Submitting to God is our voluntary commitment to God but when we have submitted to Him, we have assigned ourselves the greater responsibility to keep our commitment: (46:15). From the above figure, we may think that it is very simple to reach righteousness via belief or to be righteous via believer. But it is not as simple as we think being our life long journey to reach destination. However, the journey that we start with our commitment requires roadmap to use to travel towards our final destination without being lost. God is the Most Merciful and He has provided us with the roadmap describing our ways and means to go straight to the final destination. As Submitters (Muslimeen in Arabic), we know that Quran is the roadmap that navigates to reach our final destination. But we must know and ensure the best use of the roadmap so that we can make every move forward overcoming all obstacles keeping in mind that where there is no pain, there is no gain:
[46:15]…”My Lord, grant me to appreciate the blessings You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and to do the righteous works that please You. Let my children be righteous as well. I have repented to You; I am a submitter.”
Quran is a guidance, clear teachings and the statute book that provides us with opportunity to fulfill our obligations to God and serves as a roadmap for us to reach our destination (2:185). It has multifold directives so that we do not miss any of our moves and turns (39:27 and 12:111):
[2:185] Ramadan which is a month, has been revealed in it the Quran as a guidance for the people, clear proofs of the guidance and the statute book. So whoever among you has witnessed the month, then he should fast in it, and whoever has been ill or on a journey then the prescribed number from other days. God wishes ease for you and He does not wish hardship for you, and that you may complete the number, and that you may glorify God through which He has guided you and that you may appreciate.
[39:27] We have cited for the people every kind of example in this Quran, that they may take heed.
[12:111] In their history, there is a lesson for those who possess intelligence. This is not fabricated Hadith; this (Quran) confirms all previous scriptures, provides the details of everything, and is a guidance and mercy for those who believe.
However, the following are the guidelines that may be helpful for us to understand the Quran to use it effectively as our roadmap while we can get the detailed direction when we study or listen to it carefully knowing literal meaning as well as deriving appropriate divine message from it:
1. God has revealed the Quran with proofs of His authorship of it. If we carefully study the Quran, we may find both logical and physical proofs that He is the author of this book (4:82). Prophet Muhammad wrote the Quran in a chronological order of revelation but not in one book including notes on the arrangement of its physical composition in writing (68:1, 25:5). Not only the text of the Quran but the arrangement and naming of suras in the writing of it are also from God (46:9):
[4:82] Why do they not study the Quran carefully? If it were from other than GOD, they would have found in it numerous contradictions.
[68:1] NuN, the pen, and what they (the people) write.
[25:5] They also said, “Tales from the past that he wrote down; they were dictated to him day and night.”
[46:9] Say, “I (Muhammad) am not different from the messengers, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you. I do not follow except what is revealed to me, and I am not except a clear warner.”
2. Sura 1- Al Fatehah (revelation 5) is given for our prayer as specific words (2:37) while the rest of the Quran from sura 2- Al Baqarah (revelation 87) to sura 114- Al Naas (revelation 21) is for our guidance. You may find logic to justify it, if you carefully examine the substance of sura Al Fatehah as well as the message in the first and second verses of sura Al Baqarah including the sura as a whole. Thus, the Quranic initials, Alif.Laam.Meem is the gate way to access our guidance as the final scripture is designed by God:
[2:37] Then, Adam received from his Lord words, whereby He redeemed him. He is the Redeemer, Most Merciful.
[2:1] Alif. Laam. Meem.
[2:2] That is the scripture, there is no doubt in it, a guidance for the righteous
3. We can be allies of God only through His scripture as God sends scriptures and messengers from time to time to guide the humanity as promised at the time of our descent from the Heaven to the earth (2:38, 20:123). Hence, this is God’s system from the past (7:35) which will continue until the end of the world as His system never changes (17:77):
[2:38] We said, “Go down therefrom, all of you. When guidance comes to you from Me, those who follow My guidance will have no fear, nor will they grieve.
[7:35] O children of Adam, when messengers come to you from among you, and recite My revelations to you, those who take heed and lead a righteous life, will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
[17:77] Such system with all the messengers that we sent before you, and you will not find any changes to our system.
