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Joseph A Islam
Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)
BOOK WORSHIP AND REVERENCE
Copyright © 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 1st November
Religious scriptures remain the fundamental core
of any religious thought or belief. Whether popular teachings remain consistent
with the scripture is not within the discussion scope of this short article.
However, what is pertinent is the observation how these religious scriptures
often become the centre of extreme reverence, at times requiring ritual
ablutions to touch, or appointed 'religious leaders' to read them.
(Please see related article
It appears that
scriptural 'reverence' is not a new concept exclusive to Islam. Rather, it
can be consistently traced throughout history of different faiths and their
Such reverence is one of the early steps in losing the connection
with the spirit of the living message and relegating it to the dark confines of
written or printed parchments which only ‘certain people’ who are clean can
touch, comprehend and in time, interpret. In extreme cases, it becomes a
somewhat dead dialogue only to be utilised during ritualised worship or
celebrations. It also introduces an unnecessary barrier for the common man to
the message’s accessibility and delegates control to the 'appointed' clergy to
interpret the scripture in a manner which they deem fit.
One notes a similar sentiment resonated in a
rebuke made by the Quran with regards the Children of Israel.
"...Say: Who revealed the Book which Moses brought, a light and a guidance for
which you make into scattered writings (into parchments) which you show while
you conceal much?..."
From the verse above, it is
clear that committing guidance to parchments and 'written scripture' has always
been a practice of 'appointed' religious authorities. However, it is clear from
the above verse that it has also often been used as a tool by the clergy to
Scripture and its message should be lived as a source of continuous guidance. It
should be accessed freely by all, examined, scrutinised, pondered and researched
by all mankind. No doubt it should be treated with utmost respect, but there
must remain a fine balance between respect and overt reverence. The purpose of
scripture has always been guidance
and not its reverence.
It is significant to note that Prophet Moses (pbuh) threw
the Tablets on the ground in anger which God
had Himself inscribed when he found his people abandoning the core message of
his teachings. Instead, a section of his people had resorted to worshipping a golden calf during a mere 40 nights of his absence.
It is clear that Moses was not interested in
Tablet worship but in its fundamental teachings.
“And when Moses returned to his people, wrathful
(and) in violent grief, he said: Evil is it that you have done after me; did you
turn away from the bidding of your Lord? And he
threw down the tablets and seized his
brother by the head, dragging him towards him. He said: Son of my mother! surely
the people reckoned me weak and had well-nigh slain me, therefore make not the
enemies to rejoice over me and count me not among the unjust people”
also confirmed by the Old Testament:
"When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and
the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands,
breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain"
Quran in a scriptural form too, is a living, ‘breathing’ document which is applicable for all
societies and changes. The Quran is of no use if it lies dormant, its
message abandoned or in the hands of the 'appointed' few to interpret. It lays out fundamental rules and structures for societies to
develop on. It is not a short lived message applicable only for a certain
Arabian audience of the 7th century. Rather, it remains a message for all
mankind irrespective of time.
Do I Need to Perform Ablution (Wudu) Before I Can Touch the Quran?
Idolatry According to the Quran
 The Bible,
New International Version
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