Islamic Unity in the Quran and the conduct of the Prophet (S)

The Holy Qur’an invites all human beings to unity—Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc. — and this invitation is not exclusive for the time of the Prophet (S) or a certain group of the People of the Book {Ahl al-kitab}: [1]

Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we will worship no one but Allah, and that we will not ascribe any partner to Him, and that we will not take each other as lords besides Allah’. [2]

The Glorious Qur’an speaks about the synagogue, temple, church and mosque in the same line because the Name of God is mentioned in all of them. As such, they must be held in high esteem and respect.

Although the blessed verse quoted invites all to unity, the greater emphasis is on the solidarity of Muslims. This is because, in addition to their unity and commonality in Tawhid {Unity of God}, prophethood {Nubuwwah} Qiblah {the direction where one faces in prayer and other acts of worship}, etc., Muslims also have a commonality with some branches of religion. Thus, among the followers of the various religions, Muslims are more deserving of having unity, and thus the possibility of scientific, cultural, political and other interactions among them is stronger

The life conduct of the prophet (s) and Ahl-Albait (‘a)

The life conduct {Sirah} of the Holy Prophet (s) [3] serves as a proof, guideline and model for all of us. Through compassion, magnanimity, and endeavor, he (s) was able to unify the people of Hijaz,[4] most of whom had been idol-worshipers, under the banner of Islam.

After their acceptance of Islam, some of them, known as the Munafiqun {hypocrites}, engaged in open confrontation with the Prophet (s) who had to deal with them. They were those who ostensibly embraced Islam, but in intention and practice they were not assisting him (s). In spite of this, the Prophet (s) peacefully associated with them and his objectives were the accomplishment of the mission as well as imparting the understanding and implementation of the Holy Qur’an. The very same conduct was adopted by the infallible Imams (‘a) and they never kindled the flame of discord among Muslims.

We can see that although ‘Ali (‘a) had reproached the early caliphs as recorded in Nahj al-Balaghah, in other instances he would lead them. All this was primarily to foster the freedom of thought and the spread of Islamic beliefs. The conclusion is that in the present age, indulging in magnifying Sunni-Shi’ah differences, apart from not being useful, will result in an irreparable loss.

Proximity between Sunnis and Shi’ah advances the interests of both. It opens the ways for the spread of Shi’ah thought and culture in the Muslim world, and as a result, makes the further proximity of these two sects even more possible.

Wahhabis and unity

More than anyone else, the Wahhabis are apprehensive and endangered by this proximity. It is for this reason that during the Hajj season, they prohibit the entry into the country all religious books, including the Qur’an (in Persian translation), Tafsir, history and hadith books, and even Iranian magazines and newspapers. This is because they are afraid that these printed materials would present facts against their particular policy and doctrines. This is in spite of the fact that those matters are never repugnant to the truth of Islam.

In terms of outlook, they oppose not only the Shi’a but also the four Sunni schools of thought. They write books against the proximity of Sunnis and Shi’a, campaigning against it, regarding it as an impossible venture.

One of the best means of replying to such a plot is that the ‘Ulama’ of both schools of thoughts should be the promoters of unity more than anyone else. They should teach their people the true teachings of Islam regarding unity so that we can live in tranquility and be united against our common enemies and avoid dispute which would result in losing courage and losing our power and strength,

“And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [5]

1. The People of the Book [Ahl al-Kitab]: the respectful title given to the Jews and Christians in the Qur’an. [Trans.]
2. ﴿قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَى كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ أَلاَّ نَعْبُدَ إِلاَّ اللَّهَ وَلاَ نُشْرِكَ بِهِ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَتَّخِذَ بَعْضُنَا بَعْضًا أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ.﴾
Surat Al ‘Imran 3:64.
3. The abbreviation, “s”, stands for the Arabic invocative phrase, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam [may God’s salutation and peace be upon him and his progeny], which is used after the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s). [Trans.]
4. Hijaz: the region in Western Arabia bordering the Red Sea that includes Ta’if, Mecca and Medina. Here, it alludes to the entire Arabian Peninsula. [Trans.]
5. وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَا تَنَازَعُوا فَتَفْشَلُوا وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ ۖ وَاصْبِرُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
Holy Quran verse 46 of chapter 8. Al-Anfaal
6. A New Analysis of Wahhabi Doctrines, p. 5.

The Qur’an, the Eternal Miracle

History clearly shows that the Prophet of lslam performed diverse miracles in the course of his mission. But he laid stress above all else upon that miracle which is eternal, the Holy Qur’an. And the secret as to why the Prophet of Islam, and not any other Prophet, should have been distinguished by this miracle resides in this: The religion brought by him is the last religion, and it is to last until the end of time. An everlasting religion needs an everlasting miracle, so that it be a decisive proof of prophecy in each age and for each succeeding generation; and so that mankind might, throughout the course of the centuries, have recourse directly to this miracle itself, rather than depend on the words of others.

