Islam – A Compulsory 'Read'
February 9, 2001/May 30,
To establish human
life in some satisfying and meaningful relations to the universe in
which mankind finds himself, and to get some wisdom in the conduct
of human affairs is the juncture that modern man discovers himself.
An Islamic perspective is quite impressive in its scope and a
commendable attempt at putting in a bold belief of the authentic
theory and practice of self-discovery and knowledge.
fundamental questions and must set the basis for a creative standard
and how mankind can relate to the setting of these standards and
where to find these impressive scopes and practise. The criteria and
guide is explored from the Noble Qur`an and the life of our blessed
Rasul (S) and how we interpret his Seerah (history).
Further, to understand the relationship that one should have with
his Creator and how one can realize and act upon it.
The first, five
verses revealed to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (S) sets the basis
of mankind’s relationship with the Almighty and the form of
capacity, which the creator endowed him with, namely, to read. The
intellectual capacity of mankind can be transformed into a creative
process, which set the tone for writing, recording and researching.
the name of thy Lord and Cherisher Who created-
Created man out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood -
Read! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, -
He Who taught (The use of) the Pen, -
Taught man that which he knew not.”
or proclamation of ‘Iqra’ i.e., to read, in the name of Allah the
Creator. The divine injunction in the first verses, to read lays
undeniable emphasis on the creative capacity of mankind which the
Creator has endowed him with. The command of the original verses
revealed to the Prophet (S) transformed him, from an Ummi
(illiterate) to a being of great knowledge and insight.
These five verses
of Surah Alaq (The Clot) is the foundational approach that
Allah used to teach the Prophet (S) of Islam and the extent to which
capabilities and potential that were endowed within him could be
nourished. The implication and intention of this knowledge leads to
a broad spectrum of understanding that Allah taught mankind which he
could be familiar with.
According to these
five verses, The Almighty gave mankind creative tools, which can
guide him towards the real goal of finding harmony in his affairs.
Allah equipped mankind with an internal compass that recognises the
essential rule to do everything in His name. This quest is eternal
and the command of proclaiming or reading in the name of the Lord,
acknowledges that through belief and faith elucidates Islam as the
path of knowledge and the path of success. ‘Iqra’ or to read with
the clear intention of belief is the type of tools necessary for the
perfection of the human capability.
Allah endowed mankind with the five outer senses for observation and
empirical study and action. For a deeper understanding of the senses
Allah has also endowed man with five inner senses. The understanding
of the inner senses require thought, method and structure as one
becomes aware of the combination of the inner and outer senses.
The five inner
sense are termed as, common sense, imagination, that
us to give value to forms or attributes, the faculty of memory and
lastly, the faculty of thinking or cognition. (Refer Shaykh
Fadhlalla Haeri’s book
of the Self’
for further details regarding the inner senses).
of one’s capacity enhances the understanding of the purpose of
mankind’s journey through life. The gift of these senses is
seemingly the quest for mankind to utilise these tools to define and
seek knowledge in all its shape and forms to understand the signs of
Allah, which, is centred in the concept of Tawheed (the Unity
Allah has equipped mankind with ‘Aql’ i.e. the reason for deduction
and rationalization and not for its ends but to understand the
reason of his creation. To learn and attain perfection, which will
guide him to his aspiration and goal. The product of ‘read’ produces
harmony through the teachings of the Pen, which further implies
reading, writing, study, research, books and knowledge.
The idea of
reading in the name of the Lord distinguishes the world-view from
all other outlooks and ideologies. No other world-view makes the
pursuit of knowledge, an individual and social obligation, and gives
enquiry the same moral and religious significance as worship. The
tools which Allah has endowed mankind is to find a synthesis through
an array of principles and notions into a single unified
understanding of the basic features of the world-view of Islam.
knowledge without action has been described as a tree without fruit.
Contemplative thought and reflection in Islamic spirituality are
essential ingredients to provide knowledge that guides and relates
the seeker to higher modes of being. The Prophet of Islam’s quest
for the truth, through meditation and contemplation in the cave of
Hira are beautiful examples of a beginning process of
searching for the truth. The Prophet of Islam translated the process
of inquiry, establishing the truth and a virtuous character into a
Allah provided mankind with guidance revealed through the Prophet of
Islam as the ultimate basis of an example. The connotation of ‘Iqra’,
to read, to proclaim are both gifts of divine revelation and
creative aspects of the human spirit. Therefore the rational
behaviour to establish human life in some satisfying and meaningful
relationship is to live according to the guidance, which is
propounded in the Qur`an and the way of Prophet Muhammad (S).
the world can be seen through the Noble Qur`an, which considers all
things to be the signs to the ultimate origin of the world and the
purpose of mankind, which is the love and obedience to the Creator
of the Worlds. It also discusses the universe and places mankind’s
role in perspective from origination to the ultimate end.
In this manner the
two wings of origination and ultimate purpose are revived and
rejuvenated in research carried out about these phenomena. In this
way, the Noble Qur`an turns reading, proclaiming and knowledge into
reason and reason into wisdom. This wisdom becomes a tool of action
and practise to help mankind to live according to the divine decree.
This is the fashion in which the Noble Qur`an coordinates the
finding of theoretical reason with the effort of practical wisdom.
This means that
the guidance of Allah turns a specialist into a man of religion, a
scientific researcher into a practical investigator, a scientific
‘authority into a devotee of the Truth, a technical inventor into a
committed believer, and industrial entrepreneur into a man of faith,
thus transforming raw mind into a seasoned intellectual and humble
In conclusion the
standard of Iqra sets precedence for mankind to develop the
Qur`anic message into a full-blown way of life that transcends time,
space and all fields of knowledge. The various branches of
knowledge, philosophy, ethics, the fine arts, linguistics,
architecture, etc, and the standards of recording History, the
Natural Sciences – botany, zoology, chemistry, physics and through
deductive thinking, inductive thinking, discussion and practise must
realize and fulfil a quality life through the love and worship of
the Almighty Creator.
‘Ibadah’ – the
worship of Allah has always been through His divine Guidance and He
has never left us alone and as long as humanity remains within the
boundaries of Compassion and the moral and intellectual courtesy to
Allah, then the world can be under one’s feet.
We must improve
and check and recheck our closeness to our Creator as our primary
objective so that we can then have more expectation of Him and
through correct action and the correct prescription we can realize
the Dual Falah – Prospering in this world and in the
The first five verses of Surah Alaq revealed to the Prophet
(S) of Islam illustrate that the tools mankind has been endowed
with, originate from the same source from which the guidance came.
Therefore the emphasis of our judgement and action is to maintain a
balance as a bondsman to the Creator – The Rabb (The Lord).
The conclusion lies in the recognition, acknowledgment and the
unconditional submission to the oneness of Allah (swt) and
therefore the command to, “Read in the name of thy Lord who