Quranic Reflection No. 417. Ayat 17:9 – The most upright guidance

إِنَّ هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَهْدِي لِلَّتِي هِيَ أَقْوَمُ
Inna hadhal qur’ana yahdi lillati hiya aqwam
Indeed, this Quran guides to what is most upright
(Sūratِ al-Isrā, No.17, Āyat 9)

Allah subhānahu wa-ta’la describes for us many attributes of the Quran in the Quran itself.  This helps the believers understand its value and appreciate benefits of the Holy Book. In this verse Allah ‘azza wa-jall describes the Quran as most upright. The word aqwam comes from qiyām – to stand up. The verb denotes active readiness to do something. A person standing is more in control of his surroundings compared to a person sitting or lying down. Thus, qiyām has always been associated with positive alertness and activity. The word is also used to show how well an action is carried out, or how consistently it is done. Iqāmatus-salāt is the establishing of prayer – doing it on a regular basis, with enthusiasm and good intention.  A believer who recites and studies the Quran regularly would be a person of action.

The word aqwam is also a superlative – most upright. From all the paths shown to mankind the one brought by the Quran is the firmest and right one. ‘Allāmah Tabātabā’ī in Tafsir al-Mīzān says this comparison is being made either with other Divine Laws (sharī’ah) that were brought earlier, or it could be with other nations that have passed. For the latter interpretation the verse would mean that the Quran guides towards the most upright [nation].

The teachings of the Quran are most upright in some of the following ways, among others;
1. The most aligned with the inner nature of the human being
2. The purest in the beliefs it teaches
3. The clearest in the actions it promotes
4. The most harmonious in its comprehensive laws for all aspects of life
5. The most balanced in outlook and lifestyle
6. The strongest in its call for fulfillment of rights

The ideology that the Quran established is more upright than the other books that came before it. Each one of them was upright during its time, in the stage of guidance that was slowly advancing towards perfection. Each stage was part of the accentual rise towards perfection. The Quran is the ultimate stage and hence is the most upright of all guidance sent by Allah. By declaring that the Quran is the most upright of messages, this verse also confirms the Prophet as the seal of Prophethood and the message he brought as the final message.

Valuing the message of the Quran as the most upright is crucial in implementing it in life. In today’s modern world with all its blurry lines, the need for a stronghold to adhere to is even more significant. Belief in God leads us to belief in Divinely sent guidance, and we are blessed to be in the possession of the final Message from the Almighty. Alhamdu lillāh, we have with us the most upright guidance sent for human beings, and we need to let it anchor us through the storms around us.

This month of Ramadan plan how to get closer to the Quran. To learn more about it, develop an appreciation of its depths, to let it touch your heart. This can be done through a personal perusal of the study of the Quran, through listening to and following beautiful recitations, through getting guidance from scholars who have studied the Quran. There are many ways to strengthen your relationship with the Quran. Let this verse remind you of the firmness of its guidance and motivate you to hold on to it.

Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh.