Friday, September 12, 2014

Foundational Principles

1/        Allah is omnipresent, unbounded by time and place.  All humanity, in all time, is subject to the Spiritual Law of cause and effect, as much as to the physical law of action and reaction.  The message of the Quran was revealed through Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, in the 7th c. A.D., providing a window for humankind to Divine Reality.  The message window was fixed in a specific time and place, and we understand it in that context.

2/        We attempt to understand the message in a way that resonates for us in our own culture, time and place.  This is an exercise of discernment.  We are inspired by a passage from Quran in which Quran itself tells us that God’s words are unlimited, which means that the divine wisdom as revealed through God’s words is unlimited.

SAY:  If all the sea were ink for my Sustainer’s words, the sea would indeed be exhausted ere my Sustainer’s words are exhausted!  And [thus it would be] if We were to add to it sea upon sea.”  [18:109,  See also Surah 31:27]][1]

3/        The messages in Quran, especially the culturally specific messages, cannot be understood without an understanding of the circumstances and events that were unfolding in the life of the Prophet when the messages were revealed.  We use Seerah (biography of the Prophet), and Sunnah literature (his words and actions) as references to arrive at that understanding.

5/        We use the classical tafasir (interpretations) of the Quran as reference material.  However, we strive to understand them in the context of the time and culture of their authors.   The most widely referenced tafasir were written between the 3rd and 8th centuries A.H. (after hijrah) / 9th and 14th centuries, A.D.   Although they are the reflection of centuries of study and contemplation on the Quranic messages, they are subject to human limitation.  We understand them as reflections from and for their own historical time and culture.  We do not take them as necessary guides for action in every subsequent human community. 

[1] Most passages of Quran are taken from The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad, except where otherwise noted.

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