The Conceptual Revolution of the Qur'an - by Javeed Akhter

 

Unlike science that has seen progressive evolution of concepts over time, in religion there appear to have been many cycles of devolution. Qur'an appears to referring to this when it says:

“Mankind was but a single nation
And Allah sends Messengers with glad tidings and clear warnings
And with them He sent the true Book to judge between people about things they had come to hold divergent views about
Yet these people, out of jealously, began to disagree about it's meaning after the truth had come to them”
(Baqara #2:213)

To restore concepts which had become corrupted over time, and bring about renaissance in religious thinking. ( E.g. Monotheism)
To complete some old concepts and introduce many new ones which the previous generations may not have had the intellectual sophistication and maturity to understand. (E.g. Tolerance and pluralism)
To provide in the person of Muhammad (S) a practical example of converting abstract religious concepts into concrete realities, attaining a degree of personal piety and societal morality considered unattainable in the past.

  • Unity of God. (Tawheed)
  • Unity of and equality of mankind under one God resulting in the abolition of caste, race and class divisions. Recognition and celebration of diversity. (UNESCO's declaration of all humans being of the same species, Homo Sapiens, came in 1950; Qur'an's came in aprrox. 634)
  • Restoration of man's dignity as the greatest of God's creation. Man given the capacity to choose, a soul, which can differentiate between good and evil, and divine guidance.
  • Inform life with purpose and give it an optimistic outlook. Be proactive in upholding truth and justice and stop falsehood. (Concept of Jihad)
  • Defining piety not just by faith or by righteous action but by both.
  • Avoid zealotry and extremism and establish a moderate community. The concept of “Ummatan Wasta”).
  • Emancipation of the vulnerable and weak components of society; the poor, orphans, slaves, and women.
  • Economic justice and circulation of wealth by banning usury, hoarding, fair business practices, and compulsory giving of wealth by the rich in the society (Zakah and other economic guidelines).
  • Tolerance and pluralism: all Prophets are accepted and respected equally, all messages originally were the same. There is to be no compulsion in religion. Appeal to man's intellect and intuition to ponder over the message of the Qur'an.
  • Concepts of Ijtihad, Shura, and Ijma.
  • Removal of the differences between the sacred and the secular, the spiritual and the temporal.
  • Adab and Akhlaq: Humility instead of pride, kindness and compassion in dealing with the dispossessed, respect for the elderly and parents, simplicity, serious mindedness, global world view Vs nationalism.
  • Day of Judgment and an afterlife based on right choices and righteous acts. Life a continuum with the promise of attaining an ever higher level.

 

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