“And those who disbelieve say: Why has not the Quran been revealed to him all at once? Thus, that We may strengthen thy heart thereby and We have arranged it well in arrangement.” —Holy Qur’an 25:32
Muslims around the globe have just completed Ramadan, the annual fast which marks the month the Holy Qur’an–the Islamic book of scripture–was revealed. It was revealed piecemeal over a period of 23 years. Beginning in the year 610, when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was 40 years of age, its revelation continued during the 23 years of his ministry, where it served as inspiration, guidance and sometimes rebuke, and ended shortly before his death on June 8, 632 A.D. During Ramadan Muslims are required to read the Qur’an in its entirety.
During a two-hour interview in the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, home of Qur’an scholar, Imam Muhammad Abdul-Aleem, he delved into the miracle and majesty of the Islamic text. He is imam emeritus of Masjidullah Center for Human Excellence, the largest masjid of Pennsylvania in the tristate (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware) area. The masjid is located in Philadelphia.
Imam Abdul-Aleem shared much of the 23-year corresponding history that encompassed the revelation of the Holy Qur’an. His lifelong Quranic study began in the 1960s as a young Muslim member of the Nation of Islam’s Mosque No. 7 in New York.
Imam Abdul-Aleem teaches a weekly Qur’an class, and shared his insight on chapter five verse three of the book which states in part: “This day have I perfected for you religion and completed My favor to you and chosen for you Islam as a religion…”
This, Imam Abdul-Aleem said, “becomes the final revelation, (not final verse) for the completion of the Qur’an, and a sign to the Muslims that the Prophet had completed his mission, and shortly after that he passed.”
Reciting the first revelation of the Qur’an: “Read in the name of thy Lord who creates–Creates man from a clot. Read and thy Lord is most Generous. Who taught by the pen, Taught man what he knew not,” the imam, who is also a science teacher, said, in “those five verses start a whole new revolution of human beings that don’t look at religion as something dealing with mysteries and the supernatural, but returning again to the natural world, to communicate Allah’s message to the human family.”
These revelations were revealed to an illiterate Prophet Muhammad, who was known far and wide as Al Amin (the faithful). He was a man, writes Muhammad Husayn Haykay in his 1976 biography, “The Life of Muhammad,” who in order to discover the true meaning of his life, would, for long periods, retreat to the cave of Hira, spending his time in deep meditation, fasting and prayer.
Imam Abdul-Aleem’s inspiration for his study of Qur’an stems from a photo of Nation of Islam founder and teacher of Elijah Muhammad, Master Fard Muhammad reading the holy text. Mr. Muhammad is reported to have said of his teacher, that of all the 104 books he was given to read that contained some aspect of the life of Prophet Muhammad, the greatest book was the Holy Qur’an.
Throughout the period of 23 years of the revelation of the Qu’ran, when Prophet Muhammad is receiving communications is understood, you discover “two types,” of communication, shared Imam Abdul-Aleem., “One answering religious questions … (the other on) how to build a community.”
In Maulana Muhammad Ali’s book “Introduction To The Study Of The Holy Qur’an,” he writes, “A contrast of the two makes it clear that, while the Makka (Mecca) revelation grounded the Muslims in faith in God, the Madina revelation was meant to translate the faith in action.”
America’s greatest exhibitor of Islamic faith into action was the Nation of Islam. Utilizing the principles recorded in Qur’an and the road map found in Hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad), Elijah Muhammad built an Islamic community. It included schools, farmland, a commercial bank and Muhammad Speaks–the largest Black weekly in America, that in 1974 was worth over $80 million, and in today’s U.S. currency well over $2 billion.
In Western press much has been written by critics of the Qur’an suggesting that it espoused a faith that encourages violence, said Imam Abdul-Aleem. Scholar and author Lesley Hazleton puts this false claim to rest. During a Ted-Talk, she said when the Qu’ran references “killing the unbelievers,” is put “in a very specific context.” She said permission to fight came with “qualifiers.” She said, “Not you must kill the unbelievers … but you can, you are allowed to … and only if there is no other pact in place. And only if they try and stop you from getting to the Kaaba, and only if they attack you first. And even then, God is merciful, forgiveness is supreme, and so essentially its better if you don’t.”
There are many verses confirming Ms. Halzleton’s comments including chapter 22, verse 39, where “Permission (to fight) is given (only) to those on whom war is made because they are oppressed.”
Of special significance is not just the majesty of the Qur’an but that an illiterate man, “with divine guidance,” arranged the entirety of the Qur’an.