The Qur'anic Path

by Abu A`la Syed al-Maududi – Tahfhimul Quran

'...but all that you may do to understand the Quran is not enough. If you want to identify with the spirit of the Quran, you must practically involve [yourself] with the struggle to fulfill its mission. For the Quran is not a book of abstract theories and cold ideas, which one can grasp while seated in a cosy arm chair. Nor is it merely a religious book like other religious books, whose meanings can be grasped in seminaries and oratories.

'On the contrary, it is a Book which contains a message, and invitation, which generates a movement. The moment it began to sent down, it impelled a quiet and pious man to abandon his life of solitude and confront the world that was living in rebellion against God. It inspired him to raise his voice against falsehood, and pitted him in a grim struggle against the lords of disbelief, evil and inquity. One after the other, from every home, it drew every pure and noble soul, and gathered them under the banner of truth. In every part of the country, it made all the mischevious and the corrupt to rise and wage war against the bearers of the truth.

'This is a Book which launched a glorious movement, with the voice of a single individual, and continued to provide guidance to it for twenty-three years, till the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. At every stage during this long and heart-rending struggle between truth and falsehood, this Book showed its followers the ways to eradicate the old order and usher in the new.

'Is it, then, possible, to reach the heart of the Quran merely by reading its words, without ever stepping upon the battlefield of faith and disbelief, of Islam and Ignorance, without passing through any stage of the struggle? No, you can understand the Quran only when you take it up, begin to act upon it, and call mankind to God, and when every step you take is in obedience to its guidance.

'Then and only then, you will go through all the events and experiences which occurred during the course of its revelation. You will then pass through Makka, and Habash, and Taif; you will face Badr, Uhud, Hunayn and Tabuk. You will encounter Abu Jahl and Abu Lahab; you will meet the hypocrites and Jews; you will come face to face with those who instantly responded to this call as well as those who were drawn into Islam seeking some gain. You will come across all of these human models; you will deal with all of them.

This is a path different from the so-called 'mystic-path', which I name the 'Quranic path' that, as you pass through its various stations and stages, certain Surahs and Ayahs will disclose their full message to you, and tell you that they were revealed precisely for this stage and station that you are passing through. You may miss some linguistic and grammatical subtleties, you may miss certain finer points in the rhetoric and semantics of the Quran, yet it is impossible that the Quran will fail to reveal its full and true spirit to you.

'In the same way, no person can ever understand the legal injunctions, the moral teachings, and the political and economic directives of the Quran, unless and until he puts them into practice. Neither the individual who lives independently of the Quran nor the nation which runs its institutions in violation of its guidance can discover the spirit of the Quran.'

Reference: Tahfhimul Quran, Vol.I, Lahore, 1979, pp.33-4 quoted in Murad, Khurram, 'Way to the Quran', The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK, 1991. The above quoted passage appears in the latter on pages 117-118.

Extracted 01/08/03 from


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