Monday, September 7, 2009

Ramadan is a good time to study Quran.

Ramadan is a good time to study Quran.

Fend off the gatekeepers.

The next year will mark 1400 years from the time the first verse of Quran was revealed. It is the latest God-book on earth, or so its followers proclaim. The book has been preserved for fourteen hundred years without any alterations, and that is a source of pride to Muslims. Why is it then, following one book, one-fifth of the world population has divided themselves in multitudes of factions, and oftentimes display great animosity between themselves?

It can be argued that in our time Muslims are the most backward as peoples among the followers of the great-organized religions. They have the least contributions in the arena of modern technology and innovations. This is despite the fact that western civilization had borrowed heavily from the early Islamic civilization. Why does Quran fail to illumine the life of its followers? I will submit that the most prominent reason is that the holy book is well revered, well recited, hardly read and seldom practiced. The gatekeepers play a prominent role in that eventuality. The first principle laid down by the gatekeepers is if you want to get benefit, you have to read Quran in Arabic, the language in which it was delivered. Moreover, tradition emphasizes on mere recitation of the book and not comprehension.

The intention of the early preachers (read sahabis, khalifas and early imams through whom the traditions were established) was noble. They wanted to ensure that the book’s integrity is maintained over the eons. Sure, they did succeed in their goal. However, the problem occurred elsewhere. Billions of its followers recite and memorize the book without comprehending it.

Understanding esoteric text takes more than mere grasp of its word meaning, it requires illumination of minds and that illumination comes with wisdom. Wisdom comes with knowledge.

My daughter often asks me if my life goal is to become a physician why I have to read stupid history and rest of the associated useless texts. My answer is always the same to her: The stupid texts prepare you to be a human being and to be a good physician, first; you have to be a good human being. Without education, a human being is just another animal.

Modern education system has evolved over the centuries and has been transformed by the best of the minds. Our fathers knew that mere committing to memory of any text does not do any good to the crammers. Therefore, they developed a curriculum that enriches minds and broadens perception of the students. The world remembers those who widens human horizons and cast them off that do otherwise. Michael Angelo was persecuted by the Pope of his time, and died a pauper after a life long service to Church; we revere Michael—anyone remembers the Pope’s name?

Source of education is not limited to books; world is the best University, but that natural schooling takes protracted time. Books shorten the disciples’ preparatory life. The problem is in understanding the book and then follow its instructions. Without understanding, it is like the necklace on a beast’s neck.

I come across Muslims every day who will quote the words of lal-dari maulavi (priest) or sada dadi maulavi who are virtually uneducated, yet, accept their interpretation of Quran as God’s words. It is the lal-dari maulavis and the sada-dari maulavis who are keeping the vast number of Muslims in their state of ignorance.

My appeal to the Muslims, break off the self-imposed shackles. Read Quran in a language that you understand. Discover the hidden treasure. Practice it. Leave translation to the scholars who have devoted their lives making the truth freely available in vernaculars.

Contrary to what the gatekeepers proclaim, parroting Quran in Arabic is devoid of any benefit, if not, the state of the Muslims will not be as it is today.

Fend off the gatekeepers. Study the book, only then will it enrich your lives. If you must quote from Quran be prepared to refer to the verses and ayah, and do it in your vernacular. When God said, we made the Quran easy to understand (54:17, 54:22; 54:32, 54:40); whoever says otherwise is a transgressor. In addition, remember, your parroting of the verses in an archaic language does not inspire awe in me. Of course, who am I?

Indeed. Indeed.

I am just a divine sparkle, Creation of the Creator, the one and only one true God, Who created the universe; I am just as you are.


  1. I believe those non Arabs who first converted to Islam must have understood the message of The Quran in their own language. Apparently the first generation converts were responsible to establish the norm that The Quaran can not be translated. It is true that things get distored or lost in traslation. In Baha'i faith the translations of Bahallah's original Persian messages are scrutinized in various ways. One of the important criteria for translation is that a translated verse if translated back to Persian should be the exact same Persian sentence as the original verse. However, there are lot of translations with interpretations of The Quran are available these days. Without questioning one's fait, to understand one's own relegion it is important to learn it by undestanding it in the language one communicates best.
    Muneem chowdhury

  2. Afzal Ali said...
    Observation during the month of Ramadan ...

    Typically, I fast (if I am not travelling), even though I do not perform many of the other Islamic rituals.

    I was in Shanghai during the latter part of August. It was a mind boggling, eye-opening experience to see so many new, ultra-modern sky scrapers scraping the sky!! Multi-lane roads, all the European luxury brand cars, people hustling down the roads in a frantic pace, restaurants filled with patrons, businesses busy trying to get the next global project, etc, etc. No where did I see any trace of Islam, Muslims, South Indians, for that matter, a single dark skinned person!
    Shanghai with a population of 20 plus million, probably, does not even know the meaning of Ramadan. In fact, a very small % of the 1.4 billion Chinese population might have any clue about Ramadan. I spotted not one physical evidence or structure of any religious significance.
    On to Thailand ... 90% Buddhists. Many images of Buddha and many temples everywhere. Life seems to be moving fast as well. 100 million people here don't really know what Ramadan is all about.
    Then, on to Dhaka. It is Ramadan. It is immediately obvious. Restaurants have shades pulled. Many people are fasting and many others are not, but no blatant feasting in your face. Even the saree store wala's did not offer me a coke or a cup of tea. They did not even ask if I was fasting or not. It seemed that the entire city had to put up a facade ... fasting or not, they felt compelled to indicate that they were.
    Two thoughts come to mind ...
    First, the need by everyone to show everyone that everyone was fasting was disturbing!
    Secondly, visiting Dhaka after Shanghai and Bangkok was a striking contrast. How is it that the non-believers (I have to be careful here) seem to be faring far better than the believers? While all of Dhaka seemed to be leading a pious, restrained, life of abstinence, billions of people, at the same time, are moving at their merry space doing their merry stuff. Who is on the right track?

    September 12, 2009 2:05 PM

  3. Our life will be prosperous in this world if we follow the path of relegion....Is there any such assurance given by any relegion? As per my very limited knowledge, almost in all relegions, that kind of assurance is provided in much detail about our after life senario as a cause of how we have conducted our life in this world.