The Teachings of the Qur'an

The Teachings of the Qur'an

The Universal Import of the Qur'an
The Qur'an is not directed towards any one particular nation, such as the Arabs, or to a particular sect of Muslims, but to non-Islamic societies as well as the Muslim nation as a whole. There are numerous references to non-believers and idol- worshippers, to the People of the Book (namely, the Jews, or the Tribe of Israel, and the Christians, exhorting each one to strive towards a true understanding of the Qur'an and of Islam. The Qur'an calls each group to Islam by providing proofs and never stipulates that they are of Arab stock. Referring to idol-worshippers, Almighty Allah says:
"Yet if they repent and maintain the prayer and give the zakat, then they are your brethren in faith. We elaborate the signs for a people who have knowledge" [9:11 ] .
Likewise, Almighty Allah talks about the People of the Book, Jews, Christians and the Zoroastrians), without referring to them as Arabs:

“Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a common word between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that some of us will not take some others as lords besides Allah.’ But if they turn away, say, ‘Be witnesses that we have submitted [to Allah].’”[3:64].

It is true that before Islam spread beyond the Arabian peninsula, Qur'anic injunctions were obviously directed towards the Arab nation. From the sixth year after the hijrah (the migration of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) from Mecca to Medina), when the religion of Islam was being propagated beyond the peninsula, there are references which demonstrate that the Qur'an is addressing itself to mankind in general; for example, in (6:19):

" and this Quran has been revealed to me that I may warn thereby you and whomever it may reach".
And in (68:52) Almighty Allah says: "Yet it is just a reminder for all the nations".
We read too in (74:35-36):
" Indeed they are one of the greatest [signs of God] -- a warner to all humans".

History has amply demonstrated that Islam has been embraced by a number of leading members of other religions, including the idol-worshippers of Mecca, Jews, and Christians and by people from diverse communities, such as Salman of Persia, Shuhayb from the Roman people, and Bilal of Ethiopia.

The Perfection of the Qur'an
The Qur'an shows man the way to a realization of his goal on earth; it describes this path in the most complete terms. It is a way of correctly viewing the reality of things; a vision - personal, social and cosmic- based on a correct manner of behavior and a precise method of interaction between men. In (46:30) we read that “the Qur'an guides to the truth and a right road” meaning the road of right belief and correct action. On another occasion, mentioning the Torah and the New Testament, Almighty Allah says:
" We have sent down to you the Book with the truth, confirming what was before it of the Book and as a guardian over it…”(5:48).
The Qur'an thus affirms the truth of the ways of guidance taught by the earlier prophets. In chapter 42:13,
" He has prescribed for you the religion which He had enjoined upon Noah and which We have [also] revealed to you, and which We had enjoined upon Abraham, Moses and Jesus," and in chapter (16:89): “We have sent down the Book to you as a clarification of all things". Thus, we understand from these verses that the Qur'an not only encompasses the meanings and teachings of all divine books revealed before it, but also adds to and completes them. Everything that a man needs, both in terms of his spiritual and his social life, is contained and explained in the Qur'an.

The Eternal Quality of the Qur'an
The perfection and completeness of the Qur'an prove that its validity is not restricted to a particular time or place, since anything perfect is in need of nothing to complete it. In chapter (86:13-14) Almighty Allah confirms that the Qur'an is a conclusive word" and not a mere "pleasantry." It contains the purest of teachings concerning belief in life-after-death, together with an exposition of the realities of existence, while at the same time, encompassing the fundamentals of correct human behavior. Since laws governing transactions between men are directly linked to their beliefs, such a book can obviously not be annulled or changed with the passage of time. As He says in (17:105):
"With the truth did We send it down, and with the truth did it descend" meaning that the revelations and their ongoing validity are inseparable from the Truth. Thus in (10:32):
"So what is there after the truth except error?".
and in (41:41-42):
" Those who reject the Reminder when it comes to them... Indeed, it is an august Book-- falsehood cannot approach it, at present or in future, a [revelation gradually] sent down from One all-wise, all-laudabl".
In other words, the Qur'an repulses, by its own perfection and completeness, any attempt to neither alter it; and neither now nor later can it be annulled or superseded. Many studies have been made of the permanence of the validity of the laws given in the Qur'an. The reader is advised to consult them if he requires additional knowledge of the subject; to pursue the matter here, (namely, the position of the Qur'an in the lives of Muslims and the manner in which it demonstrates this), would be outside the scope of this book.

The Qur'an as a Self-Contained Proof
The Qur'an, being composed of words and meanings like any other book, explains itself. It does not remain silent when the situation of the text demands proof. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that Qur'anic terms mean anything other than the actual words being used. This means that every man, possessing certain knowledge of the Arabic language, may dearly understand the meaning of the Qur'an just as he understands any other words written in Arabic.
There are many verses which are directed towards a specific group, such as the Tribe of Israel, or the Believers, or the non-believers and, sometimes, man in general; (they are addressed in phrases such as "O you who disbelieve" or "O people of the Book" or "O tribe of Israel" or "O Mankind'). The Qur'an discourses with them, offering them proof of its validity or challenging them to produce a book similar to it if they doubt it to be the Word of Allah. Obviously, it makes no sense to address people in terms which they do not understand or to demand that they produce something similar to that which has no meaning for them. In chapter (47:24) we read:
" Do they not contemplate the Quran, or are there locks on the hearts?".

Implying that if it was from other than Allah, people would have found in it many inconsistencies. It is clearly indicated in the Qur'an that verses which have a subtlety or particularity of meaning demand that the reader reflect upon them to remove any seeming differences of interpretation or incongruities that may appear at first inspection. It also follows that if the verses themselves contained no apparent meaning, there would be no point in reflecting upon them in order to clarify the apparent problem of their interpretation.
There are no indications from other sources, (such as the traditions of the Prophet), that demand a rejection of the outwardly manifest meaning of the Qur'an. Some have argued that one should only refer to the commentaries of the Prophet in elucidating the meanings of the Qur'an. This argument is unacceptable, however, since the basis of the Prophet's commentary and of the Imams of his family must be sought for in the Qur'an. It is difficult to imagine that the validity of the Qur'an is dependent on the commentaries of the Prophet or the Imams of his family. Rather, affirmation of prophecy and imamate must be contained in the Qur'an, which itself is the authentic proof and document of prophecy. This does not, however, contradict the fact that the Prophet and the Imams of his family were responsible for clarifying those details of the Shari'ah law (Divinely revealed law) which were not apparent from the actual text of the Qur'an. They were, likewise, entrusted with teaching the knowledge contained in the Book, as seen in the following verse:
And We have revealed to you the Remembrance so that you may explain to mankind that which has been revealed for them (16:44).
A similar reflection occurs in chapter (61:7) where, in reference to the code of practice and law brought by the Prophet to mankind, it states, "And take whatever the messenger gives you. And abstain from whatever he forbids." In chapter IV:64 it says:
"We did not send any apostle but to be obeyed by Allah’s leave"
and, again, in chapter (62:2):
"It is He who sent to the unlettered [people] an apostle from among themselves, to recite to them His signs, to purify them, and to teach them the Book and wisdom, and earlier they had indeed been in manifest error."
According to these verses, the Prophet is the appointed explainer of the details of the Shari'ah law as well as the teacher of the Qur'an. Moreover, according to the tradition known as Thaqalayn, which was authenticated by an uninterrupted chain of narrators, the Prophet has appointed the Imams of his own family as his successors. This is not to deny that others also, by correctly applying the learning of sincere teachers, may understand the meaning of the Qur'an.

By:Allamah Tabatabai, The Qur'an In Islam, p.25-29