THIRD RAY: This relates to the Qur’an’s miraculous prediction, as well as its freshness and ability to address all levels of understanding regardless of time and place. This ray consists of three radiances.
FIRST RADIANCE: This relates to the Qur’an’s predictions and has three light-giving aspects.
First aspect: The Qur’an gives news of the past. Although communicated by an unlettered one, the wise Qur’an mentions in a solemn and powerful manner the important experiences of Prophets from the time of Adam to the Age of Happiness as well as the main aspects of their mission. The information it provides usually coincides with the commonly agreed descriptions of the previous Scriptures. It also corrects the points on which their corrupted forms disagree. Thus the Qur’an has an all-seeing vision that knows the past better than the previous Scriptures.
Its account of the past is not based on intellectual study, but it is transmitted knowledge. Transmitted knowledge is particular to lettered persons, whereas Prophet Muhammad was completely unlettered and known as Muhammad the Trustworthy. The Qur’an speaks of past events as if seeing them. It extracts the kernel of a long series of events and presents its argument through that kernel. The extracts, summaries, and indications found therein therefore demonstrate that the One Who presents them sees all dimensions of the past. Just as a substantial summary, a fine extract, or a telling example shows a specialist’s skill or expert knowledge, the Qur’an’s chief points and main themes, chosen from certain events, show that the One Who chooses them has an all-encompassing knowledge of the whole and is describing them with an extraordinary skill.
Second aspect: This relates to the Qur’an’s many categories of predictions. One category is particular to saints and spiritual unveiling. For instance, Muhyi’d-Din ibnu’l-‘Arabi found many predictions in Suratu’r Rum. Imam ar-Rabbani discovered signs of many future events in the muqatta‘at (the individual, separated letters at the beginning of certain suras). For scholars of the inner aspects and innermost meanings of the Qur’an and creation, the Qur’an is full of predictions. I will concentrate on only one and be content with mentioning some examples, without going into detail.
The Qur’an says to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings:
So be patient: Surely God’s promise is true. (30:60)
You will enter the Sacred Mosque, if God wills, in full security, with your heads shaved, your hair cut short, and without fearing. (48:27)
It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Religion of truth, that He may uplift it above every religion. (48: 28)
The Byzantine Romans have been defeated in the nearer part of the land; and, after their defeat, they will be the victors in a few years. To God belongs the Command. (30:3-4)
Soon you will see, and they will see, which of you is demented. (68:5-6)
Or do they say: “He is a poet. We await for him some calamity ahead.” Say: “Wait on; I am also waiting with you.” (52:30-31)
God will protect you from people. (5:67)
If you are in doubt about (the Divine authorship of) what We have been sending down on Our servant (Muhammad), then produce just a sura like it... If you fail to do that—and you will most certainly fail... (2:23-24)
... They will never long for it. (2:95)
We will show them Our signs in the outer world and in themselves, until it is clear to them that it is the truth. (41:53)
Say: “If humanity and jinn banded together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they would never produce its like, even though they backed one another.” (17:88)
God will bring a people He loves and who love Him, humble toward believers, mighty and dignified against unbelievers, (people) who strive in God’s cause, and fearing not the reproach of any reproacher. (5:54)
Say: “All praise and gratitude are for God. He will show you His signs and you will recognize them.” (27:93)
Say: “He is the All-Merciful. We believe in Him and in Him we put all our trust. Assuredly, you will soon know who is in manifest error.” (67:29)
God has promised those of you who believe and do righteous deeds that He will make them successors in the land, even as He made those (of the same qualities) who were before them successors, and that He will establish their religion for them, that He has approved of for them, and He will replace their present state of fear with security. (24:55)
All of the predictions made in these verses came true. So if a person who is subject to the severest criticisms and objections, in whom even one fault is certain to lead to his cause’s failure, makes predictions so unhesitatingly and confidently, and in such a serious manner, it shows without doubt that he speaks not of himself but of what he receives from his Eternal Teacher.
Third aspect: This relates to what the Qur’an says about the Unseen, Divine truths and the Hereafter’s realities. Certain truths of creation also may be considered in this category.
The Qur’an’s explanations concerning Divine truths and its statements about the realities of creation which solve the mystery of creation and unveil the talisman of the universe are among the most important pieces of information about the Unseen. For humanity cannot advance in a straight direction amid paths of misguidance and reach the Unseen’s truths or realities. The deep, endless disagreements between schools of philosophy and scientists show that even their greatest geniuses cannot discover even the least of these truths by unaided reasoning. Only after purifying their souls, refining their hearts, evolving their spirits, and perfecting their intellects, humanity can perceive and accept those truths and realities, and then say: “May God bless the Qur’an.”
