The Quran, like many other religious books, appeals to many. It speaks to the soul when the mind struggles for answers to life’s unpredictability. It speaks to feelings of insecurity and vulnerability that are acknowledged to no one. It speaks the limbo between life and death, health and illness, abundance and want. The literal word of God in the Quran offers hope beyond humankind’s limitations, through complete submission to Allah and His assigned code of conduct.
The Quran dates back to the year 610 CE in the town of Mecca. A middle-aged man, by the name of Muhammad, received a divine revelation during one of his spiritual retreats. He was initially confused but later convinced that his encounter was from Allah and he was willed to be the Prophet of God. Thereafter, he continued to receive such revelations which were passed on verbally to his followers.
In the society that Muhammad inhabited, there was widespread social turbulence, gender inequality and moral decline. In such a crisis, the messages of the Quran arrived timely and brought order to society. Followers were expected to maintain laws on civil affairs, such as behavior in marriage and inheritance. In addition, followers were taught to excel in duties to Allah and in personal conduct, such as by showing benevolence towards people. People were seen to express more concern for the less fortunate and developed a stronger sense of community.
Today, the Quran continues to guide and mould the lives of many, both Muslims and non-Muslims. As a non-Muslim, I adore the beauty of the Quran in shedding perspectives on how we can approach life.
Chase meaning instead of avoiding discomfort
“So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts.” (Sahih International)
The verse above reminds us that we are creatures of emotions and are vulnerable to our feelings. At times, the heart may cloud our better judgement and we act irrationally. For instance, worrying is like a rocking chair, a whole lot of movement but does not get you anywhere. Instead of holding onto joy and artfully dodging discomfort, seek to learn in every situation.People have the tendency to remain in their comfort zone, embracing ease of the heart without realising the opportunities they miss out on. However, this verse teaches us to detach from our emotions and be bold to pursue wisdom through life’s journey, regardless where it takes us. Nurture a heart that chases meaning.
Appreciate the abundance you have
“If you do not aid the Prophet - Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, "Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us." And Allah sent down his tranquillity upon him and supported him with angels you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of Allah - that is the highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Sahih International)
In this verse, unbelievers in Makkah were after the Prophet and had planned to assassinate him in order to stop the spread of Islam. Even though the Prophet faced impending danger, he remained calm. He told his companion (Abu Bakr) to persevere in their mission for Allah and reassured him that Allah was watching over them. It is amazing how the Prophet held great optimism even in such an uncertain circumstance. He chose not to magnify his problems, but to magnify what he already had; Allah. This verse encourages us to take a step back from our micro lenses and appreciate what we already possess. Perhaps happiness is not dependent on acquiring something, or seeing the result we desire, or absence of anxiety and pain. Rather, it is knowing we already have so much good in our life. It is about contentment.
Violent extremism is a single story we associate with Islam. Here, I offer you a less dim story: Islam encourages a peaceful and liberating life. It teaches people to value the life of the mind. It encourages people to contemplate and think for themselves. When we understand the power of our thoughts in creating perceptual reality, we will discover more of ourselves each day.