From The Story of Faith: Between Philosophy, Science and the Qur’an – by Nadīm al-Jisr
This fascinating and enigmatic book takes the reader on a journey along with its protagonist, Ḥayrān ibn al-Aḍ‘af the Punjabi, through the storms of doubt to the shores of certainty, at the hands of a wise scholar by the name of Abū al-Nūr al-Mawzūn. The book’s author, Sh. Nadīm al-Jisr (d. 1980) – former mufti of Tripoli and Northern Lebanon – has succeeded in presenting the essential matters of faith in a literary style that appeals to the heart, mind and imagination while addressing concerns of the modern seeker of truth. We hope that this work will see the light in translation before long.
The following selection of verses is presented by the shaykh to his student after a good part of the journey has already been traversed, saying:
“The verses of the Qur’an are concerned with a number of purposes: First: inviting to God and establishing the proofs of His existence, uniqueness, knowledge, power, will, care, mercy, and all other attributes of perfection. Second: promises encouraging good deeds and warnings away from sin. Third: emphasising the coming resurrection and judgement. Fourth: rulings concerning worship and dealings. Fifth: practical wisdom for life. Sixth: promoting the best of morals and manners. Seventh: stories and narratives that reinforce the previous six categories.
“Yet the most important of all of these, and the greatest in the sight of Allah, is the first – because belief in God is the origin and foundation of everything else. That is why, when you turn the pages of the Qur’an, you find these verses guiding us to knowledge of Allah in every chapter, and indeed they may appear repeatedly in a single chapter.”
The shaykh then explains that he is presenting this selection to Ḥayrān (and the readers) of verses that establish these proofs of the divine presence and attributes, guiding us to recognise the wisdom of Allah’s creation. They are ordered according to their time of revelation, “Because I want you to imagine yourself present at their era of revelation so you may appreciate how the guidance unfolded and led the people through these evidences pointing to God. That way, your recitation of the verses will be more effective for your soul, and you will be better placed to grasp the Quranic method of guidance.”
After reciting before his teacher, Ḥayrān declares that it was as though he had never noticed these verses in his previous readings of the Qur’an, which were mainly for blessings and not for study and reflection. The shaykh advises him not to suffice with reading them a few times; rather, he must internalise them until they become the lens through which he observes the signs scattered throughout Creation.
Below we have presented the Quranic passages (numbering over 150) and added their references, along with translations adapted from Abdullah Yusuf Ali and others. Naturally, translations have their shortcomings and a deeper appreciation of the verses would come from studying works of commentary. As numerous Muslim scholars have advocated a return to the Qur’an to establish and refresh Islamic faith and creed, the following may be considered a contribution to this effort.