What God Really Means: Book Review Sample
Interpreting the Quran
This chapter is about vividly importance of the Quranic words for Muslims as they are Allah’s words and the Quran should point the last solution. The Quran says that the prophet Muhammad (s.a.v) is the last prophet and after his death Muslims became lost as they used to ask him to solve all problems. Now a very important task appeared in front of caliphs (successors to the prophet); to unified written text of the Quran and teach others to understand words of divine. The chapter also reports the situation in Medina after the death of Muhammad (s.a.v) where political leadership and religious authorities were intertwined.
Abdullah ibn al-Abbas, a first cousin and Companion of the prophet Muhammad (s.a.v) played the most important role in the development of the Quran. There were many people who had Quranic knowledge but mostly they had different interpretation on the basis of their own understanding as they found the paragraphs that could reject any other paragraphs. Such debate had Abu Dharr and Mu’awiya about accumulating wealth. It led to a battle between Ali (new caliph) and Mu’awiya. Ali tried to solve their conflict claiming that killing someone is a great sin and Allah would ask if you kill even chicken unfairly. This group who didn’t understand the real meaning of Quranic words and fought against Ali was known as the Khawarij. Saddam Hussain as Mu’awiya proclaimed that he was fighting for Allah when it was far from this aim. Both of them manipulated the Quran and name of Allah to justify their terroristic actions. However the Quran never encourage people to kill, it doesn’t let even hurt someone with a word. The Quran clearly condemn those who speak about God without “ilm” and misleading others is totally prohibited.
This chapter investigates barriers which don’t let to understand the Quran comprehensively: intellectual and spiritual barriers. It is necessary to understand Arabic grammar and semantic, have deep Quranic knowledge; analyze the correlation between stories of the prophets and different approaches as well also to be aware of hidden meanings. The chapter provides us with many examples of this issue. One of the interesting among them for me is an interpretation of Alim Lam Mim the beginning of Surah Al-Baqara. It is explained as the method of attraction people’s attention as calling someone by name. It is one way of explanation; there many others interpreted by different scholars. Only Allah knows the truth!
In order to complete the Quran with originally true massages Muslim scholars tested sources and found that the scriptures used by Jews and Christians were not fully reliable source. However the writers of the Quran used Jewish and Christians’ knowledge of the prophets (they converted to Islam) and the Isra’iliyyat. Hadith, Sunna of the prophet witnessed by many people, the Companions closest to the prophet Muhammad (s.a.v), his wives played an important role in understanding the Quran which leads us to the way keeping which will please Allah.
The chapter explains how learners of the Quran should react when they find apparent conflicts between verses in single passages. Sunni scholars explained this fact as different norms were needed to the different circumstances. This allows Quranic rules to be continuously adapted to new circumstances. For example that times there was grape wine (khamr) which is haram for Muslims, in modern life there are many types of alcohol which is different from wine. Correct interpretation of this issue made any substance similarly prohibited.
The chapter also provides us with different meaning of different authors about dividing Muslim societies into several groups as Sufi, Salafiyya and other scholars. The chapter ends with discussing the importance of expanding knowledge and understanding of the Quran in order to meet various problems and dilemmas with appropriate solution.