He declared his prophecy by means of the revealed Book and challenged anyone in the world to produce the like of it; but nobody at the time of the Revelation could respond to the challenge. Even to this day, after the passage of centuries, the Qur’an ‘s inimitable uniqueness remains; as it says in the Book:

Say, “If mankind and the jinn gathered in order to produce the like of this Qur’an, they could not produce the like of it, even if they were to each other assistants.” (Sura Bani Isra’Il, 17:88)

Here, the Qur’an is saying, in effect, with regard to its own uniqueness: ‘O Prophet, challenge the people to bring a book like this one’. Elsewhere; it challenges them to bring even less:

Or do they say, “He invented it”? Say, “Then bring ten surahs like it that have been invented and call upon [for assistance] whomever you can besides Allah, if you should be truthful.”(Sura Hud, 11:13)

And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant [Muhammad], then produce a surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful. (Sura al-Baqara, 2:23)

We know that the enemies of Islam have not spared any effort in their attempts, over the course of fourteen centuries, to harm Islam; they have not ceased accusing the Prophet of being a magician, a madman and other such things; but they have never been able to take up the challenge of producing anything comparable to the Qur’an. Today, despite all the different fields of contemporary thought and learning, and all the modern epistemological tools at their disposal, they are unable to refute or confound the limpid, inimitable uniqueness of the Qur’an; this, alone, bears witness to the fact that the Qur’an is something utterly beyond the speech of a human being.

The literary miraculousness of the holy Qur’an

The Holy Prophet performed various miracles, the commentaries upon which are recorded in books of Hadith and history. But the eternal miracle which radiates throughout all the ages is the Holy Qur’an; and the secret as to why the Prophet of Islam, and not any other Prophet, should have been distinguished by this miracle resides in this: The religion brought by him is the last religion, and it is to last until the end of time. An everlasting religion needs an everlasting miracle, so that it be a decisive proof of prophecy in each age and for each succeeding generation; and so that mankind might, throughout the course of the centuries, have recourse directly to this miracle itself, rather than depend on the words of others.

The literary miraculousness of the holy Qur’an

From the time of the descent of the Holy Qur’an, the first thing that struck the Arabic-speaking world and those versed in oratory and rules of eloquence, was the beauty of the language, the elegance and originality of its composition, and the sublime meanings contained in the Scripture. This special feature of the Qur’an was clearly evident to the Arabs of that time, as it is for those of today. Thus, the pprophet challenged anyone in the world to produce the like of it; but nobody at the time of the Revelation could respond to the challenge. Even to this day, after the passage of centuries, the Qur’an ‘s inimitable uniqueness remains; as it says in the Book:

Say, ‘Should all humans and jinn rally to bring the like of this Quran, they will not bring its like, even if they assisted one another.’(Sura Bani Isra’Il, 17:88)

and because of this, the Prophet, through continuous recitation of its verses, and through repeated invitations to ponder the uniqueness of the Qur’an, cast the champions of oratory and the masters of eloquence into abasement and humiliation, causing them to gnaw at their fingers in bewildered rage at the majestic speech of the Qur’an, bitterly acknowledging its super-human quality.

Walid b. Mughayra, a renowned poet and a master orator among the Quraysh, declared, after hearing the Prophet recite some verses:

‘By God, I have just heard something from Muhammad that is unlike the speech of man or the speech of jinn. It is a speech with its own unique sweetness and beauty. The branches of its words are laden with fruit, its roots are full of blessings; it is a surpassing discourse, than which no more distinguished speech exists. Indeed, nothing can begin to rival its excellence. ‘[1]

It was not just Walid b. Mughayra who extolled the outward beauty and inward profundity of the Qur’an; other great orators also, such as ‘Utba b. Rabi’a and Tufayl b. ‘Umar, also expressed their utter incapacity to compete with the Qur’an and acknowledged it as a literary miracle.

Of course, the Arabs of the Jahiliyya, because of their low level of culture, did not grasp anything but this aspect of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an. But when the sun of Islam illumined a quarter of the inhabited world, the great thinkers of the world reflected deeply upon the profound verses of the Qur’an, and were able to benefit not only from its miraculous literary aspects, but also from the evident connection that each of its other aspects had with the sacred and the miraculous; and in every age, new dimensions of its endless verities would be discovered, a process which continues to this day.

1. Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabarsi, Majma’ al-bayan (Tehran, n.d.), vol. 5, p. 387.

