The Message of the Quran

The Quran, according to Muslim belief, is a book of revelations from God. Today, it exists in the form of a book, but all the 114 chapters of the Quran were not revealed at one time. They were sent bit by bit, according to circumstances, over a period of 23 years.

The study of the Quran tells us that it is individual-based rather than system-oriented. That is, the actual target of the holy book is to change the thinking of the individual. Changing the system is not the Quran’s direct objective. For the system is subservient to the individual and not vice versa. That is why the utmost emphasis is placed on inculcating right thinking in man. Yet, it is not the method of the Quran to set out everything in advance, in detail. It rather encourages individuals to think for themselves along the proper lines, so that they may discover for themselves the great truths of life. In educational terminology this is called the discovery method.

Islamic teachings can be summed up under two basic headings: believing in One God and worshipping Him alone; regarding all human beings as equal and according equal rights to all.

In brief, monotheism and justice for all. The Quran enshrines these basic teachings, dealing with them in their abstract and practical forms. For a detailed application of their wisdom, one must go to the hadith (the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad).

As far as social life is concerned, the essence of Islamic teaching is that God has granted freedom to everyone. This freedom in itself demands that people should lead their lives with proper restraint.

For if freedom is exercised without restraint it will inevitably result in friction, outright clashes and the descent of society into chaos. Social equilibrium can be maintained only if conscience (nafs lawwama) prevails over ego (ammara). In social life, our actions elicit good or evil depending upon whether we have activated the ego or the conscience of the person or persons concerned.

Whenever one initiates any undertaking, the Quran states expressly that one should begin by uttering the name of God. One thus always reminds oneself, at the outset, of God’s attributes of benevolence and compassion. It is also a way of determining that all projects will be launched not with personal but with divine intentions, and that all actions stemming therefrom will be merciful rather than exploitative in nature. The most frequently repeated invocation in the Quran is: “In the name of God, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.” The recurrence of this phrase no less than 114 times is in itself a clear indication of how important it is.