Religious studies and theology- Major themes in Quran Critical Essay

Background

The Islamic religious text has been widely regarded by scholars as one of the finest literatures written in Arabic language. The verses of the Quran comprise of 114 Suras and have been classified as either Medinan or Meccan. McAuliffe points out that the Quran is believed to have been inspired to Muhammad by angel Gabriel in 609 CE (76). This religious text is made up of central themes such as Jihad, the Bible, love and tolerance. This paper explores the major themes within the Quran.

The theme of God

The Quran is an important and divine book that covers extensively the attributes and nature of God. It talks about God as the shaper, maker and creator of everything that is in existence. In particular, the Sura of prophets claims that And of His signs are the ships that sail like mountains in the sea.

If He will, He calms the wind, and they become motionless on the back thereof: verily, in that are signs to every patient, grateful person” (Q 42:39-24). This is one of the scriptures which indicate that God is in control of the events happening in the Universe.

The themes of Jihad and Mercy

The Sura of counsel 42:39 strongly brings out the theme of Jihad within the Quran. Jihad is regarded as a religious duty of the Muslims. It can be well defined as a struggle in the way of God. According to Sunni scholars, Jihad is a major sixth pillar of Islam and has been regarded as an important religious duty.

The verse asserts that “and who, when an injury is done them, avenge themselves” (Q 42:39). The latter strongly reflects the idea that the religion permits the use of force to defend spiritual ideals or religious beliefs. While this has been misinterpreted by many as a move that encourages acts of conflicts, it is worth mentioning that the main aim of Jihad was to repel evil and advance Islam.

Besides, the sura of Mary strongly brings out the theme of mercy when it talks about the mercy of God and how he expects Muslims to show mercy. In Sura 19:58, the Quran explains how the prophets of God worshiped him when they heard of his mercies at the time of Noah. In Sura 19:96, it says “but the Lord of Mercy will give love to those who believe and do righteous deeds” (Q 19:96).

This is central in bringing out the nature of God and how merciful He is. McAuliffe indicates that the verse is reflective of the various struggles that Muslims face and which they are commanded to overcome at all costs (80). By asking the assaulted to avenge himself/herself, the Quran does not disapprove the need for mercy, but encourages a Muslim believer to struggle and hold onto the Islamic faith, strive to create a better Islamic society and use force where necessary to defend Islam.

The theme of Justice

The portion of the verse that says “and who, when an injury is done them, avenge themselves” (Q 42:39) explains the need to protect the religion which has been regarded by non-Muslims as a major threat. The main aim of Jihad is the establishment of a strong Islamic religion through conversion of other religions, a consideration that is largely modeled by the previous Islamic revolutions (McAuliffe 74). However, the fact that Muslims believe God to be the judge points out to the theme of justice which is given by God.

Another perspective of the theme of Jihad is that the Sura of counsel (42) is a tool that guides believers into personal inner struggles that do not involve the use of violence. A good example of violence is the rising cases of suicide bombing that reflects Muslims’ use of any means that aim at hurting the enemy. In the Middle East, a religious faction such as Hezbollah is strongly against the existence of Israel which it considers was established illegitimately on Palestinian land.

Due to the current tremendous developments in technology especially in nuclear weapons, the determination held by believers of the Sura of Counsel (42) remains as one of the greatest threats to the Jewish state of Israel. Agreeably, Jihad is divided into Jihad against liars and heretics, Jihad against unbelievers and hypocrites, Jihad against Satan, and Jihad against the soul. Those Islamic extremists engaging in terrorism practice a lesser Jihad and not a greater one that encompasses fight against desires.

The theme of tolerance

While there is no particular unequivocal commandment in the Quran that states ‘thou shall be intolerant to others’, it is without doubt that religious tolerance on values, truth and beliefs are yet to be realized. This is due to the fact that different religions have developed some nature of competition.

Studies indicate that the capacity a religion has to live alongside practices and beliefs of another religion has been massively affected by competition, religious condemnations and conflicts. In the Quran, the theme of religious tolerance is an important component that encompasses a moral reason by the Muslims to practice restraint from making interferences, counterproductive or useless, with the affairs of other religions.

The Sura of Mary (19) and the Sura of counsel (42) strongly bring out the theme of religious tolerance. In Sura 42:11, Quran notes that the “initiator of the heavens and the earth. He created for you from among yourselves spouses-and also for the animals. He thus provides you with the means to multiply.

There is nothing that equals Him. He is the Hearer, the Seer (Sura 42:11).

In this verse, the nature of God has been brought as one who is transcendent above all and who demands all people to treat each other as spouses, brothers and sisters.

This verse points out that people are equal before God regardless of their race or religion.
The ability of adherents from different religions in society today to practice religious tolerance in the limelight of their diversity is a key platform towards greater cooperation.

It aids in bringing about a holistic contribution by all people and eventual growth and development of society. Minimizing religious conflicts as reflected earlier from contributions by Sunni and Ahmadiyya scholars has been considered by the Quran as the main principle that can facilitate a new outline towards a highly united society at the local and national level.

The theme of tolerance as reflected in the aforementioned Suras in the Quran indicates that addressing problems affecting religious tolerance requires a holistic approach from all levels. One such difference as already indicated in the paper is the practice by Christians to forcefully convert Muslims.

The themes of love and faith

The Quran just as the Christian Bible has used the word love and faith countless number of times to reflect how societies should co-exist. The book of 1John 4:7-21 offers penetrating discourses of the theme of love and dimly reflects the love in Quran. In the latter, Allahu Akbar is the Allahu muhibba-the God of love.

The Quran uses the word love 69 times and speaks of human love, God’s love, and negative love among others. This is reflective of the love of God to man. It is also worth to mention that another scripture from the Sura of Mary notes that “On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, Allah will bestow love” (Sura 19:96).

To sum up, the discussions in this paper are based on the notion that the Quran bears very significant and fundamental themes that guide and control human behavior and relationship towards others and God. As reflected in the paper, the themes of Jihad, love and tolerance define how societies should co-exist.

While many critics have claimed that the theme of Jihad best explains the unending terror acts by Muslims, one cannot fail to see the need for mercy as brought out by the Quran, a call that Muslims have been able to heed to and thus maintained and established their religion amidst greater resistance.

This does not support acts of terror, rather it calls for greater harmony, tolerance, respect and the adoption of better behaviors that encourages development and progress within the society. Moreover, religious differences have been known to trigger lack of religious tolerance since each religion seems to idealize its practice and regard others as inferior.

Works Cited

McAuliffe, Jane. The Cambridge companion of the Quran. Cambidge, UK: Cambridge University Press 2006. Print.

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