Wisdom in the Quran
Channel: Nouman Ali Khan
File Size: 13.50MB
With Dr Saqib Hussain
Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim Al hamdu lillah wa Salatu was Salam o Allah rasool Allah, Allah Allah, he was actually his main focus. I've been working on social Joomla in the last month and in the second I have Sultan Juma. Allah talks about the book and the Wisdom that the Prophet session and part of his mission was to teach
the Quran the book and also right after mentioning the book, he also mentioned wisdom. And it's something I couldn't deal with in detail in the lecture series. And I wanted to dedicate time to the concept of wisdom in the Quran. And I asked my colleagues and friends about if there's anybody who's done some work on the subject, and thankfully, Dr. Zakir Hussain actually mentioned his PhD paper on wisdom in the Quran, which became the inspiration for a video series you're about to watch actually, there's going to be a couple of few lectures on how wisdom is dealt with in the Quran. And the lectures I'm going to present are a very small summary, and only fragments from the exhaustive
research paper that he's done. So in this video, Inshallah, I'm just going to be interviewing him a little bit about the inspiration behind that paper that I found so absolutely beneficial, and inshallah we will learn something about that from him
okay, it's like I'm sounding good.
Thanks for doing this interview. I have the pleasure. So tell me like what made you pick my as a PhD thesis topic? So began with an essay assignment. My supervisor said for me, he said, pick a word in the Quran, do an exhaustive study of it, and write a 2000 word essay.
And it was sort of hunting around for something suitable and struck upon hikma as something that I thought I could say something interesting about primarily because I was, I had this intuition that the traditional understanding of guitar were hikma in particular, as referring to the book meaning of the Quran, and hick moving the Sunnah of the Prophet that was something that seemed inadequate,
because it would require for various reasons, but it seemed inadequate. So I thought, a deep dive into what Hickman meant might reveal the few things. So on that, did you think that
it's not enough or it's off? I thought it was off. Primarily because there are places where the Quran is what hikma very clearly cannot mean sunnah, is doesn't fit the context at all. So you'd have to say that this word means very different things in different parts of Quran. And obviously, that can happen because language is complicated. So we can use the same word with a different meaning in a different context. Right. But that shouldn't be our starting point. I think, especially if you're dealing with something you dealt with under in the first chapter of your thesis, I believe was classically How was hikma looked at by early Muslims. How there was a variety of opinions would
McCarthy well and you mentioned I think Abdul Razak. Right. Yeah. And how sunnah. And even even the word the way sunnah was used in early Assam was different. Yeah. And then, but then later on that became after Mr. McAfee, that kind of became the go to definition of the word hikma. Yeah. And we kind of almost eliminated all the previously existing discourse on the word. Right. Right. Yeah. And it's sort of expanded. So by the time we get to a third party, even those places where, which I would have used to say, well, here clearly, hikma cannot mean, so no, doesn't fit the context. For example, when Hickman was associated with Jesus,
because there was such an insistence that Hickman does mean sunnah.
It was snuck into the interpretation of him even that so the idea that nobody heard was or even Jesus was given a revelation and then he was given a sunnah as well. Which it seems quite clear that, you know, this argument is being made in order to defend the idea that hikma means sunnah, right in reference to the prophet at some level. You know, like, you know, like to say, one of the classical definitions of hikma was a little a little while MLB Yeah, right knowledge and acting upon it, so I can understand where it may actually apply as hikma Yeah. Also, you mentioned like in the Tafseer of the IR from Soto Lhasa where the Mothers of the Believers are being told to commit to the
Ayat of Allah, and to the hikma. Yeah, that because they are around the Prophet SAW Selim, and they see his behaviors like nobody else gets to see. Yeah, because they're in that intimate setting. Yeah, that, that it makes sense that in that context that can refer to hikma also. Absolutely. So I think that
if we understand hikma don't give spoilers to do lectures, but if you understand it to mean a
morally praiseworthy understanding of the Quran and morally praiseworthy application of the rules of the Quran, then who's going to do that better than the Prophet so? In that sense, everything he does is hikma. What I was unsure about was using hikma to refer to a completely independent body of kind of knowledge and teachings that are parallel to the Quran, right that the prophet is supposed to be teaching rather than the prophets. And so that 2000 page paper then turns into a six year endeavor. It was it was it was clear that there's a lot more to be said here. So first, I turned it into a master's dissertation, which was 25,000 words. And then I was still clear, there's more to be said
here. So then it became ID Phil. PhD dissertation. You mentioned in one conference, it's six years of work. It is yeah, in total, about five or six years of work, my goodness inception to sort of what was the toughest part of the work?
The toughest part of the work was because
I wanted to look at how the Quran so I had this intuition early on that I think when the Quran is talking about hikma, it is engaging with how Jews and Christians at the time of the Quran, are discussing the same topic.
That meant accessing Jewish literature, Christian literature, not all of it translated into English. And trying to understand what is the discourse around hikma and wisdom in those languages? Awesome. I saw I read a lot of exhaustive work in your paper on the Christian and Jewish discourse around heck, right. Yeah. So there's multiple different kinds of fields to wrap your head around. If you're going to try and make the Quran the claim that the Quran is engaging with that body of literature. So that's, that's sort of a challenge. They're looking for the needle in the haystack, nowhere in this body of literature, can you find something that the grind might be engaged with?
And then that's sort of been the direction that Quranic studies has been going in for the past couple of decades, looking at the Quran engagement with contemporaneous traditions, particularly Jewish and Christian traditions.