Different aspects of the Qur’an’s miraculous nature

Apart from the literary miracle of the Qur’an there are some other manifestations of its miraculous nature. If the literary miracle of the Qur’an can only be grasped by one who has some mastery in the Arabic language, the other miraculous qualities can, fortunately, be grasped by everyone.

1. The person who brought the Qur’an was unlettered and unlearned, not having been schooled; nor had he studied at the feet of a great master; nor had he read a single book, as it is stated:

And you did not recite before it any scripture, nor did you inscribe one with your right hand. Otherwise the falsifiers would have had [cause for] doubt. (Sura al-‘Ankabut, 29:48)

The Holy Prophet recited this verse to people who were well aware of his life-history. Naturally, had he studied previously, he would have been contradicted by those who knew of his past; so if he was accused by some of having had the Qur’an ‘taught to him by a man’, we know for sure that it is baseless, as are all the other accusations made against him. The Qur’an refutes this accusation, saying that the one who was supposed to have taught him was a non-Arab; while the Arabic of the Qur’an is classical, eloquent Arabic. 1

2. The Qur’an was revealed in recitation to the Holy Prophet over the course of twenty-three years, under various conditions (peace and war, whilst journeying or residing at home, etc.). The nature of such an oral discourse normally imposes at least two or more different styles or modes upon the speaker. Even authors who compose their works under unvarying, stable conditions, and who attempt to maintain thematic consistency and stylistic harmony, are often unable to avoid discrepancies and disharmony in their works; such problems are even more likely to befall one who delivers a verbal discourse gradually, and under extremely variegated conditions and circumstances.

It would be appropriate here to recall that the Qur’an contains discourses on themes as diverse as theology, history, religious law and legislation, ethics, the natural world and other matters; but despite this immense variety of subject-matter, it maintains, from beginning to end, the most supreme harmony, its style of discourse flowing marvellously through its diverse contents. The Qur’an itself mentions this aspect of its own miraculous nature:

Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an? If it had been from [any] other than Allah, they would have found within it much contradiction.( Sura al-Nisa’, 4:82)

3. The Qur’an recognizes the capacity of human nature for farsightedness, and on that basis establishes laws. Given this fundamental capacity for insight, all aspects of the spiritual and material life of man are encompassed by the Qur’an; universally applicable principles-ones which will never fade or become outmoded-are also given in this Scripture. One of the special features of the universal laws of Islam is that they are valid in the most diverse conditions and environments. When Muslims had conquered vast parts of the world, they were able to rule with authority and dignity over generations of different human collectivities by virtue of these laws. Imam Baqir said:

‘Everything of which mankind has need and has asked for is given by God in this Holy Book, and has been explained by Him to His Prophet; and He has established for everything a limit, and for each limit, a rationale has been given.’2

4. In different verses, the Qur’an explains the intricate relationships between the mysteries of the created universe, relationships and connections of which the people of the time had no inkling. The disclosure of these mysteries, by an unlettered individual, living in the midst of people ignorant of all such things, could only have come about by means of divine revelation. Many examples of this can be given, but we shall restrict ourselves here to one alone:
The discovery of the law of universal polarity is a major finding of modern science; the Qur’an, at a time when there was not even the slightest information on such matters, refers to this law as follows:

And of all things We created two mates; perhaps you will remember. (Sura al-Dhariyat, 51:49)

5. The Qur’an has prophesied events, giving precise and definite information about them before they unfolded, exactly as predicted. There are several examples of this, but we shall refer to just one, When the God-fearing Christian Byzantines (al-Rum) were defeated by the fire-worshipping Sassanids, the pagan Arabs took this as a good omen, declaring that they, too, would prevail over the God-fearing Arabs of the peninsula. As regards this event, the Qur’an gives precise information:

The Romans have been defeated in the nearer land, and they, after their defeat, will be victorious in afew years- to Allah belongs the command before and afterr- and on that day believers will rejoice. (Sura al¬Rum, 30:4)

The events took place exactly as predicted, and both God-fearing groups, the Byzantine Christians and the Arabian Muslims, prevailed over their respective enemies (Iranian Sassanids and the pagans of Quraysh), Thus we find at the end of the verse a reference to the happiness of the believers, for these two victories were simultaneous.

6. The Qur’an has spoken of the lives of the Prophets and of past communities, in a number of Suras and in various ways. It might be said that, being the final Revelation, the Qur’an clarifies much of the information found in previous Scriptures pertaining to the Prophets of the past, their missions, and their communities. In the Qur’anic accounts of the lives of the Prophets, there is not the slightest divergence either from the dictates of the intellect or of innate human nature, on the one hand, or from what the supreme status of the Prophets implies, on the other.

1. See Sura al-Nahl, 16:103.
2. al-Kulayni, al-Usul min al-kafi, vol. 1, p. 59.

Is the Holy Qur’an Distorted?

