By Rohail Waseem
The Quran is, as I see it, a truly fascinating piece of literature. If there is one investment I have made that I will never regret in my life, it is the time I invested in understanding the Quran.
The thing about the Quran is that it speaks to me like no other book I’ve read. Such is the magnificence of the book that there is never a hollow reading session. Each time I walk away with some truly amazing insights I overlooked before.
What makes this possible is that there are, at least in my opinion, infinite layers to the Quran. The more time you spend with it, the more it seems to give you. And so, as I go deeper into the Quran, I am mesmerized by its structure, cohesiveness and the metaphors it employs that reflect my being so precisely.
What’s heartbreaking for me, though, is how Muslims generally have more or less abandoned the Quran, turning it into an object of service. You don’t pay reverence to the Quran by kissing it and keeping it on the top shelf, covering it with beautiful cloths. No, that would be akin to showering your parents with hugs and kisses, but not paying any heed to what they ask of you.
Would you not call such a relationship hypocritical and selfish? Indeed, you would. But that’s what our relationship with the Quran is: One of hypocrisy and selfishness.
It is used as a tool to gain rewards by reading it in a language that most Muslims don’t even understand, and comes out of its covering only at times such as Ramadan, or at times of need – when someone has passed away.
The following is my attempt at outlining the disservice we’ve done to the Quran:
What was supposed to be a book that would bring mankind out of ignorance towards enlightenment — bringing with it a revolutionary message — you revolve around it, not understanding a word of what it says.
What was supposed to be a book with a universal message, you utter religious statements in Arabic, somehow supposing that the Arabic language is holy, while advocating Arab supremacy.
What was supposed to be a book that discouraged dogmas, you drink from a glass of water that you blew Quranic verses in, expecting it to heal you.
What was supposed to be a book advocating skepticism and critical thinking, you fear that thinking in matters of faith may lead you away from Islam.
What was supposed to be a book advocating freedom of belief, you disregard it and demand blasphemers and apostates to be killed.
What was supposed to be a book advocating pluralism, you feel threatened by differences and push for uniformity.
What was supposed to be a book prohibiting child and forced marriages, you justify them through fabricated accounts of the messenger and, sometimes, your culture.
What was supposed to be a book that advocated self-control, you partially blame the women who are raped and hasten to cover your women from head to toe.
What was supposed to be a book that encouraged you to follow the character of the messenger, you have twisted it to imply following the cultural norms that were prevalent in the time of the messenger.
What was supposed to be a book that was fully detailed, you attach numerous books to it — claiming, without these books, the Quran is incomplete and hard to understand.
What was supposed to be a book that asked you to be wary of religious leaders, you have changed it into a book that can only be interpreted by these religious leaders.
What was supposed to be a book of values, you have changed it into a book of hollow rituals and shortcuts to heaven.
What was supposed to be a book advocating accountability for your actions, you have changed it into a book that will intercede on your behalf.
Quran is a book that is read widely; a book that is, at times, interpreted erroneously; a book that is understood hardly.
Sometimes, on a quiet night, I can almost hear the Quran weeping.
This Ramadan and more importantly, beyond — will you embrace it holistically, and release it from its sorrows?