Workshop: He who has life: The Qur’an Series

In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful

Zurich Community, Switzerland

Outline:   This series proposes to discuss the sciences of the Qur’an known as ‘Uloom al-Qur’an, which addresses the various frameworks the Book works within.  Principally these are topics that include its revelation, collection and arrangement while the series itself will focus on advanced topics of methodology, commentary, style and expression.

The first aim of the series is to illustrate the depths of the Qur’an, being that its purpose is to encompass and express the eternal knowledge of the entire Universe. The second is to ensure the audience is appreciative of the Qur’ans inner and hidden characteristics, with the intention of encouraging an incisive approach to its reading. The third is to offer practical techniques the audience can advance with, toward creating a personal relationship with the book.

As the audience will consist of various levels of Qur’anic experience, the sequence of the series is based upon a gradual development of the sciences.  It is also expected to be a unique series addressing issues rarely discussed from the pulpit.  The series will be a culmination of works from a number of Qur’anic masters; these include and are not limited to:

•          Majma’ al-Bayaan (Tabari)

•          Min Huda al-Qur’an (Ay. Syed Modarresi)

•          Min Wahi al-Qur’an (Ay. Syed Fadhlullah)

•          Tafseer al-Kashif (Ay. Jawad Mughniyah)

•          Tafseer al-Mizan (All. Syed Tabataba’i)

•          At-Tamheed fee ‘Uloom (Ay. Hadi Ma’rifat)

•          Usool at-Tafseer wa Ta’weel (Ay. Syed Kamal Hayderi)

•          Uloom al-Qur’an (Ay. Syed Baqir Hakim)

•          Tadabbur fil Qur’an (Ay. Syed Ridha Shirazi)

•          Al-Bayaan fee Tafseer al-Qur’an (Ay. Syed al-Khoei)

•          Payam e Qur’an (Ay. Makarem Shirazi)

•          Tafseer al-Furqan (Ay. Sadiq Tehrani)

It is hoped that with the blessings of the Holy Ahlul Bayt (a), the audience will become accustomed to the esoteric aspects of the Holy Qur’an that may not have considered, reinvigorate their love for the blessed book and adopt new manners of approach toward it.

Reliant upon Allah

Jaffer Ladak

October 2011

Milton Keynes

 

 

1
Qur’an: for the one who has life

Introduction to the Series

The purpose of the Qur’an; removing impediments toward and encouraging regular recitation

“It is nothing but a reminder and a plain Qur’an; that it may warn he who has life” (36:69-70)

 

2
The greatest claim ever made

Challenging the Qur’ans claim of including ‘everything’ within it; introducing the term ‘Ummul Kitab'; understanding the infinite through the finite; the Ahlul Bayts technique of reconciling all issues through it

“And We have not neglected anything from the Book! (6:39)

 

3
A system within a system

Introducing the assortment of decisive and allegorical verses; addressing why Qur’an is composed in this nature; when do these verses become relative?

“He it is who has revealed the book to you; some of its verses are decisive – they are the basis of the book and others are allegorical” (3:7)

 

4
The very best of stories

The aim of Qur’anic stories; why the confinement to naming only 25 Prophets; the practise of gaining lessons from Qur’anic stories; how to approach a story from differing angles

“We reveal to you the very best of stories, by Our revealing to you this Qur’an” (12:3)

 

5
Deciphering the code part 1

The prerequisites to performing Qur’anic commentary; introducing the various methods and styles; demonstrating Tabatabai’s method of ‘the Qur’an explaining the Qur’an’

“We reveal to you the truth and the best commentary” (25:33)

 

6
Deciphering the code part 2

Explaining the purpose of repetitive and similar verses, focus on the ‘thematic’ exegesis of Qur’an and its development

“We reveal to you the truth and the best commentary” (25:33)

 

7
From the apparent to the hidden part 1

Introducing the terms apparent (dhahir), hidden (batin) and absolute interpretation (ta’weel); focus on how to migrate from the apparent meaning of a verse to its hidden; what is Qur’anic hermeneutics?

“But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those firmly rooted in knowledge ” (3:7)

 

8
From the apparent to the hidden part 2

Focus on ta’weel; its ultimate importance to every verse; the process of ta’weel from the ‘knowledge’ of Allah to mans mind; who are ‘those firmly rooted in knowledge’?

