"Truly my people took this Qur'an for just foolish nonsense"
Every day, millions worldwide listen to the Quran during the obligatory, and supplementary prayers as well as reading the actual text or enjoying the beautiful recitation by experts in the art of reading. Millions have benefited regularly from the explanations given on every verse of the Quran after every prayer.
More than 7,000 exegeses of the Quran exist in different languages to help people discover the beauty and grandeur of the Quran. Thousands of translations in almost every language of the world exist to remind people of divine Guidance.
Yet in Sura al-Furqan, we read a statement that is quite critical. It says: "Then the Messenger will say: "O my Lord! Truly my people took this Qur'an for just foolish nonsense." (25:30)
In other words, the messenger will complain on the Day of Judgment that my nation had put the Quran into the shackles of self-conceived ideas, and instead of being guided by the Quran, the people made it subservient to their own beliefs and customs.
The verse highlights and cautions the believers of a problem present in almost every religious community that had previously received the divine message. It is a problem of turning divine Guidance into a ritual or magic whose mere chanting would lead people to salvation. The idea that actions are not essential to show commitment to divine Guidance has become dominant in every aspect of life.
These paradoxes pointed out by the Quran exist everywhere. It is ironic that while Muslims read and recite the divine verses day in and day out, but many non-Muslims are the ones who put many of the Quran's ideals into action without even knowing that.
For instance, the Quran exhorts believers to explore the universe to ensure that everything created by the divine is made available for the use of humanity as a whole. Yet, we find contemporary Muslims lack in this struggle of exploration and scientific progress. On the contrary, they hear that science is anti-Islam, and technology is a manifestation of Shaitan. A few years ago, many scholars in the US deemed TV an instrument of the devil. Ironically, all such scholars now crave to be put on the TV screen.).
The Quran asks the believers to ensure that they stop fighting during the four sacred months, yet in our recent memory, Muslims' worst killings took place in those months with the full blessings of the clergy. The Quran commands believers to eradicate slavery, yet in our recent history, slavery was prevalent in several Muslim countries.
The Quran demands from Muslims unity in faith, yet we find our scholars promoting the idea that differences among people are manifestations of the divine mercy.
The Quran reminds Muslims of their responsibility towards fellow human beings by making their resources open to the needy and the poor. Yet, we find the wealth in Muslim lands concentrated in the hands of less than five percent of the population.
The Quran prescribes justice as the cornerstone of Muslim society, yet we find injustices inbuilt in every aspect of Muslim life from the level of the family to the level of the state.
The Quran prescribes peace and peaceful resolutions to all the disputes among Muslims and non-Muslims, yet we find violence often used to settle even minor scores.
The Quran demands the writing of the will before one leaves this world, yet our scholars nullify the will saying that the verse related to this act got abrogated.
The list is never-ending. Why is this happening? There are several explanations, but two are apparent. 1. Reducing the Book of Guidance to a book of magic, 2 and giving precedence over Allah's Guidance to one's desires.
The Quran elaborates on two points.
About reducing the book to magic, it says: "Do ye enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (To practice it) yourselves, and yet ye study the Scripture? Will ye not understand?" (2:44) The example of those who were entrusted with the Torah and who did not take it on is like that of a donkey who carries volumes [of books]. Wretched is the example of the people who deny the signs of Allah. And Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people. Evil is the similitude of people who falsify the Signs of Allah. And Allah guides not people who do wrong. (62:5)
About giving precedence to one's desires, it says: See you such a one as takes in his/her god his/her passion (or impulse)? Could you be a disposer of affairs for him? (25:43) Then see you such a one as takes as his/her god his/her own vain desire? Allah has, knowing (him/her as such), left him astray, and sealed his/her hearing and his/her heart (and understanding), and put a cover on his/her sight. Who, then, will guide him/her after Allah (has withdrawn Guidance)? Will you not then receive admonition? (45:23)
These paradoxes are in full knowledge of those who are considered part of religious establishment or scholarship. They have allowed this apathy towards the Quran as they have reduced the Quran into a book of recitation and not a book of Guidance. For Guidance, they have their own sectarian or factional schools of thought. So how should one respond to the challenge?
The only way to get out of the situation is to enable every Muslim to understand and develop personal relations with the Quran so that the truth may not be left to the discretion of a few individuals. With the iron clutch of the clergy over the masses, this was unthinkable a few years ago. But as knowledge is at the fingertips of individuals, it is possible that one can empower oneself with a personal relationship with the Quran.