You are on page 1of 5


Abul A'la Mawdudi

The Quran is the unique book, unlike any other book in the whole world. The Quran is not a book on "religion" in the sense this word is generally understood. That is why when a reader approaches the Quran with the common notions of a book in mind, he is puzzled by its style and manner of presentation. The revelation of the Quran continued for twenty-three years. The different portions of the Quran were revealed according to the requirements of the various phases of slam. t is thus obvious that such a book cannot have the kind of uniformity of style which is followed in formal books on religion and the like.

Introduction !efore the reader begins the study of the Quran, he must bear in mind the fact that it is a unique book" the Quran does not contain information, ideas and arguments about specific themes arranged in a literary order. This is why a stranger to the Quran, on his first encounter with it, is puzzled when he does not find the enunciation of its theme, or a division into chapters and sections, or a separate treatment for different topics and separate instructions for different aspects of life, arranged in a serial order. #ere, rather, is something with which he has not been familiar before and which does not conform to his conception of a book. #e finds that it deals with creeds, gives moral instructions, lays down laws, invites people to slam, admonishes the disbelievers, draws lessons from historical events, administers warnings, offers good tidings, all blended together in a beautiful manner. The same sub$ect is repeated in different ways and one topic follows the other without any apparent connection. %ometimes a new topic crops up in the middle of another without any apparent reason. The speaker and the addressees, the direction of the address, all these change without any notice. #istorical events are presented, yet not as they would be in traditional history books. The problems of philosophy and metaphysics are treated in a manner different from that of the te&tbooks on these sub$ects. 'an and the universe are mentioned in a language different from that of the natural sciences. (ikewise it follows its own method of solving cultural, political, social and economic problems and deals with the principles and in$unctions of law in a manner quite distinct from that of the sociologists, lawyers and $urists. 'orality is taught in a way that has no parallel in the whole literature on the sub$ect. The Quran is not a book on "religion" in the sense this word is generally understood. That is why when a reader approaches the Quran with the common notions of a book in mind, he is puzzled by its style and manner of presentation. #e finds that in many places the background has not been mentioned and the circumstances under which a particular passage was revealed have not been stated. )nd the casual reader is therefore unable to benefit fully from the most precious treasures contained in the Quran, though occasionally he may succeed in discovering a few gems here and there. !ut only those people who are not acquainted with these distinctive features of the Quran become victims of such doubts.

The reader may be saved from all these difficulties, if he is warned beforehand of this essential point* the book he is going to study is the only book of its kind in the whole world" its literary style is quite different from that of all other books. Then, and then alone, can he understand it.

The Divine Guidance +irst of all, the reader should understand the real nature of the Quran. ,hether one believes it to be a revealed book or not, one will have to consider, as a starting point, the claim that it puts forward, as does its bearer, Muhammad -s, peace be upon him., that this is the /ivine 0uidance. Allah, the (ord of the universe, its 1reator, 'aster and %overeign, created man and bestowed upon him the faculties of learning, speaking, understanding and discerning right from wrong and good from evil. #e granted him freedom of choice, freedom of will, freedom of action. #e gave him authority to acquire and make use of the things around him. n short, #e granted him a kind of autonomy and appointed him as #is representative on earth and instructed him to live in accordance with #is 0uidance. ... #e organized all those who accepted the /ivine 0uidance into one community, which in its turn was required to reestablish its collective way of life based on the 0uidance and to e&ert itself to reform the world, which had gone astray. The Qur2an which was revealed to 'uhammad -s. is the !ook which contains that nvitation and that /ivine 0uidance. The SUBJECT it deals with is ')3* it discusses those aspects of his life that lead either to his real success or to his failure. The CENTRAL THEME that runs throughout the Quran is the e&position of the 4eality and the invitation to the 4ight ,ay based upon it. t declares that this 4eality is the same one that was revealed by )llah -%,T. #imself to )dam at the time of his appointment as #is representative, and to all the 'essengers after him. The AIM and BJECT of the revelations is to invite man to that 4ight ,ay and to present clearly the 0uidance, which he has lost because of his negligence, or has perverted by his wickedness. f the reader keeps these three basic things in mind, he will find that in this !ook there is no incongruity in style, no gap in continuity, and no lack of interconnection between its various topics. )s a matter of fact, this !ook is never irrelevant with regard to its %ub$ect, its 1entral Theme and its )im... That is why it states or discusses or cites a sub$ect only to the e&tent relevant to its aims and ob$ects and leaves out unnecessary and irrelevant details, returning over and over again to its 1entral Theme and to its invitation around which every other topic revolves. ,hen the Quran is studied in this light, no doubt is left that the whole of it is a closely reasoned argument and that there is continuity of sub$ect throughout the !ook. The St!le The revelation of the Quran continued for twenty-three years. The different portions of the Quran were revealed according to the requirements of the various phases of slam. t is thus obvious that such a book cannot have the kind of uniformity of style, which is followed in formal books on religion and the like. t should also be kept in mind that the various portions of the Quran, both long and short, were not meant to be published in the form of pamphlets at the time of their revelation, but were to be delivered as addresses and promulgated as such. They could not therefore, be in the style of the written word. 'oreover, these addresses were necessarily of a different nature from that of 2

the lectures of a professor. The 5rophet -s. was entrusted with a special mission and had to appeal both to the emotions and to the intellect" he had to deal with people of different mentalities, cope with different situations and various sets of e&periences during the course of his mission. #e also has to train and reform his followers and to imbue them with spirit and courage, to refute the arguments of opponents and to e&pose their moral weaknesses.

