The inner and outer dimensions of the Qur’an

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In chapter IV:36 God says, “And serve God and ascribe nothing as a partner to Him .” The verse prohibits
pre-Islamic Arabs from their worship of idols, just as chapter XXII;30 urges them to “ shun the filth of idols, and shun lying speech” On reflection it becomes clear that an idol may exist in any form, therefore, idol- worship is forbidden because it involves submission to an entity other than God.

In chapter XXXVI: 60 God treats the devil as an idol when He says, “Did I did not charge you, O you sons of A dam, that you do not worship the devil.” It also becomes clear that another from of idol- worship is submission to one’s desires or to the will of others, over and above the will of God, this is indicated in XLV: 23 which refers to “ him who makes his desire his God.”

Thus it becomes apparent that one should turn to none other for help than God Himself and not forget Him in any, circumstances, since to do otherwise would be to direct one’s attention away from God. To submit to others is to belittle Him and this is the very essence of idol – worship. Thus, in chapter VII: 179 God says of those who refused to worship Him, “Already We have urged into hell many of jinn and humankind ,…These are the neglectful “ The verse “ascribe nothing to Him,” clearly forbids worship of idols, that is to say, man may not, without God’s permission, submit himself to others including his own desires, since any such submission would render him neglectful of God.

In this way, the simple, apparent text of the verse unfolds multiple meanings and exemplifies a feature to be found throughout the Qur’an. Thus the saying of the Prophet, related in the books of hadith and commentary, become clear: In truth the Qur’an possesses an inner and outer, and the inner contains seven dimensions.

The reasons of containing The inner and The outer facets of the Qur’an
Materiality of human life
Man’s primary life, namely, the temporal life this world is as a bubble on the immense sea of the material, and since all his transactions concern the material, he is throughout his life, at the mercy of the moving waves. All his senses are occupied with the material and his thoughts influenced by sensory information. Eating, drinking, standing, speaking, listening, like all other human action, take place in the sphere of the material and not in the sphere of thought.

Moreover, in reflecting upon such concepts as love, enmity, ambition and nobility, one comes to better understand them by translating them into language derived from the senses or from actual material objects, for example, the magnetic attraction of loves, a burning ambition, or a man’s being a mine of wisdom.

Capacity to comprehend the world of meaning, which is vaster than that of the material, varies from man to man. For one person it may be almost impossible to imagine the world of meanings, another may perceive it only in the most superficial terms and, yet another, may comprehend with ease the most profound of spiritual concepts.

One may say that the greater a man’s capacity to under – stand meanings, the lesser he is attached to the world of the material and its alluring, deceiving appearance. By his very nature, each person possesses a potential for understanding meanings and, provided that he does not deny this capacity, it may be cultivated and increased further.

The necessity of explaining the subjects according to The level of undersranding
It is not a simple matter to reduce meanings from one level of understanding to another without losing its sense. This is particularly true for meanings possessing great subtlety which cannot be transmitted, especially to ordinary people, without Hindu religion: anyone reflecting deeply upon the vedic scriptures of India and studying the different aspect of its message will ultimately see that its basic aim is worship of one God.

Unfortunately this aim is explained in such a complicated manner that the concept of oneness reaches the minds of ordinary people in the from of idol- worship and the recogni tion of many gods. To avoid such problems, it becomes necessary to communicate meaning hidden beyond the material world in a language which is rooted in the material and readily comprehensible world.

Generality of religious knowledge for all men
Indeed some religions deprive their adherents of rights accorded to them by the religion itself: women, for example, in Hinduism, Jews and Christians who, in general, are denied access to knowledge of their holy books. Islam does not deprive anyone of their rights in the din, and both man and woman, scholar and layman, black and white are equal in being accorded access to their religion.

God affirms this in chapter III: 195, “Indeed I do not allow the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost,” and, again, in chapter XLIX: 13, “O mankind! Truly we have created you male and female and have made you nations and tribes you may know one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of God is the best in conduct.”

Qur’anic Teachings address To mankind
In this manner the Qur’an adresses its teachings to mankind at large and affirms that every man may increase himself in knowledge and, thereby, perfect his own behaviour. In fact, the Qur’an addresses its teachings specifically to the world of man. Since, as mentioned earlier, each man has a different capacity of understanding and since the expounding of subtle knowledge is not without danger of misinterpreta- tion, the Qur’an directs its teachings primarily at the level of the common man.

In this manner, the subtlest of meanings can be explained and multiple meanings and ideas expressed, to the ordinary person, by co-relating them to concrete sensory meanings, meaning therefore, is always inherent in the letter of the words.

The Qu r’an reveals itself in a way suitable for different levels of comprehension so that each benefits according tii his own capacity. In chapter XLIII: 3-4 God emphazises this idea: Truly we have appointed it a lecture in Arabic so that you may perhaps understand and indeed in the source of the Book, which we possess, it is sublime, decisive.

God describes the different capacities of man’s comprehend- sion in the following metaphor in chapter XIII:17 He sends down water from the sky, so that valleys flow according to their measure; and the Prophet, in a famous tradition says:” We prophets talk to the people according to the capacity of their intellects.”

The outward aspect, as an example for inward aspect
Another result of the multiple meanings within the Qur’an is that the verses take on a significance beyond their immedi- ate text. Certain verses contain metaphors which indicate divine gnosis far beyond the common man’s understanding but which, nevertheless become comprehensible through their metaphorical from.

God says in chapter XVII:89,” And indeed we have displayed for mankind in this Qur’an all kind of similitudes ,but most of mankind refuse everything except disbelief,” And again in chapter XXIX :43 God talks of metaphors as a means of expression, “As for these similitudes, We coin them for mankind, but none will grasp their meaning except the wise.”

Consequently, we must conclude that all Qur’anic teachings which deal with subtle profound knowledge, are in the from of similitues.


The quran in islam- pages: 29to32


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