Bassam Madany, Sa’eed Nasheed, and “What is the Qur’an?”
Rev. Bassam Madany, lifelong radio missionary to the Arab world, has a helpful article, “What is the Qur’an?” Bassam Madany examines a Moroccan’s, Sa’eed Nasheed, critique of the Qur’an’s ethical teachings. Sa’eed Nasheed questions whether the Qur’an is beneficial or relevant for our times. Here is an excerpt,
What is the Relevance of the Qur’an for our Times?
One day, I found myself thinking of organizing a virtual forum where readers and contributors to www.alawan.org would dialogue on the question, “What Is the Qur’an?” or specifically, “What is the Benefit or Relevance of the Qur’an for our Times?”Perhaps such a discussion would yield a convincing answer to that important question.
As a Muslim, while in the process of reciting the Qur’an, I came upon my first difficulty in Surah 58, Ayah 3, “Al-Mujadilah: She That Disputeth, [or] The Pleading Woman,” which states:
Those who put away their wives (by saying they are as their mothers) and afterward would go back on that which they have said, (the penalty) in that case (is) the freeing of a slave before they touch one another. Unto this ye are exhorted; and Allah is informed of what ye do. [Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall translation]
I thought to myself, I would never do such a thing to my wife; therefore, this Ayah is irrelevant and has nothing at all to teach me. I kept on reciting and stopped at Surah 4, Ayah 24, “Al-Nisa’ (Women) that reads:
And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess. It is a decree of Allah for you. Lawful unto you are all beyond those mentioned, so that ye seek them with your wealth in honest wedlock, not debauchery. And those of whom ye seek content (by marrying them), give unto them their portions as a duty. And there is no sin for you in what ye do by mutual agreement after the duty (hath been done). Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Wise. [Pickthall]
To tell the truth, my right hand has never owned anyone, either at home or at work. Furthermore, my “madness”5 doesn’t allow me to possess more than one wife. So this Ayah has nothing to teach me personally; in days gone by, it stated the obligations of those men whose whims and desires made them covet more than one wife.
I have always maintained that I am a Muslim. However, I must reach a bold and honest decision regarding my relation to Islam’s sacred text, which is loaded with burdensome injunctions that don’t concern me at all. My apprehension is shared by millions of Muslims who hesitate to express themselves openly about these topics.
What can the Qur’an add of value, for example, to the International Declaration of Human Rights, the Rights of Women and Children, the Treaties for the Conservation of the Environment and Development; to the Modern Concept of Toleration, Elections, and Plebiscites?
Point 3: The Qur’an is the Prophet’s Personal Document
I think that this Moroccan intellectual put his finger on an important difference between the ethics of the Qur’an and the Bible. The ethics of the Bible revolve around the person and work of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:4). The ethics of the Qur’an do not. This makes the legislation of the Qur’an very different from mankind’s need for the legislation of the Bible. The legislation and ethics of the Bible point to our need for a Redeemer (Psalm 19; Psalm 119:176; Romans 7:1-4; Galatians 3:24; 4:5).
I encourage you to read the rest of Rev. Madany’s article and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.