Hashim Amir-Ali, The Message of the Qur’an: Presented in Perspective (1974)
itself. What is the Qur’an? The Bible Today. The Qur’an Today. All these captions will have more meaning for those who are already acquainted with the Qur’an no matter how cursorily.
You will have seen that bold but reverent measures have been adopted in trying to provide the perspective in which the message of the Qur’an becomes meaningful. Perspective in relation to the holy books of other religions perspective of time, perspective of sequence, perspective of importance in the message of the Qur’an itself. The aim kept consistently in view has been to convey to the next generation, in 30 days, the reverent emancipation which it took us 30 years to acquire.
We found that the compilers of the Quranic message, in the early years following the Prophet, had achieved a remarkable degree of perfection in spite of the limitations under which they worked — limitations of a period a thousand years before the invention of printing, limitations which we cannot even imagine in the present times. The several samples of early Quranic scripts provided in this volume will bear testimony to those limitations. With the facilities and tools of analysis and study — libraries, dictionaries, concordances, lexicons, indexes, filing methods, typewriters, duplicating facilities, microfilming, and above all, the facilities and speed of communication and consultation etc — we have tried to achieve what was not possible for bigger and better men than ourselves in the early years of Islam. If we succeed, no matter to what little extent, in focussing the mind of the twentieth century on the message of the Qur’an, delivered in the seventh century, we shall have more than achieved our aim.
In books i, ii and iii we saw how a chosen individual was matured and groomed by the Qur’an for the task entrusted to him. Reading between the lines of book iv we saw a community being welded together in the furnace of privation, adversity and ostracism. In book v the Quranic text showed us how a righteous leader, implicitly believing in Divine guidance, faces the problems of balancing the ends he has to achieve with the meagre means he has at his disposal. We learnt how a righteous community, has to federate with other communities accommodating them without exceeding the bounds of truth and principle, equity and justice.
We found the first three books Al-Fatihah, Ar-Ruh and Al-Huda replicating faintly the ancient Scriptures — the Zubur, or the Psalms of David, in particular, book iv Al-Kitab showed us a strong resemblance to The Book of the Jews, the Taurat or the Old Testament which the Qur’an itself pronounced to be based on Divine inspiration, even if interpolated by human