That's tough enough, but then to do to take the next step, which is not just to say that, Oh, okay, the Quran talks about hikma here in this way, similar to what Jews are saying. So that's what hikma means here, but actually to think about what what is the Quran then doing with it? Right? How is it taking their pre existing conceptions? Yeah, and then either affirming a part of it, or taking it in a new direction altogether? Exactly. And you have to be open to multiple possibilities. There are times where the Quran
knows that the audience has this background knowledge and just leave it at that and just build on that. There are times where it's radically reshaping what the core that's pretty exciting to them. You need to really be paying close attention to other groans doing so. Yeah. So along this study, what did you find the most rewarding component of your journey you're telling this story telling the story of hikma from the Bible, right through the Quran, because I wanted to make it readable.
because I mean, reading 343 pages of a document, and over the course of a week is enough. For me, that's an accomplishment. A lot and I can affirm from the conversation that we had you read it very carefully. I was very moved.
But it can be quite technical. When you get getting it. Yeah. What is the discussion? Were the Greek thing and how are the Christians reshaping? But to turn that technical discussion into a narrative? Of Yeah, how this thing started? In the biblical tradition? What are the various strands that it took? And then how did they come together in the Quran? Yeah, that was that was so And were there any particular discoveries that you were just particularly like, absolutely mind blown about as you're going through? Like, isn't something stick out in all of this, I think massive amount of work, particularly if I were to pick one passage, that the Lockman passage was,
was was really,
really something I had to sort of look at. And just this was marvel at the wonder of the Quran because what you see in the Lookman passage, in particular, is so many different discourses on hikma because it has its origins in what's called biblical Wisdom literature, a few books in the Bible that deal with wisdom.
That sort of initial idea of wisdom had been taken so many different directions, over the centuries by Jews and Christians.
Is it something for natural law? Is it the
access to unseen truths about the hereafter? Is it sort of proverbial wisdom, you know, wise Proverbs, or sayings? I think things
you know, it had been taken in so many different directions and to see the Quran, engage with all of them simultaneously in the stories it takes them together, essentially
Trees have intellectual history on the subject as being held by scholarship of these religious traditions. And then Allah in a passage which we read, like it's much nicer passage of counsel for us, but he synchronizes all of that in very right simple, straightforward language, but it's like, yeah, how did all of that gets summarized here? Exactly that exactly. I think one of the things you have to be careful with, when you're looking at how the Quran deals with earlier traditions is that you can't assume that there's like a central library in Mecca, that everyone is reading up on these earlier traditions, such that when the Quran talks about the red one picks up on all the references,
but at the same time, the Quran is sometimes getting so clearly and yet so certainly with as other traditions, it's clearly aware of them, and it's clearly.
So like, yeah, because I would imagine, you know, Jewish and Christian scholarship, before the Quran isn't some publicly accessible material or like, why this is right, specialist material? Yeah, right, this elite discourse.
We have limited literacy in a society. And these elites, you know, when they're writing theological treaties, when they're writing about law, they're writing for each other. They're writing for Fellow Scholars. Yeah, the stuff that
is widely disseminated might be a hymn That's like going to church, or might be a sermon.
And so it wasn't like the PhD thesis of the time, right? Yeah. And it's not like everybody knows about Exactly, yeah. And yet, that's the kind of literature I think you have to go to, to really understand what the Quran is doing. Yeah, and how it's engaging with that highest level of literature, while at the same time preaching to so like.
So you know, that you I mean, we've known each other for a while, and I've taken advantage of your papers before and leverage them in my lectures and stuff. And, like, I think this was the first time you're actually sitting through one of my lectures. Yes.
I'm taking your work and repurposing because my, my sort of
service is to take academic work, and then try to distill it so that everybody can get something from it. Right. Yeah. So while at the risk of butchering your work completely, in all honesty, so how did it feel sitting there listening?
Honestly, I wasn't going to come because it was just too nerve wracking. Because it's a lot of sweat, blood and tears that are going into it. Yeah. And while you know, I knew personally, you have done everything you can to give a fair hearing to the work and to present it, it would just have been too nerve wracking, but ended up here anyway. And I can say hand on heart, it was just so heartwarming to see. And to see it presented so well to accurately and in a way that
I thought that that's yes, that's what I was trying to say.
Not only did you not butcher it at all, but you made it so much more accessible
in a way that that I I was struggling so for our audiences
you know, one of the things that I really benefit from as, you know, remarkable individuals like soccer, who are just pouring heart and soul into the study of the Quran in in ways that really is pioneering And Alhamdulillah I'm very lucky to know people like him very fortunate from Allah as I consider that as part of my disc, that I get to take advantage and you know, benefit from their work and then be able to present those findings to you guys in a non PhD paper format. Regardless, I do want you guys to have access to the original source. So inshallah and the video because your paper is now widely available is
so in this video's description, you'll find the link to it. There'll be a QR code, I think it's some of the images on the screen also, when you guys watch the video, I hope you guys enjoy the series Inshallah, and benefit from it because it really did for me, I can tell you it. I'm looking for Heckman, the Quran now differently after this paper. So it really did impact my own study of the Quran significantly, too. And I hope that that's the benefit it has for all of you all. So it's like a little kid in soccer, all the best with your future endeavors. I was going to ask you about what you're going to do next, but I think we're going to leave that off. Because you've given me a hint
and I want to leave that as a surprise to everybody. BarakAllahu li Walakum Salam alikoum