This also e&plains why the same issues are repeated over and over again in the Quran. ) mission and a movement naturally demand that only those topics should be presented which are required at a particular stage and that nothing should be said about the requirements of the ne&t stage. %o the same instructions are covered again and again as long as slam remains in the same stage. 6f course, they have been differently worded and styled to avoid monotony, and couched in beautiful and dignified language to make them impressive as well as effective. 'oreover, it repeats at suitable places the basic creed and principles in order to keep slam strong at every stage. )ll the surahs of the Quran contain references to its basic creed* the 7nity of )llah -%,T., #is attributes, the #ereafter, and accountability, punishment and reward, 5rophet hood, and belief in the !ook. They all teach piety, fortitude, endurance, faith and trust in )llah -%,T. because these virtues could not be neglected at any stage of slam. f any of these bases had been weakened at any stage in even the slightest way, the slamic 'ovement could not have made any progress in its true spirit.

Com"ilation )llah -%,T. ,ho revealed the Quran #imself made arrangements for its safety and security forever. 3o sooner was a passage of the Quran revealed that it was recorded on leaves of date-palm, the bark of trees, bones, at the dictation of the 5rophet -s. and all these pieces were put in a bag. !esides this, some of his 1ompanions themselves wrote these pieces for their own use. )t the same time, the 'uslims committed these passages to memory as they had to recite them during %alat 8obligatory prayers to )llah, the (ord of the universe9, a prescribed practice from the very beginning of slam. !ut immediately after his death, an event occurred that necessitated this work. ) furious storm of apostasy broke out and many of the 1ompanions, who went to war to suppress it, were killed. )mong these martyrs were some of the men who had committed the whole of the Quran to memory. %o it occurred to #Umar -ra, blessings be upon him. that necessary steps should be taken to preserve the Quran intact in its original form against any and every danger and that it was not wise to depend e&clusively upon those who had learnt it by heart. #e tried to impress the necessity of this step on A$u Ba%r -ra. 8died about two years after the 5rophet9 who at first showed hesitation in doing what the 5rophet -s. had not done. !ut after some discussion, he too agreed. )ccordingly, he entrusted the work to :aid bin Thabit -ra. who also hesitated at first, like )bu !akr -ra., and for the same reason. !ut at last he was convinced and he undertook this historic work. :aid -ra. was best qualified for this work. #e had frequently acted as scribe to the 5rophet -s. and was one of those 1ompanions who had learnt the Qur2an directly from him. #e was also present on the occasion when the 5rophet -s. recited the whole of the completed Qur2an to angel 0abriel. )rrangements were consequently made to collect and gather all the written pieces of the Qur2an left by the 5rophet -s. along with those in possession of his 1ompanions. Then, with the cooperation of those 1ompanions who had memorized the whole or any part of the Qur2an word for word, all the 3

written pieces were compared with each other for verification" :aid -ra. would not take down anything in his manuscript unless all three sources tallied with one another. Thus was compiled one correct, authenticated and complete copy. This authenticated copy of the whole Qur2an was kept in the house at #afsah -ra, blessings be upon her" she was ;7mar;s daughter and one of the wives of the 5rophet.. t was proclaimed that anyone who so desired, might make a copy of it or compare it with the copy he already possessed...

)t several places, the Qur<n speaks of itself as a !ook. +or e&ample, in %urah 'uzammil, an early 'akki revelation, )llah -%,T. says to the 5rophet -s., ".... recite the Qur<n in order .... " -(== * >.. This also shows that the Qur2an was meant to be a book from the beginning of the revelation and a book must follow some order. The Qur<n, which is now in use all over the world, is the e&act copy of the Qur<n which was compiled under )bu !akr;s order and copies of which were officially sent by ;7thman -ra. to different locations. ?ven today many very old copies are found in big libraries in different parts of the world. ) skeptic might entertain a doubt about its revelation from )llah -%,T., but none can have any doubt whatsoever regarding its authenticity, immunity and purity from any kind of addition, omission or alteration, for there is nothing so authentic in all of human history as this fact about the Qur<n, that it is the same Qur<n that was presented to the world by the 5rophet -s.. http*