United Nations and the Question of Quran’s Interpretation

By Mashari Althayadi
Translated from Arabic by Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi
During the recent Arab Summit, which was held in Jordan, one of the scenes that caught everyone’s attention was the speech delivered by the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Portuguese politician Antonio Gutierrez, in front of Arab leaders.
During the speech, Gutierrez talked about the devastations of war, the benefits of peace and the tragedy of the refugees owing to the wars in our countries. The same speech was expected of him. However, the most striking feature of his speech was that he surprised the audience by quoting the sixth verse of the Surah Tawbah. First he recited the verse in Arabic and then he explained or interpreted the meaning of the verse in accordance with the dictionary of ancient scholars and their Sheikh Ibn Jarir al-Tabari.
Allah Almighty says in this verse: (Translation) “And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know”.
Addressing the division in the Arab World
The new Secretary-General of the United Nations quoted this verse, perhaps knowing that the Arab-Muslim region is currently facing a major sectarian and social divide.
Mr. Gutierrez said: “here we have come to you with the holy book, because you claim to abide by the teachings of the Quran.” Indeed he was addressing the terrorist groups and when he talked about Syrian and Iraqi refugees, he addressed those who are reluctant to welcome them.
Portuguese Gutierrez seems highly skilled in this verse of the Quran, as during his speech in February at the Cairo University he also quoted from this verse, appreciating Egypt for its efforts in the refugee crisis that is ravaging the region.
Mr. Gutierrez said: “The utmost that can be said about refugees is what we read in the Surah Tawbah. God Almighty says in the Quran that the protection of refugees should be provided to believers and non-believers, without any sort of discrimination. This is the most expressive thing I have read about protecting the refugees”.
It is a good gesture from an international official, who happens to be Christian, to appreciate the Islamic faith, but the mission of the United Nations is not limited to such gestures
Mission of United Nations
It is a good expression from an international official. Though he happens to be Christian, he has appreciated the Islamic faith. However, the mission of the United Nations should not be confined to such symbolic gestures. The United Nations should rather take serious action to restore peace and justice, because wherever there is justice and mercy, the religion of God will prevail and this can be done without the need to dive in the sea of interpretation; that is difficult and need skillful handling.
At the level of courtesies, the gesture of the Portuguese statesman and the gesture of the Italian representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy within the European Union, Federica Mogherini who started her speech in Arabic—all these indicate the extent to which the world and particularly the west are involved in the Islamic intellectual culture.
As it has been said, the issue of cultural resistance from within the Muslim communities to extremism and terrorism is global just like global warming, which is a worldwide concern. We fight with terrorists every day on the “interpretation” of the Quran, as our predecessors did with the Kharijites.
(Courtesy: April 5, 2017 Roznama Hamara Samaj, New Delhi)

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