4. God has sent both prophets and messengers but their duties were not the same. Some are chosen and inspired by God to deliver the scriptures to their communities are prophets (2:213, 19:30) while others are chosen and inspired by Him to perform certain duty to their communities are messengers (3:81). By definition, both prophets and messengers delivered God’s message to their communities but the messengers who delivered the scriptures, are referred to prophets. Hence, all prophets are messengers while all messengers are not prophets:
[2:213] The people used to be one community when God sent the prophets as bearers of good news, as well as warners. He sent down with them the Scripture, bearing the truth, to judge among the people in their disputes…
[19:30] He (Jesus) said, “I am a servant of God. He has given me the scripture, and has made me a prophet.
[3:81] And when God took a covenant from the prophets: “Whatever l have given you of the scripture and wisdom. Then, a messenger will come to confirm what is with you. You shall believe in him and support him.” He said, “Do you agree with this, and pledge to fulfill this covenant?” They said, “We agree.” He said, “You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you.”
5. Those who have real trust in God and in the Hereafter will make their utmost efforts to know God’s commands, laws, systems and teachings from the Quran to use it as their guidance to be His testimony:
[6:19] Say, “Which testimony is the greatest?” Say, “God is a witness between me and you, and this Quran has been revealed to me that I may warn you with it and whomever it reaches. Indeed, you bear witness that there are other gods beside God.” Say, “I do not bear witness; He is the Only one god, and I disown what you associate.”
6. Quran is a divine message and none can access it without being blessed by God (17:46, 18:57). God, the Most Gracious being the teacher of the Quran (55:1-2) has made certain requirements for His students: (1) to study it keeping in mind that this is a divine message not just a literature book in Arabic (41:44), (2) to be sincere (56:79) and (3) being freed from the influence of Satan (16:98) for understanding and getting into divine message.
[17:46] And we have placed shields over their hearts, lest they understand it, and a deafness in their ears. And if you mention your Lord in the Quran alone, they turn on their backs in aversion.
[18:57] Who is more wicked than the one who is reminded with his Lord’s revelations but he turns away from them, forgetting what he has with him. Indeed, we have placed veils on their hearts lest they understand it, and deafness in their ears, and if you invite them to the guidance, they will never ever be guided.
[55:1-2] The Most Gracious. Teacher of the Quran.
[41:42] If we made it a non-Arabic Quran they would have said, “Why did it come down in that language?” Whether it is Arabic or non-Arabic, say, “For those who believe, it is a guide and healing. As for those who disbelieve, they will be deaf and blind to it, as if they are being addressed from faraway.”
[56:79] None can grasp it except the sincere.
[16:98] When you read the Quran, you shall seek refuge in God from Satan the rejected.
7. The greatness of the Quran and the night, the whole Quran was placed into prophet’s soul are mentioned in unusual way describing what would happen if it was revealed on mountain (59:21) while the night being better than thousand months (97:3). Thus, there is no command in the Quran for the annual observance of ‘Night of Power’ (Laylatul Qadr) being one time past event except full month of fasting in Ramadan in honor of the light (Quran) sent down on that night. However, the focus on Muhammad except the bearer of the message would make us idol worshipers as he had been blessed just to deliver it (38:70):
[59:21] If we revealed this Quran to a mountain, you would see it trembling, crumbling, out of reverence for God. We cite these examples for the people, that they may reflect.
[97:3] The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months.
[38:70] “I am inspired that my sole mission is to deliver the warnings to you.”
8. Our attention to the order of revelation as well as to the arrangement in the composition of the Quran is important when we interpret its verses to understand the real meaning of them in many cases. The significance of the initial, Alif Lam Meem is explained in earlier revelation 57 (31:1-2) and is used in later revelation 87 (2:1-2) while the advent of a messenger declared in earlier sura (3:81) is confirmed in the later sura (33:7) leaving no room to confuse Muhammad to be this predicted messenger of God:
[31:1-2] Alif. Laam. Meem. This is of signs of the scripture, the wise.
[2:1-2] Alif. Laam. Meem.That is the scripture, there is no doubt in it, a guidance for the righteous.
[3:81] And when God took a covenant from the prophets: “Certainly, whatever l have given you of scripture and wisdom. Then, has come to you a messenger confirming that which is with you. You must believe in him and must support him.” He said, “Have you affirmed and taken My covenant on that?” They said, “We have affirmed.” He said, “Then you shall bear witness and I am with you among the witnesses.”
