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Essay No. 1 in a series of essays on Community
For more info contact: [email protected]
(
also read Essay No. 1a)

Muslim Community: a unifying theme of the Quran
Sep 2005

By Ahmad Ibrahim

THE QURAN, guidance for humankind, has a unique literary
style and all the subjects it deals with gravitate around the
unifying themes

MUSLIMS believe that the Quran is the unalterable word of God[i]. It is the final
revelation from God to the last Prophet[ii] Mohammed (PBUH) and affirms all
the earlier divine messages. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said that the best of
you is who has learnt and then taught it[iii].

The Quran deals with many subjects in classical Arabic, in a highly moving
language. It blends creeds, morals, creation, laws, rituals, philosophy, life and
death, and history all in the form of a book. And it does it with a unique literary
style unlike any other book. Much has been written about this unique style and
many scholars have dedicated their lives, over the centuries, to this subject.
In this essay, we do not intend to re-write the commentary on this literary
style but to highlight some relevant points to support our discussion on the
unifying theme of Quran.

First, subject or chronology does not arrange Quran nor does it follow a
logical sequence in its arrangement. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH[iv]) received
the divine revelations in a random order of a few verses at a time, over a
period of time and arranged them into a pre-ordained sequence, which
became the final book. Under this arrangement, the Quran moves from one
topic to another in an unexpected and abrupt manner. There is no clear
division of subjects into chapters and sections. Readers often find this style
difficult to follow.

Secondly, the Quran covers one subject in many different chapters and to
grasp the complete picture reader must refer to all the passages with their
context.

Lastly, the reader also needs to relate the subject to the central themes,
which  are the main unifying ideas of the book, to fully understand the
message. Thus, to understand the book, it is important that we clearly
understand the main subjects, their context and their relation to the unifying
themes of the book.

In this essay, we will examine why the Muslim Community is one of the major
and unifying themes of the Quran and how we can further highlight this theme
and perceive a relation between the apparently disparate topics.

Muslim Community is a unifying theme

The very first passage of the Quran says that it is a guide for those who
believe[v]. This is the recurrent theme throughout the book. God revealed this
book to provide guidance to a community of men and women, who are dutiful
to their Creator.

It is a book about their history, faith, values, rituals and especially, their future.
While appreciating the diversity in humankind, Quran’s emphasis is on the
identity of believers based on principles, values and morals. Quran has an
inclusive approach, which is respectful to the differences between humans
but invites people of all cultures to come together to know each other, to help
each other to do good and caution each other from harm[vi].

This theme is also sustained and vindicated by history and traditions. They tell
us how Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and also many prophets before him
founded communities with shared beliefs and values and how their
communities overcame resistance to become driving forces for the social,
economic and political uplift of the society.

Community has such an importance for Muslims that the Islamic or Hijra
Calendar starts from the date when the Muslims of Mecca migrated to Medina
and founded the community there. Since then, despite a general decline in the
sense of community, the Islamic institutions of congregational prayers and
taking care of poor through zakat have always remained the main pillars of
the Muslim community.

Therefore, we believe that a major unifying theme of the Quran is the
community of Muslims and all other subjects should gravitate around it.
Quran projects this community as a group of men and women who are bound
by their faith and shared values, who respect each other for their uprightness,
commitment and sense of duty and who are ready to accept anyone within
their folds without any discrimination and prejudice. Thus a strong spirit and
sense of the community is found within the passages of the book.

We believe it is a hope and an opportunity for those who embrace the vision of
a Muslim Community free from the evils of prejudice, partiality or favoritism;
the evils against which our founding father warned us[vii].

Highlighting the community perspective

With this background, we thought why not make an effort to better
understand this major unifying theme of the Quran. Therefore, we decided to
present our views in the form of a series of short essays to think and develop
ideas. In these essays we have tried to highlight different aspects of the
Muslim Community including, its vision, mission, identity, foundation, social
bonds and culture.

Following are the essays in this series:

1.        Muslim Community: the unifying theme of Quran ( this essay)
2.       
 Muslim Community: our Vision
3.        Success: our Mission
4.        God Almighty: our Guardian
5.        Prophets: our Leaders
6.        
Prophet Mohammed (PBUH): our Prophet and Messenger
7.        Prophet Abraham (PBUH): our Spiritual Father
8.        Submission: our Identity
9.        
Values: our Foundation
10.      Rituals: our Social Bonds
11.      Giving: our Culture
12.      
Voluntary Spirit: our Tradition
13.      Diversity: our Strength
14.      Knowledge: our Weapon

These short essays are about a thousand words long and written with a
common theme, the community. These essays provide an initial set of ideas,
principles and guidelines. They need to be refined and expanded, through a
process of community dialogue that seeks an informed and wise consensus.

If our members want to share their perspective, we encourage them to
contribute their essays, which can help broaden our knowledge on this
subject.

Note: If you are interested in submitting an essay please refer to guide section
below.

Guide for contributing essays

Essay is a short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting
the personal view of the author.[viii]

It requires a sincere effort to understand a topic and communicate that
understanding effectively and accurately. Therefore, just like any other
literary composition, essays require that the writer organizes it well, provides
the evidence and reasoning and if the subject requires further research, do
some hard work.

The following are the general advice on writing an essay:

·        The essay should be readily understandable.
·        Display clarity of thought by clear writing.
·        Use the language of everyday speech.
·        Do not be arrogant and do not humiliate or criticize anybody.
·        Do not take a self-righteous approach.

As a general advice follow the core values of the community

Note: please refer to http://clearvision.com.pk/values

Refer to these websites for good writing tips.

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/languages

http://dc37.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/history/gabriel/tips/htm

http://www.google.com

http://www.about.com

Notes & References
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[i] Quran
6:34 “...and none can alter the words of God…” 10:64 “…No change
can there be in the words of God…”
15:9 “…it is we who sent down the
reminder and surely we will guard it…”

[ii] Quran
33:40 “…he is the messenger of God and the last of the
Prophets……..”

[iii] Bukhari

[iv] Peace be upon him

[v] Quran
2:2 “…guidance to those who are dutiful…”

[vi] Quran
90:17 “…exhort one another to perseverance and exhort one
another to pity.”,
103:3 “…exhort one another to truth and exhort one another
to endurance.”

[vii] Speech of Mohammed Ali Jinnah to the Constituent Assembly on Aug 11,
1947

[viii] Dictionary.com
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