“But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those firmly rooted in knowledge ” (3:7)

 

9
From the apparent to the hidden part 3

Examples of ta’weel performed by the Prophets and Ahlul Bayt; how the ta’weel can directly contradict the apparent meaning of a verse and still be correct

“But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those firmly rooted in knowledge ” (3:7)

 

10
From the apparent to the hidden part 4

The great debate on whether a non-infallible can know the ‘absolute interpretation’ of the Qur’an; the Qur’an and the philosophy of Ghaybah

“But none knows its interpretation except Allah and those firmly rooted in knowledge ” (3:7)

 

11
But I don’t speak Arabic!

The reason for Qur’an being in Arabic; examples of its linguistic depth; tools for non Arab speakers to maximise of the Arabic Qur’an

“Indeed we have made it an Arabic Qur’an so that you may understand by it” (43:3)

 

12
How do I do that?

The difference between pondering and reflection, the principles, practical tools and results of reflecting upon Qur’an

“Do they not reflect upon Qur’an or are their hearts locked?” (47:24)

 

13
Back to the Future

Conclusion to the Series

How will the Qur’an be used in the coming century; what are our responsibilities toward the Qur’an?; the demand of constant progression

“We found our fathers doing so” (26:74)

 

 

 

Summer Family Camp 2012 – Follow up

It has nearly been two months since our annual family camp, but the memories are still fresh in my mind. Since many people missed out on this year’s camp, I thought it would be a good idea to share a little on the discussions held during the camp which was attended by 32 members.

Our guest speaker, Brother Abdul Rauf Shokoya, who is a presenter on Ahlulbayt Channel in the U.K., was very impressed with the beautiful surroundings on offer and also commented on the very family orientated atmosphere of the camp, stating that he could see that much effort had gone in to include discussions from the youth of the community which was much appreciated.

Apart from sharing meals together, the group was able to hold many fruitful discussions as well as hike together near Oberalpsee, which unfortunately was still frozen up and so the initial hike around the lake could not take place. However, our newly settled family from U.A.E was able to enjoy seeing and touching our Swiss snow for the first time!

Discussion sessions were held with both youth and adults around Culture and Religion. Many were able to share their understanding of their own culture, defining it and highlighting the positive aspects it presented for developing their identity. Aspects of culture discussed in the session included heritage, roots, upbringing, mother tongue, food and clothing, location, traditions, society and environment. It was very reassuring to conclude that many cultural aspects were important to all members, both young and old, albeit at different levels, and that mutual respect and understanding was necessary to help our youngsters identify themselves with their own culture in the present environment.

The discussion on Religion focused on the necessity of beliefs and the challenges faced by young and old in the present environment. Brother Shokoya shared his experiences of working with certain youth groups in the UK, encouraging them to stay on the right path. It was again reassuring to see that our youngsters were positive about their religious values, and presented an eagerness to learn and develop in this respect. Some concerns were expressed on the need for better guidance as religion was often perceived to be too ritualistic and interpretation of religion was often according to convenience. The new generation has many questions with regard to different religious aspects and need appropriate answers to their ‘why’s’ and ‘why not’s’. There was a strong consensus that culture does benefit our religious evolvement, provided certain aspects of it do not conflict with Islamic values. It was strongly felt that members of a community sharing similar cultural values can contribute towards a collective spiritual growth, helping individuals to strengthen their faith.

A final workshop discussing the advantages and disadvantages of social media, ‘Face-book’ in particular, proved to be an eye-opener for certain adults and helped improve their understanding of this modern concept. It was again reassuring to see that the younger generation is fully aware of the risks around the use of such media and are able to make secure choices and use of the new technology to their own advantage. Adults were also able to get a realistic glimpse into the youngsters day to day life in Switzerland and the challenges it presents for them.

The workshops highlighted many issues that need to be discussed and focused on further in the future to help the community as a whole. Brother Shokoya concluded the weekend by emphasizing on the need for developing the spiritual needs of the parents, so that they are able to raise their children with a strong understanding of their faith, guiding them to make a positive contribution to the global community.

The following suggestions were made at the feedback session to help improve our annual camp:

  • Hold more discussions on daily issues in life as Muslims living in Switzerland
  • Workshops were sometimes too long – pace was fast (felt rushed)
  • Food preparation also felt rushed as members preparing food also wanted to take part in workshops
  • Include more sports activities to include young and not-so-young!
  • Very good opportunity for youth to be able to discuss with adults, both groups learn from each other
  • Find a time when convenient for more members to attend

Thanks a lot for your attendance and contribution.

Shamim Abidi