The Criterion

The Qur’an is one of the most misunderstood texts. It is often considered to be the source of any extremism carried out by Muslims. However, as I have written in previous posts, the Qur’an is not only a complex text that should not be approached in a piecemeal fashion, but it is a book that lays out clear guidelines for believers and outlines the positive role they should have in society. The focus of this post is verses 63 through 76 in chapter 25, which both describe the behaviors of believers and demonstrate Islam’s overall peaceful message.

The name of the chapter is Al-Furqan, which means “the criterion.” This is also one of several names for the Qur’an because it guides the believer in distinguishing between evil and righteousness. In this chapter, there is a group of verses that describe the behaviors of a believer.

And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say “Peace!” (63) Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord prostrate and standing; (64) Those who say “Our Lord! avert from us the Wrath of Hell, for its Wrath is indeed an affliction grievous? (65) “Evil indeed is it as an abode, and as a place to rest in”; (66) Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes); (67) Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred, except for just cause, not commit fornication? and any that does this (not only) meets punishment (68) (But) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy? (69) Unless he repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (70) And whoever repents and does good has truly turned to Allah with an (acceptable) conversion? (71) Those who witness no falsehood and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honourable (avoidance); (72) Those who, when they are admonished with the Signs of their Lord, droop not down at them as if they were deaf or blind: (73) And those who pray “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.” (74) Those are the ones who will be rewarded with the highest place in heaven because of their patient constancy; therein shall they be met with salutations and peace (75) Dwelling therein how beautiful an abode and place of rest! (76) 

The first verse of this group is often found in Muslim homes and is frequently cited as a reminder for how Muslims should engage others. That is, Muslims should walk on this Earth without arrogance; if and when someone insults them they should respond by saying,”Peace.” The verses go on to describe the believer as someone who spends their night in prayer and meditation, does not spend excessively but gives to those in need, does not kill another human being without just cause, does good works, does not lie, and prays not only for him- or herself but prays that their families also be righteous. In addition, verse 68 highlights the core principle in the Islamic faith of absolute monotheism; that is, a Muslim does not worship or invoke the help of any other being except God. Moreover, in verse 70, God reminds the believer of two of His beautiful names, the Oft-Forgiving and the Most Merciful,  in the context of God’s promise to forgive if someone repents. These verses also remind the believer of the day of Judgment and the hereafter, both central concepts in Islam.

This description of a Muslim is contrary to the negative images often portrayed in the media. Muslims should feel a sense of accountability and thus should positively contribute to society. Moreover, it is the Qur’an that instructs Muslims how they should lead righteous lives. Verses like those above are often ignored in discussions of the holy scripture, but they should not be because they capture the essence of what Islam is about and who Muslims are.

What is your reaction to these verses? Do you think verses like these are ignored? Do you think there is a problem with how the Qur’an is approached? Do you think the same is done with other religious scriptures? Please share your comments below.

One thought on “The Criterion

  1. True scholarship in the study of any religion cannot be pursued following a method of eclectisism. If as the author suggests, a stereotypical image of a follower of Allah would summon an image of humility, tolerance, and compassion.

    A clearer translation of the title: al-Furquan would be “that which separates truth from falsehood”.
    In recapitulation of the virtues of the servants of Allah in these passages, (1) they are humble and forebearing, (2) they are constantly in adoration, in touch with Allah (3) they always remember the Judgment in the hereafter (4) they are moderate in all things (5) they avoid treason to Allah, to their fellow creatures and to themselves (6) they give a wide berth to not only falsehood, but to futility (7) they are aware both in mind and manner, to the signs of Allah (8) their ambition is to bring up their families in righteousness and to lead in all that is good. A fine code of individual and social ethics, a ladder of spiritual development that is open to all.

    The personification of these attributes applied to a Muslim’s life would completely undermine any justification for what has been termed Islamophobia.This condition of course describes a persistent, abnormal, or illogical fear of the religion of Islam. However, if either skewed extreme is all the information that a non-Muslim has, then both the violent nature as well as the docile attributes of a follower of Allah, are an incomplete and inaccurate perception.

    Therefore, since this disparity will continue to ostracize a significant percentage of the world’s population, open forums such as those that are sponsored at various universities must be increased for a free exchange of ideas, and illumination to further our understanding of humanity.

    In this effort reviewing a recently published Ebook at Amazon.com Kindle Books will serve as a ready resource;
    Allah of the Qur’an and The God of the Bible “Are They the Same?” The Verdict Is Yours