This point has partly been explained in The Eleventh Word. As for the Hereafter’s events, states, conditions, and stages, including the life of the grave, no one can discover and perceive them by himself or herself. However, one can penetrate and comprehend them through the Qur’an’s light, as if seeing and observing them clearly. You may refer to The Tenth Word, which discusses how right and true are the Qur’an’s explanations of that Unseen world of the Hereafter.
SECOND RADIANCE: This relates to the Qur’an’s freshness, which is maintained as if it were revealed anew in every epoch. As an eternal discourse addressing all human beings regardless of time or place and level of understanding, it should—and does—have a never-fading freshness.
The Qur’an so impresses each new generation that each one regards it as being revealed to itself and receives its instructions therefrom. Human words and laws become old and so need to be revised or changed. But the Qur’an’s laws and principles are so established and constant, so compatible with essential human nature and creation’s unchanging laws, that the pas sage of time has no effect upon them. Instead, it shows the Qur’an’s truth, validity, and force even more clearly! Especially the people of this twentieth century, including particularly its People of the Book,142 who rely on themselves more than any preceding people’s self-reliance and close their ears to the Qur’an’s calls, are most in need of the Qur’anic calls of guidance beginning with: O People of the Book. As this phrase also means “O people of schooling and education,” it is as if those messages were directed toward this century exclusively. With all its strength and freshness, the Qur’an makes the whole world resound with its call: Say: “O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you, that we worship none but God, and that we associate none as partner with Him, and that none of us take others for Lords, apart from God.” (3:64)
Modern civilization, the product of human ideas and perhaps of the jinn, has chosen to contend with the Qur’an, which no one has ever been able to do. It tries to contradict its miraculousness through its charm and “spells.” To prove the Qur’an’s miraculousness or inimitability against this new, terrible opponent, and affirm its challenge of: Say: “If humanity and jinn banded together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they would never produce its like, even though they backed one another” (17:88), I will compare modern civilization’s basic principles and foundations with those of the Qur’an.
First, all of the comparisons and criteria put forward from The First Word to this Twenty-fifth One, and the truths and verses contained therein and upon which they are based, prove the Qur’an’s miraculousness and indisputable superiority over modern civilization.
Second, as convincingly argued in The Twelfth Word: By reason of its philosophy, modern civilization considers force or might to be the point of support in social life, and the realization of self-interest is its goal. It holds that the principle of life is conflict. The unifying bonds between the members of a community and communities are race and aggressive nationalism; and its ultimate aim is the gratification of carnal desires and the continuous increase of human needs. However, force calls for aggression, seeking self-interest causes fighting over material resources, which do not suffice for the satisfaction of all desires; and conflict brings strife. Racism feeds by swallowing others, thereby paving the way for aggression. It is because of these principles of modern civilization that despite all its positive aspects, it has been able to provide some sort of superficial happiness for only twenty per cent of humanity and cast eighty per cent into distress and poverty.
As for the Qur’anic wisdom, it accepts right, not might, as the point of support in social life. Its goal is virtue and God’s approval, not the realization of self-interests. Its principle of life is mutual assistance, not conflict. The only community bonds it accepts are those of religion, profession, and country. Its final aims are controlling carnal desires and urging the soul to sublime matters, satisfying our exalted feelings so that we will strive for human perfection and true humanity. Right calls for unity, virtues bring solidarity, and mutual assistance means hastening to help one another. Religion secures brotherhood, sisterhood, and cohesion. Restraining our carnal soul and desires and urging the soul to perfection brings happiness in this world and the next.
Thus despite its borrowings from previous Divine religions and especially the Qur’an, which accounts for its agreeable aspects, modern civilization cannot offer a viable alternative to the Qur’an.
Third, I will give a few examples of the Qur’an’s many subjects and commandments. As its laws and principles transcend time and space, they do not become obsolete; they are always fresh and strong. For example, despite all its charitable foundations, institutions of intellectual and moral training, and severe disciplines and laws and regulations, modern civilization has been unable to contest the wise Qur’an even on the following two matters and has been defeated by it:
First comparison: Perform the Prescribed Prayer, and pay the Zakah (2:43); and: God has made trading lawful and interest and usury unlawful (2:275). As explained in my Isharatu’l I‘jaz, as the origin of all revolutions and corruption is one phrase, so is the cause and source of all vices and moral failings also one phrase: The first is: “I am full, so what is it to me if others die of hunger?” And the second: “You work so that I may eat.”
A peaceful social life depends on the balance between the elite (rich) and common (poor) people. This balance is based on the former’s care and compassion and the latter’s respect and compliance. Ignoring the first attitude drives the rich to wrongdoing, usurpation, immorality, and mercilessness; ignoring the second attitude drives the poor to hatred, grudges, envy, and conflict with the rich. As this conflict has destroyed social peace for the last two or three centuries, it has also caused social upheavals in Europe due to the struggle between labor and capital.