The revealed scriptures brought by previous Prophets have, unfortunately, been gradually subjected to alteration and interpolation over the years. In addition to what is said in the Qur’an to this effect, there is historical evidence to corroborate this fact.

In contrast, nothing has been added to or taken from the Holy Qur’an itself. The Holy Prophet of Islam received 114 chapters of the Qur’an, and this constitutes, among other things, an eternal memorial of himself, and he delivered them intact into this world. The scribes of the Revelation, especially Imam ‘Ali, who wrote down the revealed verses from the very beginning, have preserved it ever since from all interpolation. Despite the passage of fourteen centuries since its descent, not a single verse or chapter has been added to or taken away from the Holy Qur’an. We allude below to some of the reasons why the Qur’an has, of necessity, remained free of any alteration.

1. How could the Qur’an possibly be subject to alteration when God Himself has guaranteed its preservation and protection? It is said:

Indeed, it is We who sent down the Qur’an and indeed, We will be its guardian.” (15:9)

2. God has prohibited the entry of any kind of falsehood into the Qur’an:

Falsehood cannot approach it from before it or from behind it; [it is] a revelation from a [Lord who is] Wise and Praiseworthy.” (41:42)

As God has denied all possibility of falsehood entering the Qur’an, this means that anything that might lead to the weakening of the Qur’an-such as adding words or verses, or taking them away-is likewise excluded; thus, one can say with absolute certainty that this Scripture has not been altered in anyway.

3. History shows us that the Muslims were graced in a special way as regards learning and memorizing the Qur’an. At the time of the Revelation, the Arabs were famed for their excellent, powerful memories, so much so that after hearing a long sermon just once, they were able to repeat it by heart afterwards. In such a context, where there were so many people who knew the Qur’an by heart, how could anyone claim that it might have been altered?

4. There is no doubt that Imam ‘Ali had a difference of opinion, in certain matters, with the other three caliphs, and that he expressed these differences in a clear and logical manner, in, for example, the sermon entitled Shiqshiqiyya, one of his most famous discourses.1  But we observe that this great soul, to the end of his life, never said anything about even a single word of the Qur’an having been altered. If, God forbid, such an alteration had in fact taken place, a person such as he would never have remained silent. Rather, we see the contrary: that he continuously called upon people to meditate upon the Qur’an:

O people, for whosoever follows the Qur’an, there is no poverty or indigence; and without following the Qur’an, there is no riches or freedom from want. So throughout your lives, sow the seed of the Qur’an [in your hearts] and follow it.” 2

For these, and other reasons, the great scholars of the ahl al-bayt, from the beginning of Islam to the present day, have stressed the immunity of the Qur’an against any alteration (tahrif). It must be stressed that this has been the position of all Shi’i authorities’ in all periods; and to this day, all the Shi’i leaders without exception uphold this position. 3

In some books of Hadith and Qur’anic exegesis, there are certain narrations which have given grounds for the idea that some alteration of the Qur’an has in fact taken place, but the following points should be borne in mind:

1. Most of these narrations are transmitted by persons and in books that are not trustworthy, such as the Kitab al-qira’a of ‘Ahmad b. Muhammad Sayyri (d. 286 AH). His narrations are classified as weak by those versed in knowledge of transmitters of hadith (‘ilm al-rijal); and his legal school is classified as corrupt.4 Another such book is that of Ali b. Ahmad al-Kufi (d. 352 AH), about whom the same scholars said:

At the end of his life, he took the path of fanaticism (ghuluw).” 5

2. Those parts of these narrations that ostensibly relate to alteration are more akin to commentaries on verses. In other words, the content of a given verse is brought together with its meaning in a single narration, and some have wrongly supposed that the commentary is part of the verse, having elided it therewith.
For example, the ‘straight path’ of the Sura al-Fatiha is read in some narrations along with its commentary, ‘the path of the Prophet and his family’. It is clear that such commentary is a way of affirming the sublimity of the Prophet.

3. Imam Khumayni has divided those narrations on the basis of which alteration is deemed to have taken place, into three categories: (a) weak reports, in which nothing is proven; (b) forged reports, in which interpolations are clearly evident; and (c) strong reports, which, if their import be carefully considered, reveal that what appears to be an alteration of Qur’anic verses is in fact a comment upon the meanings of these verses, not a change in the literal wording of the Qur’an. 6

4. Anyone wishing to attain a true understanding of the actual beliefs of a given school of thought must study the authoritative books on doctrine and belief as found in that school, rather than looking at some books of narrations compiled by those whose aim was but to gather up material, leaving to others the task of verification and evaluation. Similarly, referring to a few unusual opinions held by some followers of the school is insufficient for arriving at a sound knowledge of the school, as is basing oneself on the words of one or two people who oppose the majority of the authoritative scholars in the school of thought.

