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Although no distinction may be made among the parts of the Qur’an in terms of relative excellence, it is obvious that the opening surah has a special significance that goes beyond its placing at the beginning of the Book. This is indicated among other things by the numerous designations given to it, some by the Prophet (pbuh) himself; by the fact the uniquely it was revealed twice; and by the fact that its recitation constitutes the core of the prayer. Many commentators have seen in it, in fact, a concise summary of the whole Qur’an, the implications of which they have sought to draw out in many volumes. In this lecture a modest attempt is made to analyze some of its principal themes and the miraculous conciseness with which they are expounded.
Publisher: ISLAMIC PUBLICATIONS INTERNATIONAL
If a list of the half dozen most important figures in the historical elaboration of Islam were to be drawn up, there can be no doubt that Abu Hamid Ghazali would figure on that list. As a versatile and gifted scholar and, more importantly, a believer of great spiritual insight, he confronted all the intellectual and spiritual currents of his day and elaborated what might be called a defining synthesis of Sunni Islam. He achieved this result through both lengthy personal experience and erudition, and this lecture deals, therefore, both with his life and his works, as well as attempting to assess his impact on the religious history of Islam.
In the summer of 1979, at a time when the viability of the Islamic Republic of Iran was being widely questioned in the Western media and the historical background of the revolution that had led to its establishment was largely unknown, Hamid Algar delivered four lectures on the Islamic Revolution at the Muslim Institute in London. He examined the historical links between Iran and Shi’a Islam; the life and personality of Imam Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution; the career and ideas of Ali Shari’ati, “religious intellectual;” and the course of the events that in little more than a year led to the overthrow of one of the most deeply entrenched dictatorships in the Muslim world.
Now reissued in substantially revised form, the text of these lectures remains a useful introduction to the revolution, arguably the most important event in modern Muslim history. New translations made by the author from the writings of Imam Khomeini and Ali Shari’ati enhance the utility of the work.
Publisher: I P I
A feature of the Quran that deserves careful attention is that while it unambiguously asserts the finality of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it also devotes considerable attention to the prophets that came before him. This is not by way of ecumenical goodwill to the followers of religious other than Islam, the prophets in question are all legitimately regarded as prophets of Islam and portrayed, moreover, in ways radically different from the relevant biblical narratives. This is especially true of Jesus, upon whom be peace; his true character is revealed to us by the Quran to have been that of a prophet sent to reaffirm the law of the Torah, while modifying certain parts of it, and to proclaim the coming of the last and most perfect of the messengers, Muhammad (PBUH). He was born without paternity, whether human or divine, and he was neither killed on the cross, nor even placed on it, being instead raised by Allah unto Himself. Both his entry to this world and his departure from it are, then, of a strictly mysterious nature. The Quran alludes, in addition, to his return to earth at the end of time, a theme more fully elaborated in hadith. Given the fallible nature of the Gospels, it may safely be asserted that the Quran, as revelation, is the only source of true and certain knowledge concerning this messenger of Allah.