Narratives in the Qur’an
By Sayyid Qutb
We can better appreciate the value of the Qur’anic narrative and the experience of past nations and communities it relates when we bear in mind that the Qur’an is the inspiring book of the Muslim community, its sincere counselor and guide through life. It was with the Qur’an that God molded the first Muslim community to which He assigned the task of implementing the Islamic code of living. After the Prophet’s death, the Qur’an remains the guide that prepares future Muslim generations for their role of leadership of mankind. This is the role God has promised the Muslim community whenever it fulfills its pledges to follow His guidance, giving the Qur’an supremacy over all man-made laws and methods.
The Qur’an is not merely fine verses to be recited for enchantment. It is a comprehensive constitution providing education and guidance through life. Hence, it provides examples of the experience of past communities for the benefit of the new generations of Muslims. It lays special emphasis on past experience in the advocacy of faith, highlighting its interaction with people in practical life. Such wealth of experience portrayed in the Qur’an is of great value in the enlightenment of the advocates of Islam.
This is the reason why the Qur’an includes a wealth of highly inspiring historical accounts. The history of the Children of Israel provides the majority of these stories for a variety of reasons. The prominence given to the Jewish history is perhaps due to God’s prior knowledge that some Muslim generations would be going through situations similar to those experienced by the Israelites. Therefore, He alerts them to the slips that may lie in their way by highlighting the lessons they could learn from such history.
Muslim generations should read the Qur’an very carefully, treating it as guidance provided today to show us how to deal with our present problems and to chart our future course. Its historical accounts are not provided for inconsequential academic study.
We will not benefit by the Qur’an unless we read it with the aim of seeking guidance for our present and future life, in the same way as the first Muslim community did. When we approach the Qur’an in this way, we are certain to find in it what we are looking for, and we shall have something far more remarkable than we can imagine. Its words, expressions, and instructions will come alive, giving us all the guidance we need. It will point out to us what to do and what to avoid, what precautions to take, who is our friend and who is our enemy. It will give us a long, elaborate discourse touching on everything that may occur to us. Thus, we will find in the Qur’an both life and enjoyment. God’s words will ring in our ears: [Believers, respond to the call of God and the Messenger when He calls you to that which will give you life ] (Al-Anfal 8:24).
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