Understanding the Qur’an: Hiccups, Hang-ups & Confusion

Muslims worldwide in general often find themselves in difficulty due to the way they view the Message of the Qur’an. While it is good to learn to recite the Qur’an properly, it is dangerous to acquire an extreme understanding of its interpretation. To overcome this problem, one should seek the services of a qualified educated TAFSIR teacher. This teacher should and MUST begin teaching Tafsir based on accepted explanations of the Qur’an (Ibnu Kathir, Jalalain etc. They may not be perfect but they form a historical background). These explanations BEGIN with a HISTORICAL background to every verse and is often accompanied by Ahadith. This foundation is VERY important. Unfortunately, this is overlooked today. Preachers have the tendency to interpret Qur’an verses in a current context according to their whims and fancies, to serve specific ideological goals and objectives. 

The next issue deals with ENVIRONMENTAL factors, interpretation and application. As Muslims, we all know and understand the Message but in the modern world it depends on where you are and in what country and what environment. Islamic education provides MANY APPROACHES ACCORDING TO A VARIETY OF SITUATIONS WITHIN AN ENVIRONMENT. This means that there is FLEXIBILITY in Islam, rather than rigidity. The Qur’an provides us with many examples. One excellent one deals with Nabi Musa (a.s.) and the Israelites over the sacrificing of a calf in Surah Baqarah.

A common hang-up with many Muslims is their inability to adjusts to new environments when migrating or seeking refuge. Many FAIL to bring about change in their own countries but on migrating ACT RIGHTEOUSLY.  I can understand the need to preserve Islam and culture but it is an effort that deals with you and God, In a non-Islamic country or a secular state, religion is NOT tolerated! It is a PRIVATE, PERSONAL matter. If you do NOT like it, the option of HIJRAH is open to you in Islam. Try to keep in mind that your piety is between you and God and it depends on submission, servitude and self-examination, to gain closeness to God and not to go championing causes that serve the devil’s interest in sheep’s clothing! There are many Ahadith on this. For example, you have to Qur’anic reciter and the martyr who performed just to be seen rather than for the sake of God and ended up in hell! Sayyidna Ali (r.a.) was extremely concerned about his intentions, so much so that he hesitated to kill his enemy at the battlefield. He was concerned whether it was done out of anger and hatred or for the sake of Allah. Today, it is usually a case of ‘sour grapes’, revenge, hatred etc for the wrong reasons.

Acting OVER RIGHTEOUSLY is a disease. We have many ‘specialists’ who are UNQUALIFIED offering advice on a variety of subjects. Actually they are expressing an OPINION and NOT offering VALID ADVICE! Failure is one reason, another is to seek political gain; then there is the issue of EMOTIONS and SENTIMENTS which have no place in Islam. Instead, one need to view REALITY and perform SELF-EXAMINATION. The bottom line is that GOD is IN CHARGE, not you! You are merely the PERFORMER and INITIATOR of what GOD wants done! The MOST one can do is to OFFER ADVICE and PRAY for change. The Hadith clearly states that the weakest of intentions is to make a supplication in your heart in the event you are unable to speak out against evil out of fear!

The recent issue of a launderette owner setting up a shop to ONLY serve Muslims in Johore, Malaysia, was intended out of goodness. However, the way he went about is was wrong. He should have had SEPARATE UNITS for Muslims who were EXTRA SENSITIVE about the HALAL approach to washing clothing in a machine. In general, there is actually no need for such an approach or attitude. I recall when I first embraced Islam in 1960, followers of the banned ARQAM in Malaysia, spoke to me about ‘halal’ food and why the Malays had gone astray. At the time, it was a LOGICAL explanation but God enlightened me and caused me to reply, that had it been so, then, how in heaven’s name was I able to become a Muslim after eating and drinking all that was prohibited! Often, we reach Islamic conclusion based on our OWN beliefs or determined by those who INFLUENCE us. Most of these are MODERN LOGICAL PERCEPTIONS that have no basis or foundation in Qur’anic Tafsir.




