This book ‘Introducing the Quran to non-Muslims’ is not an interpretative work on the Quran, rather it is a well-researched introductory endeavor covering many aspects of the Book. Apart from dealing with the usual social, moral, spiritual, legal, military and political frontiers, it also touches authentically upon scientific spheres. An amalgamation of around thirty chapters and sub-chapters all well researched and critically examined articles, this book may be esteemed as one of the finest handbooks of reference not only for non-Muslims but for even I the Muslim readers curious to study the Quran other than holy purposes. Professor Shamim, the retired professor of Mechanical Engineering in B I T Sindri, a premier technical institute in Eastern India, since his early days has been passionately engaged in researches on the diverse Quranic aspects. His book is the output of his patient study and fruitful consultation of materials available on the internet which is laboriously sorted out and assembled in a book form.
The one traditional approach to the study of the Quran is limited to its metaphysical constituent. But Prof Shamim true to his professional scientific background in engineering endeavored to break himself free from discussing solely the metaphysical components of the Quran and he addressed to the dynamics of the Quran in scientific references.
Scientific descriptions in the Quran are just ‘amazing’ to common readers. It seems unbelievable to them that there are statements and words mentioned in the Quran which indicate scientific truths discovered only in recent times. The Author Name(s) thls introductory book being a teacher of of Mechanical engineering has been in touch with various fields of Science including Life sciences and is well aware with recent trends in different fields of sciences. At the same time he has been student of the Quran for a long time with a searching eye on such words and statements indicating some aspects of science. Chapters 1 through 6 are those which will surely attract those readers who have even a slight interest in science. Thus modern cosmologists for instance, are amazed to hear from the Quran the divinely revealed verdicts on what the physicists term as Big Bang, the ever expanding edges of the Universe; the entropic decay of it; and an incredible existence of extraterrestrial life in outer space. One is amazed to know that the Quran tells that in between the celestial bodies it exists no total vacuum as laypersons generally believe; now science agrees that there exists inter stellar dust in the space between celestial bodies.
The chapters, “”Wars and Fighting as described in the Quran”” and “”The Quran on Man Woman relationship”” are deep study of the concept and relevance of jihad and what in the Islamic parlance a woman is assumed to be. His article dismisses the Woman’s existing confusion of her liberty vis-a-vis the feminist movement. In Islam a woman is complete in all respect and that her emancipation does not demand any reshuffling of femaleness or maleness. Prof Shamim does not agree with marauding aspect of jihad that has rocked the world today but at the same time points out those factors under which the Quran enjoins fighting.
In the article, “”The Practicality of the Quran””, the Author Name(s) emphatically talks of the up righteousness and eradication of evil in the individual so that holistic life turns beneficial to all alike. The Author Name(s) discusses pointedly on issues of common nature including what the Quran says on Islamic law, fornication, bribery marriage and divorce, alcoholism and other legal and corrupt practices.
The chapter, “”Why the Muslims are lagging behind?”” naturally pinches a curious reader. The Author Name(s) raises question why the Quran that is believed to be a book of enlightenment that shook Arabia and made it conquer half of the World of its time, is not reflecting its shine and glory through the behavior and life style of present day Muslims. This chapter convincingly answers all doubts, as the Author Name(s) pin points that a huge difference lies between the religion explained and the religion practiced.
The chapter, “”How to Study the Quran: guide to a person quite new to it”” is an endeavor on its part to guide the reader in matters of Quranic study. The Author Name(s)’s exclusive approach to Quran is that, one cannot gain the best of it if one divorces oneself from understanding the Prophet. The chapter on “”Structure and Style of the Quran”” is complex but it is explained lucidly Another chapter which deems special mention here is “”Preservation and Authenticity of the Quran””. To explain this topic the Author Name(s) raises an interesting hypothetical question: “”if a companion of the Prophet happens to come today, will he be able to read the present day-Quran and answers that he won’t- -why? It is an eye-opening historiography of the Quran and it presents a convincing proof that the text of the Quran in our hands today is the same as the one handed over by the Prophet to us although there has been a change in the script, this chapter is indeed worth serious perusal.
The presentation of the whole book is, as if the Author Name(s) is engaged in direct talk with the reader, he raises a question from the side of the reader and replies it, conforming all rules of logic. Coming to the science of Logic a full chapter “”the Quran appeals to man’s logic and intellect”” is devoted on this topic. This is a very interesting chapter and people of all segments will find it a bit “”awaking”” as to why one believes in something? Reading this chapter a common man who is so overwhelmed by Science finds that there is a limit beyond which Science is helpless-it cannot solve the riddle of “”why””; a very interesting discussion indeed. Even a cursory glance over the index of this introductory book will give an idea of the varied topics discussed and which will surely arouse in the readers an ‘inquisitiveness’ to dig into to thebook.
Shahid N Hyder
(Assistant Professor of English in Birsa College a constituent unit of Rancni University, Ranchi & Author Name(s) of internationally sold fiction “”Love, Jihad and Terrorism””, “”Muslim All Books > Women: Tradition and Modernity””and “” lost my Faith””)