The Book of Guidance

The Holy Quran is the only divine manuscript known to mankind that has successfully survived its arduous journey through history, while accurately maintaining its original form. It has travelled across the centuries without even an iota of change, and has managed to preserve and protect itself against the unforgiving assaults of numerous enemies, chief amongst them being time itself. British author, Ronald Victor Bodley talks of the Prophet and the Holy Quran in his book ‘The Messenger’. He says:

“We have a contemporaneous book, absolutely unique in its origin and in its preservation, on the authenticity of which no one has ever been able to cast a serious doubt. This book, known as the Koran, is available today as it was first written under Mohammed’s supervision. For although the thoughts were scrawled at odd moments on pieces of parchment, on palm leaves, on bones and scraps of leather, the original chapters and verses were preserved. Neither was this done, as in the cases of the Old and New Testaments, centuries, or even decades, after the death of the author … What is important is that the Koran is the only work which has survived for over twelve hundred years with an unadulterated text. Neither in the Jewish religion nor in the Christian is there anything which faintly compares to this.”

This heavenly text was gradually revealed upon the Holy Prophet, in a continual but dispersed manner, throughout his prophetic mission. God would communicate with His Messenger periodically, revealing to him the various verses of the Holy Qur’an. The Prophet would, in turn, recite these heavenly messages, word for word, to a select group of scribes so that the exact contents of divine revelation could be recorded immediately. The purpose behind this meticulous exercise was to preserve these priceless words for posterity.

Probably the most important of the numerous reasons necessitating an in-depth study of the Holy Qur’an’s history is the fact that this remarkable book has formed in the past, as it does today, the very foundations of a great nation. A nation comprised of an abundant diversity of ethnic denominations, all hailing from separate and distinct, but nevertheless rich, historic and cultural backgrounds. The centrality of the Holy Qur’an has transformed this grand collection of peoples and nations into one coherent singularity. This divine message has united these various tribes, under its radiant banner, into one new vibrant nation. The Holy Quran is, in fact, the sacred constitution of Islam, and forms the steadfast foundation of a single true Islamic national identity. In Rev. G. Margoliouth’s words:

“The Koran admittedly occupies an important position among the great religious books of the world. Though the youngest of the epoch-making works belonging to this class of literature, it yields to hardly any in the wonderful effect which it has produced on large masses of men. It has created an all but new phase of human thought and a fresh type of character. It first transformed a number of heterogeneous desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula into a nation of heroes, and then proceeded to create the vast politico-religious organisations of the Muhammedan world which are one of the great forces with which Europe and the East have to reckon today.”

The Qur’an paid special interest to knowledge and science and was also a key catalyst in its growth and development. These advancements were not confined within the boundaries of the Muslim civilization; rather they created a domino effect that stretched across the globe. The many fruits borne of this impetus have benefited Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In this section of our discourse, we shall shed light upon orientalist testimonies that bear witness of the Qur’an’s grand contribution towards the advancement of science. As, Dr. Josef Horovitz (1874-1931), Jewish German orientalist and Professor at the University of Berlin, aptly stated:

“The Quran played a key role in the intellectual development of Muslims. It motivated them to focus upon scholarly research and instigated the creation of knowledge … There, in a time when all of Europe languished in the Dark Ages, the Muslim nation was responsible for lighting the torch of humanity and knowledge. It was then that they rendered such great services to all field of science and learning.”

In short, the Qur’an seeks to create total harmony within the many aspects and dimensions of the human individual and collective life. It sees man and society, not as two segregated opposites, but as complementing pieces of a synergistic whole. Roger Garaudy summarizes the Quran’s distinction in this regard. In one of his writings, he explains that the essential message of the Holy Qur’an is that there exists a deep seated and inherent knowledge within human consciousness, which links it to God and the universe in general. This universalistic view of reality, propagated by Islam, saturates all aspects of human life, be it aesthetic, intellectual or practical.”