One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poison: Whatever your views, I respect them. This is the greatness of Islam: of being able to co-exist and tolerate one another, However, there are limits to this as was the case with caricatures of the Prophet (s.a.w.), disrespect for religions etc. Then there is the issue of justice, where BUSH and BLAIR get away with murder while others are crucified! The situation over PALESTINE is the root cause of terrorism. As humans, we all have religious affiliations, feelings and emotions over brutality, genocide, killing and confiscating people’s lands around the globe. The Rohingya issue has just opened up a Pandora’s box, which will ultimately lead to violence and terror in Myanmar. Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, repeated attack the Muslims of Rohingya, which will ultimately introduce reciprocal action against them and cause other Buddhists in Muslim countries to be affected. 

This is NOT an easy issue to handle. Calling upon Muslims to be calm and patient is NOT the answer. The BEST approach to date was offered during a Friday Sermon at Masjid Falaq in Orchard, in Singapore. As Muslims, we must distance ourselves from being overcome by emotions. We need to reason; to pray hard that these issues will be resolved by God; we do NEED to take a good look at ourselves, our character, our submission and servitude to God, and to preserve the peace we continue to enjoy

As Muslims, we MUST support the downtrodden and demand justice. We should NEVER become fence-sitters but speak the truth in a well-balanced manner. I truly find it DISGUSTING that the wrongdoings of the west are overlooked, when they are in fact the ROOT CAUSE for terrorism through their actions in Palestine, Iraq, Libya, Syria etc, but instead, highlight a response by some Muslim as an ACT OF TERRORISM. Today, super powers around the world flout every law to serve their self-interest at the expanse of humanity. TO SURVIVE, MUSLIMS NEED TO TAKE IN THE WIDER PICTURE; VIEW THINGS IN A WIDER CONTEXT AND NOT GET CARRIED AWAY WITH NITTY-GRITTING THINGS. We Need TO VIEW THE Qur’an in a WHOLESOME MANNER and NOT in a NARROW CONTEXT!


Perspective: Perceiving Life


We often view life from a variety of perspectives. It depends on when and how you were born; what environment you were born into; your race and the end results of your existence. From a scientific aspect, it would deal with your genes. From an economic aspect, it would deal with whether you were raised in a poor family or a rich one. When you get down to the personal level, it would deal with what life means from your experience and perception of it from a variety of angles. This is a reflect of what life is all about to you at old age. This view is a PERSONAL VIEW which may be full of bitterness or happiness or a measure of both. It will include what you should have done or could have done or should not have done.


The environment plays an important part in shaping you beliefs and approach to life. Your race, cultural and religious beliefs add to it. You are SHAPED into what you believe in by your environment. Your religious beliefs, culture and ethnic state shapes your view of life. Education merely ADDS to existing information which enables you to survive in your environment. It can improve your position in life but it CANNOT change what you really are deep down inside because the mould has been cast.



Every cause has an effect. When a person uses the above words, it clearly indicates the life the person has gone through. It is full of BITTERNESS and it seeks to be understood. We all go through such experiences to some extent in life and wish people could understand the circumstances we were in and what made us act in such a manner. These JUSTIFICATIONS can be valid or purely based on our egoistic desires. SELDOM do we view TRUTH outside our perception of the truth! This takes place because we live in our own world of reality, reality created by us individually. It is a FALSE perception of reality as it truly stands! Therefore, it is a NATURAL response for a person on the defence to utter the words above. 


If you look at a coin, it has an image, a denomination, and a shpe and size. Add all this up and you get a coin. This is the WHOLESOME picture of a coin. We do not view life and situations in this manner. We have the tendency of viewing life in a NARROW CONTEXT. We view it from OUR perspective, from a SPECIFIC POINT OF ENTRY. We do NOT looking into what LED TO THE CURRENT SITUATION. To understand life, we NEED to consider all factors, possibilities, causes and effects, repercussions etc arising out of our actions which have resulted in the present. On the surface, the suffering of the Rohingyas in Myanmar amounts to GENOCIDE. This is the INITIAL picture. When you  look deeply into the whole issue, it produces different realities. In an Islamic sense, NEVER discount ACCOUNTABILITY. We are ALL held accountable by Allah for our actions. So too are COMMUNITIES, NATIONS!

