Saturday, April 23, 2022

Qur'ān - The Al Furqan (The Criterion): Warner for the entire Mankind

The four Divine Scriptures were revealed to four highly placed prophets of Allah for the guidance of their people. While Taurat (Torah), Zaboor (Psalms) and Injeel (Bible) were revealed for a specific people and area,  Qur'ān, the last and final Divine Revelation, is to be he beacon of guidance for all times to come till this universe exits. And that is why it not only embodies typical religious teachings, but it encompasses all aspects of human life as individuals, family, community or universal community as a whole. In fact Qur'ān is the criterion to differentiate between good and bad, virtues and vices. In short, it is a warner for whole of the mankind to take guidance from and be prepared for a Day when every man will be made to answer for his entire worldly life.

The very first verse of Surah 25, Al Furqan (The Criterion) indicates towards the universality of the Qur'ān and message to the entire mankind:

تَبٰـرَكَ الَّذِىۡ نَزَّلَ الۡـفُرۡقَانَ عَلٰى عَبۡدِهٖ لِيَكُوۡنَ لِلۡعٰلَمِيۡنَ نَذِيۡرَا ۙ‏ 
(25:1) Most blessed is He Who sent down this Criterion, on His servant, to be a warner to all mankind;
As is usual with opening of many Surahs of the Qur'ān, this verse also begins with exaltation of Allah, the Creator of this universe. The Arabic word tabaraka( تَبٰـرَكَ )  is very comprehensive, and cannot be understood fully and completely by "highly blessed", not even by a sentence. However, its meanings may be grasped by keeping in view the remaining portion of vv. 1-2. Here it has been used to convey the following meanings:
  • He is the most Beneficent: that is why He has bestowed the great blessing of Al-Furqan by degrees on His servant so that he may admonish all mankind.
  • He is the most Exalted and Great: for the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth belongs to Him.
  • He is the most Holy, Pure and Perfect: He is free from every tinge of shirk and has neither a partner in His Godhead, nor needs a son to succeed Him; for He is Ever-Lasting.
  • He is the Highest and the Most Supreme in rank: the Kingdom and the Dominion wholly and solely belong to Him, and there is none who has any share in His Authority and Powers.
  • He is the sole Creator of the universe and has created each and everything in it and predetermined its destiny. 
Then the meaning of Al-Furqan ( The Criterion ) unfolds: The Qur'an has been called Al-Furqan because it is the Criterion for judging right and wrong virtue and vice, truth and falsehood.  
The word nazzala implies revelation of the Qur'an piecemeal by degrees. The wisdom of this introductory remark will be explained in the study of verse 32, where the objection of the disbelievers of Makkah -as to why the Qur'an has not been sent down all at once-has been dealt with
“..... warner to all mankind": To warn all mankind of the evil consequences of their heedlessness and deviation. The warner may be AI-Furgan or the Holy Prophet to whom it was revealed. In fact, both were the warners because they were both sent for one and the same purpose. The message of the Qur'an and Prophethood of Muhammad (Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) were not meant for any particular country but for the whole world; and not for their own time, but for all times to come. This has been stated at several places in the Qur'an; for instance: "O Muhammad, say, O mankind, I am a Messenger to all of you from Allah ....." (Al-A`raf: 158); "..... and this Qur'an has been revealed to me so that I should thereby warn you all and whom it may reach." (Al An'am: 19); "We have sent you only as a bearer of good news and as a warner to all mankind." (Saba: 28); and "We have sent you as a mercy to all mankind." (Al Anbiya': 107) The Holy Prophet himself has stated this clearly in the Hadith; for instance, he said: "I have been sent to all men-the red and the black." "Before me a Prophet was sent only to his own people, but 1 have been sent to all mankind." (Bukhari, Muslim). "I have been sent to all mankind, and I am the Last of the Prophets." (Muslim).
Muhammad Asad Explanation:
Almost all the commentators give this meaning to the term al-furqan. In the above context it denotes the Qur'an as well as the phenomenon of divine revelation as such. (For an amplified interpretation of this term by Muhammad 'Abduh, see note [38] on 2:53 .) The verbal form nazzala implies gradualness both in time ("successively") and in method ("step by step").

