The Quran Only Means What Our Wisdom and Intentions Dictate

Holy Quran
The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles about the holy Quran

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

The former Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy in a case that has undermined Indonesia’s reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam, in May of 2017.

Ahok said he would appeal against the guilty verdict and sentence.

The five-judge panel said he was “convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy” and ordered his arrest.

Ahok was elected as governor in 2014 and at the time of his reelection in 2016, the right wing Muslim politicians in Indonesia used the following verse to dissuade masses from voting for a Christian.

O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. And whoso among you takes them for friends is indeed one of them. Verily, Allah guides not the unjust people. (Al Quran 5:51/52)

They argued that if the Muslims cannot be good friends with the Christians how can they have a Christian as their governor?

Ahok suggested alternate explanations for this verse and his comments became the grounds of a blasphemy charge against him eventually.  According to the Jakarta Post, he had previously commented on the Quranic verse in his book written in 2008. He also spoke of the verse at an event conducted by a political party and in some interviews with television stations, Kompas TV and Al Jazeera.

Now, let me describe the essence of the message of the Holy Quran towards people of other faiths. Allah wants us to be kind and nice to them, except those who are belligerent and want to make us homeless:

Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable.
Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors. (Al Quran 60:8-9/9-10)

These verses we believe are the ground for our compassionate and just interaction with all of humanity, without consideration of their religion.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr translates the verse of the holy Quran that became pivotal in the politics of Indonesia as follows:

O you who believe! Take not Jews and  Christians as protectors. They are the protectors of one another. And whosoever takes them as protectors, surely he is of them. Truly God guides not wrongdoing people. (Al Quran 5:51/52)

A simple change in translation from ‘friend,’ to ‘protector,’ and reading this in the light of the fundamental verses from chapter 60 quoted above, makes a dramatic difference.  Now the verse has a limited context of the political engagement between the Muslim state as it was evolving under the leadership of the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, and the non-Muslim powers around.

We believe that we need to grasp what is fundamental in the holy Quran and for that matter in any book or writing and not go after the allegorical. Let the fundamental define the allegorical and not vice versa. The Quran says:

He it is Who has sent down to you (Muhammad) the Book; in it there are verses that are fundamental or decisive in meaning — these are the corner stone of the Book — and there are others that are susceptible of different interpretations. But those in whose hearts is perversity pursue those that are susceptible of different interpretations, seeking discord and wrong interpretation of such ambiguous verses. And none knows their right interpretation except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge; they say, ‘We believe in it; the whole is from our Lord.’ — And none heed except those gifted with understanding. (3:7/8)

So, what is a fundamental teaching?

A fundamental teaching is what is substantiated not from one perspective but from multiple or all angles. It is something which does  not leave the slightest doubt in your heart and mind. It is something that you can easily defend,  no matter who the audience. It is something that you like to preach to your children and you don’t hide from anyone. It is something that is true whether you are on the receiving end or the opposite. It is true whether you are a leader or a follower. It is true whether you are among the ‘haves’ or the ‘have-nots.’ It is not what is preached by one scholar, one leader or one sect of Islam. It is true if it follows the Golden Rule.

It is a fundamental teaching if it fulfills all or a majority of the above conditions.

A fundamental Quranic teaching is one that is not mentioned once or twice in the scripture, rather dozens of times from different angles and perspectives.

Once you have a few fundamentals going for you, you will be able to understand more and more of the Quranic text. The Quran will be made easy for you. You will begin to resolve the apparent conflicts in the Quran. Because your understanding would be in keeping of the Divine understanding and rise above the vulnerability of human inconsistencies and contradictions.

We believe that the verses about compassion and justice in the holy Quran are fundamental. As there are, Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran and scores of verses about justice in human affairs.

We believe that the verses fundamental to the Muslim and the Christian relationship have been quoted above and are:

Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable.
Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors. (Al Quran 60:8-9/9-10)

Some allege that there are some verses that are allegorical and don’t have any decisive meanings. I believe that it is wrong understanding as it is attributing futility to the word of Allah and He is certainly above any such criticism. These verses are indecisive to some but not to Allah or those firmly grounded in knowledge as the second half of the verse 3:7/8 quoted above states.

The Quranic verses may mean one thing to the Islamophobes or for that matter to those who are Islamomaniacs or Islamists and totally something different to those who are firmly grounded in knowledge and wisdom.  The holy Quran states:

And We are gradually revealing of the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers; but it only adds to the loss of the wrongdoers. (Al Quran 17:82/83)

I would like to conclude with the following two verses regarding the Muslim and the Christian interaction:

This day all good things have been made lawful for you. And the food of the People of the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And lawful for you are chaste believing women and chaste women from among those who were given the Book before you, when you give them their dowries, contracting valid marriage and not committing fornication nor taking secret paramours. (Al Quran 5:5/6)

And:

And you shall assuredly find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ to be the nearest of them in love to the believers. That is because amongst them are savants and monks and because they are not proud. (Al Quran 5:82/83)

Suggested Reading

God Is Living, So Why Does Religion Treat God As Dead?

The Holy Quran Does Not Exhaust Any Subject in Any One Chapter

Believing in the Blasphemy Laws is ‘the Real Blasphemy’: But, There is No Worldly Punishment

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