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Pondering and reflecting on the Quran

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31st-Aug-2017       
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Prof. Mohammad Najmul Ehsan Fatmi :
The Quranic verses are replete with phrases that pick on the human intellect and force man to ponder, reflect, see, understand, explore, and make sense of, not only the wondrous working of the cosmos and the "signs" in nature, but also to push and prod man to stretch to the limits of applying this gift of intellect and reason bestowed on him. We are encouraged to reason not just with our mind but with our faculties of seeing and listening and when these are complemented by what the heart inclines to, we have a genuine comprehension of the knowledge we are seeking. For without the interplay of these causative factors human and cattle are indistinguishable:
".... They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle, .... for they are heedless (of warning) ...." (7:179)
The Quran is constantly reminding man to reflect, ponder and pursue knowledge, as the following verses reveal:
"(This is) a Scripture that We have revealed unto thee, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations, and that men of understanding may reflect." (38:29)
"Have they not pondered the Word, or hath that come unto them which came not unto their fathers of old?" (23:68)
"And verily We have coinedfor mankind in this Qur'an all kinds of similitude, that haply they may reflect;" (39:27)
"And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect." (51:49)
"And verily ye know the first creation. Why, then, do ye not reflect?" (56:62)
Allah uses the concept of man's ability to see not just in the sense of visual perception but also in urging man to see things through the inner eye, looking beyond what is apparent:
"Have ye seen that which ye cultivate?" (56 :63) "See ye the water which ye drink?" (56:68)
"See ye the Fire which ye kindle?" (56:71)
"Is this then a fake, or is it ye that do not see?" (52:15) "Hast thou seen him who dissuadeth:" (96:9)
"Do they not look at the birds, held poised in the midst of (the air and) the sky? Nothing holds them up but (the power of) Allah. Verily in this are Signs for those who believe." (16:79) "Hast thou not seen those who wrangle concerning the revelations of Allah, how they are turned away?" - (40:69) "Hast thou not seen those who gave the grace of Allah in exchange for thanklessness and led their people down to the Abode of Loss," (14:28)
"Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant?" (105: 1)
With all his power of understanding, given the basic senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste; man is still prone to ignorance and displays an utter lack of sense, and the Creator reminds him in so many ways:
"Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur'an, or are their hearts locked up by them?" (47:24)
"Verily, we have made it a Qur'an in Arabic, that you may be able to understand (its meanings and its admonitions)." (43:3) "Fie upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allah! Have you then no sense?" (21:67)
"Enjoin ye righteousness upon mankind while ye yourselves forget (to practise it)? And ye are readers of the scripture! Have ye then no sense?" (2:44)
And, as if these were not enough, man is further put to test and shame by pointing out many of his inconsistencies, hypocrisy, ingratitude and frailties:
"If now ye have any wit, outwit Me." (77:39)
"O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not?" (61:2) "Then which of the favours of your Lord will be deny?" (55:51) "What is the matter with you, that ye place not your hope for kindness and long-suffering in Allah." (71:13)
"Then what is the matter with them that they turn away from admonition?" (74:49)
"What then is the matter with them, that they believe not?" (84:20)
"What is the matter with you? How judge ye?" (68:56)
"So what is the matter with those who disbelieve that they hasten to listen from you (O Muhammad (Sm), in order to belie you and to mock at you, and at Allah's Book (this Qur'an)." (70:36)
The upshot of all this is that man cannot shy away from the responsibility of using this unique gift bestowed on him by the Magnificent Creator in exploring and discovering what the Quran holds out for him, and in the process enhance his ability to fathom the meaning and mysteries contained in this Perspicuous Book. For, indeed, if the Quran is a Book of Wisdom and Guidance, and Allah emphatically asserts it categorically, man is left with no alternative but to use it in the way the Creator wants him to. Whether man can actually live up His innate expectations is a matter left wholly to his discretion but not without a threadbare accountability to the Creator on the Day of Judgment.

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