The title and content of this article is based on the book called "Quran and Its Impact on Human History" written by Allah Bukhsh Brohi, a leading Pakistani Scholar, Lawyer and Statesman. In his address delivered on the occasion of the fourteen hundredth anniversary celebration of the revelation of the Quran, Brohi said: “One way of demonstrating the indispensability of the message contained in the Quran to the modern world is to take up, one by one, standards of excellence – that is ideals and values which are accepted and upheld by enlightened section of contemporary humanity and to ask question: What is the genesis of those values and ideals? Whence they have come? And in particular then ask ourselves whether such standards and values were commended or enjoined by any pre-Islamic religious teachings? If we were to reach the conclusion that all such present day set of ideals and values which is considered worthy for a civilized nation to adopt and accept were for the first time revealed in Islam, then we should come to the conclusion that the Islamic ideals are still alive, even though they were given to the world 1400 years back which then proves that Quran is even today the acceptable Gospel.”
Quran teaches us values and ideals such as right to education, tolerance of Non-Muslim minorities mainly Jews and Christians, the rights of Women, strong Judicial system, a just Economic Order, the ethics of warfare, including fair treatment to war prisoners, discouraging slavery and kind treatment towards them. The first people to adopt all of them in humankind’s history were Muslims. They learned these ideals and standards of excellence from the Quran which made them civilized in the true definition of this term. Today it is exactly these same standards which are universally accepted by any civilized and enlightened section of our contemporary societies.
1. The Necessity of Education for all, men and women: "Read in the name of your Lord Who created man from a blood-clot. Read and your Lord is most generous who taught man by the pen.’" (Al Quran, 96:1-4) These were the first verses revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ emphasizing the importance of education. When Allah ﷻ created Adam (alaihi salaam), He taught him words and names, after which Angels were commanded to prostrate before Adam (a.s) (Al Quran 2:30-34). It is our ability to read, write, learn and think that made them prostrate our father and which makes us a unique creation of Allah ﷻ due to which we have been commanded to shoulder the responsibility of becoming Allah’s representatives on Earth. No other creature of Allah ﷻ has been granted such capacity. In the 1100 CE, there were 75 madrasas (educational universities) in Cairo, 51 in Damascus, and 44 in Aleppo. There were hundreds more in Muslim Spain at this time as well. A Madrassa was an educational institute where students were taught religious sciences along with secular subjects the purpose of which was to integrate faith with knowledge. It was these educational havens in which suppressed Western minds of dark ages sought refuge from their Church.
2. Scientific Enquiry - Quranic Verses such as these inspired Muslim minds to explore Allah’s creation: "Verily in the creation of the heavens and of the earth, and in the succession of the night and of the day, are signs for men of understanding, who standing sitting and reclining, bear God in mind and reflect on the creation of heaven and earth; and say ‘O Our Lord! You have not created this in vain. (Al Quran 3:190-191)" Islam does not separate religion from science, they both complement each other. From medicine to mathematics to philosophy to art to physics, Muslims were at the forefront of almost all sciences, making new discoveries and building on earlier ones. Names like Ibn Sina, Ibn al-Haytham, Ibn Khaldun, and al-Farabi come to mind when people think of the giants of Islamic science. An independent inquiry in to the lives of these great personalities prove that the basis of greatest scientific discoveries of our time, lie in their efforts. However the question remains for us as to how do we guide such discoveries, to corrupt and destroy like the cold war warriors or benefit humankind?
3. Rights of Women (Al Quran 2:228-229, 4:34) - Women have always been treated as a shame of the society in many pagan cultures of the past. The Arabs in the Jahilliya (pre-Islamic ignorance) period used to insult their mothers and bury their daughters alive for the fear of shame that they believed daughters brought to them. The women never had any share in inheritance when the father or the husband died, till the Quran was revealed. The right to inheritance, education and teaching, their upbringing, marriage and their right to even seek divorce was given by the Quran, something which never existed before in that society. The Church, in Christian Europe had always taught that it was Eve who tempted Adam to eat from the forbidden tree which kept her image tarnished throughout the medieval era. That negative effect even continued post Renaissance till late 19th century. The 1632 English Law declared "That which the husband hath is his own and that which the wife hath is the husbands." Worse she had no right to get out of a miserable marriage. Until 1857, divorce was obtainable through the passage of an Act of Parliament.