You may state that the cause for an increase in devastating hurricanes and typhoons is due to the destruction of the environment; you may say the Mother Nature is rebelling etc. Your ANSWERS are correct because that is the way you were raised to perceive reality. However, that is NOT the ULTIMATE TRUTH! You may say that it is God’s retribution, and that too would be a perspective of reality. It exists ONLY for those who believe in God!

Whatever ANSWERS you come up with is JUST your PERCEPTION of the TRUTH according to your UNDERSTANDING of the truth! Unfortunately, we all do NOT share the same views. This brings me to a statement I heard at a Friday Sermon (Khutbah) on 15 Sept, 2017 at Masjid Al-Falah, at Orchard Road, Singapore. The imam said to this effect: “Goodness can only succeed through patience but unfortunately evil reigns.” It is indeed very difficult to be good or remain good, BUT it is so easy to be EVIL!



DO NOT BE A RELIGIOUS BIGGOT! Islam is very clear about this. There are countless verses in the Qur’an expounding the truth as it is viewed in Islam BUT at the same time it calls upon all Muslims to respect the faith and beliefs of others; to NOT to abuse their gods lest they abuse the good name of Allah; to them their way and to us our way.

DO NOT THINK like the Jews, who believe that ‘they are the chosen people of God’ or as in Christianity, that unless you believe in Jesus Christ, you will not be saved, nor adopt the Muslim thinking, that the rest (kafir, mushrik etc) will all go to hell, just because they did not believe in Allah and His Messenger.

The reality of existence, whether it consists of God, Jehovah, Allah or Siva, is a PERCEPTION INTRODUCED TO YOU in a religious context. It is TRULY pointless to kill one another over being a Shi’a or a Sunni etc. What is IMPORTANT is UNDERSTANDING the PURPOSE of existence in terms of SERVITUDE. Whether we were created for such or not is also IRRELEVANT. However, what is important in life, is to serve the CREATOR and HUMANITY out of GRATITUDE and SATISFACTION. In this manner, you SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL. Your WHOLE LIFE is DEVOTED towards goodness and servitude. It this manner EVIL is subdued (cannot remove it). In return, you are blessed with HAPPINESS and the PLEASURE of having served the creator and humanity.

If you want to view reality in a religious context, you still CANNOT escape from the FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES put forward above. If you want to view it in an Islamic context, ITS ABOUT LIVING ISLAM with compassion, understand and knowing that everything lies in the hands of Allah and He knows best  You REAP WHAT YOU SOW. DO NOT PLANT A SEED that is CORRUPTED THROUGH MANIPULATION but instead, plant a seed that has CHARACTER, VALUES, DISCIPLINE AND SERVITUDE…that my friend, will translated every verse in the Qur’an into a sincere meaningful expression!

EMOTIONS, HATRED, ANGER and REVENGUE are valid responses to EVIL but NOT necessarily the only solution to a problem. Any INSPIRATION arising from this is nothing but the handiwork of SATAN! Once REASONING abandons you, you become an animal! SELF-EXAMINATION (muhasabah), REFLECTING on your past actions, rethinking your approach to life, examining your relation with Allah, being grateful and striving to do your best – all these factors lead to ‘insanul kamil’ (the perfect human being). The Messenger of Allah used to take pride in being Allah’s servant before before being that of His Rasul. Throw you EGO in the bin. Know that you will die and can die at any time. Think of the ENDLESS time you have to spend in your grave; THINK of the UNCERTAINTY that awaits you in the grave; think of the companions in graves besides you (in a prison, you can sometimes hear the torture taking place in the cell next to you). TRY your best to be HONEST, SINCERE AND TRUTHFUL over trusts entrusted to you. If you offended someone, borrowed an item, owed someone money etc….. settle it immediately. DO NOT BE A PREACHER WHO PREACHES BUT LIVES IN CONTRADICTION. Do NOT be a donkey laden with books (Qur’an), or a man who speak that which he does not follow. You can SPEND your whole life crying over spilled milk; you can try doing something about it. Whether you succeed or fail depends on you. The OUTCOME will reflect what you are, and you will be REWARDED accordingly in this life and in the hereafter.