Dr. Alwani opened her class, “Approaching the Qur’an,” by asking the participants to define their personal relationship with the Qur’an. The participants’ answers shared similarities: many use it for inspiration and guidance, while some use it to communicate with God one-on-one. Dr. Alwani then asked, how do we evaluate our performance as an Ummah in the light of the Quranic message? She emphasized the importance of knowing where we, as an Ummah, stand in the history of Islam so that we can better understand our relationship with the Qur’an.
Dr. Alwani provided the class with an overview of the Muslim relationship with the Qur’an over history, and how it changed and developed. She explained that the very first generation, the one that was present during the Prophet’s lifetime was fully engaged with the Qur’an. After the community realized the extent to which the Prophet affected the Ummah long after his death, the second generation committed itself to collecting and narrating the Prophetic Hadith, looking for the companions and the people who knew the Prophet. This was the endeavor to gather and record every saying and action of the Prophet. The third generation was the time of inquiry where the Ummah engaged in Fiqh legislation and Islamic
sciences, questioning and finding answers. Finally, Dr. Alwani explained that the generation of today is that of Taqleed, or blind imitation. Now that we have established schools of thought in Islam, all we do is try to edit and summarize what our previous generations did to develop the Qur’an. We lack employing the applied reasoning that was celebrated in previous generations.
Dr. Alwani pointed out that our Ummah today is at its worst state because people in our generation try analyze the Quran in different ways, which results in a disjointed understanding of the text. A better methodology for reading and contemplating the Quran is that of reading the Quran as one unit despite the different Ayahs and Surahs. This unity helps us to contemplate the Quran instead of just passively reading it. Contemplation of the Qur’an provides a number of benefits: it strengthens our relationship with Allah, increases faith, cures and heals the heart, softens the heart, transforms our belief into action, and broadens our horizon on every level.
Dr. Alwani’s lecture helped our LLSP class broaden their understanding of the Qur’an, and to think of our relationship with the Qur’an less individually and more in accordance to our responsibility as an Ummah.