1. Nahj al-baliigha, Sermon no. 3.
2. Nahj al-baliigha, Sermon no.171.
3. The following authorities can be referred to regarding this matter: 1) Fadl b. Shadhan, (d. 260/873 AH; he lived in the time of the Imams), Kitab al-idah,, p. 217; 2) Shaykh Saduq (d. 381/991), Kitab al¬i’tiqadat, p. 93; 3) Shaykh Mufid (d. 413/1022), Majmu’at al-rasa’il; p. 266; 4) Shaykh Murtada ( d. 436/ 1044), Jawab al-masa’il al-tarabilsiyyat; 5) Shaykh Tusi (d. 460/1067), Kitab al-tibyan, vol. 1, p. 3; 6) Shaykh al¬Tabarsi (d.548/1153), Majma’ al-bayan (see his introduction where he clearly stresses the absence of any possibility of alteration with regard to the Qur’an); 7) Sayyid b. Tawus (d. 664/1265), Sa’d al-su’ud, p. 144 (where he says: ‘The non-existence of alteration-such is the position of the Imiimiyya); 8) ‘Allama Hilli (d. 726/1325), Ujubat: al-masa’il al- ·mihnaiyya,p.121(where he says;This is the truth that no addition or diminution has been effected in regard to the Qur’an, and I seek protection from God against speaking the word “alteration” (tahrif); for such an idea causes doubt to be cast on the miracle that was authentically transmitted to us by the Holy Prophet.’).
4. See Ahmad al-Najashi, Rijal al-Najashi (Beirut, 1409/1988) vol. 1, no. 1 go, p. 2 1 1.
5. al-Najashi, Rijal; vol. 1, no. 689, p. 96.
6. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khumayni, Tahdhib al-usul (Qom 1405/ 1984), vol. 2, p. 96.

What is Imam Ali’s perspective in respect to the Quran?


In the eyes of Imam Ali (as), the Quran holds a tremendous position. Some of the qualities he has attributed to this divine book have been collected in Nahjul Balaghah. A brief list of the qualities he has mentioned in regards to the Quran have been summarized as: an advisor who never deceives, the best of guides, the one who speaks the truth, the strongest and most dependable source of refuge and support, a cure, the source of knowledge, the highest form of prosperity, that which gives life to and enlightens the heart, the best means of intercession, the most complete and comprehensive book, etc.

Imam Ali (as), the greatest disciple of the Quran and the Holy Prophet (pbuh), had continually mentioned in his speech, sermons, and letters (now collected in Nahjul Balaghah) the innumerable qualities of the Quran. Through these means, he informed the people of the values encompassed within it and encouraged them to understand the immense status of this divinely inspired book. His dedication to the message of the Quran can be observed up until the very last moments of his life. In his will he urges his descendants to sacrifice all that which they posses in the way of the Quran and its message. In that will he states: “(Fear) Allah (and) keep Allah in view in the matter of the Quran. No one should excel you in acting upon it.”[1]

The emphasis placed upon this divine book tells us how significant Imam Ali (as) considered it. In describing the Quran, the following qualities have been mentioned in the words of Imam Ali (as):

1. An advisor who never deceives: “And know that this Quran is an advisor that never deceives.”[2]

2. The best of guides: “(The Quran is) a leader who never misleads.”[3]

3. The one who speaks the truth: “(The Quran is) a narrator who never speaks a lie.”[4]

4. The strongest and most dependable source of refuge and support: “You should adhere to the Book of Allah because it is the strong rope, a clear light, a benefiting cure, a quenching for thirst, protection for the adherent and deliverance for the attached. It does not curve so as to need straightening and does not deflect so as to be corrected.”[5]

5. A cure: “Therefore, seek cure from it for your ailments and seek its assistance in your distress. It contains a cure for the biggest diseases, namely unbelief, hypocrisy, revolt, and misguidance.”[6]

6. The source of knowledge: “… (it contains) the springs of knowledge.”[7] In another sermon of Nahjul Balaghah, Imam Ali (as) speaks of the immeasurable amount of knowledge found in the Quran: “Allah has made it a quencher of the thirst of the learned, a bloom for the hearts of religious jurists, a highway for the ways of the righteous…”[8]

7. The highest form of prosperity: “You should also know that no one will need anything after (guidance from) the Quran and no one will be free from want before (guidance from) the Quran.”[9]

8. That which gives life to and brings joy to the heart: “It contains the blossoming of the heart…”[10]

9. The best means of intercession: “Know that it is an interceder and its intercession will be accepted. It is a speaker who is testified. For whomever the Quran intercedes on the Day of Judgment, its intercession for him would be accepted.”[11]

