The Qur’an is not meant exclusively for Muslims, as some Muslims and non-Muslims believe. The book is meant for anyone who is prepared to adopt its principles and its philosophy. Those who do so will be enriched and will constitute a living example of its ideals and ideas. This is what the Qur’an says: “O mankind, instruction has been given to you by your Lord, and healing for anything that troubles your hearts, and guidance and mercy for the believers.” (Sura 10, Verse 57). In this verse God addresses the human race in general and exhorts it to listen to His message.
Negative human nature is the source of all our problems. We thus have to be aware of the destructive forces concealed within us, and take the appropriate protective measures. The Qur’an is both the protection against our illness and the remedy for curing it. We as individuals and as collective communities are capable of reaching great heights and accomplishing record-breaking achievements in the material world, because we are endowed with the intellectual capacity to learn and to apply our knowledge and experience. We have failed, however, in applying this knowledge for constructing our selves, and we have shied away from any shouldering of responsibility. Sometimes, we ourselves are the source of the problem. It is then difficult to identify it, and we tend to look for various excuses, are quick to blame the other and ever ready to punish him. Few are prepared to take responsibility and to start putting things right. Shouldering responsibility requires courage, maturity and the ability to rise above mankind’s negative traits.
The Qur’an and the holy books that preceded it explained at length the issue of constructing the self and the individual’s capacity for taking responsibility. A positive and responsible character is not constructed in order to gain an advantage over the other. On the contrary, the price for constructing this character is to renounce the advantage and the status that the individual acquires as a father, a brother, or a highly acclaimed person. This renunciation is done in order to further truth, justice, compassion, respect, conciliation, and consideration toward others, even if they dislike me. When we try to be nice to those around us, we usually do so from our point of view and not from theirs. The Qur’an suggests that we should be the upholders of justice and its defenders, even if this goes against our desires or those of our parents or relatives. It is easy to preach this to others, but difficult to apply it to ourselves and to those close to us. What the Qur’an teaches us is a love of humanity; what it teaches us to avoid is selfishness.
We know that everyone is responsible for his actions. But are people also responsible for their feelings and their motives? The answer, unequivocally, is yes! External laws will not help in this case. We have to activate our internal alarm clock to awaken us before we sleepwalk into inappropriate behavior. Bear in mind that the human being will only be victorious once he ceases to use his knowledge as an instrument for profiting at the other’s expense. Knowledge has to guide us in many areas, and particularly regarding our internal and most intimate feelings. Then, and only then, can we declare that victory is ours. Until then, we have to continue the struggle against ourselves. We need to concentrate and give attention to our positive characteristics, and learn to block our negative characteristics. The Qur’an gives us a list of negative characteristics that any person can identify. Our recent history offers us many reasons to be proud, as well as much that we need to continue to improve. But it has also exposed our dark side, of which we have to take heed.
The following is a partial list of negative human characteristics. People tend to be hasty, unjust, ignorant, mean, argumentative and pessimistic. Despite these weaknesses, people are God’s emissaries on earth. Human beings have been granted this status because they are capable of overcoming these barriers with the help of knowledge, faith, and good deeds. We cannot allow ourselves to behave like Joseph’s brothers whose envy got the better of them and caused them to sell their brother. We have to behave like the prophet Job who, despite losing everything, did not allow despair to overwhelm him. We need to behave like Joseph who did not waste his time lamenting what his brothers had done to him, but rather helped the Egyptians to survive the famine.
All this reminds us that the age-old problem of balancing our desires with the needs of others requires unflagging commitment and constant education. We have to further our knowledge, including the knowledge directed toward developing character, so that instead of becoming slaves to our culture, our history and our tradition, we will realize what our lives mean and strive for better lives for us all, thereby leaving the next generations with a better world than the one we inherited. As God’s creations we have to assist each other to bear the burden, and to remind one another of the need to take care of others and do good deeds.
I have had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ofer Grosbard and becoming familiar with some of his work. When Ofer asked me to write a foreword to his wonderful book, which deals with treating people’s difficulties with the help of the Qur’an, I saw this as a great honor.
I must admit that as a student of the Qur’an for the past twenty years, I was fascinated by Ofer’s work. For me it is a demonstration of the authenticity of the Qur’an’s claim to be a guide for all humanity. The book is exceptionally clear in the manner in which a wide range of difficulties that people experience can be solved by means of the Qur’an. For example, when a person is told, with the help of a verse from the Qur’an, that he does not have to feel guilty about things that are beyond his control, this extricates him from his depression. In another case progress was achieved because the parents were told, with the help of a verse from the Qur’an, that their children have the right to a certain amount of freedom, and that they should respect their children’s decisions. These are clear and proven examples of how studying the Qur’an can improve the condition of humanity. I hope and pray that the reader will make use of this book, and benefit from the wealth of knowledge it contains. I would urge all students of the Qur’an, irrespective of their religion, belief or culture, to read this book.
I will conclude with a quote from Sura 103: “The human being is utterly lost, except those who believe and lead a righteous life, and exhort one another to uphold the truth, and exhort one another to be steadfast.” It is the continuous search for truth, tolerance, belief and doing the right work that will help us to avoid the loss and the hopelessness.
Sheikh Musa Admani
Imam of London Metropolitan University
Head of the Luqman Institute of Education and Development