The Qur’aan is God’s final communication of His divine will to human kind. It is the Creator speaking to human beings and it takes the form of human conversation. As humans change subjects randomly during conversation, the topics of the Qur’aan change in a seemingly random way. Consequently, the format of the Qur’aan is quite unique among books. As a whole it is not a book in the usual sense of the word wherein there is an introduction and explanation of the subject followed by a conclusion. Neither is it restricted to only a presentation of historical events, problems of philosophy, facts of science, or social laws, though all may be found woven together in it without any apparent connection and links.
Subjects are introduced without background information, historical events are not presented in chronological order, new topics sometimes crop up in the middle of another for no apparent reason, and the speaker and those spoken to change direction without the slightest forewarning. The reader who is unaware of the Qur’aan’s uniqueness is often puzzled when he finds it contrary to his understanding of a book, especially a “religious” book. Hence, the Qur’aan may seem disorganized and haphazard to him. However, to those who understand its subject matter, aim, and its central theme, the Qur’aan is exactly the opposite.
The subject matter of the Qur’aan is essentially man: man in relation to his Lord and Creator, Allaah, man in relation to himself, and man in relation to the rest of creation. The main theme that runs throughout the Qur’aan is that Allaah alone deserves worship and that man should submit to Allaah’s laws in his personal life and in his relationship with creation in general. Or, in other words, the main theme is a call to the belief in Allaah and the doing of righteous deeds as defined by Allaah.
If the reader keeps in mind these basic facts, he will find that from the beginning to the end, the Qur’aan’s basic topics are all closely connected to its main theme and that the whole book is a well-reasoned and cohesive argument for its theme. The Qur’aan keeps the same object in view, whether it is describing the creation of man and the universe, or events from human history. Since the aim of the Qur’aan is to guide man, it states or discusses things only to the extent relevant to this aim and leaves out unnecessary and irrelevant details. It also repeats its main theme over and over again in the presentation of each new topic.
The following four principles should be kept in mind by the new reader of the Qur’aan if he or she is to avoid unnecessary confusion and disorientation:
1) “The book is the only one of its type in the world.”
2) “Its literary style is quite different from all other books.”
3) “Its theme is unique.”
4) “Pre-conceived notions of a book are only a hindrance to the understanding of the Qur’aan.”
Dr. Bilal Phillips
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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