Inner Meanings of the Qur’an
By: Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri
Nothing in existence takes place unless there is a reason behind it. Our scientific endeavors and technical achievements have all progressed because of the search for cause and effect, building up the information base for what is now our contemporary, modern society, with its far-reaching programs probing further into outer rather than inner space. Whatever we pursue in our intellectual life, using our brain capacity, is based on a sharable pattern that we can understand within the context of a language or culture. Whenever we are shocked, disappointed, afraid, or uncertain, it is because a discontinuity has taken place in our thought pattern. If someone suddenly begins speaking in a language one cannot understand, there will be an immediate freeze in the communication. So discontinuity is what we do not accept or like, by our innate nature.
The fundamentals in the source-book (the Qur`an) came down in one instant upon the Prophet of Islam and unfolded outwardly over twenty-three years. These two apparently opposing statements are not incompatible because the Book has always existed. The Book of Creation existed before the creation was made manifest. An analogy is to reflect upon any outer program. Before we embark on the construction of a house, the design already exists somewhere, maybe in the mind of the potential owner or the architect, and it unfolds in a pattern that is outwardly visible. And so with Qur`an: it is a pattern, a map, like a transparency which one can take and superimpose on any aspect of existence to see it’s meaning. It is as if one needs a gradational or topographical presentation which collates the map of life in a fashion that is understandable to us. If the knowledge of the map is alive and available, one will see Reality wherever one looks, and it will never change. God says in the Qur`an in Surat al-Mulk:
He who created the seven heavens in one above another; you see no incongruity in the creation of the Beneficent God; then look again, can you see any fault? Then turn back the eye again and again; your look shall come back to you confused and fatigued. (67:3-4)
There is no fault in the original design. This does not mean that there is no fault in the situation created by the human element. In other words, the designer’s intention is the perfect connectedness of it all, but we are given limited freedom to act. Within that limitation we will bring about injustice. So injustice in this world is our doing, inadvertently. This will continue until we realize that we have no option but to be in submission, to be in Islam, to give in to the decree of the Creator. Once that process has begun, then we have started an the path that was intended for us, by choice.
The Prophet Adam, peace be upon him, had no choice — he was in the Garden. There was nothing other than uniformity so he could only be obedient — he had no other choice. He learned the meaning of disobedience by obediently listening to that vibration called Shaytan. Now here we are in this Reality which is based on duality. We find ourselves born wanting to live forever seeking friendship, and abhorring enmity, seeking security and fearing insecurity, having varying degrees and different contexts of love and hate. We are all the same. The Qur`an says:
We created you from one self. (4:1)
The manifestation of hatred, insecurity, fear or love differs from one person to another, indeed from time to time for the same person. Before breakfast the manifestation of the desire for the person who has awakened hungry is to eat a good breakfast. After breakfast, if he is sensible, the last thing he wants is a second course. We find ourselves in a situation that hinges on duality, and yet there is a thread in it for all of us which we may refer to as humankind or humanity. We are one lot, we are one people, homosapiens — there is a common denominator.
Let us now look at the inner meaning of the Qur`an. There cannot be an inner unless there is an outer and the outer is a true reflection of the inner. Therefore, from the Qur`anic point of view, all things in this existence, whether they are material, intellectual or even subtler elements, are interconnected. From this point of view everything is divine, having emanated from the same Divine Source. So truly speaking, there is no such thing as a visible element of our way of life separated from the invisible element.