Muhammad Asad Interview on God Man Relationship Part 3 Transcription

Muhammad Asad on the Quran:

“The Quran is the reproduction of the revelation received by the Prophet Muhammad from God. It is the word of God and it exists today in exactly the form the Prophet received it. There has been no change in any letter or any word from the time of its revelation to our time. And it is the only scripture of its kind that has remained within 14 centuries without the slightest change in language or in script.”

Muhammad Asad on the differences between the Quran and other scriptures:

“The difference is this. The Quran is not a book of history, not a book of science but it is simply a message of guidance: ethical guidance, spiritual guidance. And it teaches human beings to achieve the good life in the best sense of the word: socially, spiritually, individually.”

Muhammad Asad on the methodology of the study of the Quran:

“First of all, you must realize that the Quran is a unity without contraditions. Therefore … when they read a verse from the Quran, the must correlate it with other verses. By studying the Quran, you must permanently cross references from one part, one surah to another surah, from one verse to another verse. Sometimes a verse gives an outline to an idea which is made clear in another verse in quite a different place. Therefore permanent cross referencing is necessary to understand the Quran. And then they must bear in mind the language of the Quran was the language understood by the companions of the prophet in his time. Whatever head meaning a word or a sentence head for the companions of the prophet must be the meaning for us. For instance, the mistake is made very frequently by Muslims and non Muslims in describing the Quran is a book translating the word kitab as book when the Quran has not been a book in the time of the prophet. It was revealed in parts and brought together at the end of the revelation and when the prophet completed his mission. I want to explain that when the companions heard the word kitab, they took it in the sense of order, decree. For example, *Kutiba alaikum assiyam* (2:183) (speaks Arabic), fasting is prescribed and ordained for you. In that sense, the Quran is, as I have translated, a divine writ, not a book as is. Then the other thing is in Muslim, in Muslimun, in Muslimat and so forth. Then if the companions heard for the time, the first time, the word Muslimun, they did not have before them the picture of an organized community of Muslims. They understood the word in its literal meaning. That means, one, a Muslim is one who has surrendered himself that is to God. Therefore, in my translation of the Quran, the word Muslim does not occur. Wherever it occurs in the Arabic text, it is translated as one who has surrendered himself to God. In that sense, for example Abraham described as a Muslim, he is one who surrendered himself to God. And this understanding of the companions must be guiding for us in the understanding in the Quran throughout. What was the concept in the time of the prophet must be reflected in our understanding.”

Muhammad Asad on the Quranic commentary:

“It started with the companions, for example, Abdullah ibn Abbas, one of the more prominent companions of the prophet, explained verses of the Quran and others did the same thing. And then later on came the next generation … they continued that then it was systematized. And people noted down the explanations of one commentator and so it gradually developed into a science of commentary. But there is no uniform commentary of the Quran in existence, there never has been. Different minds had different ideas about specific points which they explain in accordance with their understanding. For example, you find differences between the kashf of Al Zamakshari and the tafsir of Al Razi or Al Tabari. Each of them approach the Quran through his own mind, and of course means outstanding knowledge of Arabic: Arabic grammar and Arabic history, Arab history. And so it gradually developed into a science which many sides and many facets.”

Muhammad Asad on Quran as uncorruptible by different individual commentaries:

“The Quran cannot be corrupted as long as its text exists. The commentator may make a mistake, may be right, but the Quran speaks for itself. If somebody makes a mistake, no other commentator will correct it. And there have been differences of opinions between commentators themselves. For example, Al Razi speaks very highly of his predecessor Al Zamakshari but sometimes he differs from. And he says, the author of the Al Kashshaaf, which is Al Zamakshari, explain this in such and such way, I understand it differently. And he did. And niether blaming the other of being unfaithful to the Quran. Each try to explain it according to his own understanding.”

Muhammad Asad on his attitude towards the interpretation of miracles and jinns in the Quran:

“There is no fixed principle by me. I believe in miracles but I believe in this word in the Quran (speaks Arabic): miracles are God alone. Miracle is an act of God, an unusual act of God in order to transmit the message to people which cannot be expressed in words. Which can be expressed only by concept of ideas or pictures together and this is a miracle. And there is no supernatural miracle because everything that exists in creation is natural. Whole creation of God is natural. Therefore miracles are part of the nature that God has given His creation. (So what makes them a miracle is actually a lack of understanding.) Precisely miracles are to my mind a special way of transmitting a message that cannot be transmitted by mere words.”

Muhammad Asad on his feelings and views on Quranic concept of creation of men:

“The Quran has, whenever the term Adam is used, it mostly means the human race as such. It does not mean simply one person. That becomes quite clear in a verse … when he says that Adam has been created of dust. Dust means in the Quran inorganic and organic particles of existence, Adam has been created from that. When God wanted to create him, He said ‘Kun faya kun’ (speaks in Arabic). If Adam had been meant, by Adam meant a single person who has died since, it should have been, God said ‘Kun fa karna’ (speaks Arabic) but it remains present ‘he is’. God said ‘be and it/he is’, that means he is to our days, he exists as the human race. This is to me the evidence that by Adam the human race is meant just one person, which is allegorically contracted very often into the pair Adam and Eve. (So in the Bible it meant to be a historical record of the creation, Quranically it reveals the divine truth about mankind. Is this true in the other stories, biblical stories, the story of Moses, the story of Jesus.) The Quran uses many stories of earlier prophets in order to illustrate spiritual truths and to provide guidance. They are not given these stories as historical evidences of God*s creation or so. They are given as … form of guidance, and many of them are used in quite a different way than in the Bible. Different from the Bible.”

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