RLG204H5 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, Al-Baqara 255, Surah

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12 Mar 2018
Week 3 Schimmel reading
Schimmel: The Koran and Its Teachings (pgs. 29-50) week 3
The foundations of Islam is the Qur’an
o It is the unadulterated words of God which has become audible through Muhammad
o Translation of the Qur’an is only an explanation of the book’s meaning
Translations only strives to give the meaning
The text contains solutions for all problems that arise in the world, but there are also unknown
Divine mysteries hidden in the sequence of its verses and in the arrangements of its very letters.
The Qur’an is the basis for the entire life
o Various range of interpretations and commentaries
o 1st step in interpretation: philological scrutiny of the text
o The possibility of interpreting the Book in the most diverse ways seems to be a strong proof if
its supernatural origin
1st major commentary comprises no less than 30 volumes
o Written by Tabari
o Zamakhshari composed his famous commentary under the influence of Mu‘tazilite ideas
Later commentaries: Baidawi (13th c.), Jalaluddin as-Suyuti (15th c.), Elmali (19th c.), Shah
The present order of the text is not chronological
o The suras (or chapters) were arranged in descending length
o The “Fatiha”: the Opening
1st sura and is like an introduction
The sacred texts were put together during Uthman’s time
The first, short revelations often deal with the Day of Judgment
o Often situated at the end of the Qur’an
o Sura 112: contains the profession of God’s unity
Followed by two brief prayer formulas imploring protection from evil
o Total of suras: 114
All have brief titles which are not part of the original sura, they are based on a prominent
expression in the text
Short titles: ex The Cow, The Star, The Bee, Women, etc.
o Before the recitation of any sura or a single verse, one should utter “basmala” for protection
against Satan
o Fatiha and many short suras are recited during daily prayers
o Certain suras are thought to possess special blessing power (Baraka)
Sura 36: Yasin
Recited for dying or dead people
Sura 2/255: Throne Verse
Found on walls and weapons, fabrics, tiles, wall hangings
Recited because of its beauty and protecting power
Sura 7/171: Before the world was created, God made Adam and humankind from Adam’s loins
and asked: “Am I not your Lord?” and they answered, “Yes, we testify to it”.
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Humans willingly obey God’s orders and so cannot claim ignorance of His commands at the
Day of Judgement
o (Later) Suras revealed in Medina
These provided regulations for:
Worldly affairs
Daily life
Political life
Every single verse in the Qu’ran is called an ayat (sign, miracle)
o Muhammad brought forth these verses as Divine signs when his adversaries asked him for a
miracle proving his prophethood
o The ayats are preserved in the text
Position of human being in the Qur’an:
o Man is superior to all spirits and angels
o Ordered the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam
o Satan did not and was cursed because he though that he was better as he was made of fire,
while humans was made of clay.
o Human beings are good by nature and change due to the influence of their environment
o It was humans to whom God gave the amana (or trust)
Humans are called to think about the signs which God has placed throughout history, nature,
one’s heart & soul
o Warnings and lessons from history & nature help reveal the right path and insight to be applied
to one’s life
Tilawat: an art which formed because of the Muslims’ desire to recite the Qur’an as beautifully
as possible
o The proper musical recitation, developed into a high art
o When reciting one has to observe certain subtle changes in pronunciation
o The Qur’an is chanted in melodic phrases
Hafiz: a person who preserves the Qur’an
o Knows it by heart, is highly respected
Pillars of Islam:
o Definition: five main religious duties that must be done by believers
o 5 pillars are:
Shahada: foundation of the others profession of faith.
Whoever confesses in public has accepted Islam
The believer has to accept all the prophets who taught before Muhammad
Believe that Muhammad is the last messenger who brought the concluding revelation which
corrects the previous ones
Salat (or Prayers)
Performed 5 times a day
o Before sunrise, non, afternoon, after sunset, and nightfall
It is the duty that seems most important for the Muslim’s daily life and which has shaped the
Islamic world most strongly
Tahajjud: nightly prayer which is not obligatory but emphasized on in the Qur’an
Every prayer begins with niyya (formulation of the intention)
Rak’a: one cycle of the prayer
During 1st rak’a à person stands upright, uttering the words Allahu akbar and the Fatiha
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