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al-Ma’ida 15-16 : the Qur’an is a guiding light

يَـٰٓأَهۡلَ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبِ قَدۡ جَآءَڪُمۡ رَسُولُنَا يُبَيِّنُ لَكُمۡ ڪَثِيرً۬ا مِّمَّا ڪُنتُمۡ تُخۡفُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبِ وَيَعۡفُواْ عَن ڪَثِيرٍ۬‌ۚ قَدۡ جَآءَڪُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ نُورٌ۬ وَڪِتَـٰبٌ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬ (١٥) 

15. O People of the Book! Certainly Our Messenger has come to you; he clarifies for you much of what you kept hidden from the Book, and he absolves much. Indeed a light from Allah has come to you, and a clarifying Book.


يَهۡدِى بِهِ ٱللَّهُ مَنِ ٱتَّبَعَ رِضۡوَانَهُ ۥ سُبُلَ ٱلسَّلَـٰمِ وَيُخۡرِجُهُم مِّنَ ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِ بِإِذۡنِهِۦ وَيَهۡدِيهِمۡ إِلَىٰ صِرَاطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ۬ (١٦) 

16. Allah guides with it whoever follows Its contentment to the ways of peace, and It causes them to come out of the darknesses into the light, by Its consent, and It guides them to a straight path.


Every time I see a verse beginning with “O People of the Book,” the first person that comes to mind is my Catholic mother-in-law, and then all the various professors who taught me at Syracuse University. I have always felt like despite differences in our religious backgrounds, our approaches to faith and inner peace were similar, and we had a deep kinship in our spirits. Verse 15 speaks to the “People of the Book,” those who understand the Book of Life, regardless of personal origin. The Qur’an appeals to all people, as we all share the experience of humanity.


As human nature is, however, it is normal that over time, people in power have hidden important truths from the public. This is as true in earthly politics as it is with regards to our sacred inheritance as human beings; history is written by the winners, and scriptures have been manipulated by those with various intentions. Surat al-Ma’ida verse 15 calls people out on this tendency and announces that “Allah” (Source, God) claims and confirms the purpose of the Messenger bearing the Qur’an as one who helps make sacred truths (co-creating, manifesting, living the abundance which the Divine has made fundamentally available to all, etc.) accessible once again to humanity. 


Importantly, while verse 15 points out that the light and clarifying message comes from the Book of Life, its direction is open. The message is not restricted to only men or women, Arabs or non-Arabs, or earthly followers of the Messenger Muhammad. It is a broad statement offered to anyone listening who wants to follow a path of peace and harmony, and it causes people to come out of darkness and into light.


Thankfully we still have the original text of Qur’an available today. Although its meaning has not escaped misrepresentation through shallow translation and interpretation, we can still return to the original Arabic text and dig deeper to better understand the universality of its message. Let’s explore the light of the Qur’an as it guides us on our human journey.

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