The Quran: Outdated or Timeless?

One of the major doubts instilled in the minds of Ismāʿīlis by Aga Khan and his missionaries is that the Qurʼān can no more can be used as a source of guidance in the present day and age, and is outdated. They are taught that Aga Khan’s farmāns are interpretation of  Qurʼādn in accordance to modern times. This is one of the biggest blatant lies that Aga Khan is using Qurʼān for his farmāns. Also, it is a baseless doubt that Qurʼān is outdated.

What is the “Modern Society?”

What we call modern society is only identified by the changes in technology, science, traditions, culture and the likes but if we ask the question to Ismāʿīlis how much has man changed from within?

Is there no discrimination in our modern world based on gender, ethnicity, race, caste, creed religion, color? Are there no murders, rape, crimes happening in our “modern world”? Is technological progress the only indication of intellectual progress as a species? Have we been smart enough to take care of the world we live in with utmost care? Have we been able to pull up the oppressed and underprivileged sections of our societies to a respectable and humane level?

Would you consider our “modern world” fit enough for our children to live in?

These questions hint at  just the tip of the iceberg which we face as a human race.

The Reason for revelation of the Qurʼān

The Qurʼān wasn’t sent to us so that we could make outer progress and then discard it. It was sent as a mercy for our inner self as a guide to a fulfilling life. So, is it outdated? Well I don’t see man has become any better then what he was eons ago.

As a society, we are different today – but different doesn’t necessarily mean better. A Muslim may live a hundred years and may still not be able to perfect the principles that God asked us to. It is sent as a guidance which cuts across time and space and not just to a particular section and period of a society.

And with the truth We have sent the Qurʼān down, and with the truth it has descended. And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a bringer of good tidings and a warner.

Qurʼān 17:105

3. Qurʼān presents a timeless challenge

The Qurʼān challenges those who read it – no matter when – to produce something better than the Qurʼān. This is the most serious challenge to those who say the Qurʼān is outdated or in doubt of its authenticity. The Qurʼān challenges the linguists of our time to compose something in its style, eloquence and meaning in the Arabic language. It is also a book that not only been preserved in its content but the modes of recitation have been preserved so much so millions have committed it to memory. 

And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a sūrah like it; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides God, if you are truthful.

Qurʼān 2:23

4. Qurʼān timelessly changes people’s way of life

Qurʼān continues to change people’s lives no matter the time. Without the Qurʼān being changed over time people are willing to alter their life just by reading one book, and people are able to practice what a book has taught 1400 years ago. It is the fastest growing religion and many testimonies have been made that Qurʼān changed their life including priests, Western ex-soldiers, scientists, comedians, former convicts, politicians, actors and many others. Islām is a way of life and people are attracted towards the teachings taught in the book no matter their profession. No matter the place or the time, people are able to practice the faith. 

This [Qurʼān] is a clear statement to [all] the people and a guidance and instruction for those conscious of Allah.

Qurʼān 3:138

5. The Qurʼān is timeless because it tackles modern day ailments

Qurʼān tackles many modern-day ailments of society including gambling, drinking alcohol (leads to death do vehicular accident, date rape, etc.), loaning money on interest (modern day slavery and cause of much pain caused by not being able to payoff debt, causing the next generation to be in more debt), sexual promiscuity, inequality, suicide. This includes emotional ailments of greed, envy, evil thoughts, distress, sadness, feeling hopeless, loneliness, backbiting, boastfulness, spying on one another. Keep in mind that these issues are tackled from the root cause with profound statement of why it is harmful. There are to many examples of this in the Qurʼān but one that stands out is the following verse:

 Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakāh; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. 

Qurʼān 2:177

It is amazing how this verse starts with saying righteousness is not about physical rituals it is about believing and that belief causes individual to solve real world issues like poverty, especially your immediate family that may be in need.

6. The Qurʼān is timeless because it challenges modern civilization

It would make sense for the Qurʼān only speak of religious rituals but it tackles modern civilization and surprisingly scenarios that last Prophet dealt with 1400 years ago all at the same time. This includes what to do during battle, who to wage war against, who not to wage war against, protect the places where God’s name is mentioned including Churches and Synagogues, what to do with war booty. As well as topics related to family relations between husband and wife, divorce, what should both parties do during divorce, after divorce, how is inheritance allocated after a person dies. The list goes on and on and really is the modern-day living challenge. As non-Muslims like George Bernard Shaw has said if the last Messenger, the walking Qurʼān, “were alive today he will solve the world’s issue over a cup of tea.

And [mention] the Day when We will resurrect among every nation a witness over them from themselves. And We will bring you, [O Muhammad], as a witness over your nation. And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.

Qurʼān 16:89

7. The Qurʼān is timeless because it also speaks in extreme detail life after death so it speaks about the future

With all that valuable content stated above the Day of Judgement, the future, is also mentioned at every page to warn those who are heedless to what really matters most and be aware of our end. Just this topic alone can be a book in itself so let me just emphasize one verse that shows people who are blind of the Qurʼān and hearts locked no matter the evidence given to them. 

And We have certainly created for Hell many of the jinn and mankind. They have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear. Those are like livestock; rather, they are more astray. It is they who are the heedless.

Qurʼān, 7:179

8. Qurʼān is sent for all humankind (هدى للناس), till the day of judgement

Though certain teachings address few matters which vanished as the time passed. For example, teaching of slavery is one of them. There are verses which addressed the rules to treat the slaves, which gave them significant status in society, e.g. treating them equally, and choosing same for them what you choose for yourself. But as the slavery vanished in modern society, those summons became inapplicable. But they’re there as summons/words of Allah. These summons/verse can be used to extract any law/direction by Ulema (knowledgeable persons) for future coming events and situations.

Qurʼān being an ultimate source of Islāmic wisdom, is considered the base of every rules and regulation for present time and the time which has yet to come.

If one thing is not openly declared in Qurʼān, then Hadith (Muhammad’s words, action and agreement with any action done in front of him) is the reference for Islāmic Laws. Any event which takes place and isn’t covered already will be addressed by ijtihād (Islāmic reasoning) by exploring the existing teachings in Qurʼān, Hadith and Fiqh (explanation of Sharia through ijtihād).

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