Ayatollah Shaheed Mutahhari: The abandonment of the Qur’an

Today, we have a complaint that we must address to this new generation which is: Why are they not acquainted with the Qurʾan?  Why are they not being taught the Qurʾan in their schools?  Even if we go to the Universities, we see that the (Muslim) university students cannot even recite the Qurʾan!  Of course it is unfortunate that this has occurred however we must ask ourselves, “What steps have we taken to help them in this path?”

Do we assume that with the lessons of Fiqh, Shariʿah and Qurʾan which are being taught in the Islamic schools (Madaris) that this is enough for the new generation to become completely acquainted with the Qurʾan?

What is more amazing is that the previous generations were also distanced from and had abandoned the Qurʾan – and then we wish to complain to the new generation why they have not developed a relationship with the Qurʾan!?  Without doubt, the Qurʾan has truly been alienated from ourselves and then we still expect the new generation to hol[7]d onto the Qurʾan!?

At this point, we will prove to the readers how we have alienated ourselves from this Sacred Book.
If a person’s knowledge is that of the science of the Qurʾan – meaning that he does a lot of contemplation upon the contents of the Qurʾan and if he knows the complete interpretation of the Qurʾan, how much respect would such a person have amongst us?  None.  However, if a person was to know “Kifayah” [1] of Akhund Mullah Kadhim Khurasani, then he would be respected and would be considered as one with integrity.

Thus, the Qurʾan is truly unknown and has become distanced from us and this is the same complaint that the Qurʾan itself will proclaim!
We are all included in the protests and objections of the Messenger of Allah (S) when he complains to Allah (s.w.t.):

) يٌا رَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي  اتَّخَذُوا هٌذَا  الْقُرٌآنَ مَهْجُوراً (

“O’ my Lord!  Surely MY nation took this Qurʾan as something trivial.” [2]

Approximately one month ago [3] one of our own great scholars had gone to the holy cities (in ʿIraq) and narrates that he visited Ayatullah Khuʾi (q.d.s.).  He said to the Ayatullah, “Why have you stopped the lessons in Tafsir which you were previously giving?” [4]   The Ayatullah replied to him that there were many obstacles and difficulties in offering classes on Tafsir of the Qurʾan.  This scholar then told Ayatullah Khuʿi (q.d.s.), “ʿAllamah Taba’taba’i (q.d.s.) has continued his classes on Tafsir of the Qurʾan in Qum and thus, most of his time is  spent in this area of study and research.”  Ayatullah Khuʿi replied, “Ayatullah Taba’taba’i has sacrificed himself – he has withdrawn himself from the society” – and he is right.

It is amazing that in the most sensitive issues of the religion, if we see a person who sacrifices his entire life to study the Qurʾan, then he will fall into thousands of difficulties and problems from the point of view of his food, overall life, his character (within the society), his respect and he will be removed from and deprived of many things.  However, if he was to spend his entire life in the study of books such as “Kifayah”, then he would be worthy of receiving everything!

Thus, in summary, we can find thousands of people who know “Kifayah” very well.  They also know the replies to the points brought up in “Kifayah” and they even know the replies to the replies that have been given – and they even know the replies to the replies of the replies of “Kifayah” however we cannot find even two people who know the Qurʾan properly!  If you ask any scholar about a verse of the Qurʾan, they will say that they must go back and refer to the Tafsir of the Qurʾan.

What is even more amazing than this is that the older generation has acted in this regards to the Qurʾan, however we had higher hopes that the new generation of the youth would be able to read the Qurʾan, understand it and act upon it!

If the previous generations had not strayed away from the Qurʾan, then without doubt, this new generation too would not have been led astray from the path of the Qurʾan.  Thus, it is ourselves who have acted in this way to earn the wrath and curse of the Prophet (S) and the Qurʾan.

In relation to the Qurʾan, the Noble Messenger (S) has stated:

إِنَّهُ شٌافِعٌ مُشَفَّعٌ وَ مٌاحِلُ مُصَدَّقٌ

By this we mean that in the presence of Allah (s.w.t.), the Qurʾan is an intercessor and its intercession will be accepted and in relation to those people who ignore the Qurʾan, it will complain (to Allah (s.w.t.)) and its complaints will be accepted as well. [5]

It is both the older generation and even the newer generation who have done an injustice to the Qurʾan and continue to do so.  It is the previous generation who had initiated this act of ignoring the Qurʾan, and it is the newer generation who are continuing in their footsteps.
This in conclusion, in the issue of the leadership of the youth, more than anything else, there are two things which we must do:

1) We must first recognize that which is troubling this generation.  Once we have done this, then we can sit and think of the cure and remedy for their problems, since without knowing what is troubling them, it is not possible to go forth and cure the illness.

2) The second thing is that the older generation must first correct themselves.  The older generation must ask forgiveness for the greatest sin which they have committed and that is that they have left and ignored the Qurʾan.  We must all return back to this Qurʾan and place the Qurʾan in front of us and then march forward under the shadow of the guidance of the Qurʾan so that we will be able to reach to happiness and perfection. !

Selection of Ahadith

1) قال رسول اللّه صلّى اللّه عليه وآله و سلّم: ألشباب شعبة من الجنون.

1. The Messenger of Allah (S) has said: “The period of the youth is from the stages of obsession.” [6]

2) قال الإمام عليّ عليه السّلام: جهل الشاب معذور وعلمه محقور.

2. Imam ʿAli ibn Abi Talib  (a.s.) has said: “The ignorance of the young person is excusable and his knowledge is limited.” [7]

3) قال الإمام عليّ عليه السّلام: شيئان لا يعرف فضلهما إلاّ من فقدهما: ألشّباب والعافية.

3. Imam ʿAli ibn Abi Talib  (a.s.) has said: “There are two things which people do not recognize the greatness of until they lose them: their youth and good health.” [8]


[1]  This is one of the major books in the field of Usulul Fiqh that students of the Theological Seminary need to study as they progress in their studies to reach the highest level of learning – Ba`thul Kharij. (Tr.)

[2] Surah al-Furqan (25), Verse 30

[3] From when this lecture was originally given in 1963. (Tr.)

[4] It has been narrated that Ayatullah Khu`i was offering classes in Tafsir of the Qurʾan some 8 or  9 years ago in Najaf, some of which were also printed in book form.

[5] Al-Kafi, Volume 2, Page 599

[6] Al-Ikhtisas, Page 343

[7] Ghururul Hikm, Hadith 4768

[8] Ibid., Hadith 5764

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