Despite all its charitable societies, institutions of moral training, and severe laws and regulations, modern civilization has neither reconciled these two social classes nor healed those two severe wounds of human life. The Qur’an, however, eradicates the first attitude and heals its wounds through the Zakah, and eradicates the second by outlawing interest and usury. The abovementioned Qur’anic verse stands at the door of the world and says to interest and usury: “You are forbidden to enter!” It decrees to humanity, “If you want to close the door of strife, close the door of interest and usury,” and orders its students not to enter through it.
Second comparison: Modern civilization rejects polygamy as unwise and disadvantageous to social life. Indeed, even though if the purpose of marriage were sexual gratification, polygamy would be a lawful way to realize it. But as observed even in animals and plants, the basic purpose for and wisdom in sexual relations is reproduction. The resulting pleasure is a small payment determined by Divine Mercy to realize this duty. Thus, as marriage is for reproduction and perpetuation of the species, being able to give birth at most once a year, to be impregnated only during half of a month, and entering menopause around fifty, one woman is usually insufficient for a man, who can sometimes impregnate even until the age of a hundred. That is why, in most cases, modern civilization has been compelled to tolerate numerous houses of prostitution.
Third comparison: Modern civilization criticizes the Qur’an for giving a woman one-third of the inheritance (half of her brother’s share) while giving a man two-thirds. However, general circumstances are considered when establishing general rules and laws. In this case, a woman usually finds a man to maintain her, whereas a man usually has to live with one of whom he must take care. Given this, a woman’s husband is to make up the difference between her share of the inheritance and that of her brother. Her brother, on the other hand, will spend half of his inheritance on his wife [and children], equaling his sister’s share. This is true justice.
Fourth comparison: The Qur’an severely prohibits idolatry and condemns the adoration of images, which can be an imitation of idolatry. However, modern civilization sees sculpture and the portrayal of living beings, which the Qur’an condemns, as one of its virtues. Forms with or without shadows (sculptures and pictures of living beings) are either a petrified tyranny (tyranny represented in stone), embodied ostentation or solidified passion, all of which excite lust and urge people to tyranny, ostentation, and capriciousness.
Out of compassion, the Qur’an orders women to wear the veil of modesty to maintain respect for them and to prevent their transformation into objects of low desire or being used to excite lust. Modern civilization, however, has drawn women out of their homes, torn aside their veils, and led humanity into corruption. Family life is based on mutual love and respect between men and women, but immodest dress has destroyed sincere love and respect, and poisoned family life. Sculptures and pictures, especially obscene ones, have a great share in this moral corruption and spiritual degeneration. Just as looking at the corpse of a beautiful woman who deserves compassion with lust and desire destroys morality, looking lustfully at pictures of living women, which are like little corpses, troubles and diverts, shakes and destroys elevated human feelings.
In conclusion, then, besides securing happiness for all people in this world, the Qur’anic commandments serve their eternal happiness. You can compare other matters with those mentioned.
Just as modern civilization stands defeated before the Qur’an’s rules and principles for social life and humanity, and bankrupt before the Qur’an’s miraculous content, so also the Words written so far, primarily the Eleventh and Twelfth, demonstrate that European philosophy and scientism, the spirit of that civilization, are helpless when confronted with the Qur’an’s wisdom. In addition, when compared to the Qur’an’s literary merits—which may be likened to an elevated lover’s uplifting songs arising from temporary separation or heroic epics encouraging its audience to victory and lofty sacrifices—modern civilization’s literature and rhetoric appear as an orphan’s desperate, grief-stricken wailing or a drunkard’s noise.
Styles of literature and rhetoric give rise to sorrow or joy. Sorrow is of two kinds: it comes from either the feeling of loneliness and lack of any protection and support, or separation from the beloved. The first is despairing and produced by modern misguided naturalist, and heedless civilization. The second is lofty and exhilarating, and arouses a hope and eagerness for reunion. This is the kind given by the guiding, light-diffusing Qur’an.
Joy also is of two kinds. The first incites the soul to animal desires (so called “fine” arts, drama, and cinema, etc.). The second restrains the carnal soul and urges (in a mannerly, innocent way) the human heart, spirit, intellect, and all inner senses and faculties to lofty things and reunion with the original, eternal abode and with friends who have passed on already. The Qur’an of miraculous exposition encourages this joy by arousing an eagerness to reach Paradise, eternal happiness, and the vision of God.
