Auda discusses how to decipher meaning from the Qu'ran

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Jasser Auda speaks to a diverse crowd of students, staff, faculty, and community members

Brett Higgs

BUELLER ... BUELLER ... BUELLER. Jasser Auda, founding director of the Al-Maqasid Research Centre in the Philosophy of Islamic Law, gave a lecture entitled “Reading the Qu’ran in the University.” The event was co-sponsored by the Muslim Students Association at Western.

Students, staff, faculty and members of the community were treated yesterday afternoon when Jasser Auda, founding director of Al-Maqasid Research Centre in the Philosophy of Islamic Law, spoke on the proper way to read the Qu’ran at Huron University College.

The speaker was part of the new initiative for The Centre for Abrahamic Religions at Huron, a new program intended to merge the three main monotheistic religions " Judaism, Christianity and Islam " within the school’s Faculty of Theology.

“We have started this year, a new initiative called the Centre for Abrahamic Religions and one of the ways we want the centre to be distinguished is to bring in Muslim scholars who can speak both the language of the university but also the language of the Muslim faith. We think [this program] is overdue,” said William Danaher, Faculty of Theology dean at Huron, while introducing Auda.

When Auda took the floor, he joked about how few people he was expecting to take an interest in his presentation.

“If someone told me I’d be speaking to a packed house, I wouldn’t have believed them,” Auda said to the crowd in the Kingsmill Room at Huron.

He then began explaining how people can get the wrong idea about the faith when they fail to read the Qu’ran properly.

“The Qu’ran is supposed to be read like a book,” Auda explained. “Whether you are a Muslim or a non-Muslim, you must read the entire book and judge the Qu’ran for everything it’s about, not for the individual passages.”

He said when reading the Qu’ran, it is more important to look for themes rather than assess each word.

“There is a difference between the script and the interpretation, it is the difference between the divine and human ... the difference between the revealed law and the understood law.”

Auda added in Islam, humans are imperfect by definition and therefore, are capable of misinterpreting the meaning behind the text. He said it is why people must be careful when putting too much emphasis on specifics because conflict arises when an understanding is not clarified.

“My views may be wrong, but God’s is not,” Auda said, adding many people also try to convince others they are speaking the word of God, when what they are really reiterating is their own understanding.

However, Auda said people should not be afraid to question things in the Qu’ran.

“When it comes to the interpretation we must get behind the value and look for a higher purpose,” Auda said. “The means are not supposed to contradict the ends. The means are a way to the ends.”

He clarified the means are the interpretations and the traditions while the ends are the overall moral message behind the chapter.

What Auda emphasized most in his presentation was the importance of unity and diversity, not only in Islam, but also in life in general.

“We all have different cultures and different ways of looking at things. We all have different scriptures and they are all right because all are different interpretations of the same truth,” Auda said.

“If God wanted us all to look the same and believe in one religion we would.”

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