ON THE QUR`AN
Chapter 2: Surat Al-Baqarah
Mahmoud Ayoub, Ph.D
Professor of Islamic Studies
Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.
Say: Were the sea to be ink for the words of my Lord, the sea
would be exhausted before the words of my Lord are exhausted,
even if We brought the like of it to add [thereto].
The Qur`an 18:109
Qur`an is the transcendent Word of the Transcendent Lord, Creator
and Sustainer of all things. With it, creation began when God took
our covenant with the question: 'Am I not your Lord?' (Qur`an
7:172). With it, history began, when He announced to the angels:
'Behold, I am about to set a representative (khalīfah) on
earth!' In it, history will continue its cosmic journey from the
multiplicity of things and names to the One, when 'the earth shall
shine forth with the Light of its Lord', and the eternal voice of
the Ever-Living and All-Sovereign Lord shall challenge all creation:
'To whom shall all dominion today belong?' The resounding answer
will then echo: 'To God, the One, the All-Conquering!' Yet, God in
His infinite mercy willed that His timeless Word, the Qur`an, should
enter into our finite history to shape and guide it to its
fulfillment on a day when He alone shall be King and Master.
The Qur`an, which we write in our books (masāhif), preserve
in our hearts and recite with our tongues, was sent down onto the
heart of Allah's (Allah in Arabic means God) beloved servant and
Messenger, Muhammad, may God's blessing and mercy rest forever on
him, his family and his righteous Companions.
The science of writing, understanding and interpreting the Qur`an
has occupied the best minds of the Muslim ummah (community)
throughout its long history. The fruits of these labors are
contained in the vast literature of tafsīr (interpretation).
The Qur`an, in its inner and infinite dimensions, is known only to
God. Yet, to the Prophet and the chosen few of his followers, the
veils were removed, and they were able to touch the inner mysteries
of the Qur`an with their purified hearts and minds, 'for none but
the pure shall touch it.' The righteous friends of God (awliyā
Allah al-sālihīn), who purified their hearts in this ocean of
knowledge, left for us allusions and glimpses to guide us in our
journey (sulūk) to Allah.
Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri's commentaries are dedicated to the task of
making the Qur`an available to the men and women of the present age,
that they may contemplate, understand and be guided by it in their
daily lives, and in their spiritual quest. He has undertaken to
present the Qur`an in Arabic, its original language, and to study
its inner and outer meanings. The present work, in addition,
presents the Qur`an in both its exoteric and historical dimension
and its inner dimension to the Western reader. In the task of tafsīr
(interpretation), standard works in this field will be used, but in
ways that are relevant to the present age and its needs. This volume
is the first of five volumes aimed at achieving this objective.
The Qur`an must speak to the condition of every age -- this it can
most effectively do through an inner and primary exposition of its
revelations. Thus, through the reflection of Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri,
as God shall illuminate his heart, the inner dimension of the Qur`an
will be touched.
Work! For God Alone shall see your work, His Messenger, and the
people of faith. In Him alone do we trust, for with Him is right
guidance, and to Him shall be our return.
The Qur`an 9:105