CAUTION: This view is personally my understanding and NO ONE is expected or required to agree with it. Comments or contributions to further our understanding are welcomed. Since I will be referring to Quranic verses, I very strongly suggest that you double check with your own copy and do not accept my translation without verifying yourself. I am a learner and will never dare to call myself a scholar while I am alive.
Firstly, I find that the Quran contains practical guidance for practical living in line with Reality. It must be so if its claim to be from the Creator is true – the guidance must be applicable and relevant to the created and the environment in which the created is meant to live. For example, a car manual is useless if it is not relevant or applicable to the car. When my car air condition fails, I want to know how to repair it. No point in you telling me that I have to chant the car maker’s name for the air condition to work. Chanting “honda, honda, honda” will not make the honda move. It may relax me, but the car still will not move. The air condition works on a particular system as created and I need to know and understand that system. A good car manual must be able to provide that general information and guidance.
“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear
God (muttaquun)” (Quran 2:2)
The word “muttaqun” has often been translated as “fear God” though there is no “God” mentioned in the verse. My preference is to translate the verse as follows:
“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who are most dutiful and guard against evil (muttaquun)” (Quran 2:2)
I find that the Quran says it is a clear guidance BUT there are prerequisites/preconditions if this guidance is to be useful to you – you must be a person who is responsible and you must be a person who is guarding against evil (for example: you do not drive recklessly such that people’s lives are at stake. That is an evil thing to do). To me, this makes practical sense. You can only take the horse to the water; you cannot force it to drink. Nothing religious. The best car manual is useless in the hands of a person who does not have good reading attitudes or worse, one who does not take it seriously. Or worse, he does not really care about the condition of his car ie irresponsible car owner. Makes sense. Nothing religious. How do you guide a car owner who has decided to be irresponsible about his car on good car maintenance? Impossible!
What happens if you really do not understand about cars or air conditions? Simple. Ask people who know. Ask the mechanic. Consult them. Better still, consult a few mechanics. In life, that is what we do. Each mechanic may specialize in one area. No mechanic can claim to know all about all cars. Sometimes, we change mechanics. We consult each other; we have meetings, discussions, etc. This makes sense. Nothing religious.
“Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish solaa; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for sustenance” (Quran 42:38)
I think the guidance of mutual consultation is good advice, especially in matters that are complex or involves other people’s interest. Realistic. Nothing religious. Also, the verse above talks about spending from what we have for ourselves or to assist others. Makes sense too. Why in the world do you want to borrow to spend? Had I understood this guidance much earlier, I would not have taken credit cards!
This kind of approach to me is the Ad-deen or realistic or lifestyle or “way” approach to the Quran. The religious approach to the Quran will be something completely different and mind-boggling! Let me give you an example of what I mean by considering the following verse:
“Those to whom We have sent the Book study it as it should be studied: They are the ones that believe therein: Those who reject faith therein, - the loss is their own”.(Quran 2:121)
Interpreting this verse, the religious approach will emphasis on the recitation of the Arabic, the taking of the ablution before touching the Quran, the manner of sitting and such physical things. Form is given prominence. The Ad-Deen or practical approach is to understand the following:
a) Reading something MUST include attempting to understand what is read – otherwise you are either a kid or a parrot or plain mad.
b) Since the verse says “read it/study it as it should be read/studied”, you have to refer back to the Quran to find out how it says it should be read. There are many guidance on this, for example, use your brain and think when you read. The Quran has convinced me (and this is common sense) that the Creator did not create brains merely for decoration.
The Ad-deen approach to the Quran places importance over substance. It emphasizes results in reality. If I read something in a language I understand, I benefit from the knowledge I gain. If I sing Hindi songs which I do not understand, I may enjoy myself but I do not get any knowledge. Apart from the emotional/psychological benefit of enjoying myself, I do not get any benefit of knowledge (ilm). Common sense. Nothing religious.
NEXT: Ad-Deen Approach of the Quran. – Part Two