The Qur'an is the word of the Ever-living God; it has been
sent down to guide man for all times to come. No book can
be like it. As you come to the Qur'an, Allah speaks to you.
To read the Qur'an is to hear Him, even to converse with
Him, and to walk in His ways. It is the encounter of life with
the Life-giver. 'God - there is no god but He, the Ever-living,
the Self-subsisting (by whom all subsist). He has sent down
upon you the Book with the Truth ... as a guidance unto
mankind ...' (Al 'Imran 3: 2-3).
For those who heard it for the first time from the lips of
the Prophet, blessings and peace be on him, the Qur'an was
a living reality. They had absolutely no doubt that, through
him, Allah was speaking to them. Their hearts and minds
were therefore seized by it. Their eyes overflowed with tears
and their bodies shivered. They found each word of it deeply
relevant to their concerns and experiences, and integrated
it fully into their lives. They were completely transformed
by it both as individuals and as a corporate body - into a
totally new, alive and life-giving entity. Those who grazed
sheep, herded camels and traded petty merchandise became
the leaders of mankind.
Today we have the same Qur'an with us. Millions of copies of
it are in circulation. Day and night, it is ceaselessly recited. In
homes, in mosques, and from pulpits. Voluminous exegetical
works exist expounding its meaning. Words pour out
incessantly to explain its teachings and to exhort us to live
by it. Yet eyes remain dry, hearts remain unmoved, minds
remain untouched, lives remain unchanged. Ignominy and
degradation appear to have become the lot of the followers
of the Qur'an. Why? Because we no longer read the Qur'an
as a living reality. It is a sacred book, but it tells us something
of the past only, concerning Muslims and Kafirs, Jews and
Christians, the faithful and the hypocrites, who 'once upon a
time used to be'.
Can the Qur'an, again, be a living, relevant force, as
powerful for us now, 1400 years away, as it was then? This is
the most crucial question that we must answer if we wish to
shape our destiny afresh under the guidance of the Qur'an.