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
Tabaraka: the root meaning is "increase" or "abundance". Here that aspect of Allah's dealing with His creatures is emphasised, which shows His abundant goodness to all His creatures, in that He sent the Revelation of His Will, not only in the unlimited Book of Nature, but in a definite Book in human language, which gives clear directions and admonitions to all. The English word "blessed" hardly conveys that meaning, but I can find no other without departing far from established usage. To emphasise the meaning I have explained, I have translated "Blessed is..." but "Blessed be..." is also admissible, as it brings out another shade of meaning, that we praise and bless His holy name.
That by which we can judge clearly between right and wrong. Here the reference is to the Qur'ān, which has already been symbolised by light. This symbol is continued here, and many contrasts are shown, in the midst of which we can distinguish between the true and the false by Allah's Light, especially the contrast between righteousness and sin.
The pronoun in yakuna may refer either to Furqan (the Criterion) or to 'Abd (the holy Prophet). In either case the ultimate meaning is the same. The Qur-an is the standing Criterion for judgment between right and wrong.
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
Ie., this is a Book which distinguishes between good and evil, is a barometer and a conclusive argument. At another instance, this feature of the Book is called Mīzān, which means a scale in which every person can weigh and see what is good and what is evil. Thus it does not need any external evidence to prove its claims and the veracity of its presenter; it in itself is evidence. It is because of this very status of the Qur’ān that I have written in the chapter “Fundamental Principles” of my book “Islam: A Comprehensive Introduction” that two premises about this Book must be acknowledged as a principle:
Firstly, no divine revelation extraneous to the Qur’ān and not even the Prophet (sws), to whom this Qur’ān was revealed, can specify a general directive of the Qur’ān or alter any of its directives. Everything shall be accepted or rejected as religion on the basis of the Qur’ān. Everything accepted in religion shall be rigorously scrutinized in the light of this Divine Guidance. All bases of belief and faith shall be directly derived from it. Every revelation, inspiration, research and opinion shall be subservient to the Qur’ān, and it shall be acknowledged that even the works of great jurists like Abū Ḥanīfah and al-Shāfi‘ī, scholars of Ḥadīth like al-Bukhārī and Muslim, theologians like al-Ash‘arī and al-Māturīdī, sūfīs like Junayd and Shiblī must be weighed in the scales of this mīzān, and nothing can be accepted from them which is not in consonance with it.
Secondly, the text of the Qur’ān is univocal. The meaning conveyed by each word of it is definitive. Whatever it intends to say, it says with full certainty and there is no ambiguity about it. In no issue is it unable to convey what it wants to. The meanings of its words perfectly match the words, and the meanings do not in any way contradict what the words say. The only way to approach the Qur’ān in order to understand it is through its words. With full certainty these words convey what they stand for and there is no question of any doubt or ambiguity in this regard. (Javed Ahmad Ghāmidī, Mīzān, (Islam: A Comprehensive Introduction), Tr. Dr Shehzad Saleem (Lahore: Shirkat Printing Press, 2018), 30.
( so that it can warn the people of the world ) Ie., it is not merely for Makkah and those who live in its whereabouts but for the whole world. It is explained in verse 19 of Sūrah al-An‘ām that the message of the Qur’ān is for all times to come. It is stated: وَ اُوۡحِيَ اِلَيَّ هٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنُ لِاُنۡذِرَكُمۡ بِهٖ وَ مَنۡۢ بَلَغَ (and this Qur’ān has been revealed to me that I may warn you through it and all those also whom it may reach). This status of the Qur’ān necessarily entails that for the later people also, it be univocal and provide certitude the way it was and did for its foremost addressees. By the grace of God, this is in fact so and this Book is with us with this certitude and finality.

The words عَلٰي عَبْدِهٖ are used for Muḥammad (sws) in the verse. This is a style in which attention is affectionately focused on him. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
... There is a special occasion for directing attention towards the Prophet (sws) in an affectionate way. In the succeeding verses, objections of the disbelievers are cited which they would raise in a very humiliating way against the Prophet (sws). These objections were generally raised by the affluent people from Makkah and Ṭā’if. Being conceited because of their wealth, they would mock at the meagre worldly resources of the Prophet (sws) and present this as a primary argument to refute his prophethood. While keeping in mind this mentality of these arrogant people, it is stated that after the favour of the Furqān which the Almighty has revealed to His special servant, nothing more is needed by him. In order to complete the mission of warning people, he has the perfect provision with him. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 5, 443)
Qur'an Wiki Explanation:
The Qur’ān is named here as ‘al-Furqān’, which is also the title of the sūrah. The name indicates distinction and separation between the truth and falsehood, divine guidance and erroneous beliefs. Furthermore, the Qur’ān makes a clear distinction between two different ways of life and two epochs in human life. It outlines a clear way of life as it is conceived in human conscience and in practice. This way of life is distinct from anything humanity has ever known. It ushers in a new era for humanity, unlike anything it ever witnessed. Thus it is a criterion in this broad sense, separating the stage of human childhood that has just ended from the stage of maturity about to begin. The age of physical miracles is thus ended to start that of rational miracles. Moreover, local and provisional messages come to an end with the revelation of the Qur’ān, God’s final and universal message to all mankind: “so that it might be a warning to all the worlds.”
Special honour for God’s Messenger is shown at this point, describing him as ‘God’s servant’. Describing man as God’s servant in these contexts indicates the highest and most honourable status to which any human being can aspire. It also serves as an implicit reminder that when man achieves his highest status, he is no more than God’s servant, while the position of majesty belongs to Him alone, with absolutely no hint or suggestion of there being anyone who bears any resemblance to Him or is His partner. It was situations like the Prophet’s night journey to Jerusalem and from there to heaven, or direct supplication to God and speaking to Him, or receiving His directives and revelations that tempted some of the followers of earlier messengers to weave legends speaking about a son of God or a relationship other than that of Godhead and servitude to Him. Hence, the Qur’ān emphasizes the status of man’s servitude to God as the highest position to which a chosen human being can aspire.

The sūrah defines God’s purpose of the revelation of the Qur’ān to His servant, “so that it might be a warning to all the worlds.” As a Makkan revelation, this Qur’ānic statement is important as it proves the universal character of the Islamic message right from its early days. This is contrary to the claims made by some non- Muslim ‘historians’ suggesting that the Islamic message initially had only local aspirations, but became more ambitious and outward looking as it secured a number of military victories. The truth is that this message was addressed from the start to all mankind. By its very nature, and the means it employed, it was clearly a universal message aiming to take all mankind into a new era, where a new code and style of life are implemented. It defined its universal nature when the Prophet was still in Makkah, facing determined and unrelenting opposition. It sought to achieve all this through the Qur’ān, the criterion God revealed to His Messenger to serve as a warning to all the worlds. 

End Note:
The Qur'ān is not only to be read, but also understood and acted upon. In order to understand Qur'ān, one must seek guidance from its translation and exegesis form as many scholars as possible so that no doubt is left to fully understand it. And this has been our endeavour to present multiple translations from some of the eminent Muslim scholars to make it easier for readers to understand Qur'ān.

May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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