The early suras of the Qur’an are the short, hymnic passages associated with the first revelations to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny). They reveal many of the central values of Islam: generosity, kindness, prayer, and good deeds – in other words, a vision of a just and meaningful life. They also often refer to nature - the moon, sun, and stars; the sky and sea; night and day – highlighting the inextricable link between people and the environment.
Michael Sells, a renowned expert on the Qur’an, joins us for this episode of Muslim Footprints to discuss what he describes as “some of the most powerful prophetic and revelatory passages in religious history.” Dr Sells is the John Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature at the University of Chicago. He has studied and taught in the areas of Qur’anic studies; Sufism; Arabic and Islamic love poetry; and mystical literature.
At a colloquium hosted by The Institute of Ismaili Studies in London in 2003, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke of the impact of the Qur’an for Muslims throughout history: “Islam's revelation,” he said, “with its challenge to man’s innate gift of quest and reason, became a powerful impetus for a new flowering of human civilisation.”
Lending itself to a wide spectrum of interpretations, Hazar Imam explained, “the Holy Book continues to guide and illuminate the thought and conduct of Muslims belonging to different communities of interpretation and spiritual affiliation, from century to century, in diverse cultural environments. The Noble Qur’an extends its principle of pluralism also to adherents of other faiths. It affirms that each has a direction and path to which they turn so that all should strive for good works, in the belief that, wheresoever they may be, Allah will bring them together.”
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