The Qur’an’s Wisdom and Human Philosophies
How Can You Compare the Qur’an’s Wisdom and Human Philosophies?
A most true evidence for the nobility of the wise Qur’an, the clearest proof its truth and a most powerful sign of its miraculousness, is this:
The Qur’an contains and explains all the degrees of manifestation of Divine Unity in all its varieties (Unity of Divine Being, Unity of Divine Attributes, Unity of Divine Names, Unity of Divine acts, affirming His ‘positive’ Attributes and affirming Him to be free of any kind of defects and shortcomings, etc.) and with all the requirements of these degrees and varieties, and never detracts from the balance among them. It also maintains the equilibrium among the elevated Divine truths. Moreover, it contains all the commandments and principles required by all of the Divine Names and maintains exact, sensitive relationships among them. Also, it holds together all the acts and functions of God’s Divinity and Lordship with perfect balance (not attaching more importance to some exclusively). Thus, this containing, maintaining and holding with balance is a matchless virtue and characteristic, which is not to be found in the works of even the greatest minds among mankind. It is to be found in neither the works of saints who have penetrated the inner realities of things, nor the books of the ‘Illuminists’ who discerned the inner aspects of things and events, nor the products of the knowledge of wholly purified scholars who have penetrated the world of the Unseen. It is as if, according to the principle of the division of labor, each group have been devoted to one of the branches of the mighty tree of truth, busied with only its leaves and fruits in unawareness or neglect of the others.
The absolute, unlimited truth cannot be comprehended by restricted minds and visions. It can be comprehended only by the vision of the Qur’an which is universal and all-encompassing. The others no matter if they also benefit from the Qur’an, cannot comprehend the universal truth in its entirety, with their limited minds, restricted to only a few parts of it and wholly absorbed in them. They frequently go to extremes, dwelling on one or two points more than the others, thus destroying the balance and accurate relations among the truths. We will try to approach this point with a parable, which is as follows:
A parable to understand the Qur’an’s and human philosophy’s approach to existence
Suppose there were some treasure under the sea, full of numerous jewels of every kind. Divers plunge into the sea to search for those jewels but since their eyes are closed, they try to find them with dexterous use of their hands. One of them seizes a somewhat big diamond and concludes that the treasures consist of that diamond only. When he hears of other jewels from his friends, he thinks that they are facets or embellishments of that diamond. Another one finds a round ruby and still another, a square amber, and so on. Each of them assumes that the treasure consists of what he has found only, the others being its parts, facets or embellishments.
This kind of thought and attitude destroys the balance and accurate relations among truths, and even changes the color of many of them. One is compelled to make forced interpretations and detailed explanations in order to see the true color of truths or show them to others. Some even go so far as to deny or falsify them. Those who make a careful study of the books of the ‘Illuminists’ and the works of the Sufi masters who rely on their visions and illuminations without weighing them on the scales of the Qur’an and the Sunna of the Prophet, will undoubtedly confirm this judgment of ours. Although these have benefited from the Qur’an and generally been taught by it, their teachings have certain shortcomings and are defective because they are not the Qur’an itself. The verses of the Qur’an, which is the ocean of truths, encompass and see the whole of the treasure and describe the jewels in so harmonious and balanced a way that they show their beauty perfectly.
For example, just as the Qur’an sees and shows the grandeur of Divine Lordship expressed by the verses,
The whole earth is His handful on the Day of the destruction of this world and building of the next, and the heavens are rolled up in His Right Hand (al-Zumar, 39.67)
The day when We shall roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for books (al-Anbiya’, 21.104),
so too it sees and shows the all-encompassing Mercy expressed by these:
God, nothing on the earth or in the heavens is hidden from Him. He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases (Al ‘Imran, 3.5-6); Not a moving creature but He grasps it by the forelock (Hud, 11.56),
How many a moving creature there is that bears not its own provision. God provides for it and for you (al-Ankabut, 29.60).
Also, just as it sees and points out the vast extent of the creativity expressed by
(He) has created the heavens and the earth and made the darkness and the light (al-An‘am, 6.1),
so too it sees and shows the comprehensive Divine disposal of things and His encompassing Lordship by
He creates you and what you do (al-Saffat, 37.96).
It sees and shows the mighty truth expressed by
He gives life to the earth after its death (al-Rum, 30.50)
and the truth concerning His munificence, expressed by
Your Lord has inspired the bee (al-Nahl, 16.68),
and the great truth concerning His Sovereignty and command, expressed by
The sun and the moon and the stars subservient by His command (al-‘Araf, 7.54).
The Qur’an sees and shows the truth of compassion and administration expressed by
Do they not observe the birds above them in ranks, spreading their wings and closing them? None uphold them save the Most Merciful; indeed He sees all things (al-Mulk, 67.19),
and the vast truth expressed by
His Seat includes the heavens and the earth, and he is never weary of preserving them (al-Baqara, 2.255),
and the truth concerning His overseeing, expressed by
He is with you wheresoever you may be (al-Hadid, 57.4),
and the all-embracing truth expressed by
He is the First and the Last and the Outward and the Inward, and He knows all things (al-Hadid, 57.3),
and His being nearer to beings than themselves, expressed by
Truly, We have created man and know what his soul whispers to him; We are nearer to him than his jugular vein (Qaf, 50.16),
and the elevated truth expressed by
The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day the span of which is fifty thousand years (al-Ma‘arij, 70.4),
and the all-encompassing truth expressed by
God enjoins justice and absolute kindness, and giving to kinsfolk, and forbids all shameful deeds, and things abominable to sound conscience, and injustice and rebellion (al-Nahl, 16.90).
In short, the Qur’an sees and shows in detail all the truths concerning this world and the next, pertaining to knowledge and practice, and each of the six pillars of faith. It also points out purposefully and earnestly each of the five pillars of Islam, and all the other principles of securing the happiness in both worlds. It preserves the exact balance and maintains the accurate relationship and proportion among them. The subtlety and beauty originating from the harmony of the entirety of those truths give rise to a form of the Qur’an’s miraculousness.
It is because of this mighty truth that although the scholars of theology are the students of the Qur’an and have written numerous volumes on the pillars of faith, since like the Mu‘tazilites a certain portion of them have preferred reason over transmitted knowledge originating from Divine Revelations, they have not been able to explain them as effectively as even ten verses of the Qur’an. It is simply as though they have dug tunnels under the mountains as far as the end of the world to obtain and convey water. They have gone along with the chains of cause and effect as far as the beginning of time and then, cutting the chains, jumped over to eternity to obtain the knowledge of God, which is the water of life for people, and prove the existence of the Necessarily Existent One. As for the Qur’anic verses, each can extract ‘water’ from every place like the staff of Moses, opening up a window from everything and making known the Majestic Maker. It is also due to this reality that since the leaders of all the heretical groups who have delved into the inner nature of things, who, not following the Sunna of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, but relying instead on their visions, have returned from half way and formed different sects, they have been unable to preserve the proportion and balance of truths, and so fallen into heresy and misguidance and caused the deviation of certain groups of people. Thus, their disability also demonstrates the miraculousness of the Qur’an.
By Ali Unal
This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.