“The Quran, a guidance for the people” – 2:185
The Quran – Islam’s Holy Book. It is a 600 paged manual for life and a love letter from God. Within it one finds; comfort, reassurance and guidance. The Quran isn’t just for Muslims – it is an instruction guide for each and every one of us, regardless of race, religion or gender. It teaches us how to interact with each other, how to succeed in life and how to carry on when life throws everything it can at you. The Quran’s ability to reach out to all of us, at our darkest and lowest moments, is one of God’s compassionate miracles. They say that life has no manual. I beg to differ. Life does have a manual, we just have to look a little closer.
Out of the many lessons we can derive from the Quran, here are a few of my favourites – in hope that we can all learn from them and better ourselves as human beings.
Arrogance – a destructive trait. In chapter 2 verse 34, God informs us of humanity’s inevitable downfall – within Satan’s story. “And when We said to the angels “prostrate before Adam”, so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers.” Iblees was promised an eternal abode in Hell, and exclusion from Paradise because of his hubris and arrogance. This verse tell us that arrogance and the human ego will be our downfall. In contemporary society, we are obsessed with our physical and metaphysical attributes. Our self-obsession is borne out of our insecurities, and soon this leads us into a state of absolute bedlam in which our arrogance and pride consumes our souls. Arrogance is a destructive trait that eliminates our other qualities, leaving us as empty vessels of pride. The Quran warns us that if we see ourselves as better than others, and over-exaggerate our achievements and attributes, then we will fall. And we will fall hard, just like Satan fell from Grace.
Jealousy – an unattractive trait. As seen in all three Abrahamic religions, Cain murdered Abel in a fit of rage upon becoming consumed with jealousy of his brother (5:27). God shows us the true extent of jealousy and how its manifestation in one’s heart can lead to catastrophic consequences. It is in our power to resist these feelings of hatred which creates jealousy, and to replace them with happiness for that person. Imam Ali once said “a moment of patience in a moment of anger prevents a thousand moments of regret”. In 12:4-5, God tells us that the manifestation of jealousy is a two way street. Yes it is up to the jealous individual to control their jealousy, but it is also our duty to avoid showing off and adding fuel to the fire. Yusuf’s (Joseph) father tells him “do not relate your vision to your brothers or they will contrive against you”. Our world as we know it today is obsessed with showing off our physicality, achievements, status, wealth, power and circumstances. We feel the need to Snapchat everything we do, or post a photo of our dinner plate on Facebook. Yet the Quran is telling us to moderate the extent of announcing aspects of our lives, because once it escalates, it will lead to arrogance. Arrogance will lead to jealousy, and it is a vicious cycle.
Ridicule – an uncompassionate trait. 49:11 – “let not a people ridicule a people, perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by offensive nicknames”. Mockery and ridicule disguise themselves in jokes or jest, but their true meanings really dig deep with people and are apparent to the target of these jokes. The Quran tell us to abstain from ridicule because the target of ridicule may be better than us in ways we cannot comprehend. To mock an individual stems from arrogance, which again shows how all these traits are intertwined with each other. To show one of these traits, is to show all of them. Iblees refused to prostrate to Adam because he saw himself as better than him. He mocked Adam because Adam was created from clay, and himself from smokeless fire. But what Iblees eventually realised is that Adam was better than him in character – not because Adam asserted himself and showed his qualities, but because Iblees belittled his own. Iblees mocked Adam and that revealed more about Iblees’s character than Adam’s. Ridicule is a double edged sword – it cuts both ways.
Backbiting – a grotesque trait. 49:12 – “do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” The Quran compares backbiting and gossiping to eating your dead brother’s flesh, in an astounding comparison. It shows us the true extent and repulsiveness of backbiting – something we probably do every day. The reason we backbite and gossip is to make ourselves feel better about our own lives. We constantly have to belittle others in order to strengthen our egos. Backbiting is also a double edged sword. Not only are you harming the individual on the receiving end but you harm yourself in the process. Backbiting breeds jealousy, and it’s cure is very simple. The cure is to focus on yourself and be content with yourself, and not worry about what other people are doing. This is your life that you’re living, not somebody else’s. If you read another person’s book whilst writing your own, you’re bound to replicate their ideas. And in the end, it won’t be your book – it’ll be a replica of somebody else’s.
Eliminating these traits from our characters will make us better people – someone that others enjoy being with and truly valuing their friendship. It’ll also help us focus on our on lives, not being consumed within others’. To exhibit qualities of compassion, patience and humility are what make us human. After all, God did breathe into us part of His majestic spirit. These qualities are already within us, we just have to dig a little deeper and bring them to the surface of our great characters.