Through iqra’ (reading), humankind can appreciate the main reason why the Quran was revealed. Through iqra’ humankind has faith that the Quran is a book guidance which continuously provides guidance to all of humanity, from the past, present and future, regarding all sorts of questions related to belief and faith, the basis of rulings and the rulings, akhlak and manners, for mankind to attain happiness in this temporary world as well as the permanent life in the hereafter.
Meaning: “Then do they not look at the camels – how they are created? And at the sky – how it is raised? And in the mountains – how they are erected? And at the earth – how it is spread out? So remind, [O Muhammad]; you are only a reminder. You are not over them a controller.” [Surah Al-Ghashiyah, verse 17 – 22]
These verses are part of several verses that call upon mankind to study Allah’s creations that are present all around us. It begins by observing how a camel was created, it then calls upon mankind to look up and apprehend the vastness of the skies. That is the reality of revelation from Allah, that the Quran is regarded as a book of guidance for all time while the Sunnah explains divine revelation. Both call upon man to think and to always be in remembrance of Allah. In fact, beyond that, the Quran and Sunnah are always in direct conversation with those who are always reflecting and always making zikr. If one comprehends and appreciate this, then it could help develop and enhance our understanding of our religious practices.
Lately, we have seen people be more inclined towards religion. This can be seen in their speech, the manner of dressing, how they perceive something as well as how they judge others, the opinions that they voice regarding local and global issues, as well as the increase in religious classes offered to all sectors of the local Muslim community.
Alhamdulillah, this is a very good and heartening development. However, this religiosity has to be strengthened by thinking objectively in understanding the rules of the religion, and this religious inclination has to be developed together with spiritual sincerity in building good relations with others.
The combination of thinking and making zikr in understanding the basis of religious laws and noble character will guide one towards understanding Islam fairly, far from wickedness and deviation. Let us take, for example, the verse that discusses divorce.
The Quran advises men that when the ‘iddah period is almost over, then they have to make an objective and fair decision; whether to reconcile with their spouse in a good way or to divorce them, also in a kind and compassionate manner. The Quran forbids men to reconcile with their wives with the intention of making their wives suffer. Hence, Allah firmly reminds men who do so:
Meaning: “And whoever does that has certainly wronged himself. And do not take the verses of Allah in jest.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 231]
Reconciling with the wife before the end of the ‘iddah period is valid from a religious perspective. But what does it mean if the husband simply reconciles with the wife in a physical manner, yet ignores that her broken heart, her feelings of being deeply wounded, and ignores the state of her emotions? Hence, Allah firmly warns that the verses of Allah should not be taken in jest; that is to only observe the rulings on a superficial level without taking into account or even disregarding entirely compassion, good character, manners, and etiquette.
We frequently hear and see this same issue when a man dies leaving a widow behind. While still in ‘iddah she will be forced by in-laws to distribute the estate of the deceased. What is more heartbreaking is when they forcefully claim the home from the wife of the deceased while she is still living there, pestering her to sell it off so that the estate can be distributed as soon as possible.
What is our objective in carrying out the rules of the religion? Where have our manners, compassion and humanity gone to when we simply want to “uphold” Islamic laws? Think about this! These are just two minor examples. In reality, there are many more examples where people fail to truly comprehend religious matters and fail to apply proper thinking in upholding the religion. May Allah protect us from this shortcoming.
It is such a loss if our understanding of the religion is not based on objective thinking. It is also a worry if we simply understand the religion only through making zikr. There needs to be a balance between both. In fact, the combination of both will shape a good character that can defend the spirit of Islam well as well as celebrate Islam’s beauty and spirituality with mercy and wisdom. When Allah sends His revelations, He does so to those who have been given the faculty of thought and when the Prophet speaks, he does so to those who understand his message. Sheikh Ahmad Ar-Raysuni said:
“The Syariah speaks to those who can think, and not to those who are of weak intellects”.
So use the strength of our minds. Be considerate and mindful, and instal the aspect of wisdom (hikmah) in our understanding and practice of the religion.