morality. Many of its verses were circumstantially determined by the social and religious conditions and questions of the Prophet's society; yet the Qur'an is believed to transcend all considerations of time and space. In all the different interpretations, com¬mentaries, social orders, ideologies and systems, in all the shaping of Islamic law, the Shariah, the Qur'an remains the common denominator: the green thread which seems to be woven into all Islamic forms, rites and institutions.

If we want to know not only what the Islam is that has grown up through history but also what normative Islam is, we cannot avoid going back to the origin, the Qur'an of the seventh century, recognized by all Islamic groups as divine reve¬lation. For Islam and its legislation it approximates to a God-given constitution, a revealed basic law, which cannot be interpreted randomly, despite the breadth of interpretation depending on place, time and person.

The Qur'an has not predetermined the development of Islam, but time and again has inspired it a new. It has permeated the whole of the religious law and shaped jurisprudence and mysticism, art and people's general attitude to life. Commentators have come and gone, but the Qur'an remains: given the many variables in space and time, it is the great constant in Islam. If we want to answer the question raised in the introduction, that is, what the power of Islam is based on, then we will have primarily to point to the Qur'an. It is the main source and criterion of Muslim faith and action. It communicates to Islam ethical obliga¬tion, external dynamics and religious depth but also quite specific convictions of faith, and ethical principles which have constantly been maintained: human responsibility before God, social justice and Muslim solidarity.

Thus the Qur'an is the holy book of Islam, understood not as a human word that has been written down, but quite pragmatically as the word of God.

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