10. A book that is everlasting: “Then Allah sent to him the book as a light whose flames cannot be extinguished, a lamp whose gleam does not die, a sea whose depth cannot be sounded, a way whose direction does not mislead, a ray whose light does not darken, a separator (of good from evil) whose arguments do not weaken…”[12]

11. The comprehensiveness of the Quran: The Imam (as) mentions the following in regards to the comprehensiveness of the Quran: “But the Prophet left among you the same which other Prophets left among their peoples, because Prophets do not leave them unattended without a clear path and a standing ensign, namely the book of your Creator clarifying its permissions and prohibitions, its obligations and discretion, its repealing injunctions and the repealed ones, its permissible matters and compulsory ones, its particulars and the general ones, its lessons and illustrations, its long and short ones, its clear and obscure ones, detailing is abbreviations and clarifying is obscurities.”[13]

The Imam (as) also states: “In the Quran, you will discover news of those who came before you and those who will come after you, as well as the necessary rulings which you will need to live by.”[14]

In sermon 198 of Nahjul Balaghah, the Imam (as) has extensively discussed the immense value of the Quran. These eloquent and expressive words of Amir al-Mu’minin (as) effectively illustrate the Quran’s significance and the qualities it possesses, to the extent that any further explanation or commentary is rendered unnecessary.

What has been mentioned is a modest example of the qualities attributed to this divine book from the words of Amir al-Mu’minin (as), the second greatest muffasir (commentator) of the Holy Quran.

May we be guided to the straight path through adherence of these teachings.

For further information, you may refer to the following sermons of Nahjul Balaghah: 110, 183, 169, 157, 158, 133, 176, and 198.

[1] Nahjul-Balaghah, letter 47.

[2] Sermon 176 “وَ اعْلَمُوا.أَنَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنَ هُوَ النَّاصِحُ الَّذِی لَا یَغُشُّ”.

[3] Sermon 176 “وَ الْهَادِی الَّذِی لَا یُضِلُّ”.

[4] Sermon 176 “وَ الْمُحَدِّثُ الَّذِی لَا یَکْذِبُ”.

[5] Sermon 156.

[6] Sermon 176 “فَاسْتَشْفُوهُ مِنْ أَدْوَائِکُمْ وَ اسْتَعِینُوا بِهِ عَلَى لَأْوَائِکُمْ فَإِنَّ فِیهِ شِفَاءً مِنْ أَکْبَرِ الدَّاءِ وَ هُوَ الْکُفْرُ وَ النِّفَاقُ وَ الْغَیُّ وَ الضَّلَالُ”.

[7] Sermon 176 “و ینابیع العلم”.

[8] Sermon 198.

[9] Sermon 176 “و اعلموا انه لیس على احد بعد القرآن من فاقة و لا لاحد قبل القرآن من غنى”.

[10] Sermon 176 “فیه ربیع القلب”.

[11] Sermon 176 “وَ اعْلَمُوا أَنَّهُ شَافِعٌ مُشَفَّعٌ وَ قَائِلٌ مُصَدَّقٌ وَ أَنَّهُ مَنْ شَفَعَ لَهُ الْقُرْآنُ یَوْمَ الْقِیَامَةِ ُفِّعَ فِیهِ”.

[12] Sermon 198.

[13] Sermon 1.

[14] Nahjul-Balaghah, short sayings, saying 313.

Why do some Quranic verses abrogate the others?


Before thinking about abrogated verses we need to understand the nature of how the Qur’an was revealed.  It was not something that came down overnight as a complete revelation.  The verses were revealed to Muhammad {SAW} over a period of 20 something years.  Islam wasn’t just an ideology change but a complete lifestyle change.  People even today are generally reluctant to accept change, they don’t make many alterations to their lifestyles unless forced to and even then have a hard time changing without a continued awareness and desire to keep that change.  Think about how hard it is for example in our modern world for people to change their diets.  If you are eating unhealthy foods regularly you’re unlikely to change that until your health deteriorates and diet change becomes necessary to keep living.  People who do recognize dietary problems and desire a change in their diet generally are more successful by making small changes over a period of time.  Being that Allah is our creator and has perfect knowledge he knows this human weakness and how best to bring about that gradual change in the people.

This was why for example Muslims started off being allowed to drink alcohol (because that was common among the people).  Then they were told drinking has more sin than benefit, then not to drink when they come to pray, then don’t drink at all.  This gradual prohibition allowed people time to adjust their habits.  If you were a heavy drinker the first message to a believer may encourage them to slow their drinking to avoid the sins in it.  Then when the second message of don’t drink when you are going to pray might have them give up drinking at certain times and help them further themselves form this behavior.  Then the outright prohibition of it would be something they are already on the path for and more capable of accepting and implementing.  It is difficult for people to give up something like this cold turkey and we have to have self-motivated people in intensive rehab programs to reform alcoholics in the modern world.  This gradual modification to what was expected is then not as strange.