4. Just Economic Order - The Quran commands us to give full measure, do not deprive others what is rightfully theirs and not to spread corruption (Al Quran 26:183). The freeing of slave is the highest point of honour to which Quran invites man (Al Quran 90:13). Islam discourages slavery and condemns all forms of economic exploitation. It is important to mention here that even though there is no official institute of slavery that exists today, yet slavery prevails in our age through the unjust economic order based on Capitalism, which sustains itself on Usury, condemned by Allah ﷻ in the Quran in the harshest terms like no other (Al Quran 2:274-275). As the famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy puts it "Money is a new form of slavery, and distinguishable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal – that there is no human relation between master and slave." Tolstoy refers to the printing of paper money and debt based economy invented by Capitalism. This modern economic system results in inflation and deflation which is the main cause of the depletion of people’s wealth making them vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation.
5. Religious Tolerance: Revile not those whom they call on besides God, lest they, in their ignorance, despitefully revile Him. We have so fashioned the nature of man that they like the deeds they do. After all they shall return to their Lord and He will declare to them what their actions have been (Al Quran 6:109). It would be sufficient just to mention that the Golden period of Jews during their Diaspora is referred by them to the time when they were living under Muslim rule in Spain and other parts of the Caliphate. It was during that same time when their coreligionists in the Christian Europe were being persecuted and later in modern Europe through something called "pogroms". It was this religious tolerance as taught by Quran that guided the Muslim Caliphs. An echo of this same tolerance can now be found in the various charters of the Secular countries which accept minority rights.
6. Ethics of warfare in Quran - The War in Islam is commanded to be fought in self defense and not in aggression (Al Quran 2:190). Islam is against fighting for personal gains. Fight to stop the oppression and to defend those who cannot defend themselves is taught by the Quran (Al Quran 4:75). Allah ﷻ in the Quran does not only permit Muslims to defend themselves in the face of religious persecution but it also permits those who worship Him in their churches, synagogues, temples & monasteries to defend themselves in the face of similar persecution (Al Quran 22:40). The thin line which a man in his weakness while fighting his enemies can cross at anytime is distinguished clearly by the light of Quran. The effect of that light was seen in the life of Ali (r.a), a close companion and a son in law of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, who through this one incident set an example for all as to what Jihad (Struggle) in the way of Allah ﷻ truly is. He while fighting his opponent during a battle, was about to chop his head off, when his opponent spat on him, as a reaction of which Ali (r.a) threw his sword and walked away. When asked as to why he did not kill him, to which he strangely replied that his anger took over his mind while he fought purely for the sake of Allah ﷻ.
7. Rejection of arrogance and pride based on racism - The Quran teaches cultural diversity, rejects chosen people concept (Al Quran 2:124) and emphasizes that all are equal in the sight of God and the best among you is not the one who has a particular color, belongs to a certain race or ethnic background, in fact the best among you is the one who is most pious & righteous (Al Quran 49:13, 30:22). An echo of this teaching can be found in the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ who said that a white does not have any superiority over a black and neither does a black have over a white, an Arab does not have over a non-Arab and vice versa. The Prophet ﷺ taught that all of us have been been descended from Adam (alaihi salaam) and he was created of earth thus reminding us of our true origin.
If we can somehow prove that all the above universal values accepted in the modern world were applied by an individual pre-Islamic civilization then it can be proven that Quran is not the first one to teach them. And if it can also be proven that the accepted standards of excellence came to be acquired only by modern civilizations and Quran never taught them, only then it can be certainly argued that this book is out of date.
 Islam Its Meaning And Message, 3rd Edition.Published by Islamic Foundation.
Part II - Pg. 81 - The Quran and Its Impact on Human History - Allahbukhsh K. Brohi.
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