Thus the profound meaning and great truth contained in: Say: “If humanity and jinn banded together to produce the like of this Qur’an, they would never produce its like, even if they backed one another” (17:88), is not, as some assert, an exaggeration. It is pure truth and reality, which the long history of Islam has proved. The challenge contained here has two principal aspects. One is that no human or jinn work can resemble or equal the Qur’an’s style, eloquence, rhetoric, wording, comprehensiveness, conciseness, and profundity. Nor can their most beautiful and eloquent words, all arranged in a volume by their most competent representatives, equal the Qur’an. The second aspect is that all human and jinn civilizations, philosophies, literatures, and laws, which are the products of the thought and efforts of humanity and the jinn and even satans, are dim and helpless when faced with the Qur’an’s commandments, wisdom, and eloquence.
THIRD RADIANCE: The wise Qur’an addresses all people, regardless of time, place, or level of understanding, and calls them and teaches them about belief, the highest and most profound science, and about knowledge of God, the broadest and most enlightening branch of knowledge, and about the laws of Islam, the most important and elaborate of sciences. Therefore it has to teach each group and level in an appropriate manner. As people are very diverse, the Qur’an must contain enough levels for all of them. You may refer to the examples given earlier. Here I will point out only a few particular points briefly and refer to a few classes’ share of understanding in it.
- From Suratu’l-Ikhlas:
He begets not, nor was He begotten. And comparable to Him there is none.. (112:3-4)
Ordinary people, the majority of humanity, understand that Almighty God has no parents, children, wives, and equals. Those having relatively higher levels of understanding will infer that the verses reject Jesus’ supposed (by Christians) Divine sonship and divinity, and the divinity of angels and all beings who beget and are begotten. Now, since rejecting a negation or an impossibility is useless, according to the science of eloquence, it must have another important, useful import. As God does not beget and was not begotten, this rejection must serve another purpose: Whoever has parents, children, and equals cannot be God and so does not deserve worship. This is one reason why Suratu’l-Ikhlas, from which the above verses are quoted, is of such great use for all persons at all times.
Those with a higher degree of understanding derive the meaning that Almighty God is free of all relationships with the creation that suggest begetting and being begotten, and that He has no partners, helpers, or fellow deities. He is the Creator, and everything and everyone else is the created. God creates whatever He wills and however and with the command “Be! and it is.” He is absolutely free of every quality and relationship which suggests compulsion or obligation, and unwilled action, and is therefore contrary to perfection.
Another group with an even higher level of understanding infers the meaning that Almighty God is eternal, without beginning or end, and is the First and the Last. He has no equals, peers, likes, or anything similar or analogous to Him in His Being, Attributes, or acts. However, to make His acts understandable, the Qur’an allows us to have recourse to proper comparisons. You may compare to these understandings the shares of those distinguished with knowledge of God, ecstatic lovers of God, and most truthful, pains-taking scholars.
- From Suratu’l-Ahzab:
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men. (33:40)
Ordinary people understand that Zayd, the servant of God’s Messenger and whom he had adopted as his son, divorced his wife Zaynab because he found her superior to him in virtue. By God’s command, God’s Messenger then married her. Therefore the verse says: “If the Prophet calls you ‘son,’ this is because of his mission as Messenger. Biologically, he is not the father of any of your men, which would prevent him from marrying one of your widows.” A second group derives this meaning: “A superior treats his subjects with fatherly care and compassion. If that superior is both a worldly ruler and a spiritual guide, his compassion will be far greater than a father’s, and his subjects consider him a real father.” Since this may cause people to have difficulty in seeing the Prophet, whom they consider more fatherly than a father, as the husband of their women, the Qur’an corrects this view: “The Prophet considers you with the view of Divine compassion and treats you in a fatherly manner. You are like his children from the viewpoint of his mission. But he is not your biological father so that it would be improper for him to marry one of your women.”
A third group understands that merely because of their connection with the Prophet, as well as their reliance on his perfections and fatherly compassion, believers cannot believe that their salvation is assured even though they commit sins and errors. (For example, some Alawis do not perform the pre scribed Prayers and say that their Prayers have been performed already.143)
A fourth group deduces a prediction: The Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, will not have a son to continue his line. His sons will die young. As expressed by men, that is, as he will not be the father of men, he will be the father of daughters. Thus his line will continue through his daughter. All praise be to God, the blessed children of his daughter Fatima, his two grandsons Hasan and Husayn, the “light-giving full moons” of the two illustrious lines, continue the line of the Sun of Prophethood both biologically and spiritually. O God, bestow blessings on him and his Family.
142 Jews and Christians. (Tr.)
143 Similarly, Christians delude themselves that Jesus sacrificed himself for their salvation, and so rely on their leader’s or guide’s perfections and are lazy when it comes to observing religious commandments. (Tr.)