[33:7] And when we took from the prophets their covenant, and from you (Muhammad), and from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, the son of Mary. And we took from them a solemn pledge.
9. Quran has everything that we need to lead a righteous life as God has assured us that if the oceans were ink, and the trees were made into pens, He would not run out of words (18:109, 31:27). He is the Most Wise and Cognizant (6:18) and He does not forget anything as well (19:64). However, what is in it or what is not in it is done deliberately. Hence, it is God’s mercy that He wants us to follow only what He specified in His revelations, and use our common sense, knowledge and wisdom for the rest of the details of life but He does not want anyone of us to correct Him:
[18:109] Say, “If the sea were ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would run out, before the words of my Lord run out, even if we were to bring another one like it for (ink) supplement.”
[31:27] And if all the trees in the earth were made into pens, and the sea would be (ink), adding seven to it one after another, the words of God would not run out. Indeed, God is Almighty, Most Wise.
[6:18] He is Supreme over His creatures. He is the Most Wise, the Cognizant.
[19:64] We do not come down except by the command of your Lord. To Him belongs our past, our future, and everything between them. Your Lord is never forgetful.
10. God has provided built-in mathematical system in the Quran (74:30 & 74:35) to protect it from any distortion or from entering falsehood in the Quran (15:9, 41:42). Thus, when He has promised to protect it He does not mean that He will send angel to protect it or the human being will not be able to make any change to it:
[74:30] Over it is nineteen.
[74:35] This is one of the great (signs).
[15:9] Indeed, we have revealed the reminder, and indeed, we will certainly be protectors of it.
[41:42] No falsehood could enter it, in the past or in the future; a revelation from a Most Wise, Praiseworthy.
11. The Quran has confirmed the previous scripture as well as consolidating it, which confirms that God sends scripture and prophets from time to time to guide humanity (5:48). As such, any commands or laws in the previous scripture, which are intact and do not contradict the Quran are still valid and applicable to us. It is also a proof that Quran is another version of God’s scripture but the final version (33:40) assuring us that Muhammad does not have any higher status among His chosen as the final prophet except the Quran being the guidance for all the people of the world until the end of the world:
[5:48] And we have revealed to you (Muhammad) the scripture with the truth, confirming the scripture what is before it and consolidating with it. So, you shall judge between them with what God has revealed, and do not follow their wishes as the truth has come to you. For each of you, we have decreed a law and a clear way. Had God willed, He would have made you one community, but He is to test you with what He has given you. So, you shall compete for righteousness. To God you all will return, then He will inform you of what in it you had disputed.
[33:40] Muhammad has not been a father of anyone of your men but has had a messenger of God and seal of the prophets, and God has done being Knower of everything.
12. In the Quran some matters are stated both positively and negatively whereas others are explained with examples as necessary for our better reflection. Here are two commandments – not to make distinction among His messengers (2:136, 2:285, 3:84, 4:152, and 3:194), and not to behave like a donkey when we have the opportunity to have the valuable information from the valid source given to us (62:5):
[2:136]…”We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters.”
[2:285] “We make no distinction among any of His messengers.”
[3:84] …”We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters.”
[4:152] As for those who believe in God and His messengers, and make no distinction among them, He will grant them their recompense. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
[3:194] “Our Lord, shower us with the blessings You promised us through Your messengers, and do not forsake us on the Day of Resurrection. You never break a promise.”
[62:5] The example of those who were given the Torah, then failed to uphold it, is like the donkey carrying great works of literature. Miserable indeed is the example of people who rejected God’s revelations. God does not guide the wicked people.
13. God has commanded us to study the Quran cover to cover (73:4) as He made it easy for us to learn (54:17) informing that He revealed it in Arabic for better understanding of His message (12:2):
[73:4].. And read the Quran from cover to cover.
[54:17] And certainly, we made the Quran straightforward for the warning. Then would any of you admonish?
[12:2] We have revealed it an Arabic Quran, that you may understand.
14. Satan is our ardent enemy and he will do his best to prevent us from being redeemed (17:62, 2:256). Since our salvation is attained only by knowing God’s message to us, the Quran but Satan will do his utmost to keep us away from getting into the divine message (16:98):
[17:62] He (Satan) said, “Since You have honored him over me, if You respite me till the Day of Resurrection, I will possess all his (Adam) descendants, except a few.”
