By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
12 May 2020
The meaning of the word Furqan has been debated by the scholars and exegetes of the Quran. There is a difference of opinion about its true meaning. Some of the English translators of the Quran like Hasan Qaribullah, Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Muhammad M Pickthall have translated it as Criterion. Mr Arberry translates it as Salvation. Mr Pickthall also translates it as Discrimination. But all of them are unanimous in their opinion that Furqan means one's ability to distinguish between good and evil, legitimate and illegitimate, permissible and forbidden and Truth and Falsehood. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan also subscribes to this opinion on the basis of the verse:
"O ye who believe! If you keep your duty to Allah, He will give you Criterion (of right and wrong) and will rid you out your evil thoughts and deeds and will forgive you." (Anfal:29)
But it won't be wise to form an opinion on the basis of a particular verse. The word has occurred in at least six verses in the Quran in different contexts. The other five verses are as follows:
"Blessed is He Who sent down the Criterion upon His servant that he may be to the world's a Warner."(Furqan:1)
And when He gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion that perhaps you would be guided."(Baqarah:53)
"If you believe in Allah and that which was revealed unto Our slave on the Day of Criterion, the day when the two armies met. "(Anfal:41)
"He hath revealed to thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with Truth confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and Gospel, aforetime for a guidance to mankind and hath revealed the Criterion."(Al-e-Imran:3-4)
"The month of Ramadan in which we revealed the Quran, a guidance to mankind and the Criterion)"(Baqarah:185)
Now, from an analysis of all these verses, we can draw some points:
1) Though in Furqan:1, Quran and Furqan are mentioned as same, in Baqarah:53, Al-e-Jmran:3-4 and Baqarah:85 Scriptures (Quran, Torah and Gospel) are presented as different from Furqan-- that is Furqan and Quran, or Furqan and Tora are not the same. They are two different things.
2) Furqan was not sent down only to Prophet Muhammad pbuh but it was also bestowed on Prophet Moses pbuh.
3) Furqan is insight given to all prophets along with Scriptures.
4) Anfal:29 tells us that Furqan is also given to all the Momineen (true believers).
4) Anfal:41 mentions "Day of Furqan". Exegetes are of the opinion that the day on which the Battle of Badr was fought is called by the Quran the Day of Furqan. Why? It should be recalled that the Battle of Badr was the first battle between the followers of Islam and the polytheists in which Muslims had gained clear victory. So, Muslims for the first time were practically convinced that Islam was the Truth. That's why the day is called Yaumul Furqan in Surah Al Al Anfal:41). The outcome in favour of Muslims decided for all times to come that the true believer will remain always victorious, a fact mentioned in Anfal:29)
From this analysis, it becomes clear that Furqan has a wider meaning. It is the insight which is bestowed on all the prophets along with Scriptures with the help of which the prophets explain and interpret the Scriptures to their followers and decide the issues of the followers with the help of this insight.
This insight is also bestowed on true believer of prophets who observe piety (Taqwa). Furqan is not bestowed to all the followers of a prophet. It is conditional as is mentioned in Anfal:29. That is only those who observe Taqwa (tread cautiously in their day to day affairs) are blessed with Furqan. Thus piety, not mere knowledge is the qualification for being blessed with Furqan.
The Quran says on another occasions that people who have knowledge of Deen but do not follow the Deen are like donkeys carrying books on their back. On another occasion the Quran says that the insight is a blessing from God (not bestowed on everyone). We witnessed this lack of Furqan (insight) among the scholars and so-called muftis of Islam during the so-called Caliphate of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi who supported ISIS believing that the much-awaited Islamic Caliphate had been established while a small group of Muslims said the ISIS was only a terrorist outfit and its actions were against the teachings and principles of the Quran. And later, the truth came out and the supporters of the ISIS had to hide their faces in shame.
We witness this lack of Furqan among the so-called scholars of Islam in other issues of the communal life of Muslims as well.
Therefore, the word Furqan can be understood in a wider context and not in the light of only a particular verse of the Quran.
S. Arshad is a regular columnist for NewAgeIslam.com