Dr. Alwani continued her previous lecture on how to approach the Qur’an by teaching our LLSP class about Islamic jurisprudential ijtihad (reasoning). She opened the class by repeating that at this current stage of our ummah, we do not know how to read the Qur’an, and that simply loving the Qur’an or talking about the Qur’an as a form of guidance is not sufficient for a strong relationship with God.
Personal reflection through the Qur’an benefits us alone; we must be able to read the Qur’an through ijtihad. When we learn to transform our mere opinion into a persuasive argument backed up by comprehensive evidence that becomes indicative of hard work to reach that kind of heightened understanding of the Qur’an. This is the way we can effectuate change through our understanding of our faith. We must be able to dialogue with the Qur’an and gain a new experience from it each time depending on the state of our heart and mood.
Dr. Alwani laid out the correct way to contemplate and read the Qur’an. There is a unity within the Surah, so there will be a central theme in each, and her first advice was to identify that theme. The theme can be any of the following: Allah, reading, revelation, the Quranic message or its messengers, faith, guidance, and more. To find this theme, we can look at the title of the Surah, identify main words that seem to be key to the Surah, read the introduction of the Surah, gauge the tone of the Surah and determine whether it is harsh or gentle. We must also be able to ask the right questions from our reading of the Qur’an: what are our intentions behind the question? Are we carrying biases or assumptions when asking this question? And is there room to revise the question? Sometimes we ask the wrong question from the Qur’an, which leads to wrong conclusions and wrong assumptions.
Dr. Alwani concluded the class by saying that submission is the final stage of our contemplation of the Qur’an. We must submit ourselves to God when we seek answers from the Qur’an, and in the end, we must accept that we did our best and with the purest of intents to learn. The class learned that our relationship with the Qur’an cannot be passive, and that as leaders, we have the responsibility to back our arguments with strong Islamic reasoning and evidence.