[2:256] There is no compulsion in the religion. It has made distinct the right from the wrong. Then whoever disbelieves in the false deities and believes in God, then he has grasped with the strongest handle, there is no break of it. And God is Hearer, Knower.
[16:98] When you read the Quran, you shall seek refuge in God from Satan the rejected.
15. Those who have coverings around their minds and deafness in their ears imposed by God for NOT to value the Quran as it should be valued (17:46, 18:57) need to be removed if they intend to learn from the Quran at any time during their lifetime (47:24).
[17:46] And we have placed shields over their hearts, lest they understand it, and a deafness in their ears. And when you have mentioned your Lord in the Quran alone, they have turned on their backs in aversion.
[18:57] Who is more wicked than whoever has been reminded with his Lord’s revelations but he has turned away from them and has forgot what has sent forth his hands. Indeed, we have placed veils on their hearts lest they understand it, and deafness in their ears, and if you invite them to the guidance, then they never ever guide.
[47:24] Why do they not study the Quran carefully? Do they have locks on their minds?
16. Quranic initials, specific numbers and names as mentioned in the Quran play a significant role for our teaching. For example, both Adam and Jesus are mentioned 25 times by name in the Quran as the creation of Adam and that of Jesus being the same as per God’s concern (3:59):
[3:59] The example of Jesus, as far as God is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, “Be,” and he was.
17. We should read the Quran from cover to cover to understand the message as a whole as well as to find the link of one verse in one sura (7:22-23) with another verse in another sura (2:37) to have clear explanation of some events and commands.
[7:22] He (Satan) thus duped them (Adam and Eve) with lies. As soon as they tasted the tree, their bodies became visible to them, and they tried to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. Their Lord called upon them: “Did I not enjoin you from that tree, and warn you that the devil is your most ardent enemy?”
[7:23] They (Adam and Eve) said, “Our Lord, we have wronged our souls, and unless You forgive us and have mercy on us, we will be losers.”
[2:37] Then, Adam received from his Lord words, whereby He redeemed him. He is the Redeemer, Most Merciful.
18. God has created all of us with wisdom so that we can distinguish between right and wrong but with varying degree (17:36). There is sign in His creations for the highly intellectuals reflecting on the Big Bang Theory as found in (21:30) while for the common people reflecting on the germination of seed (6:95) to realize His existence and greatness:
[17:36] You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the understanding, and you are responsible for using them.
[21:30] Do the unbelievers not realize that the heaven and the earth used to be one solid mass that we exploded into existence? And from water we made all living things. Would they believe?
[6:95] God is the One who causes the grains and the seeds to crack and germinate. He produces the living from the dead, and the dead from the living. Such is God; how could you deviate!
19. We have the opportunity to see more of His signs as mentioned in the Quran related to the movement of earth (27:88) and its egg-shaped (79:30). Thus, only the ignorant proclaim that the earth is standing still to misguide others:
[27:88] When you look at the mountains, you think that they are standing still. But they are moving, like the clouds. Such is the manufacture of God, who perfected everything. He is fully Cognizant of everything you do.
[79:30] He made the earth egg-shaped.
20. God knew that once Hadith will be created and has warned us not to follow man made Hadith (6:112, (6:113, 31:6) instead He has commanded us to uphold His revelations being the best Hadith, Quran as His guidance (7:185, 45:6, 77:50, 39:23):
[6:112] We have permitted the enemies of every prophet – human and jinn devils – to inspire in each other fancy words, in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their fabrications.
[6:113] This is to let the minds of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to such fabrications, and accept them, and thus expose their real convictions.
[31:6] And among the people, there are those who accept idle tales (lahawal-hadeethi) to mislead from the path of God without knowledge, and to take it for a mockery. These have incurred a humiliating retribution.
[7:185] Have they not looked at the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all the things God has created? Does it ever occur to them that the end of their life may be near? Which Hadith, beside this, do they believe in?
[45:6] These are God’s revelations that we recite to you truthfully. In which Hadith other than God and His revelations do they believe?
[77:50] Then, in which Hadith, other than this (Quran), do they believe?
