By Kamaluddin A. Mohammed
According to the teaching of Islam, Allah, the Merciful, sent Prophets (a.s.) from time to time for the guidance of mankind. He raised His Prophets amongst various people and at different times in the period of human history, and the last of the Prophets was Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.s.) to whom was revealed the Holy Qur’an, Allah’s guidance for mankind.
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong)” — Holy Qur’an, 2:185.
The Holy Qur’an enjoins upon every Muslim to firmly believe in Allah, Prophets, Books, Angels and the Day of Judgement, and this is explicitly clear from the following verse:
“O ye who believe! Believe in Allah and His messenger and the scripture which He hath revealed unto His messenger, and the scripture He revealed aforetime. Whoso disbelieveth in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers and the Last Day, he verily hath wandered far astray.”– Holy Qur’an, 2:136.
One fact which is obvious from this verse is that it is incumbent upon every Muslim to believe in the Holy Qur’an as the Word of Allah revealed to Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.s.). This belief calls upon every Muslim to read and contemplate upon what is Allah’s Word. It must be read in reach of knowledge and wisdom.
We know that only belief in Allah is not enough; it also demands His worship and complete submission to Him. Likewise belief in the Prophet and Imam is just not enough; they have to be followed and obeyed. Belief in the Day of Judgement becomes meaningful when it is followed by good deeds and virtuous life. Similarly, the belief in the Holy Qur’an necessitates its reading and an understanding of its essence and, more importantly, its batin (the esoteric aspect).
“(This is) a scripture that We have revealed unto thee, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations, that men of understanding may reflect.” — Holy Qur’an, 38:30.
“Will they then not meditate on the Qur’an or are there locks on the hearts?” — Holy Qur’an, 47:24.
But it must be known, that while Muslims read and contemplate on the Words of Allah, it is the Imams who, after Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa (s.a.s.) reveal the Wisdom of the Book. It is they who have been described in the Holy Qur’an as ‘Rasikhoon fil Ilm’, ‘those who are sound in knowledge’.
Hadith-e-Thaqalain adds further proof to what has been said above. It says:
“I leave behind me amidst you two great things, the Book of Allah and my Ahlul Bait. Should you be attached to these two after me, never-never shall you get astray, for verily these two will never be separated from each other until they meet me at the Spring of Kauthar.”
How precisely it has been said that the Imam and the Holy Qur’an will always be together and never be separated. The Holy Qur’an is the Book and the Imam-e-Zaman is the Light, the Teacher who explains its message.
“Now hath come unto you Light from Allah and a plain scripture.” — Holy Qur’an, 5:15.
In the light of the Holy Qur’an and Hadith-e-Thaqalain, Ismailis believe that the Holy Qur’an is Allah’s message to mankind, it is the Word of Allah and that the Imam, as direct descendant of the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) and Hazrat Ali (a.s.) is the Light guiding us to its Wisdom. Ismaili history bears testimony to this belief. Clause (B) of the Preamble of the Ismaili Constitution declares:
“In accordance with Shia doctrine, tradition, and interpretation of history, the Holy Prophet (s.a.s.) designated and appointed his cousin and son-in-law Hazrat Mawlana Ali Amiru-l-Mu’minin (a.s), to be the first Imam to continue the Ta’wīl and Ta‘līm of Allah’s final message and to guide the murids, and proclaimed that the Imamat should continue by heredity through Hazrat Mawlana Ali (a.s) and his daughter Hazrat Bibi Fatimat-az-Zahra, Khātun-i-Jannat (a.s).”
Ismaili dais and pirs, enlightened by the Imam of the Time, raised the veil from above the plain meaning of the Qur’anic verses and revealed the true essence which lay behind it. The Wisdom of the Holy Qur’an is evident in their teachings and writings. Even ginans, composed by Ismaili pirs during the dawa (propagation) in India, are no exception to this. Their compositions to guide people to Siratal Mustakim (the Straight Path) reflected the true teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
Our 48th Imam, Hazrat Mawlana Sultan Mahomed Shah (a.s.) has said:
“Pir Sadardin has given you the essence of Qur’an in the Ginans he composed for you in the Indian language.”