In addition to gradual change in our behaviors which get progressively more prohibitive there are also examples of things getting less difficult.  For those questioning the validity of the Qur’an at the time of Muhammad {SAW} and claiming his verses were forgeries or made up Allah asked them to produce something similar.  First he tells them to produce something similar.  Then he makes it easier and says produce just ten Surahs like it.  Then later he makes it even easier in his challenge and tells them bring just one surah like it.  So the challenge was made easier to the unbelievers and they still couldn’t accomplish it.

The Qur’an says Allah {SWT} will only not abrogate it without bringing something similar or better.  As we see from the progression of abrogation in the above examples it is a clear path of progressing towards the end goal.  Something is gradually changed to make this easier on the people who were following it at the time.  One can also take this to mean that the message in the Qur’an is here to abrogate verses from the Torah and Bible.  It does not mean that Allah wasn’t able to foresee these things but rather that his knowledge of his creation is so complete and perfect that he knew exactly the way and time in which these changes should be given to produce the desired effect in the community of believers.

Fifteen phrases About the Qur’an In the holy Qur’an

reading quranThe Qur’an says:

“O thou wrapped up in thy raiment! Keep vigil the night long, save a little — half of it, or a little less, or a little more, and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured tones. Soon shall we send down to thee a weighty Message. Truly, the vigil of the night is when impression is more keen and speech more certain.” (73:1-6)

“And most certainly you are made to receive the Qur’an from the presence of One Who is the Wise and the Knowing.” (27:6)

“But when Our Clear Signs are communicated unto them, those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, say: `Bring us a Qur’an other than this, or change it.’ Say: `It is not for me, of my own accord, to change it. I follow naught but what is revealed unto me. If I were to disobey my Lord, I should myself fear the Penalty of a Mighty Day.'”   (10:15)

“Verily, He Who ordained the Qur’an for thee, will bring thee back to the Place of Return. Say: `My Lord Knows best who it is that brings true guidance and who is in manifest error.'”   (28:85)

“When thou dost recite the Qur’an, We place between thee and those who do not believe in the Hereafter, a hidden barrier. And We put coverings on their hearts (and minds) and a heaviness in their ears lest they understand it. And when thou commemorate thy Lord – Him Alone – in the Qur’an, they turn their backs in aversion.”   (27:45-6)

“And those who disbelieve say: `Do not listen to this Qur’an and make noise therein, that you may gain the upper hand.'”   (41:26)

“We narrate unto thee the most beautiful of stories by Our revealing to thee this Qur’an. Before this, thou too were certainly among those who did not know.”   (12:3)

“We have explained in detail in this Qur’an, for the benefit of humankind, every kind of similitude. But humankind is, in most things, contentious.   (18:54)

“Certainly, this Qur’an doth explain to the Children of Israel most of that concerning which they differ.” (27:76)

“And those who disbelieve say: We believe not in this Qur’an nor in that which was before it; but oh, if thou couldst see, when the wrong-doers are brought up before their Lord,

how they cast the blame one to another; how those who were weak say unto those who were proud: But for you, we should have been believers.” (34:31)

“Those who were proud shall say unto those who were deemed weak: `did we turn you away from guidance after it reached you? Nay! You (yourselves) were guilty.'” (34:32)

“Those reckoned weak shall say to the aggressors: `Nay! It was a plot by night and by day when you told us to disbelieve in Allah and to set up equals to Him.’ They will declare repentance when they see the punishment. We shall put yokes on the necks of the unbelievers. It would only be a requital for their (ill) deeds.”   (34:33)

“Do they not then earnestly seek to understand the Qur’an? Or are there locks on their hearts (and minds)?”   (47:24)

“Verily, this Qur’an doth guide to that which is most upright (or stable), and gives glad tidings to the believers who perform deeds of righteousness, that they shall have a magnificent reward.”   (17:9)

“And when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and remain silent, that you may receive mercy.” (7:204)

“That this is indeed a noble Qur’an, in a Book well-guarded, which none shall touch but those who are clean, a revelation from the Lord of the Worlds.” (56:77-80)

Why does Holy Quran persuade Muslims to kill infidels?


Why does Holy Quran persuade Muslims to kill infidels?