[39:23] God has revealed herein the best Hadith; a book that is consistent, and points out both ways (to Heaven and Hell). The skins of those who reverence their Lord cringe therefrom, then their skins and their hearts soften up for God’s message. Such is God’s guidance; He bestows it upon whoever wills (to be guided). As for those sent astray by God, nothing can guide them.
21. There are some commands that should be interpreted based on the sura in which the commands are placed to avoid any misinterpretation. For examples, what nullifies ablution required for observing Salat is placed in sura Al-Nesa so that the menstruating women are not prohibited to observe Salat or to perform any other religious rites just because of nullification of ablution (4:43) while the placement of the order of animal sacrifice including the procedure in the sura Al-Hajj makes it a ritual for the pilgrims (22:36) when they break the state of Ihraam between `Umrah and Hajj (2:196) which excludes the rest of the people of the world from the animal sacrifice as ritual during Hajj time:
[4:43] O you who believe, do not observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) while intoxicated, so that you know what you are saying. Nor after sexual orgasm without bathing, unless you are on the road, traveling; if you are ill or traveling, or you had urinary or fecal-related excretion, or contacted the women (sexually), and you cannot find water, you shall observe Tayammum (dry ablution) by touching clean dry soil, then wiping your faces and hands therewith. God is Pardoner, Forgiver.
[2:196]….During the normal Hajj, if you break the state of Ihraam (sanctity) between `Umrah and Hajj, you shall expiate by offering an animal sacrifice. If you cannot afford it, you shall fast three days during Hajj and seven when you return home – this completes ten – provided you do not live at the Sacred Masjid. You shall observe God, and know that God is strict in enforcing retribution.
[22:36] The animal offerings are among the rites decreed by God for your own good. You shall mention God’s name on them while they are standing in line. Once they are offered for sacrifice, you shall eat therefrom and feed the poor and the needy. This is why we subdued them for you, that you may show your appreciation.
22. Quran does not teach us wife beating (4:34) as marriage is a sacred bond between two mature adults, a man and a woman not being an institution of guardianship for grown up women (30:21, 7:189, 5:5):
[4:34] Men are the care givers for women because of the certain qualities that they are exclusively given and because they are the ones who provide for living and spend from their money. Righteous women would always accept that and they would always guard such an arrangement even in their privacy, when alone, as dictated by God. If you fear rebellion from the women, you shall advise them wisely, then you may stay away from them in bed, then you may deliberately and entirely ignore them. If they follow your advice, you should not make life difficult for them. God is Most High, Supreme.
[30:21] Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.
[7:189] He created you from one person (Adam). Subsequently, He gives every man a mate to find tranquility with her. She then carries a light load that she can hardly notice. As the load gets heavier, they implore God their Lord: “If You give us a good baby, we will be appreciative.”
[5:5] …You shall maintain chastity, not committing adultery, nor taking secret lovers. Anyone who rejects faith, all his work will be in vain, and in the Hereafter he will be with the losers.
23. The Quran is not revealed for any person or a tribe or for a specific time of era rather to guide all the people of the word from the era of prophet Muhammad until the end of the world (12:104, 38:87, 68:52, 81:27). Thus, the Quran is a timeless message for all the people of the world which indicates that the meaning and/or application of certain commands may be different in the context of time periods, geographical areas, culture and customs of people where they live including the circumstances of the individuals. For example, when the believing women are advised to cover their chests (24:31) and lengthen their garments (33:59) are not exactly specified how much they have to cover or how much they have to lengthen their garments that we see, is precisely done in case of ablution required for observing Salat (5:6):
[12:104] You do not ask them any reward for it; it is but a reminder for the worlds.
[38:87] It is but a reminder for the worlds.
[68:52] It is but a reminder for the worlds.
[81:27] It is but a reminder for the worlds.
[24:31] And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary. They shall cover their chests…..
[33:59] O prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the wives of the believers that they shall lengthen their garments. Thus, they will be recognized (as righteous women) and avoid being insulted. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
[5:6] O you who believe, when you observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), you shall: (1) wash your faces and (2) your arms to the elbows, and (3) wipe your heads and (4) your feet to the ankles…..
As Submitters, the very first thing that should come to our mind is the roadmap that can only help us complete our journey. However, those who turn to God and trust Him should not have any difficulty to find Quran being their roadmap to make Heaven at the end of the journey.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.