Tuesday, 11 December 2007

an Ode to Love: The Qur'an

The Qur'an is the central point of law and guidance for Muslims throughout the world. Law and guidance, it sounds so formal. I have heard so often the idea that there are two paths in Islam, one takes you to heaven and the other to hell. The former is difficult and full of thorns and the latter is full of bright lights. This over simplified reasoning just doesn't make sense to me. What exactly is meant by the 'bright lights'? Are they symbolic of our worldly delights? Does this mean we all hibernate in prayer and recitation of the Qur'an all day and night? Even the prophet Muhammad prohibited his companions from such actions. They came to him one day each trying to show his belief in the highest form, I will give up women, I will give up eating and drinking, I will pray all the time. No, said the prophet, I do all of these things but in moderation and balance, live your life in this world but never forget what is yet to come, your return to God. This world has many delights to offer and it is those who hold a strong faith, can remain faithful to God and still enjoy the world that He has blessed us with. Those who wish to isolate themselves in some religious bubble may well be Godly but the real struggle of faith is its interaction with all that surrounds it. Don't get me wrong I admire those who spend hours in the Mosque or in a Church, if it works for them then who am I to argue, but for me my faith becomes stronger when it faces the ugly and the beautiful in the world.

And so, I believe that the Qur'an is a scripture rooted in love, a message lost at the hands of the puritans who wish to make it a text of law. The Qur'an is not a legal text, it is a text which has many different facets to it. God is addressed at the beginning of every passage, bismillah al-rahman al-rahim, 'beginning with the name of God, abundant mercy, ever lasting mercy, forgiveness'. Starting any passage with these words gives us an insight into the way God forces us to reach for this text with the touch of mercy, the touch of love. I am amazed at how such a beautiful text has been abused by the narrow minds. In one passage it says, 'Ask your sustainer to forgive you your sins, and then turn towards Him in repentance - for, verily, my Sustainer is the dispenser of grace, a fount of Love' (Qur'an 11:90)

Christmas is a time of love and compassion. Venerating the life of Jesus Christ or Prophet of Islam. A time when we must all reflect in the love that our faith and this world has to offer. It is time to see the way in which belief, scripture and the world we live in complement each other so beautifully.

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