“Pir Sadardin has composed Ginans for you from the tafsir of the Qur’an.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam has also given guidance (Farman) regarding the importance of the Holy Qur’an, and I would like to mention from one particular incident in Mumbai on 9th November, 1967. Hazar Imam said:
“I would like any spiritual child who is present here, who attends Religious Night School, to answer me: ‘What is the meaning of ‘Malikin Naas’? You know the Sura which says: ‘Qul a’uzu bi Rabbin naas, ilahin naas…’ What does Malikin naas mean? Which spiritual child here can tell me the meaning of Malikin naas?”
(One spiritual child gave the meaning of Malikin naas as “Master of people — the Imam”.)
“Good, very good”.
“My beloved spiritual children, I will go further. In the same Sura you have: ‘Qul a’uzu bi Rabbin naas, Malikin naas, ilahin naas, min sharril vasvaasil khannaas…’ What is the meaning of the word ‘vasvaas’? It is important to know the meaning.”
(A spiritual child answered in Hindi: Vasvase – i.e. whisper with the ill-intent to create doubts).
“Good, very good.”
“My beloved spiritual children, I am very happy to see that I can ask you what are difficult questions and there is always some one present who knows the answer. This is very, very good. I will ask you one more question. What is the meaning of Yau-mid-Deen?”
(A spiritual child answered: ‘The Day of Judgement”).
“My beloved spiritual children. I was happy to see that your knowledge and your understanding of both the Du’a and other suras of the Qur’an-e-Sharif is much better than when I was last here. Much, much better. I would like you to go on improving your knowledge and your understanding of the Du’a and of those parts of the Qur’an-e-Sharif which are important to us in our everyday lives, in our understanding of our Faith.”
During and earlier occasion, Mawlana Hazar Imam described the Qur’an-e-Sharif as the miracle in Islam, and the study of it as a science itself. This was in Karachi, Pakistan, on 27th September, 1960, when a wa’z (sermon) was delivered in his presence. Appreciating the wa’z, he said:
“Why was I so happy with this wa’z? Because time and time again we heard some of the most beautiful suras and ayats from the Qur’an, ayats which have meaning to every Muslim, ayats from which the meaning is clear and from which the conclusion is single.”
There are many other occasions during which Mawlana Hazar Imam has asked questions from the Holy Qur’an and stressed its importance. Thus he has always wanted us to increase our knowledge and understanding of it.
When, in the light of the Qur’anic ayat and Hadith-e-Thaqalain quoted earlier, we stress the importance of the belief in the Living Imam, there can be no doubt, whatsoever, about the importance of understanding the Holy Qur’an in its true depth Both the Imam and the Holy Qur’an go hand-in-hand.
Date posted: Sunday, June 1, 2014.
Date last updated: Monday, June 2, 2014 (typos).
About the author: Alwaez Rai Kamaluddin Ali Muhammad of Karachi, Pakistan, has been attached with the Shia Imami Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board for Pakistan (ITREB) since 1965. He along with his wife, Alwaeza Raisaheba Zarina Kamaluddin, were granted the honour of imparting religious education to the children of Mawlana Hazar Imam. Alwaez is author and compiler of numerous books and articles related to Islam and the Ismaili tariqah. His complete profile and list of publications may be viewed on his Website, http://kamalzar.com/.
Note: This article has been adapted from Ilm, Volume 5, Number 4 (March 1980), pp. 20-22, published by the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (then known as the Ismailia Association) for the United Kingdom where it first appeared under the title, “Importance of the Holy Qur’an.”
Articles by Alwaez Kamaluddin on this website:
1. “Qur’an and Ginan” (Qur’anic Teachings in the Ginan) – published May 12, 2014.
2. A Reflection on Wajhullah (‘The Face of Allah’) – published October 18, 2011.
3. Literary Reading: Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, Aga Khan III – The Road to Happiness and The Concept of Life
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