Our religion does not allow killing any innocent person regardless of his or her religion. The life of all human beings is sacrosanct according to the teachings of the Qur’an and the guidance of our blessed Prophet Muhammad -peace -be upon him and upon all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah.
The Qur’an says about the prohibition of murder:

وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّاكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ
“..Take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” (al-An’am 6:151)

And Allah says in the Qur’an:

وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ وَمَنْ قُتِلَ مَظْلُومًا فَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا لِوَلِيِّهِ سُلْطَانًا فَلاَ يُسْرِفْ فِي الْقَتْلِ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مَنصُورًا
“Nor take life – which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand Qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the law)” (al-Isra’ 17:33)

According to the Qur’an, killing any person without a just cause is as big a sin as killing the whole humanity and saving the life of one person is as good deed as saving the whole humanity. (See al-Ma’idah 5:32)
However, your question is valid then how come the Qur’an says:
“kill them wherever you find them…”as it is mentioned in Surah al-Baqarah 2:191 and Surah al-Nisa’ 4:89. The answer is simple and that is you should read these verses in their textual and historical context. You should read the whole verse and it is better that you read few verses before and few after. Read the full text and see what is said:

وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلاَ تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُمْ مِنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنْ الْقَتْلِ وَلاَ تُقَاتِلُوهُمْ عِنْدَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ حَتَّى يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ فَإِنْ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُمْ كَذَلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ فَإِنْ انتَهَوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لاَ تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ لِلَّهِ فَإِنْ انتَهَوْا فَلاَ عُدْوَانَ إِلاَّ عَلَى الظَّالِمِينَ الشَّهْرُ الْحَرَامُ بِالشَّهْرِ الْحَرَامِ وَالْحُرُمَاتُ قِصَاصٌ فَمَنْ اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ فَاعْتَدُوا عَلَيْهِ بِمِثْلِ مَا اعْتَدَى عَلَيْكُمْ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقِينَ
“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors. And kill them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.” (al-Baqarah 2:190-194)

For your second quotation also read the full text:

وَدُّوا لَوْ تَكْفُرُونَ كَمَا كَفَرُوا فَتَكُونُونَ سَوَاءً فَلاَ تَتَّخِذُوا مِنْهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءَ حَتَّى يُهَاجِرُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَخُذُوهُمْ وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ وَجَدْتُمُوهُمْ وَلاَ تَتَّخِذُوا مِنْهُمْ وَلِيًّا وَلاَ نَصِيرًا إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ يَصِلُونَ إِلَى قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُمْ مِيثَاقٌ أَوْ جَاءُوكُمْ حَصِرَتْ صُدُورُهُمْ أَنْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ أَوْ يُقَاتِلُوا قَوْمَهُمْ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ لَسَلَّطَهُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ فَلَقَاتَلُوكُمْ فَإِنْ اعْتَزَلُوكُمْ فَلَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ وَأَلْقَوْا إِلَيْكُمْ السَّلَمَ فَمَا جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ سَبِيلاً سَتَجِدُونَ آخَرِينَ يُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يَأْمَنُوكُمْ وَيَأْمَنُوا قَوْمَهُمْ كُلَّ مَا رُدُّوا إِلَى الْفِتْنَةِ أُرْكِسُوا فِيهَا فَإِنْ لَمْ يَعْتَزِلُوكُمْ وَيُلْقُوا إِلَيْكُمْ السَّلَمَ وَيَكُفُّوا أَيْدِيَهُمْ فَخُذُوهُمْ وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأُوْلَئِكُمْ جَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانًا مُبِينًا
“They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): so take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks. Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (Of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If Allah had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (guarantees of) peace, then Allah hath opened no way for you (to war against them). Others you will find that wish to gain your confidence as well as that of their people: every time they are sent back to temptation, they succumb thereto; if they withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and slay them wherever ye get them; in their case We have provided you with a clear argument against them.
(Al-Nisa’ 4:89-91)

Now tell me honestly, do these verses give a free permission to kill anyone anywhere? These verses were revealed by Allah to Prophet Muhammad at the time when Muslims were attacked by the non-Muslims of Mecca on a regular basis. They were frightening the Muslim community of Medina. One may say using the contemporary jargon that there were constant terrorist attacks on Medina and in this situation Muslims were given permission to fight back the “terrorist”. These verses do not give permission to “terrorism” but they are a warning against the “terrorists.” But even in these warnings you can see how much restraint and care is emphasized.

It is important that we study the religious texts in their proper context. When these texts are not read in their proper textual and historical contexts they are manipulated and distorted. It is true that some Muslims manipulate these verses for their own goals. But this is not only with Islamic texts, it is also true with the texts of other religions. I can quote dozens of verses from the Bible which seem very violent, if taken out from their historical context. These Biblical texts have been used by many violent Jewish and Christian groups. Crusaders used them against Muslims and Jews. Nazis used them against Jews. Recently Serbian Christians used them against Bosnian Muslims. Zionists are using them regularly against Palestinians.