The Quran is a reminder of the previous messages in the earlier scriptures of the Abrahamic traditions, as one will find the essence of the Five Books of Moses, the Gospels and the Psalms of David throughout the text.
Prophet Moses is mentioned 136 times in the Quran, Prophet Jesus is remembered over 108 times, and there is an entire chapter dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus. Also included is an entire chapter entitled “The Women,” depicting some of the most formidable edicts on the mandates of pursuing social justice and the uplifting the sanctity and rights of the female gender.
For Muslims, the Quran is considered to be God’s monologue. The scripture was revealed in its entirety to Prophet Mohammed, a descendant of the Prophet Ishmael, son of Prophet Abraham, through the Archangel Gabriel.
Prophet Mohammed continuously stated that he was a reminder of the messages of the prophets that came before him, as the Quran was revealed to him during a time when oppression and injustice was yet again rampant in society.
Prophet Mohammed would base his teachings, rulings and decisions upon precedents set by the issues that the previous messengers had faced, and how they handled them. These messages and teachings were relayed to the community around him.
Prophet Mohammed would, in a sense, remind his followers of the laws and codes of the Divine in order for people to reinstate and utilize them in their daily lives. These edicts of conduct were necessary in order to restore a harmonious and equitable society.
When one strives to attain peace and justice, or the path to God, it is often referred to in Islam as the “jihad.”
No, Jihad is not a holy war. Jihad is a nonviolent struggle to achieve something to the best of one’s abilities.
The lesser, outer jihad is the quest for the Divine and its ideals for the larger world – to end poverty, hunger, homelessness, violence, war, etc.
The greater, inner jihad is the struggle to liberate any internalized oppression. It is a battle for justice for your own soul – to fight to end depression or inner chaos, wrestling your own negative self-talk, forgiving yourself. The internal jihad is by far the greatest odyssey of all.
Sharia, by definition, is the “way” for a person to live their lives in order to ultimately become one with God.
Quran means the book. Sharia law, or Quranic interpretation, is used only when there is no state or national law already established in the land where one dwells.
The law of the land supersedes sharia law in most instances, excluding personal rituals such as marriage, divorce, children’s rites of passages, individual dress code, preparation of food, individual prayer, end of life rituals, etc. – so long as they do not violate the already established laws of the country or place you reside in.
If there is no government or rule of law in place, only then does one default to God’s laws. And Sharia law must be used to restore righteous order with the goal of interpreting the holy text to resolve an issue, to arbitrate, evaluate conduct or establish a rightful conclusion.
Analyzing scripture for legal purposes must be performed through an insightful and consultative process that seeks the truth for all parties and entities involved.
Any manipulation of religious law to fit a particular program that does not benefit the movement of a society forward towards the spirit of the Divine is considered radicalized, extremist and a form of violence.
However, according to the Holy Quran, one must obey the law of the land first and foremost, so long as the established laws do not violate one’s inherent right of freedom of thought or moral autonomy and does not lead one to do harm, or that the established laws do not cause harm to other entities.
If it does reach that point, as in many other faiths, one may take nonviolent approaches to stand up for any injustices they feel violate their moral code of ethics.
If one resides in a nation that has laws based on an ethical standard of living one’s life, then religious laws and governmental laws should work hand in hand.
Everyone would be treated equally, existing in a just, fair and dignified manner. And all who dwell in a nation would have the inherent freedom to search for their personal pursuit of the truth, no matter which path, way or road they decide to travel in their sacred, spiritual scouting.
A theocracy would skew the power dynamics towards an unfair imbalance of power. It would make an intimate search for the Divine, or, as Muslims call it, the personal “jihad,” politicized by coercing some onto a path that is not spiritually fulfilling for them.
That would truly be one of the greatest sins of all. For the Quran 109: 1-6 explicitly states: “You shall have your religion, and I shall have mine.” For true Muslims, these are the words of God, and this edict must be adhered to.
Weaponizing any religiously based laws – whether Quranic, Judaic, Biblical, Cannon, Dharmic, Vedic, etc. – to divide and conquer a population is immoral. Instead, we must recognize the shared ethical principles that our faith traditions have as they offer guidance on our transcendent quests.
Our differences should be used as a productive way to understand and reach the divine from a different lens, often overlooked from another perspective, or path. For this is the groundwork and impetus of holy, interfaith dialogue, respectable debate, and the intellectual and moral search for the truth.
A brief study of, or quick introduction to, other holy texts can only deepen the individual insight, convictions and grounding within one’s own tradition. And it just might be the help someone is looking for in their own spiritual travels.
May God guide us all to the best of our intentions, Insha’allah. Ameen.
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series. Part one is available here.